Obama Says: Take Me Seriously

There is no truth to the report that Obama contacted the Candians and said "I'm serious about gutting NAFTA" [Youtube]. Instapundit remarks:

REBUILDING AMERICA'S IMAGE IN THE WORLD (CONT'D): "Mexico and Canada yesterday voiced concerns about calls by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, as the Democratic presidential hopefuls compete to adopt the most sceptical stance towards free trade before next week's Ohio primary."
I think Democrat foreign policy can be explained in one sentence:

Make friends with our enemies and make enemies of our friends.

At least it is a policy.

Instapundit updates:

OBAMA'S NAFTA DOUBLE-TALK confirmed. "After reporting on Barack Obama's dance with the Canadians on NAFTA yesterday, Canadian broadcaster CTV got accused of perpetrating a smear against the Democratic front-runner. They insisted that Obama meant every word he said about overturning the free-trade treaty, and that no one had contacted the Canadian diplomatic corps to reassure them that it was mere demagoguery. CTV responded today by naming names -- and suddenly the Obama campaign has grown quiet." More here from ABC News.
So I guess his real policy is lying to the voters. Whew. That is a relief.

At first I thought Obama was a stupid politician. That would be really bad. Now I find he is just a normal lying politician. Eminently qualified to be President. For sure.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 02:57 PM | Comments (0)



"If we deliver a convincing win in Pennsylvania, she'll end up being the nominee"

I don't know why, but Reuters is circulating a picture of a wide-eyed, glowing, Hillary Clinton standing in front of a leering devil. Naturally, Drudge has linked it, with a headline calling her a devil right under other headlines announcing how close she is in Ohio and Texas.

hilldevildrudge.JPG

Meanwhile, in what's being buried as a story within a "local news" story in the Philadelphia Inquirer, satan's spouse visited Philadelphia with encouraging words for key supporters:

The meeting, held inside Penn's Houston Hall, served to rally the faithful and "energize them" for the work to be done ahead of April's primary, said Mark Nevins, Pennsylvania communications director for the Clinton campaign.

Among those there were Gov. Rendell, Mayor Nutter, former Mayor John F. Street, state Democratic Party Chairman T.J. Rooney, local NAACP head J. Whyatt Mondesire and other high-profile supporters.

The president's message was that things were going well in Texas and Ohio, where his wife faces two key primary battles on Tuesday, Nevins said.

"If we deliver a convincing win in Pennsylvania, she'll end up being the nominee," Nevins said, quoting the former president.

In an interview, Nutter, who has endorsed Hillary Clinton, said he spoke with the former president.

"He's been a friend for some time and is always tremendously gracious," Nutter said. "There is a significant amount of enthusiasm and anticipation about Pennsylvania being a major player in the Democratic presidential primary, which has not been the case since 1992."

Nutter said he vowed to "do everything I can, anything I can, and whatever they might ask me to do to be fully supportive."

Rendell and Nutter reiterated their support for Hillary Clinton - no matter how she does in Ohio and Texas - at a news conference yesterday morning on economic development at the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce in Center City before leaving for the meeting with Bill Clinton.

In a separate interview, Rendell said he doesn't think Clinton would quit the race if she loses in Ohio and Texas.

(Emphasis added.) The text I just quoted appears on page B-6, and neither the story nor the headline -- "Bill Clinton talks of race and politics" -- appears or is referenced on today's front page or on the main page of the Inquirer web site. What gives with the low-key coverage? Isn't there a national election somehow involving his wife? You'd think the Inky would be positively delighted to run the story -- and the prediction -- on the front page. It would be good for newspaper sales, and good local civic boosterism. Instead, the biggest story on the front page involves the formation of a Philadelphia soccer club. Why is that national news, but the Clintons are "local"?

What gives? I'd read that Hillary was trying to keep Bill in the closet, but she's not in charge of the Inquirer, is she?

Hmmm... Maybe Hillary has vast secret powers, greater than anyone imagined. I've been predicting she'd win this race by hook or by crook (especially by crook), and that seems to be exactly how the planets are aligning. Might that explain Reuters' glowing satanic imagery?

Sigh.

None of this is new.

I mean, considering what she did to Mitt Romney, can Barack Obama be far behind?

satanhill3.jpg

I'd say "get thee behind her!" but Rush Limbaugh (joining the growing Coulter-Clinton-Buchanan axis of evil) has already done just that!

Satan is powerful, folks!

posted by Eric at 08:26 AM | Comments (1)




I refuse to be forced to be passive-aggressive!

Andrew Sullivan has been complaining that Glenn Reynolds is "passive-agressive," and while Glenn said Andrew was clueless, I'm even more clueless, as I don't know what passive-aggressive means in this new context.

No seriously.

If Glenn's approach -- linking interesting stuff like this -- is passive-aggressive (er, "Mr Passive-Aggressive" seems to be the correct term), I have to say, I've long enjoyed that approach.

But honestly, I don't know what Andrew Sullivan means in using the term that way. Of course, why should I care what "means" means? I mean, who needs meaning?

I link things I consider interesting -- even meaningful -- nearly every day. Does that make me passive-aggressive too?

Well why is that? On top of all my many problems, do I have to be made passive-aggressive against my will, merely for the crime of clicking on links to which Sullivan has assigned the passive-aggressive label?

I wish I had more mental processing power and maybe I could attempt to figure out how to put more passive-aggressiveness into my links! The problem is that people like Andrew Sullivan won't stop forcing me into a passive-aggressive role, and if I wasn't more into being passive-aggressive I'd be inclined to say enough is enough.

But saying enough is enough is never enough for those who think enough is not enough!

God, I hope I'm not getting serious. If I am serious, it's all Andrew Sullivan's fault!

(OK, Andrew, have it your way! Enough is not enough!)

posted by Eric at 04:52 PM | Comments (4)



Talking Points for "Obamacans"?

I don't know whether what I'm about to quote from is the Talk Left piece Glenn Reynolds linked earlier, but I couldn't get it to open, and I found this anyway. Whether it's the same piece or not, it's just too rich for me to ignore.

Former San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Matt Gonzalez looks at Barack Obama's record from a leftist point of view. To say that he finds it lacking is to put it mildly. I'm not an Obama supporter, but the points Gonzalez ticks off damn near looks like it was compiled for Republicans for Obama! And while I've been very easy with Obama, I have to say that if this stuff is even half true, I can breathe a bit easier.

I'll try to include most of the points in abbreviated form, but the whole piece is worth reading closely, and please bear in mind that the following has not verified for accuracy by me. According to Gonzalez, Obama committed all of the following sins:

....voted to approve every war appropriation the Republicans have put forward, totaling over $300 billion. He also voted to confirm Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State despite her complicity in the Bush Administration's various false justifications for going to war in Iraq.

[...]

....voted to reauthorize the Patriot Act in July 2005, easily the worse attack on civil liberties in the last half-century.....

[...]

...campaign[ed] for Senator Joseph Lieberman who faced a tough challenge by anti-war candidate Ned Lamont. At a Democratic Party dinner attended by Lamont, Obama called Lieberman "his mentor"....

[...]

...committed to keeping enough soldiers in Iraq to "carry out our counter-terrorism activities there" which includes "striking at al Qaeda in Iraq."...

[...]

...joined Republicans in passing a law dubiously called the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) that would shut down state courts as a venue to hear many class action lawsuits...

[...]

...an amendment he voted on as part of a recent bankruptcy bill before the US Senate would have capped credit card interest rates at 30 percent. Inexplicably, Obama voted against it, although it would have been the beginning of setting these predatory lending rates under federal control. Even Senator Hillary Clinton supported it.

[...]

...voted to limit the recovery that victims of medical malpractice could obtain through the courts.

[...]

...came out against a bill that would have reformed the notorious Mining Law of 1872.

[...]

...[says] he had passed a bill requiring nuclear plants to promptly report radioactive leaks... [but he actually he took the teeth out of it]

[...]

...voted in favor of $8 billion worth of corn subsidies in 2006 alone, when most of that money should have been committed to alternative energy sources such as solar, tidal and wind.

[...]

...opposed single-payer bill HR676, sponsored by Congressmen Dennis Kucinich and John Conyers in 2006, although at least 75 members of Congress supported it.

[...]

...Obama's own plan has been widely criticized for leaving health care industry administrative costs in place and for allowing millions of people to remain uninsured. "Sicko" filmmaker Michael Moore ridiculed it saying, "Obama wants the insurance companies to help us develop a new health care plan-the same companies who have created the mess in the first place."

[...]

...cast the deciding vote against an amendment to a September 2005 Commerce Appropriations Bill, proposed by North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan, that would have prohibited US trade negotiators from weakening US laws that provide safeguards from unfair foreign trade practices.

[...]

...gave a speech at AIPAC, America's pro-Israeli government lobby, wherein he disavowed his previous support for the plight of the Palestinians.

[...]

...wouldn't have his picture taken with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom when visiting San Francisco for a fundraiser in his honor because Obama was scared voters might think he supports gay marriage

[...]

...supports [the death penalty], while other politicians are fighting to stop it.

[...]

...joined Republicans in voting to build 700 miles of double fencing on the Mexican border (The Secure Fence Act of 2006), abandoning 19 of his colleagues who had the courage to oppose it.

[...]

...opposed initiating impeachment proceedings against the president...

Sheesh!

And this Obama guy calls himself a Democrat? Who'd have thought that all these years he was a secret tool of the right wing agenda?

(Now I'm wishing more than ever that I hadn't let RepublicansforObama.com lapse!)

Gonzalez concludes:

I remain more loyal to my values, and I'm glad to say that I want no part in the Obama craze sweeping our country.
Well, as a McCain supporter I can hardly describe myself as being into Obamamania. But I'm tempted to give the guy another long look. Gonzalez makes him appear to be not only to the right of Hillary, but substantially so.

After going through the Gonzalez post, I'm now finally able to read the link which wouldn't work earlier. It's a post by Jeralyn Merritt which approvingly links the Gonzalez post, but without the details. (It was fortuitous that I took the time to read source link in the time I couldn't get the post which linked it to open.)

It's probably worth pointing out that Gonzalez has just been selected as Ralph Nader's running mate.

Were I Gonzalez or Nader, I would much prefer to run against Hillary.

AFTERTHOUGHT: In the earlier days of this blog, I used to enjoy writing political satire. Increasingly, it seems that politics is becoming satire.

(Maybe I should take things more seriously.)

MORE: Oh, I almost forgot. Rush Limbaugh is urging Republicans to vote for Hillary.

No seriously, he is!

Does that mean Obama is for RINOs, but Hillary is for real conservatives?

(Please, someone, make it all stop before I lose my mind.)

posted by Eric at 03:50 PM | Comments (1)



Reject or denounce the repudiator of your choice!

Ann Althouse has the most detailed analysis I've seen of Barack Obama's tap-dancing performance over the Farrakhan endorsement. I don't want to dissect the back and forth in the debate in detail, as Althouse has already done a marvelous job.

Basically, Hillary Clinton had Obama dead to rights, but then she blew it. I think she came off as a laughable school marm demanding and getting grammatical corrections (the "rejection" versus "denunciation" stuff), when what was called for involved Obama coming clean not about Farrakhan's endorsement but about Farrakhan the man, which he did not do. Instead, he wiggled and he evaded. Whether this was for political expediency or whether it was out of weakness, we may never know. But the whole incident raises doubts about the depth of his character, and of course raises questions about his fitness to be president. Personally, I still don't think his moral lapses rise to the level of Clintons, which I think are almost sui generis. (Yes, I'm biased against the Clintons, and I admit it.)

However, in light of yesterday's McCain flap, I think this might be a good time to look at the redudiation issue in more detail. Perhaps this will provide a contrast in the character of the two men who are poised to be the candidates of their respective parties; perhaps not.

Unlike Obama (whose Farrakhan denunciation/rejection had to be dragged out of him), McCain did not hesitate to immediately condemn the "red meat" (consisting in this case of gratuitously insulting references to Obama's middle name being "Hussein.")

For that he paid the price. Cunningham and like-minded conservatives are now furious.

Here's the video of the Cunningham remarks, and McCain's reaction:

McCain said, "I want to disassociate myself from any disparaging remarks."

OK, that's good enough for me. Should he have gone further, and denounced or rejected Cunningham himself?

I don't honestly know; while Louis Farrakhan's bigotry and venomous anti-Semitism are so well known as to make him a household word, until yesterday I'd never heard of Bill Cunningham. Now that I have, I have to say that unless I am missing something, he's a run-of-the-mill angry red meat conservative, and not comparable -- either in scope or in evil -- with Louis Farrakhan.

It would take an entire essay to explain why, though, and I'm afraid people who like red meat conservatism are not interested in long winded explanations -- especially mine. I'm sure they would not welcome my coming to their "defense" by allowing that "they're not as bad as Farrakhan." Ditto, the hard left, who accuse Cunningham of racism, and are already accusing McCain of playing a racist "who me?" game.

I'm afraid this election is going to get a lot nastier, and I can see why McCain wants to nip even the slightest hint of an appearance of bigotry in the bud.

Unfortunately, political debates are dominated by red meat and shrillness on both sides, and I'm glad McCain is rejecting it. Considering the totality of the circumstances, I think he's done a better job of rejecting it than Obama.

McCain is also paying a price, as the red meat eaters see this as an assault on their pride -- and of course, "conservative principles." No sooner did McCain distance himself from Cunningham, than the latter withdrew his support, and declared himself part of the Ann Coulter Hillary brigadistas.

Cunningham says he was told by party officials to give the audience red meat to warm up the crowd that came to see McCain. He says he did and the crowd loved it, but McCain then threw him under the bus. Cunningham says McCain has now lost his support.

"I'm gonna follow the lead of Ann Coulter. I've had it with John McCain," Cunningham told FOX News' "Hannity & Colmes."

"I'm going to endorse Hillary Rodham Clinton for president because she would do a better job in the Oval Office, I think, than the liberal John McCain. I'm done with him."

Cunningham said McCain "embarrassed himself," and then made up a name of his own for the Arizona senator, "John Juan Pablo McCain," an apparent reference to McCain's sponsorship of immigration reform legislation. He added that McCain should be "repudiating Democrats and leaving conservatives alone."

What should be the standard here?

Repudiation, rejection, or denunciation? Has Hillary weighed in? I mean, after all, aren't some of these people her supporters?

The latter raises an interesting (if somewhat surreal) question, for Hillary has herself welcomed the support of Coulter -- a woman who was forced out of the late Bill Buckley's National Review for advocating religious conversion of Muslims by force. (For the heresy of getting rid of the saintly Coulter, Rich Lowry and his fellows at the NRO were accused of being "girly boys" by "real conservatives.")

I'm not making a moral comparison between Coulter and Farrakhan, but many on the left think Coulter is an extreme bigot, and I've seen no demands that Hillary live up to the National Review's standard -- and reject or denounce Ann Coulter.

Double standard? Or am I confusing politics with satire?

I don't know. These double standards are hard to keep track of. Earlier today I heard that the Idaho Values Alliance has condemned Planned Parenthood for racism, because they allegedly accepted money from callers claiming to be bigots who wanted to fund black abortions.

A longtime anti-abortion activist and conservative lobbyist - Idaho Values Alliance Executive Director Bryan Fischer - called Kersey's response in July reprehensible and said she should have been fired.

"It turns out that blatant racism is alive and well in Idaho, but it's not coming from the Aryan Nation types - it's coming from way-left organizations like Idaho's own Planned Parenthood," Fischer said. "They should have stridently rebuked that donor for being a racist and a bigot and refused to take that money."

OK, FWIW, I agree with Fischer. Planned Parenthood should have fired all of the people responsible and refused the money (although because this was a "sting operation" the money would most likely have never been forthcoming).

I'm not much of a Planned Parenthood supporter, but my deceased mother was, and the way this organization is shrilly attacked and routinely compared with Nazis almost makes me want to send them a check.

I think it's also fair to point out that Fischer and his group are on record as calling for the Republican Party to not allow homosexuals to hold office -- and they gratuitously and illogically throw in an analogy to slavery:

The Party, in the wake of the Mark Foley incident in particular, can no longer straddle the fence on the issue of homosexual behavior. Even setting Senator Craig's situation aside, the Party should regard participation in the self-destructive homosexual lifestyle as incompatible with public service on behalf of the GOP.

No member of the Republican Party in the 1860s could represent his party and be a slaveholder at the same time. Nor can the Republican Party of today speak with authority and clarity to the moral issues that confront our society and at the same time send ambivalent messages about sexual behavior. It is time for the Republican Party to be the party that defends the American family in word, deed, and by personal example.

How's that for a moral comparison? Homosexuality is like slavery. (Against my better judgment, I once had a bit of a debate with a determined commenter over that issue.)

While I don't think anti-gay bigotry is the same as racist bigotry, I do think it's a bit disingenuous for the IVA to get so exercised about racism when it actually calls for outright anti-gay bigotry. (At least, I think it's bigoted to declare homosexuality "incompatible with public service.")

I have to say, I'm getting a little tired of the shrillness in American politics. I think Obama was wrong for not going far enough, and McCain handled his incident just right.

As to how far anyone should have to go in repudiating, rejecting, or denouncing, I'm a bit unsure.

What are we electing? A president, or a repudiator in chief?

MORE: Now Obama seems to be in trouble for advertising on "racist" Bill Cunningham's radio station.

Oh the irony!

posted by Eric at 12:20 PM | Comments (2)



If it takes Obama....

Ann Althouse links Michael Crowley's discussion of David Duke's rather nonchalant reaction to the presidential race. Apparently, the hard-core racists don't know which candidate would best suit their agenda:

Amazingly, some commenters on racist websites are already debating the grim choice between Obama and McCain.
I don't think that's especially amazing. For the conspiracy theory minded, it's standard fare. Many conspiracy-minded types are in a constant state of agitation over the refusal of the general public to see "the truth," and thus, in their paranoid minds, they imagine that it might just take a black president to "wake up" those they imagine are "sleeping" (in this case, the oppressed white masses).

All events and crises are seen from the vantage of whatever conspiracy they believe lies at the center of all evil, and are plugged in accordingly. If the Jews, the Trilateral Commission, the Bilderbergers, the Skull and Bones, etc. (name your group) want to destroy America, then anything which makes the case for conspiracy more obvious is worth supporting. (In Obama's case, a black president.)

Thus, while it seems like a paradox, conspiracy theorists can end up tactically supporting the very conspiracies they claim threaten America.

posted by Eric at 08:50 AM | Comments (2)




Testing the waters....

Here's a picture I took last week on the edge of Lake Okeechobee, Florida:

plecostomus.jpg

While it's dried out in the sun, that plate-covered, prehistoric-looking fish ought to look familiar to many home aquarium keepers, as it's a Plecostomus, best known as the "algae eater."

I had not known that the Plecostomus had been introduced into Florida waters, but many other fish have. (Another lovely aquarium fish, the Oscar, has become quite a pest in the Everglades, and there's no season or limit on them.)

Another surprise (as I didn't realize they'd become so common) was to a number of alligators swimming in the canal right alongside Highway 75, which I later learned is called "Alligator Alley" because there are so many of the beasties there. (Unfortunately, this was a highway, and I was driving too fast to stop for pictures.)

The Florida trip must have triggered some hidden inner yearning to be a fish, because I was inexplicably led to this online personality test -- "What kind of aquarium fish are you?"

What kind of aquarium fish are you?

Spidey the Bloodfin Tetra

Much like the real Spidey, you are not one to ask for fame. You are satisfied relaxing behind the plant and rocks. This shows how smart you are and has caused you to survive the daily havoc of the tank.

Personality Test Results

Click Here to Take This Quiz
Brought to you by YouThink.com quizzes and personality tests.

Hmmm.... I think I'd prefer to be a baby alligator, but who said life was fair?

The test did get one thing right, though. Bloodfin tetras "tend to nip at the fins of fish with long, wavy fins."

I'm definitely into that.

posted by Eric at 06:17 PM | Comments (1)



William F. Buckley, Jr. 1925-2008

I'm sorry to hear on the radio that William F. Buckley, Jr. has died. (Confirmed by Marc Ambinder, who cites the National Review's Corner.)

Kathryn Jean Lopez reports as follows:

I'm devastated to report that our dear friend, mentor, leader, and founder William F. Buckley Jr., died overnight in his study in Stamford, Connecticut.

After year of illness, he died while at work; if he had been given a choice on how to depart this world, I suspect that would have been exactly it. At home, still devoted to the war of ideas.

I didn't always agree with Buckley, but the guy was a towering intellect, a rugged individualist, and above all, a man with a marvelous sense of humor. I will really miss his trenchant insights.

MORE: Speaking of that marvelous sense of humor, I thought the readers of this blog might appreciate this YouTube video of Buckley sitting though Allen Ginsburg singing Hare Krishna on his Firing Line show:

By his facial expressions alone, I think Buckley clearly won the debate!

MORE: The AP has a good writeup here.

AND MORE: Don't miss Buckley making the conservative case for drug legalization:

posted by Eric at 11:25 AM | Comments (0)



Is there a glass ceiling in the back of the bus?

I think the most likely end result of all of the Democratic Party infighting I discussed in the last post will be a Clinton Obama "party unity" ticket. This assumes that Obama would swallow his pride and accept the number two spot even if he won the most delegates.

It might sound ugly, but it's the way political sausage is made.

The magic of this party unity ticket is that there will no white men; and of course there will be two words to describe those who vote for McCain.

"Racist!"

Plus "sexist!"

But does that really settle everything?

The racist, sexist Republican issue aside, political realities dictate that if there is going to be any Democratic "unity ticket," someone is inevitably going to have to accept a subordinate role on it.

I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking that having Hillary on top might make it appear that the issue of sexism is more important than the issue of racism. And if Obama wins the most votes, forcing him to accept the number two spot could very well be said to take on the appearance of racism, and (in the minds of many) would convey the clear implication that even in the Democratic party, a black man who won fair and square is still treated like a second class citizen, and must be still be put in his proper place.

Will Obama accept a subordinate role of helping to shatter the glass ceiling from the back of the bus?

And while few seem to be asking it, there's an alternative "national unity" question: would Hillary accept the number two spot?

Or would that be seen as another respectful nod towards the traditional patriarchal approach of keeping women in their proper place?

This election is shaping up to put the entire country in one of those damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you don't situations.

Despite my penchant for complaining about damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don'ts, the only thing I can predict with any degree of accuracy is that I'll be damned.

MORE: Via Glenn Reynolds, Dr. Helen has an interesting post on the subject of whether Obama is feminized. To the extent that he is, and to the extent that feminism equals socialism, this might make it easier for him and his followers to accept a subordinate role for him -- not as a black man (and certainly not as an individual) but as a feminized man.

Doncha just love identity politics?

posted by Eric at 10:08 AM | Comments (5)



may the best votes win!

Regardless of who "wins" the Democratic primary elections next week, neither candidate will win enough delegates to win the nomination. All that will happen is that both will win more delegates in proportion to the vote. If the races are close, this means there will be no major net change, and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama's delegate stalemate will remain with neither a clear winner.

Unfortunately, the endless debates, countless vote counts, and exciting predictions make the process seem a lot more democratic than it really is.

However, Americans are now waking up to the ugly secret that in the Democratic Party, some votes (those of the superdelegates) count more than other votes. A lot more:

Clinton, former president Bill Clinton (a superdelegate himself) and their allies have been working aggressively for months to court the superdelegates, drawing on old loyalties to open a huge advantage for the senator from New York in total delegates amassed.

"One person, one vote? Forget about it. Some votes are worth more than others. You have to know the rules," said Donna Brazile, the campaign manager for Al Gore in the 2000 presidential race and a D.C. superdelegate.

Of the nearly 300 superdelegates who have committed to a candidate, out of a total of 796, Clinton leads Obama roughly by a 2-to-1 ratio, according to numerous counts. The lead is so substantial, her campaign asserts, that even if Obama pulls ahead in pledged delegates after Feb. 5, Clinton will probably retain a modest edge in the overall delegate tally.

But there is a catch. While delegates chosen in a primary or caucus are technically committed to a candidate, superdelegates can change their allegiance at any time.

The threat of a wholesale shift hangs over both candidates....

More here from Sean Gonsalves of the Cape Cod Times:
What if Clinton and Obama are neck-and-neck on the delegate count going into the convention and the superdelegates aren't just a deciding factor but the deciding factor? What if the Clinton super delegate "firewall" trend continues and these super delegates end up crowning Hillary king, even though Obama gets more votes?

True, all the candidates knew the "rules" going in. So, Hillary's delegate advantage can be considered "fair play." But if this undemocratic "rule" should happen to beat a more popular Obama, there's going to be lots of folks, inside and outside the party, rightly crying foul.

That was written on February 11, and right now, I'd say the "what if" is looking more and more like a political certainty.

What has become increasingly obvious (even to political outsiders) is that because the votes in the remaining primaries will not be enough to put either candidate over the magic number, this race will be decided by a few hundred people -- known collectively as "the superdelegates."

I'd say the smoke-filled rooms are back! But I can't say that, because today's Democratic Party activists are about as tolerant of smoking as Iranian mullahs are of gay disco dancing. Maybe no-smoking-sign-filled rooms.

This is shaping up to be an all-out war, waged delegate by delegate.

They could have saved them the trouble by not bothering with the primaries, and just let the party insiders decide who gets it. I can't think of a better way to create a permanent rupture than allowing a class of young, starry-eyed idealists not only to vote for the candidate of their dreams (a man they consider the literal embodiment of "hope") , but then actually see him win democratically, and in a crowning blow, finally see hope destroyed in the most undemocratic manner imaginable.

To fuel the animosity this shattering of hope will cause, there will doubtless be lots of individual horror stories about idealistic delegates who found themselvse forced to switch sides.

The more I read about superdelegates, the more I shudder at the thought of being one.

Exactly who are these people? Some 800 strong, they are by no means experienced players of political hardball, yet Hillary Clinton has hired the hardest of the hardballers (Harold Ickes) to do precisely that. The hardball game has barely started, but already, there are numerous stories of what is euphemistically being called "aggressive lobbying."

As the LA Times relates, many of the superdelegates were not prepared for what seems to be their fate:

Some superdelegates are wondering themselves about the power they may exert.

"I don't think any of us got into this thinking we would somehow be part of a small group of people who get to select the next president of the United States -- or at least the party's nominee," Millin said. "Most reasonable people assumed the race would be over by Super Tuesday, if not in New Hampshire."

Millin, BTW, is described as an ophthalmologist who "fits people for glasses and performs cataract operations." A couple of other examples:
Debbie Marquez owns a restaurant whose specialty is chicken enchiladas in creamy jalapeno sauce. Christopher Stampolis is looking for a job now that the industrial recycling company where he worked for the last decade closed.
Hey, spreading a little cash around might work wonders. And between now and August, there should be plenty of cash to spread.

All over the country, there are reports of cash spreading and aggressive lobbying. These things just seem to go hand in hand.

Forgive my cynicism, but I'm wondering out loud whether any of these 800 people might have skeletons in their, um, closets.

You don't think Ickes and his ilk might hire dirt diggers background checkers, do you?

That would be very undemocratic, but Im not the first to wonder out loud, as did this anonymous commenter at Ben Smith's blog:

Does anyone remember Harold Ickes? He is baaaaaaaaaaack! He is the absolute and definitive dirtmeister. He was the person floating that rumor that Lewinski was a poor, disturbed, unsettled stalker. Just another stupid woman who idolized BC. Until that poor, disturbed, stupid, unsettled stalker turned up with that, gag!, blue dress.

Unfortunately, human nature is such that we run back to what is familiar and what has worked. She can not do that because this is exactly what the people want to get away from. You can not argue change when you are going back to the politics of personal destruction.

Does anyone doubt that Ickes is out there digging up dirt and scum on every single super delegate? For leverage?

One pundit nailed the description perfectly. Incendiary tactics. It is what the Clintons excel at. And you can bet, with Ickes on board, that is what he is doing.

While there are already reports of dirt digging ("Hillary Clinton campaign using detectives to investigate the private lives of the Super Delegates"), Allah dismisses the idea as impractical:
How would this work, though? She's not going to blackmail 600-700 people, let alone powerful party insiders, and if she gets wiped out on March 4 in Texas and Ohio that's about how many of them are going to break Obama's way. Unless she's counting on a down-to-the-wire race where a handful can be flipped, this is crap. Rose-scented crap, but crap.
Thomas Elias looks at these relatively obscure people, and asks some questions:
There's no known moral dirt on any of these people. But none was elected by anyone as a convention delegate. Many got their seats on the DNC as rewards for longtime party activism and fund-raising, with no one seriously expecting they would have anything much to do with choosing a president.

But things can work out strangely. After more than 50 years of not mattering much, the Democratic National Convention just might actually decide something other than an esoteric platform plan that 99 percent of Americans will quickly forget.

And these few Californians could be the ones who swing it one way or the other. The question: Do they deserve that role? Do you want them deciding the fate of the nation and possibly yourself?

While it doesn't much matter what I want, I think it might be helpful to take a little pressure off these people by coming up with some sort of rule that their votes should reflect the majority. But it may be too late for that.

With the Democrats' "dirty delegate secret" now out of the bag, it should be interesting to watch what happens.

What happens if cash and "aggressive lobbying" don't work? At what point does "aggressive lobbying" cross a line and become something akin to extortion?

I think the guys who learned the hardball game decades ago would do well to remember that overpressured, aggressively lobbied, and disgruntled superdelegates can do things like start whistle-blowing blogs (something impossible in the old days).

I don't know what's going to happen, but I do know this. When I predicted that Hillary would not go gently into the good night, I think I might have been understating the case.

UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for linking this post, especially for the quote, and a warm welcome to all.

Comments always appreciated -- agree or disagree.

posted by Eric at 09:18 AM | Comments (16)




Coming soon....The Hillary Surge?

Rightly or wrongly, Frank Rich (in a piece called "The Audacity of Hopelessness") has applied the Iraq war model to the Democratic primary election:

WHEN people one day look back at the remarkable implosion of the Hillary Clinton campaign, they may notice that it both began and ended in the long dark shadow of Iraq.
It's not just that her candidacy's central premise -- the priceless value of "experience" -- was fatally poisoned from the start by her still ill-explained vote to authorize the fiasco. Senator Clinton then compounded that 2002 misjudgment by pursuing a 2008 campaign strategy that uncannily mimicked the disastrous Bush Iraq war plan. After promising a cakewalk to the nomination -- "It will be me," Mrs. Clinton told Katie Couric in November -- she was routed by an insurgency.

The Clinton camp was certain that its moneyed arsenal of political shock-and-awe would take out Barack Hussein Obama in a flash. The race would "be over by Feb. 5," Mrs. Clinton assured George Stephanopoulos just before New Year's. But once the Obama forces outwitted her, leaving her mission unaccomplished on Super Tuesday, there was no contingency plan. She had neither the boots on the ground nor the money to recoup.

That's why she has been losing battle after battle by double digits in every corner of the country ever since. And no matter how much bad stuff happened, she kept to the Bush playbook, stubbornly clinging to her own Rumsfeld, her chief strategist, Mark Penn. Like his prototype, Mr. Penn is bigger on loyalty and arrogance than strategic brilliance.

It's actually rather funny, and Rich's conclusion hints at a sequel:
What's next? Despite Mrs. Clinton's valedictory tone at Thursday's debate, there remains the fear in some quarters that whether through sleights of hand involving superdelegates or bogus delegates from Michigan or Florida, the Clintons might yet game or even steal the nomination. I'm starting to wonder. An operation that has waged political war as incompetently as the Bush administration waged war in Iraq is unlikely to suddenly become smart enough to pull off that duplicitous a "victory." Besides, after spending $1,200 on Dunkin' Donuts in January alone, this campaign simply may not have the cash on hand to mount a surge.
Oh come now! There's plenty of cash in the Clinton coffers. What about the library money? The foreign speaking fees? The Ickes-founded Media Fund?

I'm thinking part two will be titled "The Hillary Surge"? With Ickes as General Petraeus, perhaps?

I'm so excited by the Clinton war strategy that I think I just might turn on tonight's debate.

Too bad it isn't going to be narrated by Ollie North!

UPDATE: They're starting the debate and Brian WIlliams begins with the contrast...

From honor to shame in less than a week!

Hillary's stressing their differences and she's getting passionate about health care.

9:09 --They're discussing leaflets and inaccurate claims. Hillary is fixing Obama with The Look, as never before.

Obama says "we haven't whined about it" regarding the mailings from Hillary's camp.

Hillary is indignant about the health care issue, as if she takes the issue personally. (The "attack" on "my" health care plan!")

Now she's comparing Obama to Republicans....

(You go girl. With every word, you're making him look better and better.)

Obama is remaining calm and polite, Hillary alternately smirks and grimaces.

9:13 -- Once again, Obama says he won't force people. Hillary is carrying on about the need for force, and analogizes to making social security voluntary.

It's obvious that Hillary takes "her" health care personally, and Obama treats it as an issue and a goal. Their positions are not that far apart but they are not on the same page emotionally.

9:17 -- In a scolding tone, Hillary said that young people often don't want to buy health insurance.

(What's amazing to me is that they're debating over how to best take away the right to take care of yourself.)

9:21 -- And now it's NAFTA. Hillary said she always opposed it, and Obama cites her record to the contrary. They both agree that free trade agreements are bad without "worker protection," "environmental standards," and "safety standards." (Right. Cracking down on fleeing industries will make them stay in business here.)

Russert asks her whether she'll opt out of NAFTA. She says "yes unless we renegotiate." He also points out that she said NAFTA was good for New York.

9:27 -- Obama also says he'll renegotiate and basically agrees with Hillary.

Glenn Reynolds links an interesting piece on Obama's anti-American background.

Obama's women reveal his secret: he hates America.
Devastating if true.

9:37 -- Hillary says that Obama "didn't have responsibility" when he voted against Iraq. I agree with her that he was wrong, but I'm not sure why she had responsibility and he didn't. (She also snarks against Obama's invasion of Pakistan.)

Obama repeats that Iraq was a big strategic blunder, etc.

Again, Hillary wins on Iraq and foreign policy.

Obama says he's in a stronger position against McCain.

(That depends on what you think is strength.)

9:46 -- Hillary is nailing Obama's lack of foreign policy experience, stressing his lack of oversight capacity. Backpedaling a bit, Obama says he will always reserve the right to look out for American interests.

Hillary is interrupting, but it's commecial break time!

(Yay.)

9:53 -- The break is over and they just "mistakenly" showed Hillary doing her fake Obama rapture routine. Taking it all in stride, Obama opined that it was funny and pretty good humor. This prompted Hillary's cackle, which sounded exactly like my ring tone.

Obama says that he is not all talk, and explains why.

Hillary says she was having a little fun with the rapture routine, and returns yet again to socialized health care.

10:10 -- Tim Russert has not hesitated to pile it on with the questions. For Hillary:

  • -- Where did the $5 million come from?
  • Why not release the tax returns?
  • What about the National Archives material?
  • Hemming and hawing from Hillary about how she's trying, but there's "the process" and it won't be until next week.

    For Obama, Russert asks about Farrakhan.

    Obama says he denounced him and cites examples.

    Hillary says "there's a difference between denouncing and rejecting," and that Obama's denunciation wasn't enough!

    With that, Obama said he was rejecting!

    And with that, they took a break.

    (Have to say, this'll all be great stuff on YouTube.)

    10:35 -- I have to say, I liked Obama's words about not wanting "to go back to those old categories of what is liberal and what is conservative."

    There was more on foreign relations, with Hillary attempting to score points about Putin's replacement, and Russia. Obama said he'd work with the international community if there was trouble.

    Hillary also characterized a whole string of world problems (including Darfur, China, and Hamas) as "what we will inherit from George Bush." (The man is more powerful than I imagined, making all these problems!)

    As to what they would have done differently in the Senate, Hillary said it was Iraq, and Obama said it was Terri Schiavo.

    Finally, the closing. They let Hillary go last again, and it was Obama's turn to be gracious to Hillary. He allowed that she had performed "magnificently" and that she would be a better president than McCain.

    Echoing her book title, Hillary said she'd be "history making" (doh!) and that having a woman as president would be a "sea change" which would change who gets to do things and what the rules are. She can actually change the country, etc.

    And quite lamely (IMO) she then carried on again about health care.

    The post-debate analysts don't seem to think either candidate won in any big way.

    MORE: All in all, I agree with Tom Elia:

    If McCain can't beat either of these two, the Repubs deserve to lose.
    (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

    MORE: One last observation about tonight's debate. It strikes me that Hillary's main argument against Obama is that he is not experienced enough, but she is. Granted that he is inexperienced, exactly how does this make her experienced? Having been married to a president is hardly experience of the sort which counts, and while Hillary has served in the Senate, I don't hear her say much about solid accomplishments there. Instead, she keeps returning to one of her worst features -- her failed, illegally conceived and executed, 1993 health care plan from Hell.

    As if it's an accomplishment!

    Trying and failing to do something which would have been awful had it succeeded is certainly "experience," but to carry on as if it is her main accomplishment in life is unsettling, and it undercuts her argument that she is ready to serve as president but Obama is not.

    What exactly are her solid accomplishments?

    I'm not alone in wondering.

    Adam Hanft also wondered, so he checked, and found very little:

    Is she truly a beacon of experience? Because I couldn't think of a single piece of legislation that has her name stuck proudly on the front of it, no equivalent of McCain-Feingold, for example, I headed straight for her campaign website to see what glorious aspects of her vaunted experience I was missing.

    Actually, I was missing nothing. There is not one single example of any legislation with her name appended to it. In fact, the page devoted to her Senate biography is a mush-mash, a laundry list of good intentions. When she talks about "sponsoring" and "introducing" and "fighting for" legislation that obviously hasn't passed, that's a smokescreen for failure. By introducing all that legislation that never makes it out of committee, she's guilty of what she accuses Senator Obama of: confusing "hoping" with doing.

    Pot. Kettle. Etc.

    posted by Eric at 09:00 PM | Comments (2)



    God hates dog

    I complain a lot about the growing nanny state threat to dog ownership in the United States, but fortunately, dog control measures are nowhere near as draconian here as they are in Iran:

    A 70-year-old Iranian man was arrested and sentenced to four months in jail and 30 lashes for walking his dog, Adnkronos.com reported Tuesday. Police caught the man on the street with his dog in Shahr Rey, a suburb of Tehran.

    Owners of domestic animals are forbidden from taking them on the streets of the city because Islam considers dogs to be impure. An Islamic judge later charged the man for "disturbing the public order," Adnkronos.com reported.

    Four months in the slammer plus thirty lashes? The things Coco takes for granted here! Why, she demands walks daily at least. Next time she nags me for not walking her enough I'll tell her about what would happen to us in Iran!

    I take it that keeping a small Vietnamese pot belly pigs as pets in Iran would probably be a no-no too.

    For his part, president Ahmadinejad seems to have a hypocritical attitude about Iran's religious anti-dog dogma:

    President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently provoked debate in Iran about dog ownership when he took possession of four guard dogs, bought in Germany for approximately $161,040 each.
    Yeah, and he likes to play around with Hugo Chavez too. But as I proved in a previous post, neither Mahmoud nor Hugo have as much fun as Trey and Coco!

    More here on the dogs of Mahmoud.

    At times like this I'm almost inclined to agree with the Peter Singer view that "a rat is a pig is a dog is a Mahmoud."

    posted by Eric at 06:09 PM | Comments (2)



    Hillary gives people an Ickes feeling ....

    Earlier today I read that democratic operatives in Pennsylvania are doing their damnedest to keep Ralph Nader off the ballot.

    I see this as further evidence that Hillary Clinton has every intention of winning the nomination -- which, even assuming she wins Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, she will have to win by the hardest of hardball tactics

    Hillary's hardest hardball of them all is Harold Ickes, who plans to win by manipulating the superdelegates -- by any means necessary:

    ...Ickes believes that if Obama has only a very narrow lead, Clinton could get away with using the superdelegates to overturn that lead.

    But I wonder. It seems to me that a huge battle and a badly divided party would result, especially if black voters felt that their party had betrayed them by using the votes of big shots to replace the will of the people.

    "There will be some hurt feelings initially," Ickes said. "But in a very tight election, Barack Obama will swing in behind Hillary Clinton and black people will vote for her and she will be able to bring in Hispanic voters also."

    Via Glenn Reynolds, who also links this post:
    ...she's ahead in Ohio and holding her own in Texas. She's done her part, now it's up to voters and her supporters.

    The media and her opponents count her out at their peril. They could well end up with egg on their faces, just like after New Hampshire. It's not over.

    It most definitely is not over.

    And it won't be over for quite some time.

    Once again, I hope Obama can stop Hillary. I say this not only because I'm a McCain supporter and I think Obama would be ultimately easier to beat, but because I do not want a return of the sleazy hardball Clintons to the White House.

    However, two salient facts stand out:

    1. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are in a virtual draw -- one which will likely remain; and

    2. Obama is up against a very powerful machine which is quite capable of ensuring her victory through hardball tactics.

    Putting aside all the current emotion and hoopla (as well as the observations of countless pundits), I think the odds still favor Hillary.

    However, if we factor in the emotion, a hardball victory by Hillary will come at enormous cost, both to her and the Democratic Party.

    Emotions run high in politics, and they will run very high with Obama supporters, many of whom are young activists who will believe they have been cheated out of a legitimate victory and shafted by business-as-usual establishment types, whose hardball tactics will be seen as loathsome and dishonest (as well as quite possibly racist).

    Many in this newly embittered group could very well be expected to support Nader.

    (Assuming, of course, that the Nader candidacy survives the forces of Harold Ickes....)

    posted by Eric at 12:02 PM | Comments (2)



    And the endorsements keep rolling in!

    Speaking of context, yesterday's post on Louis Farrakhan's endorsement of Obama reminded me that because anyone can endorse anyone (and thus, candidates cannot control them), endorsements have to be seen in context.

    That Farrakhan endorsed Obama does not mean a lot in and of itself, and it certainly isn't fair to imply that Obama agrees with the remarks that he made, much less the crackpot philosophy of his church. (Like it or not, NOI is a church.)

    However, it strikes me as fair to point out that Hillary too, gets endorsements. Both real endorsements and purported endorsements -- and from both real people and purported people!


    I suppose I should rank Hillary's notable endorsements in order of importance.

    Obviously, Madonna is the most important:

    Upliftingly spiritual, I'd say!

    How about Osama bin Laden? He's important too, and according to this video, he's endorsed her. (You be the judge of whether it's real and accurate, fake but accurate, or real but inaccurate.)

    Of less importance than Osama bin Laden is Vladimir bin Lenin -- who seems to have undergone some sort of corrective procedure.

    I don't know whether this is real, because Lenin is dead. But I guess you could say he might as well be alive, so it might as well represent his views.

    Of only slightly less importance than Lenin is OJ Simpson, who, unless the following video is fake, not only appears to have clearly endorsed Hillary, but has given a very clear reason:

    "Just for me knowing that if she needs some advice she's got him [Bill Clinton] there, she's got my vote."

    For me, that's a good reason not to vote for Hillary, but then, I'm not OJ.

    Next in importance comes Heidi Fleiss, the famed DC madam:


    You'd think that as a small business owner, Ms. Fleiss would realize that Democrats generally hate the entrepreneurial class.

    Hmmm... I'm almost tempted to interject a famous line from Texas barbecue chef Drayton Sawyer, but then again, there's that context issue.

    Oh what the hell. He said famously that "the small businessman always gets it in the ass."

    But that has nothing to do with Heidi Fleiss, OK? (I'm not saying that the readers here have filthy minds, mind you. Quite the opposite; which is why I went out of my way to disavow any such implication!)

    Next in importance is Sister Paula, whose endorsement of Hillary seems utterly sincere and from the heart.

    And finally, a Hillary Supporter named Gladys, who does her best to make a case for Hillary despite obviously difficult circumstances:

    posted by Eric at 11:06 AM | Comments (0)



    my context is not mine

    What is creation? I'm not getting cosmic here, because I'm talking about the manufacturing process -- whether in the artistic sense or the commercial sense or both -- when a thing or things are made by man. In the broad sense, creation can be said to be anyone making anything, but in the property sense this is a little too broad. Because, anything which is made (or created) is not really considered a creation until the creator deems it so. Thus, if I stop writing this post right now, and I do not publish it, I cannot be said to have created or authored this post even though I wrote it. There are many hundreds of unfinished posts in the archives of this blog, and if someone managed to dig them out, it would be wholly unreasonable (and probably illegal, although I don't know the exact law) for that person to declare me the "author" of what I did not release and publish. To say that I "wrote" it might even be a stretch. If an artist takes a blank canvas and paints a background color, then throws a few colors on top of that to see how it looks and ultimately loses interest in the subject, can it really be said to be a painting by that artist?

    Likewise, in manufacturing, a product cannot be said to be a product of a company which never releases it for distribution -- even if it is identical and made by the company employees in the same factory. To illustrate how crazy this is, when I was in Bangkok in the 1980s, the same factories that made name-brand La Coste shirts by day would keep cranking them out by night, only the night-time shirts were unauthorized, even though they were identical in every detail to the officially licensed versions. You could call this a form of theft by the workers, and obviously an unlicensed version of anything makes it less than real thing -- no matter how real it is. No expert in those days could possibly have been able to distinguish between the "real" La Coste shirts made by day and the "fake" La Coste shirts cranked out of the same factories by night, because they were identical. So what is a creation? Something made? Or something authorized and licensed? It strikes me that there is no agreed-upon definition.

    Salvador Dali was much ridiculed for allegedly declaring that art by him was not his even though he had "created" it and signed it, and the following anecdote is well known and often repeated by art critics and gallery owners in support of the position that Dali had no standards:

    The French art publisher Jean-Paul Delcourt, a signatory to some controversial Dali prints, tells about acquiring a dozen "Dali" lithographs from an American publisher and reselling them to an English dealer. The Englishman complained later than Enrique Sabater had declared them to be fakes, and a customer wanted his money back. The American publisher refused to do so because he had certificates of authenticity. Delcourt says he saw Dali at the Meurice Hotel and showed the prints to Dali and Gala.

    "Dali whispered into Gala's ear, and Gala repeated his statement to me: 'Dali says the picture is good, the signature is good, but the work is a fake,' " Delcourt recalls.

    "Why is it a fake?" Delcourt asked.

    "The answer: 'Dali has not been paid.'

    Now, admittedly, that looks like a ridiculous and arrogant statement for any artist to make. But why is it more ridiculous than it would be for the La Coste trademark owner to assert that shirts made in its own factories bearing its own logo were less than genuine if they went out the back door at night?

    What is the difference between unauthorized creations and remarks made by politicians who speak "off the record"? And what about context? Does that mean anything?

    Yesterday there was a big flap over Barack Obama's native costume. I thought it was a big yawn, but I guess he's lucky that he wasn't dressed up as one of the Three Kings for a Christmas pageant. What ought to matter is the intent.

    I mean, here's Hillary Clinton, advocating white supremacy:

    There's a more recent actual statement by Hillary which struck me as so surreal that I thoroughly enjoyed taking it "out" of "context." On Saturday, while waving her hands in an apparently enthusiastic manner, Hillary told her admiring reportorial entourage that she was running for president. The full video is here, but I have deliberately taken her "I'M RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT!" remark out of context to illustrate my point:

    Hey wait a minute!

    I just said I was taking out of context Hillary's remark that she's running for president.

    Well, she did say that, didn't she?

    And she is running for president, isn't she?

    Something does not make sense.

    MORE: Pajamas Media has a roundup of reactions to the Obama costume context flap. (Via Glenn Reynolds, who knows that sartorial diversity can lead to problems.)

    posted by Eric at 08:59 AM | Comments (3)




    "He got 3 votes!"

    God help me, but I thought this was funny.

    It's not nice to laugh at people's misfortunes.

    I must be sicker than I realized.

    posted by Eric at 04:54 PM | Comments (1)



    The savior and the she-devil

    While I doubt it matters to any of the people in question, I don't especially like Louis Farrakhan's crackpot race-based view of Barack Obama:

    "This young man is the hope of the entire world that America will change and be made better," he said. "This young man is capturing audiences of black and brown and red and yellow. If you look at Barack Obama's audiences and look at the effect of his words, those people are being transformed."

    Farrakhan compared Obama to the religion's founder, Fard Muhammad, who also had a white mother and black father.

    "A black man with a white mother became a savior to us," he told the crowd of mostly followers. "A black man with a white mother could turn out to be one who can lift America from her fall."

    If I were Obama, I'd tell Farrakhan to go pee up a rope while wearing his best suit. But being that this is politics, Obama will probably ignore him.

    Seriously, if we consider the context of Farrakhan's remarks, he's comparing Obama to a deity. The speech was delivered at the annual "Savior's Day" celebration, which commemorates the birth of Wallace Fard Muhammad -- a man believed by NOI members to be the incarnation of Allah, and who founded a religion based on the principle that all white men were created evil:

    Fard claimed that armageddon was imminent. His doctrine maintained that black people in America had a duty to discover their origins and purpose. Out of all the nations of the Earth, diasporic Africans, particularly those in "the hells of North America," were the only nation without any knowledge of their history, no control of their present lives, and without any guidance for their future. Black people had been systematically denied knowledge of their true history by their white oppressors. Christianity was a religion of the slave owners that had been forced on enslaved or subordinated Black peoples. He claimed that Islam was the original faith of Black people prior to slavery, and that the original peoples of the world were Black. He called white people a race of devils created by a scientist named Yakub on the island of Patmos. He also claimed that Black people were divine by nature, created by Allah from the dark substance of space, and that a spacecraft was waiting to destroy all white people when the appointed time came.
    In my humble opinion, Obama ought to take any comparison to the above crackpot as a personal insult.

    Or is this a "religious" issue? I don't know, but I'm thinking it might be a good time for Obama to set the record straight, and say a few words on the subject of the NOI generally.

    He might at least make it clear that is running for president, not Savior. (And certainly not Allah in human form.)

    As to what might constitute an equivalent endorsement for Hillary Clinton, I don't know, but I suspect that if someone as kooky as Farrakhan crawled out of the woodwork and endorsed her, she'd speak up -- her status as a blue-eyed she-devil notwithstanding.

    But as I say, it makes no difference what I think, because according to the rules of identity politics, blue-eyed devils are not allowed to speak about such matters.

    Things are getting pretty wacky out there.

    How long must we wait for the mother ship?

    When will the appointed time come?

    posted by Eric at 10:21 AM | Comments (4)



    Hard core modest proposal

    Looking at the ongoing campaign he calls "soft jihad," (which "uses and abuses the language and the principles of democratic liberalism not to secure the institutions and attitudes that make freedom possible but, on the contrary, to undermine that freedom and pave the way for self-righteous, theocratic intolerance") Roger Kimball offers a modest proposal to combat it:

    ....start putting a bit of alcohol in everything edible or potable. There are, of course, other reasons for wishing to increase one's usual consumption of alcohol, but here is a patriotic imperative to guide you: what if you went into Harrod's food hall or your local grocery shop and every item had at least some trace amount of alcohol (or, alternatively, pork residue)? I understand that there might be certain logistical difficulties, but if the EU can effectively police the system of mensuration used in its jurisdiction, if it can prohibit certain types of bananas because they deviate too markedly from the perpendicular, then surely they can employ the vast apparatus of their bureaucracy to assure that a drop of alcohol or a dollop of bacon fat is added to any food stuff sold in Britain.

    It's only a start, I realize, but from a tiny acorn the might oak does grow.

    Kimball mentions the uproar over Doritos -- which already contain trace amounts of alcohol, and which are thus forbidden.

    I'm liking the modest booze and pork proposal, and I'm thinking it might dovetail nicely with an idea M. Simon discussed earlier -- the deliberate deployment of porn. Trace amounts could be simply added to everything until the total contamination of Islamic fundamentalism is assured.

    Fight soft jihad with hard core!

    Revive the "Democracy! Whiskey! Sexy!" campaign.

    Alcohol akbar!

    MORE: The original order of priorities was "Democracy! Whiskey! Sexy!" Correction noted.

    posted by Eric at 09:12 AM | Comments (2)




    Dead blogging the Oscars III

    Had it not been for this Pajamas Media piece, I might have forgotten that tonight was Oscar Night.

    Which would have been bad, right?

    Because it's been an annual tradition here that I'm at least supposed to Dead-blog the Oscars, and here I am just turning them on in time to see a woman who looks either crazy or on drugs win best actress. Now that I've googled her, it seems her reaction was predicted:

    Crazy is a word Cotillard reaches for in practically every sentence. It might also be invoked to describe her personality in the nicest way.

    When next year's awards season rolls around, and she nabs the best-actress prize that should by rights be hers for La Vie en Rose, her reaction on Oscar night could well make Italian director Roberto Benigni's notorious seat-vaulting incident at the ceremony in 1998 look subdued.

    I'm now curious to see the film, because she really looked pretty out of control getting the Oscar.

    Now that they're doing a best of retrospective, it's time for the Dead:


    Some good footage from a 1968 New York free concert (although the music that's been spliced in is not what they're playing).

    This is slow.

    The Dead are still more live than the Oscars.

    MORE (11:17 p.m.): Now they're piling on the anti-war crap.

    Zzzzzzzz.......

    MORE (11:34): Finally the best actor. Daniel Day Lewis, who IMO very much deserved to win. (I loved "There Will Be Blood.")

    11:39: And now for best picture..... Sorry, director!

    Joel and Ethan Coen for No Country for Old Men. (I haven't seen it.)

    11:45: Finally, best picture. Denzel Washington is announcing the award...

    It's "No Country for Old Men."

    I haven't seen it, but I doubt it's better than "There Will Be Blood."

    MORE: The Oscars shown fighting here are probably the best Oscars of the evening:

    May the best Oscar win!

    On a final note, I'm turning in, but if you still want Dead-blogging, here's a nifty 1972 film of a "Veneta, Oregon concert to benefit the Springfield Creamery in nearby Springfield, Oregon":

    The event was emceed by Ken Kesey and Ken Babbs. (And if you know who they are, may God have pity on your remaining brain cells!)

    MORE: Roger L. Simon (who, in addition to being a blogger, is a screenwriter no longer on strike) discusses the lackluster Oscar Awards and crummy films, and he offers ideas for new films. I especially liked this one:

    An infiltrator inside Al Qaeda. This is the most obvious, but who would that really be? Most Al Qaeda members are, superficially anyway, murderous thuggish Arab terrorist-types with a distinctly unromantic veneer. Hard to marry or build a romantic plot around even if a double-agent. (How do you deal with how he treats the Ilsa character or women in general?) And, sad to say, despite the fact that Al Qaeda is wildly misogynistic and homophobic, seeks world domination through primitive religious law while under the direction of a Saudi billionaire, many see it, incredibly, as an avatar of Frantz Fanon's Wretched of the Earth - in other words, "genuinely" on the side of the poor. Pathetically stupid, but not good for this film.
    If Hollywood really wanted to, they could make a film based on Al Qaeda's American member (Adam Gadahn, who'd have to be renamed) and depict him as homesick, wracked by internal guilt and torment, and finally secretly deciding to subvert Al Qaeda by making himself look totally preposterous and hopelessly unappealing as he loutishly spouts their propaganda -- hoping in the inner recesses of his heart that it will undermine their cause but knowing all the while that his valiant efforts will go forever unnoticed and unappreciated. Meanwhile, American government rogue scientists manage to get hold of Muhammad's DNA from the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul (it's there in the form of hair and teeth), and they illicitly clone an army of Muhammad embryos.....

    How the plot might turn out, I don't know. What I do know is that Hollywood's total lack of imagination is starting to show. Hence the awards mostly go to foreigners....

    I also liked Roger's conclusion:

    ...sad to say, this is a probably an academic exercise. I doubt Hollywood is ready to make a movie like this, even if it would be a hit. They just don't seem to want to cheer for our team, no matter how much the audience wants it.
    No, they just want to undermine their own country, and in the process they've so undermined their own industry that they've become self canceling.

    Even the glamor is gone.

    posted by Eric at 10:35 PM | Comments (2)



    If they're not racist, then they're sexist!
    And vice versa!
    Or both!

    I want to return to Dr. Helen's post about male-bashing, especially in the context of damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't scenario she discussed (and with which I identified).

    It has become apparent that Pennsylvania will be the ultimate showdown state in the increasingly nasty battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and no matter what happens, fault will be found with the men -- in this case white male Democrats.

    The way the identity politics issues are being framed, white men are fated to be stereotyped as the usual suspects -- villainous, stupid, slobs who will have deprived either a woman or a black man of the presidency.

    Hillary's hardest hardball player in Pennsylvania is Governor Ed Rendell, who fired the opening salvo by suggesting that some voters in his state would never vote for a black man -- a remark from which he later backed away, but which drew questions like this:

    Was it shooting from the hip or a planned political trick?
    I don't know what it was, but I do know that Ed Rendell is no dummie. He subsequently distanced himself from the remark, saying that he'd been quoted out of context and was referring only to a minority of Pennsylvania Democrats.

    If this election doesn't make people tired of the identity politics game, I don't know what will. I've been tired of it for a long time, but I think this time around, many Democrats are getting tired of it. The Obama versus Hillary contest is a classic damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't situation, and I pity the white male Democrats, because no matter what they do, they are hopeless bigots.

    Yesterday's Philadelphia Inquirer drove home the point that it's open season on white male Democrats with this editorial cartoon from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette:

    Sexist_PA_Men.JPG

    No matter how they vote, they're suspect!

    They simply cannot win.

    If I were a white male Democrat, I might be starting to learn how it feels to be a Republican.

    posted by Eric at 12:18 PM | Comments (9)




    Please not eight more years!

    This video shows Hillary Clinton earlier today getting about as close to becoming unhinged as she's been so far.

    She's literally screaming "Shame on you, Barack Obama!" and accusing Obama of acting like Karl Rove -- not because of genuine smear tactics, but because his campaign is distributing a leaflet criticizing her health care plan.

    Obama_shame.jpg

    I looked at the leaflet closely, and as political leaflets go, it's innocuous. Just run of the mill criticism.

    HCleaflet.jpg

    Not only that, the leaflet is accurate. If anything, it's an understatement of the problem posed by Hillary Clinton's health care plan from Hell.

    I think Stephen Green put it best when he drunkblogged a previous Obama/Hillary debate:

    Let's be honest about something here. The biggest reason to mandate health insurance is to force young, healthy people (millions of whom neither want nor need insurance) to pay in, thus lowering rates (and thus transferring wealth) to millions of old people who have a lot more money than young people. But old people also vote a lot more than young people. And by and large they vote for Democrats.
    If anyone deserves shame, it's Hillary, for she promises to use the heavy hand of government to destroy the best health care system in the world.

    Obama is right to criticize it. My only complaint is that he doesn't criticize it more strongly.

    Hillary's ceaseless braying about "my health care" is already very hard on the ears, but if she's elected president, the volume will only be turned up.

    Bad as it would be to have to witness the implementation of mandatory government health care by jack-booted nannies, there's something about the additional assault on the nerves from having to listen to Hillary while it's happening that I would find unendurable.

    As it is, I can barely stand to watch her on video.

    I hope the Democratic voters have the decency to put her out of our misery.

    AFTERTHOUGHT: As I've pointed before, I've been tired of Hillary Clinton for a long time. "Clinton fatigue" seems to be the name of the phenomenon, and it's a major reason I'd prefer Obama, even though as a Republican I won't vote for either of them.

    But right now, I'm wondering whether a lot of Democrats haven't also grown tired of Hillary. If they have, then obviously there's more to this than disagreements over policies.

    Can it be that she made a mistake in the timing of her overall campaign? By starting the campaign so early, is it possible that she's alienated people who might have been inclined to go along with her had she not worn them out? By Hillary's own admission, this has been "the longest presidential campaign in history."

    And who is to blame for that? Hillary herself. Because she started it way too early. (She's been informally running for president at least since 2002, and formally for over a year now.) You can't do that and not expect people to get tired of it. I realize the thinking was that people would need plenty of time to "get used to the idea" of having Hillary as president, as if people would be shocked by the fact that she's female. But isn't that a little dated? I don't think Americans would have any more problem electing a woman president than British did electing Margaret Thatcher. I don't think Hillary's femaleness is what bothers people, nor is it what required "getting used to." I think people were already very used to Hillary, but at some point in her endless campaign, she crossed that imaginary line that separates "getting used to" and "getting tired of."

    UPDATE: Ann Althouse (guest-blogging at InstaPundit) expresses outrage over Obama's audacity:

    How dare Obama hinge his argument on the notion that people will have ideas of their own about how to spend their money.

    MORE: The more that I think about it, the notion that people have any right to decide how to spend their money does violate basic socialist principles.

    But speaking of principles, I see that the Clinton campaign has been pushing the story about Obama hobnobbing with former Weather Underground terrorists. This is itself fascinating, as it opens up Hillary's own old Communist ties....

    Whether Obama will return fire in what many leftists would call "red baiting" remains to be seen.

    Were I in his position, I'd answer by saying that while I welcomed support from Communist radicals, I never went to work for them.

    Nor did my spouse ever pardon terrorists to help my political campaign.

    posted by Eric at 11:50 PM | Comments (10)



    Gypsy


    posted by Simon at 05:45 PM | Comments (0)



    We Are In Need

    Barry Rubin of GLORIA Center is taking a look at the latest call to arms by Hamas. If it is to be believed, it sounds like a last desperate message from a cut off segment of the army hoping the cavalry will arrive soon. From the looks of things the cavalry is not coming. In fact it may not even exist. Barry quotes Fathi Hamad, a Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC).

    "Where is your valor? Stop being such cowards. The time has come for you to awaken from this deep slumber. The time has come for your honor, dignity, and valor to awaken. Where are you, Muslims?...As a sign of your love for Allah and the Prophet, you should sweep away the borders, which were created by imperialism. We are in need of weapons, we are in need of food, we are in need of moral support, as well as support by the media, economic support, medical aid, and support in weapons."
    Note that his request for aid has brought no response. The Arab states are not interested in helping Hamas because they recognize it as part of a radical Islamist threat to them. And they are not very much interested in confronting America or fighting Israel either. Ironically, the West is far more concerned over the welfare of Gaza's Palestinians and aiding them than are other Arabs or Muslims.
    Evidently honor has taken a back seat to profits. The leaders of the Arab world have finally figured out that overt war against the West is not profitable.

    What is left is covert war. Covert war requires intimate contact. Spies and observers in the enemy camp. Essentially this is what brought down the Soviet Union. Intimate contact with the West ruined their self confidence. The Arabs in particular and Islam in general does not have the advantage of an Iron Curtain especially in the 'net age.

    I think the advance of pornography in Muslim/Arab culture which I have been following is instructive. The Arab/Islamic cultures have strict prohibitions and yet it proliferates. Reports say that 70% of cell phone users have pornography on their phones. The thing to keep in mind is that this is only one vector and important only because it can be easily tracked because people pay attention to it.

    There are other vectors which although "silent" are never the less powerful.

    ...all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

    What may be most seductive is that the West offers its adherents ease in this life. No need to await the next. Materialism weakens any religion based on a better life in the hereafter. American churches have adapted. Many offer their religion as a path to material success as well as goodness in this life. Islam, so far, has not adapted.

    What has made the West so powerful is doubt. Doubt the State. Doubt the Church. Doubt received Wisdom. Science applied to every facet of life. All Islam has to offer is faith. Faith is not enough. It must be coupled with doubt. Or as some wag once put it:

    "The Truth is out there"



    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 11:22 AM | Comments (7)



    Desperate Hillary is stuck on silly

    This piece by Democratic blogger David Musgrove takes a skeptical look at Hillary Clinton's latest bit of unoriginal and desperate sloganeering -- which can fairly be called the "It is time to get real" campaign:

    "It is time to get real -- to get real about how we actually win this election, and get real about the challenges facing America," Clinton lectured. "Let's get real. Let's get real about this election, let's get real about our future, let's get real about what it is we can do together."

    Given that Clinton's remarks were delivered during a fundraising event for her campaign, it is no surprise that the crowd cheered these lines. But for Democrats outside the Clinton bubble -- an increasingly large group these days -- attacking voters for being detached from reality is sure to rankle.

    I don't mean to sound like a moralistic scold (for my standards are quite low and I normally don't care about these things), but since Hillary has repeatedly gone out of her way to accuse Barack Obama of plagiarism, I can't give her a pass on this one.

    It's not just that Hillary has used "Let's get real" as choice of words, but she has plagiarized them in a political context nearly identical to the way they were used recently by a leading religious conservative blog -- in a post dated February 06, 2008, titled "Time To Get Real." The subject? That conservatives need to acknowledge political realities and support John McCain.

    Considering that Evangelical Outpost, Hugh Hewitt, and Powerline are all cited in support of the "Time To Get Real" argument, I find it tough to believe that Hillary's Internet-savvy team didn't notice it.

    Now, while I happen to think that it's a little ridiculous to level a charge of plagiarism for recycling words and phrases, Hillary set herself up for this ridicule, and Barack Obama was right to say that she was "getting into silly season."

    But since Hillary is stuck on silly, I only thought it fair to point out that additionally, there's a well-known film titled "Get Real" about British gay teens falling in love. (A film, BTW, that was made when Hillary was first lady.) There was also a "Get Real" TV series, as well as a song by David Bowie and Brian Eno. Thus, Hillary Clinton has arguably plagiarized conservative Republicans, a gay film, a TV series (which is literally "serial" plagiarism), and David Bowie and Brian Eno!

    I agree with Musgrove that it's desperation.

    And while I doubt she will, I think it may be time for Hillary to get real.

    (Hey, she could at least get real about plagiarism.....)

    posted by Eric at 09:42 AM | Comments (1)




    World Net Daily strikes again!

    Not long ago, groundless paranoid conspiracy allegations were floated against John McCain. What irritated me was not the idea that some crackpot would be making the allegations, but that such claims are being treated as "news" -- and are then believed by bloggers who ought to know better. In the case of the McCain allegations (he was said to have turned traitor and to have been living high in Hanoi with two prostitutes while pretending to be a prisoner), the smear was easily debunked by Ed Morrissey. (And by one of McCain's fellow POWs.)

    Obviously, no responsible person should take these kinds of smears seriously, and normally I wouldn't. After all, I don't spend much time debunking 9/11 Truther business, as it's beneath me.

    But when they are repeated by news outlets that should know better, when bloggers who should know better take them seriously, at that point a certain line is crossed.

    Just as I couldn't ignore the outrageous smear against John McCain, I find myself unable to ignore the latest outrageous and unsubstantiated accusation against Barack Obama.

    Once again, the biggest culprit turns out to be WorldNetDaily. (Via Shaun Mullen at the Moderate Voice who treats the link with the skepticism it deserves.)

    Apparently, WND is proud to break this "story" -- and their readers are congratulating them:

    Today the conservative website prides itself on being the only news organization to report - and by report, I mean use the headline 'Sleaze charge: I took drugs, had homo sex with Obama' - that some guy in Illinois posted a YouTube video alleging that he had sex and used drugs with Sen. Barack Obama in November 1999.

    Then World Net Daily goes so far as to post a poll on the site that says, 'What do you think of WND being the only news agency publishing Obama drug-sex story?'

    The people have spoken, and apparently 38.83% of WND readers (very different from Washington Blade readers, mind you) say, "This is something we simply call 'news,' and obviously WND is doing its fierce, independent job as the news leader."

    Way to go, WND. The validity of a home-recorded YouTube video titled "Obama's Limo Sex & Drug Party" surely can't be disputed.

    Unfortunately, a number of blogs I won't name have repeated the charges as if they're accurate, but as in the case of the McCain smear, I think they're less culpable than WND, which is considered by many to be a legitimate news and opinion site.

    Here's my problem. It pains me to admit it, but I actually like and respect some of WND's editorial columnists. That's why I feel obligated to say something, because if I didn't, I'd be giving WND a pass. They should be held to the same standards to which bloggers hold every other damn news outlet. If they're not, things will only get worse.

    The accuser has made four YouTube videos: here, here, here, and here.

    His credibility has been attacked and the whole thing has been called a hoax (before WND it had only been reported only by a questionable news site), and the bloggers who linked it are also accused of being Ron Paul supporters. (As to why Ron Paul supporters would be interested in sabotaging the Obama campaign, I'm not sure, but I guess they're kooky enough.)

    A blog called The Right Perspective did a long podcast interview with the accuser, and because I believe in being thorough, I listened to it in its entirety.

    To put it mildly, I find the accuser and his story wholly lacking in credibility. At one point, the interviewer asks him whether he contacted Drudge, and the man claimed he'd never heard of Drudge. How can it be that someone who knows how to use YouTube and has been interviewed on a podcast has never heard of Drudge? He also claimed that when he met Obama he was making $200-300,000 a month selling drugs, but that Obama -- a state legislator who had declared his intention of running for Congress -- got in his limo and then bought cocaine for him.

    And if that isn't fantastic enough, he says he was introduced to Obama by a limo driver for the "5 star limousine service" after telling him he was looking to go out and wanted to meet someone who would "show him Chicago." So the driver just, you know, went out and found Obama somewhere on the street in front of a lounge, and introduced him.

    Riiiight.

    But this was not a sex and drug date! The sex later just "happened out of the blue." The accuser says he wanted someone to hang out with because he was traveling. They had drinks first. He said he could really use a couple of lines to wake up. Then Obama made a phone call, the limo drove him somewhere, he got out of the limo came back with the drugs and then they left in the limo. The accuser says he gave Obama $250.00, then did a line off a CD case on his knee, started making advances, and this led to the sex. Then Obama asked to borrow his lighter and he knew that he was smoking crack.

    But seeing as you can't snort crack cocaine, and powdered cocaine is different, that means that Obama either already had the crack, and just went running around like an errand boy buying this total stranger powdered cocaine, or else he made two purchases while doing the errand, one for himself. (Common sense suggests that this is all such extremely reckless and risky behavior for an up-and-coming legislator as to be ridiculous on its face, but hey, I'm not WorldNetDaily.)

    After trashing Obama for buying a mansion, the accuser recited the details of how he started rubbing Obama's leg while doing a line. "When you're rubbing against someone's leg and they're not saying no, then you know you have an opportunity."

    By the way, he says "I have never said that he's gay.... I can say that he's bisexual."

    Michelle Obama, he asserts, is also a part of this coverup.

    He says that when the limo driver comes out and admits this, Obama won't be able to deny it.

    I'm tempted to ask just where the hell is this limo driver who introduces state legislators to gay travelers as tour guides and drug dealers, but I hate to spoil such a rich story.

    Oh, and the next day, Obama came over for more sex.

    Forgive me for repeating the details, but I can think of no other way to demonstrate how ridiculous and how downright implausible this "news" story is.

    There is not one shred of evidence save this one man's word.

    A number of Freepers claim the Clintons are behind it.

    I hope they are not, because people who will do something like this are capable of anything.

    What I want to know is why WorldNetDaily isn't running this man's story:

    OK, I'm trying to be funny, and I'd like to laugh this all off, but it isn't the first time. That this is being treated as news by WorldNetDaily left me no choice but to painstakingly hear out the entire claim, word by word.

    I'm feeling a bit too tired and a bit too depressed to illustrate the logical error involved. Otherwise, I might put my camera on a tripod, start the video recording, and then relate the story of lesbian S&M orgies in which Hillary Clinton forced me to participate, and the drugs she sold me.

    (I'm still suffering from post traumatic stress, because her riding crop hurt me. And she never even let me wear a condom even though I asked for one. She kept saying "NO YOU CAN'T!"

    I'm telling you, it's all seared, seared into my brain! Oh the horror!)

    posted by Eric at 03:18 PM | Comments (4)



    All the change that's fit to Xerox!

    I was up late last night writing a post about the Texas debate for Pajamas Media.

    Read it here.

    I expected gladiatorial combat, but the most exciting thing that happened was Hillary's revival of the plagiarism charge, with the "change you can Xerox" remark.

    This drew boos, and IMO it would have lost the debate for Hillary but for the last minute display of emotion which was widely seen as a farewell adress, and which I think might have been a deliberate attempt at drama. (Last night I speculated that she was "purposely, emotionally invoking fate, and in an almost maudlin, even torch song manner.")

    As to the plagiarism charge, Hillary was asking for it, and InstaPundit guest bloggers Megan McArdle and Ann Althouse have linked several posts. Regarding the last one, Ann Althouse rightly observes,

    Hillary really set herself up for this. I think that if your candidacy is going to be about accusations of unoriginality, then you'd better be sure that you've always used your own words...
    Plus there's this video.

    I'm feeling inspired by what Obama said last night:

    ...you know, this is where we start getting into silly season, in politics, and I think people start getting discouraged about it...
    The silly season it is!

    And I feel like plagiarizing too!

    So, I humbly submit my version of change you can Xerox!

    xeroxchange.jpg

    My apologies to the Xerox corporation for any trademark infringement they have suffered.

    However, they should be aware that my plagiarism is protected by my constitutional right to parody, as well as the right to keep and bear change.

    (I don't know how much change I can spare, though....)

    posted by Eric at 09:41 AM | Comments (2)




    Damned with faint pride

    If there's one thing I understand, it's damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't situations. Why I am so plagued by them I don't know. But I really identified with a sentiment expressed in an email underlying the topic of Dr. Helen's excellent post on male bashing:

    A few years ago Lionel Richie allowed his wife to knock him around a bit. When the media started to question his masculinity he reminded them that it didn't matter what line of defense he took, the media would turn it on him; if he hit his wife back in defense or retaliation, he'd become a woman-beater and abusive husband, but if he sat there and took it, he's labeled as less than a man. It doesn't matter what we do, we're vilified through the narrow focus of society and the media. The world has changed and it's folly to believe that our gender hasn't changed with it.
    I wholeheartedly agree with Dr. Helen's approach that simply confronting anti male bigotry wherever you see it is the best way to combat it, and here's what she said about the damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't conundrum:
    ....most people are terrified of confrontation and will do anything to avoid it. They want to be liked or at least feel that they are a person worth liking. Make it unpleasant for them to let out their toxic tirades and they will stop--and it often takes so little effort. Notice that people in public places and the media rarely say anything derogatory about women. Why? It is socially unacceptable and they are afraid to. Make it costly for people to bash men and they will stop. Start with small steps--if all men and the women who gave a damn spoke up or told people to knock it off when the male bashing started, we would hear a lot less of it.

    As far as the media goes, I like what Lionel Richie did in the case you mentioned of his wife beating him. He did not blame himself but nor did he blame his wife--for he knew that this would backfire. Instead, he put the media in a double bind, "It doesn't matter what I do or say, I will be villainized." He turned the focus away from himself and to the fact that men in our society can never do or say the right thing, no matter what. He spoke up for all men in that regard--and at least clearly stated the problem. And his career still seems to be on track.

    I had almost forgotten that Lionel Richie is black, which according to the insane rules of identity politics would be considered a somewhat ameliorating factor (unless of course he were to be caught committing the cardinal sin of being a black Republican).

    Men are bad, but white men are the worst, and white Republican men are the consummate devils. (Bill Clinton is a notable example of someone who got away with being a sexist pig because he's a Democrat.)

    Sorry, I don't write these rules. I only try my damnedest to analyze them logically, which is crazy-making, because there's nothing rational or logical about them.

    You think that's bad, try analyzing gay male conservatives. While they are at war with identitarian politics, they end up having identity politics forced on them not only by gay leftists who accuse them of betraying their gay identity, but by conservative activists with a mission of making opposition to homosexuality one of the defining features of conservatism. (Their maleness is of course also inherently suspect.) If conservatism is in fact opposed to homosexuality, then to be a gay conservative is to be something other than conservative, which would mean there are no gay conservatives. Jerry Falwell famously said something many gay activists would agree with:

    "If he's gay and Republican, then the first thing he should do is join the Democratic Party."
    This is called "double marginalization," and black conservatives experience it too -- with one notable difference. No Republican would ever say "If he's black and Republican, then the first thing he should do is join the Democratic Party." Many Democrats would, and they'd say the same thing about female Republicans.

    So what's the best way to deal with life's damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't situations?

    Think what you think, expect personal damnation, and try not to take it personally. Grow enough calluses, and eventually you won't be unduly influenced by silly considerations like which group of people claims to hate you (or love you) more over personal issues, and you may be able to decide things on the basis of which ideas you hate less. I realize that I can please no one, but if I have to choose between strangers who love my lifestyle but want to take away my guns and my dogs, and strangers who hate my lifestyle but will generally leave me alone, I'll go with being left alone by the hateful strangers.

    (This is especially true if latter merely spout moralistic annoyances, while the former have a soft spot for those who want to implement Sharia law.)

    posted by Eric at 02:17 PM | Comments (1)



    "Beauty is only skin deep." (But appearances rule!)

    Examiner columnist Meghan Cox Gurdon looks at the fawning, sycophantic behavior by lefties towards Fidel Castro when she had a chance meeting with him at a UN conference:

    My companions seemed to be jolted by electricity and then knocked by a wave of emotion as they took in the spectacle of the celebrated revolutionary, all 6-feet-3 of him, resplendent in green fatigues (this was before his geriatric tracksuit phase), standing right there!

    An instant later, they surged around him, thrusting out hands and gazing with amazed adoration at the famous bearded face. Castro was less enchanted; he had a meeting to make, and soon effected his escape. The room when he left was practically vibrating with endorphins.

    "Wow! I can't believe it!" gushed a relief worker who five minutes earlier had been chatting dispassionately about her work in Kosovo. She looked at her hand and laughed: "I'll never wash it again!"

    Gurden thinks there was more to it than Castro's leftism or his anti-Americanism:
    None of the Westerners who mobbed him at that U.N. conference, or at any of the other gatherings where for years he's been received with rapture, could be under any illusion about the true nature of this striking figure.

    Of course, Castro's anti-Americanism has been part of his appeal. Flouting the regional hegemon has always been an excellent way to lure foolish moths to socialist flames.

    But anti-Americanism does not begin to explain the deep and almost erotic attachment outsiders have had to Fidel (or to the beret-wearing, long-dead Che). Nikita Khrushchev, for instance, was plenty anti-American, and you don't see co-eds wearing his face on their bosoms. Why? Because Khrushchev was fat and bald.

    We all know that people respond to beauty and dash. In a democracy -- ours, say -- voters can choose politicians for any reason they like, even the relatively frivolous reason of preferring a candidate's appearance.

    I might suffer from the opposite problem. I tend to regard overly handsome people with suspicion, because I worry that their merit has not been "earned." Without even getting into the merits of his politics, for example, I instinctively distrusted Mitt Romney simply because he was the most attractive candidate. My worry is that someone like that has had an easier time in life, more doors opened for him, etc. than someone who has had to make it purely on merit.

    I mean, should George Clooney be president because he is handsome? There are people who would think so. I think his looks should count against him, because power entails responsibility, and urgent situations are not solved by appearances.

    Castro ruined Cuba's economy, murdered or imprisoned tens of thousands of his countrymen, drove the most productive people into exile, all the while mugging for the camera. He was a master of appearances, but not even the most carefully contrived appearances could make Cuba thrive. The very fact that he had to use his superficial image to prop up a failed system highlights the bogus nature of socialism, and the fact that people were persuaded by his good looks highlights their denial of reality.

    I'd never say that handsome people suck, because that's just as irrational as saying that handsome people should rule. However, people who have made it on their looks tend to be lacking in humility, and the results can be catastrophic. The adulation they receive only prolongs and exacerbates the problem -- Castro being a perfect example.

    Many pundits have observed that some of America's best presidents would be unelectable today because they are not handsome enough. It's a shame, and I think a lot of it is a result of mass media iconology. (Aided, abetted, and aggravated by what I've called "imageism.")

    Unfortunately, there's not much that can be done about it. The elevation of appearances over substance is one of the tragedies of the human condition.

    posted by Eric at 08:39 AM | Comments (3)




    Inaccurate smearing of American founder

    This amusing video shows the very pompous Michael Coard being corrected on a fairly important point of history:

    Coard is quite wrong to to smear American founder Robert Morris as a slave trader who profited from slavery. Morris was pressured by British policies into a single slave trading voyage which lost money, and subsequently became an opponent of the slave trade. (The claim that he financed the American revolution with slave money is preposterous.) From Morris's wiki entry:

    Before the Revolution, Britain controlled the port of Philadelphia. The British Crown wanted to encourage the slave trade and enrich the King's friends. At the same time, during the Seven Years' War, the usual supply of indentured servants was not available because those people were conscripted to fight in Europe. Morris was a junior partner in Willing, Morris & Co when they sent out one ship on a slave trading voyage. They didn't carry enough to be profitable, and after a second trip their ship was captured by French privateers. They lost money in the business. Later they both supported the non-importation agreements that marked the end of the slave trade into Philadelphia. They also became advocates for free trade which would end the kind of trade restrictions that gave rise to the business. As time went on Morris tried to tax the slave trade and to lay a head tax on the slaves payable by the owner. His efforts were not appreciated by the Southerners who then proceeded to fight all his measures.
    Not that any of this would matter to a demagogue whose business is smearing the founders, but I got a kick out of seeing that someone had the balls to correct him.

    posted by Eric at 10:34 PM | Comments (0)



    "it's just a shame that these things happen."

    Here's what happens in cities where the criminals know that thanks to strict gun control, law-abiding victims will be almost certainly helpless and unarmed:

    The customer's nightmare unfolded innocently enough as he was standing at the counter paying for some items just after midnight on Jan. 6. The shopper, a white man wearing a white coat, suddenly gets walloped by a black man in a dark vest and gray hoodie. Thanks to the deli's security cameras, police now have a fairly clear picture of the assailant as the entire sordid affair was captured from several angles.

    The victim may have known he was in danger, but had no idea the punch was coming. He appears to be jawing with a group of men who circle him by the counter. The pain comes shortly after as the assailant launches a fierce punch that knocks the victim clear out of the camera's view.

    The victim takes the brunt of the blow to the head and neck and goes sprawling to the floor. The assailant leaves, but some in his posse go over to the prone victim and take his money.

    It turns out the entire episode started from beef over small aisle space.

    The video is quite irritating to watch, btw. It's especially sad that a man who witnessed the attack apparently did nothing but comment that "it's just a shame that these things happen." (OTOH, as just another disarmed victim, what could he have done against a violent criminal mob?)

    While most conservatives and libertarians would want to throw the book at the perp (good luck!), a lot of liberals (at least, those who didn't blame the victim) would see the situation as calling for more laws. If only we had required wider aisles, then this might never have happened.

    I'm more inclined to think that a disarmed world is a more violent world. Criminals are emboldened by knowing that their victims are defenseless. Moreover, as I've noted before disarmed New York has more strongarm robberies than Philadelphia, where tens of thousands of citizens walk about legally carrying concealed weapons, and no one knows who they are.

    New York not only has some of the most draconian gun control laws in the United States, but tasers and stun guns are illegal, as are most knives.

    I realize people will argue that the downside is that in places like Philadelphia, criminals are also more likely to be armed. But I think if I had my druthers, I'd prefer to be the victim of an armed robbery at gunpoint than a strongarm attack. True, I'd rather be hit over the head than shot, but the vast majority of armed robberies do not end in shootings.

    I'm wondering what the readers think, so here's a poll.


    Of which crime would you rather be the victim?
    an armed robbery at gunpoint
    a strongarm robbery by criminals using fists
      
    pollcode.com free polls

    posted by Eric at 12:14 PM | Comments (3)



    So let's have dialogue?

    Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's latest statements about Israel are a real mouthful:

    In yet another verbal attack against Israel, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called the Jewish state a "filthy bacteria" whose sole purpose was to oppress the other nations of the region.

    Jafari: If attacked, Iran will target US Forces in neighboring countries

    "The world powers established this filthy bacteria, the Zionist regime, which is lashing out at the nations in the region like a wild beast," the Iranian president told supporters at a rally in southern Iran.

    He seems to be upset by the assassination of the psychopathic terrorist Imad Mughniyeh.

    Of course, as political rhetoric goes, connecting people you don't like to filthy diseases is nothing new. Hitler's propaganda machine excelled at spewing similar nonsense.

    I don't know where the Democrats get the idea that dialogue will be effective with such people.

    I mean, what's to discuss?

    posted by Eric at 10:34 AM | Comments (2)



    The strategic rightness of total wrongness

    Regarding the ongoing right wing animosity towards John McCain, Clayton Cramer has a good question for conservatives:

    Do you want someone is wrong half the time, or someone who is wrong all the time?
    Well, according to the logic of Ann Coulter or Pat Buchanan, being wrong all the time is better than being wrong half the time.

    The idea which drives the vote-for-the-enemy theory is that Americans must be made to "bottom out," and that when the voters have finally suffered enough under socialism, they will see the light, and elect a "real" conservative.

    I don't buy it, and it's not just because I am cynical.

    It's because I lived in California for many years, and I watched it slide further and further to the left, while the Republicans who steadfastly maintained the purity of their politics were unable to win either the governorship or the majority of the legislature. Finally, Arnold Schwarzenegger (a maverick Republican in some ways analogous to McCain) managed to get elected only because of a fluke which enabled him to avoid a primary which would have doomed him.

    There was plenty of GOP purity in California, but the people didn't vote for it. Why it is believed that at the national level, things would be different and people would see the errors of their ways, I don't know.

    I also remember that after eight years of unending Clinton scandals plus an impeachment, Bill and Hill would have been overwhelmingly reelected again had they been allowed to run in 2000. Even the lackluster Al Gore lost only by a hair, if that. Doesn't anyone remember these things? This country is very closely divided, and I don't know where on earth people get the idea that a far-right, Coulter-Buchanan-Dobson approved conservative candidate can win the middle -- if only enough people suffer long enough under Democrats.

    Of course, another scenario is that there's a faction of the right wing that doesn't care whether they ever win, and don't consider voting for Hillary (or not voting) to be strategic at all. They may consider themselves ideological guardians, and what they may have learned from two Bush terms is that there's no greater threat to ideological purity than the necessities of power. They may believe that their party needs to be out of power in order to shore up its deteriorating ideology, and I suppose a good argument can be made that the party will be more "united" if it is completely out of power, and goes into "Long March" mode. The problem there is that changing demographics may doom them to irrelevancy. But the purists (especially the social conservative purists) might not care. They may see themselves as analogous to the medieval monks who kept the culture alive during the Dark Ages.

    I see that mindset as a bit grandiose and egocentric, but even allowing for the possibility that they may be right about cultural purity, it's not a strategy for victory.

    As Ed Morrissey observed astutely in a post Glenn Reynolds linked while I was away,

    We're not electing a Pope or a Minister-in-Chief.
    We're also not electing the Commander-in-Chief of the Culture War.

    Which is a good thing, because if the people get to choose between a philandering husband and a tireless anti-sex warrior like James Dobson, I think they'd prefer to vote for the former -- stained blue dress and all.

    So what's up with the moral crusaders?

    Do they actually want to accelerate the moral decline of which they complain?

    If they do, it's a very strange strategy.

    posted by Eric at 10:02 AM | Comments (10)




    The campaign that will not die!

    Not only did the blogosphere not stand still during my absence, but apparently, neither did the world. There's a major election in Wisconsin today and results ought to start trickling in soon.

    I enjoyed Ann Althouse's explanation of why she's voting for Obama.

    I haven't liked [Hillary Clinton], but I pictured myself voting for her anyway -- back when she was inevitable. But Obama's growing power allowed me to cast off my resignation. And along with his growing power -- after that win in Iowa -- came her phony emotional ploys, the garish emergence of Bill Clinton, and the racial insinuations from the Clinton campaign. That drove a wedge into my neutrality, and my opinion broke for Obama.
    (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

    My evolution (to the extent you can call it that) is a bit different. I proceeded from the assumption that Hillary was, is, and always has been inevitable. More than anything I want to avoid returning the Clintons to the White House, which makes me an ABC (Anyone But Clinton) man. This is not to say that I am enamored with Obama, and although I find his attitude refreshing and his oratory inspiring, I find his politics socialistic, and his pacifist approach abhorrent. However, he seems more conservative economically than Hillary, which is good.

    But simply because he's not Hillary -- that's enough reason for me to support him as the Democratic nominee. (Were I in Wisconsin and allowed to vote for a Democrat, I'll pull his lever in a heartbeat.)

    It's been a bit of a shocker to watch Hillary come so close to losing, but it has to be remembered that the Clinton machine holds enormous power, and can influence the way the election proceeds enormously. I still can't believe they're going to sit there and let Obama win. I am doubtful that even if he wins every race from tonight on that he'll ever have the number of actual delegates it will take to win. And the Clintons will fight like hell to stop him.

    So I'll be watching tonight's results avidly.

    (As Glenn points out, fortunately Stephen Green will be drunkblogging the results. These things are worth drinking over.)

    MORE (9:11 p.m.): McCain won, and is giving a good speech. CNN says Obama leads Clinton.

    MORE: (10:10 p.m.): Both CNN and Fox called it for Obama some time ago, and I watched Hillary, who seemed tired and who is starting to show signs that she's a bit lacking in confidence. Her speech was interrupted by Obama's on both CNN and Fox, and I'm still listening to Obama in Houston. He's a crowd pleaser, but I think he's going on too long, and may be getting a bit repetitive.

    MORE: Britt Hume called the Obama speech "the longest victory speech we've heard this season... maybe the longest speech ever."

    45 minutes.

    FWIW, I don't think his reference to McCain as the candidate of yesterday worked very well. I don't think Iraq is going to be a winner for the Dems that he thinks it is.

    MORE: Stephen Green looks at the inherently unstable nature of the so-called "pledged" delegates, and sees Hillary's advantage:

    ....who has the most power to bribe, threaten or cajole pledged-but-not-really-pledged delegates? If you guessed the junior senator from New York who also happens to be the spouse of a rich ex-president," then you might just get promised the Veep spot on the first female-led presidential ticket.

    And after a detailed analysis, Chris Bowers thinks it will all come down to Pennsylvania -- which "appears to be a potentially decisive, and inevitable, showdown." (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

    While Pennsylvania is normally considered an "utterly irrelevant" state in the primary elections, on February 6, Dick Polman predicted that Pennsylvania could become the pivotal state:

    ....if Ohio and Texas don't bring clarity . . . dare we suggest that Pennsylvania, six weeks later on April 22, could actually become the pivotal state? Pennsylvania would be ripe for a little attention. It has been 16 years since Democrats cast a meaningful primary vote, and even 1992 was a low-turnout affair dominated by the new kid on the block, Bill Clinton.
    And on Sunday, Polman (one of the keenest political analysts in the business) looked at Hillary's win-ugly options:
    ....the only way she can win the nomination is by flexing some old-school muscle, thereby infuriating millions of grassroots Democrats who have long assumed that the stench of backroom deal-making had dissipated decades ago.
    For political junkies, it's a must-read.

    Bear in mind that Polman wrote it before tonight's results.

    Hillary could theoretically still win -- and "the party's White House prospects could die in the process."

    posted by Eric at 08:58 PM | Comments (0)



    Sustaining a better world!

    Just back from Florida, and I am delighted to see that even though I cannot generate posts when I'm not near a computer, the blogosphere has nevertheless managed to take care of itself without me.

    Not only that, the blogosphere is saving the world by not meeting face to face:

    Built in to the iLinc platform, Green Meter detects the locations of people attending a Web meeting, via IP address, and measures the distance between them. It then calculates how much CO2 they're saving by not traveling to meet face to face. This, according to iLinc, allows a company to monitor and track its actual carbon savings.
    Imagine if someone hooked up the entire blogosphere to the Green Meter! Just think of the hundreds of millions if not billions of face to face meetings the blogosphere has avoided and how much CO2 the blogosphere has saved!

    If we extrapolate forward and present trends continue, it could be demonstrated mathematically that the blogosphere will have saved the world several times over.

    Think of the billions of reams of paper -- and the millions of forest acres -- that have already been saved!

    And just think of the carbon offsets the blogosphere could sell to their beaten down friends in the mainstream media!

    Why the old media must be turning green with envy!

    posted by Eric at 06:50 PM | Comments (0)




    More felonies, more felons!

    In front of a perfectly ordinary looking construction site, I saw a sign which indicates how times have changed since I was a kid:

    flfelony.jpg

    I don't approve of trespassing (especially on occupied residential property), but traditionally it has long been considered a misdemeanor, and it was a bit startling to see evidence that it is becoming a felony.

    Walk across a construction site, and lose the right to vote, as well as your Second Amendment rights, for the rest of your life?

    Who ever said America has gotten soft on crime?

    MORE: Regardless of whether America is soft on crime, I've been having a wonderful vacation. This was taken yesterday at the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg:

    esdalimus2.jpg


    I think I'm being soft on time!

    UPDATE: My thanks to Clayton Cramer for the link.

    posted by Eric at 10:03 AM | Comments (11)



    Teach Them A Lesson

    I'm seeing a general discontent with politics I haven't seen in other election years. The Right is not solidly for McCain. The left hasn't even made their final choice. At Talk Left one commenter expresses it this way:

    With endorsers like Ted Kennedy and John Kerry, how does he shake off the "superLiberal" tag. I can almost imagine McCain winning. Well maybe the democrats need to learn more lessons.

    by felizarte on Sat Feb 16, 2008 at 06:53:05 PM EST

    You know that is the same thing Republicans say about their party. It needs to learn more lessons.

    I think this election will be determined by who wants to lose the most.

    H/T Instapundit

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 01:23 AM | Comments (2)




    Greetings from "Sunny" Florida

    Unfortunately, the free WiFi here at the hotel does not allow uploads. I'm here in St. Petersburg, and tomorrow I'm visiting the Salvador Dali Museum.

    (I need more surrealism!!!!)

    I'l try once more with a picture I tried earlier. If that doesn't work, the post ends here.

    Hah! Success!!

    flparty.jpg

    It's party time!

    Which seems quite appropriate after today's swimming lesson:

    swimmingislam.jpg

    After reading the sign I posed with a pretty mannequin:

    muslimswimming2.jpg

    As the saying goes, stay on the Sunni side of life!

    Who needs satire when life imitates it, even on vacation?

    posted by Eric at 09:19 PM | Comments (7)




    Happy Valentine's Day!

    Or is that "international people's friendship day"? (Glenn Reynolds had something earlier about it....)

    Anyway, I'm off for a quickie weekend trip and blogging will be light to nonexistent for the next few days. I'll try to check in if I can, and I return home on Tuesday.

    My advice till then? Don't do anything I would do!

    posted by Eric at 03:50 PM | Comments (2)



    What's love got to do with it?

    What is it about James Carville and Mary Matalin? Bridget Johnson, who describes herself as conservative, thinks it might be about sex:

    The poster models for cross-political romance have long been James Carville and Mary Matalin -- same pit-bull personalities, just polar opposites on the political spectrum. And all one hears -- from anti-war, Prius-driving, smug-alert leftists to gun-toting, Coulter-reading, Ford-boycotting right-wingers -- is shock and awe at how, oh how, James and Mary can co-exist without a homicide, never mind within the blissful bonds of matrimony.

    I'll theorize why it works in a way that you won't hear from the lecterns at CPAC: They probably have great sex.

    "He has these wonderfully unpredictable love bursts," Matalin told Salon in 1997. Yep; I figured.

    As a moderate rightie who has happily dated on the other side of the political spectrum, I can say that if you're that passionate about the issues, it usually carries over into other aspects of your life. If you clash over the issues, at some point you've gotta make up. If you find someone who challenges you, you've got it made.

    That these two political opposites could have such an apparently stable, long-lasting relationship has long intrigued pundits, and baffled many people who can't imagine living with someone who does not share their philosophy.

    Right there, I stopped. Are we talking about political philosophy? Or personal philosophy? This is a hugely important distinction, because we live in an age where almost every aspect of our personal lives has become politicized. (The term "lifestyle" has itself become a politicized expression.)

    WIth Global Warming in the immediate future, things are going to get far worse.

    While I don't know them so I can't be sure, I suspect that most Carville/Matalin style couples do not consist of "anti-war, Prius-driving, smug-alert leftists" on the one hand and "gun-toting, Coulter-reading, Ford-boycotting right-wingers " on the other. Rather, I think they are people who are able to separate political philosophies from the way they live, probably tend not to take themselves or their politics too seriously, and are able to recognize that it is possible to see things differently without being seen as evil. There is a big difference between a leftist who opposes the war and a leftist who thinks Bush is a war criminal and you are evil for voting for him. Similarly, there is a big difference between a conservative who disagrees with gay marriage and one who believes God is punishing America for sodomy and pornography. Animal rights activists are another example; while I think a meat eater and a vegetarian could live happily together, I don't see how a radical vegan activist could share a kitchen with someone who consumes butchered animals, wants to feed them to the children, and wants to spend some of the family budget on it.

    I think whether people can get along is determined pretty much by the extent to which political views are driven by emotion. I have plenty of friends on the left, but they don't condemn me or scold me. Occasionally I'll meet people who do, and I avoid them like the plague. Also, if someone can't have a political discussion without yelling at me, I tend to avoid that person.

    The trouble is, there are a lot of people like that out there, left and right, who wear their politics on their sleeve, who live the activist life (always boycotting one damned thing or another -- and saying so loudly), and who cast moral aspersions on all who disagree with them. You're either an evil war-monger who's murdering born children, and ruining the planet, or someone who hates the family and is against God, murdering unborn children, and destroying "the culture." It gets incredibly tedious, and I can't fit into either of these "sides." I suspect that most of the people who think this way would be very distrustful of both James Carville and Mary Matalin -- simply for being married to each other. That's because they'd see them as not being really committed.

    This touches on a complaint I've heard years from hard core activists (on both the right and the left) who have visited Washington to lobby for one favorite single issue or another and managed to glimpse people they thought were their "leaders" while off duty. They have been literally shocked to see that politicians on opposite sides of the aisle were real friends -- something that seemed like treason.

    I think the people who wear their politics on their sleeve and take this deeply personal political view of themselves very seriously also tend to take it very seriously in other people -- and judge them accordingly.

    This may account for the hatred many conservatives feel towards John McCain. His 82% ACU rating is beside the point. It's not issues; it's attitude. That McCain has this flippant attitude that there are things more important than politics, that he can jovially, almost dismissively, laugh off differences that people think ought to be worth dying over, this is seen as deeply offensive. They seem to interpret him as sneering at them, even radiating contempt. It would not surprise me that even if he agreed with them, that would not be enough. Mere agreement would be seen as phony, even condescending. They want hair shirt behavior. Atonement. Groveling. I think this is a conflation of politics and personality traits -- misleadingly labeled "principles." The problem is, McCain sees principles not as involving political positions, but as involving virtues.

    I often wish more people in both parties could be like Mary Matalin and James Carville. I don't mean in the sense of loving each other, but it would be nice if the election could mirror them in terms of civility, but the grimly Puritanical scolds in both parties probably won't let that happen.

    posted by Eric at 10:34 AM | Comments (7)




    McCain/Rice?

    Nicholas von Hoffman thinks it would be an unbeatable combination:

    Rice's presence on the ticket deprives the Democrats of the we-are-more-diverse-than-thou argument. It makes McCain--whose ethnically diverse family includes an adopted daughter from Bangladesh--an even more attractive candidate for a certain kind of independent voter.

    Rice can rightly be attacked for serving Bush and backing an unpopular and disastrous war. But McCain, who is extremely pro-war himself, is not going to select a running mate who is wishy-washy on Iraq. Rice is also said to have done a poor job running the State Department, where morale is supposed to have dropped faster than a subprime mortgage. However, you can put the number of voters who give a rodent's behind about the care and feeding of cookie-pushing diplomats in a phone booth, if phone booths still existed.

    With Rice on the ticket the Republicans are freed up to run a much stronger negative campaign against either Clinton or Obama because the Secretary of State provides them with cover against charges of sexism or racism. They would be able to go after Obama's membership in Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ. Its minister, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., with whom Obama is close, has won himself the militant tag from conservatives because of his association with Nation of Islam leader the Rev. Louis Farrakhan.

    (Via Real Clear Politics.)

    He also adresses how it would offset Hillary's pretense of being an independent woman, and more.

    Fine. I'm sold on the McCain/Rice ticket. (I already said I'd vote for a Thompson/Rice ticket.)

    More importantly, so is Richard Land, of the Southern Baptist Convention. But what about Condoleezza Rice (who has already said she would not run for president)?

    They can't just put her on the ticket without her consent, can they?

    UPDATE: My thanks to Clayton Cramer for the link!

    posted by Eric at 06:36 PM | Comments (8)



    good news

    I am delighted to see that psychopathic master terrorist Imad Mughniyeh (whose name is just as unpronounceable as it was when he was alive) is dead.

    Not only has he been killing Americans and Jews since the 1980s, and pioneered suicide bombings, but he's long been a crucial link between Hezbollah (and Iran) and al Qaeda.

    Hot Air details his long history, the speculation about his involvement with bin Laden, and more. Time has more on the importance of this superstar of terrorism, and speculates about who might have carried out the assassination (which might have been aided by the Syrian government looking the other way).

    Some time ago, noting the training Mughniyeh provided to Muktada al Sadr's militia, I stressed that "the Iranian al Qaida connection is an unbroken, longstanding one."

    Mughniyeh being a key link in this connection, I'm hoping that his death is bad news for al Qaeda and Iran, and good news for the overall picture in Iraq.

    MORE: Hezbollah is vowing retaliation against Israel, and Israel denies any involvment in the assassination. More here.

    UPDATE: Excellent roundup of posts and reports about Mughniyeh's death at Pajamas Media.

    MORE: The Mughniyeh hit is seen as very bad news for Iran, as it appears likely that whoever was behind it has "managed to get their hands on new, highly valuable intelligence sources inside Iran":

    The assassination of Mughniyeh is likely to lead to a major restructuring of Iran's intelligence operations abroad, and even at home. Mughniyeh was a man who traveled frequently between Tehran and Damascus. Therefore it is very possible that his assassins were tracking his movements inside Iran as well. The worst case scenario for Tehran would be if he was compromised by someone inside Iran, a scenario which Iran's intelligence agency, known by its Farsi acronym as VAVAK, would quite likely be looking into.




    Catching up on important news

    Thinking I might catch up with the news, earlier I turned on the TV, and saw that the big event (both on Fox News and CNN) involves past steroid use by baseball player Roger Clemens.

    Not that I can blame the networks for making the subject so eminently newsworthy. They're dutifully reporting "he said, he said" testimony from a congressional hearing into the subject, and they can't be blamed if the public finds it compelling.

    Now, professional sports is entertainment, right? Where in the Constitution does the federal government have power over entertainment? The steroid hearings are being held by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and I'm tempted to tell the Committee to go oversee and reform itself.

    I realize that it's sleazy for professional athletes to take steroids (and it violates a sort of trust which has been placed in them by their fans), but why isn't Congress holding hearings on Britney Spears?

    For that matter, how do we know that the late Bobby Fischer didn't take mind-enhancement meds before his chess tournaments?

    posted by Eric at 02:12 PM | Comments (4)



    The "lighter" side of Darwin
    "If the biblical account of creation in Genesis isn't true, how can we trust the rest of the Bible?"

    -- Beverly La Haye, president of Concerned Women for America. (quoted in Ron Bailey's Origin of the Specious.)

    Belated birthday greetings to the much-embattled Charles Darwin!

    I guess if yesterday was his 199th birthday, he's now in his 200th year, and he's probably more hated now than he ever was in his lifetime (certainly in terms of sheer numbers of people).

    This editorial by Tony Campolo reflects an increasingly common view of social conservatives that because Darwinian theory was used by the Nazis to justify genocide that the theory is dangerous.

    I agree that in the hands of demagogues and evil doers, virtually any theory can be dangerous. (As Paul Johnson notes, Einsteinian relativity has been invoked to justify moral relativism, against Einstein's own views.) But I don't see how the misapplication of a theory is in any way an argument against the theory. Mao, Stalin, and Pol Pot were Marxists and atheists, and they murdered many tens of millions to force into being the economic theories of a Victorian philosopher. Whether Marx would have agreed with what happened will never be known. So, while I think Marx's theories have been proven bogus, I've never quite understood how Marx (much less atheism) can be held responsible for mass murder.

    On a lighter note I very much enjoyed Don Surber's "Darwin at work" -- on copper wire thieves who electrocute themselves:

    "The sheer stupidity of cutting through power cables should be glaringly obvious to everyone," said Phil Wilson, Customer Operations Manager with Central Networks (which I take it is the local electric utility).

    Thieves ain't too bright.

    I hope Mr. Copper Thief has no children. Really, the gene pool does not need him.

    (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

    Anyway, before this dreadful cold takes me out of any possibility of being the gene pool, I did think I should offer a video I found which I think fits into the "Darwin at work" category.

    For entertainment purposes only. Don't let this happen to you!

    Glenn Reynolds' link to the "close intellectual kinship between creationism and leftist postmodernism" caused me to engage in guilt by association speculation. While it's a sore point with the vegans, it's generally acknowledged that Hitler was a vegetarian. This, coupled with the way vegan activists trivialized the Holocaust, means that veganism = genocide! (Hey, anything can be made relative if you're a dogmatic absolutist! So, if you believe that "the leather sofa and handbag are the moral equivalent of the lampshades made from the skins of people killed in the death camps," it's a small step from relativism to nihilism.)

    And it occurred to me that not only is Darwin to blame for the way many people rationalize the feelings of contempt for the individual in the above video, but so is Hugo Chavez.

    The man is a tyrant who got us addicted to his oil and then cut it off, right?

    Glenn Reynolds linked a post which explains how it is that by cutting off our oil he's ultimately setting in motion a chain of events which will cause his own head to roll.

    And he's called melonhead, right? And he sold the oil that probably (or might as well have) ignited the melon, right? And he's a Commie, right?

    But Lenin is supposed to have said that the capitalists would sell us the rope with which the Commies would use to hang them. Obviously, Chavez can't even get his Leninism right, nor can he get his capitalism right.

    May Darwin pity him.

    Clearly, the flaming melonhead in the above video is some sort of metaphor.

    posted by Eric at 12:39 PM | Comments (1)




    sick-blogging Virginia

    I'm too sick to live blog the election results. I can barely watch the damn TV.

    Anyway, Obama won big in Virginia, while Huckabee was so far ahead of McCain for the past hour that I thought he'd won it, but now (with 24% of the vote in) McCain has inched slightly ahead of Huckabee. (46%-45%).

    As usual, the race is wild.

    I'm sure Hillary is not a happy camper.

    (I have a serious head cold with chills, fever, and cough. Yechh! I hate sudafed, and these awful drugs with symptoms worse than the disease.)

    8:12 -- It's a virtual tie between McCain and Huckabee, which means that the final results could take a long time.

    In the long term, I don't think it will be as disastrous as it may seem now for McCain to lose some of these states to Huckabee (who says, "This is not a coronation of John McCain.")

    It may sound counterintuitive, but the conservatives are still very sore at McCain, and if he is seen as an invincible juggernaut plowing them under with victory after victory, I think they'll be more likely to bear a grudge, and sit it out in November. I think if they continue to beat up on him via Huckabee, and he shows a little more humility, the conservatives may be more forgiving.

    8:30 -- Fox just projected McCain the winner. He's winning by a margin of 47% to 45% with 49% counted. (The remaining counties are in Northern Virginia and are expected to come in heavily for McCain.)

    posted by Eric at 08:02 PM | Comments (0)



    Seinfeld For President

    First farce then tragedy. Seinfeld gave us a TV show about Nothing.

    Obama is proving it can work for a political campaign.

    Why a campaign about nothing? It is obvious. There is nothing to disagree about. We can all join together. Nothing will keep us apart. Nothing will bring us together. Nothing is best and we have more of it than anyone else. An abundance of Nothing. Nothing in abundance.

    The Audacity of Nothing™.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 07:50 PM | Comments (0)



    preemptive coldening

    Forgive my slowness in blogging, but I'm trying to fight off a cold while freezing my butt off. Temperatures have been in the teens and it's snowing right now.

    Naturally, I want to blame someone for this vicious coldening, and the most likely culprit is Al Gore, who has a documented record of ushering in icy weather wherever he goes. Trouble is, I couldn't figure out when he was last here, although I did learn that he was busy lecturing Christians in Atlanta not too long ago about how they should be stewards of the earth.

    I kid you not. Here he is, Bible in hand!

    gorebook.jpg

    Notice the green color.

    Gore's lecture referred to God's green Earth and that's with a capital E!

    "When did people of faith get so locked into a ideological coalition that they have got to go along with the wealthiest and most powerful who don't want to see change of the kind that is aimed at helping people and protecting God's green Earth?" Gore asked the supportive crowd.
    I don't know when. But that sounds suspiciously like a leading question, along the lines of "when did you stop beating your wife?"

    There's more green religion:

    Gore, a Baptist, religiously spiced up his presentation by sprinkling in quotes from the Bible about caring for the Earth or heeding warnings about coming disasters.

    Melting ice caps, growing levels of carbon in the atmosphere and the increasing intensity of tropical storms all are signs something is wrong, Gore said, and Christians must join others to act in averting possible catastrophe.

    After the speech, Allen pointed to the disaster spawned by Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the Gulf Coast. "Now we are asking: Is there any way we can diminish the future Katrinas?" he said.

    Gee. All this time I thought Katrina had been caused by the sodomites. You learn something every day.

    But seriously, was Gore here recently? The temperature is so low that there must be some explanation. Might it be that the coldening I am experiencing (and which has made me sick) is a result of the documented phenomenon known as the Gore Effect?

    Because I can't find any evidence that Al Gore was here, I have to be fair and say that it's inconclusive. More studies are clearly needed.

    But considering that the Gore Effect is so well known, what about the Precautionary Principle?

    "When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically."
    While taking such precautions by not inviting him might explain why Al Gore's absence from the Northeast lately, I'm thinking that there might also be an Al Gore ripple effect (possibly in the form of convection currents from Atlanta).

    Finally, there's an upcoming Al Gore event safely scheduled for May:

    The risks of global warming are expected to rise significantly in May, thanks to all the hot air likely to be released into the atmosphere over Philadelphia during that city's liberal love-fest of the year.

    The environmental activist group PennFuture will hold its 10th anniversary gala on May 3 at the Society Hill Sheraton in Philly.

    The keynote speaker is Al Gore, the former vice president turned planet-saving environmentalist. He drew headlines last year after reports that his Tennessee mansion uses more electricity every month than the average American home does in an entire year.

    OK, they've got their facts a little screwed up, because while he may bring hot air in the figurative sense, he brings cold air in the literal sense. This is all so well documented as to not be open to serious question. Let's face it, things don't make it into the urban dictionary absent an overwhelming blogospheric consensus.

    That the visit won't occur until May is probably the Precautionary Principle at work, but right now I'm thinking it was too little, too late.

    posted by Eric at 06:23 PM | Comments (1)



    Ein Reich

    Well we have already have Ein Volk. The Unity Candidate who will bring us together.

    If this latest Obama idea is any indication Ein Reich is on the way. A patriotism test for corporations. Says Senator Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH):

    I've talked to Barack a lot about his Patriot Corporation Act, which is not trade per se, but it's certainly part of the economic package around globalization. The Patriot Corporation Act has not gotten the attention that I would hope it would. But, basically it says that if you play by the rules, if you pay decent wages, health benefits, pension; do your production here; don't resist unionization on neutral card check, then you will be designated a "Patriot Corporation" and you will get tax advantages and some [preference] on government contracts.
    Let me see "Ein Volk, Ein Reich,..." Any body know how that slogan ends? Bueller? Anyone?

    H/T Instapundit

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 06:07 PM | Comments (5)



    "I wonder why God gave us this dilemma"

    Hey, don't ask me why.

    It was Bill Clinton who asked, and he seems to be wondering why God is screwing up Hillary's chances of getting the nomination:

    Bill Clinton, touring black churches in Washington and Maryland, which hold primaries Tuesday, said he understands voters face a tough choice between his wife and Barack Obama.

    "All my life I have wanted to vote for a woman for President," Clinton said Sunday. "All my life I have wanted to vote for an African-American for President. ... I wonder why God gave us this dilemma."

    Parishioner Michael Gaddy said Clinton made a good speech, but, "It's not a dilemma for me. I think Obama's the better man for the job. If for some reason he doesn't get the nomination, I think we'd all be behind Hillary."

    (Emphasis added.)

    Sigh.

    "They told me that if George W. Bush were reelected, religious hucksters would be dragging God into politics, and opportunistically using his name for political advantage. And they were right!"

    posted by Eric at 10:29 AM | Comments (2)




    The Trouble With Politicians

    You hope they are lying to you. Except when you hope they are telling the truth.

    posted by Simon at 06:47 PM | Comments (1)



    Going gently into the good night?

    Much as I find it hard to believe that Hillary Clinton is no longer invincible nor inevitable, that seems to be happening.

    I realize that Bill Clinton said he would work in the background, but I find it tough to believe they don't have a few more tricks up their sleeve. The Clintons' predicament is that while they are past masters at the game of political hardball, hardball tactics make them look especially bad when they're used against Obama:

    Part of the reason Clinton is under such pressure now is because there is a growing disdain for exactly the kind of tactics Halperin recommends. To the Clintons this is just business as usual: it's how the rough and tumble game of politics is played. But they've been shocked, and put on the defensive, because Democrats are increasingly troubled by the way the game looks when it's played inside their own party against a candidate like Obama.
    I don't see that the Clintons have any choice now -- regardless of how it looks.

    Hillary and Obama are even in the polls (Gallup shows Hillary as slightly ahead), so I'm not going to count her out.

    I'm expecting some sort of major dirty trick, if not a trump card.

    These people are not good losers.

    Hell, they've already unleashed the Krugabeast, who is doing his damnedest Nixonize Obama.

    Krugman wouldn't be doing that unless Hillary Rodham Nixon wanted another Nixon to kick around.

    We've already seen three bouts of tears, but what I want to know is, who gets to play Checkers?

    Well, at least no one accused Nixon of pimping his dog!

    (Politics was so much cleaner in those days....)

    UPDATE (02/13/08): Rick Moran says that Hillary is in hot water, and he suspects that "beginning this week, the calls will start coming for Hillary Clinton to drop out of the race in the name of party unity."

    During Watergate, senior GOP leaders like Barry Goldwater called on Nixon to resign to preserve national unity, and save the country from the ordeal of impeachment. That he did resign shows that he considered some things bigger than himself.

    Whether Hillary cares more for herself than party unity remains to be seen.

    posted by Eric at 04:08 PM | Comments (4)



    McCain caught in blatant campaign flipflop!

    Ann Althouse links this McCain Obamanation parody video, from which I captured the most damning piece of evidence.

    (Click the picture to play.)

    McCain12008.JPG

    OK, I'm a McCain supporter, but I have to admit that unfortunately, the above is highly incriminating.

    I mean, wasn't McCain supposed to be against timetables, and unalterably opposed to setting a withdrawal date?

    So why is he now breaking his promise and saying we'll be out by 12,008?

    Doesn't he realize that setting a date will only embolden al Qaeda?

    Anyone who thinks the enemy is not already counting the days is being hopelessly naive.

    (I'm shocked by this revelation, and I'm hoping it's all a misunderstanding or a misunderestimation or something.)

    posted by Eric at 12:16 PM | Comments (2)



    Kiss The Ground

    AVI was commenting on my I Won't Vote For McCain piece and came up with this gem which I think bears repeating.

    It occurred to me over the weekend what people in other countries - even freeish, democratic countries in Europe - have for candidates to vote for. If free-marketers in Europe applied the same principle that the anti McCain purists are advocating this election, they would never have anyone worth voting for in their entire adult lives.

    I've complained about socialist lites as well, but really, I should know better. Look at the parties of Europe and kiss the ground we walk on here.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control


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



    "preparation for more robust dialogue"

    My previous post about Bryn Mawr College's new president only briefly addressed the subject of "interfaith dialogue" (very much in the news in light of the recent controversy involving the Archbishop of Canterbury.) In this respect, Jane Dammen McCauliffe considers education to be of primary importance:

    ....While many scholars and officials hone in on high-level discussions to address pressing issues, two women professors, one Christian and one Muslim, spoke last week about the education of young people as a key to establishing true dialogue and peace among cultures.

    Jane McAuliffe, who has a Ph.D. in Islamic studies from the University of Toronto, is a Christian who has dedicated her career to the study of Islam.

    "In my generation, there was very little in education that exposed us to other religious and cultural traditions," she said. "But I was deeply impressed by Muslim piety and by Muslim understandings of the divine, and began to learn about Islamic tradition."

    Hmmm.... I'm hoping President McAuliffe thinks this exposure should be a two-way street, and that Muslims will also begin to learn about Christian tradition (to say nothing of Jewish tradition).

    But even if it is a two way street, from where derives the idea that interfaith dialogue only means dialogue between Christians and Muslims? What about Jews, Buddhists, and polytheists? The latter group includes not only Hindus, but Wiccans, one of whom complains that that anti-Wiccan bias in the interfaith dialogue movement has forced her to keep her paganism in the closet:

    ....I have attended the last two international Parliaments of World Religions, as well as the Goldin Institute for International Partnership and Peace (Fall 2003). I am discrete about sharing my religious tradition in professional settings, as there is social stigma and misunderstanding about Wicca and I do not want that to hinder my work for the Project. During years in divinity school, I answered questions about my "denomination" by saying I practice a feminist earth-based spirituality. The presumption of Christianity in the question is unmistakable. Advice to not mention my own tradition so I won't be pigeonholed with that identity, publishers cutting materials on Paganism, the remaining materials undergoing disproportionate scrutiny in reviews, an advisor with vehemently anti-Pagan views, all these have suggested caution in speaking my truth. Eventually, participating in interfaith settings without bringing my own tradition to the table became too painful and I began to integrate my self and my participation. I work for religious freedom in the largest sense; I want to experience it personally so now I practice it more.
    (I hope her effort works out, because Muslims who are willing to participate in interfaith dialogue that includes pagans are genuine moderates, and worthy of support.)

    And what about people who don't believe in any god of any kind? Whether they're secularists, agnostics, or atheists (Newt Gingrich treats them as synonymous) there are a lot of them, and I'd be willing to bet that some of them are among the students and faculty at Bryn Mawr.

    This is no idle question. A number of secularists have complained of being edited out of interfaith dialogue.

    So, in the name of diversity and dialogue, dialogue for some, but not for all?

    I'm confused. Suppose you're one of those awful secular atheists who think religion is ridiculous, or the opiate of the masses or something? Isn't that belief at least as entitled to respect (or at least as worthy of dialogue) as any other belief involving the unknown?

    Isn't it likely that a number of students at Bryn Mawr might fall into the faithless category? By what standard should they be excluded from what is billed as "dialogue" and "outreach"? Is the idea that they should first get religion, and then enter into interfaith dialogue? Which religion?

    Call me a bigot, but I've repeatedly advocated establishing dialogue between atheists and believers who at least share the Western cultural tradition, and now that I think about it, I think calling for "interfaith dialogue" between a few selected religious people in the West and the entire Islamic world is hardly consistent with the politics of inclusion.

    Isn't inclusion supposed to be the whole idea?

    Doesn't the very phrase "interfaith dialogue" have an exclusionary ring to it -- as if you have to be a member of some sort of "faith" in order to be part of it? If exclusion being practiced in the name of inclusion, I'd say the idea needs work.

    Speaking of inclusion, suppose you were raised Muslim, but now you're an atheist. Why should you be shut out of the "dialogue"? This, also, is no idle question. We've all heard of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ibn Warraq, and others.

    Stefania Atzori is another ex-Muslim who has become a non-believer, and (in an essay titled "What interfaith dialogue?") she takes issue with the idea that only "people of the Book" should be included in "interfaith dialogue":

    ....They [Muslims] claim that the monotheistic religions such as Christianity, Judaism and Islam have a lot in common, and in Islam "the people of the book" are deeply respected. Of course in practice this is never the case, but what about polytheists or atheists? Aren't they human beings? Don't they deserve respect? Let us assume that once the Muslims increase in our midst they will honor their word and they will respect the rights and beliefs of the Jews and the Christians. Let us say they will not do with the people of book here what they did in their Islamic paradise. Now, what would happen to the atheists, agnostics and other infidels among us?

    After the Crusades and the Holy Inquisition, Westerners have opened their minds and instead of following religious ideologies started to invest their energies in science and knowledge. Should we go back and give the religious people suzerainty over the non-religious people just to please the Muslims among us? Should we discriminate against those who don't believe in one God or in any God at all, just because some people with a totalitarian and theocratic vision of life have decided to immigrate to the West? Besides; what is the meaning of "people of the book"?

    Muslims repeat often; "we deeply respect the people of the book". This specification is discriminatory in itself....

    For a darker atheist conspiratorial viewpoint, read this ("religious fundamentalists, peeved with what they perceive as a form of rapid secularization of their respective countries, may find cause to unite with other like-minded creeds in order to combat these fledgling movements").

    While I am not an atheist, I don't think it is unreasonable to ask whether secular students are being dragooned into the interfaith dialogue meme as if they're all Christians (or "people of the Book") by default.

    I may be mistaken about this, but I suspect that because of her background, Dr. McAuliffe tends toward a dualistic view of religion as Christianity and Islam. She thinks it's part of her role as an educator to "push back against prejudices":

    McAuliffe, who is the current dean of the college of arts and sciences at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., said that in the space of a few decades the student population there has changed dramatically to one that is heterogeneous.

    The professor of Islamic studies says that what was formerly a traditional Catholic campus is teeming with students from different faith traditions, including Islam.

    "Interfaith conversations among students and faculty, in formal classroom settings and informally around campus, are preparation for more robust dialogue in the future," McAuliffe said.

    The professor said that part of her role as an educator is "to push back against the prejudices that come into the lives of young people" through their upbringing, environment and the media.

    Moreover, she said: "No single instance or experience of interreligious dialogue can be entirely satisfactory.

    "Simple tolerance of another is not enough."

    Instead, McAuliffe believes that exposure and learning, especially in universities, must touch a person at a deeper level: "One cannot remain untouched by contact with other religions."

    That's easy to say, but what does it mean to touch a person at a deeper level? Exposure to and learning what? Islam only? Isn't there a huge assumption being made there?

    Anyway, I'm with the preparation for more robust dialogue part!

    Because dialogue can be, well, robust!

    [From Ruth Gledhill, via Glenn Reynolds.]

    When there's a clear conflict between tolerance and intolerance (as the above video suggests), I would agree that "Simple tolerance of another is not enough." I'd also agree that "One cannot remain untouched by contact with other religions."

    Beyond that, I don't know. What are the limits of tolerance and inclusion? Is it possible to have dialogue with people who don't desire dialogue? And aren't the people who don't desire dialogue the ones who are creating so much trouble?

    To end this on a less sour and more optimistic note, Tim Blair has demonstrated that interfaith dialogue is possible at least on the individual level -- provided you wear the right hat. (My hat's off to him, although I'm still not sure how to tell the difference between a Pope hat and an Archbishop hat. Aren't they in the same hat group category?)

    posted by Eric at 10:48 AM | Comments (1)




    Ein Volk

    Obama Is The Messiah.

    "Just follow Barack's lead and be honest with them," [Obama's] site advises. "You don't need to debate policy or discuss the day's headlines. You have a very personal reason for investing your time and energy in this campaign - that is the most compelling story you can tell."

    Indeed, participants in the Saturday morning precinct-captain training were already adept at telling their Obama-conversion stories.

    Libbie Coleman, a 61-year-old microbiology teacher at McClatchy High School, read Obama's books last spring.

    Another Messiah from another time.

    H/T Instapundit

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 04:42 PM | Comments (11)



    Huckobamastanland?

    Last night it was made clear that in both parties there's major dissatisfaction with the establishment candidates.

    In her discussion this morning of Obama's big night (and concomitant squabbling among Democratic activists), Ann Althouse linked this wonderful interactive map showing the states which the Democrats have won so far.

    Another map at the same site shows the states the Republicans have won so far.

    Looking back and forth at both the GOP and the Democratic maps, I thought I'd merge them and check for overlapping patterns of dissent.

    Here's hybrid version of the GOP map, modified to show the states won by Obama and Clinton.

    GOPMAP_O_C.jpg

    The breakdown is as follows (listed from largest to smallest numbers of overlapping states):

  • CLINTON MCCAIN -- 7
  • OBAMA HUCKABEE -- 6
  • OBAMA ROMNEY -- 5
  • OBAMA MCAIN -- 4
  • CLINTON HUCKABEE -- 2
  • The first thing I noticed was that Obama's greatest strength is in Huckabee states, and Huckabee's strength is greatest in Obama states.

    At the other extreme, Clinton is weakest in Huckabee states, while Huckabee is weakest in Clinton states.

    But notice that Obama does better in Romney states than in McCain states.

    While the two "party consensus" candidates -- Clinton and McCain -- have the largest total number of overlapping states, these 7 states are less than half the total (17).

    While none of this conclusively demonstrates anything, it does appear that there's a shared ("bipartisan" if you will) animosity against the party line in states which favor non-party consensus candidates.

    The big question, of course, is who will best be able to exploit this anti-Establishment division in November.

    (Were I McCain, I'd want my opponent to be Hillary. Were I Hillary, I'd be saying that I'd be the best candidate to beat McCain. But it would be hard to sound sincere.)

    AFTERTHOUGHT: The more I think about this, the more tempted I am to conclude that Romney's withdrawal may have given Obama the boost he needed to capture the nomination. I think uncertainty in the GOP may have caused Democrats to favor the establishment Hillary, but now that they know McCain will be the opponent, they're thinking about who can best trump his maverick "outsider" image.

    MORE: Glenn Reynolds links this website and mentions Obama's Messiah factor.

    But what about Huckabee's Miracle factor?

    Might there be a statistical correlation between Messiahs and miracles?

    posted by Eric at 10:27 AM | Comments (2)




    Impossible endorsement

    Today Huckabee won the Kansas caucus.

    But can he win the number of delegates he needs to win the nomination?

    What are the odds?

    Huckabee has won 181 delegates -- 533 less than McCain. To capture the Republican nomination, he would have to win more than 80 percent of the remaining contests.
    OK, what states are left? Maryland and Virginia are said to be lining up for McCain, so let's see....

    No way. There are too many Northern states left, including Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

    It might be scientifically possible, but in real life terms, it is impossible.

    Surely James Dobson knows this. So why did he endorse Huckabee after Romney withdrew from the race?

    Dobson stated that he will not vote for McCain under any circumstances, so surely he can't be hoping to get him on the ticket in the number two spot.

    Is it just anger, or might there be another reason?

    MORE: JUst got home and turned on the TV set. As of 11:07 p.m., Huckabee is winning in Louisiana, and Washington. (The latter is a surprise.)

    But according to the Lousiana rules, unless a candidate gets 50% of the vote, they'll be uncommitted.

    And Hillary is winning big in all states.

    This election continues to be unpredictable.

    MORE: Huckabee thinks he can still win:

    "I didn't major in math," Mr. Huckabee said in a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference. "I majored in miracles, and I still believe in them, too."
    I don't know whether I'd call a Huckabee victory a miracle, or just incredibly bad luck.

    I think he may be becoming a protest vote against McCain.

    posted by Eric at 05:35 PM | Comments (1)



    I Won't Vote For McCain

    If you are a blog fanatic, as I am, you see a lot of "Ill never vote for John McCain because.....".

    And I agree totally with that sentiment.

    When I vote for John McCain again (I did it 9 or 13 times in the recent primary - hey, it's Illinois we got to keep up tradition) it will not be a vote for him. It will be a vote against the Hillary/Obama surrender axis.

    We can stand socialism lite and winning. We cannot stand socialism heavy and losing.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 04:43 PM | Comments (5)



    Destroy the dream in order to save it?
    You've had your tantrum. Now it's time to be adult about it.

    That's how Jules Crittenden begins his sober and reflective Pajamas Media piece about conservatives and John McCain. Crittenden (who has been anything but a McCain supporter) takes issue with the "strategic loser" mentality:

    Some conservatives are talking about sitting it out. The idea is that it is not such a bad thing to lose one. It might be better for the party. Give the other side enough rope, let the Republican Party regroup and find its feet and a few new candidates.

    It's loser talk -- bitter loser talk -- worthy of the Democratic leadership of Congress. You'll recall they claimed a mandate they didn't quite have, fought the same futile battle again and again, but failed to bring anything viable to the table. Rather than look ahead to the interests of the nation, they looked to their own narrow political interest, failed to satisfy that either, and stumbled and fell, earning the disgust even of the people who voted them in.

    Now, in time of war, when there is a single issue that trumps all others, some conservatives are looking to duplicate that absurd and dangerous performance, to the detriment of the United States. In fact, they are opting to hand ultimate victory to those same Democrats.

    Far from being sellouts if they support McCain, Crittenden thinks that this provides an opportunity for conservatives which they would completely lose by sitting the election out:
    This is an opening for conservative power brokers to influence the shape of this campaign and the administration that follows, to make sure their views are represented. It is an opening for them to demonstrate that they are relevant.
    The bottom line is that a loss by McCain could be worse than conservatives realize:
    When the American right as well as the American left has chosen surrender to global enemies rather than set aside its domestic political fights, then America has no right to claim superpower status, and the American dream is at an end. We will become, like Europe, a sump of ideals.
    I think he's right. Read it all.

    MORE: Via Glenn Reynolds, here's another must-read post about McCain:

    This will be a foreign policy election if John McCain has anything to do with it. And if it is, given the votes of people who don't want to go through a post-Vietnam malaise again, I think he just might win it.
    For years now, the anti-Iraq war, "Bush-lied-people-died" style harangues by the Democrats have so beaten down conservatives that they have been acting ashamed of their president. The Democrats thought they could beat the GOP over the head by conflating Bush's unpopularity and their antiwar message, but McCain is a dire threat to that, because he's both a GOP dissenter and a fierce war supporter.

    It may turn out to be an unbeatable victory combination.

    posted by Eric at 11:14 AM | Comments (7)



    Selective veiling of free speech?

    I'm a bit concerned about the new president of Bryn Mawr College. From today's Inquirer:

    An internationally known scholar of Islamic studies whose expertise is in the Quran and relations between Islam and Christianity was selected as the eighth president of Bryn Mawr College yesterday.

    The appointment of Jane Dammen McAuliffe was announced to the college community by pealing bells from Taylor Hall.

    McAuliffe, dean of the college of arts and sciences at Georgetown University, said she planned to emphasize the natural sciences and multiculturalism when she takes over from Nancy J. Vickers on July 1.

    She wants to beef up science offerings and actively recruit international students to the 123-year-old liberal-arts campus.

    Bryn Mawr, McAuliffe said, has already diversified the 1,300-student campus "more than most institutions in the United States. I want to continue that work but reach out even more aggressively" to foreign students.

    The college's international students come from 43 countries. Thirty-three percent of the student body are minorities or international students.

    McAuliffe's specialty is the Muslim holy book and its interpretations, early Islamic history, and the interrelationships between Islam and Christianity.

    That's all fine and good for those who believe in multiculturalism, and I suppose interfaith dialogue is OK as long as it doesn't reach the point of advocating Sharia Law -- which it has in England under Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury. I point out this concern only because Williams has worked with Bryn Mawr's new dean on his 'Building Bridges' seminar in Qatar.

    I have nothing against building bridges in Qatar, nor against Islamic Studies. In fact, I'd probably find the subject very interesting, as I love history and I'm fascinated by religion. I'm worried, though, by a couple of things.

    First, Bryn Mawr is one of those places with a history of restrictions on speech (in the form of draconian "speech codes," as well as worrisome "orientation" sessions bordering on out-and-out indoctrination):

    ...Bryn Mawr probed the most private experiences of every first-year student: difference and discomfort; racial, ethnic, and class experiences; sexual orientation; religious beliefs. By the end of this "orientation," students were devising "individual and collective action plans" for "breaking free" of "the cycle of oppression" and for achieving "new meaning" as "change agents." Although the public relations savvy of universities has changed since the early 1990s, these programs proliferate apace.
    My concern is heightened by the fact that when she was in Toronto, Bryn Mawr's new president testified as a witness against a Christian minister who was ultimately convicted of criminal hate speech:
    In recent years, hate crime convictions have become more frequent in this country as public and legal awareness have increased. In 1998, Mark Harding of Toronto was convicted for "promoting hatred against an identifiable group contrary to s.319(2) of the Criminal Code." Prof. Jane McAuliffe of the University of Toronto, an expert witness called by the Crown, said "there is no legitimate support in the Qur'an or Islamic religious doctrine for the position that Islam advocates violence."
    What Mark Harding did was to hand out pamphlets criticizing Islam -- the sort of thing that Americans take for granted as a protected First Amendment activity:
    The offending pamphlets discussed Islamic societies around the world where "Muslims are torturing, maiming, starving and killing Christians" simply because of their faith. Harding argues that Islam "is full of hate and violence," and that its holy books teach that it "will always be at war" with other religions. "Once a state becomes an Islamic state, no other religion is tolerated," he says.

    His outspokenness last June landed Harding in trouble with the Muslim community, and he is going to trial next month to face criminal charges on three counts of "incitement to hatred." Complaints were also lodged with the Canadian Human Rights Commission. He was arrested and spent a few days in jail before a hearing last summer.

    Harding is largely unrepentant as his trial date approaches, and he is confident that "the charges should be dismissed" under existing religious protection provisions in the law. He believes that judicial authorities succumbed to pressure because of vociferous complaints from the Muslim community.

    "My free speech has been taken away," he says. "The government does not understand Islam and what it's all about."

    The government obviously disagreed, and Harding was convicted -- with the help of Bryn Mawr's new president.

    Regular readers know that I am 100% opposed to any "hate speech" laws or restrictions. Aside from the obvious First Amendment issues, one of the reasons is that there is no way to define hate. We all hate a lot of things, and the idea of criminalizing "hate" is absurd, and invites double standards.

    Would President McAuliffe consider this hate speech, for example?

    beheadme2.jpg

    How about anti-homosexual passages from Islamic texts? This is no idle question, and I'm surprised that some of Bryn Mawr's political activists don't raise it.

    If they wanted to ask Dean McAuliffe about double standards, they might start by asking why, for example, she would on the one hand testify against a Christian cleric accused of anti-Muslim remarks while she was in Canada, and then exhibit a far different attitude towards anti-homosexual remarks -- by another Christian cleric in the United States. Unlike Rev. Harding, he didn't stand around handing out leaflets, but she selected him to deliver Georgetown's commencement address:

    For ears tuned for a commencement address, what came later was much less familiar. Where graduates might have expected congratulations and warm counsel, they received, quite simply, a sermon. "In many parts of the world, the family is under siege," said Arinze, at the climax of his speech. "It is opposed by anti-life mentality as is seen in contraception, abortion, infanticide and euthanasia. It is scorned and banalized by pornography; desecrated by fornication and adultery; mocked by homosexuality, sabotaged by irregular unions and cut into two by divorce."

    "You don't solve a difficult algebra homework by burning the algebra book," he continued. "You don't solve a family problem by divorce."
    During this part of Arinze's speech, Theresa Sanders, Associate Professor of Theology, got up from her seat on the stage behind Arinze and walked off. Sanders declined to comment on why she left.

    As Sanders departed, Rachel Boutennot (CAS '03) was seated toward the front of the graduating students, "making faces," as she described it, to her faculty mentor, exasperated at what Arinze had said. The top of her black mortarboard, which she had prepared the night before, read "RESIST" in bright yellow paint. When she saw Sanders leave, she got up and left as well.

    Others walked out, and a huge controversy followed. Eventually there was a meeting with angry faculty members, and the predictable charge of "hate speech":
    McAuliffe's introduction of Arinze at the ceremony confirms that impression. She spoke at length about his expertise in "seeking cooperation and relations with those of other faiths" and the "complex backdrop of interactions between Muslims and Christians across Subsaharan Africa." She closed by nailing home the significance of having a specialist in Muslim-Christian relations speak to a group of American university graduates: "We look to the leadership of Cardinal Arinze as a voice for the Catholic Church in envisioning the secure peace towards which the world must work."

    [...]

    On Monday morning, History Professor Tommaso Astarita drafted a "letter of concern" asking the University to make an explicit committment to inclusiveness and distibuted it to faculty members. By Wednesday, about 70 professors had signed the letter, and it was delivered to McAuliffe. Those faculty members would constitute the core of the protesters. "I'm proud of the extent to which the faculty stepped forward and registered its concerns about the speech and the larger events it illustrates," said English Professor James Slevin, who signed that letter.
    That same day, McAuliffe released a brief statement acknowledging the controversy. "As an academic community, vigorous and open discussion lies at the heart of what we do," she wrote, "and there are many different voices in the conversation." She set aside two hours for a meeting that Friday, May 22.
    The meeting was held that afternoon in a conference room below McAuliffe's office in White-Gravenor. About 30 persons attended, of which the majority were faculty, and nearly all of them were upset about the speech. A handful of students attended as well, including Holder, who described the tone of the meeting as "very serious, very formal."

    The meeting opened with a lengthy speech from McAuliffe, who focused on the Cardinal's background and the differences in the perception of homosexuality in Nigerian culture. She was also concerned about a backlash against the Cardinal, said Holder, from conservatives who considered him "simple." Repeatedly, attendees said, McAuliffe spoke about "walking the tightrope" between the University's Catholicism and the concerns of students and faculty.

    But most of those who spoke later about the meeting said that Arinze himself was not the issue, but rather how the speech highlighted the University's perceived pattern of marginalizing the LGBTQ community. Holder, for one, felt McAuliffe's words did not directly address those issues. She described the remarks as "political" and "very diplomatic." "[McAuliffe] had a script and she stuck to it," Holder said. "That was very frustrating."

    According to attendees, Slevin was particularly concerned about McAuliffe's evasion of certain issues. Slevin declined to speak about what happened inside the meeting, but attendees described him as particularly disturbed by the University's response. At one point, frustrated with McAuliffe, he told her, "cut the crap, Jane." Later, Slevin walked out of the meeting.

    During the meeting McAuliffe again expressed her surprise at the content of Arinze's speech. Numerous professors and students spoke; one professor deemed the Cardinal's words "hate speech." Only one person, Stephen Feiler (CAS '02), who could not be reached for comment by press time, spoke in defense of Arinze.

    There's a lot more, and it just smells of a double standard that someone who testified as a witness in a criminal hate speech trial for pampheteering in Canada would later defend a commencement address she sponsored which would probably be considered hate speech under the Canadian standard. (Or is there a need for "dialogue" here, but not in Canada?)

    I'm of course a fierce advocate of free speech, and I think both Harding and Arinze have just as much right to freely criticize gays and Muslims as the latter have to criticize them. That's the whole idea.

    What concerns me here is the double standard involved.

    And what kind of standard is honors for Arinze, but jail for Harding?

    I think the best way to build bridges and have honest and open dialogue is to respect all free speech -- be it pro or anti gay, pro or anti Muslim, pro or anti Christian, and yes, even pro or anti "diversity," and pro or anti "multiculturalism."

    I hope my concerns are unfounded in the case of Bryn Mawr's new president, but I worry that the possible overemphasis on multiculturalism and diversity carries with it a growing threat to free speech.

    (To say nothing of that subset of free speech we call "academic freedom.")

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

    Agree or disagree, I appreciate the comments.

    MORE: As there's been some discussion of Bryn Mawr's speech code (which is technically called the "Honor Code") in the comments, I thought it was worth taking a closer look.

    Reading through the text of code, it is so vague that I'm not sure it was fair of me to characterize it as "draconian" because it does not spell out how exactly how it is to be be applied under all circumstances. It certainly could be applied in a very draconian manner -- and to almost anything -- with penalties including expulsion.

    From the text:

    We recognize that acts of discrimination and harassment, including, but not limited to, acts of racism, homophobia, classism, ableism, and discrimination against religious and political minorities are devoid of respect and therefore, by definition, violate this Code.

    [...]

    The Board has the authority to justify any sanction up to failure of an examination or paper, failure of a course, exclusion from a residence hall, exclusion from campus housing or expulsion from the College.

    What, exactly, constitutes "discrimination"? What is harassment? I notice that "discrimination against religious and political minorities" is prohibited, but not discrimination against a religious or political majority. Which means that presumably, a Muslim (or perhaps a Republican) could bring charges, but not a Christian (or perhaps not a secularist) -- depending on what constitutes a majority.

    As to what is actionable, another provision of the code defines it as whatever might "offend" any student:

    a. If a student is offended by the actions of another student, either personally or because she believes them to be detrimental to the community, she must confront the student directly as the first step toward conflict resolution. This conversation must take place in person unless the option is not available (i.e. the student is abroad). Confrontation is not a hostile action. The two students should engage in a constructive discussion to try and reach a common understanding. This does not imply an agreement but an "exchange of values" or "expression of concerns" which results in a viable solution for both parties. An Honor Board member may act on behalf of another student if this process would place the student involved in physical danger. In the case of an Honor Board member assisting in the confrontation, a clear line of communication must be maintained between the students involved in the confrontation.

    [...]

    d. If the issue cannot be resolved, the Head of the Honor Board should be contacted.

    e. Both the confronting and confronted parties must write separate statements explaining the circumstances as they perceive them. In ordinary circumstances the statements should be submitted to the Honor Board within 72 hours after the confronted student and the Honor Board have made contact.

    f. The Head of the Honor Board, along with the Senior Counsel and with one other Board member, will collect written statements and determine if a hearing is warranted and which witnesses will be heard.

    I suppose that if I were a Bryn Mawr student, and another student was "offended" by this blog post, I could first be "confronted," and if the "exchange of values" or "expression of concerns" did not satisfy the other student, a board could be convened with power to expel me.

    The standard seems to be along the lines of "If you offend me, I can have you expelled."

    Saying that anyone can be expelled for anything strikes me as a horribly vague standard, and a very broad one, with no notice of what is allowed, but with the ever-lurking possibility of boards, hearings, and possible expulsion.

    I'm reminded of the whimsical "Don't Say This, I Won't Tell You What" standard at Brandeis.

    If I were a Bryn Mawr student, I'd probably have to resort to anonymity.

    UPDATE: I have another post here about President McAuliffe's views and interfaith dialogue.

    posted by Eric at 10:08 AM | Comments (25)




    some bigots are more equal

    With Romney out of the race, today's Wall Street Journal discusses a delicate issue, and cites interesting study of political prejudices relating to religion, sex, and race:

    Mitt Romney's campaign for the presidency brought more attention to the Mormon Church than it has had in years. What the church discovered was not heartening.

    Critics of its doctrines and culture launched frequent public attacks. Polling data showed that far more Americans say they'd never vote for a Mormon than those who admitted they wouldn't choose a woman or an African-American.

    A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll in late January revealed that 50% of Americans said they would have reservations or be "very uncomfortable" about a Mormon as president. That same poll found that 81% would be "enthusiastic" or "comfortable" with an African-American and 76% with a woman.

    The Mormon religion "was the silent factor in a lot of the decision making by evangelicals and others," says Democratic pollster Peter Hart, who conducted the poll. The Romney campaign ran into "a religious bias head wind," Mr. Hart and his Republican polling partner, Bill McInurff, wrote late last month.

    I've discussed the Mormon issue before, and there's certainly a great deal of prejudice out there. In my view (admittedly a minority one) the best aspect of a Romney candidacy would have been an enlargement not so much of the GOP tent, but of what for lack of a better expression I'll call the "Christian conservative tent." In my view, too many of the people in that tent see the word "Christian" in the same rancorous way that others see the word "conservative." As applying to them only. All other Christians, beware! We are the real Christians, and we might not think you're included within our term!

    A perfect example of this mindset is James Dobson, who has just endorsed Mike Huckabee, and who previously refused to endorse Rudy Giuliani for being too liberal, as well as Fred Thompson for not being "Christian" enough for him.

    It's all too easy to write Dobson off as a kook, but the problem is that a number of voters think along similar lines, and the poll discussed today does not seem to take them into account.

    Here's the way it was presented:

    wsjpoll2.jpg

    Hmmm.... Why is Romney standing there all by himself?

    The problem I have with the poll is that it does not provide enough information about voter preferences. Mormons, evangelical Christians, women, and blacks are listed, but others are not. Obviously the poll doesn't take into account that evangelical Christians -- many of whom could be expected to agree with Dobson -- might have a problem with those they don't think are "Christian enough." This would presumably include Mormons. But before we write them all off as merely anti-Mormon bigots, isn't it fair to ask them if they feel the same way about other Christian candidates with different views? If Thompson isn't Christian enough, would McCain be?

    McCain follows the tenets of Episcopalianism, which falls under the general umbrella of Anglicanism. Surely, most evangelicals know that the Episcopal church is facing a fairly major schism over homosexuality. How might they feel about a president who belonged to a church which has gay bishops? Please bear in mind that the sexuality of bishops is of no concern to me at all, and I was educated at a school run by the Episcopal Church. But the question is what the voters think, and why.

    What I consider to be the most serious problem within the Anglican Church right now are the pro-Sharia views of the Archbishop of Canterbury:

    Dr Williams believes that aspects of sharia law - which aspects he does not explictly say - should be allowed to form part of the law of this country. He does not explain what tests should be used to decide what bits of sharia law are acceptable and what are not. For example, in some of the most conservative muslim lands, the death penalty is used for offences far less serious than murder, such as adultery. We are not told what the Archbishop thinks about this; or whether he thinks things such as arranged marriage, etc, are acceptable. But he needs to be clear about what he thinks is acceptable, otherwise, all we can assume is that the fellow is mouthing vacuous platitudes, nothing more.
    (Via Glenn Reynolds, who also links this excellent analysis by Roger Kimball of the Archbishop's lamentable views.)

    Personally, I think the Church would do better under a gay conservative Archbishop than the smarmy heterosexual multiculturalist who runs it now and would allow anti-gay bigotry to flourish under Sharia law.... But alas! Just as I'm not a king-maker, I'm not a bishop maker. (Nor am I a queen maker, although I am trying to prevent Hillary from assuming her wrongful throne.)

    Perhaps its nitpicky, but not only were people not asked about anti-Anglican/Episcopal bias, they also weren't asked about anti-atheist or anti-secular bias. Surely these biases exist. It would not surprise me if there is considerably more anti-atheist bias than anti-Mormon bias.

    But the end result is to make it appear that the only groups "the voters" have problems with are Mormons, evangelical Christians, women, and blacks.

    To be honest, "anti-atheist bigotry" just doesn't have the same ring to it as anti-Mormon or anti-black bigotry, and I'm not sure why. I suspect the rule regarding prejudice varies according to the group.

    "Bigot" is one of those words which has become so inherently inflammatory that it almost can't be used in common parlance anymore. But in logic, what is the difference between anti-Mormon bigotry, anti-evangelical bigotry, anti-Catholic bigotry, and anti-atheist bigotry? Or anti-female and anti-male bigotry, anti-white and anti-black bigotry, or anti-gay and anti-straight bigotry? Does the word usage depend on which group can claim the history of oppression?

    What does the word "bigot" mean, anyway?

    Glad you asked.

    It's time to play the Webster's Dictionary satire game again.

    bigot2.jpg

    bigotry2.jpg

    If the word means what the dictionary says, most of us are all bigots about one thing or another, most religions are bigoted against most other religions and to call someone a bigot would not be libelous absent something additional.

    posted by Eric at 04:19 PM | Comments (2)



    P0rn0graphy At War

    Michael Totten has a new report up on the goings on in Fallujah. He covers a subject that I have touched on a time or two. The importance of pornography in changing our opposition. If you want a look back you might like Jewish Porn Sweeps The Arab world and Defeated By Pornography. How about a look forward at what Michael Totten has to say.

    At the Amariyah station in a village just outside Fallujah, several Iraqi Police officers sat at the dispatcher's desk and watched explicit pornography streamed over the Internet. They whooped and yelled and elbowed each other as the video kept getting racier. I sat at a desk just behind them and tried to work on an article, but they kept trying to get me to watch the video with them. Several Marines shared this work space with them, and all of them ignored the Iraqis and tried to pretend the porno show wasn't on.

    Marines aren't even allowed to check their personal email accounts while they're on duty, let alone watch explicit sex videos on a laptop.

    Irony abounded in that room. Iraqi culture is orders of magnitude more sexually conservative than American culture. Soldiers and Marines in particular are not shy or restrained when it comes to sex (except when they have to be while they're on deployment). Yet the Americans in the room were the ones put off by the pornography. It wasn't because they are uptight or square, but because porn on the job could hardly be less professional. Some of them rightly accused the Iraqi men of hypocrisy. "How come you guys cover your women but you sit around all day looking at our women without any clothes on?"

    The contradictions abound.

    As I have been saying all along. Contact with American culture (especially the sexual aspects) will liquefy the Middle East. Osama agrees.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 12:18 PM | Comments (4)



    "repetitive, personal, virulent attacks"

    Hillary Clinton said that anger is honorable.

    And Robert Heinlein famously said that "an armed society is a polite society."

    Is there tension between these two views?

    How do we factor in extreme anger arising out of (or aggravated by) mental illness?

    I often complain about how awful it is to be harangued at committee meetings. When I served on Berkeley's Police Review Commission, one of the worst things I had to endure was listen to long, incoherent, insulting attacks from furious activists bearing grudges. Some of these were professional, far-left, anti-police activists, but some were clearly deeply disturbed, and saw the Police Review Commission as their chance to lash out and deliver rambling lectures during the "public mike" sesssions. Berkeley had of course, long been a dumping ground for the mentally ill, and there was no question that many of these people were not in their right minds. (Parenthetically, the police do not want to deal with the mentally ill, nor do the courts, nor does anyone and I don't blame them. It's a no-win situation.)

    On several occasions, the crowds got angry that the police themselves were ordered to leave "for reasons of officer safety" (a supreme irony, for it was our job to sit in judgment on them, and when they left, we were left unprotected in the face of some very angry, very crazy looking people). I don't know whether anyone has studied mob psychology, but when the mob contains crazy people (who will go ballistic and issue threats if the word "crazy" is even uttered), the only word to describe it is scary.

    Naturally, when I read about a fatal shooting at a city meeting in Missouri, my interest was piqued. Sure enough, the shooter was a crazy man bearing a grudge, who obviously considered public meetings to be an outlet for his illness:

    ...the 7 p.m. meeting with about 30 people had just started when the shooter rushed in and opened fire with at least one weapon. He started yelling about shooting the mayor while walking around and firing, hitting police Officer Tom Ballman in the head, she said.

    Public Works Director Kenneth Yost was shot in the head, and council members Michael H.T. Lynch and Connie Karr also were hit, she said.

    The gunman also fired at City Attorney John Hessel, who tried to fight off the attacker by throwing chairs, Ms. McNichols told the newspaper. The shooter then moved behind the desk where the council sits and fired more shots at council members, she said.

    "Tonight our fellow Missourians in the city of Kirkwood were terrorized by a senseless and horrific crime at an open government meeting," Gov. Matt Blunt said in a statement. "I join Missourians tonight in praying for the victims, their families and friends, and everyone in the community of Kirkwood."

    Police haven't named the gunman, but Ms. McNichols identified him as Charles Lee "Cookie" Thornton, whom she knows from covering the council. Mr. Thornton had previously disrupted meetings, she told the Post-Dispatch.

    Mr. Thornton was well-known at City Hall, often making outrageous comments at public meetings, according to a 2006 article in the weekly Webster-Kirkwood Times.

    The newspaper quoted Mr. Swoboda as saying in June 2006 that Mr. Thornton's contentious remarks over the years created "one of the most embarrassing situations that I have experienced in my many years of public service."

    Mr. Swoboda's comments came during a council meeting attended by Mr. Thornton two weeks after the man was forcibly removed from the chambers. The mayor said at the time that the council considered banning Mr. Thornton from future meetings but decided against it.

    "The city council has decided that they will not lower themselves to Mr. Thornton's level," Mr. Swoboda said at the meeting. "We will act with integrity and continue to deal with him at these council proceedings. However, we will not allow Mr. Thornton, or any other person, to disrupt these proceedings."

    Mr. Thornton said during the meeting that he had been issued more than 150 tickets.

    He was arrested twice and later convicted for disorderly conduct for outbursts at two council meetings in 2006, convinced the city was persecuting him. When allowed to speak during one meeting, he approached the podium with a posterboard with a picture of a donkey and began making harassing remarks about Mr. Swoboda.

    In a federal lawsuit stemming from those meetings, Mr. Thornton, representing himself, insisted that Kirkwood officials violated his constitutional rights to free speech by barring him from speaking at the meetings. But a judge in St. Louis tossed out the suit Jan. 28, writing that "any restrictions on Thornton's speech were reasonable, viewpoint neutral, and served important governmental interests."

    All the people involved have my sincerest sympathies. I don't know what the solution is to the problem of mentally ill people who suddenly become violent, but it is serious, and it may be irresponsible of me to say this, but based on my experience in Berkeley, I can say that I think official meetings draw crazy people, and crazy people have a tendency to abuse the First Amendment.

    What about free speech for the mentally ill? Why is this an uncomfortable topic? I'm probably about as fanatic a supporter of the First Amendment as anyone, but is the idea to allow an exchange of views, so that all opinions can be heard, or is it to provide an outlet to vent for people who aren't taking their meds?

    Is venting rage and insulting people because it makes you feel good what the founders had in mind with the First Amendment? Is public rage directed at a captive audience (which is precisely what officials at a public meetings are) the same thing as free expression of views?

    And there's a double standard. Why do low-level commissioners have to sit and endure stuff that would get anyone arrested were it directed at judges or members of federal or state legislatures? In practice, that's the system we have (at least, in Berkeley.)

    I ask these questions because I used to sit there helpless, and I felt like a punching bag for wild-eyed street activists who'd already been stirred up by professionals and were shaking with rage and ready to go off. One time I complained during a break to a fellow commissioner who was on the far left that I was sick and tired of simply sitting there and being yelled at and excoriated by speaker after speaker. (I was at the time in the center left -- which made me "right wing.") This man scolded me for my "undemocratic" attitude, saying that it was very important to provide these people with an "outlet," lest there be worse trouble in the form of rioting in the streets. The problem with that is that these people were the hard core rioters, and my feeling was that instead of calming them down, in some cases the public venting only served to stir them up. (They shut down a number of meetings, spraypainted "ROSEBUD"* on a police car on one occasion, and vandalized commissioners cars.)

    The LA Times reports additional details. Apparently the shooter's brother is "OK" with what happened:

    McCallie [a friend of the shooter] recalled Thornton holding up large posters with rude comments about city officials. "It got so bad," McCallie said, "the council members got scared enough to start having at least one police officer there."

    An officer was stationed outside the council chambers Thursday evening.

    He was one of the first killed.

    Republican Gov. Matt Blunt called the tragedy a "senseless and horrific crime."

    Thornton's brother, Gerald, told local television station KMOV that he saw justification for the bloodshed. "My brother went to war tonight with the people and government that were putting torment and strife into his life, and he ended it," Gerald Thornton said. "I'm OK with it."

    See, this is what I'm talking about. There are crazy people out there, and they have allies. Friends. Enablers. In the case of politicized crazies, their enablers sometimes sit right there and egg them on. (Encouraging them to be proud of their anger.)

    It's not a pretty picture. I frankly don't know what the First Amendment implications are.

    The LA Times has a little more about the judge's decision:

    In June 2006, however, the mayor grew frustrated with Thornton's verbal abuse. Council members ordered law enforcement to remove him from the chambers.

    Thornton responded with a federal lawsuit alleging that his right to free speech had been violated.

    On Jan. 28 of this year U.S. District Judge Catherine D. Perry dismissed the lawsuit.

    "Any restrictions on Thornton's speech were reasonable, viewpoint-neutral and served important governmental interests," Perry wrote. "Thornton does not have a 1st Amendment right to engage in irrelevant debate and to voice repetitive, personal, virulent attacks against Kirkwood and its city officials."

    It's all too easy for me to wish that some judge in Berkeley had ruled that there is no "1st Amendment right to engage in irrelevant debate and to voice repetitive, personal, virulent attacks against Berkeley and its city officials."

    But suppose he had. Would that be constitutional? Right now I (along with many bloggers) might feel like voicing "repetitive, personal, virulent attacks" against Berkeley and its city officials for its insane anti-military bigotry, and I wouldn't want any judge to interfere with anyone's right to do that. Sure, I try to be polite and reasonable, and normally the "repetitive, personal, virulent attacks" aren't my style, but where in the First Amendment does it say anything about civility? (Especially when the other side has been uncivil?)

    I see lots of issues, but no easy answers, and I'm sorry for that.

    Might it be that the people who drafted the Constitution and the Bill of Rights knew that "repetitive, personal, virulent attacks" were part and parcel of free speech?

    I think it may be that this is one of the reasons that the founders, in their near-infinite wisdom, decided that the Second Amendment should follow the First.

    The idea is to prevent shouting from leading to shooting.

    * Laura Miller, aka "Rosebud Abigail DeNovo." Depending on your, um, point of view, she was either a mentally deranged woman who charged the police armed with a machete, or a dedicated activist who should be forever honored. The mob considered her a hero, much along the lines of the "martyred" anti-Israeli activist Rachel Corrie.

    UPDATE: While there's discussion both in the comments and in the news reports that this incident involved (or at least touched upon) race, to the extent that is true, it only highlights my point about enabling and encouraging anger.

    All racial issues aside, Thornton appears to have a long history as an exceedingly violent man with a history of assaultive behavior. (Criminal charges pending against him for an alleged assault on a restaurant owner last year.)

    Was he allowed to possess a gun?

    MORE: Here's an activist who is calling Charles Thornton a "hero":

    Ben Gordon, an activist with the Rock Hill-Webster Groves Family Community Center, was perhaps the most outspoken person present, going as far as to call Thornton a "hero."

    "He was a good man. The only problem was he thought he could survive in America against racist politics. And what we have here is an example of what will happen as long as people choose color over people," said Gordon. "I don't condone murder, but I tell you now, as long as there is separatism and unequal politics you'll see more of this. He did what any red-blooded American would do. If you go to Iraq and kill people that this government says is an enemy, then you're a hero. But if you're fighting in this country for the rights you are deserved and you've been told you are owed, then you are an insurgent. I say he is a hero."

    It would not surprise me to find that this man was egged on for years, by people with various axes to grind.

    There may have been a number of injustices, but my problem is when mentally unstable people are encouraged to imagine that they'll get justice if they get angry enough and loud enough about demanding their rights. The mentally unstable are not capable of controlling themselves the way a normal person would, and it is getting worse. Professors are afraid of being shot for giving bad grades, and employers are afraid to fire people. Grievances reign supreme. Even in politics, people who don't get their way are willing to overturn the chessboard willy-nilly. Maybe I'm too used to not getting my way, and that's made me cynical. But the way some people are talking remind me of the Berkeley People's Park activists who believed that the city had oppressed them, and if you didn't agree, you were literally the enemy.

    God save us from activists.

    posted by Eric at 09:34 AM | Comments (6)



    Think About Christmas And Dating

    A delightful talk about intellectual property its uses and abuses. By a lawyer who actually has a few good ideas.

    And don't forget to think about Christmas and dating.

    posted by Simon at 02:06 AM | Comments (3)




    John McCain, consider yourself endorsed here!

    By withdrawing from the race, Mitt Romney has saved me the trouble of formally announcing my support of John McCain. That's because I've already stated that I would support him if he gets the nomination, which is now a de facto done deal.

    Even though he doesn't like him, Bob Owens endorsed McCain earlier, for some very good reasons:

    Love him or hate him, McCain has something both Democratic candidates lack: meaningful experience. Obama has served less than one full term as a U.S. Senator, following just two full and one half-completed term as a state Senator. Clinton has completed one term in the U.S. Senate, and only a third of her second term. She has no prior national experience as an elected politician... unless you think being an acquiescent First Lady to the Philanderer-in-Chief counts. Frankly, that she lacks the self-respect to ditch a serial sex abuser such as William Jefferson Clinton says all about her character (or lack of it) that I need to know.

    By comparison, McCain served two terms in the House of Representatives, and has been a U.S. Senator since 1986, and while I've often disagreed with his positions, he cannot be accused of being a weathervane politician.

    So while I do not like John McCain, he is what we have left among the candidates that will attempt to work with both parties, who hasn't adopted a fringe ideology (or tried to hide it), and who has meaningful experience on the federal level, who did not take his seat in the Senate merely as a stepping stone to higher office. As purely a pragmatic calculation, he's the only candidate still running in either party that won't screw this country up too bad during his term.

    During some elections, that may have to be enough.

    This is hardly a ringing endorsement. It isn't supposed to be.

    McCain for President. Or we're really screwed.

    (Via Glenn Reynolds, who thinks that last line is a great bumpersticker.)

    This is hardly going to be what anyone would call a "ringing" endorsement either, although it is my attempt at a sincere one. (In light of what I've said, it's also a little superfluous, but I think I owe it to the people who read the blog. Besides, allowing that you'll be voting for someone really isn't quite the same as an endorsement.)

    Basically, I agree with everything Bob Owens says, except I don't share his dislike for McCain. I never have.

    As I've explained in repeated posts, I like John McCain. What I don't like are some of his past political sins, and McCain-Feingold tops the list. But as a man, I think he's a great person, a real war hero, and someone I greatly admire. In fact, I think he's inspirational, in the truest sense of the word. That counts a lot more than positions on issues.

    I realize that many people don't like him personally, and they also don't like him politically. My differences with McCain are political, not personal, but for me the choice between him and Hillary is such a no-brainer that I cannot believe than anyone other than a dyed-in-the-wool liberal Democrat (who also enjoys a return of White House corruption via an end-run around the 22nd Amendment) could possibly consider voting for Hillary.

    I have leftist friends who will be voting for her, and that I understand, even if I disagree with them.

    But to Hillary supporters like Ann Coulter, Pat Buchanan, and that loony tune who spouted a vile conspiracy theory at WorldNetDaily, I say, the hell with you all. You're either crazy or running some kind of dishonest scam, and I don't respect you or your poisonous rhetoric.

    McCain represents a fighting chance to fix what's wrong -- at home and abroad, in the moribund GOP and in the political system as a whole. Contrary to what some might think, I believe he may be able to actually improve the poisoned dialogue in this country, because as he has shown all his life, he doesn't run from a challenge. He showed that today at CPAC, where he stood and faced the boos from his own ranks, and handled it with grace, dignity, and good-natured humor.

    He can take whatever the Democrats dish out, and then some. Furthermore, he can return whatever they dish out blow for blow, as the man is a born fighter.

    No wonder they're literally (as the saying goes, and as Glenn Reynolds pointed out) running scared. And if you don't believe Reynolds or Krumm, remember Democratic analyst Dick Polman's recent warning about the "nightmare scenario for Democrats":

    ...here's the nightmare scenario for Democrats: Hillary and McCain square off. McCain wins the independents, many of whom are sick to death of the Clintons. McCain cancels out Hillary's "experience" argument, because he has more. McCain trumps her "toughness" argument, because he has the more hawkish pedigree and spent five years in a POW cell. McCain trumps her on "authenticity," for reasons already mentioned. McCain even pulls away Hispanic voters in key states, thanks to his early championing of a path to citizenship. And he's buoyed by a united conservative base, because nobody galvanizes the base better than Hillary.
    I think it would be foolish for any Republican not to get behind him.

    And while I haven't forgotten any of my political disagreements, I'm very proud to endorse him. I think John McCain has the makings of being not only a good president, but possibly of something better -- what we used to call a statesman. His critics (right and left) may be in for quite a surprise.

    posted by Eric at 05:29 PM | Comments (10)



    Listening for conservative sounds

    Is McCain going to get booed at CPAC today?

    CPAC it seems, is directing its loyal goers to not boo McCain. They must be more excited that McCain has finally signed on to appear after years of snubs than they want to let on.

    During registration last night at the Omni Shoreham a registrant was asking to upgrade his CPAC package and then proceeded to ask what time GOP front-runner John McCain was going to speak today. "Oh good," he said to the response -- answer: 3 p.m. today -- "I hope they boo him out of the room."

    "No, no no no no" came the reply from the person registering him. "We've been instructed to tell participants not to boo McCain."

    "Are you kidding me?" the shocked CPAC-goer asked.

    We shall see.

    It is now 3:04 p.m. and I am listening on XM POTUS.

    Standing by.

    03:07 -- McCain is now being introduced by George Allen.

    "We are at war, and the prreminent role of the president is commander in chief.

    John McCain has the knowledge and experience to be commander in chief. Cites his remarks that he'd rather lose a race than lose a war.

    There's considerable cheering.

    No booing, which is good.

    Allen cites his previous disagreements, but relates McCain's opposition to taxes, and wants line item veto.

    "My fellow conservatives, you are essential teammates in our cause." Stresses the difference between McCain and Hillary. etc.

    Just announced his name.

    There were some very audible (but not overwhelming) boos.

    But first, Senator Coburn! He's giving a second introduction.

    No boos I can hear when he mentions his name

    3:15 -- Islamic extremism, looming financial catastrophe.

    McCain will cut waste. Will challenge the excesses of Congress.

    willing to do the right thing, Courage matters most.

    Lots of cheers, no boos.

    This is not as bad as I was expecting.

    3:17 -- Coburn says McCain will declare war on pork. No more bridges to nowhere, museums to hippie flashbacks, etc. (Wild cheering.)

    Will fight government run universal health care plan. He will fight Congress. (I think that's right, too.)

    Coburn admits that McCain has done things he disagrees with, but cites his support for numerous conservative/strict constructionist judges. No secret amnesty plan. "If he did, he knows I'd kill him."

    Desire to tackle corruption was correct. Congress was unrestrained.

    Concerns expressed about John McCain pales compared to the important issues.

    Has a conservative record on the transcendant issue of our time (human life). On national security, he's the most qualified.

    Not perfect, we'll disagree, but---

    "I'll debate anyone who thinks Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama will be better."

    Just introduced him. The boos are almost inaudible.

    3:23 -- Now watching on Fox.

    The crowd is being quite civil, as McCain talks about the need to unite party. And I am acutely aware than I cannot do that without conservatives. Many of you have disagreed with me strongly. It is my sincere hope that even if I have disagreed, I have maintained the record of being a conservative. Have defended conservatism.

    Liberty is a right conveyed by our creator, not governments.

    Mentions Ronald Reagan on never abandoning fundamental beliefs. Recalls Reagan, his fellow prisoners,

    Has not forgotten his Reagan heritage. "As proud today as I was then."

    Small government, fiscal conservatism, strong defense, social values, defense of life liberty and pursuit of happiness, which I have defended my whole career as God-given to the born and the unborn.

    (These remarks are all punctuated with applause, and I think he's doing quite well with this crowd.)

    Mentions his Second Amendment record, his 24 year pro-life record, his advocacy of increasing troop levels in Iraq -- to more cheers.

    3:34 -- Mentions disagreements people have had "I would not pretend otherwise, and you wouldn't let me" (Laughter)

    Mentions the words "illegal immigration" and for the first time the boos erupt in earnest. McCain handles this very gracefully, throws up his hands, and laughs along with the boos. He's actually letting them beat up on him and his sincerity really shows.

    He's a good man, and I think even his enemies there know it.

    He knew the boos were coming, and I think he decided in advance to let them come.

    3:38 -- He did a great job of explaining himself, and he is moving on to national security. The applause sounds quite sincere.

    I will not sign a bill with earmarks in it. Any earmarks in it.

    "And I can assure you, Senator Coburn will hold me to it."


    Senator Clinton and Senator Obama will raise your taxes. I intend to cut them. I will begin by making the Bush tax cuts permanent. Will cut corporate taxes, end alternative minimum tax.

    Wants free choice in health care.

    Will appoint judges who will respect the rights of the people.

    Iraq: Clinton and Obama offer withdrawal and timetables with dire consequences. I will win the war.

    3:44 --I know war. I know that the heartbreak caused by prematurely leaving Iraq will cause far greater losses than we have had to date.

    Will stand up to Iran. (He means it.)

    Hillary and Obama will withdraw. He will stay on offense.

    "Those are just a few of the differences."

    We've had a few disagreements. Even in disagreement, I will seek the counsel of my fellow conservatives. Even if I disagree, I hope you will not lose sight of the agreements.

    Deep and unwavering love.

    As Burke warned, freedom can be nibbled away and eaten by parts.

    Love America. Will never tire of the honor of serving her.

    I think he did very well.

    On Fox, Michael Steele said: "He hit it out of the park. The pivot point was when they started to boo him. He began to take control of the Republican Party at that point."

    Steele stressed his humility. It really came through.

    (I was going to vote for him anyway, but this time I have to say that the guy has won me over with the way he handled a potentially hostile crowd today. A class act. I'm sure the video will be all over the Internet.)

    MORE: Even McCain arch-opponent Richard Viguerie (on POTUS) calls this a "first step" and "a good speech."

    As to immigration, Viguerie allows that "he handled it as well as he could."

    I think it's a good thing that they started on making peace in the GOP now rather than later.

    AND MORE: I don't think the Democrats are going to be happy about this at all. Now they won't be able to run against Bush.

    And, as Bob Krumm points out, McCain is very definitely not Bush:

    ...being an administration outsider, "John McCain would be free to run against Bush's bad policies, while he promises to pursue his good ones. In effect, he could run against the worst of both parties." He offers change without Obama's inexperience. He captures the middle that by now hates Bushes and Clintons. As bad as things are for the Republicans, a John McCain nomination puts Democrats into an even worse position.
    (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

    I remember a very scrappy John McCain saying he would beat Hillary "like a drum." I think he's going to enjoy the fight. The last thing the Democrats want is to have to engage in political combat with a Happy Warrior.

    Damn. Now I'm even feeling happy!

    MORE: This was a live blog post and I apologize for the many errors in typing and spelling. (Anyone who hired to take dictation would be ruined.)

    posted by Eric at 03:03 PM | Comments (3)



    Is Romney quitting?

    I just heard a news rumor on the radio that Mitt Romney is about to announce that he's dropping out of the race.

    Apparently there's an announcement now at CPAC.

    Stay tuned.

    12:50 -- He's just said McCain has more delegates and he's thanking everyone. No mention of any withdrawal yet.

    12:52 -- ABC confirms the rumor.

    12:54 -- More here.

    But what's up at CPAC?

    12:56 -- Breitbart quotes his speech:

    WASHINGTON (AP) - John McCain effectively sealed the Republican presidential nomination on Thursday as chief rival Mitt Romney suspended his faltering presidential campaign.

    "If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Senator Clinton or Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign, be a part of aiding a surrender to terror," Romney will say at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington.

    "This is not an easy decision for me. I hate to lose. My family, my friends and our supporters... many of you right here in this room... have given a great deal to get me where I have a shot at becoming President. If this were only about me, I would go on. But I entered this race because I love America, and because I love America, I feel I must now stand aside, for our party and for our country," Romney said.

    McCain prevailed in most of the Super Tuesday states, moving closer to the numbers needed to officially win the nomination.

    THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information.

    12:58 -- Judging from what's here, I'd say it's a done deal.

    12:59 -- Glenn Reynolds thinks so too, and links the Breitbart story.

    01:03 -- I only heard a segment of the speech, but I think that's it. But now I'm listening to Romney POTUS on XM for more. I'm not sure whether it's the resignation speech, but he's talking about fighting the war on terror, and veterans issues, judicial appoinments, and the crowd is applauding. He's saying "you're with me all the way to the convention" and "fight on," so maybe he's changed his mind....

    01:06 -- Uh oh. If I fight on, I'd be making it easier for Clinton and Obama to win.

    Can't make my campaign aid a surrender to terror.

    That's it. He's pulling out.

    It's not all about me.

    "I entered this race because I love America. Because I love America, I need to step aside."

    We cannot allow the next president of the United States to retreat in the face of evil extremism.

    A very decent man delivers a decent resignation speech.

    He's out. It's final.

    MORE: It looks like Bill Kristol got it right in the prediction he made late Tuesday night, when he said "I think Mitt Romney will pull out."

    AND MORE: On POTUS I just heard G. Gordon Liddy say, "And now the general election can begin."

    Strategically, this makes sense for the Republican Party as a whole, as they're now ahead of the game.

    MORE: At Pajamas Media, Rick Moran has more on Romney's "Swift and Graceful Exit." (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

    posted by Eric at 12:47 PM | Comments (1)



    Hsurely, they'll be wearing out some hsu leather over this!

    "Where did Hillary get $5 million to loan a presidential campaign?"

    Ed Morrissey wants to know:

    Where did Hillary get $5 million to loan a presidential campaign? Bill and Hillary have done well on the speaking circuit, and Bill recently got $20 million or so for backing out of his partnership from Ron Burkle. At the time, speculation had Bill wanting to eliminate any potential conflicts between Burkle's business and Hillary's election.

    Now, however, one has to wonder whether Burkle may have attempted to float money into Hillary's campaign while bypassing campaign-finance regulations. Did the $20 million, which came just two weeks ago, actually represent a fair-market settlement for Clinton's services and ownership stake in Yucaipa? Or did Burkle inflate it in order to allow Hillary to "loan" herself $5 million to keep pace with a surging Obama campaign?

    The Clintons always seem to live at the nexus of questions regarding cash and politics. Whether we talk about Norman Hsu or Ron Burkle, their opacity in financial operations suggests a very, er, flexible attitude towards ethics in government -- and serves as a reminder why so many people oppose a Clinton Restoration.

    (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

    The loan was reported yesterday, although I didn't notice many headlines, nor did I see much speculation about the ultimate sources of the funds.

    Well, there's a notable exception. When Glenn Reynolds linked the story yesterday, he did a better job of issue-spotting than the MSM, because he linked this:

    Apparently, Hillary is considering using some of her own money to finance her campaign.

    If she does, I can guarantee there'll be questions about the millions in foreign money Bill Clinton has racked up in speaking fees that's likely stashed in their joint checking account.

    I wrote about this in the first chapter of my book .

    Since leaving the White House, Clinton has earned more than $20 million in speaking fees from foreign sources in places like the People's Republic of China and Dubai, according to her Senate financial disclosure forms. They also share a joint checking account according to those same forms.

    If Hillary uses that foreign money to finance her campaign she will have successfully exploited a loophole in campaign finance rules that forbids the use of foreign money in U.S. elections.

    I dunno about you, but it sounds like the beginning of another classic Clinton financial scandal. And this comes on top of recent news that Bill's been courting uranium deals for the benefit of his foundation in Kazakhstan and looming questions about whether Bill would be more of a renegade global ambassador than First Gentleman in the White House.

    Global ambassador? Or Global bag man?

    I mean, really. Why isn't the possibility of illegal foreign campaign money laundering considered more of a story? (Including, quite possibly, money from Holocaust deniers?)

    You'd think that there'd be no way the MSM would ignore a scandal of such epic proportions.

    Not with all their legendary teams of crack investigative reporters! I mean, being a blogger, all I can do I sit around in my imaginary pajamas. But the "real" reporters, are they looking into this?

    Can we expect to see something in tomorrow's New York Times? The LA Times? Maybe even my local Philadelphia Inquirer?

    Come on guys, let's see a little hsu leather reporting!

    posted by Eric at 12:24 PM | Comments (0)



    "the account holder is responsible for the crime."

    Not long ago, an armed raid was carried out to serve a search warrant for kiddie porn and the suspect ended up dead:

    Rebecca Hill considered her husband, Darius, "the most honorable person I've ever met."

    A Marine veteran who served in the first Gulf War, the home-improvement contractor lived near Perkasie with his wife and two small daughters, a seemingly placid man with "Death Before Dishonor" tattooed on his right arm.

    That he died Monday night in a hail of bullets in his upstairs bedroom during an FBI raid of their Hilltown Township home has left Rebecca Hill beyond incredulous.

    "I just don't understand what happened in my bedroom for things to have turned out this way," Rebecca Hill, 39, said yesterday.

    Darius Hill, 39, died of multiple gunshot wounds early Monday evening. One of the wounds was self-inflicted, Bucks County Coroner Joseph Campbell said, but it remained unclear whether that wound was fatal.

    While scant information has been released about what happened in the Hill house Monday, Bucks County District Attorney Michelle Henry did confirm last night that "the federal search warrant was for the possession and distribution of child pornography."

    She did not have a detailed list of what was seized but said it included computer equipment.

    Law enforcement authorities did not disclose the shooting for nearly 24 hours.

    The FBI refused to comment, other than to say that the shooting was being investigated internally.

    Henry said that Bucks County detectives were investigating whether the use of deadly force was justified, and she confirmed that Darius Hill was holding a handgun. She would not elaborate on the shooting or what led to it.

    Rebecca Hill was present only for the outset of the raid and has gleaned few bits of information. She said she knew of no involvement by her husband in child pornography.

    The search-warrant application remained sealed yesterday.

    It appears that he shot himself (which, in most people's minds, would be indicative of guilt).

    Kiddie porn is of course a criminal offense, but it is a possessory one, and when I read about anyone dying during the execution of a search warrant, I'm always a bit suspicious. The problem with possessory crimes is that anyone can put anything anywhere.

    For example, someone could break into your house, stuff a bag of heroin under your couch, and unless you found it, you'd have no way of knowing it was there. And it wouldn't have to result from a burglary; if you threw a party, a guest could leave anything anywhere, and even assuming you're a good housekeeper, drugs can be awfully tiny and difficult to spot.

    Things on your hard drive might be even more difficult to spot, especially if you did not put them there, and did not know they were there. It might surprise many people to know this, but if you use your search feature (START> Search>Files or Folders), and simply enter *.jpg or *.gif, you'll see an incredible number of images that you never deliberately downloaded. That's because the cache feature can cause them to be downloaded automatically, and in theory, they stay on your hard drive forever. (Even if "deleted," they can be recovered.) Annoying porn popups can leave x-rated images on the hard drives of the most prudish people.

    But let's return to the invader who gets into your hard drive. What's really creepy is that unlike the situation of someone who might leave drugs in your house, he doesn't have to get inside. He could be anyone -- a total stranger simply "piggybacking" onto your WiFi signal, and downloading (or uploading) illegal images and files to his heart's content.

    The Inquirer had a piece about this today, and the implications are ominous:

    For law enforcement, tapping into wireless accounts is the latest way in which child pornography can evade the reach of the law.

    "I think we are going to find more and more of it," said Delaware County Detective David Pfeifer, who is with the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force.

    Computer users, he said, do not often take the extra step to secure their wireless Internet routers, leaving their accounts vulnerable to Internet theft from outside the home.

    Delaware County District Attorney G. Michael Green said there were more cases where child pornography was being downloaded by criminals using wireless service registered to another person. "That technique is a real concern," he said.

    And it can also become a real problem for the unsuspecting wireless owner. The person who downloaded the pornography is gone, and it is the registered owner of the wireless account who is left to answer police questions.

    Technically, "the account holder is responsible for the crime," said Detective Sgt. Gordon Samartino of the New Jersey State Police ICAC in Hamilton, where there have been a few cases involving the use of unprotected wireless to access child pornography.

    "The search warrant ends up at that house," he said.

    My first reaction to this was that Sgt. Samartino must be misstating the law. Surely there's no way they could get a warrant to come into your home with drawn guns, simply because someone hacked into your WiFi signal.

    I mean, like, that's totally unfair! Didn't the founding fathers say something about how we're supposed to be safe from unreasonable search and seizure?

    Saying "the account holder is responsible for the crime" is like saying that the homeowner is responsible for a crime committed by a burglar.

    Apparently, that's precisely what they're saying:

    Actually using an unprotected account is "piggybacking."

    "Wardriving is like walking through a neighborhood and writing down the addresses," said Kevin Watkins, a researcher at McAfee, a computer security company. "Piggybacking is where it changes. Piggybacking is like entering the house."

    It is not easy to detect someone piggybacking on your account, Watkins said. The service may be slower if the unauthorized user is downloading large files.

    "Another way is if the feds knock on your door to see if the illegal activity is coming from your computer," Watkins said.

    Oh, well that's reassuring. Just wait for your friendly SWAT team to arrive to ask a few polite questions? Will they leave after you tell them you have no idea what they're talking about? Or will they barge in and shoot your dog before asking questions?

    I also see an issue of unequal protection, because I don't think they're going to conduct armed raids against governments and large espresso coffee house chains which host free anonymous "hot spots":

    Another concern for those who try to police Internet crime is "hot spots," where anyone can anonymously use open wireless accounts, such as cyber cafes, hotel lobbies and libraries.

    Rob D'Ovidio, an assistant professor at Drexel University, says such places are "a great haven" to launch criminal activity.

    Yeah, I'm sure they are. But it's the homeowner and the small business owner who will end up getting screwed. The City of Philadelphia (and countless other cities which have wired public places for WiFi) will not be "held responsible for the crime" -- whether by Sgt. Samartino, or any other police officer.

    If you don't like it, they'll say you should have secured your WiFi signal.

    Which is, of course, good common sense. But failure to secure a signal is not a crime, nor should such a failure give rise to criminal culpability (nor should it furnish probable cause for a potentially deadly search warrant) for crimes committed by someone else -- any more than the failure to lock a front door or a car door should give rise to liability for a hit and run accident, or a murder committed in the house.

    This is all part of an increasing trend of preemptive law enforcement. It's tough to go after the guilty parties, so the idea is to frighten potential crime victims into doing as they're told under the belief that if they don't, they share in the guilt. It might be bad idea to fail to secure a WiFi connection, but it is not a crime, nor should it be.

    Of course, this tendency is not limited to computer piggybacking. There are legislative efforts in many places which make it a crime not to lock your car (because it might be "attractive" to criminals). If you don't lock your car or your house, of course, you're a stupid fool. Just as you'd be a stupid fool to walk the streets of Philadelphia wearing the Hope Diamond. But failure to take precautions against crime is not criminal behavior.

    Unless you believe in the idea that all victims are somehow guilty of aiding and abetting the criminals.

    UPDATE: Here's Glenn Reynolds today:

    They told me that if George W. Bush were re-elected, clueless cops would be confiscating computers willy-nilly. And they were right!
    It is definitely Bush's fault that something is rotten in Denmark:
    Police in Denmark confiscated the computer belonging to the guy who does the Rottin' in Denmark blog. They accused him of using a stolen credit card to buy stuff online. The blogger explained that he has an open WiFi access point, and that anyone can use it. It took them a long time to figure that out, but they took his computer (and his room mate's computer) anyway.

    Rottin's account of the police visit is funny. But it also makes me wonder if I should close my open WiFi network. I don't want cops taking away my computer.

    And there's no indication of whether he got it back.

    I guess we should be glad we don't live in Denmark where police can just seize your stuff because bad guys messed with it.

    But the logic of this escapes me. If someone steals someone's credit card and uses it on my computer, I don't think that should allow the cops to take my computer away, because I didn't do anything wrong. I mean, suppose someone steals my credit card. Should that entitle the cops to confiscate my wallet?

    If a car thief steals my car and uses it in a crime spree, do the cops get to take my car away too?

    posted by Eric at 10:30 AM | Comments (4)



    "Someone has to take out the garbage"

    I didn't expect to see the type of paranoid conspiracy nonsense that I remember from the 2000 smear campaign against McCain resurfacing in the blogosphere, but it has.

    I'm sorry to see that unsourced, unsubstantiated trashy gossip is being taken seriously, but I guess that's what happens when a "respectable" online news source like WorldNetDaily (yes, I'm being sarcastic) picks it up and treats it as news:

    They [apparently a "small group of GOP senators and congressmen"] have been having discussions with a Russian whom we'll call "T" for translator. T's father was the Soviet military intelligence officer who ran the "Hanoi Hilton" prison holding captured Americans during the Vietnam War. One of those prisoners was John McCain.

    The GRU ? Glavnoje Razvedyvatel'noje Upravlenije or main intelligence directorate of the Soviet (now Russian) Armed Forces ? operated the entire North Vietnamese prison system holding American prisoners of war. GRU officers, all of whom were Russians, oversaw the interrogation of every American POW.

    The interrogations themselves were conducted by Vietnamese who spoke some English. After each interrogation session, which could often include torturing the prisoners at the direction of the GRU officers, the Vietnamese interrogator would write a report of the session ? in Vietnamese.

    These reports had to be translated into Russian. T, a bright teenager living in the GRU compound in Hanoi, had become fluent in Vietnamese, and ended up translating many of the reports and interrogators' notes.

    According to "T," McCain only pretended on occasion to be a prisoner during his captivity, but he actually lived high on the hog with a couple of Vietnamese prostitutes in an apartment. And Bill Clinton, working for the CIA since 1968, knows all about this, and he has the documents and the Clintons are going to release them at just the right time but Ann Coulter is really good and we should vote for Hillary if Romney doesn't win.

    Sigh.

    It's a long piece, but that's my best attempt to summarize it. There's simply nothing there. Unless you believe in the story of "T" -- the secret weapon the Clintons are going to use to derail McCain. (But isn't McCain a commie liberal hell-bent on ruining America and no different from the Clintons? Why go to all this trouble?)

    Some bloggers (and no, I will not name them) are taking this more seriously than others who (fortunately) realize that a better role for bloggers is in debunking as opposed to promoting unverified nonsense.

    I like Ed Morrissey's take (bear in mind he's a Romney supporter):

    Wheeler doesn't actually produce any evidence, documentary or testimonial. Conveniently, Wheeler says the CIA has it hidden. That doesn't keep him from dropping this turd in the middle of the primary punch bowl.

    I have had it with whispering campaigns. Some Senators think John McCain is "clinically nuts"? Then they need to step forward and explain that diagnosis, openly. Being temperamental isn't the same thing as "clinically nuts", and the description Wheeler gives sounds a lot closer to the former than the latter. I've had coaches who could blister the paint off the walls and pack a semester's worth of Salty Language 101 into a post-match review, but that didn't make them "clinically nuts".

    And this smear about living in a hotel room with prostitutes while being held as a POW is particularly despicable. I thought the lost-airplane smear was bad, but this smells worse than anything I've ever heard in politics. Shame on Wheeler for pushing this story without so much as a scrap of evidence, and especially in the face of compelling testimony to the contrary. What's Wheeler's basis for passing this along? He heard it from the son of the man who supposedly interviewed McCain for the KGB, without ever seeing the translations . As if the KGB never engaged in disinformation and sabotage campaigns!

    And this:

    Pathetic. Disgusting. Rancid. Gutless. He'll throw the mud, but he won't give the evidence. What a revolting piece of work Wheeler is. This kind of character assassination should have no place in politics, and the only evidence it provides is that of Wheeler's moral derangement.

    UPDATE and BUMP: Someone asks me in the comments if it wouldn't be better to ignore people like Wheeler. Unfortunately, no. Someone has to take out the garbage, and if it keeps piling up,. the stink gets on everyone in the room.

    The whole thing is a rehash of 2000, and the same people are probably behind it. It is no accident that the stuff is unsourced and unverifiable. That makes it much harder if not impossible to refute. The burden ought to be on this "Dr. Jack Wheeler" nutjob to prove what he says, but I'm sure he won't.

    It's more fun to circulate unprovable theories that only secret government agents and double agents know but won't tell! Just ask them! They won't talk! Or they'll deny it! (Just like Roswell. The Chemtrailers! The 911 impoders! The Bilderbergers, the Skull and Bones, and the Masons!)

    McCain made a secret deal with the North Vietnamese Communists way back when, to take over this country, and it's about to happen!

    The only way to stop him now is to vote for Hillary!

    Sometimes it takes Communism to defeat Communism.

    This is satire, right?

    UPDATE: Commenter Alphie says it it is possible to criticize the smears without repeating or linking to them.

    He's right, except it should be borne in mind that I barely quoted this nonsense, and merely summarized it. Nor did I provide links to the bloggers who circulated it uncritically.

    My real quarrel here is with WorldNetDaily and the gang of paranoid conspiracy theorists who always seem to get a pass, and continue to crank out stuff that no reasonable person should take seriously. No matter how outrageous their claims, they're still considered "respectable," and there are bloggers who -- whether through naivite or simply because they find it emotionally pleasing -- will link to it and accept it as "news."

    One of the reasons I think this happens -- and the main reason I took the time last night to write this post -- is that if I didn't say anything, they'd be getting a pass from me!

    And if I hadn't related the substance of the charge, it would be more difficult for people to understand the seriously irresponsible, dangerously wacko nature of it. Were John McCain not a public person, he could sue WorldNetDaily and end up owning the damned outfit.

    This is not the first time, and I'm sure it won't be the last. Seriously, I am sick and tired of my own tendency to pull punches with the creepily hegemonic WND. I hesitate, and the reason I hesitate is that (much to my chagrin) they employ and work with some people I respect. It pains me to do this. It really does.

    But I agree that someone has to take out the garbage, and this is big time garbage. Had it been a case of an over-wrought, hyperbole-driven blogger circulating an anonymous email, I wouldn't have bothered.

    UPDATE: Sebastian of Snowflakes in Hell points to an damningly thorough article by James H. Warner -- a fellow prisoner with McCain (and not a McCain supporter, BTW) which refutes the baseless allegations point by point:

    Recently, I have seen several allegations that condemn Senator John McCain for his behavior as a prisoner of war. I believe that these allegations are false. I am in a better position than the Senator's accusers to know the truth since I was a prisoner with him, having been captured a little over a month before him. I have contacted hundreds of my comrades on our e-mail list and not one of them can confirm anything that has been alleged against McCain.

    Let me tell you what they have told me and what I saw myself, and answer some of the charges. First, I should say that I have great respect for Senator McCain, even though I am at odds with him on many issues and have remained distant from his campaign. I say this up front because I think that a defense mounted by one of his supporters would be less credible.

    Read it all.

    The paranoid WND crowd ought to be ashamed of themselves, but I'm sure they aren't.

    posted by Eric at 12:11 AM | Comments (4)




    If there's a high turnout, wherein lies the base?

    I complain a lot about the primary system, and how it prevents candidates who might prove to be popular in general elections from ever getting there.

    In several posts, I looked at the Schwarzenegger phenomenon. (Schwarzenegger of course, managed by a fluke to avoid the primary, which would normally have prevented him from becoming governor, only to be elected repeatedly in an overwhelmingly Democratic state. Had the Republican activists had their way, the party would have remained "pure" -- and out of power.)

    In yesterday's election, record turnout was reported in both parties, and while the GOP numbers are still quite low in terms of the overall percentage of registered Republican voters, in many cases the numbers more than doubled:

    Records for GOP turnout were set in Alabama at 16.2 percent of eligibles as compared to 7.3 in 1988; Arkansas (9.7 versus 4 percent in 1988); Connecticut (5.9 versus 5.4 in 1996); Delaware (8 percent compared to 6.1 in 1996); Georgia (15.1 compared to 11.3 in 2000); Missouri (13.5 versus 11.6 in 2000); New Jersey (9.4 compared to 5.6 in 1992); Oklahoma (13 percent versus 11 percent in 1996); Tennessee (12.1 compared to 7.3 in 1996) and Utah (18 percent as compared to 6.4 percent in 2000).

    The highest GOP turnout was in New Hampshire at 23.3 percent of eligibles, followed by Utah (18), Alabama (16.2), Georgia (15.11) and Florida (15.08). The lowest occurred in New York at 4.8 percent of eligibles, followed by Connecticut at 5.9 and Delaware at 8 percent.

    Who are these people?

    Did the Schwarzenegger upstart types wise up and start voting?

    Are they the new base?

    And for the umpteenth time, just what is "the base"?

    posted by Eric at 09:54 PM | Comments (1)



    We Need Complistic Solutions

    Instapundit has a bit up on the decline of the two party system. He has a look at the book Declaring Independence. So I thought I'd visit the Amazon page and figure out what is going on.

    Here is a bit from the blurb:

    America is at a political crossroads. We are growing alienated from the two major parties, which are dominated by ideologues and offer simplistic solutions,...
    I have yet to find the average American interested in complistic solutions. Where I come from that is known as wonkery. It is not popular. Except among wonks.

    I'm with the simplistic guys myself. I'm from the Leave Us Alone party.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 01:30 PM | Comments (3)



    Conservative purity derangement syndrome?

    Lord help me. I just went out for a short drive and made the mistake of turning on Laura Ingraham. Rarely have I heard such biased vitriol directed against anyone as she directed towards John McCain this morning.

    (To think that I imagined things might calm down!)

    Now, she obviously defines conservatism as agreeing with her. I don't know what conservatism is, but to Ingraham, McCain's 82% ACU rating obviously isn't that. All I know is that if I thought conservatism meant agreeing with the views of Laura Ingraham, I'd know that I am definitely not a conservative, and I'd know that I did not like conservatism.

    Perhaps it is unfair of me to judge conservatism as meaning agreement with Laura Ingraham. Or is it? They want the label to apply only to themselves; should they get it?

    (Far be it from me to defend to the death the definition of a label to which I do not aspire.)

    This goes beyond Ingraham, who is by no means alone , so I'm forced to ask, what is conservatism? Obviously, they think it means something. But what? According to what Laura Ingraham just said, the recently promoted Mike Huckabee and her favorite Mitt Romney are conservatives, but McCain is not, never has been, and never will be a conservative, no matter what he ever says or does.

    I have a lot of questions.

    Is Mike Huckabee a conservative?

    How does his conservatism compare with McCain's?

    Is this really a war over the definition of conservative? Or has McCain simply become a scapegoat for angry right wing rage? Or both?

    Are they mad at their party for not agreeing with them? Or are they mad at America for not agreeing with them? (Seriously, if the right wing can't win the Republican primary, how on earth can it hope to win in the general election?)

    The problem with trying to define conservatism is that there are innumerable definitions, species, and sub-types -- so many that the definition is out of control.

    As there is no reliable definition of conservative or conservatism, I'd like to propose returning to the roots, and defining it according to the traditional dictionary definition.

    Defining conservatism in such a conservative manner may sound radical, but I don't know what else to do. Besides, everyone is defining conservatism, so I thought, hey, why not use the dictionary -- at least for entertainment purposes?

    So without further adieu, here's the definition of what should probably be called "Webster Conservatism":

    conservatism2.jpg

    conservative2.jpg

    Back to basics!

    (Who'd have thought that Webster's Dictionary could be a source of satire?)

    MORE: Do not miss John Podhoretz's "Why They Hate McCain." According to Podhoretz, McCain has made enemies not because he isn't a conservative, but because he just refuses to follow the political tactics of conservative ideologues. This, says Podhoretz, confuses "ideological convictions with political tactics, and infus[es] a disagreement on how to approach problems with a moral edge it does not deserve":

    ...McCain likes to make common cause with politicians across the aisle from him. They can't stand this. They prefer someone who fights Democrats to someone who makes deals with Democrats. Fair enough. But this is a difference of degree, not of essence. McCain is a deal-maker. Perhaps, having engaged with a real enemy who broke his arms and tortured him and sought to destroy him body and mind and soul, he doesn't see an enemy when he sees a Democrat but rather just another American whose ideas on many things differ from his but with whom he might share some common ground.

    McCain would, there is no question, be a lousy leader of an ideological movement. But the Republican party is not an ideological movement. It is a political vehicle for the American right-of-center. Those who confuse the Republican party with the conservative movement are indulging in a fantasy -- that there is purity in politics and that there is something immoral about ideological impurity.

    Excellent analysis. Read it all.

    Confusing tactics with ideology is both a tactical and an ideological mistake.

    MORE: If Ilya Somin is right, a McCain administration would mean gridlock:

    John McCain will now almost certainly become the Republican nominee for president. Therefore, we will be hearing more about the longstanding issue of conservative distrust towards him. I think that that distrust has an important upside that has been overlooked: it will make it more difficult for McCain to promote major new expansions of government should he become president.
    (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

    No major new expansions? Sounds like Webster conservatism to me.

    Perhaps the Republican Party could rebadge itself as the loyal opposition.

    UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds links some excellent analyses of the Republican Purity issue. Hugh Hewitt sounds conciliatory, and sees a need "to strike some common chords again and again, beginning with why the GOP needs to retain the White House, regardless of who its nominee is."

    John Hinderaker (anything but a McCain supporter) thinks things have gone way too far:

    To assert, as some have, that there is "really" no difference between McCain (average ADA rating from 2002 through 2006 of 23%) and Hillary Clinton (average ADA rating over the same period of 96%) is the kind of never-mind-the-facts shrillness that we expect from the Left, not from our fellow conservatives.
    And he takes issue with the idea that perfection should be the standard of conservatism:
    John McCain will not be a perfect Presidential nominee. Then again, we didn't have any perfect candidates this year. (Funny how often that seems to happen.) How odd, though, for conservatives, of all people, to be the ones to hold out for perfection in human affairs. And despite his flaws as a candidate, John McCain has at least one major strength: he might actually win.
    AJ Strata has a very thoughtful post, and I very much appreciate the link!

    (I disagree with Dan Riehl, but as I explained before, I respect that everyone has his limits in terms of lines that cannot be crossed -- including me.)

    Finally, don't miss Roger L. Simon on the purity issue:

    Speaking bluntly, it may be that the search for ideological purity anywhere on the political spectrum is a fool's game (unless you're trying to sell books or drive ratings). Anyway, it's clear from Tuesday's returns the Republican electorate isn't buying it. Across much of the country, the man advertising himself as the perfect conservative ran a poor third to a "maverick" Republican and a Southern populist. And that purist of purists, Ron Paul, simply disappeared from view.

    Of course, this pure conservative (Romney) may not have been the best standard-bearer for conservatism. Indeed, there is an argument to be made that he was a notably bad one (a long history of flip-flops).

    But that should only prove my point about purists. No one is good enough for them...

    (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

    I've never known a pure person in my life, and I don't think there is such a thing.

    (Well, depending on your religious views, there might have been one a couple of thousand years ago.)

    UPDATE: Other than citing the dictionary, I never offered my own "purist" definition of conservatism. If I had my druthers, I'd go with the one Ronald Reagan once gave:

    Reagan, in attempting to define conservativism, said: "If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism. I think conservatism is really a misnomer just as liberalism is a misnomer for the liberals -- if we were back in the days of the Revolution, so-called conservatives today would be the Liberals and the liberals would be the Tories. The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is."
    So, doesn't that give me a right to be a Reagan libertarian purist conservative? Sure, why not?

    But do I have the right to insist it is the only definition, and that everyone better agree with me or else I'll pack it up and go home?

    Sure. But that would be pretty foolish of me.

    So what is it that makes these purists feel so much more, um, entitled?

    MORE: Speaking of Ronald Reagan, do not miss Bill Whittle's comment here:

    A political party is a series of personal compromises in order to achieve a goal unattainable by the perfect political party: one's own self. If McCain is the legal and lawfully selected nominee, and Republicans decide to walk away from their party in droves, what makes them think they will be able to count on those who, you know, actually went out and voted Republican either joyfully or through clenched teeth, in order to prevent The Deluge?

    If your idea of any political party is one that means unlimited support for your personal values if your candidate is ascendant, while you in turn owe none to those you dislike or even disdain, you might be in for a surprise in future elections.

    Speaking as a FredHead myself, I am bitterly disappointed that I did not even have the chance to vote for a man I admired, and am more distraught still to find myself in the position I now occupy. I see many, many worrisome things about John McCain, but being tough on terror and spending are not among them. We could do worse. Two names come to mind immediately.

    Much is said about principles, and since I am not able elect anyone BY MYSELF I have entered into this pact with the group of people who I feel most comfortable with in terms of values. If they, as a body, choose a candidate who is not my first, second, third or fourth choice, then I can look to the Democrats. There I find views so antithetical to everything I believe that I realize there is indeed something to this idea of party loyalty.

    And I cannot help but think that such a kind and practical man as Ronald Reagan would be amazed that his name was being invoked so frequently in order to insure that the most liberal, socialist, power-hungry statist in my living memory is elected. I'm glad he's not here to see this because if he knew the consequences of what was being done in his name, I believe it would kill the man.

    posted by Eric at 12:24 PM | Comments (12)



    The "sides" are coming! The "sides" are coming!

    Who won Super Tuesday?

    I have to say that I think Huckabee was the real winner, not in terms of votes, but to go from what most pundits considered an annoying joke to within a hair of second place status -- all in one day -- that's the real story. That is a comeback by any standard.

    But here I am, the morning after, with a political hangover, talking like a political junkie. How refreshing it was to see that there is someone who doesn't share the addiction of which I love to complain -- despite the fact that the addicts are trying to drag her in:

    I'm really not very interested in politics. I'd be moderately satisfied having any of the major candidates as President. I write about politics because I'm absorbed by the dynamics of the fight and the rhetoric. (I feel much the same way about Supreme Court cases.) I'm not actually rooting for anyone, and so the news of who has actually won bores me a little. I can read it in a second on-line at any point. I don't really need to see Wolf Blitzer dramatize it for hours on end.

    [...]

    I need to remember myself and not create the impression that I'm another one of these political bloggers. I'm really not like them. My C-Span appearance got canceled because the blogger on the other side -- I was told, late in the day -- backed out. Side? I hadn't even been informed that I was booked to take a side. But -- I protested, after it didn't matter anymore -- I'm not on a side. I'm not able -- I'm not willing -- to hold up a side. My stress about going on the show was retroactively intensified. I had no business agreeing to do that.

    It's nice to see a reminder of something I know but tend to forget -- there is no rule that I have to do this. I'm sometimes aghast that this blog is considered a political blog, because I honestly did not start it as a political blog, but as an act of what I hoped would be satirical rebellion against conventional politics, especially the mandatory side-taking which is demanded by conservative and liberal political junkies who believe in sides, and who do their damnedest to pigeonhole everyone -- especially those who don't want to be pigeonholed. So I find myself scolded as a conservative by liberals and as a liberal (or "anarchist") by conservatives.

    Try to get out of identity politics, and they'll draaaag you back in. Death to all culture war traitors! My shtick of being against both sides of the Culture War causes me occasional fits of despair, and then I try to write my way out of them. The result is this blog, and like it or not, a political habit, which shows all signs of being an addiction. Whether I'm addicted to something I hate or whether I'm addicted to what I love to hate, only a good shrink could say.

    But it's nice to be reminded that I am under no legal or moral obligation to do this.

    As to the addiction, I can quit anytime. (And of course, "I control it," and "it would never happen to me.")

    What on earth does this have to do with Huckabee?

    Well, having pleaded guilty to being a political junkie, let me wallow a bit more in today's fix of choice.

    For the past couple of weeks, there has been a constant chorus of bitter recrimination and vindictive acrimony growing to crescendo levels which no one who reads blogs or listens to talk radio could possibly ignore. Basically, anyone who is even remotely right of center and who tries to keep politically informed has been yelled at about how McCain will destroy the Republican principles, the Republican Party, and the United States of America, and that Mitt Romney is the conservative savior.

    How two men who were both seen as RINOs before the current hoopla managed to become the Liberal Anti-Christ and the Conservative Savior is a story in itself. I can no more figure it out than Glenn Reynolds, who said this last night:

    ...McCain and Romney are both moderate Republicans; the differences between them have been exaggerated by those who don't like McCain, and don't have much bearing on what's good for the country. I realize that I've been accused of lacking fire, but while none of these candidates is close to my ideal, I really don't understand the Kossack-like anger here.
    Lacking fire? Yeah, that's what they said about Fred Thompson too. (IMO, the best candidate in the race.)

    Well, what if you're not into pyromania?

    Pryomania is exactly what it is. I mean, I can joke all I want about stuff like the Coulter-Clinton-Buchanan axis, but some of these people have truly lost their marbles (and I do hope they get them back). They were even stooping to call pro-Romney people "pro-McCain" simply for allowing they'd vote for McCain if he won the nomination. And they called Rachel Lucas "insane" for pointing out statistics showing that John McCain is actually to the right of Hillary:

    ....I've been called several different variations of "insane" by conservatives because I agree with the American Conservative Union's data that says McCain is, in fact, more conservative than Clinton or Obama.

    I've been told I'm drinking the Kool-Aid and proving it by continuing to refer to that data, which again I point out is from the American Conservative Union.

    I've been called "glib" because I was vaguely humorous in the first post about all of this. Maybe if I'd been a dead-serious asshole about it, that would have been better?

    The most obnoxious display of highly questionable reading skills is coming from those who continually refer to my posts about this as "support for McCain". What part of "I prefer Romney over McCain" do they not understand? What part of "McCain is an asshole and I don't like him" is so confusing?

    It goes on and on, and it becomes more and more ridiculous. What really pisses me off is that no matter how relatively nice I've been about it, that counts for absolutely nothing to some of these people. There is some comfort in the fact that this makes them no better than the assholes on the left, but it still pisses me off. But I'm not going to call anyone names, no matter how many ways they question my intelligence and sanity....

    Sorry, but those kind of tactics are indefensible, and while I think the people who behaved that way ought to be ashamed of themselves, I think it's more productive to examine how and why they failed to work.

    My theory is that last night, many of the voters in the South saw Huckabee not so much as a real conservative, but as the only nice guy in the race.

    OK, please. Let no one misunderstand what I am about to write. I consider Mike Huckabee's politics anathema. He's an incomprehensibly socialistic communitarian religious conservative muddle. If any candidate is the polar opposite of what I believe in, it is Mike Huckabee. As I said last night, if he is the candidate, I could not vote for him without chemical help.

    But as was obvious last night, this is not so much about issues and positions. It is about human beings. The conservatives in the South are heavily religious, but they also tend to be very respectful of anyone with a strong military record like McCain's. They're smart enough to know that McCain is a RINO. I think they're smart enough to realize that Romney is a recently cleaned-up RINO (and a RINO who cleans up better, IMO). But they're also smart enough to know that McCain could beat Hillary Clinton, and they respect his military record. In a two man race between McCain and Romney, I think McCain would have won handily. And I think that had there not been the huge anti-McCain offensive, McCain would have won.

    This is not to say that negative campaigning works, only that if you throw enough mud, some of it will stick. McCain did not help himself much with some of his disingenuous attacks on Romney, nor by the arrogance he displayed in acting like the presumptive winner. Still, he came in second, and according to the CNN exit polls Bill Schneider was citing last night, the majority of religious Huckabee voters said McCain -- not Romney -- was their second choice. (So much for the notion that Romney is "The Only Conservative.")

    I think the vindictive nastiness turned people off to both McCain and Romney. And there was Mike Huckabee, a mild-mannered populist. Someone who doesn't talk down to people like Romney, and who doesn't frighten them like McCain (if only because there's been no anti-Huckabee hate machine to further frighten those who fear the politics of acrimony).

    Huckabee was a protest vote. And I think a lot of the Huckabee voters weren't so much protesting McCain and Romney as they were the acrimony.

    That Huckabee (a Southerner) was dismissed, derided, and laughed at by virtually all the MSM pundits might have been a factor too.

    I have to admit, last night I, an anti-Huckabee guy to the core -- found myself very soothed by the reassuring cadences of Huckabee's voice, and the apparent simple humanity of the man, and it was immediately clear what happened. This might be irrational (and of course I am leaving out the Mormon issue -- which sooner or later will probably be addressed by someone), but there it is.

    The angry anti-McCain chorus (and the response to it) created a backlash, not in McCain's favor, but in Huckabee's. I think they wanted to get even with the "sides" -- and I don't blame them even though I recognize that last night's Huckabee vote was in the long run little more than an act of retaliatory political vandalism.

    As to where the anti-McCain chorus will go now, I don't know. I don't want to know either. I want it to stop, and I want to stop.

    But rest assured that it won't stop.

    And I can stop anytime I want.

    (Riiiight.)

    posted by Eric at 09:21 AM | Comments (2)




    I'm just about ready to give up

    Right now I want Romney to win. No, seriously. I still prefer McCain slightly, but I want Romney to win in order to make this stuff stop.

    I'm really starting to get angry -- angrier than I have ever been at conservatives -- over the anti-McCain hysteria. I never imagined it would get this bad.

    It all happened so fast, too. Just a couple of weeks ago, the idea was beating the Clintons. Now it's let's help the Clintons defeat our Satanic candidate.

    Surreal. Absolutely surreal.

    That's why I'm wanting Romney to just win right now and make this malignancy go away.

    Via Ann Althouse, some good advice which I should probably be following:

    "I'm giving up giving a rat's ass about the Presidential race, for Lent."
    I'm not religious enough to give up anything for Lent. But I'd love to give up giving a rat's ass.

    The McCain hysteria is a result of too many people giving too many rat's asses, and too late.

    MORE (08:00 p.m.): I'm watching results start to trickle in and I see a very strong showing by Huckabee (so far) -- something that no one seemed to be counting on.

    All that focus on bashing McCain and Huckabee appears out of nowhere.

    (Just when I thought things couldn't get more surreal...)

    MORE (08:10 p.m.): Huckabee is ahead in three states, with Romney coming in third.

    Huckabee, of course, is the anti-Romney, and he makes me like Romney. To show you what a loyal stooge this RINO is, I'd vote for Huckabee. But I'd have to do more than hold my nose; I might have to be anesthetized.

    8:18: If you don't like Hillary, there's plenty to be happy about tonight, as Obama is winning in several states.From Drudge:

    Alabama: Obama 60, Clinton 37... Arizona: Obama 51, Clinton 45... Connecticut: Obama 53, Clinton 45... Delaware: Obama 56, Clinton 42... Massachusetts: Obama 50, Clinton 48... Missouri: Obama 50, Clinton 46... New Jersey: Obama 53, Clinton 47...
    If I were working for Hillary, I'd be crawling the walls.

    8:24: I'm amazed at Romney's poor performance in the South. His third place showing can't be blamed on McCain, either.

    MORE: Stephen Green is blessedly drunkblogging again, and if his liver gives out I want to be the first to take up a donation for a new one.

    Here's what he said earlier:

    1:10 pm PST:

    CNN reports that James Dobson, of Focus on the Family, says:

    Should Senator John McCain capture the nomination as many assume, I believe this general election will offer the worst choices for president in my lifetime."
    Dobson also says in that case, he won't vote at all.

    Suddenly, McCain is looking very, very good to me. Really, anything to keep Dobson out of a voting booth is a pretty good idea.

    Hmm... Right after I chicken out, there goes Stephen putting some spine back in me!

    8:31: I just heard Fox News report that McCain is the second choice of the majority of Southern Huckabee voters.

    Honestly, until tonight I did not realize the extent of Romney's unpopularity in the South.

    8:35: McCain wins Delaware. And Karl Rove is saying that Huckabee could win five or six states tonight. He warns that a McCain-Huckabee ticket could "double the trouble." (He's got that right.)

    8:40: Right now, Drudge is listing the results this way:

    AR: CLINTON
    GA: OBAMA
    IL: OBAMA
    OK: CLINTON
    TN: CLINTON

    AR: HUCKABEE
    CT: MCCAIN
    IL: MCCAIN
    MA: ROMNEY
    NJ: MCCAIN

    To which Delaware should be added for McCain according to Fox.

    8:52 -- In very late breaking news, Pajamas Media's Roger L. Simon (via Glenn Reynolds) reports that Ron Paul is winning in Georgia. (No wonder they broke away from the Soviet Union!)

    9:00 -- Hillary won New York, but McCain is not doing well in his home state of Arizona. (Too close to call.)

    9:06 -- But as Glenn Reynolds points out, "HILLARY WON HER HOME STATE OF ARKANSAS, and now also wins her home state of New York."

    What about her home state of Illinois? (Sorry, but Obama stole it from her.)

    How come Hillary gets to have three home states?

    9:08 -- Fox is talking about "Latte Liberals" going for Obama. Hmm.. That sounds pretty white. I thought this was all about race.

    9:20 -- As I watch the Huckabee numbers increase, I have to ask something.

    We've all been assuming it's McCain versus Romney, but in light of all the third place showings for Romney, is it possible that this is becoming a two man race between McCain and Huckabee?

    CNN just projected New York for McCain.

    9:25 -- CNN is saying that Obama has a Latino problem.

    I'm thinking that Californians who haven't yet voted might be watching election results.

    9:34 -- Considering the massive battle that's been going on between Romney and McCain, I'm wondering whether the unexpected Huckabee vote might be the South's way of protesting the acrimony.

    As CNN has been pointing out (albeit in a somewhat argumentative fashion), if the South is supposed to be where the conservatives are and if Romney is supposed to be the conservative candidate, then why are all those votes going to Huckabee?

    9:42 -- Considering his animosity towards both Huckabee and McCain, I would not call tonight a big victory for Rush Limbaugh so far.

    I think California will be the big one for Romney. If he loses that one, he's going to have to reevaluate his overall chances.

    9:45 -- This is a nasty and divisive race, with no clear absolute front-runner. Right now it's a premature observation, but I think at some point, people are going to have to consider forgiving each other.

    9:49 -- On Fox, Romney supporter Sean Hannity does not look like a happy camper. He says that Huckabee split the conservative vote, and argues that the Huckabee votes would have gone to Romney.

    I have to disagree. Not only did exit polls show a majority of Huckabee voters favoring McCain as a second choice, Romney's third place showing speaks for itself.

    10:00 -- McCain gets Oklahoma, and Romney gets Utah. Tennessee is too close to call (with Romney in third place). Missouri is too close for everyone.

    Bill Kristol argues that Romney's "failure to penetrate the South" may be fatal to his campaign.

    Barack Obama wins North Dakota (which is added to Delaware and Georgia). But Hillary is generally cleaning up.

    10:05 -- How important is immigration in this? Kristol is saying that it's very important in talk radio.

    10:08 -- Huckabee says what I said earlier about how they'd all been saying it's a "two man race" -- and it is! (Not that it matters, but I think I beat him to it.)

    He now says he's for the free market system, and he wants to close the IRS. Wants families to have the right to raise their own kids.

    (I better stop listening to him, lest I start agreeing with him.)

    And now he's saying the Second Amendment has to be honored as much as the First Amendment. Hard to disagree with that too. "Before this is over I'll even be singing Rocky Top." More state references.

    (If you ask me, I'd say tonight's the night they drove the old Southern strategy down.)

    10:15 -- Huckabee is definitely talking the populist talk. Like him or not, he's the only Republican who's doing that. (Have to say, it's a good speech.) He's won at least three states, and that speaks for itself.

    What remains to be seen is what the McCain haters will do. Will they go to Huckabee?

    10:19 -- Mississippi governor (and former RNC Chairman) Haley Barbour is talking now and he says unless McCain wins California, it's not quite time to get behind a unity movement. "I don't think anybody would say tonight that it's over."

    He seems to have been counting on Romney. When asked whether it was a two man race and "which two" he looked quite uncomfortable.

    10:26 -- Minnesota for Obama.

    10:30 -- CNN projects Alabama for Huckabee. Romney appears to be winning in North Dakota. (And in Minnesota.)

    10:33 -- Romney is speaking, and saying he's going to win the nomination. He's talking about values, values. Asians are taking money from us. Stop illegal immigration. (Interrupted by loud cheers there.)

    Unfortunately, the main reason I don't like Romney is that I don't like his speaking style. Now he's leading a cheerleading session and his crowd keeps chanting with him. The contrast in speaking style between him and Huckabee is remarkable.

    Romney is trying to lead his followers, while Huckabee seems to be addressing his friends and peers.

    McCain won Arizona.

    10:43 -- Apparently, McCain did poorly with conservative voters in his own state. Arizona is tilting towards Hillary, although the Latino vote is suprisingly divided.

    10:50 -- Rove predicted five states for Huckabee, and he was right.

    10:51 -- Hillary is speaking and according to someone in the know, "she looks like she's had some major makeovers."

    But she still has that same shrill, grating voice.

    Why are the right wingers like Coulter and Buchanan (and others) lining up behind her?

    10:54 -- Hillary is now telling Californians to go vote. And now she's talking about health insurance again. I'd vote for Huckabee over that woman, I swear to God. (And I pray that I won't have to.) Please make her stop. I need a drink.

    10:54 -- She won't let anyone Swiftboat this country's future. (I'd vote for Jerome Corsi over her, and I can't stand him!)

    She brays something about "Every single man woman and child!" No! Not that! I'm scared.

    Drudge lists things this way right now:

    CLINTON: AR, MA, MO, NY, NJ, OK, TN
    OBAMA: AL, CT, DE, GA, ID, IL, KS, MN, ND, UT

    HUCKABEE: AL, AR, GA, MO, TN
    MCCAIN: AZ, CT, DE, IL, NJ, NY, OK
    ROMNEY: MA, ND, UT

    Hillary is thanking her staff.

    (I'm hoping that means the speech will be over soon.)

    I'd like to have that drink now.

    11:09 -- Romney won Montana.

    11:13 -- Fox calls Colorado for Obama. (Hillary's people must be freaking out.)

    11:16 -- California is starting to trickle in, and it looks like Romney is way ahead.

    Idaho has been called for Obama.

    11:18 -- It now looks like that last report was wrong about California. On CNN they're saying McCain is ahead with only 1% of the vote in. But Hillary is way ahead with 2% in.

    According to Bill Schneider, Obama is winning white voters and black voters, but Hillary is winning 2 to 1 among Latinos.

    11:27 -- Utah and Missouri are both too close to call for Hillary and Obama. Meanwhile, Huckabee is beating McCain by a hair in both Georgia and Tennessee.

    11:30 -- CNN projects Huckabee as the winner in Georgia.

    11:31 -- Missouri is way too close to call. Huckabee and McCain are tied.

    11:37 -- McCain is speaking. While he's understandably proud of tonight's victories, he is reaching out to the other side and being gracious. Will work hard to ensure that the conservative principles of our party will win. Will reach out to independents and the enlightened members of the other party.

    (Lieberman is standing behind him, which cannot be an accident.)

    11:44 Now it's Obama's turn, and he's calling for aid for the storm victims.

    "Our time has come. Our movement is real. And change is coming to America."

    "A house divided cannot stand. we are more than a collection of red states and blue states."

    Once again, he's an inspiring speaker -- far more so than Hillary and even though he's a bit poetic ("from the hillls of New Hampshire to the deserts of Nevada") and even sing-songy, he makes it work.

    "People are saying maybe we don't need to be divided by race"

    Chants of "yes we can!"

    Obama is in victory mode, talking about beating the Republicans now, yet promising to work together.

    Green energy, biodiesel [um, that's problematic], end the politics of fear. Terrorism and nuclear weapons, climate change and poverty, genodice and disease. Take politics to a higher level. Reach out to people who harbor doubts.

    Talks about working with volunteers in the past. Will not be resolved in one night. Not in one super Tuesday.

    "We are the hope"

    of the father who...

    "Yes we can"

    of the woman who....

    "Yes she can"

    the future of the house divided...

    We know that what began as a whisper will swell to a chorus, etc.

    "Yes we can"

    "Yes we can"

    "Yes we can"

    He's obviously in for a protracted campaign.

    And at 12:05, McCain is now projected the winner in Missouri.

    I'm realizing that nothing has been settled by tonight's election results.

    12:09 -- Fred Barnes just made an important point about the huge disparity in voter turnout between the parties, with the Democrats voting in much larger numbers.

    12:13 -- Fox predicts Hillary Clinton and John McCain as the winners in California .

    For both parties, that's the biggie.

    While Hillary's victory comes as no surprise, I frankly expected Romney to win California, and I expected him to do much better overall than he did.

    (Of course, I make up my mind based on what I hear on talk radio and see in the blogosphere.)

    12:52 -- William Kristol just said, "I think Mitt Romney will pull out."

    With that, I think I'll go to bed.

    posted by Eric at 07:55 PM | Comments (4)



    A Little Something For The Political Conventioneers


    I don't care much for Hip Hop. However, Tone is one of my favorites. Probably NSFW.

    posted by Simon at 05:06 PM | Comments (0)



    The Coulter-Clinton-Buchanan Axis

    Despite the talk of how divisive she'd be, Hillary Clinton is turning out to be quite the uniter. Prominent endorsements from the right wing keep pouring in.

    First it was Ann Coulter. And now....

    It's Pat Buchanan!

    ...On the three issues that have ravaged the Bush presidency--the misbegotten war in Iraq, the failure to secure America's borders, and the trade policy that has destroyed the dollar, de-industrialized the country, and left foreigners with $5 trillion to buy up America--McCain has sided with Bush.

    Now McCain is running on a platform that says your jobs are not coming back, the illegals are not going home, but we are going to have more wars. If you don't like it, vote for Hillary.

    (Emphasis added.)

    When Ann Coulter endorsed Hillary, some people assumed she was just kidding, so she had to reiterate the endorsement by insisting she was serious. I don't doubt that Pat Buchanan means what he says too.

    For years, I've been predicting support for Hillary coming from the far right, but I have to say, I didn't think it would be this blatant.

    As to Hillary's reaction, she welcomed Ann Coulter's support, so I'm sure she's tickled pink to be attracting another "bedfellow."

    Hey don't look at me. Hillary said that about her girlfriend Ann!

    MORE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for linking this post, and a warm welcome to all.

    I've been busy live-blogging the election here, and now that there's a battle between Huckabee and Romney over who's in second place, I'm wondering whether Hillary's right wing "axis" will be reevaluating their spin. (As Stephen Green reported earlier, "Romney is speaking in MA and says... that he's dropping out after a dismal showing.")

    Hmmm...

    Would that be tilt?

    All comments welcome.

    posted by Eric at 05:02 PM | Comments (48)



    "McCain is bad." "Therefore, Romney is good!"

    If I could say anything about today's election in which I cannot vote, I would ask people simply to think before they vote. Regardless of what anyone says or thinks about McCain, I wish they would reconsider the logic of saying that because he is bad, his opponent must therefore be good.

    The Anchoress (who is torn about how to vote) has the best post on the subject I have seen:

    McCain is not my first or second choice, and there are some legitimate concerns about his temperament and his manner, but he also has some strengths and I am tired of opening my email to hysterics suggesting that America will end if McCain gets the nomination. I’m tired of turning on talk radio and hearing - nonstop, day after day - lecturing about what a terrible man McCain is, and why I should not vote for him.


    It is significant to me that no one is telling me why I SHOULD vote for Romney. No one is telling me how great he is, and giving me a reason to want to vote for him. They’re just telling me “McCain is bad!”


    So, I’m asking:


    How is Romney “good?” Why should I vote for him?

    (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

    As I've said before, I don't see much difference in the overall political positions of these two men (if we look at them over the years). But it should be remembered that issues change. Today's key issue might be forgotten tomorrow, and today's flipflop might be tomorrow's sea change in public opinion.

    I think that by the standards of conservative ideologues today, both men are RINOs. The difference is that Romney "cleans up better."

    This is not surprising. The fact is, Romney just looks better to begin with. As I said late last night, he looks like a gentleman. More presidential.

    But I think McCain is tougher, and has a much thicker skin.

    Sometimes core traits are more important than appearances.

    I admit, right now I slightly prefer McCain. He wasn't my first choice, or my second choice. That could change between now and April 22, when I'm finally allowed to vote. But the anti-McCain clamor has done nothing to convince me of the merits of Romney.

    Moreover, Romney himself has done little to convince me of the merits of Romney. Quite the opposite. The other day I heard Romney's interview on the Glenn and Helen podcast, and I was favorably impressed. I wanted to believe what he said, and I saw no reason not to. Then I learned that what Romney said about the assault weapons ban was a flat out lie, as it contradicted what he'd said two weeks earlier. It's one thing to change your mind on something years later, or even when you're running for office, but really.

    One position for Meet the Press, and another for the blogosphere?

    I know I can't read Mitt Romney's mind, but I want to ask, which of these contradictory Second Amendment positions should be given more weight? The one he gave Tim Russert, or the one he gave on the Glenn and Helen podcast? Considering that these were contemporaneous statements in terms of the campaign time frame, I suspect he would consider the statement given on national television to be more dispositive of his "true" position.

    But then, why lie to Glenn and Helen? Might Romney think less of the podcast medium? Or might he think bloggers are just inherently less worthy of respect?

    What does the real Mitt Romney think, and how am I to know? Bear in mind that I haven't run around and looked for Romney contradictions, prevarications, or flipflops, but I ran right into this purely by accident because I happened to hear the podcast, and naturally, I believed him, for why would he go out of his way to lie on one of the leading blog podcasts?

    If I find something like this when I'm not even looking for it, naturally I'm wondering what else there might be.

    I don't expect to hear about it from the people who are busily and obsessively faulting McCain, but I don't understand what that has to translate into uncritical acceptance of Romney.

    MORE: Victor Davis Hanson (who prefers McCain but who would vote for Romney in the general election) is hearing from the McCain haters:

    ....so far today I have gotten the usual daily spam e-mail from various fringe and self-acclaimed conservative groups and personages -- variously alleging that McCain was not a real war hero, questioning his conduct during capture, commenting on his marital situation, and suggesting he was unhinged and identical to Ted Kennedy, Hillary (fill in the blanks). I think for most the level of vituperation is astounding and completely unforeseen.
    This is the way to defeat McCain? Have they considered the possibility that it might backlash? Hanson worries that it's so bad that McCain supporters might sit it out:
    I have no idea of whether the moderates that McCain would pick up will be outweighed by the conservatives who sit our or vote for the Democratic candidate. Nor do I have any notion of how many McCain supporters -- and this is never discussed- will be so turned off by the present assault on their candidate that they would likewise sit out if Romney won.
    I think that any McCain supporters who do sit it out because of these tactics will show themselves to be RINOs.

    Of course, the same can be said about Romney supporters who sit it out. If you are a member of any party and you don't vote for the party's candidate, in simple logic, you are a member of the party in name only.

    What I can't figure out is what gives those who sit it out the moral right to accuse the ones who don't sit it out of being RINOs?

    This Republican purity stuff sure is complicated.

    But I'm so used to it that I guess I could easily go back to being an impure Democrat.

    posted by Eric at 02:06 PM | Comments (5)



    More fat, less cost

    I don't know what the communitarian scolds will make of this study, but apparently people who live short and unhealthy lives cost no more to society than their healthier, slimmer, counterparts:

    LONDON -- Preventing obesity and smoking can save lives, but it doesn't save money, researchers reported Monday.

    It costs more to care for healthy people who live years longer, according to a Dutch study that counters the common perception that preventing obesity would save governments millions of dollars.

    "It was a small surprise," said Pieter van Baal, an economist at the Netherlands' National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, who led the study. "But it also makes sense. If you live longer, then you cost the health system more."
    In a paper published online Monday in the Public Library of Science Medicine journal, Dutch researchers found that the health costs of thin and healthy people in adulthood are more expensive than those of either fat people or smokers.

    While I can't vouch for the accuracy or reliability of the data or the methodology, what's a surprise for me is that no such study would have been done before -- despite years and years of nagging and scolding.

    I can understand the compassionate side of the communitarian equation. No one wants to see people die premature deaths. But if you're going to scold people with economic arguments, shouldn't you make sure that the numbers are at least correct?

    The irony is that if this study is accurate, libertarians and communitarians (at least the utilitarian communitarians) might for once be on the same side -- if for very different reasons.

    No longer is there any need for laws banning trans fats! Ridiculous extortionate taxes on cigarettes can be repealed! No more insane legislative efforts like this to make it a crime for restaurants to serve fat people!

    While it's small comfort to me emotionally, now that I think about it, all the friends I lost to AIDS back in the 1980s and 1990s probably saved society a bundle.

    The only downside of this news is that it might provide ammo for opponents of life extension technology. (A better way to address that concern might be to advocate a cutoff in social security benefits for people who live too long with the help of technology. But hey, don't expect me to do Leon Kass's job!)

    posted by Eric at 09:00 AM | Comments (8)



    "you are no gentleman"

    Who or what precisely, is a "gentleman"?

    Before I get to this question, I thought I should disclose my test results from the "Which of the Seven Deadly Sins are You?" test which Glenn Reynolds linked earlier.

    My result is Lust:

    Lustss.jpg

    Actually, I'm not that way at all. I consider myself a gentleman. At least, I aspire to that. I was raised that way and I try to be polite and everything.

    My lust is none of anybody's damned business. And as we all know, discussing lust is not polite.

    It seems there's a fine line somewhere between a gentleman and a wimp, and unless I'm mistaken the lust factor is implicated -- at least, so it is in traditional morality.

    Take this classic exchange from "Gone with the Wind"

    Scarlett: Sir, you are no gentleman.

    Rhett: And you, miss, are no lady.

    Bear in mind that Ashley Wilkes, the target of Scarlett's affection, was a gentleman through and through. He did not lust after Scarlett, nor did he lust after any women other than his betrothed cousin Melanie. That he was unattainable was what made him so attractive to Scarlett. Yet because he did not lust after her or anyone other than his wife, he was a gentleman -- and quite possibly a wimp. Interestingly, he felt guilty about a "relationship" with Scarlett that wasn't even there in his mind, but only in Scarlett's. Because he was the man and a gentleman, he felt a certain sense of responsibility.

    Rhett on the other hand, lusted freely. For whatever women he wanted, be they ladies of the night, or Scarlett O'Hara. The tragedy for him in the case of the latter was that his lust degenerated into genuine love, which he found quite difficult to control.

    But in the initial stages, when he found himself accused of not being a gentleman, he freely admitted the truth -- that he was not. This core honesty is what makes non-gentleman Rhett Butler a more likable character (at least, someone the men can identify with) than gentleman Ashley Wilkes. While the latter is the target of Scarlett's tragically misplaced love, the tragedy is only compounded by the fact that he can't have a real affair with her, for if he did, she would have seen him as the wimp he was instead of waiting through hours of celluloid to finally discover what has been obvious to the audience from the start.

    Scarlett's misplaced and unreciprocated lust for Ashley (which she mistakes for love) is mirrored by the misplaced and unreciprocated love and lust that Rhett feels for her. Rhett -- a hard-bitten realist -- knows the lust will wear off, and he desperately wants Scarlett to love him. But she imagines that she loves Ashley, when it's all just plain lust.

    That's just about all I have to say about lust.

    However, I want to return to the topic of gentlemen. Especially gentlemen in the context of the election.

    I don't know whether Mitt Romney is a gentleman, and the issue concerns me. It should, because this goes to the heart of the character of a man who might become the next president of the United States.

    By all appearances and accounts, Mitt Romney seems to be every inch the gentleman. He is always polite and poised, never loses his temper, and is, well, I hate to use an over-used expression, but as I've said before, he seems like Mr. Perfect.

    I probably shouldn't have said that, and I know it sounds like an ad hominem type of attack (as if I'm suggesting that all Mr. Perfects seem too good to be true and therefore are), but I'm not alone in noticing this. Here's an anonymous Gateway Pundit commenter named Doug:

    I don't deny that Romney 'supported(used loosely)' the Surge or that he proposed clear schedules. It's that he is a pandering weathervane who could not and cannot be trusted to do anything that is NOT politically expedient. If he were to have President instead of Bush the War would have been lost simply because he could not 'take the heat'. He would have 'moved on'. As I said ,'in context' his statements were quite popular in 'certain circles' as Mr. York elaborates in his opinion piece.

    That is my essential problem with Mr.Perfect. And IMO it's a BIG BIG Problem. And that is probably why McCain can't abide the guy. And Mccain is right in this, even if he did go over the line in how he stated it.

    McCain has the appearance of not being a gentleman. And in the national pageant that is so rapidly unfolding, he is engaged in political combat with someone most of us (myself included) assume to be a gentleman.

    Romney is Mr. Perfect, and if he really is perfect, that's great. But what if he isn't?

    That's why I'm writing this damned post when I'd rather be doing other things. And I'm writing it in spite of the fact that I hate to engage in personal attacks, or anything seeming like that.

    Romney is the polite guy, and McCain is the rude bastard. Plus, McCain is the devious RINO, while Romney is the real conservative. That's the script that's going around right now, and it may all be true.

    But what if it isn't?

    It strikes me that Romney either is the real Mr. Perfect or he is not.

    Does it matter? If he's putting on a show of being a super gentleman, and he's actually devious and duplicitous, that might be better than if he were a genuinely clueless, perfect gentleman. You know, "Presidential" and all that. It's one thing to appear to be a polished diplomat, but in the real world, a world full of evil men, underneath that polish there ideally should be that thing we call "character" in a president, because if there isn't we can get into a whole world of trouble. I'll take a devious bastard who has character over a superficial but polished coward with none, and I think most people would.

    Bill Clinton represents a malignant absence of character coupled with cowardice, and let me stress that (fortunately) this is not what faces GOP voters right now. Not just yet.

    Winston Churchill, in my view, represents that rare breed of individual who was not only a gentleman, but combined good character with that kind of ruthless, sometimes savage duplicity which is needed to deal with the real world.

    While neither John McCain nor Mitt Romney comes close to the Churchillian level (well, Churchill did change his party affiliation, and McCain is tarred for thinking about it), I want to look at a couple of famous Churchill anecdotes.

    There's the incident where the drunken Churchill is confronted by an ugly Bessie Braddock:

    One of the stories concerns his stumbling one night, after a few drinks, into the large unattractive Labor Member of Parliament, Bessie Braddock. An angry Bessie straightened her clothes and said "Sir Winston, you are drunk" to which he replied "and you Madam are ugly, but tomorrow I shall be sober."
    MP Braddock's Wiki entry sums it up this way:
    Braddock: "Mr. Churchill, this is a disgrace. You are quite drunk."

    Churchill: "And you, madame, are ugly. As for my condition, it will pass by the morning. You, however, will still be ugly."

    And then there was this:

    ...the actual exchange took place at Blenheim Palace some time between the First and second World Wars. The verbal combatants were Sir Winston Churchill and his political nemesis, Lady Nancy Astor. The two, both notable wits, were weekend guests of the Duke of Marlborough (Churchill's cousin). As the story goes, had been at each other's throats the whole time. Exasperated, Lady Astor finally said, "Winston, if I were your wife I'd put poison in your coffee."

    "Nancy," Churchill replied, "if I were your husband I'd drink it."

    Looking at the above two examples, many would say that Churchill behaved in a manner of something less than a gentleman, would they not? Especially in a modern context, imagine either Romney or McCain saying that a female member of Congress was ugly.

    No gentleman would ever behave that way!

    Certainly not to any lady.

    And certainly not to a lady who loved the flag:

    When criticised for having the Communist hammer and sickle flag on her car, Bessie described herself as "an international socialist" and noted that "the flag means a lot to me."
    And a lady who looked like this:

    BessieBraddock2.jpg

    You know what? With all due respect to the lady, I have to say that I think Churchill was right. I can't look at that picture with lust in my heart. And I say this as someone who does not enjoy engaging in personal insults.

    Now, I am not about to get into the issue of whether Hillary Clinton has piano legs, but you can be damned sure that the most vicious forms of ad hominem nastiness and personal insults will be deployed by the Clintons against whoever the Republican candidate is, whether he be Romney or McCain.

    This raises three issues:

  • Who is more vulnerable?
  • Who is better equipped to take it?
  • Who is better equipped to dish it?
  • To the extent that McCain is vulnerable to dirt, it mostly involves the decades old Keating scandal, plus the fact that his wife had a drug problem some years back. IMO, neither is serious enough or recent enough to stick.

    Romney, OTOH, is so squeaky clean that in a way it's a minus. The left will bring up his religion, as a way of making him look like some kind of nut, and the problem is, there's plenty of nutty-looking stuff for leftists like Lawrence O'Donnell to bring up.

    [Large and ungentlemanly O'Donnell quote omitted here.]

    No, I don't need to quote what he says, but trust me, it just goes on and on. The fact that Lawrence O'Donnell is seen as an anti-religious bigot makes it easy to dismiss his questions, but the questions won't stop with him.

    I've criticized selective anti-religious bigotry, but is it bigotry to inquire at all? The guy is running for president, right? Isn't this going to come up sooner or later in one form or another?

    What worries me about this is that so many of the conservative ideologues have blinders on. All that matters right now are the sins of McCain. If Romney wins, the left will begin its anti-Romney campaign in earnest, and then what?

    Will Romney continue to be a gentleman? Will it work? The Clintons fight plenty dirty, and I'm wondering whether he's going to treat Hillary like the lady that she most certainly is not -- and whether that will work. I'm also worried that he'll get so locked into having to act like a gentleman that he won't be able to be the hardball politician he'll have to be if he is to beat them. Whether he actually is a gentleman might not even matter, because the result would be the same.

    Frankly, I have no idea who or what Romney is (other than what he says, which is subject to change). He's so perfect that he leaves me guessing. Is he a clueless gentleman like Ashley Wilkes? Or is he only pretending to be that way? (I hope it's the latter, because I might have to vote for him.)

    McCain is not perfect, but he strikes me as more of a known quantity. He certainly is not locked into the role of pretending to be a gentleman.

    So what does all of this mean?

    The answer would seem to depend on whether we're supposed to be selecting the best candidate for president, or the more presidential candidate.

    posted by Eric at 12:34 AM | Comments (2)




    I miss important issues. (But I have important excuses!)

    The Superbowl was yesterday, and I sort of forgot to watch it, even though I was reminded that the halftime can be controversial. (Hmmm... Maybe they could have a special "Breast of the Superbowl" feature.)

    Not that I'm anti-sports or anything. I did attend a college basketball game on Saturday, only to see my local team defeated. It's different when you have an interest in seeing a team win, and for me, basketball is easier to follow than football. There's more action in terms of points scored and it moves more quickly.

    Plus, I had no Superbowl favorites, and I'm not much of a football fan.

    This is not to say that I don't care about the Superbowl. Regular readers will know that I do care -- deeply -- about certain Superbowl traditions, and when I cannot watch it, I usually offer a good reason. Last year, I didn't watch the Superbowl -- a fact I blamed on sexism. That's important, right?

    In 2006 when the controversy was raging over the Muhammad cartoons, my excuse (now delivered retroactively) is that I was all worked up about misogyny (including traditional South Park values and the sexuality of Sayid Qutb), a review of rules for commenters, and a certain permutation of the worse than Hitler issue. All very important topics, and Superbowl XL just kind of like skipped my mind totally.

    In 2005 I missed the Superbowl because I went shooting with some friends. (Another perfectly valid excuse.)

    In 2004 I blamed Monday Night Football filthiness or something arising out of the famous Superbowl breast-baring incident. So I do have feelings about the Superbowl. Really, I do. I even think about the Superbowl violence meme occasionally, as I did in the case of that Dobie Gillis lady who's now tyrannizing Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    All of these very important and serious excuses aside, I am sure that few people really care about what I might watch or why. (My number one reason for not watching the Superbowl is that I don't watch television because I hate commercials.) So I wouldn't normally have thought this subject was even worth a post, but then I read that Ann Althouse not only didn't watch the Superbowl, she reported that fact quite nonchalantly in her blog:


    Sorry, I just don't care. Except I heard that one team cheated. So I hope the other team wins. I did just hear Arlen Specter on C-Span radio talking about how Congress ought to investigate that cheating team because football is so important to America. My tax money is supposed to go into making sure some people playing a game don't cheat? Why doesn't he check out whether people playing Scrabulous on Facebook are using Scrabble Helper? God forbid he should confirm some judges or something more tediously congressional.
    Of course, right after she wrote that she turned the TV on, which is even more cool. It's like, almost an exercise in humility to say you aren't watching something and then admit you turned it on. Had I read that post while the Superbowl was still on, I might have taken an otherwise forbidden peek.

    The important thing, though, is that Scrabble Helper link. I didn't know they had such a thing, and if I decided to cheat on Scrabble I'd have probably used the Anagram software I used to divine Hillary Rodham Clinton's hidden truths.

    Thus "HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON" became "Halt Horny Old Criminal" (and possibly "Old Horny Maniac Thrill").

    Just to show that I do not take important issues lightly, I gave the same treatment to yesterday's SUPERBOWL XLII that I gave to HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, and I came up with....

    BURP SIX LIE LOW

    (Drinking six beers while watching the Superbowl would just about have done it, too.)

    UPDATE: The Superbowl is more important than I thought. Glenn Reynolds reports that even Hitler was disappointed. (I should pay more attention to these things.)

    posted by Eric at 01:45 PM | Comments (1)



    Strange Bedfellows Beware!

    As nearly everyone knows now, Ann Coulter endorsed Hillary Clinton.

    Well it turns out that Hillary has reciprocated, and says she welcomes Ann's support, right down to actually letting the words "strange bedfellows" leave her lips.

    Now, I'm not one of those kooks who reads the "homosexual agenda" into everything, but considering that Ann Coulter has publicly accused Hillary's husband of being gay, is it too much of a stretch to see this as some sort of code language?

    We can't be too careful, folks.

    posted by Eric at 01:25 PM | Comments (0)



    Activism, treason, and other political solemnities

    A lot of people -- not including me and my fellow politically-irrelevant Pennsylvanians -- are voting tomorrow, and it is natural for them to be ferociously debating whether Romney or McCain is a better choice. In a number of blog posts, I've said that even though I am very uncomfortable with him, that I prefer McCain slightly. I like McCain's outspokenness and his Maverick streak, even though I don't agree with a lot of the stuff he has said -- and I can never forgive McCain-Feingold. I loved the way he tore Michael Moore a new one, for example. (And when James Wolcott slammed McCain as a "seething nest of proto-fascist impulses," I felt sweet stirrings in my proto-fascist heart.)

    Despite my problems with him, I also warmed to McCain considerably when his name was booed at CPAC. At the time I would have loved it had he thumbed his nose at them by actually being there. All he'd have needed to do would have been to smile and wave, and the effect would have been like John Wayne smiling and waving at a peace rally. Anyway, this year, McCain may get a chance to maliciously smile and malevolently wave at the activists who find his presence so galvanizing:

    Romney is trying to do just well enough Tuesday to give conservatives the time and incentive to mobilize against McCain, who has always had tense relations with party activists.

    McCain is to appear Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Conference, the movement's largest annual gathering. McCain declined to speak at the event last year, instead renting a hospitality suite in the hotel. But this year, he asked to attend and will speak.

    "If we're competitive, that will validate the sense of urgency that is now emerging from grassroots conservatives across the country," a Romney aide said. "We can create a confrontation between McCain and conservatives as opposed to a welcome home. If we do well, there'll be a showdown."

    Romney was endorsed Sunday by former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Penn.).

    Conservative talk-show hosts Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham said last week for the first time that they will vote for Romney.

    Ugh.

    Not only does the thought of going against the express wishes of Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham make me want to wet my pants, I absolutely hate confrontations. And showdowns. What might they have in mind? Will McCain be loudly booed by the crowd that cheered Ann Coulter's fag remark last year? What might that do for his chances with middle America?

    At the risk of sounding like the "sociopath" that Amanda Marcotte said I was, I have to confess that I actually find Ann Coulter more offensive than I find John McCain. Doubtless that makes me a "traitor" to the "principles" of CPAC, whatever they are. (I don't want to read them right now.)

    And while we're on the subject of treason, as someone who has repeatedly switched parties myself, I don't mind the fact that McCain entertained the idea. I also liked the reasons he gave for rejecting the offer to become Kerry's running mate (which pissed off Kerry big time):

    Kerry's courtship of Senator John McCain to be his running mate was longer-standing and more intense than previously reported. As far back as August 2003, Kerry had taken McCain to breakfast to sound him out to run on a unity ticket. McCain batted away the idea as not serious, but Kerry, after he wrapped up the nomination in March, went back after McCain a half-dozen more times. "To show just how sincere he was, he made an outlandish offer," Newsweek's Thomas reports. "If McCain said yes he would expand the role of vice president to include secretary of Defense and the overall control of foreign policy. McCain exclaimed, 'You're out of your mind. I don't even know if it's constitutional, and it certainly wouldn't sell.'" Kerry was thwarted and furious. "Why the f--- didn't he take it? After what the Bush people did to him...'"
    In that respect, McCain reminds me of Lieberman, and I like Lieberman. Or is that not allowed?

    Bear in mind that when I say "like" I do not mean that I like Lieberman's positions, many of which I am sure would horrify me. But presidencies are not all about what positions on issues a candidate may have taken at one point or another in his career, nor are they about particular comments. More than almost anyone in politics, McCain has an unusual combination which accounts for much of the personal hatred of him, and which makes him a political hybrid.

    I do not use the word "hybrid" in the normal political sense, though. McCain combines two traits which are rarely seen in combination. Like most politicians, has the ability to be a political chameleon changing colors and tailoring the appearance of his positions in a manner calculated to appeal to whatever crowd he is trying to please at a given time. But that is combined with a trait which is very risky in a politician -- he shoots from the hip and says things seemingly without any regard for the consequences. Moreover, he does this without any apparent sense of shame, and instead of being apologetic the way most people would be, he'll just blithely move along as if nothing happened.

    And even when he is forced to apologize (as he was to Falwell and Robinson) his apologies seem as insincere as a POW's phony confession under torture. This Star Wars analogy gave me a chuckle:

    Under growing fire over his recent attacks on leaders of the Christian right, Senator John McCain apologized yesterday for remarks the day before in which he characterized Pat Robertson and the Rev. Jerry Falwell as ''forces of evil.'' He said those remarks had been intended as a joke.

    Repeating that he ''disagrees with the political message and tactics'' of Mr. Robertson and Mr. Falwell, Mr. McCain added in a prepared statement, ''I do not consider them evil, and I regret that my flip remark may have mistakenly created that impression.''

    ''In my campaign,'' he said, ''I often joke about Luke Skywalker, evil empires and death stars. It was in that vein that I used the phrase yesterday.''

    Mr. McCain's apology focused on remarks he had made on his campaign bus that amplified on a speech he gave on Monday, calling Mr. Robertson and Mr. Falwell ''agents of intolerance.''

    Talking on the bus the next day, he said: ''To stand up to the forces of evil, that's my job, and I can't steer the Republican Party if those two individuals have the influence they have on the party today.''

    Mr. McCain issued the apology shortly after his most prominent supporter on the Christian right, Gary L. Bauer, harshly criticized him for attacking Mr. Falwell and Mr. Robertson, and suggested that the attacks could cost him the Republican nomination.

    Now, having just doubted the sincerity of the above apology, I have to ask myself, why I am not more horrified?

    The answer is that I like his style. He doesn't seem to take politics all that seriously. The way he handles the attack and the later apology reminds me more of an artist mixing paint than a normal politician.

    Interestingly, this works both ways, and McCain seems just as capable of moving along and ignoring things a lot of people would take quite personally.

    Here he's accused of ignoring racist attacks on his adopted Bangaldeshi daughter:

    Bridget McCain, McCain's youngest daughter, is of Bangladeshi origin. McCain and his wife adopted her from an orphanage run by Mother Teresa. The Bush wing of the Republican Party, the same wing that George Allen belongs to, used Bridget's ethnicity to defeat McCain in the 2000 South Carolina presidential primary.

    The push poll organized by Karl Rove in South Carolina in 2000 asked Republican voters if they'd still be willing to vote for John McCain if they knew he had an illegitimate child with a black woman. Bridget McCain, who is dark skinned, appeared in public with her adoptive parents on the campaign trail and the racist Republican voters of South Carolina drew the conclusion Rove--and George W. Bush--wanted them to.

    Now, in 2006, McCain is on the road again, trying to build support for a presidential run in 2008. As part of his fence mending he will be fund raising for George Allen today in Virginia. Ironically, George Allen's campaign manager Dick Wadhams is often referred to as the next Karl Rove. Isn't it strange that McCain is working hard for a man who called an American citizen of East Indian ethnicity a "macaca" less than a week ago? Is McCain actually working for the same racist Republicans who shamelessly attacked the race of his adopted East Indian daughter in 2000?

    No word on whether McCain cared. I suppose he might have said he cared to one crowd, and said he didn't care to another -- depending on the political exigencies. But I doubt he took it personally.

    I'm thinking the man has a very thick skin.

    All political considerations aside, I like that. I even admire it.

    I say this as someone who hates politics with every bone in my body. The hardball politics that I experienced when I was unfortunate enough to serve as a Police Review Commissioner in Berkeley was enough to damage my psyche for life, and I confess, I do bear a grudge against the activist mentality. The people who take their politics and themselves so deadly seriously that they'll shout you down with insults, keep you up half the night so that they win by sleep-deprivation attrition, chain themselves to buildings and vandalize your car if you disagree with them. Unfortunately, these people are often used as shock troops by the more responsible politicians who find them useful because they drive normal people away. I'll never forget my neighbors complaining to me about a police-related issue (their position would have placed them on Berkeley's McGovern conservative faction), and I urged them to come down and speak up at the public mike session, which was typically dominated by hard core anti-police activists such as Copwatch. Their response was "ARE YOU KIDDING?" and they complained that they might be insulted.

    Most people are like that, and it is why activists win.

    Politics is disgusting because political activists are disgusting, and the inflexible activist ideology which drives them is even more disgusting.

    McCain, by not taking ideology seriously, by seeming to thumb his nose at activists, might be refreshing to those who think politics is disgusting. He might even be appealing to those who are just plain tired of politics.

    I have mixed feelings about McCain, and as I said, I'd vote for him or Romney over the Clintons. But if I were a solid McCain supporter, I might hope the activists would yell louder.

    The angry middle might hear them.

    UPDATE: For all the talk (and I do mean a lot of talk) about McCain thumbing his nose at Republican principles, I'm wondering what the reaction of conservative ideologues will be to this very damning, very recent flipflip by Romney on the gun issue:

    Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was asked about the assault weapons ban on Meet the Press on December 16, 2007.

    "I would have supported the original assault weapon ban," Romney said. "I signed an assault weapon ban in Massachusetts governor because it provided for a relaxation of licensing requirements for gun owners in Massachusetts, which was a big plus."

    Asked Tim Russert: "So the assault ban that expired here because Congress didn't act on it, you would support?"

    "Just as the president said, he would have, he would have signed that bill if it came to his desk, and so would have I," said Romney.

    In the last few hours, Romney contradicted that in a podcast interview with Glenn Reynolds and Helen Smith of Instapundit fame.

    "I know that a lot of the gun rights folks aren't sure about your position on gun rights," asked Smith. "Would you pledge to veto any new gun control bills that come across your desk as President?"

    "Yeah," Romney said. "Yeah, I don't support any gun control legislation, the effort for a new assault weapons ban, with a ban on semi-automatic weapons, is something I would oppose. There's no new legislation that I'm aware of or have heard of that I would support. In regards to guns, I think we have enough legislation and should enforce the laws as they exist. I was pleased that when I ran for Governor that I received the endorsement of the NRA and I hope to receive their support now."

    In addition to that apparent flip flop, it should be noted that the NRA did NOT endorse Romney when he ran for governor, as his campaign acknowledged when he said it last December.

    This is a rank untruth Mr. Romney continues to peddle.

    Said Mr. Reynolds: "I'm beginning to question his sincerity."

    Via Glenn Reynolds, who's such a gentleman that he didn't mention his own remark in linking to the above.

    Well I don't have to be a gentleman about it. Glenn is absolutely right to question the man's sincerity. This just plain stinks.

    For days now I've been reading about McCain and his abominable flipflops, and how they indicate a lack of integrity and lack of principle. I share a lot of these misgivings and I don't defend McCain where I think he's wrong. But when I see Romney caught in two major lies -- both going to the heart of the level of his commitment to the Second Amendment -- and both of them recent in nature, I have to ask some basic questions.

    McCain is said to be reprehensible, dishonest, and "unpresidential" for taking Romney's "timetable" remarks out of context, right? So why isn't Romney dishonest for saying he got the NRA endorsement when he didn't? And for switching his positions on the AWB barely two weeks apart? It's one thing to downplay what he did in years past as governor, but this is just glaring.

    I haven't scrutinized Romney's record in detail, but I hope someone does. It's one thing to slam McCain, and a lot of it is deserved. However even if we assume that McCain is all those terrible things people say he is (a traitor to the GOP, and either no different or even worse than Hillary), it is a fundamental error in logic to conclude that because McCain is bad, Romney is therefore good.

    Assuming McCain is a RINO, well, what if Romney is a RINO too? Doesn't that mean anything?

    Or is this just a game of "good RINO, bad RINO" with one standard for McCain, and another for Romney?

    posted by Eric at 10:06 AM | Comments (0)




    Nobel prize-winning surgery

    No, this is not another rant about mandatory spay and neuter laws.

    I'm talking lobotomy! It was once very much in vogue, not for wayward dogs, but wayward people. And the guy who invented it did in fact win the Nobel Prize for it.

    For years it was the rage in the United States. (I'm sure people who opposed it were called "backward." Could any procedure performed on 40,000 to 50,000 Americans be wrong?)

    Here's a video.

    With that in mind, now it's time to dance!

    I sometimes wish I could have a political lobotomy.

    (Might make things go away.)

    MORE: Considering the rigid code of sexual morality that arose in the 1930s (something fueled, I believe, by a backlash against the sexually loose 1920s), and considering the totalitarian trends during that unfortunate period, it is not surprising that lobotomy would be (and was) seen as a cure for sexual deviancy.

    According to the National Review, even the respected Joe Kennedy, Sr. seems to have subjected his daughter to the procedure out of fear of sexual promiscuity:

    Rosemary Kennedy, sister of the late president, was born in 1918, apparently mildly retarded. Kennedy-family pathographers have suggested that her father feared disgraceful consequences from her sex life. In 1941 she was lobotomized, which reduced her to an infant-like state. How sad that such brutal measures were touted as therapeutic; how sad that those who wished to protect her (and the family) reached for that measure.
    Would it be disrespectful to call that an "honor lobotomy"?

    I honestly don't know. (I try so hard to be polite that I get undone by the ironies that lurk everywhere.)

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

    Comments welcome. Especially if there's anyone out there who has had a lobotomy, I'd love to hear about it.

    Columnist Bill Kristol once advised John Kerry to get one, but there's no official word on whether Kerry followed through. (There's more than one way to sear memories.)

    posted by Eric at 12:46 PM | Comments (17)



    My irrelevant thoughts on an election months away
    McCain has a more consistent conservative record than Giuliani or Romney.
    What startled me about reading that in a recent column by Jeff Jacoby was that source was given as the National Review.

    The National Review is considered so pro-Romney that Jonah Goldberg's quasi-defense of McCain was seen as borderline treason, so naturally I wondered whether Jacoby had his quote right.

    Sure enough, he did. The National Review piece is here, and this is the full quote in context:

    For Republicans, McCain's crusade for his campaign-finance legislation still casts a shadow over his candidacy. The law was foolish and in large part unconstitutional, but -- like many of McCain's apostasies from conservative orthodoxy, most dating to the period immediately after the 2000 election -- it is also not such a live issue anymore (outside of the courts). He voted against the Bush tax cuts in 2001, but now says he favors extending them. His biggest current disagreement with conservatives is on immigration, where he has been a leading champion of an amnesty and guest-worker program. He would do himself -- and the nation's debate on the issue -- much good if he instead endorsed serious efforts to enforce the immigration laws.

    Even with all the blemishes, McCain has a more consistent conservative record than Giuliani or Romney. He hasn't had to reverse himself recently on abortion or the Second Amendment (although he once agitated for more gun control at the margins). This is an abiding strength of his candidacy.

    Bear in mind that the above was written in April. Right now, they may want to eat their past words.

    As I've said, I'll vote for Romney if he's the nominee, although I still have a couple of months to make up my mind over who gets my vote in the primary. Here in Pennsylvania -- the sixth most populous state with the sixth largest GDP -- we get to vote on April 22, which has caused Pennsylvania to be labeled "utterly irrelevant."

    I'm so used to being irrelevant as a libertarian, though, that I can certainly handle being irrelevant as a primary voter.

    Hey, maybe there's still time to switch parties and vote for Obama! By then the Dems might be locked in a cliffhanger race, and I could make my anti-Hillary vote really count! That way, I could be denounced by my fellow Democrats as not living up to the "principles" of the Democratic Party.

    Hmm... I like this idea of failing to live up to other people's principles. This might be a way to do it twice -- and help stop Hillary in the process.

    I'll say this about Romney. Even though I can't vote for him anytime soon, he is sounding better and better, and maybe by April he'll win me over. Earlier I listened to the Glenn and Helen podcast interview with him, and while I know he's not keen on legalizing drugs, on economic issues, he was sounding a very libertarianish theme. Seriously, it's a good interview.

    I'd really have no problem voting for him (I especially like the fact that he tends to break up the definitional hegemony over the word "Christian"), but unless these poll results change -- and they'd have to change dramatically -- I don't think he has a prayer against Hillary or Obama.

    And as I explained previously, if Romney loses in 2008, he'll be relegated to RINOdom again.

    MORE: Reading "Why Republicans Like Obama," I felt like kicking myself for letting RepublicansforObama.com lapse.

    posted by Eric at 11:49 AM | Comments (4)



    "How are we going to manage to lose this time?"

    Dick Polman thinks the Republicans have "lucked out" because despite opposition from the conservative wing, they might have managed to pick a candidate who can actually beat the Democrats.

    The Republicans have lucked out. They appear poised to nominate a guy who can actually win the presidential election in November - a possibility few Republicans had seemed willing to entertain, given the heavy baggage of George W. Bush.

    And yet, party conservatives seem apoplectic about John McCain's surprising rise. Shrugging off his electability, they are fixated on his ideological impurity. For all their professed fealty to Ronald Reagan - a name invoked so often it has been shortened to Runnarigin - they are willfully violating the Runnarigin Rule, which holds that "the person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and ally."

    The purity enforcers don't realize how good they have it. Barring a near-miraculous late surge by Mitt Romney, the party will wind up tapping a hawkish career conservative who has pull with independent swing voters. Nobody else can do that, especially not this year. Nobody else has the heroic life story. Nobody else has the chops to beat Hillary Rodham Clinton - who, Obamamania notwithstanding, is still the most likely autumn finalist for the Dems.

    Well, it's human nature for people not to realize how good they have it, and there's an instinctive aversion some people have to having it good. What I mean by that is that there are deeply rooted psychological factors at play which go beyond opinions and positions on political issues. It's as if there's a sort of unconscious death wish among many in the party that it's time to crash and burn. They've been riding high for too long, they've become corrupt, and because pride goeth before the fall, a Democratic administration is needed in order to teach them a lesson so they can buckle down and get back to the business of being Republicans. The GOP has had its 1920s boom, and now it's "time" (for lack of a better word) for the bust of the 1930s. That way, the moralists can gain the upper hand with recriminations, blame, and promises of new hope -- provided, of course, that the errant show remorse and agree to mend their ways. This sort of morality play is primal and childlike, and it has a way of resurfacing in almost everything -- whether politics, economics, the Culture War, or even sports. In many ways, I think this country is locked in an endless repetition of the 1920s versus the 1930s. The cycle is reenacted and reenacted, and I think some of the antipathy towards McCain derives from an unacknowledged unconscious need to crash. It's as if winning again is unnatural and unholy. That McCain might be the guy to lead them to victory only heightens the quasi-sacrilegious, perverse nature of an undeserved victory. I think this might heighten the irrational and obviously desperate comparisons of him to Hillary. For reasons that go beyond politics, a sizable chunk of the party simply doesn't want to win.

    As to Reagan's rule that "the person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and ally," I see a serious problem with invoking that because it is a logical and mathematical rule, and this is about pure emotion. 80 percent means nothing if the disagreement goes to emotional hot-button issues.

    Let's take three: abortion, homosexuality, and the latest hot button, immigration. Pure red meat conservative ideologues tend to have strong positions on all three of these. If you are a Republican and you disagree with the red-meaters on even one, you will be regarded with suspicion, as a possible RINO, or maybe even a heretic. The degree of suspicion, of course, depends on the level of ideological commitment to that issue. People who adhere to single issue litmus tests are of course the worst. I talked to a man who is running in the GOP primary in a state I will not mention who told me that merely for allowing that Republicans should be allowed to disagree on abortion that he was called immoral, and a "supporter" of murder. And he is against abortion, and calls himself pro-life.

    Ditto immigration. Take the position once held by Ronald Reagan position and you're a vile RINO who wants to destroy U.S. sovereignty and usher in the North American Union. And of course, there are the "homosexual agenda" people, the anti-pornography people, and innumerable other single issue types.

    Even I have to plead guilty to being a red-meater where it comes to the Second Amendment. I had lunch with a Republican businessman not long ago, and when he started talking about the need for reasonable gun control measures, I felt myself getting queasy, and I a chorus of "RINO! RINO! RINO!" went through my head. Yet I admit to being a RINO myself.

    Another hot button issue for me is the First Amendment, and as I explained in detail here, I see McCain as beyond the pale on that one. Really, on some things, the actual percentage of overall agreement can become trivial by comparison. If someone says to me "We agree on 99% of every issue, except I don't believe in free speech," or "We agree on 99% of every issue, except I think all Jews should be expelled from America," the disagreement is so appalling that the other 99% is beside the point.

    So this is complicated, and while people who agree 80 percent of the time might be friends and allies (and certainly their support is needed in an election), the devil is in the details. The fact is, that twenty percent you disagree on could go to the very core of what many Republicans consider their most important principles.

    This will not be easy to overcome. 80 percent agreement on political issues aside, in the minds of many there is a strong emotional need for Romney to win the primary regardless of whether he wins in November. Better to lose with honor than to win dishonorably. And that 20 percent disagreement is seen as highly dishonorable.

    The problem is that if Hillary wins, the entire country will be placed in a state of extreme dishonor, and it won't much matter what the Republicans think or say.

    In addition to the gratuitous advice for Republicans, Polman has a grim warning by way of a nightmare scenario for Democrats:

    ...here's the nightmare scenario for Democrats: Hillary and McCain square off. McCain wins the independents, many of whom are sick to death of the Clintons. McCain cancels out Hillary's "experience" argument, because he has more. McCain trumps her "toughness" argument, because he has the more hawkish pedigree and spent five years in a POW cell. McCain trumps her on "authenticity," for reasons already mentioned. McCain even pulls away Hispanic voters in key states, thanks to his early championing of a path to citizenship. And he's buoyed by a united conservative base, because nobody galvanizes the base better than Hillary.
    That would definitely sound chilling to me were I a Democrat. McCain beats the Clintons by being more appealing, being of better character, and by giving the Clintons a dose of their old triangulation medicine.

    The only hope for the Democrats would be if McCain loses, or if enough of them did what the Republicans seem to have been doing, and voting for someone more likely to win. Polman does not say who that might be, but hints slightly that it might be Obama:

    Democrats, even with the wind at their backs, have been asking each other, "How are we going to manage to lose this time?" Barring Obama's nomination, the scenario above is how. But it won't happen unless the conservatives park their grievances and unite behind McCain. As the old saying goes, even when Republicans don't fall in love, they win by falling in line.
    I know that Obama's record is to the left of Hillary, and because he is younger (and black) he is automatically given a certain amount of credit for being further to the left. He is to the left of her on the war, but on economic issues like health care, as well as his opposition to Hillary's twice repeated threat to use the presidency to control monetary policy, Obama has done something very unusual in primaries. He is already appealing to the center, and running to the right of Hillary. If he keeps doing this, might he attract enough independents and GOP cross-voters to not only derail Hillary, but possibly derail McCain?

    I don't know, but the possibilities are intriguing.

    Even more intriguingly, the question "How are we going to manage to lose this time?" seems to be on the minds of many voters in both parties.

    What if the Democrats have an unconscious death wish too?

    If only both sides could just take a deep breath...

    (And then exhale slowly. Isn't each breath a reminder that we're all losers, doomed to death by Global Warming? Don't we all deserve to die?)

    UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for linking this post, and a warm welcome to all.

    Your comments and opinions are appreciated!

    (This missing link added above.)

    MORE: Please bear in mind that I have until April to decide between McCain and Romney.

    MORE: Andrew Sullivan thinks the Democrats might be blowing it. Again:

    Will Democratic voters realise that [Obama] is now their best bet against McCain or will inertia and fear keep Clinton alive? One thing I've learnt in American politics: never underestimate the capacity of the Democratic party to screw it up.

    UPDATE: Gerard van der Leun has a great post (and bumpersticker) on the subject of "Republicans, they thirst for death," and he asks some good questions:

    I know I am shoveling seaweed against the tide here, but I would ask those people, for but a brief moment, to consider these two potential line-ups:

    Clinton/Obama 2008
    or
    Obama/Clinton 2008

    This is, for so many reasons, the Democrat dream ticket and the pure Conservative's worst nightmare. Not the least because it means, at the outside, the potential of 16 years of a Democrat with a big socialist jones in the Whitehouse. Let's spell that out: S I X T E E N - Y E A R S.

    Give one party sixteen years in power and you could, dare I say, appoint every single justice of the Supreme Court. Especially if you've got congress on your side.

    "Not voting" to register a protest is also, in this case, not an option. A "not vote" counts as two against you; the vote you did not cast and the vote you did not cancel.

    So, what the Republicans have to ask themselves before signing off on the No-McCain purity test is, "Do you feel lucky? Well, punks, do you?"

    (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

    Neo-Neocon has more and I like her analysis of the backlash folly:

    ...they are willing to throw over the good of the country and all the gains made in Iraq in order to set up some sort of backlash to a Democratic administration, a corrective reaction that they believe will finally lead to the election of a true conservative. The logic--if you can call it that--is to allow the nation to hit rock bottom, somewhat like an alcoholic, in order to finally see that its true salvation lies in electing a conservative purist.
    As I explained here, today's Hillary backlash theory reminds me of the left in the late 1960s

    posted by Eric at 09:37 AM | Comments (67)




    Extreme common sense?

    While it may be a contradiction (and it's certainly rare in politics), I think Ann Althouse comes close to displaying it in her discussion of McCain:

    I really don't care if he considered changing parties or not. I like the people in the middle, like Joe Lieberman, who could fit -- but only uncomfortably -- into either party. I'm that way myself.
    I used to be a DINO before I became a RINO.

    That may mean that I'm a political misfit without a lick of common sense.

    As I say, it's a contradiction.

    posted by Eric at 09:23 PM | Comments (0)



    The price is nuts
    WHEN THE GOVERNMENT "can come into our homes and decide whether our dogs can have gonads, that's the day I leave California."

    -- Carol Hamilton

    As regular readers to this blog know, the nanny-staters want your dogs' nuts and ovaries badly -- whether you feel like surrendering them or not.

    Urged on by Bob Barker (who cares little about the devaluation of freedom), activists cheered this week as the city of Los Angeles voted in favor of a measure to formally put the government in the mandatory castration business:

    LOS ANGELES - Urged on by retired "The Price is Right" host Bob Barker and a throng of supporters, the Los Angeles City Council has taken steps to require spaying and neutering of most pet cats and dogs by 4 months of age.

    So much applause erupted Friday when Barker stood to endorse the idea that council President Eric Garcetti urged just a quick clap because time for public comment was limited.

    Barker replied: "Councilman Garcetti, that's the most beautiful sound I've heard in months since I left 'Price is Right."'

    Barker noted that for decades he closed his show by urging viewers to help control the pet population and that the audience was filled with people who had worked on the problem for years.

    "The problem?" While there is certainly a feral cat overpopulation problem (a problem which will be untouched by laws which only regulate owned animals), the problem with dogs right now is quite the opposite -- a puppy shortage caused by so few dogs being bred. This measure will only exacerbate the problem, and dramatically increase the importation of overpriced puppies from outlying areas:
    "Animal shelters in the USA are casting a wide net - from Puerto Rico to as far as Taiwan - to fill kennels. Critics say many shelters have solved the stray problem in their own area - but rather than shut down, they become de facto pet stores. Some charge more than $200 per adoption for imported dogs," reports USA Today (5). More than 14,000 strays have been shipped in from Puerto Rico, and many thousands more are being imported from Mexico, India and the Bahamas each year. Another USA Today article warns, "Agencies in Southern California created the Border Puppy Task Force after they saw a surprising number of very young dogs being brought across the border from Mexico. The task force estimated that during a one-year span, 10,000 puppies entered San Diego County." (6)
    What's going on behind the scenes is that Lloyd "Light Bulb" Levine, the sponsor of AB 1634 (California's Mandatory Spay and Neuter Bill), and the bill's author, Judie Mancuso, are working to get these measures passed in Los Angeles in the hope that reluctant state legislators will see this as a done deal, and the wave of the future. The much-hyped claim is that sterilization prevents euthanasia:
    Assemblyman Lloyd Levine (D-Van Nuys), the author of a similar state bill, told the council that half a million dogs and cats are euthanized in California shelters each year, a figure that proponents of mandatory sterilization believe would be reduced if pet owners were forced to alter their animals.
    Notice that Levine is statistically lumping dogs and cats together, even though the respective situations are very different.

    Logically, it is certainly true if all dogs (or all members of any group of living creatures, for that matter) were spayed and neutered, there would soon be no euthanasia, because there would be no dogs to euthanize. However, the argument that dog euthanasia is a result of overpopulation does not withstand analysis. The dogs being euthanized are typically adult unclaimed strays, dogs surrendered for behavioral problems, and adult dogs surrendered because the owners are unable to keep them.

    Moreover, euthanasia of unwanted dogs may be wholly unnecessary. There is a no-kill shelter movement which is increasingly at odds with the government shelter bureaucrats.

    In the still-heated debate over reducing shelters deaths in California, there is probably no more polarizing figure than Nathan Winograd, former director of operations for the San Francisco SPCA.

    At first glance, Winograd has all the credentials any animal rights activist or shelter professional could ask for. He's a vegan. He left a lucrative career as a prosecuting attorney to devote himself to helping animals. Last year, his income was only $35,000. He has spearheaded the No Kill Advocacy Center, a national organization aimed at ending the killing of pets in animal shelters. While director of operations at the San Francisco SPCA, he worked with then-president Richard Avanzino to implement a wide variety of animal livesaving programs, and then went on to achieve similar success as director of a rural shelter in upstate New York.

    But Winograd isn't making a lot of friends in the shelter industry these days. That's because he authored a book called "Redemption: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation and the No Kill Revolution in America" that challenges the very foundation of nearly every theory and principle of shelter management in this country...

    Read it all. The reason Winograd is making enemies is not merely for exposing the dirty little secret that "overpopulation" is a lie, but because he's an insider who argues that the euthanasia results from bureaucratic inefficiency:
    There is probably nothing Winograd could say that would more inflame the shelter and humane society establishment than calling pet overpopulation a myth. But Winograd doesn't just stop there.

    In "Redemption," Winograd lays the lion's share of the blame for shelter deaths not on pet owners and communities, but on the management, staff, and boards of directors of the shelters themselves.

    "If a community is still killing the majority of shelter animals, it is because the local SPCA, humane society, or animal control shelter has fundamentally failed in its mission," he writes. "And this failure is nothing more than a failure of leadership. The buck stops with the shelter's director."

    Redemption makes the case that bad shelter management leads to overcrowding, which is then confused with pet overpopulation. Instead of warehousing and killing animals, shelters, he says, should be using proven, innovative programs to find those homes he says are out there. They should wholeheartedly adopt the movement known as No Kill, and stop using killing as a form of population control.

    I realize that I have devoted a great deal of time in this blog arguing against mandatory spay and neuter laws (here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here, for example), but this issue pushes my buttons for several reasons. The growing tendency of the nanny state to invade the most personal areas of our lives and our homes is a serious problem, and few things are more personal than someone's relationship with his dog. Whether you have invasive surgery performed on your dog (especially a four month old puppy) is an individual issue, not an issue for the state to decide for you. If you do not allow your dog to roam, and you are not creating problems for other people, its genitalia are simply not the business of the state. This is not to say that it is wrong to fix your dog; for many if not most dog owners it's probably a very wise and prudent thing to do. But a dog is your property, and as I've argued before, a dog is the most personal kind of property there is.
    Few things are more personal to me than my relationship with my dog, Coco. The idea that the government can make me a criminal for not cutting out her ovaries (something which is entirely my business and no one else's) fills me with horror.

    What happened to all the people who used to scream "KEEP THE GOVERNMENT OUT OF OUR BEDROOMS?"

    What about the idea that a man's home is his castle?

    A dog is personal. And it's property. But it's different than ordinary property, because there is a personal bond, an emotional investment between a dog and his owner that cannot be measured in economic value. Because of this emotional component, a dog may be the most valuable property that a person can have. I can't speak for other dog owners, but if my house was on fire, my very first thought would be to save Coco! I think many dog owners would feel the same way. That is the real test of value.

    So, people who care about property rights ought to care very about this special form of property which, to the people who have it, is the most valuable property of all.

    The idea of the government entering into my relationship with my dog is thus more than an ordinary violation of property rights. It's highly personal.

    This remains a highly personal and emotional issue for me, because I love my dog, and the idea that the state could compel me to perform what I consider mutilating surgery on her is bad enough, but to do so in the name of "her" "rights" -- allegedly because other people are breeding their dogs indiscriminately -- that's extreme communitarianism. It holds me responsible for the conduct of other people -- which is alleged to cause "overpopulation." But when even that claim turns out to be false, my hackles are up. I see mandatory spay and neuter as nothing but a naked power grab. And some of the people leading it are deliberately childless activists who I suspect would want human sterilization if they could get their way. ("Homeless shelters are full! We have a serious human overpopulation problem!")

    Another reason this issue pushes my buttons is that there's something I find even more offensive than seeing people misled, and that is seeing morality manufactured in the process. Perhaps "remanufactured" is a better word, for I can remember when castration was not something people normally did to "man's best friend." I mean, if we use the human analogy (which the AR crowd loves to use in other contexts) would you castrate your best friend to help stop overpopulation?

    Without recalling the popular culture as it was in my youth, the American Veterinary Medical Association acknowledges that some Europeans still instinctively recoil the way I remember Americans once did:

    In some parts of the world, elective gonadectomy is considered unethical and is strongly discouraged or disallowed by professional veterinary associations.2 Elective gonadectomy is illegal in at least 1 country.3 In 1 article4 published in Europe, elective gonadectomy is decried as "the tool of despots and tyrants throughout history," and the author of that article claims that gonadectomized dogs are "canine eunuchs, condemned to live their lives in a physical and mental twilight." That author also questions how a profession that publicly declares itself the guardian of animal welfare can, with impunity, perform elective surgery on animals for human convenience.4
    Interestingly, the authors believe that veterinary ethics should be driven by what's best for the individual dog, and not by the communitarian/group impulse:
    Pets should be considered individually, with the understanding that for these pets, population control is a less important concern than is health of each animal. Dogs and cats should be maintained as household pets. Responsible owners should ensure that their pets are provided appropriate and regularly scheduled veterinary care.
    The problem involves more than considerations about "population control," though. Attitudes in this country have shifted to the point where it is now considered abnormal to have a normal dog. (I experienced this firsthand with Puff.) Swinging testicles are considered just awful. Evidence of "irresponsibility," and a vivid reminder that the pet owner in question is in serious need of "education."

    (Isn't it time that we who have behaved responsibly and castrated our dogs see to it that the laws are changed? That way, instead of being upset or intimidated by swinging nuts, we can call the authorities, who will see to it that society is protected.)

    I confess to a feeling of strong repugnance to this, as it horrifies me to think that people have been manipulated (hoodwinked is more like it) into accepting an unwarranted premise. I'm not saying my feelings of repugnance constitute wisdom, though, so I try not to rely on them as a way of deciding things. (If I did that I'd be doing what the people I'm complaining about are doing.) Instead, I try to use my feelings as a starting point and examine whether I am being logical.

    Anyway, it strikes me that the goal has to involve more than preventing dog reproduction. If that were truly the case, there would be less intrusive ways to do it. Why not target females only, for example? They only go into heat twice a year, and most people find intact bitches very inconvenient, and would spay them even if not asked. This is why many an intact male has never seen and will never see an actual bitch in heat. And why require castration? If the purpose is really preventing reproduction, then why aren't vasectomies acceptable?

    The answer (at least according to a number of postings on AR boards) is that only a perverted zoophile would want a dog vasectomy.

    No I am serious. Discouraging bestiality is actually used as an argument against dog vasectomies:

    The benefits of spay-neuter are well documented, now there's another reason for it to be done:

    In the past couple of years our group has become aware of a number of zoophillic individuals who are actively attempting to skirt spay-neuter requirements, regulations, or laws, by trying to convince the humane society or rescue group to allow a vasectomy or tubal ligation. They encourage others with this interest to ask for this "alternate" surgery as a specific. Some may cite objections to surgery or "mutilation" to hide the real motivations. Others willingly put up a cash deposit and sign an alter contract they know can't or won't likely be enforced. The deposit is gladly forfeited in order to obtain intact dogs at almost any cost.

    Tubal/Vas has been discussed as a very specific method to skirt spay-neuter as far back as 1994 on the usenet newsgroup alt.sex.bestiality and similar bestiality related forums.

    This is done specifically to obtain dogs for the purpose of engaging them in sexual activities. Tubal/vas allows the zoophillic individual to use the animal for this purpose, whereas a spayed or neutered dog is generally not physically able to, and is far less desirable.

    Well, if we're going to be logical about such an argument, why limit it to people who'd settle for vasectomies? If only a zoophile would want to preserve his genitalia with a vasectomy, then it flows logically that only a zoophile would refuse to castrate his dogs. Which means, of course, that only a zoophile would oppose mandatory spay and neuter.

    So of course all opponents of mandatory spay and neuter are into bestiality! I'd like to think this is satire but people seem to be taking it seriously. I really don't think it's helpful to maintain that only a pervert would be opposed castration. (They're almost inviting the counter-argument that it's at least as sexually twisted to want castration as it is to be opposed to it. I'm no shrink, but what might Freud say?)

    So far, at least, the mainstream nanny state activists have refrained from calling their opponents "zoophiles." Instead they call them "irresponsible, unlicensed and uncaring breeders." Geez. That sounds like the what the lesbian agengers in Berkeley used to call heterosexual couples.

    Can't we all get along?

    I realize that the real issue now is McCain versus Romney, and that no politician at the national level is likely to weigh in on mandatory spay and neuter laws. At least, not for now. (Well, Hillary did neuter and declaw her cat, but she's not trying to make it mandatory.) These are personal decisions. Mandatory spay and neuter laws, when imposed on personally owned animals kept on private property, are a galling example of government intrusion into a very personal area in people's lives. It crosses a line which should never be crossed in a free country.

    If the government can come into your home and force you to have surgery performed on your animal, your privacy is gone and your home has ceased to be your castle. Might as well have armed mobile spay and neuter teams go door to door doing "nut checks." (A dog barking would supply probable cause, of course.)

    "Oh, so you don't want to let us in? Well, we can do it the hard way. There's plenty of SWAT team backup available."

    Who knows? "The Gonad Cops" might make for great television for pliant citizens who think they're being protected.

    There probably should be a TV show, though. Because television not only entertains people but promotes the idea and humanizes the enforcers.

    Hey, how about "Ball Busters"? They could even prop up Bob Barker and have him host the show. Plenty of alliteration there....

    (They're already being called the "Gonad Nazis," and while that might seem a bit offensive to some, the term "Safety Nazis" is in wide use with few objections. Nazi comparisons are, I think, best avoided. But if someone were paying me to think about them out loud, I'd say that "Gonad Gestapo" is more alliterative. But as a title for a TV show it just won't do.)

    Sigh.

    I realize that sexual morality and reproductive freedom are hot button issues, but I just wish the moralists would leave my dogs alone.

    MORE: In the comments below, I said something I've said before, but which IMO can't be stressed enough:

    Because those who conform resent those who don't, compliance with tyranny ultimately leads to a demand for tyranny.
    This is why I believe there is a moral duty of defiance -- even over the "small stuff."

    (To put it in today's parlance, if they tell you "No you can't," the answer should be "Yes we can!")

    MORE: A bill in Mississippi would prohibit restaurants from serving food to obviously obese people.

    (Talk about a great idea for a TV show!)

    posted by Eric at 05:42 PM | Comments (6)



    Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Justice Department is at it again. Protecting us from unscrupulous doctors. The kind that prescribe too much pain medication for those in pain.

    In a drama that has been played out all too many times across the country in recent years, the Justice Department's campaign against prescription drug abuse -- if you can call it that -- came in crushing fashion to Haysville, Kansas, last month. Now, a popular pain management physician and his nurse wife are being held without bond and more than a thousand patients at his clinic are without a doctor, but the US Attorney and the Kansas Board of Healing Arts say they are protecting the public health.

    It all started December 20, when federal agents arrested Dr. Stephen Schneider, operator of the Schneider Medical Clinic, and his wife and business manager, Linda, on a 34-count indictment charging them with operating a "pill mill" at their clinic. The indictment charges that Schneider and his assistants "unlawfully" wrote prescriptions for narcotic pain relievers, that at least 56 of Schneiders' patients died of drug overdoses between 2002 and 2007, and that Schneider and his assistants prescribed pain relievers "outside the course of usual medical practice and not for legitimate medical purpose."

    In their press release announcing the arrests, federal prosecutors also said that four patients died "as a direct result of Schneider's actions," but the indictment does not charge Schneider or anyone else with murder, manslaughter, or negligent homicide. In all four deaths, the patients died of drug overdoses, with prosecutors claiming Schneider ignored signs they were becoming addicted to the drugs or abusing them.

    Let me see if I get this. You are in pain. You ask for medical help. When you find you can't control your drug use it is your doctor's fault. So what is the doctor supposed to do? Make you come to his office daily for your required dose? And the doctor is supposed to watch for signs? What is wrong with the patient watching for signs and communicating with the doctor?

    Ah, but it gets better. Siobhan Reynolds of the Pain Relief Network is quoted saying:

    The root of the problem, said Reynolds, is the Controlled Substances Act, under which the Justice Department determines what constitutes proper medical practice and what doesn't. "Under the act, the exchange of money for drugs is presumptively illegal, and doctors have to show they are doing medicine in an 'authorized fashion' approved by the Justice Department. Under the act, doctors are effectively presumed guilty until proven innocent. It's backwards, and it helps explain why it is so difficult to win these cases," she said.

    The Pain Relief Network will shortly bring a federal lawsuit challenging the Controlled Substance Act, Reynolds said. "The act is profoundly unconstitutional and unlawful. It reverses the presumption of innocence, and we think we can win that challenge, even if we have to go to the Supreme Court."

    While the network had vowed to file the lawsuit last month, it hasn't happened yet. That's because the network has been too busy putting out fires in Kansas, she said, adding that the lawsuit will be filed soon.

    Meanwhile, Dr. Schneider and his wife remain jailed without bond at the request of federal prosecutors pending a first court date later this month. His patients are now scrambling to find replacement doctors with little success, especially now that other local doctors see what could await them if they apply aggressive opioid pain management treatments. And a chill as cold as the February wind is settling in over pain treatment on the Kansas plains.

    The difficulty is that everyone responds to pain and drugs differently. Some require large amounts of drugs for small amounts of pain and others require small amounts of drugs for large amounts of pain. How in the heck can the Justice Dept. decide which is which? Are they licensed to practice medicine?

    H/T Stop The Drug War

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 02:09 PM | Comments (0)




    CALL THE ACLU!

    I think this falls into Glenn Reynolds' "THEY TOLD ME THAT IF GEORGE W. BUSH WERE REELECTED" category.

    (I'm not Glenn Reynolds, but I'm going to do an experiment in channeling...)

    Ahem.

    THEY TOLD ME THAT IF GEORGE W. BUSH WERE REELECTED, public access to places offering unpopular minority views would be restricted, and government stooges would use zoning restrictions to crack down on free speech and crush dissent. And they were right!

    Berkeley peace activists are gearing up to circulate a petition to place a measure on the November ballot restricting where public and private military recruiters can locate within the city.

    "Most towns regulate adult-oriented businesses--the initiative is modeled on that," said Sharon Adams, the attorney who wrote the initiative, which is signed by former Councilmembers Carole (Davis) Kennerly and Ying Lee (Kelley) and Code Pink activist PhoeBe Anne Sorgen.

    While Adams said she believes the government has to follow local zoning ordinances, Acting City Attorney Zach Cowan told the Planet that "in general, the city can't regulate the state, its entities or the federal government."

    There are times when the government will waive its rights, such as the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's agreement to be regulated by the city's hazardous waste regulations, Cowan said.

    The city attorney's office does not weigh in on the legality of citizen-sponsored initiatives, Cowan added.

    Major Wes Hayes, Marine Corps Recruiting Command spokesperson, responded to the Planet by e-mail: "To answer your question; the Marine Corps works closely with the Army Corps of Engineers when determining the locations for recruiting offices all around the country. The ACOE takes all lawful regulations and zoning requirements into account before recommending locations of any Marine Corps Recruiting Office."

    The impetus for the initiative is that anti-war activists were surprised one day last fall to find a Marine Recruiting Center located smack in the heart of perhaps the most anti-war city in the country. Berkeley has passed several resolutions opposing the war in Iraq and supported the impeachment of the president and vice president for their role in taking the country to war.

    You mean it's legal? To actually recruit people into lifestyles that a community disapproves of?

    Something has to be done! And it's Code Pink to the rescue!

    Led by Code Pink, individuals and various groups--including the World Can't Wait, Grandmothers for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace, the Middle East Children's Alliance and more--have been demonstrating for about four months on most weekdays outside the recruiting center at 64 Shattuck Square.

    The city can't ban recruiters, Adams said. "Prohibition would be a restraint on the First Amendment right of speech." But she says she believes they can restrict the recruiters to certain areas and create law where a public hearing would be mandated before permitting the recruiters to do their business.

    Entitled "Initiative Petition Establishing Zoning Requirements for Military Recruitment Offices and Private Military Companies," the measure would prohibit locating a public or private military recruiting office within 600 feet of a residential area, school, library, health clinic or a building used for religious assembly.

    "The Berkeley community has spoken strongly in opposition to U.S. policy of military aggression," said Lee, a library trustee and activist with the committee supporting Ehren Watada, the first commissioned military officer to refuse deployment to Iraq.

    Keeping youth from being lured into combat "is a health and safety issue," Lee told the Planet. "We have the right to say no to pornography stores--why can't we say no to those who promote killing and torture?" she said.

    If the initiative passes, it won't affect the existing recruiting office.

    On Jan. 30, at noon, pro-war activist Melanie Morgan of KSFO Radio and Medea Benjamin of Code Pink are planning to debate the question of the role of the military in society--the debate will be held outside the recruiting station at 64 Shattuck Square, Adams said.

    Zanne Joi of Code Pink, one of the organizers of the debate, said its purpose is to keep the war "front and center."

    A frequent protester at the recruiting station, Joi said: "Our hearts are broken every time we're there, to see people who say we're fighting for our freedom--we need to educate and inform."

    In October Morgan organized a counter- demonstration outside the recruiting office, which attracted hundreds of pro-war demonstrators, outnumbering the anti-war protesters.

    Not to be picky, but I think maybe Zanne Joi meant "reeducate."

    I'm sure the ACLU can't wait to defend the rights of the embattled Berkeley minority.

    MORE: For more on anti-military bigotry in Berkeley, see my previous post.

    UPDATE (02/03/08): Via Glenn Reynolds, an excellent analysis of Berkeley's anti-military bigotry from a libertarian perspective:

    the Berkeley City Council is both disregarding and actively abridging the fundamental rights of its citizen and imposing negative impacts on innocent citizens all in pursuit of a political objective. Fantastic.

    When a group of people have the power of leading a city government, they have certain responsibilities that come with that power. Those responsibilities don't include fighting for social justice or ensuring every business in their city is ideologically acceptable, as the Berkeley City Council has tried to do. Nor do they include supporting the Federal Government and the United States Military, as many on the right want them to do. Those responsibilities include protecting basic human liberties, such as the rights to life, liberty, and property, and providing a city where citizens and business have basic protections and services like police, fire, and infrastructure.

    The Berkeley City Council's refusal to meet its basic responsibilities makes it a disgrace and a failure. Period.

    So much for the San Francisco Chronicle's contention that the opposition consists of "conservative blogs."

    Since when do you have to be a conservative to defend free speech and oppose tyranny?

    posted by Eric at 07:32 PM | Comments (2)



    We Have Beaches

    I was reading at Alphecca about the Brady anti-gun campaign's rating of various States on the level of their gun prohibition laws. A low rating means a gun friendly state. A high rating means very unfriendly to fire arms. California is very unfriendly. Here is the take of one commenter from California. Of course like any good Californian he has turned the list upside down and is interpreting it "improperly".

    Wow, California is at the bottom? And by a big margin, too. I knew it was bad out here but I thought MA and MD had it worse.

    So, as I've asked before, when are y'all going to invade? We have beaches!

    JackOfClubs

    H/T Instapundit

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 04:42 PM | Comments (3)



    Details which give me a splitting hair ache

    I hate it when this happens.

    There I was, minding my own business. (At least, I think fashion in the election is my business -- even if I do tend to focus on more extreme examples.) And I stumbled right into a gratuitous attempt by a journalism professor (in an article about fashion in the presidential race) to drag the French into John Edwards' famously overpriced haircut:

    John Edwards, who withdrew from the race for the Democratic nomination on Wednesday, provoked an uproar with his 400 dollar haircut -- apparently not because of the cost but because of who did it.

    "It was a scandal because the hairdresser was a Frenchman named Christophe," said Columbia University journalism professor, Jessica Siegel.

    "French chic is not appreciated in the US", she added.

    Edwards finished third -- behind Clinton and Obama -- in all but one of the primaries held so far, and finally quit the race.

    Presidential wannabes are advised to go simple, and American.

    Hey wait a minute!

    Far be it from me to get in a hair war with a Columbia journalism professor, but Ms. Siegel is being neither fair nor accurate.

    And isn't she supposed to be setting an example? You know, if journalists are supposed to check facts, shouldn't journalism professors be careful when they hurl cultural insinuations at friendly countries? (Or might the problem be that France has become too much of a friendly country?)

    Anyway, I hate to having to be a bitchy, nit-picky blogger about this. I'm normally quite forgiving of other people's errors, but the hair stylist whose $400 haircuts got Edwards in trouble was neither French, nor was he named Christophe. He's Joseph Torrenueva, and he's been cutting hair for the stars for years:

    For four decades, Joseph Torrenueva has cut the hair of Hollywood celebrities, from Marlon Brando to Bob Barker, so when a friend told him in 2003 that a presidential candidate needed grooming advice, he agreed to help.

    The Beverly Hills hairstylist, a Democrat, said he hit it off with then-Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina at a meeting in Los Angeles that brought several fashion experts together to advise the candidate on his appearance. Since then, Torrenueva has cut Edwards's hair at least 16 times.

    At first, the haircuts were free. But because Torrenueva often had to fly somewhere on the campaign trail to meet his client, he began charging $300 to $500 for each cut, plus the cost of airfare and hotels when he had to travel outside California.

    OK, the point here is not to rehash the cost of the haircuts. That's been gone over and over. The point is that Joe Torrenueva is not French and he is not named Christophe. As to his national background, he's described as "half Puerto Rican and half Filipino." Not only are those places not French, they're not even close.

    Professor Siegel seems to have confused (or maybe conflated) Bill Clinton and John Edwards, for it was Bill Clinton who had his hair cut by Christophe:

    Edwards is certainly not the first politician to face ridicule when his or her grooming habits caught the public's eye. It took a long time for President Bill Clinton to live down the haircut he received from the stylist Christophe of Beverly Hills while Air Force One was parked on an airport runway in Los Angeles. And Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) had her own minor version of the Edwards treatment after her Senate campaign spent nearly $3,000 in fees and travel for two sessions with stylist Isabelle Goetz.

    It gets worse. As it turns out, even Christophe is not French, but Belgian. At least, so says this reviewer.

    But can I rely on that statement?

    I wanted to be sure. After all, I am correcting a professor of journalism who has stated that that "gossip columns are famously loose with the facts," and if she thinks that about gossip columns, imagine what she might think about factually loose bloggers! So, I called the the Beverly Hills Christophe Salon at the number listed on their website and asked. A woman who identified herself as Diane put me on hold and checked. Sure enough, Christophe was born in Belgium.

    So, not only was it wrong to attribute Bill Clinton's haircut to John Edwards, and Christophe's national origin to Joe Torrenueva, it was even worse to implicate the French for an act committed by a Belgian at he behest of an Arkansan!

    Sheesh.

    If we're going to be crushed by fashionist hegemony, let's at least get the details right.

    posted by Eric at 01:43 PM | Comments (3)



    Once a RINO, always a RINO

    I'll start with a comment left to the post I wrote late last night:

    I suspect that some conservatives are thinking in terms of the 'putting a frog into a pot of hot water' analogy as opposed to a slow, drawn out death from creeping socialism and the steady encroachment of nanny-statism.
    Zoological accuracy aside, creeping socialism and steady nanny-state encroachment have certainly been the case with the Bush administration, and I think that because of the nature of government, would be the case with any Republican administration.

    Including Romney's.

    The objections to McCain are easy enough to understand. Far be it from me to defend him (especially after years of attacking him). Besides, I haven't endorsed McCain. Unless my slight preference of him to Romney can be called an "endorsement." (Which means I "endorsed" Obama by preferring him to Hillary.)

    Bear in mind that on a personal level, it won't matter in the least which one of these men I vote for, as I live in Pennsylvania, a state which is "utterly irrelevant in the nomination of presidential candidates."

    But hey, I have until April 22 to make up my mind! Who knows? By then, maybe Romney will come out in favor of legalizing drugs, and I'll have to vote for him!

    What I find the most remarkable about the current debate is the way Romney is being spun as a conservative hero, even though he has been considered a RINO for years. (Of course, no one seems to be paying any attention to McCain's 82.3% ACU rating, his 82.7% ATR rating, or his zero NARAL rating. That, of course, is because he's said to be indistinguishable from Hillary Clinton, who's rated 9% by the ACU, 6.7% by ATR, and 100% by NARAL.)

    FWIW, my official conservative rating is only 80% -- nearly three points lower than McCain's.

    As I said, I'll vote for whichever of the two gets the nomination, because either one is far better than a return to power of the most corrupt administration in recent memory. Saying there's no difference between McCain and the Clintons is a major distortion of history, and (at least to the extent character is taken into account) an arguably worse smear against McCain than any of the political accusations.

    Whether character matters is beside the point, which is whether slow socialism is better than quick socialism. My fear is that there's just not that much time left for American freedom, period. The leftists are picking up momentum, and changing demographics are on their side. And in any event, we are ruled day-to-day by the entrenched, unelected, ever-growing commissariat of bureaucrats and academicians, not those who are officially elected, but who in practice have only a limted role.

    Bear in mind that the Clintons were reelected in 1996, and if elected this November, they'll be reelected again in 2012. Fast-paced socialism for eight years coupled with changing demographics means the Republicans will either have to change, or simply go into a long period of being an out-of-power opposition party. With principles. (If I want a party which shares my principles, I suppose I could launch the "Small-L-libertarian Pro-War Pagan Christian Party.)

    Personally, I have mixed feelings. As a libertarian who can't honestly wear the conservative label (I've called myself a "Goldwater liberal" repeatedly), I've long since become accustomed to holding my nose and voting for the GOP candidate. To the extent that voting for someone you don't agree with violates one's principles (some of the leading bloggers who feel that way are linked here), then my principles have been violated -- long and hard -- for many, many years. I voted for Bill Clinton in 1992, then Bob Dole in 1996, and the GOP ever since. I always feel uncomfortable with my vote because I always know that there are a number of major issues and positions on which I disagree, no matter who the candidate is.

    But let me put aside my distrust of all politicians, my misgivings about conservatism and my abiding hatred of socialism and nanny statism and look at this strategically. Assume that McCain is and always has been a reprehensible RINO and a Republican socialist no different from the Clintons, and assume that Romney is and always has been a true, 100% conservative. Absent a bizarre intervening event, either McCain or Romney is going to be the Republican nominee. The consensus of the pollsters is that McCain has a much better chance than Romney of beating Hillary, but I agree with this analysis that a Democratic victory is likely either way. If McCain loses, conservatives can be expected to rebound within the GOP, because they'll be able to blame him and the RINOs for the party's defeat.

    But if Romney is the candidate and he loses, then what? Will conservatives get the blame? I don't think so. I think it is more likely that the ideologues (including many of the people loudly claiming his conservative bona fides right now) will be howling that Romney was nothing but a RINO all along -- as if they had never seen indictments like this -- and they'll still scream that only a "true conservative" can save conservatism and the GOP.

    What doesn't seem to matter (at least, to the true ideological conservatives) is whether a true conservative ideologue can win.

    If I thought Romney actually was a true ideological conservative, it would be an interesting experiment. But the experiment won't work, because if he loses, he'll be what he was before, just another RINO.

    Forgive my cynicism, but I'm as unimpressed by the claim that Romney's a true conservative as I am by the claim that McCain is just like Hillary.

    As to selecting the speed of inevitable nanny-state socialism, yes, I prefer to slow it down if I can.

    Gives me more time to plan my escape.

    A useless RINO radical libertarian politically homeless conservative Goldwater liberal I may be, but I am not a frog.

    MORE:Jonah Goldberg is unpersuaded by the idea that McCain will doom the country:

    ...I disagree with the tone, tenor and substance of much -- though certainly not all -- of the anti-McCain commentary around here. It's not that I object to a single post or comment -- though there've been a few. It's that I disagree with the overwhelming impression that supporting McCain is some kind of lunacy. I have serious disagreements with McCain. I think it is entirely right to disagree with him on all sorts of issues and entirely legitimate to think he would be bad for the party, bad for conservatism or bad for the country to have him as the nominee or the next president. I agree with some of those sentiments, disagree with others.

    But this disaster talk leaves me cold. McCain wouldn't be my first pick. Then again, none of the candidates were really my first pick. But I think the notion that, variously, conservatism, the country or the party are doomed if he's the nominee or the president is pretty absurd.

    Via Glenn Reynolds, who characterized Goldberg's view as "PRO-MCCAIN HERESY AT THE CORNER."

    Well, at least it's not apostasy!

    posted by Eric at 09:42 AM | Comments (10)



    Coulter endorses Hillary

    Apparently she prefers her to McCain.

    At least, so claims Drudge.

    coulterhillsm.jpg

    While it's tough to evaluate the claim (as the link goes nowhere), if it's true I'm not surprised at all. I've been predicting something along such lines.

    What I'm still trying to figure out is why McCain didn't make this list.

    And why Romney did.

    This is the first time in my life that I've had to decide whom I'm more against in a primary.

    The Coulter endorsement helps.

    I guess you could say this is clarifying.

    (After all, I don't defend McCain, and I don't defend conservatism, so I need guidance from someone.)

    UPDATE: Drudge now supplies the link to the Coulter endorsement, which is this YouTube video. She says Hillary will be better for the war on terror, and says the following:

    "I'll campaign for her."

    "Compared to John McCain, she will be better."

    "Hillary is absolutely more conservative."

    "She lies less than John McCain."

    "She's smarter than John McCain."

    "He is very very bad for the country."

    It could have been worse.

    At least she didn't call him the "fag candidate."

    Perhaps I should stay tuned.

    UPDATE: Watching last night's Democratic debate, Victor Davis Hanson opined:

    The gulf between Hillary and McCain is Grand-Canyon like.
    (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

    What's a little Grand Canyon to Ann Coulter?

    MORE: I don't know whether pork is a Coulter war issue, but Examiner columnist Tim Carney found a sharp contrast between McCain and Hillary:

    Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is a leading opponent of pork and one of the only lawmakers to forswear earmarks, while Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., is Congress' leading porker.
    "Leading porker" versus "leading opponent of pork"?

    (Shhh! Better not let Ann hear about that or she'll call McCain an apologist for Sharia, and Islamofascism.... And Hillary a Great American Patriot!)

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

    Comments always appreciated, agree or not; I discussed the comment about the slowly boiled frog here.

    UPDATE: Calling Coulter's outburst a "hysterical demand for extortion rather than a considered and thoughtful political position," Ed Morrissey wonders whether she's finally jumped the shark:

    It appears Coulter hates McCain more than she cares about conservative values. She has acquired McCain Derangement Syndrome, and is rather obviously unbalanced by it. Sean Hannity was clearly embarrassed to listen to this tirade, and Coulter should have been embarrassed to have indulged in it.
    I don't think Ann Coulter is embarrassed by anything she says. Whether she's an entertainer or a troll, her shock marketing technique obviously works, for she sells a lot of books.

    UPDATE (02/03/08): Via Glenn Reynolds, a reminder from Ann Coulter that she is serious.

    (Whether she should be taken seriously is another matter.)

    UPDATE: A reader helpfully emailed me with a quote from Ann Coulter's web site -- AnnCoulter.com:

    "The bright side of the Florida debacle is that I no longer fear Hillary Clinton. (I mean in terms of her becoming president -- on a personal level, she's still a little creepy.) I'd rather deal with President Hillary than with President McCain."
    Maybe Hillary can hire Ann to do Republican outreach.

    UPDATE: Hillary has welcomed Ann Coulter's support!

    Strange bedfellows beware!

    posted by Eric at 12:01 AM | Comments (28)




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