Broadening The Coalition

The only strategy capable of defeating the communists is the widest possible unity of all the class and social forces whose interests run counter to those of the most socialist section of the transnationals.

You know we might like to start with economics.

If the party was focused on

1. Economics
2. Defense
3. Individual liberty

and left the social issues to ministers, priests, and rabbis, we might broaden the base.

As I understand it Reagan gave minor lip service to social Conservatives and focused on the above issues. That is the Republican core. Huckabee was a huge distraction and more socialist than McCain.

Given that, I can see why social conservatives have no problem sitting this one out. They like Socialism. Just a different brand than the Democrats. It is funny that Social Conservatives do not see themselves as Socialists.

The Federal Governments job is to protect our liberty, defend our country, and protect our property. Any thing else exceeds its mandate.

The less we want government to do the broader our coalition will be.

Prompted by the comments at Hot Air

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 05:11 PM | Comments (1)

Madison -- then and now

Here I am in a cold-to-the-bone (mid-thirties) rainstorm in Madison, Wisconsin -- a place which seems more full of itself than any of the Midwest places so far. I liked Ann Arbor, which seemed more laid back and reminded me of a snowy Berkeley, but this place.... Maybe it's just the weather; maybe I'm a bit travel-fatigued. But right now I have nothing to do but wait for few hours with no umbrella, so finally I found parking and a Wifi cafe, which beats walking around in the drenching cold rain.

I shouldn't be such a bigot; on a nice day I'll bet this is beautiful.

It was beautiful last night:


In fact, it is beautiful even in today's awful rain. I have no idea what this fortress-like building is, but I saw it when I was driving around so I rolled down the window and pulled out my camera just in time.


Last night I perused a fascinating history of Madison, which has been a left-wing city for over a century (with socialist governments going back to the turn of the century).

Madison also has had a long history of antiwarism. In 1864, Madison's voters were so anti-war that they rejected President Lincoln in favor of Democrat George McClellan (discussed in a previous post). A local pro-Democratic Party newspaper, the Daily Patriot, ran an ad asking, "Who do you want?" and highlighted what they deemed the important differences between the pro-war Lincoln and the anti-war McClellan.


Lincoln was presented as the warmongering, constitution-destroying, inflation causing renegade, and as someone hell-bent on destroying the culture:


Geez, that's almost as bad as Bush. (Er, I guess McCain will have to do as a substitute for leftist wrath.)

As to McClellan, he was presented as the man of peace who would restore the Constitution, take care of the poor, bring back habeas corpus, and finally end Republican corruption:


I'm guessing McClellan was the progressive candidate. Anti-war is left, right? Or is that right?

Anyway, that was Madison in 1864, when it was Lincoln versus McClellan.

This is now (a bookstore window on State Street last night):


As I was writing this post, I heard the sounds of a demonstration on State Street. A demo in the rain? That struck me as beyond the call of duty, so I went outside to investigate. It involved immigrants rights -- especially those of Tope Awe, a local activist facing deportation back to Nigeria for some sort of technical violation.I found a blog post explaining the situation and calling for an emergency demonstration today, which is obviously the one I witnessed.

I took a video, which I tried uploading to Youtube twice unsuccessfully. (Wifi and large uploads don't seem to mix.)

So, this is the only clear picture I have:


As demos go, it was pretty lame; there were around 25-30.

Madison is a mixed bag. If it would stop raining I could have a little more fun, and would probably like it more.

All in all, both Madison and Ann Arbor make me homesick for the Bay Area. Madison is a bit more like San Francisco, and Ann Arbor like Berkeley. (And of course I prefer Berkeley.)

posted by Eric at 03:18 PM | Comments (3)

Buyers' Remorse - Republican Version

Republicans are not happy with John McCain. Captain Ed has the news. The remorseful are mostly in the comments. Like this one:

McCain will never fail to disappoint Republicans and kiss the asses of his true political opponents.
Anti-McCain Republicans just drive me nuts. I can see you favoring socialized medicine, but isn't losing the war a bit much?

And why you place so much emphasis on candidates is beyond me. What about the voters? It seems to me that until we get voters turned in our direction we will get the candidates we deserve.

Why don't all the McCain scourgers blame themselves for not making Republican values more popular?

I blame myself for not doing a better job for Fred. What I heard from many was Mr. Too Old. Thanks. Now we have Mr. Too Old and Too Liberal. Way to go guys.

I'm reminded of what Mayor Daley Sr. responded when asked why his candidate lost. He responded, "He didn't get enough votes."

Get over yourselves. Blaming McCain for your inability to properly educate voters is stupid and puts the blame in the wrong place. Which is convenient. It means no self examination is required. How Democratic.

Maybe there is something wrong with the conservative message. Maybe the way it is presented. To blame McCain for our failings is idiotic. It will fix nothing.

There are always people willing to open the gates of the city because of some slight by the governing powers. The Bible (you have read it I presume) is full of examples.

I will never join those ranks. Even if it means voting for McCain.

OK I know. McCain will defend some parts of the city and not others. The Ds will give it all up.

I'm for preserving what we can. It will make recovery easier.

H/T Insty

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 02:34 PM | Comments (2)

Obama On Defense

HT Perfunction via Instapundit. For those of you who are history buffs Perfunction has an audio of the last message from Corregidor with a voice over giving words to the Morse code message.

posted by Simon at 01:31 PM | Comments (0)

Politics And Pain

This is an oldie but goodie that I first posted at Power and Control in October of 2005. I think it still rings true.


Front Page Magazine is doing a symposium with a number of leftist who have broken with the faith. Tammy Bruce has some very interesting things to say about the kind of people the left tends to draw from.

Narcissism, while frequently thought of as "self-love," is in fact the opposite. It is self-obsession based on victimhood and paranoia. Narcissism is actually the belief that everything that happens, happens because of you, or revolves around you. As an example, feminist narcissists see the pro-life movement as being against women, or as a jihad against women, as opposed to an expression of those peoples' concern for life. The issues for narcissists, whether they be feminist, gay or black, is always about them, surrounding them, or about how the opposition is out to get them. Paranoia is a key factor in narcissism and easy to exploit.
Victimhood. What makes a person in his/her late teens think they are a victim? What could happen in child hood to give a person that mind set? Tammy goes on:
Leftist politics, like a vicious circle, rely on the damaged as footsoldiers, while the most damaged, the "Malignant Narcissist," as I explain in The Death of Right and Wrong, move into positions of power and leadership, furthering the cultural and political destruction of our culture and of the left in general.
From my personal experience on the left I would have to agree. I think my main attraction to the left came from two points. One is the natural sympathy for the victims of injustice, human nature. The second was that I was a victim of severe child abuse and felt at home with other abused kids standing against injustice. The narcissim Tammy talks about is real. However, it is for most not something chosen but inflicted on them. This is the biggest mistake of the right. The idea that the origins of the left are in malevolence and not in human nature. More specifically brain chemistry.

Phyllis Chesler expands on that theme:

As a Jew, I was always concerned with the suffering of others--and while I agree with the earlier analysis that this victim-identification can be both megalomaniac, narcissistic, and ultimately irrational, rigid, totalitarian, I also still believe that trying to help others, to repair the injustice in the world, is an ethical choice.
Too true.

John R. Bradley has noticed Tammy's money quote and comments:

Tammy Bruce's observation, that "Leftist politics, like a vicious circle, rely on the damaged as foot soldiers," is nowhere more relevant than the love affair of the Left with the Palestinians. The great French writer Jean Genet, who had a sympathy for the Palestinian cause, nevertheless got it just right when he wrote in Prisoner of Love that they only really come into their own when a camera is trained on them and they are playing the role of victim, basking in the media spotlight.
Victims. Nothing but victims. I noted in my article The Origins of Islamic Rage in which Phyllis Chesler reports on why Islam is the way it is, that Islam as a whole has this victim mentality. The article explains why. Child abuse.

And then Instapundit this morning links to an article about Lebanon by Michael Totten which has this to say about Lebanon:

I also wonder if this entire culture is still wracked with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and is accordingly paranoid about worst case scenarios.
So Michael diagnoses the problem from afar the same way Chesler does up close and personal. What is to be done? Well, Lebanon is famous for its quality marijuana and Blond Lebanese Hashish. So what does hashish have to do with it?

Dr. Tod Mikuriya says that cannabis is the best medicine for PTSD.

So now we know why a lot of lefties keep their bongs always at hand. They need them. The leftist cadre were always exhorting the dopers to give up the evil weed. Why? Not from any moral point surely. Of course not, it was because it dulled the will to fight. Now from a social and medical stand point might it not be best to let the left (and libertarians on the right) have their pot, mellow out and thus be less interested in fighting the rest of us and possibly even be more open to reason. Pot after all causes brain cell growth.

And why pot? Well for one thing it is unpatented. That will save a fortune in fees to the drug companies and since pot is a plant you just deliver seeds and growing instructions.

In the end Nixon's idea to use the War On Drugs to go after the left may have been one of the most counter productive things he ever did.

posted by Simon at 08:58 PM | Comments (1)

What The Heck Is Going On In Iraq?

I believe we must turn to a source we can trust. Al Jazeera. The headline is: Sadr orders his fighters to stand down.

What are the terms?

UPDATED ON: SUNDAY, MARCH 30, 2008 19:27 MECCA TIME, 16:27 GMT - [it is currently 1805z]

Al-Sadr's nine-point plan, agreed with the Iraqi government, was issued by his headquarters in the city of Najaf and broadcast through loudspeakers on Shia mosques.

James Bays, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Baghdad, said: "The main elements are that Muqtada al-Sadr's fighters should leave the streets ... in return, apparently, they will not be pursued, the Iraqi government will not arrest any of them unless they have arrest warrants for them.

"The big question now is whether the Mahdi army fighters will obey this command because there are all sorts of factions and splinter groups in existence."

Basra operation

Despite the order Iraqi troops will continue military operations against "criminals" in Basra, al-Dabbagh later told the Reuters news agency.

"The operation in Basra will continue and will not stop until it achieves its goals. It is not targeting the Sadrists but criminals," he said.

It is not targeting the Sadrists but criminals

How can you tell the difference? I suppose the criminals are the guys with weapons.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 02:12 PM | Comments (11)

Rove On Gore

Karl Rove has a word or two about the recent Al Gore bubble.

"You know you got a problem if the answer is Al Gore."
The comments are quite instructive as well. A lot of whistling past the graveyard.

H/T Irish Trojan in Tennessee via Instapundit

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 01:19 PM | Comments (2)

Interesting Fact

Kandahar in Afghanistan is named after Alexander the Great.

posted by Simon at 11:39 AM | Comments (4)

Steady flow of nightlife

It's not every day you see a fire hydrant like this:


But there it was, staring at me in Ann Arbor on Friday night.

Right now I'm in Rockford, Illinois (only overnight), soon to be on the road to Madison, Wisconsin.

A picture from last night with M. Simon, taken in front of a the Big CIties Lounge right after we'd seen the great Reverend Raven:


I'd be exaggerating if I said we were teetotalers.

(Not exactly like a fire hydrant, but the beer was flowing nonetheless!)

A great time.

posted by Eric at 10:22 AM | Comments (4)

JD Johannes Needs Your Help

JD Johannes is asking for help. He has produced a pro Victory in Iraq movie and needs to sell 2,900 CDs of his movie in six weeks to give Hollywood a wake up call.

People often complain about Hollywood's leftward tilt when it comes to Iraq, but few do anything pro-active about it.

I am trying to do something about it.

I have nearly died a few times trying to do something about it.

Hollywood and the entertainment industry is a business focused on the bottom line. If people want Hollywood to produce a pro-victory film, or a pro-troop television series, they will have to demonstrate that it is economically viable.

Most of the anti-war films have taken a beating at the box office.

Brian DePalma's 'Redacted' grossed $65,388, but cost $5million to make and 'Home of the Brave' only brought in $51,708 domestically.

To put that in perspective, I made my documentaries for under $60,000--that is the trip to Iraq and editing, audio studio, music, digital animations, etc., EVERYTHING.

To beat 'Redacted's' box office gross, takes the sale of 2,900 DVDs. Just 2,900 DVDs sold.

To demonstrate to Hollywood and the cable TV networks that a pro-victory documentary is viable, I need to sell 2,900 in 6 weeks.

You can buy the movie here.

This is one way to put your money to use for better reporting from Iraq and stick a finger in Hollywood's eye for their anti-American slant.

H/T Instapundit

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 05:17 PM | Comments (1)

Karl Rove Has Lined Up the Entertainment

Gateway Pundit has a story up about many of the groups lined up to protest the Republican convention. He quotes from a linked source.

On Saturday, April 5th radical Trans and Queer people from the midwest and beyond will be gathering for a series of workshops about regarding the strategy for the RNC, queer/trans militant history, current radical trans/queer/anarcha-feminist resistance, self defense, diy sex toys, etc.

...Those attending the, "Bash Back! Convergence" organizing session for Crashing the RNC must agree to the Points of Unity put forward by Bash Back! Chicago. While we understand and respect all groups organizing against the Republican and Democratic National Conventions in the name of furthering the LGBTQ cause, it is important that our actions at the RNC have a unified message. These points of Unity do NOT mean that Bash Back! refuses to work with groups who disagree. They are simply what we as a group believe and we want the messaging of our actions to reflect that.

In other words they will have only one message, except if they have two or twenty. That will help the audience focus.

And what do you know. A blast from the past. The Students For A Democratic Society will be involved. You may be more familiar with their radical offshoot The Weathermen. You may also recall that a couple of Weathermen, Bernadine Dohrn and William Ayres, helped give Obama a political boost early in his political career. That reminder should give Obama's campaign a real leg up just when he needs it, going into the general election.

Gateway has also provided a list of the organizations who have endorsed the protest action at the Republican National Convention so far.

ACTIVATE (Grand Rapids, MI Students for a Democratic Society - SDS) * Anarchist Black Cross Para-Legal Services ( * Animas SDS (Colorado) * Anti-Authoritarians Anonymous (Milwaukee) * Asheville Rising Tide * Athens, OH SDS * Attentat Collective * Bash Back! * Brainerd Anarchists ( * Chicago Anarchist Black Cross (PO Box 1544, Chicago, IL 60690) * CrimethInc. Far East * Delaware SDS * End to Apathy * Frederick Progressive Action Coalition * HammerHard MediaWorks * Industrial Workers of the World - NYC GMB Branch * International Solidarity Movement - Chicago Chapter * Iowa Organizing Against the RNC * MKE to RNC * Milwaukee Anarchist Black Cross * Milwaukee Anti-Racist Action * NC State SDS * Northeast Anarchist Network * Northwest Indiana Anarchist Black Cross (PO Box 1511, Portage, IN 46368) * People's Networking Convention Organizing Committee * Potomac Earth First! * Queer Action Network * Rising Tide North America * RNC Welcoming Committee * Rolling Thunder magazine * Sabot Infosquat * Shepherdstown Progressive Action Committee * Tacoma SDS - UPS Chapte * Talking Tree Infoshop * Tuscarora High SDS * UA Central NC * UA in the Bay * UCLA SDS * Unconventional Denver
It really looks like some one is trying to engineer a return to 1968.

Rove you magnificent bastard.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 04:33 PM | Comments (2)

Dean Speaks

Here is something interesting Howard Dean, head of the Democrat Party, had to say a while back.

"The real issue is this, Who would you rather have in charge of the defense of the United States of America, a group of people who never served a day overseas in their life, or a guy who served his country honorably and has three Purple Hearts and a Silver Star on the battlefields of Vietnam?"
John McCain, was awarded the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, two Bronze Star Medals, a Purple Heart and the Distinguished Flying Cross.

H/T Just One Minute

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 09:46 AM | Comments (11)

Waiting for the Barbarians

What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?

The barbarians are to arrive today.

Why such inaction in the Senate?
Why do the Senators sit and pass no laws?

Because the barbarians are to arrive today.
What laws can the Senators pass any more?
When the barbarians come they will make the laws.

Why did our emperor wake up so early,
and sits at the greatest gate of the city,
on the throne, solemn, wearing the crown?

Because the barbarians are to arrive today.
And the emperor waits to receive
their chief. Indeed he has prepared
to give him a scroll. Therein he inscribed
many titles and names of honor.

Why have our two consuls and the praetors come out
today in their red, embroidered togas;
why do they wear amethyst-studded bracelets,
and rings with brilliant, glittering emeralds;
why are they carrying costly canes today,
wonderfully carved with silver and gold?

Because the barbarians are to arrive today,
and such things dazzle the barbarians.

Why don't the worthy orators come as always
to make their speeches, to have their say?

Because the barbarians are to arrive today;
and they get bored with eloquence and orations.

Why all of a sudden this unrest
and confusion. (How solemn the faces have become).
Why are the streets and squares clearing quickly,
and all return to their homes, so deep in thought?

Because night is here but the barbarians have not come.
And some people arrived from the borders,
and said that there are no longer any barbarians.

And now what shall become of us without any barbarians?
Those people were some kind of solution.

Constantine P. Cavafy (1904)

posted by Simon at 07:53 AM | Comments (0)

Gay crackpots join war on sex

Unbelievable as the above title may seem, I'm afraid it's true.

Reading that I was in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Sean Kinsell emailed me a link to an Amy Alkon post which discusses an unbelievable story.

A local Ann Arbor hamburger restaurant is called "Quickie Burger" and their logo shows a not-even-scantily clad girl riding a hamburger, rodeo style. (Harmless and innocuous stuff by any reasonable standard.)

Incredibly, the logo has upset a gay student group at the University of Michigan, because, claims leader Kolby Roberts, the sign is "offensive" and "objectifies women." So they've started a petition drive to force the owner to change it:

The Stonewall Democrats, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender caucus of the University's College Democrats chapter, has taken offense with the restaurant's logo and recently began circulating a petition to sway the owners to change the logo.

LSA senior Kolby Roberts, a member of the Stonewall Democrats who has led the effort, said he finds the logo's message inappropriate and offensive.

"I have a problem that you take a women riding a hamburger and you put it next to the word 'quickie,' " he said. "It just seems like it's not putting a good message out there for the objectification of women."

Maria Arman, whose family owns the restaurant, said the logo was meant to invoke a cowboy theme.

"We were thinking beef, rodeo, so instead of putting a cowboy, we just picked a cowgirl," she said. "It's a rodeo-style cowgirl riding a bull, but instead, it's a burger. It was put together to be funny and different. No offense was meant to anyone."

Before selecting a logo for the restaurant, which features a maize and blue color scheme with televisions tuned to ESPN on the interior, the owners showed the logo to more than 100 people and none of them objected, Arman said.

"The people who we talked to told us, 'It's a college town and the kids will think its funny,'" she said.

LSA freshman Dan Yeomans said while he wasn't personally offended by the logo, he could see how others might interpret it in a negative way.

"I could see the same people who were offended by the South Quad T-shirts taking offense to this," said Yeomans, referring to a batch of dorm-sponsored shirts that featured lyrics from the popular, but controversial Soulja Boy song "Crank That."

Roberts said he believed the image was distasteful, regardless of the person.

"Basically, what it has is a provocatively dressed woman straddling a hamburger, and she's very busty and its kind of really horrible," he said.

I'd be willing to bet that many anti-porn sex warriors would agree with this gay crackpot. They'd say it was a typical example of how degraded and decadent "the culture" has become, and they'd probably agree about women being "objectified." Like most activists, anti-sex activists have no sense of humor.

Of course, I'm assuming that Kolby Roberts would also object to a sexy man riding a burger in an, um, "objectifying" manner. ("We have nice buns" comes to mind.) Or that the group would be just as upset by the same sign at a burger joint operated by lesbians.

Otherwise, he and his group are simply hypocrites.

But hypocrites or not, they are scolding and judging adult humans for what they do with their genitals -- something I find shocking coming from any gay person.

While it would be a bit of a stretch for me to assert that this "Stonewall" group typifies the sorry state of gay activism today, I can remember a time when gay activism (and most gays) wholeheartedly supported an outmoded concept I still support but which is in ever shorter supply -- something called sexual freedom.

This attempt to bully an honest mom-and-pop business is a grotesque display of heavy-handed, humorless gay Stalinism (a term I think Camille Paglia coined), and I'm inclined to agree with what Amy Alkon said:

Clearly, Kolby spends his nights curled up with Andrea Dworkin (the printed version, that is, since the old cow mooed her last not long ago).
(Doesn't sound very "gay," does it?)

Whatever the motivation of these people might be, it's an attempt to tyrannize a small business owner and it just pushed my buttons, so I thought I'd drive down and check the place out.

Here's the building from the outside, with the "offensive" logo on the awnings:


It "objectifies" no one, and i's not offensive at all. What offends me is that anyone would think it's offensive.

While I arrived in the mid-afternoon (normally a sleepy time for restaurants), there was nonetheless an enthusiastic-looking line inside, and I noticed that the employees were wearing very cool T-shirts with the same design!


Here's part of the menu:


I talked to a couple of the employees, and they told me that the controversy has been great for business, with almost everyone supporting them.

I had a nice talk with the owner, a good natured Armenian American who said his name was "Arman," and whose bottom line couldn't have been expressed more articulately or simply:

"This is America."

He told me that calls of support had come in from all over the country, and that he had no intention of taking down or altering the sign. I congratulated him, told him I was just visiting from Philadelphia, and explained that I supported him and Quickie Burger wholeheartedly, but I'd already eaten. I explained that I had a blog and asked if he could sell me one of the T-shirts the employees were wearing. He explained that they really weren't ready to start selling them officially yet, but he'd made an exception in my case, so he went to the back and got one for me. Thanking him for his trouble, I paid for the shirt and took it back. Here I am, shamelessly modeling the T-shirt in my hotel room for my camera's delay shutter:



Here's their business card:


I hope these activists have helped Arman and his business with their tactics. No revenge is sweeter than success.


(Maybe I should have titled this post "Fighting gay antiburger bigots! Been there. Done that. Got the T Shirt.")

UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for linking this post, and a warm welcome (from the road) to all!

And (via Glenn) Gay Patriot weighs in:

...if he objects to the objectification of woman, he must also (favoring gender equality) oppose the objectification of men. So, therefore, I would assume he's leading the charge against ads for gay bars, sexy photographs in gay magazines and any other media representation of scantily clad men designed to appeal to men like us who find such images alluring. And I trust he's been leading a boycott of Abercrombie & Fitch, given how that clothing company's ads "objectifies" young men.
Don't miss Sean Kinsell's post on this subject:
Please. No gay man on Earth is in any position to be complaining about others' sexually objectifying anyone. Sorry. Just, no. You can complain that it's inappropriate in a given context, but that would require more precise thinking. It would also require thinking about manners and the evolution of beneficial social mores and stuff, and you might end up saying something judgmental.
Read it all. Not that it should be necessary, but Sean (who tipped me off to this outrage while I was in Ann Arbor) also expresses the following concern:
...some of your commenters (not that this reflects on you at all!) are falling into the old "Nutcases who march in pride parades do wacko things...ergo all other queers are just like them!" routine. Plenty of us are self-aware and self-critical like normal people, guys.
I don't blame Sean. I'd also I'd be pretty upset if people assumed I was threatened by an innocuous image of a girl riding a hamburger.

Why, it's a small step from imputing "heteronormative" hamburger paranoia to assuming gays belong on the left!

posted by Eric at 06:34 PM | Comments (35)

Duke University Is Being Sued

Duke University is being sued by 38 Lacrosse players for damages and emotional distress due to the University's involvement in the case. The charges include defamation of character. The University Hospital is also being sued.

The Lacrosse players have a www site that Duke is asking the judge to take down, not because any information on the site is incorrect but, because the site is "incendiary". Jamie Gorelick is one of the lawyers for Duke as is the son of Robert Bork.

Update: 29 March 008 2347z

In the comments Robert Bork Jr. informs me that he represents the players in a public relations capacity. I stand corrected.

posted by Simon at 05:15 PM | Comments (3)

Real conservatives want their party to lose, but only to Hillary!

On Wednesday I listened to Rush Limbaugh devote two segments of his show to bashing primarily two people: Barack Obama and John McCain.

Considering his longstanding antipathy to McCain, and his urging of Republicans to vote for Hillary, and considering that the polls show Obama is easier for McCain to beat, it strikes me that Limbaugh does not want McCain to win. I realize that he does not speak for all Republicans, but there is a fairly sizeable contingent of hard core McCain haters who have long maintained that they Absolutely Will Not Vote for McCain. When I was supporting Fred Thompson, I worried that some in the anti-McCain wing -- especially the angry pledge taker types -- might be cementing themselves into positions they might regret later.

Am I off base (ugh, that word!) in speculating that Obama might be causing them to have serious second thoughts? Because, if you think about it, for those McCain haters who are also Obama haters, sitting it out as they promised they would look less and less attractive.

And what about those who advocated -- who seriously advocated -- voting for Hillary against McCain? Are they going to vote for Obama? Or are they now facing the unpleasant possibility that Obama might be less palatable than McCain?

In addition to this, I think there's an emergent conservative Republican paradox: Obama is making Hillary Clinton downright attractive to conservatives.

This is crazy, and it is something Hillary never could have done. I can remember when she was the She Devil incarnate, and the mere mention of her name would sent any red-meater into a frothing, foam-flecked frenzy. But look at the stages they've gone through. First, they saw McCain -- the epitome of a base-betraying RINO -- actually win. Meanwhile, cheap demagogues like Ann Coulter softened them to vote for Hillary against McCain, and while Rush Limbaugh only urged them to vote for her "strategically," I think this has had a corrupting effect on that group called "the base." It's human instinct to defend what you've done, and by voting for Hillary once, many people will defend that vote.

Add Obama hysteria to the mix, and little wonder the old-fashioned conservative Hillary hatred has almost entirely dissipated. Right now (save a few cranks like me), most of the criticism of Hillary is coming from the Obama left. (This will most likely generate more sympathy for her, and with any luck, red-meat conservatives will start seeing her as a quasi-Lieberman.

There's nothing logical about this, as Hillary has not changed. She remains what she has been all along: a corrupt and venal socialist, and her campaign is a Peronist style end-run around the 22nd Amendment.

So, I worry that the driving force behind some of the current opposition to Obama is stuff is that the anti-McCain "sit it out" Republicans find him wholly, terrifyingly unacceptable. They fear that if Obama is the candidate, it will wreak havoc with their "sit it out" or "vote for Hillary" strategy, so they're in a panic. They would hate to have to swallow their pride and get behind McCain, so they're fighting Obama with everything they've got.

What makes this even crazier is that if Obama is the candidate, all signs point to him being easier for McCain to defeat. Perfect example:

"PRINCETON, NJ -- A sizable proportion of Democrats would vote for John McCain next November if he is matched against the candidate they do not support for the Democratic nomination. This is particularly true for Hillary Clinton supporters, more than a quarter of whom currently say they would vote for McCain if Barack Obama is the Democratic nominee."
Not only do most polls show Hillary doing better against McCain than Obama, but the McCain campaign (whose job it is to analyze these things) understands clearly that for a variety of reasons, Obama is the easier candidate to beat:
"The conventional wisdom among Republicans is that they would much rather run against Clinton than Obama. But McCain insiders see Obama as more vulnerable to McCain than Clinton in the West, partly because of the Hispanic vote -- in California, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico."
OK, so assume for the sake of argument that Obama is easier to beat than Hillary.

Wouldn't any reasonable person think that Republicans who want to win in November would be positively jubilant at the prospect of having him as the nominee? Instead, some of them seem terrified of the prospect of Obama being on the ticket.


What gives?

What could possibly explain such irrationality?

I mean, if we test out this theory by applying it to the other side, let us suppose that through some combination of factors Huckabee instead of McCain were poised to be the Republican nominee, and that all the polls and statistics showed that he was likely to lose in the fall. The Democrats would be delighted, ecstatic, even. The last thing they would do would be to attempt to derail Huckabee before he had clinched the nomination.

This is not to say that the attacks on him wouldn't come later, and quite viciously, but for now, they'd mostly be quiet, holding their breath and keeping their fingers crossed.

Yet counterintuively, the closer Obama gets to the nomination, the more the Republicans freak out.

As to what's going on, the explanation that makes the most sense is that hatred of Obama is being coupled with hatred of McCain -- especially in the minds of those who want McCain to lose, and who believe he will lose.

Once again, I worry that the problem is with this fanatic, hard-core, loser wing of the GOP.

It wasn't enough to lose Congress, and I think they badly want McCain lose this race -- but their outrageous and childish demand is that he must lose it to Hillary, a trusted (and above all, profitable) old enemy.

As far as I've seen, none of the angry Republicans who declared for Hillary have ventured that they'd vote for Obama -- because they wouldn't. I think that if McCain loses to Obama after they sit it out, they'll be unable to live with themselves. So they are having an absolute fit.

This can be called many things, but it's hardly a victory strategy.

Quite the opposite.

Let me be blunt here: I think the GOP loser wing is engaged in treachery to their own party.

The irony is that they'd call me a RINO. And not just for the crime of wanting the Republican Party to win. But for a reason I find astonishing:

For not supporting Hillary Clinton!

I admit I'm very cynical. I've seen a lot of crazy things in politics, and for years I've been predicting that Hillary would be depending on the right wing to win.

But I never thought I'd live to see anything like this.

AFTERTHOUGHT: I hope this post doesn't sound too dark, because I think there might be bright side once all these shenanigans have subsided...

The conventional wisdom used to be that Hillary Clinton was the great uniter of the GOP. The way things are going now, Barack Obama may be (assuming he becomes the candidate) on the verge of doing what Hillary Clinton could not have done -- unite the conservatives behind McCain.

(I don't know how much more irony I can take....)

posted by Eric at 12:22 PM | Comments (11)

Fitna The Movie

There are Muslims fighting against this brand of Islam. Muslims Against Sharia, where I have posting privileges, is one. I'm Jewish and that is well known to the group. I highly recommend a visit to their site. It is a fountain of wisdom and tolerance. I note that it has taken a while but, true moderate Muslims are rising up against the haters.

HT Hot Air. Hot Air has a lively comment section on the subject. Live Leak also has an active comment section on the video.

Now if only we could get some Americans to moderate their views similarly, we might have more progress in the "can't we all get along" project.

Update: as you can see the movie has been pulled. However (for as long as it lasts) there is a version up at Youtube. HT LGF. The video is also being hosted by Say Anything. Google also has the video. HT Instapundit.

posted by Simon at 09:21 AM | Comments (52)

spirited fun in the snowy spring

I've been in the air and on the road all day, and only now have I been able to get online, for a few minutes of questionable Wifi time.

Right now I'm visiting Ann Arbor, Michigan, which is being hit by what seems like a small blizzard. Something I didn't expect to see this time of year...


Has Al Gore been here recently or something?

Heading downtown towards the campus, a few sights as I was driving.

A fraternity:


An incredibly cool Victorian funeral home, which the sign said was founded in 1852:


I'm sure that both the fraternity house and the funeral home were full of spirits, although of different varieties.

So in the spirit of things, I visited this store:


And brought back something to make me feel roguish:


Blogging will be erratic and spotty until Tuesday.

UPDATE: Geez, look at what I've been missing!

And to think that I imagined Hillary was lying!

Shame on me.

(I need another Rogue!)

posted by Eric at 10:56 PM | Comments (1)

A God For Us

Dr. James Hal Cone is one of the leading lights behind the Black Liberation Theology that Obama's Pastor Rev. Wright espouses. Here is some of what he believes:

* "Black theology refuses to accept a God who is not identified totally with the goals of the black community. If God is not for us and against white people, then he is a murderer, and we had better kill him."

* "All white men are responsible for white oppression."

* "While it is true that blacks do hate whites, black hatred is not racism."

* "Theologically, Malcolm X was not far wrong when he called the white man "the devil.""

* "The black theologian must reject any conception of God which stifles black self-determination by picturing God as a God of all peoples."

* "We have had too much of white love, the love that tells blacks to turn the other cheek and go the second mile. What we need is the divine love as expressed in black power, which is the power of blacks to destroy their oppressors, here and now, by any means at their disposal."

The more you know about Rev. Wright's theology the less you like it, except in some circles.

Go Obama!

You might also like Liberation Theology and this video of James Cone in his own words.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 06:21 PM | Comments (11)

Another Class

There is another class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs -- partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs....There is a certain class of race-problem solvers who do not want the patient to get well, because as long as the disease holds out they have not only an easy means of making a living, but also an easy medium through which to make themselves prominent before the public.

- Booker T. Washington

posted by Simon at 04:29 AM | Comments (7)

Another vicious right wing smear against a small child!

It's probably not very wise of me to do this, but since Ace and all those nice people have been defending Hillary against her "lies," I thought I should at least try to be fair, and take a crack at defending Obama against his "lies."

Glenn Reynolds links this from Hot Air:

"Barack Obama has promised a new kind of politics. Unfortunately, he has the same problems with calculating birth dates as Hillary does. In his speech commemorating the 42nd anniversary of the march on Selma, Alabama, he credited the march with his existence -- even though he was almost 4 years old at the time."
OK wait a second! Obama was lying about stuff which happened when he was only four years old, right? Surely we cannot hold a four year old to the same standards as a first lady commando in Bosnia, can we? How could baby Obama have known when he was four years old whether or at what point people had marched in Selma?

Here are the unfair details from Hot Air:

The first march on Selma took place on March 7, 1965 (there were three of them). At the time, Barack Obama was three and a half years old. Now, Obama also mentions the Birmingham march as part of this speech -- but that took place in May 1963. Obama would have been 20 months old when Dr. King led that demonstration.

That's not the only bit of fabulism here. Obama's birthdate is August 4, 1961. It doesn't take a doctor or a math whiz to calculate his conception as sometime in 1960 -- before John Kennedy took office. In fact, it might have taken place on Election Day, when Kennedy won the presidency. That would tend to indicate that Mom and Dad met sometime before the African airlift that Obama credits for his birth.

See? There was no way for him to really know what happened when he was three and a half -- much less 20 months old. And as to what happened before he was born, if he wasn't born yet, then what difference does that make?

It's like, how could a little four year old or a 20 month old keep his dates straight or know who or what to credit for his existence? To say nothing of an unborn baby!

I'm telling you, this time, they've gone too far!

Really, what kind of mean-spirited people would attack unborn babies over stuff that hasn't happened yet?

posted by Eric at 06:28 PM | Comments (1)

"This has been a very long campaign"

How many ways are there for me to say how sick to death I am of this, this sordid excuse for a campaign? Campaign, hell. It's as if there's a permanent national election, and I've been complaining about it for so long that I've forgotten when it started or when I started complaining about it.

Complaining in blog posts is a cheap form of therapy but still, I try to accept reality. While my biggest fear from day one has been that those awful Clintons might some day be returned to the White House, I have clung for dear life to my denial, and I still hope that they won't. But like a pair of twin Jasons from the movie Halloween, they just keep popping up and popping up. There is no stopping the Clintons and their driven, zombie-like relentlessness.

This is not to say that I support Barack Obama. There's one thing after another that's wrong with him, with more every day, and more to come after that. (The latest -- that his military advisor General McPeak is anti-Israel -- is something I find very disturbing.)

I understand the concerns over Obama, but few people who have themselves worked up into a lather are taking the time to think about how and why the Obama phenomenon came to happen.

In a word, timing.

By starting her campaign way, waaay too early, Hillary Clinton caused people to be way sicker of her than they would have been had she started the campaign at the normal time. She did this because she thought America would need time to get used to the idea (or get over the shock, depending on your point of view) of having a woman as president. But as issues and ideas go, having a woman in the White House is not quite as much of a thing to get used to as the reality of this particular woman, who is not just a woman, but the Clintons. Many Americans -- and in particular, many American politicians and political people on both sides -- were fatigued after eight years of the Clintons, and would just as soon have forgotten about them completely the way one forgets a bad dream.

What Hillary failed to anticipate was that by starting her campaign far too early, she would reactivate the dormant Clinton fatigue might have seemed to have been laid in its natural political grave. A grave which, it's worth remembering, the 22nd Amendment is supposed to ensure. But the 22nd Amendment failed in the case of the Clintons when Hillary's campaign resurrected them as a political force.

Getting used to the Clintons again is not the same thing as getting used to the concept of a woman president. The Clinton resurrection made the fact of Hillary's sex only a secondary feature. It was the resurrection of the Clintons that became the primary feature.

And here's where Hillary's math was wrong: the Clinton resurrection wasn't something to get used to, as it was the resurrection of Clinton fatigue -- something people were sick of.

Not only that, but it was a premature resurrection. She should have waited, but she didn't. Instead, she gave the fatigue plenty of time to trickle down and reach into every home like a thick and overpowering fog -- until at last every American family was thinking not "Hey, a woman in the White House!" but "Oh, the Clintons again," and "Oh the Clintons again." Over and over.

There's a fine line between "getting used to" and "getting sick of," but the Clinton campaign missed it completely.

And there was Obama -- a new, refreshingly fresh face offering a way out of all that prematurely resurrected but still smoldering Clinton fatigue.

OK, that's my fix on this, and I know I'm repeating myself. What set me off this morning was to read more about Hillary's latest explanation of the lie that she had come under sniper fire in Bosnia (the story won't die gracefully because, as might be expected, military leaders and Secret Service officials have been put on the defensive):

Clinton began retracting the remarks in a series of private interviews Monday and Tuesday before addressing about two dozen reporters here after a speech.

She told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "I was sleep-deprived, and I misspoke."

She told KDKA radio in Pittsburgh: "You know, I have written about this and described it in many different settings, and I did misspeak the other day. This has been a very long campaign."

Well, yes.

And who's fault is that?

(I'm thinking that conservatives who fear an Obama presidency might want to ask the same question, but that's another topic....)

UPDATE: Commenter Van Helsing points out that Jason was in Friday 13, and not Halloween. My mistake.

There's also some discussion of when the Hillary campaign began. I don't honestly know how that would be measured. Officially, she announced in January of 2007, but she was raising money through the "Friends of Hillary" for some time before that, and there were financial irregulaties reported at least as early as March of 06.

Official or unofficial, her campaign has been going on for years, and many say it dates back to her first Senate run.

posted by Eric at 08:52 AM | Comments (10)

Jeremiah Wright's Theology Mentor

H/T Baldilocks

posted by Simon at 08:03 AM | Comments (0)

I Just Don't Get It

The Jews have the right idea.

Never forget what happened in Germany.

Never hold present day Germans (other than the haters) responsible for the sins of their ancestors.

That is what is so toxic about Wright. Did he thank the dead of Gettysburg for their sacrifice on his behalf?

Did he thank the Jews for their unwavering anti-racism? For their early support of the NAACP?

I drank out of a Colored Only water fountain when I was five (I knew what it meant and it offended me). My best friend in high school (drinking buddy) was black. I could go on. I can honestly say I don't have a racist bone in my body.

So why am I being held responsible for the racists in America? Most of whom are by now gone or out of power any way. BTW I'm a member of the original anti-slavery party. The party that first stood against slavery. A Republican. Why is that a dirty word in most of the black community? After the Civil War most blacks were Republicans. Why can't Wright remember that? There is so much else he has no trouble remembering.

How about the original KKK Party - the Democrats. How about the original surrender to the slave states party? The Democrats?

Does the Rev Wright want to build bridges and make alliances or just spew? What ever fills the collection plate, eh?

Obama will never, never, ever get my vote. The Jews are deserting the Dems en mass over Obama/Wright.

I just don't get it. Probably because I'm too white and too Jewish.

Let me remind you also of the "Battle Hymn of The Republic". Just in case you think anti-slavery did not motivate the Northern troops.

Do you think they might sing that at Wright's church?

It is the closing song at Republican Party conventions.

And yet we are being accused of being the racist party. I don't get it.

Obama/Wright has done a better job of denying the black community allies than David Duke could ever have done. Is a simple "Thank you for your sacrifice" too much to ask?

Jews are eternally grateful for what America did in WW2 (even though it could have possibly done more). Where is the love that Jesus preached - at least love for black allies, let alone enemies?

I just don't get it.

Prompted by A Dream Defeated.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 11:22 PM | Comments (12)

Neocongenital disorder?
Americans of all political persuasions are coming to the sad realization that our first lady - a woman of undoubted talents who was a role model for many in her generation - is a congenital liar.

-- William Safire, Jan. 1996

Apparently, this realization has faded.

I was startled when earlier I saw Glenn's link to a very spirited defense of Hillary's "coming in under sniper fire" remark.

"Hillary told the truth, and all the dishonest hacks and hate-filled liars and Caesarist bootlickers saying otherwise can go hang. . . . Her Story's Still Changing: But so what, Right Wing Haters? It's just getting better, more truthful, and more filled with pulse-pounding action-adventure and executive experience with each retelling."
But my startlement turned to shock and dismay when I saw that the above was said by Ace, of all people.

What happened? Has Ace been turned? Did Gleen Grenwald finally get to him? What could be going on with a statement like that coming from Ace?

And even if we assume that Ace has been turned, why would Glenn be linking it?

Wanting to know more, I used the clever trick suggested by experts on the Glenn Reynolds style of passive aggressive linking techniques: I went to Ace's home page, and I began to scroll.

Surely, I thought, this must be some kind of joke. (After all, Ace has never been known for praising Hillary.)

No! No! No! Not a joke at all! Why, in another post (titled "When It's Too Dangerous For the President, Send the First Lady") Ace links with approval an analysis arguing that "Hillary did not lie":

Yes, we understand that people have bad memories. Yes, we are reconciled to the fact that politicians often have conveniently bad memories. But Hillary has an excellent memory, and furthermore she wasn't lying.
I'm shocked.

Shocked, I tell you!

But I'm sorry I quoted Safire. And I'm sorry I said Hillary lied about NAFTAgate. Because even if she lied, there had to be either an explanation or a justification of some sort.

Hillary is probably a congenital unliar. (Besides, what sort of mean-spirited wordsmith would ever use a word that looks like someone put "con" in front of "genital" to describe a First Lady he should have known would some day be running for president?)

The more I thought it over, the more I thought I should atone by requoting William Safire to reflect the better reality better reflect reality:

Americans of all political persuasions are coming to the... realization that our first lady - a woman of undoubted talents ... was a role model for many in her generation.
Hey, those are his words, right?

I should take Ace more seriously more often. (How I hate it when these right-wing conspirators force me to be passive aggressive!)

But alas!

Now that I've apologized and corrected history, I see that the unprincipled haters at Daily Kos are accusing Hillary of even more lying -- the new lie, ironically, coming from the very explanation she gave to the Philadelphia Daily News explaining the last lie:

Clinton yesterday acknowledged to the Philadelphia Daily News that there was what she called a "minor blip" in her account of the visit.

"I went to 80 countries, you know," she told the paper's editorial board. "I gave contemporaneous accounts, I wrote about a lot of this in my book. You know, I think that, a minor blip, you know, if I said something that, you know, I say a lot of things -- millions of words a day -- so if I misspoke, that was just a misstatement." (Emphasis added.)

If you can imagine such mean-spiritedness, the cruel Kosacks are actually saying that it is impossible to utter even one million words per day -- much less "millions":
....Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire had over 191,000 words in it. In addition, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix had over 255,000 words in it. So unless you talk really really fast, you wouldn't even get through 500,000 words in two days, let alone one.

But there's an even better example out there: The Bible. I don't think there's ANYONE out there who can claim to read the Bible cover-to-cover in a day. And how many words does it have?

Number of Old Testament Words (Hebrew) = 306,375
Number of New Testament Words (Greek) = 138,020
Total Number of Words in the Bible = 444,395
Hillary, I'm sorry, but it simply can't be done. You have been exposed as a serial exaggerator. Your hemming and hawing over your Bosnia trip throws all of your claims of experience out the window. Let's look at the facts: you had no security clearance in the Clinton Administration. Most of your time on trips overseas with Bill was spent with the wives of presidents and prime ministers. You did not play an important role in the Northern Ireland peace process. You were not a factor in SCHIP. You had nothing to do with the FMLA. You were a cheerleader FOR NAFTA.
Well, even if it's true, since when does Daily Kos cite the Bible to prove a point, anyway? Doesn't a source like that undermine their entire claim?

What's really going on?

I'm telling you, things is getting krazy.

Next I'll be wondering whether I was completely serious in this post!

(I do know this: were I one of Hillary's handlers, I'd be trying to shut her up fast, before she undoes her recent advantage completely.)

MORE: Check out this inspiring and heroic video!

MORE: The book!


UPDATE: OH YES! My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for linking to "linking with approval!"

This is not to suggest that Glenn actually approves of linking with approval, mind you. In order to understand the nuances of what linking to linking with approval means, you'd have to ask the expert(s) in Brazil, for only (t)he(y) can discern the true meanings and root causes of the "deeply irrational and incoherent" methodology and bigoted "cultural tribalism" involved.

Welcome everyone. All comments gleefully approved! (Yes, even from sock puppets.)

UPDATE: More from former Clinton Svengali Dick Morris:

Interviewed on the "Today" show one week after 9/11, she spun an elaborate yarn. The kindest thing we could say was that it was a fantasy. Or a fabrication.

She said that Chelsea was jogging around the World Trade Center on 9/11 and happened to duck into a coffee shop when the airplanes hit. She said that this move saved Chelsea's life. But Chelsea told Talk magazine that she was in a friend's apartment four miles from ground zero when the first plane hit. Her friend called her, waking her up, and told her to turn on the TV. On television, she saw the second plane hit, disproving Hillary's claim that "she heard the plane hit. She heard it. She did."

So why did Hillary make up the story about Chelsea? Most likely to was because her co-senator (and implicit rival for the voter's affection), a real New Yorker Chuck Schumer spoke of his daughter, who attended Stuyvesant High School (Dick's alma mater) located next to the TRade Center, being at real risk on 9/11. Hillary needed to make herself part of the scene.

She invented the entire story on national television, the "Today" show, and didn't blink an eye.

Her fabrication on the "Today" show was no unique foray. It is her standard M.O.. It gives us pause in evaluating all of her stories and calls into question her entire credibility.

Hey, Justin just asked, "wasn't that Hillary on Mount Suribachi"?

So little time. So many revisions!

MORE: Do not miss "Hillary's True Lies," by Rick Moran at Pajamas Media:

only a Clinton could "misspeak" while telling a whopper of a tall tale to demonstrate superiority over a rival and then have the unmitigated chutzpah to add that such "mistakes" in not telling the truth are as rare as hen's teeth.

What this little morality tale will do to the campaign is remind Democratic voters of just what it is about the Clinton's that everybody marveled at during their 8 years in office; their spectacular ability to lie without batting an eyelash or showing any remorse when the lie was exposed.

Read it all.

posted by Eric at 06:23 PM | Comments (8)

Quick as a link, you're in the clink!

I hate it when I click on links and don't find what I want. Plenty of times I click on the wrong link. Or a dead link. Or I'll get those infuriating popups which sometimes hang my machine.

But imagine if they made clicking on the wrong link a crime!

Well, they have, or at least, the FBI has taken it upon itself to arrest people in pre-dawn raids for what they say is the crime of clicking the wrong link:

The FBI has recently adopted a novel investigative technique: posting hyperlinks that purport to be illegal videos of minors having sex, and then raiding the homes of anyone willing to click on them.

Undercover FBI agents used this hyperlink-enticement technique, which directed Internet users to a clandestine government server, to stage armed raids of homes in Pennsylvania, New York, and Nevada last year. The supposed video files actually were gibberish and contained no illegal images.

A CNET review of legal documents shows that courts have approved of this technique, even though it raises questions about entrapment, the problems of identifying who's using an open wireless connection--and whether anyone who clicks on a FBI link that contains no child pornography should be automatically subject to a dawn raid by federal police.

They could post these links, or send them out (or they could be resent to everyone on someone's mailing list), and innocent or clueless idiots might click on them without any idea that their IP numbers were being sent straight into an FBI computer, and that a search warrant would be issued.

The scariest part is that the FBI does not even care where the link-clickers got the links. Anyone might have emailed or posted them:

When anyone visited the site, the FBI recorded the Internet Protocol address of the remote computer. There's no evidence the referring site was recorded as well, meaning the FBI couldn't tell if the visitor found the links through Ranchi or another source such as an e-mail message.

With the logs revealing those allegedly incriminating IP addresses in hand, the FBI sent administrative subpoenas to the relevant Internet service provider to learn the identity of the person whose name was on the account--and then obtained search warrants for dawn raids.

And of course, once they've forced their way into your home, anything you've got becomes fair game:
The search warrants authorized FBI agents to seize and remove any "computer-related" equipment, utility bills, telephone bills, any "addressed correspondence" sent through the U.S. mail, video gear, camera equipment, checkbooks, bank statements, and credit card statements.
Can this be legal? Would any American court dare actually say that a mere click on a link justifies such a raid on someone's home? Oh yes they would! Read and weep:
While it might seem that merely clicking on a link wouldn't be enough to justify a search warrant, courts have ruled otherwise. On March 6, U.S. District Judge Roger Hunt in Nevada agreed with a magistrate judge that the hyperlink-sting operation constituted sufficient probable cause to justify giving the FBI its search warrant.

The defendant in that case, Travis Carter, suggested that any of the neighbors could be using his wireless network. (The public defender's office even sent out an investigator who confirmed that dozens of homes were within Wi-Fi range.)

But the magistrate judge ruled that even the possibilities of spoofing or other users of an open Wi-Fi connection "would not have negated a substantial basis for concluding that there was probable cause to believe that evidence of child pornography would be found on the premises to be searched." Translated, that means the search warrant was valid.

In other words, not only does it not matter where or how you got the link you clicked, you don't even have to have clicked it!

Some asshole drive-by stranger could have done it!

The possibilities of abuse are enormous, to say the least.

When link clicking is criminalized, we are all at risk. I don't care whether they manage to entrap the worst child molester in the world this way; that does not justify the risk of harm to a totally clueless person.

In fact, those who imagine they have nothing to fear because they're "not into that stuff" might be more at risk than actual pedophiles, as they're less likely to be cautious. If someone dared me to click a link, I'd probably click it. (Frankly, I don't think it should ever be a crime to click on a link, because of the possibility of abuse alone.)

What kind of person would set up a hyperlink system that could trap the unwary into clicking links? These scumbuckets are worse than Nigerian spammers, and if it isn't nipped in the bud, they'll probably resort to mass spammings in order to trap more people, and increase their damned budgets.

What kind of government would allow this to go on?

They call this law enforcement? These people are behaving like Soviet apparatchiks.

I'm not on the left, and I abhor socialism, but things like this make me want to write out a check right away and send it to the ACLU.

Some of what passes for law enforcement in this country is sickening.

MORE: Commenter John Burgess links a post by Orin Kerr, which has drawn some excellent comments. Like this:

>"First, presuming the affidavit includes some expert testimony about how unlikely it would be for someone to be at that site if they weren't looking for kiddie porn, and the practice for persons searching for kiddie porn to store it on their home computers, I think there is pretty obviously probable cause here. "

This argues otherwise:

"There's no evidence the referring site was recorded as well, meaning the FBI couldn't tell if the visitor found the links through Ranchi or another source such as an e-mail message."

In fact, logging the referrer header is *standard* with most web server report generators. You have to do some configuration to exclude it. So they don't know if those
hits were from people visiting that site or not.

>"if the FBI searched the house and didn't find kiddie porn, that would be the end of it."

Sure it is. Let's see - you've lost all of your electronic devices and financial records for some indeterminate time (they're going to keep examining your drives looking for *something*). Your reputation is shot - your arrest is front-page news (at least in your local community). Good luck trying to find a new job with that publicity over your head. Even clearly-innocent people never escape from the stigma, and especially from this particular accusation.

So no, they don't have to convict you to utterly ruin your life.

>"I don't think that anyone would argue that clicking on the link is a crime (at least one that anyone would care to prosecute)"

And yet that's exactly what happened.

"From the FBI's perspective, clicking on the illicit hyperlink and having a thumbs.db file with illicit images are *both* serious crimes"

It seems the FBI disagrees with you.

The really scary thing is how open this is to abuse by malicious third-parties. It's apparent from this episode, as well as the "swatting" incidents, the LE agents are fairly easy to manipulate. Just feed them information that re-enforces their preconceptions about a situation, and watch them wreak havoc on your target. And with immunity from civil action, there is no effective mechanism to correct the problem.

Kerr's post may make legal sense (although there's much debate about that), but assuming he is right, then the law is wrong, and I'm inclined to agree with this comment from Gary McGath:
Legally you may be right, but morally it's entrapment -- luring people into committing a technical crime in order to arrest them -- nonetheless. The idea that viewing an image can be a crime is outrageous in itself. This takes it a step further, making a crime of attempting to view a non-existent image. The only purpose this serves is to put people in jail.
And this:

The FBI that is.

And people wonder why there is an ever larger segment of the nation with a deep abiding and visceral hatred for the government and anyone connected with it.

It just plain stinks.

The irony is that predators who go out and commit actual crimes against real children can feel a bit safer, because the more time the police devote to seekers of fake Internet kiddie porn, the less time they'll have to go after the predators in real time.

This is not to defend kiddie porn, but are there any stats on how many kiddie porn violators have ever actually touched a child? What are the priorities? I'd hate to think that the cops are devoting most of their time to going after the easier cases, but the fact is that cases based on possession are a lot easier case to make.

UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link. And a warm welcome to all who clicked!

posted by Eric at 02:41 PM | Comments (39)

the greater fear factor

I'm utterly fascinated by Inquirer writer Chris Satullo's apologia to feminists -- for the crime of not supporting Hillary Clinton:

Bless me, for I have sinned, and it has been a while since my last confession.

This, apparently, is my sin:

I have failed to support Hillary Clinton in the fashion to which her most vocal supporters feel she is entitled.

This failing exposes hideous truths about me. I am a male chauvinist pig. A sexist. A sorry excuse for a journalist:

"I'm sure you don't think of yourself as a classic MCP, but that is how you come across. . . . It's the same old same old gender prejudice."

"Are you afraid of a well-qualified woman becoming president?"

"Many of you in the media have lost your sense of perspective and grasp on reality."

These were e-mails I've received for the crime of uttering mildly critical words about Clinton while offering Barack Obama words of praise. These snippets typify the counterattacking tone her most fervent supporters have adopted as the electoral math has grown dubious for her.

First, he's a man. And he's a white man. So the assumption is that he's voting his sex, as opposed to voting his race.

This is something that he denies, but fascinatingly, he assures his female critics that were he given the choice between a race change and a sex change, he'd go with the sex change:

...why, when someone makes the choice opposite yours, assume the worst reason, one with "-ism" at the end?

Clinton supporters slinging charges of sexism need to take a deep breath. Would some American males sooner lose a vital organ than vote for Hillary Clinton? No doubt. But not many such males have "D" on their voter cards.

This is a Democratic primary, remember? You know, the women's-rights party that any self-respecting MCP fled long ago.

The sexism charge assumes poison is somehow more deep-seated than racism: Yep, these men fear a woman in the White House so much they're willing to vote for a black guy. Really, you're serious?

Geraldine Ferraro isn't the only intelligent woman to assert this. Being neither black nor female, I concede I'm not qualified to judge. But if I had to choose one burden over the other, bring on the estrogen.

Frankly, I wonder whether he really would choose that. Maybe he would, but I would not.

Seriously, while I like to joke about changing my sex, were I given the choice at gunpoint I'd much prefer to change my skin color than my sex. Not because of the discrimination issue, for I agree that I'd face more discrimination as a black man than as a white woman. But the inescapable reality is that sex is biologically more of a physical difference than is skin color. Not being able to pee against a tree when nature called, facing the rigors of monthly processes I could not control, and not having the upper body strength to which I am accustomed, these are pretty serious nots.

Call me a sexist pig, but given the choice I'd say bring on the melanin and spare the estrogen.

As to the idea that "not many such males have 'D' on their voter cards," the clear implication is that while Republican men might vote for Obama out of sexism, no Democrat would. Notice that Satullo avoids the inverse hypothesis -- that some men might "fear a black man in the White House so much they're willing to vote for a woman." Not only was this was Ed Rendell's point, it was highlighted in an Inquirer editorial cartoon last month:


At the time, I complained that Republicans are in a no-win:

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.

Despite the feminist attacks against him, Satullo still seems to be in denial over how it feels to be a Republican. (As the Inquirer's longtime, but recently retired Editorial page Editor, I'm sure he saw the cartoon.) His argument that Republican men would vote their penises over their skin color, but Democrats would not displays a willingness to impugn the motives of total strangers, and to discredit the possibility that they are thinking -- as long as they are Republicans.

I'd love to know what he thinks about the Limbaugh crossover voters. Are they simply racists who are voting for Hillary because she's white?

I'm just fascinated that a guy who is having his motivations impugned by feminists would turn right around and do exactly the same thing to Republicans. You'd think someone under attack like this would display a little more sensitivity; instead, he seems ready to aim and fire at the evil Republicans -- who Absolutely Will Be Either Sexist Or Racist, whichever Democratic candidate prevails.

To be fair, there's no denying that there are people in both parties who do not think, but who vote according to their identities. There are women who vote for Hillary because she's a woman, and blacks who vote for Obama because he's black, just as there are people who would vote against them for the same reasons.

But imputing racism or sexism to voters (and the arguments back and forth) misses another very important factor which Satullo does not discuss. That is the fear factor -- for fear is what these discussions generate. I do not mean the ordinary stereotypical racist or sexist fears, but the fear of being called bigoted -- which here takes the form of either the fear of being called sexist, or the fear of being called racist. I think it is a far more powerful motivator than simply voting according to one's sex or race, and I think it may be the ultimate driving force in the election.

Is it sexist to fear being called sexist? Is it racist to fear being called racist?

Few people ask such questions, probably because they fear being called racist or sexist. It is a fact of life that countless Americans so fear being called bigoted that they will say or do almost anything to avoid it.

This election offers an unprecedented opportunity for such people, for it offers an opportunity for this fear of bigotry to play itself out. By being able to choose between a white woman and a black man, Americans can vote according to their greater fear.

Playing out this Greater Fear Theory, the choice is along the following lines:

Assume you are going to be labeled a bigot. Which label would you more fear:

being called a sexist?

being called a racist?

While the Greater Fear Theory might be seen as applying to Democrats alone, it can't help but factor into strategic thinking, because everyone knows the Republicans will be stuck with the label of sexist for voting against Hillary, or racist for voting against Obama. Thus, this fear becomes very relevant as an offensive strategic tactic. If vulnerability to a charge of racism is worse than vulnerability to a charge of sexism, then many strategic-minded Democrats would be wise to vote for Obama even if they prefer Hillary, just to stick it to the Republicans. Similarly, Republicans who anticipate this might want to cross over and vote for Hillary now in the hope of avoiding ever being in the position of being called racist.

If being called racist carries a worse stigma than being called sexist, it's understandable that Republican crossovers would want to vote preemptively to avoid that now.

I've heard very little discussion of this fear, but that does not mean it isn't there. Anyway, I thought I'd poll the readers of this blog, just to get an idea.

Vote your fear anonymously.

Assume you're going to be labeled. Which label would you more fear:
being called sexist
being called racist free polls

How many voters might want to preempt such an accusation?

posted by Eric at 10:46 AM | Comments (1)

Not your typical closet

I've been reading Maureen Dowd for years, and I generally find myself irritated by her. But when she's good, she's good, and in her latest column, she's at her best. (Have to admit, I savored every word.)

While it's obvious she favors Obama, she nonetheless doesn't spare him. Nor (to my delight) does she spare Hillary:

It is a tribute to Hillary Clinton that even though, rationally, political soothsayers think she can no longer win, irrationally, they wonder how she will pull it off.
Have to admit, I wonder too. And the more I wonder, the more I wonder about whether my wondering is appropriate for this blog. So I think the smart thing is just to play dumb and not engage in wondering out loud. While this might mean I won't be able to say "I told you so," there are some things I'd rather not want to be able to say that about.
It's impossible to imagine The Terminator, as a former aide calls her, giving up. Unless every circuit is out, she'll regenerate enough to claw her way out of the grave, crawl through the Rezko Memorial Lawn and up Obama's wall, hurl her torso into the house and brutally haunt his dreams.
Now I'm wondering about something else... Suppose you wanted to buy the Rezko lawn (the famous lawn adjoining Obama's house). Is it for sale? I suspect that it's worth more now than it was before all the current hoopla. Can it be purchased in an arm's-length transaction or is it too late? Does anyone know? Obama does not own it, and Rezko is on trial, so buying it might be an iffy proposition.

"It's like one of those movies where you think you know the end, but then you watch with your fingers over your eyes," said one leading Democrat.
No fair. I peeked! At the wackadoodle Wright stuff!
Hillary got a boost from the wackadoodle Jeremiah Wright. As a top pol noted, the Reverend turned Obama -- in the minds of some working-class and crossover white voters -- from "a Harvard law graduate into a South Side Black Panther."

Obama blunted the ugliness of Wright's YouTube "greatest hits" with his elegant and bold speech on race. But how will he get the genie back into the bottle?

Pressed about race on a Philly radio sports show, where he wanted to talk basketball, he called his grandmother "a typical white person, who, if she sees somebody on the street that she doesn't know, well there's a reaction that's in our experiences that won't go away and can sometimes come out in the wrong way."

Obama might be right, but he should stay away from the phrase "typical white person" because typically white people don't like to be reminded of their prejudices. It also undermines Obama's feel-good appeal in which whites are allowed to transcend race because the candidate himself has transcended race.

Yeah. I know. (Read it all.) Whether Obama can transcend race or not is questionable.

But I think he can still atone for his racially insensitive remarks, and display a little solidarity with the people he stereotyped.

All he needs to do is put on one of these T-shirts.


That way, everybody will know he has a sense of humor.

Hey, why not?

I think it's because there are still certain things you can't joke about, that's why not.

And choosing to be black is not one of them.

(I'm citing these two "Barack Like Me" * posts not for support, but to underscore the complexities.)

So he can't, put on one of these either, even in humor:

barack like me.jpg

I keep seeing this as tragedy. In Barack Obama's case, being black -- and I mean in the cultural sense as opposed to the genetic sense -- was a choice. Not only that, it was a choice he had to make deliberately. Genetically, he was half African and half white, and he could have remained half African and half white. Culturally, though, Barack Obama was biracial, in the sense that he could have gone either way.

This is not to compare race and sexuality, and normally we don't. Nor is it an indictment of Obama; it is an indictment of identity politics, which forces people to be their group. But a bisexual is one of those rare birds who can go either way in terms of groups, and Barack Obama is biracial the way some people are bisexual. (The fact is, a number of bisexuals simply opt to go with one of their two possible sides.)

He stuffed his whiteness in the closet. And why not?

Isn't whiteness the stuff closets are made of?

What? Does every closet have to be typical?

MORE: Bill Bradley thinks that Obama made a choice too (via Glenn Reynolds):

For Obama made a choice. He was born and in large measure raised in Hawaii, America's polyglot paradise in the Pacific, a place where questions of racial background can become so complex as to be irrelevant. But after a glittering Ivy League debut, he decided to enter into politics, not as a multi-racial, post-racial figure in Hawaii or California -- where he spent two years attending Occidental College -- but in a 76% black state senate district in Chicago.

Why he decided to embrace his blackness as a very young man may be a matter more for the psychologically inclined than the politically inclined. In any event, it is what he did.

Obama sought what he did not have in his life as a biracial boy. A black family. The black church in Chicago became a stand-in for that. And Wright, a complex man who, by most accounts, has done some serious good in Chicago to balance his now well-publicized ranting, became in Obama's own recent words, an "uncle."
If Obama is a biracial man who chose to be culturally black, I think he may have a lot to teach America, but in order to do that, he may need to readjust the parameters of his transcendancy.

* "Barack Like Me" is a take-off on the title of the book Black Like Me, by John Howard Griffin.

posted by Eric at 06:50 PM | Comments (1)

From gotcha games to passive-aggressive, true-feelings gotcha games...

I have no idea who Patrick O'Hara is, and I don't especially care. Certainly not enough to Google him and find out whether he's really the lifelong Republican he says he is. So for the purpose of this post, I'll accept what he says in an op ed in today's Inquirer on faith:

Last week I registered as a Democrat, no small step for a long-contented Chester County Republican. Weaned on William F. Buckley Jr., I was a teenage Barry Goldwater adherent in 1964. My first job was in the administration of New York City Republican Mayor John Lindsay, and my second was in the executive offices of New York Republican Gov. Nelson Rockefeller.

One does not lightly abandon such deep political roots.

In any other year, I give this primary season a pass and vote Republican in November.

This is not any other year, nor any other vote.

I became a Democrat to cast an April 22 Pennsylvania primary vote that I believe will be the most important of my lengthy political life.

Anyway, he's now poised to switch parties and vote for Obama. Not for strategic reasons so that he can undermine the Democrats by creating chaos, but because he's tired of "gotcha" politics:
Campaigns of ideas have been replaced by "gotcha" politics: endless loops of Obama in a turban, his pastor rousing Sunday congregants with wacky rhetoric, talk-radio-heads slowly enunciating Barack Hussein Obama, and Hillary Clinton's studied hesitancy on 60 Minutes about whether Obama is a Muslim. We have the "race card," "the indignation card," "the religious card," and the "gender card." Kennedy and Reagan must be rolling over in their graves - they thought enough about Americans to talk about ideas.
There's more of course, and I think the piece is a little short on the virtues of McCain, who, it should be remembered, was -- and is -- very much a victim of "gotcha" politics. However, I understand the sentiment, and the argument. It inclines me more toward Obama than Hillary, because while both are socialists (and I'd never vote for a socialist over McCain), I prefer nice socialists who try to stick to issues to mean socialists who play the gotcha game. Gotcha games are an annoying waste of time -- engaged in largely by activists for the consumption of other activists. How many people are really persuaded, I don't know. (But they can have a blowback effect of persuading some people to the opposite position.)

Yesterday, Glenn Greenwald played a devious and disingenuous game of "gotcha" with Glenn Reynolds. When I posted about it, the self-refuting nature of the illogic involved seemed so self-apparent as to not be worth much of my time. It struck me that -- DOH! -- a post you link is not a post you didn't link. And a blogger you link is not a blogger you didn't link. As "gotcha" games go, it wasn't even much of a gotcha.

To Greenwald and the "gotcha" players, though, any connection -- even an imagined one -- is a "connection." That's because they're conspiratorial, and always assume evil intent. If Glenn used the word "niggardly," that would probably be seen as winking at another word.

What I didn't realize until last night was how truly pathological the gotcha game can become. The way the gotcha players see it, if Glenn links a "nice" post (which no one denies the Easter post in question was), he does so only to call attention to the hateful nearby post he really wants you to read!

Mind you, this would never have occurred to me, but it was explained (by "downtownlad") in a comment to this Ann Althouse post :

Instapundit knew that post was there and that was the only reason he even linked. As if he really gave a shit about that lame Easter post. Yeah right. He wanted people to find that post underneath, which Reynolds does not even think is racist (same as others on this thread). Fine. But don't link in a passive aggressive way and then act all SHOCKED SHOCKED that someone called you out on it.

He frequently does the same with the most vile anti-gay posts. And when someone like Sullivan calls him out, Reynolds will claim that a link does not equal an endorsement. But we know where his true feelings lie.

We all know! And so we will impute! As to where "the most vile anti-gay posts" are to be found, dtl does not explain. I seem to have missed them, but maybe that's because I have my passive aggressive link blinders on, and I don't think to exit from the post Glenn linked, then go to the main page of whatever blog it is and scrolll down, looking for signs and symptoms of Glenn's true passive aggressive feelings.

I might have left a comment, but Ann Althouse patiently explained the folly of dtl's thinking:

dtl, do you not realize that when you link to a post when you scroll down you don't see the next post. You'd have to click to the home page and then scroll down, and people rarely do that. It's not a practical way to point to the other post.
How many people are going to click on a link to a post, then click to the main page and scroll down? I have been known to do it on occasion, but only if I already know the blog and I'm there and want to catch up, or when I think a post is so absolutely, stunningly devastatingly brilliant that I absolutely must learn more about the blog.

Sorry, but it takes too much time to do that. I suspect that most of the people doing it with Instalanched posts are playing gotcha games, in a relentless search for revelatory signs of Glenn's true passive aggressive deviationist feelings.

However, I'm glad I saw dtl's comment, because I wrote a post attempting to understand the phenomenon of passive aggressive linking, and I'm ashamed to admit that I just didn't get it.

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.

See how wrong I was? Being such a literalist, I actually thought that the "passive-aggressive" complaint surrounded what was actually being linked, and obviously, by merely clicking on Glenn's links I was not getting it.

You'd think that after nearly five years of blogging (and six years of Instapundit reading) I'd have figured out the true subtext of Reynolds' passive-aggressive methodology.

But better late than never. At least I know now that what Glenn links is not what he's really linking.

Damn. It's just too much work having to go through all of Glenn's links and reinterpret them. I don't know whether I'm up to the task.

I mean, as it is, I hate gotcha games and gotcha politics. And I have long hated being forced to be passive aggressive, especially against my will!

But passive-aggressive, discern-the-true-feelings gotcha?

That I absolutely I refuse to do.

However, with all due respect, I think Glenn bears some of the blame here.

I mean, if Glenn wants people to discern his true inner passive aggressive feelings, why does he have to put the gotcha people to so much work? Why make the experts like Glenn Greenwald and downtownlad do all the heavy passive aggressive lifting?

So, I propose a rule. Maybe even a passive-aggressive code! Although I should probably note that I'm not really sure that these are my true feelings, so I don't know if I really have a duty to propose it. So I'm just kind of passively aggressively promoting it. (It strikes me as eminently fair that a passive-aggressive code should be promoted passive-aggressively.)

From now on, all passive-aggressive true feelings should be clearly discernable, stated on the record, and made perfectly clear. Any failure to disclose and link all passive-aggressive true feelings links should be treated as a breach of blogospheric passive-aggressive ethics.

Furthermore, all books by bloggers suspected of true-feeling, passive-aggressive linking should be rigorously vetted for passive-aggressive subtexts.

I see no other way to avoid the appearance of passive-aggressive impropriety. Why, if the true-feeling, passive-aggressive linking phenomenon is allowed to go unchecked, the blogosphere could ultimately be facing an Army of Passive Aggressive Davids.

What then?

UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for linking this post, and welcome all!


Or did he really mean to link this post?

While I think it's just fine for Glenn to "enjoy wasting the time of people who struggle to read [his] mind," I'm of two minds about how to interpret his link to this post, because after all, this is my blog, and I'm not the only blogger, so there are more posts here than I can keep track of. Considering Glenn's meticulously documented pattern and practice of passive-aggressive linking, I think it's fair to ask, just what post is he really linking by purporting to link this one?

My guess is, it's the post about "Giraffes on Horseback Salads."

That's because not only is the title filthy, but this blog is dark. And the reason Glenn can't link it directly is because "the more respectable venues promote more tepid versions of the filth being spewed by the darker corners of the noise machine, so as to keep a safe distance while simultaneously ensuring that it ends up widely circulated."

So, to see more of the "filth being spewed by the darker corners of the noise machine," just click to the filthy home page, and scroll down to my dark corners.

posted by Eric at 10:19 AM | Comments (23)

The Civil War Was Not About Slavery
Gettysburg dead
Gettysburg dead

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.
I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps,
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps:
His day is marching on.
His day is marching on.

I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
"As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal;
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with His heel,
Since God is marching on."

Since God is marching on.

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat:
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.

Our God is marching on.

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.

While God is marching on.

He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave,
He is Wisdom to the mighty, He is Succour to the brave,
So the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of Time His slave,
Our God is marching on.

Our God is marching on.

From the wiki: The Battle Hymn of the Republic is usually played at the conclusion of the national convention of the Republican Party.

posted by Simon at 09:05 AM | Comments (6)

What Is This Picture Worth?
Honest Government

HT Sweetness and Light

posted by Simon at 02:06 AM | Comments (3)

A Conversation About Race


posted by Simon at 11:47 PM | Comments (6)

I'm Not Responsible

Eric at Classical Values is looking at a question that has vexed him for quite some time. Is A responsible for what B says? Actually the post in question is a little more convoluted than that, but the convolution - necessary for his point - is not what I want to talk about.

I'm not responsible for what David Duke says.

I am responsible for my associations with him. (I don't have any)

So is David Duke a nice guy? Who knows? Even if he was I wouldn't associate with him. I do not wish to be seen as a supporter of his views. Fair or unfair that is the way the world works. Since I can't see what is in your heart I have to judge by outward appearances. Yeah, I know - it sucks. A lot of human nature does not correspond to what we see as our ideal selves. Which may not be ideal at all. After all nature made us what we are in order to survive nature (and humans which are a big part of the nature we deal with).

So when does a person's views get bad enough that I should stop associating with that person?

It is a judgment call.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 10:15 PM | Comments (13)

Obsession 101

I've said it in a number of posts, and I hate to be a broken record, but once again, it is illogical and unfair to hold A responsible for something said by B.

In yet another classic example, Glenn Greenwald takes this error a step further, this time attempting to hold Glenn Reynolds responsible for a post he didn't link, written by a blogger he never linked, simply because the post appeared at the same blog as the post he did link!

Hey, M. Simon writes posts here, and I don't always agree with him. I have no editorial control over his content.

For example, Simon prefers Hillary to Obama, and I prefer Obama to Hillary.

So, does that mean I prefer Hillary to Obama?

If someone agrees with or links one of my anti-Hillary posts, is that an endorsement of one of Simon's anti-Obama posts?

By Greenwald's logic, apparently yes.

The details of today's Easter rhetorical assault are here, and here. Also, Tom Maguire documents Greenwald's attempt to change the word "blogger" into "blog" -- presumably in the hope that no one would notice. (Geez, doesn't he know the coverup is always worse?)

Mark Kleiman summarizes the obvious unfairness:

...when reynolds sends an item link to a posting of the easter poem "dulce lignem dulce clavo" by instapunk contributor "chain gang," i don't see where glenn greenwald is justified in tying reynolds to the racist rant posted on the same site by a different contributor, "old punk."
And finally,
...i thought our side tried to be above guilt-by-association
Excellent point! And while Kleiman is on the left, it is echoed by Dan Collins on the right, who raises questions about a double standard:
.... I wonder what Gleen(s) make of some of the organizations who have specifically praised Barack Obama, and whose endorsements were, until recently, proudly displayed on Obama’s official website? I only bring it up because a candidate’s ties to religious extremists–especially those who accuse the US of genocide–ought to be examined in detail. Some of them might be race bigots.
And what are we to make of Greenwald's citation and interview of an anti-gay bigot (by his standards) in support of his claim that John McCain was responsible for the views of an anti-Catholic bigot?

Guilt by association (without regard to whether A agrees with B) is bad enough logic, but when it's guilt by associations that simply aren't there, it's not guilt by association, but guilt by non-assocation.

Hell, linking a post is not necessarily an endorsement of what that post says, much less what the blogger says in other posts. (As I explained here, I often link bloggers I disagree with.) The idea that a link to post by blogger A is in any way endorsement of what blogger B says in another post is simply outrageous.

But that's nothing new for Greenwald, who also damns Reynolds for the crime of being read by Karl Rove! (A blog is to be judged by its readers, natch.) This fits the Greenwald narrative of "the Right" -- which is that a Rove is a Limbaugh is a Savage is a Coulter is a Reynolds.

And earlier this month, Greenwald charged Reynolds (for linking Jennifer Rubin's opinion that Hillary is tougher on war than Obama) of being "the most masculinity-obsessed and gender-insecure commentator in America." A fascinating assertion, and it raised in my mind the question of just who is really obsessed, and with whom.

It amazes me that today, on Easter (when presumably there are other things to do), Greenwald has struck again with the most overwrought piece of Reynolds-obsessed, dishonest hyperbole I've seen from him since... well at least since the "most masculinity-obsessed and gender-insecure" tirade.


I don't want to repeat what I've said countless times, but I do think there's possibly a lesson here for the obsessed.

If you're obsessed with someone, accusing the target of being obsessed makes things a little too obvious.

posted by Eric at 08:16 PM | Comments (4)

Keeping politics out of religion

James Carville thinks that Bill Richardson's endorsement of Barack Obama is an act of betrayal of the worst order:

The reaction of some of Mr. Clinton's allies suggests that might have been a wise decision. "An act of betrayal," said James Carville, an adviser to Mrs. Clinton and a friend of Mr. Clinton.

"Mr. Richardson's endorsement came right around the anniversary of the day when Judas sold out for 30 pieces of silver, so I think the timing is appropriate, if ironic," Mr. Carville said, referring to Holy Week.

A couple of things stand out. By comparing Richardson to Judas, Carville implies not only that the betrayal was for money, but that Richardson was in a uniquely close and trusted position with Hillary Clinton. I have no idea whether the Obama campaign paid for the endorsement, but I think someone would be making a lot of noise about it if they had. As for Richardson being a close and trusted friend, if that's the case, what was he doing running against her in the primary? That's called being an opponent, right? Unless Carville is suggesting that Richardson was shilling for Hillary and not running a sincere candidate, I see no reason why his endorsement of Obama would be any more a "betrayal" than his act of running as an opponent. Any question of "loyalty" would have already been moot, would it not? Even if Carville is saying that because Richardson had served as Secretary of Energy under Bill Clinton forever binds him not to take a position adverse to Bill Clinton's wife, he already did that. I don't think the endorsement of another candidate even comes close to being an act of disloyalty, much less "Judasism."

But to stay with the comparison, let's assume Richardson is Judas.

What does that make Hillary?

There has already been The Tammy Wynette Hillary, the Martha Stewart Hillary, the Eleanor Roosevelt Hillary, the Dianne Feinstein Hillary, the Barbara Boxer Hillary, Lisa Simpson Hillary, the Diana Prince Hillary, and the Lady Macbeth Hillary.

And of course, there's the St. Joan of Arc Hillary:


But the Jesus Hillary?

Sorry, but today is Easter, and I won't go there. Some Photoshops would border on the sacrilegious.

(Besides, how many Messiahs are allowed in this race?)

ADDITIONAL NOTE: I want it noted that I deliberately left the Easter Bunny out of this analysis.


posted by Eric at 03:19 PM | Comments (1)

A Little Exchange

Over at Just One Minute I spotted this exchange between some commenters.

Obama's connections to Jeremiah Wright, William Ayers, Tony Rezko, and Nadhmi Auchi pose some serious questions about his judgement. Unless he gives the go ahead to Michigan and Florida to hold new primaries,and of course he won't do that, he will be our nominee. If you don't agree with disenfranchising voters, please go to and sign the petition. It only takes one minute to let the DNC know that we demand that our votes count.

Posted by: Nancy | March 22, 2008 at 09:26 AM

Which was followed by this reply.
Dear Nancy,

We think far too much of Barack to wish to interfere in his stellar performance in leading us all to truly united diversification. Sure, his magnificent efforts have been slightly tarnished by those truly minor inconsistencies which you mention but we know, that as time wears on, the full panoply of his diverse yet unifying life experience will become clear to the vast majority of Americans and he will justly reap the reward which he deserves.

We look forward to that day and feel that the process, so carefully crafted by Terry McAuliffe and Hillary Clinton should be allowed to run the determined course. Who are we to gainsay the wisdom of the Democratic Party regarding the rules concerning Florida and Michigan?

What is done is done. If you are unwilling to apply the adage "let the dead bury the dead" to the Clinton campaign, we remain willing (and able) to help complete the task.

PS - You certainly do make good points concerning Obama.

Posted by: Rick Ballard | March 22, 2008 at 09:49 AM

Yes. She certainly did make some good points Rick.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 10:19 AM | Comments (2)

Turn Up The Heat

Global Warming is not what it used to be. It appears that despite a continuing rise in CO2 global temperatures for the last 10 years have been falling. If you count just since 2002 temperatures have been stagnant. The ABC mentioned is the Australian Broadcasting Company.

Last Monday - on ABC Radio National, of all places - there was a tipping point of a different kind in the debate on climate change. It was a remarkable interview involving the co-host of Counterpoint, Michael Duffy and Jennifer Marohasy, a biologist and senior fellow of Melbourne-based think tank the Institute of Public Affairs. Anyone in public life who takes a position on the greenhouse gas hypothesis will ignore it at their peril.

Duffy asked Marohasy: "Is the Earth stillwarming?"

She replied: "No, actually, there has been cooling, if you take 1998 as your point of reference. If you take 2002 as your point of reference, then temperatures have plateaued. This is certainly not what you'd expect if carbon dioxide is driving temperature because carbon dioxide levels have been increasing but temperatures have actually been coming down over the last 10 years."

Jeeze. That doesn't fit the models. Could our vaunted model makers and the Super Genius James Hansen have made a huge mistake? How is that possible?
Duffy then turned to the question of how the proponents of the greenhouse gas hypothesis deal with data that doesn't support their case. "People like Kevin Rudd and Ross Garnaut are speaking as though the Earth is still warming at an alarming rate, but what is the argument from the other side? What would people associated with the IPCC say to explain the (temperature) dip?"

Marohasy: "Well, the head of the IPCC has suggested natural factors are compensating for the increasing carbon dioxide levels and I guess, to some extent, that's what sceptics have been saying for some time: that, yes, carbon dioxide will give you some warming but there are a whole lot of other factors that may compensate or that may augment the warming from elevated levels of carbon dioxide.

"There's been a lot of talk about the impact of the sun and that maybe we're going to go through or are entering a period of less intense solar activity and this could be contributing to the current cooling."

The sun drives the climate? What an unusual idea. What will those wacky scientists come up with next?
Duffy: "Can you tell us about NASA's Aqua satellite, because I understand some of the data we're now getting is quite important in our understanding of how climate works?"

Marohasy: "That's right. The satellite was only launched in 2002 and it enabled the collection of data, not just on temperature but also on cloud formation and water vapour. What all the climate models suggest is that, when you've got warming from additional carbon dioxide, this will result in increased water vapour, so you're going to get a positive feedback. That's what the models have been indicating. What this great data from the NASA Aqua satellite ... (is) actually showing is just the opposite, that with a little bit of warming, weather processes are compensating, so they're actually limiting the greenhouse effect and you're getting a negative rather than a positive feedback."

Duffy: "The climate is actually, in one way anyway, more robust than was assumed in the climate models?"

Marohasy: "That's right ... These findings actually aren't being disputed by the meteorological community. They're having trouble digesting the findings, they're acknowledging the findings, they're acknowledging that the data from NASA's Aqua satellite is not how the models predict, and I think they're about to recognise that the models really do need to be overhauled and that when they are overhauled they will probably show greatly reduced future warming projected as a consequence of carbon dioxide."

Let me see if I get this. The earth heats. The heat causes more clouds. By reflecting sunlight clouds limit the temperature rise. So water vapor is a negative feedback element, rather than a positive one as the warmologists have been saying. Who would have thunk this? This is so novel. Totally unexpected. Well not exactly. I have been saying something along these lines for over a year.

Global Warming Not So Hot
More Clouds
Model Prediction
Climate Alchemy - Turning Hot Air Into Gold
Clouds In Chambers
Feedbacks Misdiagnosed
The Big Heat Pipe In The Sky

It is not like I haven't been trying to warn those fools.

Climate scientists Roger A. Pielke Sr. and Roger A. Pielke Jr. had this to say in 2006.

There is no greater danger to support for action on important issues of human impacts on the environment than an overselling of what climate science can provide. If the climate behaves in ways that are unexpected or surprising it will be more than just credibility that is lost. Advocates for action should think carefully when gambling with the unknown predictive abilities of climate models. The human influence on the climate system is real, but the climate may not always cooperate."
Of course they were ridiculed. The warmists had the best scientists the best computers and the best models. What could possibly go wrong? How about GIGO?

Man is Al Gore going to be pissed. Carbon indulgences are going to be a lot harder to sell now. Fortunately the Euros and California have already passed laws against carbon emissions. Making it harder for coal fired plants to get built. Raising their costs for electricity. Those Euros and the wacky Californians are really smart. Too smart by half.

A good page to read to learn even more is Icecap US.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 10:54 PM | Comments (13)

A bad year for change?


We all talk about it. Well, I decided to do something about it. So I've been digging up change in my back yard with a metal detector. I don't expect to find anything valuable, but the post about "asparamancy" got me to thinking.

If asparagus can be used for divination purposes, why not change? I thought it over, and I put it in the back of my mind that it might be fun to utilize the classical principle of divination (or auguring) by applying it to change.

Divine change.

Ideas springing like magic from underground!

The denomination of the coin might not tell you much, as there are only a few variations -- your typical pocket containing only four (pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters).

The dates, however, are another matter. Much wider range, and therefore a far greater number of possibilities for divination purposes.


As it happens, the first coin I found and dug was a 1992 quarter (the one on the left above). Nothing special about it. Yeah, I remember the year, but I remember a lot of years. It was followed by a old key with a meandering pattern around the head and it is marked "ABUS." (Short for August Bremicker und Sohne KG, which "started making traditional padlocks in 1924.")

That key was followed by two pennies -- a 1977 and a 1980. Both in pretty good shape.

So far, no major significance. However, contrast the above pennies with the next penny I found -- in such bad condition that only by using a magnifier was I able to make out the date.


Bingo. The gods are obviously telling me something. 1992 is a repeated date. What are the odds of a date on a buried coin repeating itself within four coins? That must mean something. Surely the gods intend that year to be some sort of focal point.

And what's with the key? Is it the key to understanding? Should I look to 1977 and 1980 for further insight?

Let's start with the absolutely atrocious condition of the 1992 penny. The reason for its severe deterioration in contrast to the earlier pennies is not merely the acidity (or alkalinity) of the soil in my yard. Copper holds up quite well. The problem with later pennies is that they are no longer made primarily of copper, but since 1982 have been copper-plated zinc:

The alloy remained 95 percent copper and 5 percent zinc until 1982, when the composition was changed to 97.5 percent zinc and 2.5 percent copper (copper-plated zinc). Cents of both compositions appeared in that year.
Considering that the 1992 penny is well on its way to disappearing, I'd say that future archaeologists might conclude that we stopped making pennies in 1982.

I think the important thing is not so much the deterioration of the later penny, but it's context with the repeated date of 1992.

Are the gods telling me that 1992 was a bad year?

What the hell happened in 1992? For me it was a horrible, horrible year. The only things that stand out were that Bill Clinton won the presidential election (yes I voted for him) and Silence of the Lambs won the Oscar for best picture, actor, actress, and director.

Oh, and the 27th Amendment to the United States Constitution was finally ratified. Considering that it took 202 years, that's probably something for people who believe in instant change to keep in mind.

I would feel a bit arrogant to declare that "1992 was a bad year," but I feel less arrogant knowing that it was officially certified as "Annus Horribilis" by none other than Elizabeth II:

1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure. In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an Annus Horribilis.
It's certainly not a year worth repeating.

posted by Eric at 01:52 PM | Comments (0)

"Giraffes on Horseback Salads"

No really. Salvador Dalí wrote a film script for the Marx Brothers of that name in 1937:

The "Surrealist woman" is lying in the middle of a great bed, sixty feet long, with the rest of the guests seated around each side. Along the bed, as decorations, are a group of dwarfs caught by Harpo. Each is supported on a crystal base, decorated with climbing flowers. The dwarfs stay as still as statues, holding lighted candelabras, and change their positions every few minutes.

While love tears at Jimmy's heart, Groucho tries to crack a nut on the bald head of the dwarf in front of him. The dwarf, far from looking surprised, smiles at Groucho in the most amiable way possible. Suddenly in the middle of dinner, thunder and lightning begin inside the room. A squall of wind blows the things over on the table and brings in a whirl of dry leaves, which stick to everything. As Groucho opens his umbrella, it begins to rain slowly.

Although the guests show surprise, they try for a time to continue their meal, which is, however, brought to an end by showers of rain. In a panic, the guests rush in all directions, while from the hall a torrent of waters washes in, bringing with it all sorts of debris, including a drowned ox. A shepherd makes a desperate effort to collect his flock of sheep, which climb up on the sofas and the bed in an effort to avoid being carried away by the water. A cradle is carried in on the flood containing a baby crying piteously, followed by the mother, hair streaming behind her.


The film was never made, obviously. Groucho nixed it because he didn't think it would be funny. (Probably right.)

Dalí and loved Harpo Marx confessed to a mutual admiration:

Dalí's first encounter with Harpo Marx was at a party in Paris. They confessed a mutual admiration. Then Dalí sent Harpo a Christmas present: a harp with barbed wire for strings and spoons for tuning knobs, wrapped in cellophane. Harpo was delighted and sent Dalí a photograph of himself sitting at the harp with bandaged fingers as if he'd been playing it and cutting himself on the wire.

He told Dalí he liked his painting The Persistence of Memory (those melting clock faces) and that if he wanted to visit him in California he'd be "happy to be smeared" by him. Dalí did so the following year, claiming, implausibly, that he found Harpo, "naked, crowned with roses, and in the centre of a veritable forest of harps... He was caressing, like a new Leda, a dazzling white swan, and feeding it a statue of the Venus de Milo made of cheese..."

Clearly enchanted, Dalí made two rather beautiful drawings of the comic sitting at his harp, grinning beatifically with a lobster on his head.

Here's the photo of Harpo with bandaids, playing the Dalí harp:


Makes me feel like gluing thumbtacks onto a computer keyboard -- as an artistic statement against blogging addiction!

posted by Eric at 10:41 AM | Comments (1)

Closing The Deal

When it comes to customer satisfaction the rule of thumb is that every satisfied customer will influence five others and every dissatisfied customer will influence ten. You had better keep your customers happy.

So how has Mr. Happy, the glorious Barry O, been doing with his customers? Not well. Not well at all.

I'm going to quote a few comments from the above link. They contain a world of information about Democrat customer satisfaction.

Bill Richardson could not get any votes for himself what good is he going to do for Obama. Mr. Obama needs to face it, His 20 year relationship with his mentor/Rev.Wright is hurting the democratic party in the worst way. How could he expect people to vote for him after he sat in that church for 20 years. He didn't walk away from that hate. I think his and his wifes true feeling show from time to time "First time in my adult life time I am proud of my country" "typical white person".

Posted by: 30 yrdem | Mar 21, 2008 1:53:28 PM

I will work with other Clinton supporters towards a write-in movement. I WILL NOT vote for Obama or Mccain, but I will vote. I think the buyers-remorse is starting to set in, and by the time November rolls around the democrats will have squandered away the general election by nominating someone that has not been properly vetted and has no experience. Aside from this major blunder, they have also looked incredibly incompetent during this primary by not fixing the MI &FL votes, using super-delegates, not having a winner-take all in primary states, and having no strong leadership to make anything happen. I will never be a republican, but I think I have to remove myself from the Democratic Party as well.

PS. I thought 4 years ago America had made one of their biggest mistakes by reelecting Bush, but now after having 8 years of an incompetent president, Americans, with the help of the media, have pushed through a candidate that they are taking a big chance on vs. one that has proven time and again to get things done and work diligently for the people. I don't believe that Obama will win the general election, so essentially Americans are asking for 4 more years of the republican party controlling our country.

Posted by: Andrea | Mar 21, 2008 10:52:12 AM

Buyers remorse. Yep. Plus we have the desperation setting in syndrome.
SEE! This is THE problem. Black people think that just because all White people aren't voting for Obama, they're racists! NOTHING could be further from the truth! This "typical white person" worked for Obama's Illinois Senate campaign. I donated money to his Senate campaign. I attended Illinois Obama rallies AND I voted for the man in his Senate bid.

I am NOT voting for Mr. Hope because he used the race card against Hillary and Bill Clinton in NH and SC and they have always worked to help the AA community! Now you have the NERVE to call ME and the Clintons and anyone else who doesn't vote for Mr. Hope, RACISTS just because we don't like him? This "typical white person" doesn't like him because he's a typical slimy politician who's as tainted as they come.

Posted by: Vickie | Mar 21, 2008 2:06:11 PM

Well, I voted for Obama too, in '04. I can't abide theocons. I called it the communist vs. theocon race. I voted for the communist. Probably a Rovian plot on my part.
John McCain has been in the senate for years. He's been called a "maverick" by the liberal press. They have praised him to the hilt for years. Nothing can be "exposed" that will be of any concern.

However, more to come on Obama. It will just drip, drip, drip out till the election. If you think people want to see Obama's church people at the Inaugural, you're insane. Obama is toast in the general. TOAST!

Posted by: Jo | Mar 21, 2008 12:04:46 PM

And what about Obama's church people? Well that is a story in itself.

It seems Mr. Popularity's minister has some strange ideas. For an American.

JERUSALEM - Sen. Barack Obama's Chicago church reprinted a manifesto by Hamas that defended terrorism as legitimate resistance, refused to recognize the right of Israel to exist and compared the terror group's official charter - which calls for the murder of Jews - to America's Declaration of Independence.

The Hamas piece was published on the "Pastor's Page" of the Trinity United Church of Christ newsletter reserved for Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., whose anti-American, anti-Israel remarks landed Obama in hot water, prompting the presidential candidate to deliver a major race speech earlier this week.

Hamas, responsible for scores of shootings, suicide bombings and rocket launchings against civilian population centers, is listed as a terrorist group by the U.S. State Department.

Obama's Pastor is turning out to be a real gem. A gift that keeps on giving.

I'm Jewish and have my ear to the ground in that community. Obama has already lost a major portion of the Jewish vote. A friend called me the other day to cry about what Obama has done to the country. Another friend told me that some Jews in liberal circles are coming out openly in favor of McCain. This is something that never happened in '04 re: liberal Jews (read Reform Congregations). Back then if you were going to defect you had to keep quiet to preserve your social standing.

This has not just cost Obama. Hillary's numbers are falling too.

Obama has ruined the brand. It will be interesting to see if the Democrats can survive as a party let alone this election.

H/T Instapundit

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 05:27 PM | Comments (14)

shameful MSM silence about latest addiction

According to a growing body of experts, being online can be an addiction:

If you're a blogger, you could soon find yourself labeled with the newest mental disorder: Internet Addiction Disorder.

IAD has actually been proposed for inclusion as a psychiatric diagnosis in the next issue of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V).

Writing in the new issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry, Dr. Jerald J. Block, M.D., said that excessive internet and computer usage should be labeled a mental disease, as it has all of the components of a compulsive-impulsive disorder....

The symptoms are all listed, and I'm not going to go into them in any detail, because I'm completely normal, and none of it could ever happen to me.

This latest revelation comes from psychologist Dr. Helen Smith, who asks a very pertinent question:

Shouldn't The New York Times be notified that rather than successes, these bloggers are sick addicts?
Well, maybe they should be notified, but I don't think the New York Times is going to touch this one with a six foot pole -- or even a ten foot pole -- and here's why.

In an interview with Newsbusters' Matthew Sheffield, Karl Rove points out that liberal bloggers far outnumber conservative bloggers -- a situation he wants to change:

...a lot of people on the right have got active lives and are doing other things and the idea of spending a lot of time on the internet and taking their talents and displaying them there is not something they really do. But I'd like to see more of it, very creative conservatives using the internet for those purposes.
Well, there you have it. To the extent that excessive Internet use and blogging is a disease, it's more likely to be a liberal disease than a conservative disease.

That's why I don't expect to see much time devoted to blogging addiction in the New York Times.

OTOH, if conservatives take Karl Rove's advice to heart and start spending a lot of time on line, then maybe there will be more discussion of this "disease."

Until then, blogging addiction will remain a silent and shameful disease of liberalism!

UPDATE: Eliot Spitzer is entering into treatment which will explore whether he's suffering from a "sex addiction."

Why there's no mention of the innumerable emails involved, I'm not sure. Might it be that one liberal addiction leads to another?

UPDATE: My thanks to Dr. Helen for the link!

posted by Eric at 11:28 AM | Comments (1)

Not hell?

A gay blogger in Oklahoma argues that his state (which my subliminally Freudian fingers keep unconsciously misspelling as "Oklahomo") is not hell, despite the fact that a state legislator is determined to stop the homos from, from, teaching or spreading their, their lifestyle. Or something.

Here's the video.

Says the blogger:

As I get older I find myself less and less angered by things like this. If Sally Kern wants to let something that has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with her life get her that much in a frenzy, fine. I hate what she says, but she does, in America, have a right to say it, and if someone hears this and can come up with no better response than to send the woman a death threat, then, well, that's where we part ways.

I think what makes me the most irritable about this is that it makes Oklahoma look like some backwater place where homos are hunted down and lynched, where creativity is stifled and we don't want anyone in our midst who is even the slightest bit different than us. Oklahoma's not like that at all - it's not gay hell, it's not bereft of artistic or creative people and it's certainly nowhere near as boring as, say, Connecticut. But to the degree that it is unable to attract a higher caliber of creative and productive people, businesses and industries, it is because of people like Sally Kern, who are constantly going out of their way to make people feel as unwelcome, unwanted and unloved as she possibly can. You know. Just like Jesus wants.

Via Charles Hill.

While I have no idea what Jesus wants or would think of any of this, I think the woman is making the same mistake a lot of people make when they attribute to person B the statements and conduct of person A. What fascinates me is that this Sally Kern may well imagine that "the homosexuals" are somehow persecuting her. I haven't Googled her because I don't feel like it, but I'm assuming that the subtext is that she's gotten some deranged emails (maybe even a few "death threats") from angry gay activists -- or at least from people claiming to be gay activists -- to prove it.

I get emails which irritate the hell out of me, but it isn't fair to say that they represent anyone except the sender. This is also true about comments.

Of course, the "A does not speak for B" analysis gets more complicated when A claims to be speaking for B. I get regular emails from a man named Matt Barber, who believes he (and his Concerned Women for America) speak for all evangelical fundamentalist Christians, and that further, those Christians who disagree with him are "apostates." I'm sure a lot of people would take him at his word that he speaks for others; I think he speaks for himself.

Now, that does not mean that others might not agree with him, but when that happens, the analysis changes, but I'm still not sure it's fair to translate this into "A speaks for B." In the normal sense of things, A does not speak for B. But what happens when B agrees with A? Does this mean A speaks for B, and that all of A's thoughts and statements are then attributable to B?

How far does it go? Is silence agreement? Does belonging to an organization constitute agreement with everything that organization says? I "belonged" to the Republican Party until a couple of weeks ago, and now I "belong" to the Democratic Party. I agree with more of the Republican philosophy than the Democratic philosophy. So, whose platform am I charged with? I'm sure there are things I would find offensive in both party platforms, but just I don't expect me to read the damned things.

Seeing that I have voted Republican for years and belonged to that party, I can no more disown the Republican Party than I can disown my dear dead grandmother, who warned me about moving to Berkeley, which she said was full of interracial couples. She died decades ago, and never got caught up on the gay couples.

When I was a kid a Klansman took me fishing, and he was a nice guy. Took me to dinner with the family and all. They were all incredibly sweet, gracious people. They just hated you know who. As Eisenhower said,

"These are not bad people. All they are concerned about is to see that their sweet little girls are not required to sit in school alongside some big overgrown Negroes."
Ditto Obamanhower? Or no ditto?

How about ditto homo?

Why, I'll go on record right here and say that the homo haters are not bad people either.

All they want is to see that their innocent little boys are not required to sit in school being taught by some big overgrown Radical Queer Theorist.
There now. Feeling better about my tolerance?

Moral equivalencies are dangerous, as you end up generalizing from the particular, or at least seeming to do that. Fortunately for me, I have the luxury of being able to say whatever I want, because I'm not running for president, and my blog is not big enough for anyone (except the occasional Amanda Marcotte or Justin Raimondo) to try to hold me "accountable."

Hey I guess I should counterbalance the nice Klansman with some of the nice cop-killer activists and radical fugitives I have known and liked over the years, but I might be getting close to naming names, which is a no-no for me.

I'm just not responsible for other people's actions, or their thoughts. If someone I know or like says something, I am not responsible for it -- not even if I agree with it!

That's because if I agree with it, it becomes my own thought, my own opinion. Similarly, if someone agrees with something I say, that is not my responsibility in the least.

Agree or disagree at your own risk, not mine.

We each have our own hell.

Mine is all my fault.

posted by Eric at 09:34 AM | Comments (9)

SOFT SWAT (for kinder, gentler, wrong-house drug raids!)

In a recent Human Events piece -- "The Softer Side of SWAT," Brett Winterble complains about a plan to admit more females onto SWAT teams on the theory that male SWAT members "under-emphasize negotiating skills, patience, empathy and flexibility while over-emphasizing physical prowess and tactical acumen."

...isn't the whole point of a SWAT team to be a weapon to use when all else fails?

Let's keep it simple enough for even an LA pol to understand. When SWAT gets called its because someone has been or is about to be killed. PERIOD. They are the tip of the spear for law enforcement. They need to be intimidating. They don't need to empathize with the killer or would-be killer barricaded in the 3-year-old's bedroom.

OK, I could see his point if SWAT teams were used solely in such situations.

But, while that may have been the case in the old days, it simply is not the case today. Far from it. Radley Balko has written extensively about the growing use of SWAT teams for routine police work -- especially to serve search warrants in drug cases:

Over the last 25 years, America has seen a disturbing militarization of its civilian law enforcement, along with a dramatic and unsettling rise in the use of paramilitary police units (most commonly called Special Weapons and Tactics, or SWAT) for routine police work. The most common use of SWAT teams today is to serve narcotics warrants, usually with forced, unannounced entry into the home.

These increasingly frequent raids, 40,000 per year by one estimate, are needlessly subjecting nonviolent drug offenders, bystanders, and wrongly targeted civilians to the terror of having their homes invaded while they're sleeping, usually by teams of heavily armed paramilitary units dressed not as police officers but as soldiers. These raids bring unnecessary violence and provocation to nonviolent drug offenders, many of whom were guilty of only misdemeanors. The raids terrorize innocents when police mistakenly target the wrong residence. And they have resulted in dozens of needless deaths and injuries, not only of drug offenders, but also of police officers, children, bystanders, and innocent suspects.

And dogs, of course, the shooting of which is now routine. Dogs are being routinely purchased as a first line of defense against the invaders.

If they want to go back to using SWAT teams for their original purpose that would be one thing. But if they continue to use them in routine police work at the cost of innocent human lives, I think that's an argument for disbanding their use altogether.

"Softening" or feminizing them is only a half measure.

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

NAFTAGATE II -- Now it's her turn!
I have been a critic of NAFTA from the very beginning.

-- Hillary Clinton, February 26, 2008

Anyone remember Barack Obama's NAFTAGATE? Hillary's Texas and Ohio victories were made possible in no small part because she hammered away at Barack Obama for being secretly in favor of NAFTA, or at least, not as opposed to it as he claimed he was in public.

Well, it turns out that Hillary has now been caught in a bald-faced lie. It's all in the White House documents released this week:

Now that we know from the 11,000 pages of Clinton White House documents released this week that former First Lady was an ardent advocate for NAFTA; now that we know she held at least five meetings to strategize about how to win congressional approval of the deal; now that we know she was in the thick of the manuevering to block the efforts of labor, farm, environmental and human rights groups to get a better agreement. Now that we know all of this, how should we assess the claim that Hillary's heart has always beaten to a fair-trade rhythm?

Now that we know from official records of her time as First Lady that Clinton was the featured speaker at a closed-door session where 120 women opinion leaders were hectored to pressure their congressional representatives to approve NAFTA; now that we know from ABC News reporting on the session that "her remarks were totally pro-NAFTA" and that "there was no equivocation for her support for NAFTA at the time;" now that we have these details confirmed, what should we make of Clinton's campaign claim that she was never comfortable with the militant free-trade agenda that has cost the United States hundreds of thousands of union jobs, that has idled entire industries, that has saddled this country with record trade deficits, undermined the security of working families in the US and abroad, and has forced Mexican farmers off their land into an economic refugee status that ultimately forces them to cross the Rio Grande River in search of work?

Obviously, the Nation (a left-wing, anti-NAFTA outfit) is extremely pissed off, and while I'm a bit puzzled by the moral indignation (as if it's a shock that Hillary Clinton would lie), I'm glad to see that she's not getting away with it.

Not that Obama is in much of a position to criticize her, so I don't expect him to. I'm pro-NAFTA, so I didn't think much of Obama's "NAFTAgate." Sure, it revealed a sneaky side of him that he'd make covert reassurances to the Canadians through a proxy, and I didn't like the way he ditched Goolsbee.

But Hillary made it sound as if opposition to NAFTA was not only a huge part of her populist ethos, but got away with attacking Obama as pro-NAFTA -- all the while with the gullible voters buying into it.

Obama had his NAFTAGATE, now Hillary has hers.

I think she's done a lot more to earn it than Obama did.

(Now if only I can figure out which candidate really and sincerely hates NAFTA more in his or her heart of hearts....)

Well, Hillary was for it first, and for it longer, even though she says she was against it first, and against it longer. So I think she wins the Pinnochio nose contest.

UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for linking this post, and welcome all! I'm proud to say that this is my very first "UH OH"! (Well, not the first UH OH in my life, but the first from Glenn!)

Comments welcome, agree or disagree.

posted by Eric at 05:13 PM | Comments (15)

"Now youse can't leave!"*

Ever wondered why so many teachers and bureaucrats oppose home schooling despite the fact that home-schooled children score far better in standardized tests?

Education may have a lot less to do with it than you think.

In his analysis of the recent California decision to outlaw homeschooling, Vin Suprynowicz may have identified the chief reason for opposition to home schooling. The court stated that schools are mandatory in nature order to "train school children in good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty to the state":

"California courts have held that ... parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children," Justice H. Walter Croskey said in the 3-0 ruling, which makes it clear those parents can be criminally prosecuted for failing to comply.

And did Judge Croskey and his black-robed ruling-class pals say this was because the home-schoolers weren't doing as well at teaching reading, writing and 'rithmetic?

Of course not. They couldn't say that, because tests consistently shows home-school kids, taught by parents without state "certificates" or licenses, score 30 to 37 percentile points higher than their public school peers across all subjects.

So why ban home-schooling, if the academic results are far better?

Judge Croskey obligingly explained: "A primary purpose of the educational system is to train school children in good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty to the state and the nation as a means of protecting the public welfare."

Imagine that. "Loyalty to the state." Almost as if what they're running are, I don't know ... mandatory government youth propaganda camps, or something.

OK, so never mind education. The purpose is indoctrinating children with these patriotic, um, values.

Well, even assuming that is their purpose, are the schools doing a good job of training school children in good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty to the state?

I'm thinking that many parents home-school their kids because the government schools are doing such a bad job. Around here, police live in fear of 3:00 p.m. -- the time of day when all those good, loyal, and patriotic little citizens are allowed out of what resemble daytime jails:

"At 3 o'clock, all hell breaks loose," said Capt. Winton Singletary, commander of the 14th Police District in Northwest Philadelphia. "Some days, we just race from school to school."

Every afternoon of the school year, 260,000 students are dismissed from Philadelphia's public and private schools. For officers from the city, SEPTA and the school district, dismissals pose a huge challenge - how to manage a tempestuous multitude equal to the combined populations of Allentown, Trenton and Wilmington.

The task is particularly difficult in neighborhoods with multiple schools, or at transit hubs, where crosscurrents of students from rival schools can collide and roil, and where gangs prey like piranha on the vulnerable.

Despite the heightened police presence - in the 14th District, it's all hands on deck during dismissal hour - altercations happen.

On Feb. 25, two Masterman High School students were attacked after school, sending one to the hospital. In January, about a dozen girls slashed two female classmates after dismissal at West Philadelphia High School.

Gangs of youths last month attacked students in the Broad Street subway in North Philadelphia, prompting Philadelphia police to dispatch a team underground to beef up SEPTA's patrols.

As alarming as this year's reports may seem, the number of after-school incidents is not remarkably different than last year's, when 815 crimes were reported to the district, said James B. Golden Jr., the Philadelphia School District's chief safety executive. Most incidents reported during the "extended school day" are assaults on students and robberies, he said.

Philadelphia is not alone.

In Camden, a unit of 17 officers is assigned to school patrol, and it concentrates on separating middle school pupils from more aggressive high schoolers, said Lt. Anthony Carmichael.

In Upper Darby, Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood Sr. says he focuses on 5,000 high schoolers who attend three neighboring Lansdowne Avenue high schools: Upper Darby, Archbishop Predergast, and Monsignor Bonner.

"A tremendous amount of police resources are deployed to make sure these kids get home safely," said Chitwood, who pays six officers overtime to come in early on school days to supplement his regular force.

In Reading, school officials two weeks ago neglected to inform police of the Dominican Republic independence day planned on Feb. 27. When Reading High School let out, a celebration turned into a riot as a thousand students overwhelmed the officers stationed near the school, disrupting traffic and vandalizing vehicles.

"There's no foolproof way to stop all of it," said Ron Stephens, executive director of the National School Safety Center, Westlake Village, Calif. "It's an ongoing challenge for schools everywhere."

In Philadelphia, school and police officials say they welcome efforts by parent groups to stand watch to provide safe corridors for homeward bound students.

The strength of a school's leadership is also critical. Community leaders cited a turnaround at Roxborough High as an example.

A year ago, marauding students so disrupted the Ridge Avenue business district that many merchants locked their doors at 3 p.m. and threatened to sue the school district, said Jack Wheeler, president of the Roxborough Business Association. He said youth behavior improved this year after a new principal, Richard J. Jenkins, took over.

Interesting that the merchants would be threatening to sue the school district. In light of the fact that Roxborough High's reading and math proficiency scores are less than half the statewide average, I think the parents should be threatening to sue.

It's bad to read news that parents who want to opt out can't.

The noose is tightening.

MORE: Joanne Jacobs has a great Pajamas Media piece about the California decision, which should be read in its entirety. Excerpt:

"A primary purpose of the educational system is to train school children in good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty to the state and the nation as a means of protecting the public welfare," Croskey wrote.

Gosh, why not abolish private schools? Some teach only academic subjects instead of "loyalty to the state and the nation." And they hire uncredentialed teachers!

For that matter, how many public schools could stand court scrutiny on patriotism instruction?

Judging from the way they look around here, not very many.

posted by Eric at 02:32 PM | Comments (1)

The chickens that chickens produced?

In a recent interview, Mike Huckabee noted the left's double standard in analyzing religious sermons:

It's interesting to me that there are some people on the left that are having to be very uncomfortable with what Louis Wright said, when they all were all over a Jerry Falwell or anyone on the right who said things that they found very awkward and uncomfortable years ago. Many times those were statements lifted out of the context of a larger sermon.
Reading that, most people would immediately remember the Falwell remarks blaming gays and abortionists for 9/11, but as Reason's Dave Weigel notes, that wasn't a sermon; it was on CNN:
Has the left been playing dirty pool by pulling statements out of Jerry Falwell sermons, though? Sometimes, maybe, although the most controversial thing Falwell said in his final decade (blaming the ACLU and abortionists for 9/11) was actually during a CNN appearence. The implication of the Wright-Obama attack, though, is not that Wright is crazy, but that Obama is a secret racist and America-hater, and that the truth of this is only revealed by the statements of his wife and his pastor.
I was annoyed as anyone by Falwell's remarks, but it would never have occurred to me to blame Bush and the Republicans. (Especially since Bush rejected the Falwell remarks.)

What matters more than what Wright said is whether Obama agrees with him. He says he doesn't agree with Wright, so that question comes down to Obama's credibility.

Disagreeing with many pundits and bloggers, Huckabee doesn't see the Wright flap as the defining issue of the campaign. Moreover, he actually comes to Wright's defense -- something which surprised me:

If this were October, I think it would have a dramatic impact. But it's not October. It's March. And I don't believe that by the time we get to October this is going to be the defining issue of the campaign and the reason that people vote.

And one other thing I think we've got to remember: As easy as it is for those of us who are white to look back and say, "That's a terrible statement," I grew up in a very segregated South, and I think that you have to cut some slack. And I'm going to be probably the only conservative in America who's going to say something like this, but I'm just telling you: We've got to cut some slack to people who grew up being called names, being told, "You have to sit in the balcony when you go to the movie. You have to go to the back door to go into the restaurant. And you can't sit out there with everyone else. There's a separate waiting room in the doctor's office. Here's where you sit on the bus." And you know what? Sometimes people do have a chip on their shoulder and resentment. And you have to just say, I probably would too. I probably would too. In fact, I may have had a more, more of a chip on my shoulder had it been me.

In saying that, Huckabee is echoing the theme of a 1950s documentary called The Hate That Hate Produced.

It's a classic. Here's Part I.

If you like that, here's Part II, in which Malcolm X explains that the white man is inherently evil. Hell is here in America, and the white man is the devil, etc.

In many ways, I think it is fair to call Malcolm X the founding father of the hate-America style of religious (or quasi-religious) preaching. Indeed, Jeremiah Wright's "chickens have come home to roost" remark is pure, vintage Malcolm X. (Something Daniel Pipes does not see as progress.) In fact, most of Wright's message is pure Malcolm X.

OK, I'm not getting something. Or maybe I'm just confused again and someone can straighten me out.

I have some basic questions about hate and hatred. People across the political spectrum are condemning Jeremiah Wright's hatred. Even Barack Obama condemns it.

Hate is wrong.

America needs to move past hate!

What I want to know is, if Jeremiah Wright is so terrible, then why is the leading progenitor of his hate-America message honored, praised, and considered a symbol of good?

There are streets, parks, squares, playgrounds and schools named after Malcolm in countless cities (New York, Washington, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Newark, Detroit, Lansing, and of course Philadelphia, to name a few, and the list grows, because naming things in honor of Malcolm X is considered empowering.) There's not only a square but two Malcolm X Boulevards in New York City; one in Harlem and one in Brooklyn. (Bill Clinton's 125th Street office is just off Malcolm X Boulevard in Harlem.) And New York's new governor sings his praises. (Fascinatingly, though, it is considered high treason to ask questions about the man's sexual preference. What sort of multi-culti-phobia might that be? )

Malcolm X's Wiki entry notes that he broke with the NOI and was subsequently converted by the Saudis to their brand of Islam. Whether that means he abandoned hate is of course debatable. He did stop calling the white people devils, but his anti-Americanism was stronger than ever.

Here's a 1965 interview in which he discusses his rejection of the NOI, the formation of the OAAU, his advocacy of the "by any means necessary" doctrine, and his belief that America cannot solve the race problem, and blacks should therefore turn to the United Nations for help.

Considering the ongoing adulation of Malcolm X, by what standard are we supposed to condemn Wright?

Whose chickens have come home to roost, and where?

MORE: I thought I'd add a little official imageism. Malcolm X became a postal icon in 1999:


AND MORE: I guess this should be captioned "WRIGHT FOR ME, BUT NOT FOR THEE!" as it shows Reverend Jeremiah Wright looking quite at home in the Clinton White House:


(Via Hugh Hewitt.)

posted by Eric at 09:33 AM | Comments (3)

Liberation Theology

Spengler of Asia Times takes a look at the theology of Rev. Wright. It is not pretty.

During the black-power heyday of the late 1960s, after the murder of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr, the mentors of Wright decided that blacks were the Chosen People. James Cone, the most prominent theologian in the "black liberation" school, teaches that Jesus Christ himself is black. As he explains:
Christ is black therefore not because of some cultural or psychological need of black people, but because and only because Christ really enters into our world where the poor were despised and the black are, disclosing that he is with them enduring humiliation and pain and transforming oppressed slaves into liberating servants.
Theologically, Cone's argument is as silly as the "Aryan Christianity" popular in Nazi Germany, which claimed that Jesus was not a Jew at all but an Aryan Galilean, and that the Aryan race was the "chosen people". Cone, Hopkins and Wright do not propose, of course, to put non-blacks in concentration camps or to conquer the world, but racially-based theology nonetheless is a greased chute to the nether regions.
It all starts from: "All men are Not created equal.

Let me add that the Jewish idea of the Chosen People is widely misunderstood. It is not about special treatment. It is about being held to a higher standard and more severe punishment for failing to meet that standard. For Jews there are 613 laws that must be followed. For non-Jews only seven.

Spengler says this theology is a heresy.

In this respect black liberation theology is identical in content to all the ethnocentric heresies that preceded it. Christianity has no use for the nations, a "drop of the bucket" and "dust on the scales", in the words of Isaiah. It requires that individuals turn their back on their ethnicity to be reborn into Israel in the spirit. That is much easier for Americans than for the citizens of other nations, for Americans have no ethnicity. But the tribes of the world do not want to abandon their Gentile nature and as individuals join the New Israel. Instead they demand eternal life in their own Gentile flesh, that is, to be the "Chosen People".
Then Spengler has a look at what might have motivated Obama to join Wright's church.
It cannot be in Obama's best interests to appeal to the authority of Cone, whose unapologetic racism must be repugnant to the great majority of Americans, including the majority of black Americans, who for the most part belong to Christian churches that preach mainstream Christian doctrine. Christianity teaches unconditional love for a God whose love for humankind is absolute; it does not teach the repudiation of a God who does not destroy our enemies on the spot.

Whether Obama takes seriously the doctrines that Wright preaches is another matter. It is possible that Obama does not believe a word of what Wright, Cone and Hopkins teach. Perhaps he merely used the Trinity United Church of Christ as a political stepping-stone. African-American political life is centered around churches, and his election to the Illinois State Senate with the support of Chicago's black political machine required church membership. Trinity United happens to be Chicago's largest and most politically active black church.

Spengler then finishes with why Obama is a tragic figure.
Obama holds his own views close. But it seems unlikely that he would identify with the ideological fits of the black-power movement of the 1960s. Obama does not come to the matter with the perspective of an American black, but of the child of a left-wing anthropologist raised in the Third World, as I wrote elsewhere (Obama's women reveal his secret , Asia Times Online, February 26, 2008). It is possible that because of the Wright affair Obama will suffer for what he pretended to be, rather than for what he really is.
Actually the church preaches a Marxist doctrine. One Obama was very friendly with due to his association with his Communist mentor Frank Marshall Davis. So in a round about way he is being punished politically for supporting a political doctrine that is anathema to the vast majority of Americans. He picked his church because it was friendly to his political beliefs. He is about to be punished most severely for it.

So perhaps Obama is one of the Chosen People after all.

If you want to learn more about this theology may I suggest:

Liberation Theology
Black Liberation Theology

Or the works of Cornell West and some of the others Spengler mentions.

Cornell West speaks about Obama

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 07:09 AM | Comments (0)

End Women's Sufferage

Are these ladies typical examples of swooning female Obama voters? There is no way to tell.

posted by Simon at 04:14 AM | Comments (1)

Is Rove Behind Obama?

Maybe. The City Edition has the history of the Republican backing of Obama.

Evidence of a covert campaign to undermine the presidential primaries is rife, so it's curious that the Democractic Party and even some within the G.O.P. have ignored the actual elephant in the room this year. That would be Karl Rove. Long accused of rigging the two previous presidential elections, this master of deceit would have us believe that he's gone off to sit in a corner and write op-eds.

Not so. According to an article in Time magazine published last November, Republicans have been organized in several states to throw their weight behind Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic rival of Hillary Clinton. At least three former fund raisers for President Bush flushed his coffers with cash early on in the race, something the deep pockets had not done for any candidate in their own party. With receipts topping $100 million in 2007, the first-term Illinois senator broke the record for contributions. It was a remarkable feat, considering that most Americans had not even heard of him before 2005.

That is the opening. It is a rather long piece but well worth a read.

But wait. There is more. In December of 2007 Earl Ofari Hutchinson looked at Karl Rove's advice to the Obama campaign.

It's one of the oldest ethnic clichés in the book. The one that says beware of Greeks bearing gifts. But there's nothing ethnically incorrect about saying it when former Bush political guru Karl Rove bears political gifts to a Democrat. The recipient of the Rove largesse is Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama. In an open memo to Obama, Rove caused a titter when he ticked off six things that Obama should and could do to nail Hillary Clinton. Rove's sage suggestions were that he should mount an all-out no holds barred attack on her personality, record, and demeanor. Rove told Obama to stop sounding wishy-washy on the hot button issues such as immigration, and to tell the voters just who he is and what kind of change they'd expect in an Obama White House.
Earl goes on:
Rove's Obama ploy, and that what it is, is a slick, sophisticated, reversal of the conservative Republican's devil tag on Clinton. But it's every bit as cynical, and calculating. Paint Obama as a good guy, a fresh face, and someone who can make a real change for America. The exact last things that Rove wants to see in a Democrat in the White House. But an on-the-attack Obama who dogs Clinton at every step can create havoc in the Democratic Party. It could plunge the party into an orgy of Clinton-Obama sniping, bashing, and finger pointing. That would fuel dissension, stoke bitter divisions and deflect attacks from Bush policies and the GOP candidates that for better or worse are Siamese twin like welded to him and his policies.
Which is exactly what is happening.

How about letting the man speak for himself.

Not that you have asked for advice, but here it is anyway: Iowa is your chance to best her. If you do not do it there, odds are you never will anywhere. You are way behind her in most national polls. The only way to change that is to beat her in Iowa so people around America take another look at you. You did a smart thing organizing effectively in the early primary states. But you can take advantage of that only if you win Iowa and keep her from building an overwhelming sense of invincibility and inevitability.

The good news is you have again got "the buzz". Polls are looking better for you in Iowa and the other early states. Your press is improving, with your performance at the Iowa Jefferson-Jackson dinner a big help. Hillary Clinton has made unforced errors. But she is still the front runner and there are several things you need to do quickly to win.

Evidently Obama listened, or figured it out himself. It worked. Obama is up and the Democrat Party is down.

Karl you magnificent bastard.

Just six months ago I had my doubts about the viability of the Republican Party in the '08 elections. Now I'm bullish.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 02:01 AM | Comments (0)

A Strategic Error

I see a Republican landslide coming. McCain in the upper 50s.

In addition maybe the Ds will rethink their love for identity politics. It has not served them well.

I think McCains's "we win they lose" speaks to the American spirit. What have the Ds got? Hope and Change. BTW a poll I just saw shows Obama sinking like a stone in Ohio. Normally these things go slower. A few points a week. Obama is losing around a point a day. Given the fact that it takes about a month or two for the word to get out it is quite possible Obama will be in the 30s by convention time in late August. Right now he is in the mid 40s in Ohio. Down from a high water mark of 50 against McCain.

Republicans have done what every military commander hopes for. Get the other side in a position where they have no good options. What ever the Ds do now will piss off a large fraction of their voters. Obama has to get the nod to keep the party together. If Hillary gets the nod expect Black Conspiracy theories about how Whitey was 'ridin dirty' on the Black Man. Again. A humiliating loss by Obama will get them to attribute it to American racism. Especially Republican racism. A strategic error. The Dem party - which was united totally with victory assured - is now facing a defeat of staggering proportions. When it gets as bad as I envision there are negative coat tails. This has got to have party leaders shitting bricks.

They are now in a position where they cannot win with the black vote. Nor can they win without it. They are on the horns of a dilemma.

Successful operational maneuver can occur only in conjunction with a sound strategic counterpart. Successful maneuver at any level is derived from reserving options for yourself and denying them to your enemy. William Tecumseh Sherman would have called it putting your enemy on the horns of a dilemma, a philosophy which must transcend the battlefield.

What is the basic fault line of Democrat politics? Identity politics. I don't know who conceived of getting the first major Black Candidate to run against the first major Woman Candidate, but it was a brilliant move for fracturing the Democrat coalition. Now I admit it wasn't a Republican idea. However, one of the rules of warfare is: If your enemy is making a mistake, don't interrupt them. In fact do every thing possible to encourage them. When it is too late for the enemy to change his dispositions bring in the heavy artillery. Cut them to sheds so that they lose unit cohesion. In military operations 10% casualties (in ordinary units) is all you need to destroy unit cohesion. The Romans called it decimation, so this is really old knowledge. I'd say similar numbers are effective in politics.

Obama still has the Rezko trial to get through. And we haven't even touched on Obama's Communist mentor Frank Marshall Davis. Or Liberation Theology. Or Black Liberation Theology.

November may not just be a tactical victory for Republicans, but also a strategic one. It will be very difficult for the Democrats to get the Party back together after this one. All the kings horses....

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 09:23 PM | Comments (17)

From five years to many more!

Justin (I mean the good Justin who writes here, not the one who carried on at the recent demo) told me about a wonderful sign being displayed at San Francisco's "'Peace Vigil' starring Cindy Sheehan, Justin Raimondo -- and not Sean Penn" as documented by Zombietime.

Here it is:


That's Cindy Sheehan holding the banner while she, um, does her hair.

Now, I'm not the type of person who ordinarily gets excited by typos or misspellings, but I was fascinated by Zombietime's repeated characterization of it as a "mystery message," and I agree that it is deeply mysterious.

I realize that many people would dismiss this offhandedly as a "typo," but isn't that only one interpretation? The sign was paraded around San Francisco by some of the most notable antiwar luminaries in the country, and apparently no one ever objected or corrected it. Can so many leading intellectuals be deliberately, ignorantly wrong with such a huge typo on such an important issue?

I don't think so, and I'd like to offer an alternative interpretation.

This is the least I can do, considering that we live in a time when the conservative equivalent of Cindy Sheehan has seriously endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. (I refer of course to Ann Coulter, who is not alone.)

Under the circumstances, is it unimaginable that Ann Coulter's left wing counterparts might contemplate at least a covert McCain endorsement as a counterpart? Sheehan is well known to detest Hillary Clinton (whom she compares to Rush Limbaugh), and now she's also furious with Barack Obama. If, like Coulter, Sheehan is into endorse-the-enemy politicking, then the mystery message makes a lot of sense as a sort of, if not an olive branch, at least covert outreach to a man whose promise of 10,000 years of Iraq war is certain to keep the anti-war left busy, keep them pure, and keep them grateful.

So to be fair to these people, and to promote national unity on the fifth anniversary of the Iraq War, I humbly offer a pro-war interpretation of the mystery message. I don't think it is unreasonable at all to decipher a hidden (perhaps subliminal) pro-war message, and maybe even a pro-McCain subtext.

I will therefore drink to their message.

And I hereby propose a toast to go with it!


Think about it. For once, we can all agree.

And it's a good thing, too.

Just think how miserable these people would be if they didn't have a war to protest!

posted by Eric at 06:03 PM | Comments (3)

breaking the cycles of astroturfing

While it might not be as vital a national issue as sex, today's Inquirer has a fascinating article about an organized effort to stop the use of artificial turf on local playing fields, which they claim is dangerous:

The newest generation of artificial turf comes with a cushion of recycled tire crumbs and, in some cases, a thick layer of contention.

Industry representatives say the turf - in place at dozens of fields throughout the Philadelphia area - is safe. But some parents are not convinced and have mobilized against it.

In Burlington County, Evesham Township residents last week turned in more than 2,500 signatures aimed at forcing a referendum that would keep synthetic grass off their recreational fields.

"This stuff has ground up rubber tires in it, and it's toxic, and they're letting little children play on it," says Karen Borden, a concerned mother and blogger leading the petition drive. "It's crazy."

In Delaware County, some Radnor residents are rejoicing after the school board recently agreed to toss out plans to install the turf at a new middle school.

The school was designed as a green facility with a grass roof and other planet-saving features and would have looked foolish with a fake field, residents argued at several board meetings.

Across the country, similar scenarios are playing out in town halls and school districts as people debate the safety of the new covering, which industry officials say is being laid atop fields at a rate of 800 a year. In San Carlos, Calif., placard-carrying parents recently marched against a turf project, and New Haven, Conn., residents voted down a multimillion-dollar turf proposal.

OK, I live near the school in Radnor. (I guess that makes this a neighborhood issue, which is even more local than a local issue.) Anyway, my objection to the artificial turf is that it's ugly. I have always thought that astroturf is ugly.

But there are a lot of ugly things in this world. Esthetic considerations might be important, but they tend to be personal in nature, and should not dictate public policy. Besides, there might be plenty of people who think astroturf is esthetically beautiful, or cool, or something. I disagree.

But is artificial turf really dangerous?

The Inquirer quotes extensively from "concerned mother" Karen Borden who claims it is, and the story links her month-old activist blog which also claims that it is. (Proudly linked on the home page is the "Precautionary Principle.")

The danger, it is claimed, stems from crumb rubber, which consists of ground-up tires. From the blog's first post:

Crumb rubber is made of ground-up, used tires that contain hazardous substances including the metals arsenic, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, lead, zinc and other chemicals including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and phthalates. Recent studies conducted in Connecticut and New York have confirmed the presence of these substances on existing fields at levels exceeding current allowable NYS Department of Environmental Conservation limits.
While there is are studies which claim such substances are present in crumb rubber, there is no conclusive evidence that they pose a a danger. (And of course, the crumb rubber comes from recycled tires, so if it is dangerous, so are tires, and so is everything made from them.)

This is not a new debate. The battle pits advocates for improved athletic facilities against a coalition of environmental groups and concerned parents.

Artificial turf can be a superior playing field to traditional grass. Proponents say the $700,000 a football field it can cost may be worth it, because the surface is level, a ball can move better and the players can move a little faster. And regardless of rain or snow, the field stays playable.

But many environmentalists aren't buying it. They don't like that the fake turf is composed of polyethylene fibers made to look like grass, which are in turn anchored by rubber pellets made from chopped-up automotive tires.

I just can't help wondering whether that's really the objection, or if it isn't just being seen as a better marketing pitch than the driving motivation, which is esthetic.

Might there be a political motivation?

Consider Karen Borden, the local leader who started the petition drive and the blog. The Inquirer calls her "a concerned mother and blogger leading the petition drive" from Evesham Township but neglects to point out that Karen Borden is listed as the Treasurer of the Evesham Township Democratic Municipal Committee. While it may not shed much light on the claim that the ground-up tires are a public health hazard, isn't it relevant that the leader of the drive against them happens to be a professional Democratic Party activist?


Can there be such a thing as "astroturfing" the anti-astroturfers?

Before I read today's article, I had never even heard of "crumb rubber." Quite frankly, I wish I never had, but when I see a link to an activist website and petition drive in a news article which doesn't supply links to the other side, my natural curiosity is aroused. And when a turf proponent is characterized as "a former pro football coach and the father of a student athlete," while a turf opponent is billed as a concerned parent (but who's actually a professional activist), I have to look further.

So, I wasn't in the mood for tire crumbs, but now I am. As it turns out, they aren't just used in artificial turf, but in a wide variety of products:

Rubber crumb is sold as feedstock for chemical devulcanization or reclamation (pyrolysis) processes, added to asphalt for highway paving and pavement sealers, or used for the production of a large number of recycled rubber-containing products (Table 1).
The list in Table 1 is quite long, but I excerpted a few items:
  • Hospital, Industrial, and Bathroom Flooring
  • Floor Tile
  • Carpet Underlay
  • [...]

  • Baseboards and Kickplates
  • Flower Pots
  • Garbage Cans
  • Shoe Soles and Heels
  • Wire and Cable Insulation
  • It's worth noting that recycled tires also go into ecologically friendly garden hoses! And "green" roads!

    More from the Wiki article on tire recycling:

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports 290 million scrap tires were generated in 2003.[1] Of the 290 million, 45 million of these scrap tires were used to make automotive and truck tire re-treads.[2] With landfills minimizing their acceptance of whole tires and the health and environmental risks of stockpiling tires, many new markets have been created for scrap tires. Growing markets exist for a majority of scrap tires produced every year, being supported by State and Local Government. Tires are also often recycled for use on basketball courts and new shoe products.
    So the stuff is everywhere.

    How dangerous is it?

    According to the EPA, there's no evidence of a health hazard:

    There is no current evidence showing that products containing recycled rubber from scrap tires substantially increases the threat to human health and the environment as compared to the threats associated with conventional products.
    OK, it follows logically that if recycled tires are dangerous, then the tires themselves must be dangerous too.

    I'm wondering how carefully the concerned parents are applying the so-called "Precautionary Principle" in their children's lives. Are they making sure their children don't play on paved streets? The same recycled crumb rubber material which goes into the playing fields at issue also goes into the streets surrounding it. You can't be too careful. Shouldn't the children who are being kept off these dangerous fields also be kept from playing or walking on the streets? And what about industrial and bathroom flooring? The very floors your children walk on might contain the same materials which come from tires and are in the astroturf!

    Most importantly, how many of the concerned parents have looked into the materials that go into their children's shoes?

    Aren't millions of children are being endangered by recycled rubber soles? If we are to live up to the Precautionary Principle, it makes little sense to be selective in its application. If it's bad to have on the playing field, then it's certainly bad to have on the floor, and even worse to have on the feet!

    Back to esthetics. What I think is going on is that people think astroturf is ugly, and they just plain hate it. But that's not enough to draw people into a cause, as it looks whiny.

    Likewise, it sounds whiny to object to money being spent on playing fields because they're used for sports. From an email at the anti-turf site:

    ...This is so out of control that I wish there was a way to impeach the mayor and council. They have lost all objectivity. Is sports that important? 1% of children who play will make a career of it. How many of the same kids have been to a bookstore or art museum or learned to play an instrument....
    Whether sports are important or not, aren't the kids who go to bookstores, art museums, and concert halls just as endangered by the materials that go into the flooring as the kids who play on the astroturf? (Never mind what percentage of kids who learn to play an instrument will make a career of it.)

    If recycled tire products are everywhere, what's with the selective outrage?

    Can't they just admit that they just plain don't like artificial turf and be done with it? This whole "public health" and "environment" game strikes me as dishonest in the extreme. (And contradictory, if we consider the virtues of recycling.)

    I'm wondering if there was similar dishonesty (and maybe "astroturfing") involved with the phony environmental scare over ugly plastic bags.

    posted by Eric at 11:22 AM | Comments (6)


    Obama is against racial insensitivity.

    "I understand MSNBC has suspended Mr. Imus," Obama told ABC News, "but I would also say that there's nobody on my staff who would still be working for me if they made a comment like that about anybody of any ethnic group. And I would hope that NBC ends up having that same attitude."
    Barack Hussein Obama. April 2007. Rev Wright was on Obama's campaign staff until a few days ago.

    It is for the children.

    "He didn't just cross the line,"Obama said."He fed into some of the worst stereotypes that my two young daughters are having to deal with today in America."
    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 01:14 AM | Comments (3)

    Drive Us Apart

    Beware using religion to create division.

    "Somehow, somewhere along the way, faith stopped being used to bring us together and started being used to drive us apart. It got hijacked," the Democratic presidential candidate said in remarks prepared for delivery before the national meeting of the United Church of Christ.

    "Part of it's because of the so-called leaders of the Christian Right, who've been all too eager to exploit what divides us," the Illinois senator said.

    "At every opportunity, they've told evangelical Christians that Democrats disrespect their values and dislike their church, while suggesting to the rest of the country that religious Americans care only about issues like abortion and gay marriage, school prayer and intelligent design," according to an advance copy of his speech.

    The words of Barack Hussein Obama. June, 2007.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 12:08 AM | Comments (1)

    What gentlemen don't discuss!

    Glenn's reference to the "reticence and hypocrisy of the Victorian era" (in reference to New York's latest governor's extramarital heterosexual outing of himself) made me wonder about something.

    Most of us realize that people in the Victorian era had plenty of sex (otherwise we wouldn't be here). However, they were known for not talking about it -- even when they were supposed to talk about it!

    One of my favorite examples comes from the play "Life With Father" (a family memoir) in which Father Day begins a fatherly conversation with his eldest son with "There are things about women I think you ought to know!":

    He solemnly closes the doors to the room, sits beside his son, hesitates, and then advises him that women aren't the angels he might think them; men have to run the world, a woman doesn't think at all--she gets stirred up. He adds that if a man knows how to handle women he will be all right, and that Clarence now knows all about women. Clarence, however, eagerly questions further, and Father realizes, with something of a jolt, that he is expected to be more specific. He closes the conversation abruptly: "There are some things gentlemen don't discuss! I've told you all you need to know. The thing to remember is--be firm!"
    But what gentlemen did not discuss, gentlemen nevertheless did.

    And it wasn't always with their wives. Victorian men especially loved to do what they didn't discuss with prostitutes:

    At no time in history has prostitution been as prolific as at the height of the Victorian era. London, a city of 2 million in the mid-19th century had about 50,000 working prostitutes. That's about one prostitute for every 12 adult males. New York at this time had a similar ratio, leading Robert Dale Owen, a social reformer, to estimate the half the male population visited prostitutes three times a week.


    In the mid-19th century, prostitution was not the underworld scourge it was later to become. Brothels, often located in the fashionable districts, catered discreetly to the moneyed class while street-walkers openly catered to the poor. By and large it was tolerated, in part because it was seen as a necessary sexual outlet and in part because the men who were in a position to outlaw prostitution were also its procurers.

    There wasn't the same shame in visiting prostitutes that there is now. Everybody did it - from princes to paupers.....

    While the above seems a bit salacious and I haven't confirmed the numbers, the information in the Wiki entry on Victorian prostitution isn't much different. This was not new to Victorian times; it was estimated in 1797 that there were 50,000 prostitutes in London (approximately 10% of the total female population)."

    Prostitution was frowned on, but generally legal, and allowed to continue by polite society. Discretion was the word. Of course, the conditions were appalling, and led to the rise of modern feminism. (Timeline here.) Moralists have been condemning prostitution since antiquity.

    Today, engaging in discreet extramarital sex (whether with a prostitute or not) is not the best way to stay out of trouble, it's the best way to get into trouble.

    If a guy wants to get laid and doesn't want to establish a paper trail, he'd better not send any emails, because emails are more forever than diamonds. If he goes to a massage parlor or escort service, he'd better not pay with a credit card, and it's probably not a good idea to use an ATM in the neighborhood, lest questions be asked by the Spitzerites. I suppose he can still pick up someone and go to a hotel, but there might be a paper trail there, as hotels now require ID. If he drives, his license plate or EZ pass information might be recorded. And if he's of any importance, and either holds political office or is even thinking about running for office, he'll be living in constant fear that somehow, somewhere he left an incriminating bit of electronic data.

    Beware! Paying money for sex can lead to money laundering charges, conspiracy charges, and other charges, because nearly everything is now illegal.

    This situation has become intolerable. No wonder New York's new governor began his new term by outing himself. As I said earlier, "the best defense is a good offense."

    If you have ever had sex, and want to hold public office, better admit it now publicly, or they'll be after you. Except for those willing to take the initiative and yell "FVCK you, I've had sex!" sexual intercourse will be an ever-increasing liability. (Except for eunuchs, or the flagrantly promiscuous.)

    OUT OF THE CLOSET! (It isn't just for gays anymore, it's now a strategy of preemptive self defense.)

    Seriously, I'm wondering whether there's an emerging rule about sex along the following lines:

    Promiscuous sex is OK, but discreet sex is forbidden.

    Discretion is the road to personal destruction.

    MORE: Right after I wrote this post, I heard Governor Paterson say that he didn't want to be "outed." Earlier, he specifically mentioned blackmail:

    Paterson said it was time to make the infidelities public so the information couldn't be used to try to compromise him as governor.

    "I didn't want to be blackmailed," he said.

    Got that?

    Regular sex makes people subject to blackmail.

    MORE: Maybe it's the season for sex scandals, but the Detroit City Council has asked the Mayor to resign because he lied about a sexual affair, as evidenced by "steamy text messages":

    Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy is investigating whether the mayor and former Chief of Staff Christine Beatty lied under oath when they testified in a whistle-blowers' lawsuit that they had not had a physical relationship.

    Kilpatrick has been dogged by media reports about steamy text messages the two exchanged that suggest a romantic relationship.

    The mayor said he could not comment on the text messages on Beatty's pager. Beatty resigned from her post in February.

    Mayor Kilpatrick has a lot of other problems, of course, and the overall picture is one of profound corruption.

    So that means he should be run out of office over sex allegations?

    Why? Simpy because they can? Is sex just another tool in the endless "everything is illegal" prosecutorial arsenal?

    posted by Eric at 07:19 PM | Comments (2)

    Who Ya Gonna Call?

    This is a slightly modified version of the Hillary commercial. I'm putting this up for the children, because "we won't surrender, they will".

    posted by Simon at 03:43 PM | Comments (0)

    Teach Your Children Well

    Today Obama repudiated the message of Rev. Wright and said that it was a message from the last generation. So explain to me why Obama sends his kids to Sunday school at Wright's church? What about the next generation?


    Here is an excerpt from the Obama speech saying that individuals must take

    full responsibility for [their] own lives - by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own destiny.
    So I take it Obama approves of what his church is teaching his children. Swell. Just swell.

    posted by Simon at 03:30 PM | Comments (0)

    And the latest polls show....

    Clinton is slightly ahead of McCain.

    And McCain is slightly ahead of Obama.

    The majority of Democrats, though, still prefer Obama.

    If McCain is lucky, the majority will get its way.

    posted by Eric at 12:57 PM | Comments (1)

    Doing the Wright Thing Part 4

    Both CNN and Fox are getting ready to carry Obama's speech on Wright and race.

    It's 10:53 and he just took the stage....

    I'm staying tuned.

    MORE: He begins with the founding.... the document was unfinished because of slavery. Mentions the reflection of slavery in the original Constitution. Overview of the anti-slavery and later civil rights movements.

    We cannot solve the challenges unless we heal wounds, etc. This is part of why he's running for president -- to continue the march for a freer US.

    His story would be impossible in any other country.

    From many one. Stresses unity.

    Reviews the various stages of race discussion in the campaign. Touches on the Steele charge that he's offering a chance for liberals to erase guilt.

    Says he has already condemned Wright's statements.

    Ever heard controversial remarks? Yes.

    Did he strongly disagree? Yes.

    Wright's remarks causing the recent controversy weren't simply controversial, they remarks were wrong and divisive at a time we need unity.

    His denunciations of the remarks won't be enough for many people. Stresses that it isn't all there is about Wright. Stresses his Christianity and his leading Obama to Christianity, his background in the Marines. Reads from his book a passage about listening to Wright. The church seemed like a vessel carrying its congregants to a new world. Black but more than black. Rebuilding.

    Stresses how it's like other black churches. Raucus laughter and bawdy humor. Contains the kindness and cruelty, ignorance, bitterness and biases that make up black America. Wright has been like family to me. He contains the contradictions of the black community. Can no longer disown him than I can my grandmother.

    "These people are part of me, and they are part of America."

    Not trying to excuse comments which are indefensible.

    Racism can't be ignored right now, or we'd be distorting reality like Wright.

    Wright's comments reflect the complexities of race in this country that we haven't worked through.

    Understanding reality requires a reminder of how we reached this point.

    Segregated schools still have not been fixed. Inferior education. History of discrimination which prevented blacks from earning or accumulating wealth. Lack of economic opportunity. Erosion of black families (worsened by welfare). Cycles of violence, blight and neglect.

    This was the reality of Wright's generation. Came of age when segregation was still the law of the land. Doubt, fear, anger and bitterness have still not gone away. It finds voice in the church on Sunday morning.

    The anger reminds us that the most segregated hour occurs on Sunday morning.

    This anger keeps us from facing our own condition squarely, but the anger is real, It is powerful. To simply wish it away without understanding only widens the gap.

    [This is a summary only; I'm sure the entire text will soon be available.]

    (My view of this is that while the anger and bitterness goes on, and Wright's anger reflects it, will Obama defend it or rise above it?)

    Country is in a racial stalemate. Can't get beyond it in a single debate. We can move beyond some of our own racial wounds. We have no choice. Embrace burdens without becoming victims. Take full responsibility. Always believe.

    This conservative notion of self help was part of Wright's message, but his mistake was that he spoke as though the situation was static, and irrevocable.

    America can change.

    (I think he's caught between a rock and a hard place in that while he must condemn what Wright said, he can't condemn Wright as a person without ruining all his credibility.)

    Reflects the Golden Rule. Find the common stake we all have in one another. We can accept cynicism, play Wright's sermons every day and try to make the American people think he agrees with them, etc. but nothing will change.

    The other option is to reject cynicism, fix schools and health care, address the shuttered mills, lost homes, lost jobs shipped overseas.

    He keeps repeating "this time." Bring home the troops, care for them and their families, etc. Iraq War was wrong.

    The union can be perfected.

    Discusses Ashley, a white girl who asked a question in the King church about health care. Convinced her mother that what she wanted was mustard and relish sandwiches (when her mom couldn't afford better). Ashley asks elderly black man why he's there. "I am here because of Ashley."

    Closes with a reference to the band of patriots who founded America "here."

    How did he do?

    Now come the commentators. Britt Hume says it was very eloquently delivered, well written, deft, graceful, whether it will do the job remains to be seen.

    Didn't break with him, but connected himself and Wright to his white grandmother's racism which made him cringe. (Hume thinks that was ingenious.)

    "Clever," says Hume.

    On CNN, the praise is flowing and a little gushy.


    (Hmmm.. Does that mean the choice is history versus clever?)

    Basically, Obama's argument boils down to this: Wright's comments were wrong and divisive, (and "denigrated the greatness and the goodness" of this country), but they reflected his pessimism which grew out of years of unaddressed racism. People need to move beyond that mindset, but Wright is like family to him -- and analagous to his racist white grandmother.

    It's an interesting argument, and I guess we'll see how it plays out.

    MORE: Drudge has posted the Obama speech in full.

    In three words, Obama's message was along the lines of "TURN THE PAGE."

    AFTERTHOUGHT: I'm a bit surprised by strength of this passage:

    ...the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren't simply controversial. They weren't simply a religious leader's effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country - a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.
    If Bush or McCain mentioned the "perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam," CAIR would be calling it hate speech.

    MORE: Here's John Podhoretz, marveling in awe:

    The eloquence of the speech will almost certainly mask Obama's sophisticated effort here to condemn and not to condemn, to say something but not say anything, to sound clear while being extremely unclear. A denunciation that does not denounce, a condemnation that is full of love -- as a former political speechwriter, I will acknowledge I am lost in admiration of the anti-sophistic sophistry on display in every syllable of his text.
    Like him or not, Obama has a way with words.Has anyone stopped to consider that he might consider himself to be intellectually and rhetorically to be far and above his pastor?

    This is not to defend Wright in any way, but in the speech, Obama seemed to be looking down on him a bit with a hint of bemused, "tolerant" patrician condescension. The way he asked us to have a little understanding of Wright's background and analogized to his grandmother's racism reminded me of Eisenhower's "these are not bad people" remark:

    These are not bad people. All they are concerned about is to see that their sweet little girls are not required to sit in school alongside some big overgrown Negroes.
    I could be wrong, but it's looking more and more as if it never really occurred to Obama that anyone would take Wright as seriously as they do, and as he failed to.

    Hey, I'm a lot more tolerant of such things than probably Obama or Eisenhower.

    But when you're running for prezzie, such "tolerance" can be misunderstood.

    MORE: Snippets from the Corner.

    Here's Cliff May

    I think this is the first time Obama has used the phrase "radical Islam" or anything like it on national television.

    I don't think any of the Democratic candidates used such phrases in their debates. If I am wrong about that, I hope someone will tell me.

    Kathleen Parker:
    By framing his Rev. Wright problem as part of the unfinished business of America's founding principles, he makes it unpatriotic to turn away from him now. This isn't a Barack Obama problem; it's an American problem that only he can help solve.
    Kathryn Jean Lopez:
    ...something honest about that. To be disloyal would be wrong, because it's hard to believe Obama hasn't known for quite a while what Wright was all about. Talking about "bitterness," he's excusing Wright for his extremes ... and he's saying, White folks, meet 'the black community.' We're part of America too, just like my white grandmother who was afraid of black men walking on the street. We're America, and we're coming together through me.

    He's good. And Hillary Clinton saw it coming ... why she's wisely said that a speech isn't an achievement. If "white guilt" votes, Obama just won the nomination. The election is another thing, because Wright is still YouTubed and there is still the 3 A.M. phone call you want McCain, if any of those running, answering.

    Drew Cline
    What first strikes me in Barack Obama's speech today is the image of a black American standing across the street from where the Constitution was negotiated in part by slave owners -- and not condemning the Founders, but praising them.

    When we hear sentences like this: "Farmers and scholars; statesmen and patriots who had traveled across an ocean to escape tyranny and persecution finally made real their declaration of independence at a Philadelphia convention that lasted through the spring of 1787," we often hear in response America's black leaders condemn those men as racists who don't represent black Americans. They remind us of the slaves who suffered and died crammed into the cargo holds of some of those ships. They hold slavery to be THE defining mark of early America and discount the remarkable achievement in Philadelphia as something insincere, fraudulent, and unworthy of reverence.

    But here was Obama praising the Founders for their ideals. Here he was noting the stain of slavery, but not letting it become THE story of the Founders, but only a part of the story, not letting it press out the reverence the Founders are due.

    That might be the lasting legacy of this speech. The Jeremiah Wright controversy will eventually become a footnote in American political history. But the moment of the first serious black contender for the Oval Office speaking with reverence and admiration for slave-owning Founding Fathers, and dismissing explicitly the idea that the United States is, by virtue of the nation's Original Sin of slavery, a fundamentally racist nation, has the potential to become a turning point.

    Later, Kathryn Jean Lopez:
    If his audience was super-delegates, job well done. This speech won't win him the general, however.
    And Jonah Goldberg:
    It was a much better speech than I thought it would be. It had some lovely moments and he came across as a remarkably classy and decent guy. But I think there were some serious logical, philosophical, and political flaws to it. Anyway, I've got to write a column on it fast, so I'll be bowing out for a bit.
    Interesting reactions all.

    If Obama can garner such favorable responses from the horrid reactionaries at the Corner, he's certainly living up to his reputation for being likable.

    While I will not vote for him against McCain, there's an element of tragedy in seeing a nice guy being blamed for hateful remarks he never made, and never would have made.

    The lesson is simple: never run for office.

    posted by Eric at 10:52 AM | Comments (6)

    If not race, then sex!

    Meanwhile, in a gubernatorial sex show, we see the new New York governor governor newly admitting to having had an old affair, as the old New Jersey governor rehashes his old gay affairs, while new conspiracy theories circulate about the Eliot Spitzer bust.

    No really. Over the weekend I received an email stating the following:

    Why was Spitzer busted? Is he the only politician patronizing high-priced call girls?

    Why did the indictment occur just one month after his controversial editorial in the Wash Post about sub-prime lending?

    Take a look at Spitzer's Valentine's day editorial.

    I did, and it's a searing indictment of the Bush adminstration, published on March 14, 2008.

    Without getting into the merits of Spitzer's claims (some of which may be valid), I'm not convinced that there's a relationship between the timing of the editorial and the timing of the Spitzer indictment, which involved an international call girl ring. The investigation was a lot broader in scope than Eliot Spitzer, as thousands of calls and emails were intercepted and the ring had been operating for four years:

    As part of the investigation, federal agents worked with a woman who claimed to have worked for the Emperor's Club as a prostitute in 2006, according to court papers. An undercover agent posed as a potential client and arranged appointments by phone and online.

    After obtaining authorization to tap the club's phones, federal agents recorded more than 5,000 calls and text messages and had access to 6,000 e-mail messages, court papers said. Many of these were somewhat mundane requests for appointments. The authorities -- the case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service and the F.B.I. -- did not identify any of the clients.

    Ms. Lewis and Ms. Hollander were charged with a conspiracy to violate federal prostitution laws. Each faces up to five years in prison if convicted.

    Mr. Brener and Ms. Suwal were accused of prostitution and money laundering: The complaint says they funneled profits through bank accounts in the names of two front companies, identified as QAT Consulting Group and QAT International. They face maximum penalties of 25 years in prison if convicted.

    To accept the argument that the indictment of Spitzer -- aka Client 9 -- was in retaliation for his Valentine's Day editorial assumes that he would otherwise have been left alone -- presumably because he was the governor of New York. It also assumes an amazing degree of conspiratorial competence -- at the highest levels of the Bush administration -- to take out a powerful New York governor for criticizing a lame duck president, and to do so with breathtaking speed, right after the appearance of a critical editorial.

    The retaliation theory also ignores the fact that Spitzer was under investigation months before the Valentine's Day editorial, and that it was his wire transfers (initially suspected to involve the hiding of bribes) which had attracted federal interest in the prostitution ring in the first place:

    The federal investigation of a New York prostitution ring was triggered by Gov. Eliot Spitzer's suspicious money transfers, initially leading agents to believe Spitzer was hiding bribes, according to federal officials.

    It was only months later that the IRS and the FBI determined that Spitzer wasn't hiding bribes but payments to a company called QAT, what prosecutors say is a prostitution operation operating under the name of the Emperor's Club.

    The affidavit is detailed here, and it contains a log of events on March 13 -- the day before the editorial was published.

    However, Saudi conspiracy theorists have nonetheless implicated the Israelis -- and of course the Mossad:

    ...Spitzer "spearheaded the 2004 investigation into financial misconduct in the World Jewish Congress, publishing a damning report about WJC mismanagement and unregistered payments to senior officials. The investigation led to a deal which barred then WJC Executive Director Israel Singer from being in charge of its finances." Singer was later fired.

    Now Internet journalists are suggesting that Spitzer may have been targeted. says "Spitzer took on Wall Street like no other attorney general before him... His targets in the past have included everyone from big Wall Street investment banks and the $7.5 trillion mutual fund industry to polluting power plants and supermarket chains that underpaid delivery workers."

    Wayne Madsen says Emperor's Club VIP, the prostitution firm that entangled Spitzer in a call girl ring, is viewed by US intelligence as a front for Israel's intelligence agency, the Mossad.

    "The sources claim that Spitzer was 'outed' for his aggressiveness in attacking money launderers connected to Russian-Israeli organized crime syndicates and other Wall Street malfeasance."

    Internet journalist and Executive Editor Andy Martin said: "Spitzer may have stumbled into a prostitution ring run under the auspices of the Israeli government, namely the Mossad. It is entirely possible that Spitzer was assured that his participation in the prostitution ring was protected precisely because it was run by an Israeli asset."

    On top of all that, TNR's Scott Horton has advanced a long argument that the Spitzer case was politically motivated:
    How did the case against Spitzer get launched? Was he brought down by a politically motivated investigation?

    The integrity of our criminal justice system rests on the notion that we investigate crimes, not people. As Robert Jackson, probably the greatest attorney general of the last century, put it:

    If the prosecutor is obliged to choose his cases, it follows that he can choose his defendants. Therein is the most dangerous power of the prosecutor: that he will pick people that he thinks he should get, rather than pick cases that need to be prosecuted. With the law books filled with a great assortment of crimes, a prosecutor stands a fair chance of finding at least a technical violation of some act on the part of almost anyone. In such a case, it is not a question of discovering the commission of a crime and then looking for the man who has committed it, it is a question of picking the man and then searching the law books, or putting investigators to work, to pin some offense on him.

    The way prosecutorial power is wielded divides a real democracy from a banana republic.

    The story emerging around the fall of Eliot Spitzer suggests that the case did not start with the report of a crime. Rather it started with a decision to look into Spitzer and his financial dealings. In the course of an open-ended investigation, information about a prostitution circle surfaced. That looks abusive. An investigation like that provides no basis to acquit Spitzer. But it suggests that when his case is done, the public should be pressing some tough questions about why this investigation was launched and pushed forward.

    Spitzer's enemies may very well have had him in their sights, just as Larry Craig may have been set up. But that doesn't mean he didn't have sex with the prostitute.

    While I think Spitzer ran afoul of his own prosecutorial "gotcha" system, I think prostitution should be legal and all this sex is a big "so what."

    And so what? I guess the message is that if the war between the races and the sexes gets boring, the tried-but-true war on sex is always there to draw from.

    I still think they ought to be investigating this dreadful sex scandal:

    Glenn Reynolds has weighed in on the Name-That-Party sexathon:

    We're approaching a national Too Much Information crisis. It's almost enough to make you long for the reticence and hypocrisy of the Victorian era. But it's not too much information in every respect, since the story offers another chance to play Name That Party! -- though a close reading of the sidebar sort of answers the question. But only sort of . . .
    The problem with Too Much is that once you have Too Much, Too Much becomes Never Enough.

    And the problem with reticent Victorian hypocrisy is the complete and total lack of privacy makes it impossible.

    Victorian gentlemen could discreetly visit the discreet bordellos that were tolerated by the ruling hypocrites who looked the other way.

    With everyone and his money (and his comings and goings) under surveillance, how might sexual discretion be acheived today?

    I don't blame the new governor for blabbing his personal sex life to the world. He probably thinks the best defense is a good offense.

    posted by Eric at 09:47 AM | Comments (1)

    The Wright issue at the Wrong time?

    Today is big showdown day in Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love. At 11:00 a.m., Barack Obama will be delivering his speech about Jeremiah Wright and racism, and it's do-or-die time:

    Democrats who worry that Barack Obama is untested can put their concerns to rest.

    The inflammatory rhetoric of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright has confronted Obama with the most severe test of his presidential campaign and, quite likely, of his public career.

    He is now facing a full-blown and fast-moving political crisis in which his reputation as a leader with a singular ability to transcend racial divisions and unite Americans is in jeopardy.

    A convergence of factors -- a media firestorm, a Democratic rival eager to exploit his stumbles and, most of all, a Republican opposition eager to rough up the man they expect to face in the general election -- have raised the stakes to new heights for Obama with the speech he will deliver in Philadelphia on Tuesday morning.

    A successful address would go a long way toward answering Hillary Rodham Clinton's complaint that Obama has never shown he can handle the rough-and-tumble nature of modern political combat.

    A failure could leave many of the white independent voters -- a key group behind Obama's swift rise in national politics -- doubting whether he is really the bridge-builder and healer he has portrayed himself to be.

    Excellent analysis. Read the rest.

    While Richard Cohen wants to know what took Obama so long to address the Wright issue, what I want to know is:

    What took the Clintons so long to bring it to the forefront?

    Old video footage can hardly be called "newly discovered evidence" and the Clintons and their operatives are seasoned pros, who've surely known about this for a long time. Why now? Why not months ago, when Obama could have been derailed before his solid winning streak?

    I don't know. But as timing is everything in politics, I suspect the Clintons did not want to give Obama a "Sister Souljah" opportunity which might have made them look bad and made him look good. As it is now, Obama looks like a backpeddling imposter, so the damage to him is incalculably worse, yet too late. Might they be trying to ensure his loss against McCain in order to ensure their spot at the top in 2012? Is a Democratic defeat now in loser Hillary's interest, just as a Kerry defeat was in her interest in 2004?

    Or might the forever-stalled release of Clinton library documents and tax returns have something to do with it? From the Examiner:

    ....Clinton is uniquely positioned to demonstrate good faith by delivering on her promised openness now, instead of after the election. Her first step should be clearing the path for journalists, academics and other researchers seeking access to the millions of key Clinton administration documents hidden in the Clinton presidential library.

    The documents can shed needed light on her role during her husband's administration in such controversies as the White House travel office firings, her health care task force's flouting of federal public meetings laws, and her directives in the aftermath of Vince Foster's death.

    Since Foster's death is a closed issue no sane person is allowed to discuss, I won't. But I'd still like to know what exactly happened to his once "accidentally destroyed" then magically "reappearing" hard drive. I'll bet Hillary's campaign director Maggie Williams knows -- as she's the one who removed records from Vince's office on Hillary's orders.

    The Examiner continues

    Also, she should let the sun shine now on documents concerning her weekly meetings with officials from the White House counsel's office and the Justice Department to vet judicial nominees. And she should open access to all documents on her role in foreign policy decisions concerning Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Northern Ireland and Rwanda.
    Rwanda? I've heard talk of how she brought peace to Northern Ireland, but is Rwanda another one of Hillary's foreign policy accomplishments? I'd like to know more....
    Step two is to release all of her tax returns, as is customary for serious presidential candidates. Step three is to make public all donor names to the Clinton library and foundation. Anything less than these three immediate steps, and Clinton's open government promises won't mean a thing to anybody except gullible journalists who accept them at face value.
    As things stand right now, no one will be interested in asking Hillary about open government, much less gullibly accepting her answers at face value.

    All eyes are on Obama to do the "Wright" thing.

    Sigh. Another day, another national media pageant. And another cynical blog post.

    (I almost feel like accusing the script writers of having a dark sense of humor, but that would be wrong....)

    posted by Eric at 08:52 AM | Comments (4)

    Locks and minds are best opened without drilling

    From Dr. Helen, a fascinating observation about lock picking:

    ...picking locks is not much different than picking minds, that is, you have to be patient, never force change if not necessary, don't use the wrong method of entry and do not give up too easily.
    I really like that analogy.

    You also don't want to break a lock, or a brain. If you drill into a lock, you ruin it. The goal is to get it to open, but have it still function in the same manner as it did before. And other than a lobotomist, or Saddam Hussein's secret police, no one would drill into a brain. Unless you count trepanation in antiquity, but they usually had enough sense only to drill through the skull, and not into the brain.

    Um, I think I spoke too fast when I relegated trepanation to antiquity. There's a trepanation revival movement (login required, unfortunately), which is discussed in a piece calledThis Site Takes An Open Mind -- Literally. Not only are they serious, they believe their minds are opened and their spirits are released by the procedure:

    Like modern versions of the medieval barbers hammered through heads to release demons, today's trepanation buffs disregard the conventions of mainstream science and devise their own arguments for why a drill bit can break the oppressive bonds of reality.

    Proponents of this controversial and bizarre "surgery" claim that blood is the brain's food. In a hermetically sealed cranium, they say, blood flow is constricted by that pest gravity. Therefore, a hole in the head will restore normal blood flow and your noodle will be "lifted from starvation rations to a more generous supply of food," according to the site.

    The ancient practice received new interest in the 20th century from Danish "physician" Bart Hughes, who came up with these hare-brained ideas while high on mescaline. Hughes was denied his official medical license because of his liberal advocacy of marijuana use. In a rare 1966 interview, Hughes laid out a psychedelic rationale for trepanation: "Gravity is the enemy. The adult is its victim; society is its disease. My problem is how to explain to the adult that he has too little blood in his brain to understand -- if he has too little blood in his brain to understand that."

    Being "liberated from gravity's drag" is the ultimate goal of trepanation, according to Hughes. Hughes said that, after he got his own top popped, he felt as carefree as a 13-year-old again.

    It sounds like just the ticket for an uptight adult with a midlife crisis:
    Trepanation advocates claim the uptightness of adulthood is directly related to the brain's blood volume, therefore driving an auger through your head will return you to those blissful days of childhood, freeing up inhibitions and expanding consciousness.
    The piece concludes with some advice for worried parents:
    With the '90s' surge in body-piercing and other fashionable forms of self-mutilation, the pratice caught the attention of Spin magazine. Leading doctors debunked the practice in a May 1998 Spin article: "Dear God," Dr. Barbara Hastings of the American Academy of Neurology told Spin. "To do something that crude to yourself is bizarre! Essentially what they're doing is altering the bony structure, and if they're good at it, they don't touch the dura (the membrane covering the brain). They're not doing anything that would affect the brain, just the skull. ... What they're saying is happening is not anatomically possible."

    "I could look like someone from the establishment protecting my turf, but there are major concerns here, Dr. Patrick Kelly of New York University Medical Center told Spin. "Bleeding and infections are the big ones. You could also easily puncture a hole in the brain. This is just crazy."

    So when Junior comes home and says he wants to get some "piercing" done, make sure he's talking about the ear/nose/lip and eyebrow variety. And put the 13-volt cordless drill under lock and key.


    "Mom I drilled a hole in my head to open my closed mind!"

    But aren'r they forcing change and using the wrong method of entry.

    All things considered, I prefer Dr. Helen's approach.

    MORE: Just what you've always wanted -- a trepanation video clip:

    Not to be a bore, but here are some Western do-it-yourself trepanations:

    Honestly, I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.

    UPDATE: "Brain surgery done with a common hardware store power drill." That was the title of Ann Althouse's post about a totally different subject.

    Must be the election season....

    posted by Eric at 06:46 PM | Comments (4)

    A Sister Souljah Wallace moment?

    Is Barack Obama planning a Sister Souljah speech tomorrow?

    Barack Obama will give a major speech on "the larger issue of race in this campaign," he told reporters in Monaca, PA just now.

    He was pressed there, as he has been at recent appearances, on statements by his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright.

    "I am going to be talking about not just Reverend Wright, but the larger issue of race in this campaign," he said.

    He added that he would "talk about how some of these issues are perceived from within the black church issue for example," he said.

    He also briefly defended Wright from the image that has come through in a handful of repeatedly televised clips from recent Wright sermons.

    "The caricature that's being painted of him is not accurate," he said.

    The speech could offer Obama an opportunity to move past the controversy over his pastor, and to turn the conversation to a topic he'd rather focus on: his Christian faith. But the speech also guarantees that the Wright story will continue to dominate political headlines.

    I have no idea what he plans to say, but I think he still has a chance -- a slim one, but a chance -- to turn what seems like a mortal blow to his advantage. He needs to repudiate his own past, though, and he must use the Wright controversy as an argument and an opportunity to call for real change in race relations. If he admits the mistakes -- and the racism -- of Wright and himself for buying into it, it might work. But he'll have to do so convincingly. Reassuring platitudes won't cut it.

    Were I he, I might even cite the example of Alabama Governor George Wallace, an ardent white racist segregationist who saw beyond it and truly reformed.

    I don't know whether he has it in him to do it.

    If he can't turn this around, he will surely lose against McCain in the fall, and (more ominously) I think the senior leadership of the Democratic Party knows it.

    UPDATE (03/18/08): In today's Wall Street Journal, Shelby Steele sees Barack Obama a "bargainer" who has run aground of the "challenger" mentality of Jeremiah Wright:

    ....nothing could be more dangerous to Mr. Obama's political aspirations than the revelation that he, the son of a white woman, sat Sunday after Sunday -- for 20 years -- in an Afrocentric, black nationalist church in which his own mother, not to mention other whites, could never feel comfortable. His pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, is a challenger who goes far past Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson in his anti-American outrage ("God damn America").

    How does one "transcend" race in this church? The fact is that Barack Obama has fellow-traveled with a hate-filled, anti-American black nationalism all his adult life, failing to stand and challenge an ideology that would have no place for his own mother. And what portent of presidential judgment is it to have exposed his two daughters for their entire lives to what is, at the very least, a subtext of anti-white vitriol?

    What could he have been thinking? Of course he wasn't thinking. He was driven by insecurity, by a need to "be black" despite his biracial background. And so fellow-traveling with a little race hatred seemed a small price to pay for a more secure racial identity. And anyway, wasn't this hatred more rhetorical than real?

    But this "usually hidden corner of contemporary black life" is now exposed to the "floodlight of a presidential campaign"...

    Read it all.

    MORE: Victor Davis Hanson has a great post on the "Wrightgate" affair:

    Visiting the networks, or offering a speech on race, won't do, unless he honestly and forthrightly explains--as we know is true from his long church membership, his memoirs, his past interviews and film clips (cf. 6/5/07: "[Wright'] puts up with me, counsels me, listens to my wife complain about me, he's a friend, and a great leader"...)--that he showed poor judgment in maintaining an intimate relationship with such a hate-monger, and that for there to be reciprocal racial respect and harmony in this country, then all parties must respect basic protocols of speech and reference--and therefore he is resigning from the church while expressing an apology for his past de facto sanction of such a firebrand.

    Blaming others for "divisiveness" or "cherry-picking" or whining that similar scrutiny is not devoted to Sen. Clinton's church, or contextualizing Wright's venom on something like the Huffington Post is a prescription for abject disaster.

    One wonders at this point whether the Senator would prefer not to be president of the United States than tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth about the nature of Rev. Wright and his own connection with him?

    (Via Andrew Sullivan.)

    MORE: Mickey Kaus offers Obama plenty of Souljah moments:

    There are plenty of potential Souljahs still around: Race preferences. Out-of-wedlock births. Three strike laws! But most of all the victim mentality that tells African Americans (in the fashion of Rev. Wright's most infamous sermons) that the important forces shaping their lives are the evil actions of others, of other races. ...
    (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

    Well, Obama did touch on the race preference Souljah, but blamed "the economic policies that favor the few over the many":

    ..a similar anger exists within segments of the white community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don't feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience - as far as they're concerned, no one's handed them anything, they've built it from scratch. They've worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense. So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they're told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.

    Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren't always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.

    Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze - a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many. And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns - this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding.

    MORE: Victor Davis Hanson looks at the speech, and concludes,

    The message? Some of us are never quite responsible for what we say. And Obama has no responsibility to explain the inexplicable of how he closely tied himself to someone of such repugnant and racist views. We will never hear "It's time for Rev. Wright and me to part our separate ways, and here's why."

    Instead, the entire Wright controversy evolved due to America's failure to understand the Wright's past and the present status of race. No doubt, the next time some public figure utters a racist comment -- and it will happen -- we will then expect to hear about context that explains and excuses such an apparent hurtful outburst.

    Obama is right about one thing: We are losing yet another opportunity to talk honestly about race, to hold all Americans to the same standards of public ethics and morality, and to emphasize that no one gets a pass peddling vulgar racism, or enabling it by failing to disassociate himself from its source -- not Rev. Wright, not even the eloquent, but now vapid, Barack Obama.

    AND MORE: Via Glenn Reynolds, Roger L. Simon is poetically blunt:

    Barack, your speech was bullshit.

    Barack, this isn't about generations.

    Barack, this isn't about the black church.

    Barack, this is about a pathological minister whose uncontrolled anger wounds his own people and keeps them down.

    Barack, this is about a man who ignored that rage for his own political gain and even now won't admit a huge mistake and looks for nuance and excuses.

    Barack, this about a woman who went on scholarship to Princeton and Harvard and still hates America.

    Barack, you say you want Black-Jewish reconciliation but you hung with an anti-Semite.

    Barack, I didn't do it for this.

    Read it all.

    posted by Eric at 04:37 PM | Comments (7)

    Sgt. Mom Needs Your Help

    Sgt. Mom needs your help.

    She worked for a small business and her boss died Saturday of natural causes while she was in the next room. While she is tied up helping to straighten out the remains of the business she is out of a job.

    Please visit her and drop something in the tip jar.

    Update: Eric chimes in in the comments:

    Let me second that! I hit her tip jar, and I urge readers to do the same.

    Remember, there is no tip jar here, so please be generous with Sgt. Mom.

    And if you are one of those cheapskates who thinks hitting a tip jar is like giving something for nothing (which it isn't), then please go buy her excellent book, To Truckee's Trail.

    posted by Simon at 02:07 PM | Comments (2)

    Lose a gun, go to jail!

    In a sneaky amendment to a crime bill, Pennsylvania gun control forces are pushing hard for legislation that would criminalize the failure to report guns that are either lost or stolen.

    HARRISBURG - Handgun-control proponents in the State House are attempting to force a floor vote today on a controversial bill that would require handgun owners to tell authorities when their weapons are lost or stolen.

    To avoid a counter-lobbying campaign by the National Rifle Association, lawmakers late Wednesday filed the language as an amendment to a crime-code bill that had already cleared a House committee. The move sends the bill directly to the floor.

    "This is a historic moment for the Pennsylvania General Assembly and the House in particular," said Rep. Cherelle Parker (D., Phila.). "For many years, legislators across Pennsylvania have been trying to answer calls law enforcement has been making to us to give them the tools to get handguns off the streets."

    The amendment will face opposition from Republicans and many rural Democrats. But, proponents say, polls showing that a majority of voters support mandatory reporting of lost and stolen handguns will compel lawmakers at least to go on record with their position.

    It's unclear whether opposition has softened in Harrisburg since 2006, when the House overwhelmingly defeated the measure. Votes were not recorded then.

    Steve Miskin, a spokesman for House Minority Leader Sam Smith (R., Jefferson), was unaware of the amendment until a reporter contacted him. Miskin would not say where Smith stood on the lost-and-stolen amendment, but he expressed concern about the measure's language. He said the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, though not opposing the policy, was reluctant to support the strict penalties in the measure.

    I can certainly understand the District Attorneys Association's reluctance. While its proponents attempt to market it as common sense, this measure would do little more than criminalize law abiding gun owners who fail to report crimes committed against them. And it would criminalize the failure to report what is often unknowable -- a simple loss.

    This makes a potential criminal out of any gun owner, and it treats guns as inherently suspect property, which must be treated as different from other property.

    Ever heard the expression "Count the silverware"? If you're wealthy enough to have valuable silverware, it probably is a good idea to count it occasionally. Because guests can be dishonest. So can contractors, house painters, gardeners, cleaning people, etc. It would be unimaginable for anyone to propose making it a crime to fail to report stolen silverware, though. People who might count it would do so for their own selfish reasons, not because they fear criminal prosecution. But if it becomes illegal to not report something which is missing, at what point is it missing? At the moment it disappeared? Or when you discovered the loss? Suppose you don't believe in locking up your guns (any more than a lot of homeowners would lock up their silverware), and you have a number of guns conveniently located in different places in the house. If a crooked contractor stole one during a remodeling project, you might not notice it missing for some time. And even if you noticed it missing, how would you know whether it was stolen and not misplaced? At what point would you be legally obligated to notify the police? At what point would criminal liability attach, and why? These are not idle questions, for they touch on the constitutional due process requirement that a statute must put a reasonable person on notice as to what conduct is forbidden.

    Why single out guns unless the intent is to stigmatize them? I think that a law criminalizing non-reporting requires more than merely reporting a loss or a theft; by its nature it imposes an affirmative duty to monitor and count your guns on a regular basis or be a criminal (in much the same way that a law criminalizing the non-reporting of silverware would require counting the silver). But because it does not spell that out, I think it's unconstitutionally void for vagueness.

    In numerous discussions and in editorial pieces like this one by Monica Yant Kinney, it is claimed that the goal of the reporting law is to stop the criminal resale of guns, by making it an additional crime for criminal enablers of illegal resellers not to report their illegal transfers:

    "Lost-and-stolen is a no-brainer," said Joe Grace of CeasefirePA. "Ninety-six percent of Pennsylvanians support this."

    And the other 4 percent? Perhaps they're the entrepreneurs who pay folks with clean records to purchase guns later resold to thugs on the streets.

    If straw buyers had to tell police about every weapon they bought and "lost," they might think twice about the business ventures.


    Advocates like Ms. Kinney ignore the fact that law would violate the Fifth Amendment's protection against self-incrimination, and would have no effect on the criminals it is supposedly intended to target.

    Former prosecutor C.D. Michel analyzed this problem at length, and his analysis sheds more light on the reluctance of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association to back this legislation:

    Ironically, the ordinance cannot be used against the real bad guys. No law can compel lawbreakers to report themselves. So a straw purchaser who legally buys a gun cannot be compelled to report that he resold it illegally. And since it wasn't actually lost or stolen, he hasn't violated the ordinance. Similarly, if a felon prohibited from possessing a gun illegally possesses one anyway, and it is lost or stolen, he can be prosecuted for having the gun in the first place, but cannot be prosecuted for failing to incriminate himself by reporting the loss.

    Enforcement of these ordinances places prosecutors in a precarious legal and ethical position. Say a straw-purchaser's gun is recovered at a crime scene and traced back to him. If he lies to police claiming his gun was "stolen" when he really sold it on the black market, will we nonetheless prosecute him for something he did not do (fail to report the "stolen" gun -- which wasn't actually stolen) but to which he "confessed"? Ethics and legality aside, securing a misdemeanor conviction for failing to report a theft (that never occurred) likely prohibits prosecuting the straw purchaser for the more serious felony black market sale or for making a false statement to police.

    As he points out, the law creates a major problem for true victims of gun theft, whom he very rightly advises to hire an attorney before making any report to the police:
    Perhaps worse, gun owners who truly are burglary victims must now hesitate to speak with police if their stolen gun is recovered at a crime scene. If the gun owner failed to report the loss at all, or on time, she faces possible criminal prosecution if she cooperates with police investigating the recovered gun. She should remain silent, get a lawyer and seek immunity first.
    Then there's the question of what to do if a gun is missing (or you think it's missing):
    Legal representation may also be appropriate when a gun is first discovered missing. The owner can be prosecuted if the theft is not reported within 48 hours of when the owner "should have known" the gun was missing. Proponents have made clear they believe "responsible" gun owners should know where their gun is at every single moment and "should know" a gun is gone immediately. And the fear of prosecution will encourage those who miss the 48-hour window not to report the loss at all.

    Effectively, these ordinances place the legitimate gun owner in jeopardy of prosecution for becoming a victim of a crime. In light of these liabilities, gun-rights groups and the criminal-defense bar have begun advising gun owners -- who would ordinarily be happy to assist police with their investigation -- that they need a lawyer if they are contacted by police.

    You'd need a lawyer even if you misplaced a gun in a disorganized house with lots of repair people running in and out.

    Basically, they're criminalizing victims of crime, criminalizing what would ordinarily be considered sloppiness, making ordinary gun owners inherently paranoid, ever more likely to become suspects, and in need of legal help for matters that used to be common sense. And of course, the illegal gun dealers, far from being the target class, are completely unaffected.

    Because of the vagueness I described, laws like this will lead to cries for more laws -- such as the type advocated by Barack Obama in 1999 which would have made felons out of gun owners whose guns were not "securely stored":

    In 1999, Obama proposed to make it a felony for the gun owner if a firearm stolen from his residence and used in a crime was not "securely stored" -- effectively negating the homeowner's right to self-defense.
    Via Dr. Helen, who called it "scary stuff."

    And she's right. A gun that is locked up in a gun safe is as likely to protect you as a dog that is locked up in a closet.

    I think these reporting laws are unconstitutional, and but another step on the road to criminalizing self defense.

    But if they pass, what are gun owners to do? In an interesting discussion of a similar New Jersey law (which also touched on civil liability for stolen guns) Armed and Safe offered some advice:

    If S. 2934 passes (which it seems bound to do), I think every handgun owner in New Jersey, on the day the law goes into effect, should report that all their handguns fell into the ocean (or were irretrievably lost in some other fashion). Let the petty tyrants chew on that.
    Ah, but what if the guns were later found? The gun owners could be arrested for making false reports!

    (Another damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't. But as I keep saying, more laws equal more crime.)

    posted by Eric at 12:38 PM | Comments (10)

    My unnatural preference for insincere demagoguery

    While driving in the car recently, I have found myself thoroughly enjoying hearing "hate speech" denounced on conservative talk shows. Earlier this morning, Jeremiah Wright was being compared to Fred Phelps, which is a very fair comparison, because both are spewers of hate speech who belong to the Democratic Party. (I won't hold my breath expecting to hear Wright compared to Michael Savage on conservative talk radio, though....) Not that I would restrict "hate speech," because I tend towards First Amendment absolutism. But just because I wouldn't legally restrict something does not mean I like to hear it.

    I'd be very, very uncomfortable having to sit and listen to one of Jeremiah Wright's sermons, because I know it would irritate me. That's why I try to avoid ever turning on Michael Savage. If there's one thing worse than hearing obnoxious ideas, it is hearing obnoxious ideas uttered by grating or unpleasant voices -- whether those of Jeremiah Wright, Michael Savage, or Hillary Clinton.

    There. I finally managed to criticize that awful shrill voice in a non-sexist manner! I hate the way feminists get "that look" on their face if you happen to be a male by accident of birth and you complain that you don't like the sound of Hillary's voice. It isn't because it's a female voice that I don't like it; it's because it's unpleasant and shrill, and has this creepy sense of angry urgency to it. Like Jeremiah Wright and Michael Savage. Interestingly, Savage is the only voice of the three that I can freely criticize without risking the accusation of bigotry. It would be easy to write them all off as "demagogues."

    But are they? I think they are, but is that all there is to it?

    The word "demagogue" is tossed around a great deal. Maybe not as much as "hypocrisy," but enough that I think it's worth a close look. According to my dictionary, it has little if anything to do with the tone of someone's voice, nor does it involve the rightness of wrongness of whatever is being said. Rather, it involves the type of persuasive tactics employed by a speaker:


    The number one definition has fallen into disfavor, but it comes closer to the original Greek one, which the Greeks themselves evolved. More on that later.

    Right now, most people focus on the second definition, and we're all familiar with politicians and self-appointed leaders who stoke prejudices and passions, and incite the populace with sensationalism, specious arguments, catchwords, and the rest of it. Usually, it's so they can get power or money.

    Most of us tend to think of demagoguery as involving dishonesty, which it does, because such tactics inherently constitute manipulation, and it is dishonest to mislead people. I consider television (except perhaps straight, unedited footage on CSPAN or something) and the use of imagery to be inherently manipulative, because editing often injects bias. What you see is fragmentary, and devoid of overall context. The same applies to a run of the mill speech by a politician trying to persuade people to his side, or trying to whip up the troops.

    But whether someone is a demagogue is a very different consideration from whether he is insincere in or dishonest about his beliefs. Not all demagogues doubt the underlying message they are trying to promote; in fact, many are driven by deeply, passionately held beliefs, and are convinced that the most important thing is to get the message out there, and if manipulative tactics have to be employed, then the end justifies the means.

    So, many demagogues are in that sense sincere. The word is not synonymous with insincerity in one's beliefs. Or principles. "Unprincipled demagogue" is a phrase I hear often and use myself, but it should not be seen as a redundancy, but as a qualifier, for there can be such a thing as a principled demagogue. Winston Churchill knew the method well; a classic was his "If Hitler invaded Hell I would at least make a favourable reference to the Devil in the House of Commons." (This was of course intended to assuage the very real concern that the allies were entering into a pact with the evil Joseph Stalin, but Churchill's utter sincerity is not open to serious question.)

    Considering my penchant for complaining about the misuse of ordinary words as what is called "code language," I was a bit shocked to see evidence that the word "demagogue" might be exactly that.

    From a book I lovingly call "my CT Onions":


    Long, long ago, in the distant Greek past, "demagogue" simply meant "leader of people."

    But leaders (especially those we might call "populists" today) sucked, so the word evolved to the point where calling someone a "leader" became a term of derision. (I must confess that in my darker moments I can get myself so worked up that I find myself condemning all leaders and all followers, and then I find myself wondering which group is more worthy of scorn and ridicule. But I am trying to be good here, so please Satan, don't tempt my dark side!)

    Anyway, disturbing as it may sound to those who think labeling someone a "demagogue" ends all inquiry into that person's character, the fact is that there can be both sincere demagogues and insincere demagogues.

    Perhaps sincerity isn't the right word here. I'm thinking "true believer" might be better.

    Because politicians so frequently use demagoguery to get elected, we tend to think of demagogues as being something less than true believers. In fact, I began this essay with the question "Are demagogues better than true believers?" But I realized it was an unanswerable question, because while many demagogues are not true believers, some are.

    This is a topic that plagues me, because so much depends on context. And it also depends not only on what "side" the demagogue is on, but on what side the opponent of the demagogue is on. The latter is much more critical, because if you're seriously opposed to someone's politics or positions, the important question should not be whether that person is using demagoguery, but whether he or she means what he says.

    If they are my enemies, I worry more about the true believer variety of demagogue than the cheap insincere hustler who will do or say anything to get elected.

    Hitler was of course the ultimate true believer demagogue, and his original supporters in the German aristocracy made the fatal mistake of seeing his obvious demagoguery as denoting an absence of inner sincerity. So did Stalin. And so, unfortunately, did many Jews, who had learned over the centuries to regard anti-Semitism as the type of routine demagoguery used by many a power seeker. This was not irrational. The fact is, many if not most demagogues -- the kind who "will say anything to get elected" -- only want the perks and privileges of power. Once they get it, that familiar and reassuring sense of realism sets in. ("Now, let's be realistic.")

    I realize that everyone is hung up on this election right now, but I wanted to illustrate by way of an easy to understand, if extreme, example.

    I'm not making a Hitler comparison here, OK? (None of that Hitlery Clinton stuff for me. In fact, I am so against such demagoguery that I'll go back and strike those very words! I disavow them, I reject them, I denounce them, and I repudiate them!)

    These thoughts were prompted because in an earlier post, I worried about whether Republican crossover voting is inherently corrupting. My worry is we are conditioned to defend the choices we make, and voting is the epitome of choice. Voting for something tends to put your ego on the line, and because it is against human nature to admit to being wrong, it is natural to defend our choices.

    Even our unnatural choices.

    Vote for someone once, and you become someone who voted for that person, and more likely to defend that person. This can be corrupting.

    It would all be easier for me to handle were I not extremely concerned that, far from being a garden-variety insincere demagogue, Hillary Clinton is a true believer. Her inner passion sounds utterly sincere at times, and that terrifies me. The fact that she tries to tone it down worries me even more. If I have to vote for an enemy, I have more of a problem voting for a true believer demagogue who is my sworn enemy than an insincere demagogue who only claims to be my enemy.

    As I say, this has the power to corrupt the mind.

    When dealing with enemies, corruption can be comforting, though.

    In a post last night, M. Simon concluded that Barack Obama is insincere, and said he found that insincerity to be "comforting":

    ...this is comforting news. The Great Democrat Hope for unity and an end to the racial divides in America is just another lying politician. Whew. Things are getting back to normal. Had me worried for a while.
    I found myself comforted a few weeks ago by the news that Obama had taken Republican-style positions on a number of issues, and I also liked the way he secretly backed away from his public positions on Nafta. I also like his willingness to dilute mandatory health care. Contrasting this with Hillary's adamant, vehement, shrill calls for socialism, I can't help but prefer Obama's insincere approach.

    If two people are threatening to take away my freedom and my property, and only one of them really means it, and if I am supposed to "prefer" one or them, then my unnatural preference becomes a no-brainer.

    posted by Eric at 10:18 AM | Comments (3)

    Back To Normal

    Obama has said he didn't hear firsthand any of "Wrong Way" Wright's anti-American diatribes. It appears that that statement is not entirely correct.

    Contrary to Senator Barack Obama's claim that he never heard his pastor Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. preach hatred of America, Obama was in the pews last July 22 when the minister blamed the "white arrogance" of America's Caucasian majority for the world's suffering, especially the oppression of blacks.

    Senator Obama has sought to separate himself from his pastor's incendiary remarks, issuing a statement Friday rejecting them as "inflammatory and appalling" but failing to renounce Wright himself for his venomous and paranoid denunciations of America.

    And it just gets better.
    If Obama's claims are true that he was completely unaware that Wright's trademark preaching style at the Trinity United Church of Christ has targeted "white" America and Israel, he would have been one of the few people in Chicago to be so uninformed. Wright's reputation for spewing hate is well known.

    In fact, Obama was present in the South Side Chicago church on July 22 last year when Jim Davis, a freelance correspondent for Newsmax, attended services along with Obama.

    In his sermon that day, Wright tore into America, referring to the "United States of White America" and lacing his sermon with expletives as Obama listened. Hearing Wright's attacks on his own country, Obama had the opportunity to walk out, but Davis said the senator sat in his pew and nodded in agreement.

    Reporters in church. What will they think of next.

    In any case this is comforting news. The Great Democrat Hope for unity and an end to the racial divides in America is just another lying politician. Whew. Things are getting back to normal. Had me worried for a while.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 04:16 AM | Comments (0)

    Is A Independent Of B?

    Eric is asking if A should be held responsible for the statements of B? I think it depends on the degree of the association. You know kind of weighted. Or in more technical terms. Fuzzy logic.

    One thing we can say for sure (assuming humans are free actors and can choose acting against interest) is that A is responsible for his association with B.

    So let me get right to Obama. He chose his minister. He chose his wife. Seems like two strikes right there.

    Barrak H. Obama and his charming wife both come from American University culture. Wright has a Masters Degree from University of Chicago Divinity School. The very same school Obama taught at. The very same school his wife has a connection to through her job at the University Hospital and her previous job as a Dean at the University. Do I detect a network here? Or is this just guilt by association? Some one needs to chart out the social network.

    The question is: is a member in good standing of that culture qualified to lead America? Woodrow Wilson any one? Leftism (and socialism/progressivism) has been a part of that culture for a very long time.

    posted by Simon at 06:34 PM | Comments (8)

    disassociating associations and the like....

    Is there such a thing as Election Burnout Syndrome? I don't know, but I do know that am really tired of the election, and sicker than I can ever remember being sick of any election before. The worst aspect of being burned out now is that technically, they have not yet really begun to fight, as the real campaign hasn't started yet. We still do not know the Democratic nominee, and the names of potential vice-presidential candidates are barely in the whisper rumor stages.

    What fries me the most about the campaign is that the most popular theme so far violates one of my pet peeves, and that is the idea of holding A responsible for comments made by B. This is a violation not only of basic fairness, but of basic logic.

    I've been blogging for.... Geez, in May it will be five years. One of the things that has most irritated me is something I know has happened to and irritated countless bloggers, and that is when people come along and put words in my mouth. There are various ways of doing this, but one of the most common is to cite a commenter, then attribute his thought process to the blogger. Listing and lumping people together is another common method. If one of my commenters says something, then it's "typical" of what "readers" think here, or that it typifies "the pro-war mindset," the "libertarian mindset" or even "the right." This is a profound abuse of logic, because what a commenter says is what a commenter says. Likewise, what another blogger says is what that blogger says.

    The most frequent targets of such smears are the bigger bloggers who attract hundreds of comments on every post. This vintage attack by James Wolcott on LGF is one example among many of the thoughts of commenters being attributed to a Charles Johnson, simply by the technique of lumping people together with guilt by association.

    A more recent example is this attempt to tar Ann Althouse with her commenters:

    Ann has blogged quite a bit about her own feminism, and has criticized some powerful people whom she sees as feminism's false friends. So it's hard to understand her wanting to provide a forum for the sort of filth her commenters are spewing.
    Wanting to provide a forum for filth? Sounds like a vintage Jerry Falwell remark, except it's considered enlightened leftist criticism.

    I know I've complained about this sort of thing so many times that it's almost a feature of this blog, but I find the idea that I am responsible for what someone else says to be obnoxiously illogical. That's because I have no control over what other people say, and there's a fairly wide range of people, bloggers, and commentators I like. If I like someone personally, that does not mean I agree with that person. If I like someone's blog, that does not mean I agree with everything that the blogger says, and nothing is more irritating than the idea that I should be said to agree with something I did not agree with -- much less held accountable for it.

    I have been repeatedly "shamed" -- accused of "hate linking" -- for citing Clayton Cramer -- presumably because of things he has said about homosexuality.

    Hate-linking still, are we? Clayton Cramer? You really need to remove your head from your ass.
    Never mind that I disagree with Cramer on homosexuality and voiced this disagreement repeatedly. Guilt by association means that I am not ever to agree with him or cite him with approval on anything, lest I be accused of agreeing with him on everything, even on things where I have specifically have disagreed! (Of course, it is outrageously bad logic to hold me responsible for things other people have said, and I should not even have to voice disagreement. But never mind logic when the idea is to hold me "accountable" for the statements of others!)

    Another example of this illogic was Glenn Greenwald's uproar over Misha and noose jokes. Misha is another blogger I have agreed with from time to time, and who was nice enough to blogroll me. Nothing he says places me under no duty to disagree with him when I disagree, much less "disassociate" myself from him. Like any other blogger, Misha speaks for himself, and I speak for myself. The nonsensical tarring of everyone right of left with Misha's nooses led to such ridiculous extremes that I thought it was funny:

    Glenn Reynolds is refusing to condemn those who refuse to condemn.

    (My refusal to condemn Glenn's refusal to condemn deserves the strongest possible condemnation, I'm sure.)

    On the other hand, when Glenn Reynolds goes too far, I have not hesitated to resolutely condemn him for it. (A good example was the disturbingly similar content between Reynolds and Mussolini, something Greenwald never credited me for, despite the damning list of similarities I provided.)

    On the right, there was the notorious, and even more silly delinking campaign against Glenn Reynolds for the crime of being allegedly too soft on the ACLU. Fortunately, the delinking campaign was stopped, but that sort of logic -- of finding ideological heretics and demanding mass denunciations -- is everywhere.

    Obviously, this walk down memory lane was prompted by the frenzy of attacks on Barack Obama, not because of what he said, but because of what his minister and mentor said. A lot of what Jeremiah Wright said is so over the top that Obama should denounce it, but I have to ask, how was he responsible for it? My favorite blogger is Glenn Reynolds. My favorite radio talk show host is G. Gordon Liddy. While I'm at it, my favorite comedian is George Carlin. And I have long loved Howard Stern.

    (Hmm... Maybe I shouldn't have made this disclosure. I'd hate to think I might have given the Glenn Greenwalds and the James Dobsons of this world an opportunity to link them together in a list.)

    Anyway, it just so happens that I agree with Reynolds (and Howard Stern) more than I agree with Liddy. But am I in any way responsible for what any of these people say? For what, exactly? Their philosophies are diametrically opposed in different directions on many issues, and I have no control over what goes out online or over the air.

    Take G. Gordon Liddy, as an example. If I were a candidate for some important office (and thank God I am not), no doubt the Greenwalds of this world would comb through Media Matters for quotes and then hold me "accountable" for selected remarks Liddy has make. (Trust me, he's said a lot over the past few decades, and I have often disagreed, but that wouldn't matter to people who'd accuse me of sitting there and "listening with approval.") I'd be especially guilty, because I credit Liddy for helping inspire me out of a serious depression, and I tried to get him pardoned by the Clintons. Therefore, according to today's political logic, I'm just as responsible for what he says as Obama is for what Jeremiah Wright says.

    It is deeply, profoundly illogical, but it just goes on and on, and I see it every day.

    As a matter of fact, in Friday's offering of bad logic, Greenwald works himself into quite a lather over several selected excerpts from the multi-blogger National Review Online's Corner. Considering my longtime opposition to social conservatism, it wouldn't be hard for me to find and get worked up over selected remarks at the Corner either. But it wouldn't occur to me in my wildest dreams to blame Glenn Reynolds. Greenwald, though, goes further than that; he advances the claim that Glenn is even worse (less "respectable" and therefore belonging to a "lower level") than the Corner writers he condemns:

    ...these [excerpts from the Corner] are the high-minded, deeply Serious observations one finds in just one 24 hour period in the most respectable right-wing outlet in America. This is to say nothing of what one finds peddled by the lower levels of the right-wing noise machine: Rush Limbaugh, Instapundit, Bill O'Reilly, Drudge, right-wing blogs and the like.
    I know this is getting tedious, but once again, nothing could be more illogical than listing people together, claiming a connection that is not there, and then giving them all a colletive title -- the lower levels of the right-wing noise machine!

    Why not Limbaugh, Reynolds, Drudge, David Duke, Mussolini, and Hitler? I mean, if guilt can be imputed by association, why not impute guilt by listing?

    Actually, I shouldn't complain. In fact, I should feel probably proud that Greenwald would so graciously include me with his catchall "right-wing blogs and the like." I don't know how well I live up to the "right wing blog" label.

    But can I be part of "the like"? Should I?

    For the likes of me, I'm torn. Because, like, while I like thinking I like being included in "the like," I'd, like, also like to disassociate myself from "the like." Because, like, how am I to know what the rest of "the like" are going to, like, say?

    Nothing like being held accountable to the likes of the like.

    So many likes, so little time.

    MORE: Might this latest round have started with Farrakhan and Hagee? And they're also talking about Parsley.

    Is there a Parsley, Hagee, Farrakhan, and Wright conspiracy of denounced, repudiated and disassociated associations?

    posted by Eric at 01:09 PM | Comments (8)

    Division Of The Spoils

    Like all criminal organizations the Democrat Party is falling apart over the division of the spoils.

    posted by Simon at 05:00 AM | Comments (1)

    A winning strategy of losing?

    In a comment to an earlier post, I opined that Hillary has a far better chance of beating McCain than Obama ever would, which is why I questioned the motives of some of the Republicans who support her.

    But in this topsy-turvy state of affairs created by massive crossover voting (25% of Clinton's voters in Mississippi were Republicans), is it logical for me to use the word "support"?

    While it's true that some Republicans -- Ann Coulter, Pat Buchanan, Bill Cunningham, and the like -- have stated that they would vote for Hillary if she is McCain's opponent, I don't think it's fair to say that most of Hillary's Republican voters are her "supporters."

    Clearly, the Hillary Republicans are voting for a variety of reasons. The "Limbaugh camp" advocates voting for Hillary as a crossover strategy, not (at least, so they say) because they like Hillary or hate Obama, but to "help McCain." This camp can be divided into two groups: one which believes Hillary would be easier for McCain to beat, and another which believes that causing chaos in the Democratic Party will assist the Republicans.

    OK, I may be wrong about this, but I don't think Hillary Clinton will be easier to beat. Far from it. The Clintons are a formidable pair -- at their best when running against Republicans. They will be running a virtual incumbency campaign fueled by nostalgia for "peace and economic prosperity," which they will claim they delivered before and can deliver again.

    Short term, the chaos Republicans are promoting will be just that. But it won't last past June. In fact, the more the voters see Obama's blood in the water, the more likely they are to turn on him and put him out of his misery, shed their dreams, and get back to Hillary.

    I think that once the Dems get their act together, it will be all out war on McCain -- and my fix on this is that if the Clintons are on the top of the ticket, Hillary has a much better chance of winning than Obama ever would. Right now, they are perfectly happy to use Republicans attacks on Obama (and crossover votes against him) to their benefit, but once the dust has settled, it would not surprise me to see the Clintons turn right around and claim that it was "Republican racist interference" which derailed Obama. That it was the Republicans, true to their Karl Rove style, who played the race card all along (especially by accusing the Clintons of playing it). And it was the Democratic Party and some of its voters who were tricked, misled, and confused by slick Republican operatives. The Dems love being victims, and being "victims of Republican racism" is extremely popular. It would fit the unity theme, and even Obama might play along. Hell, he could even cite his (and the Clintons') numerous statements to the effect that they were trying to keep race from being an issue in the campaign.

    But the racist Republicans just wouldn't let them.

    This of course is classic Machiavellianism. Allow or encourage your adversary to do your dirty work, then attack him for doing it. (The Clintons are of course masters of Machiavellian tactics.)

    I think there is a third group of Hillary Republican voters who haven't been much discussed -- and I think it would be fair to call them the Anyone But Obama (ABO) Republicans. It would of course be wrong to call them Hillary supporters, but I think it's equally wrong to call them "Republican victory strategists," as their thinking is not geared toward Republican victory, so much as it is stopping Obama, a man they see as extremely dangerous for a variety of reasons. Some of these reasons (such as the concerns over his bigoted anti-American minister, and ethically questionable real estate deals) are legitimate, even if I think the litany of Clinton scandals make them pale by comparison. But other concerns (that Obama is a secret Muslim who hates America whose middle name is of urgent importance) border on outright paranoid conspiracy nonsense. If they want conspiracy theories, what's wrong with Vincent Foster, Ron Brown and that long list of corpses I'm sure is floating around somewhere?

    The thing is, as an admitted Clintonphobe I'd be a hypocrite to condemn people suffering from Obamaphobia. However, I do think my negative feelings about the Clintons are based on what I remember about their eight years in power, and for the most part (save that which is still being withheld by the Clintons) it's documented history. Fear of the Clintons is based on fear of the known. But I think much of the fear of Obama is based fear of the unknown.

    I admit it; I fear a Hillary presidency more than I fear an Obama presidency, for what I think are rational reasons. But it would be dishonest of me to vote for Obama based on that fear and then call it a Republican victory strategy unless I was absolutely convinced -- above and beyond my fear -- that Obama was more likely than Hillary to lose to McCain in the fall, which I think he is.

    If I thought Obama was more likely to beat McCain and I crossed over and voted for him anyway simply in order to stop Hillary, I'd be voting with my emotions, and ultimately I would be hurting McCain.

    My worry is that some (and I don't know how many) of the Republican crossovers for Hillary are more concerned with stopping Obama than anything else. It is not honest to call an Anyone But Obama campaign a Republican victory strategy.

    This leads me to the last group of Hillary Republicans: those whose who are dourly pessimistic about Republican chances in the Fall, and who do not believe McCain can defeat either Obama or Hillary. Therefore, they believe they should pick the Democratic winner now. By no stretch of the imagination can this be called a Republican victory strategy; it is by definition a loser strategy grounded in emotional pessimism.

    I can understand the urge of Republicans to undermine the Democrats, and I can understand why Republicans would disagree about which candidate might be more likely to defeat McCain.

    However, as to any Republican who would deliberately vote for a Democrat -- whether Obama or Hillary -- with the conscious awareness that he is voting for the stronger candidate against McCain, I think such a Republican could fairly be described as being "on the other side."

    For the life of me I cannot understand how going out and consciously helping the Democrats' strongest candidate can be called a Republican victory strategy.

    Unless, of course, a deliberate loss in the hope of a "Long March" back can be called a "victory" strategy. Perhaps it can. I'm just not sure its proponents are being clear about it.

    AFTERTHOUGHT: Might it be that there is something inherently corrupting about crossover voting? I don't know.

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

    All comments appreciated -- agree or disagree.

    posted by Eric at 11:38 AM | Comments (27)

    Your Money Back If Not Satisfied

    It seems a lot of Democrat Party donors are not satisfied with the way the primaries are going and promise to withhold donations if their complaints are not resolved.

    Democrats in Michigan and Florida struggled Friday to resolve the impasse over their disputed January primaries, coming up with a plan to hold a June primary in Michigan while remaining deadlocked in Florida.

    Reflecting how tense the situation has become, influential fund-raisers for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton have stepped up their behind-the-scenes pressure on national party leaders to resolve the matter, with some even threatening to withhold their donations to the Democratic National Committee unless it seats the delegates from the two states or holds new primaries there.

    That should improve their chances in November.
    Pushing to seat the Florida delegates, at least one top Clinton fund-raiser, Paul Cejas, a Miami businessman who has given the Democratic National Committee $63,500 since 2003, has demanded Democratic officials return his 2007 contribution of $28,500, which they have agreed to do.

    "If you're not going to count my vote, I'm not going to give you my money," said Mr. Cejas, who was the United States ambassador to Belgium from 1998 to 2001.

    Christopher Korge, a Florida real estate developer who is another top fund-raiser for Mrs. Clinton, held an event last year in his home that brought in about $140,000 for the national party, which was set aside in a special account for the general election battle in Florida. But he told committee officials this week that if Florida's delegate conundrum was not settled satisfactorily he would be asking for the money back.

    "If we do not resolve this issue," Mr. Korge said, "I think it's safe to say there will be a request for a return of $140,000."

    I guess some Democrats are really not satisfied.

    One Democrat understands what all this means for the party.

    March 14 (Bloomberg) -- Former New York Governor Mario Cuomo said the presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama could be ``ruinous'' for the Democratic Party if the contest isn't resolved before the August nominating convention.

    Cuomo, a Democrat, said the party may be able to avoid a damaging convention fight if Clinton and Obama teamed up on a party ticket, or if the media forced the candidates before then to substantively address big policy issues facing the nation, such as the economy and the war in Iraq.

    ``It would be ruinous to the Democrats to get to the convention without an arrangement of some kind,'' Cuomo said in an interview on Bloomberg Television's ``Political Capital with Al Hunt,'' scheduled to air today.

    This is just peachy. For McCain. I like that.

    To find out what rank and file Democrats are thinking about this read the comments here. An example:

    Seriously as a Democrat, if Obama were to represent our party I would rather vote for McCain in the General Election. Obama?s connections to radical mentors to which he openly admits raises serious questions about his motives. I will not be party to any person connected in anyway to radical racist anti-Semitic groups.
    Another goody:
    If Clinton takes the nomination, I'm voting for Nader.
    It looks to me like this election will come down to party unity. Something the Democrats seem to be avoiding for the time being.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    Welcome Instapundit readers.

    posted by Simon at 02:52 AM | Comments (8)

    Wonder Drug

    Instapundit put out a call for help and messages of support for a blogger whose wife was suffering from severe rheumatoid arthritis. So I did my usual and checked to see if marijuana would be of any help. And what do you know. (the numbers in the text refer to footnotes from here)

    Recent research is accumulating evidence that cannabis therapies are effective for arthritis and the other rheumatic and degenerative hip, joint and connective tissue disorders. Since these are frequently extremely painful conditions, the ability of cannabis to combat chronic pain makes it useful for that aspect, both on its own and as an adjunct therapy that enhances the efficacy of opiod painkillers. The use of cannabis as a treatment for musclo-skeletal pain in western medicine dates to the 1700s.12-13

    But cannabis has also been shown to have powerful immune-modulation and anti-inflammatory properties,14-17 indicating it may treat chronic inflammatory diseases directly. In fact, one of the earliest records of medical use of cannabis, a Chinese text dating from ca. 2000 BC, notes that cannabis "undoes rheumatism," suggesting its anti-inflammatory effects were known even then. 18

    Modern research on cannabidiol (CBD), one of the non-psychoactive components of cannabis, has found that it suppresses the immune response in mice and rats that is responsible for a disease resembling arthritis, protecting them from severe damage to their joints and markedly improving their condition.19-20

    Human studies have shown cannabis to be an effective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, one of the enumerated conditions for which many states allow legal medical use. Cannabis has a demonstrated ability to improve mobility and reduce morning stiffness and inflammation. Research has also shown that patients are able to reduce their usage of potentially harmful Non-Steroidal Anti- Inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) when using cannabis as an adjunct therapy.21-22

    Medical researchers at Hebrew University in Jerusalem found in the metabolism of Cannabidiol an acid with potent anti-inflammatory action comparable to the drug indomethacin, but without the considerable gastrointestinal side effects associated with that drug. 23

    Now would some one please tell me why this drug is illegal?

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 11:54 PM | Comments (6)

    Parsley, Wright, Obama, and time

    I've just been watching Barack Obama on the hot seat at Fox News -- doing his best to defend himself in the face of the Jeremiah "GOD DAMN AMERICA" Wright stuff. They're running the Wright videos over and over and Obama is clearly feeling the heat.

    Some of the commentators raised the issue of the Reverend Rod Parsley and the Republicans, and played some especially outrageous statements by Parsley. Once again, I don't think candidates are responsible for positions and remarks of people who endorse them, but in egregious cases (which Wright is), the candidates should denounce them.

    FWIW, I think the timing of the Wright videos on national television is a long-term disaster for the Republicans. I've known about this stuff for a long time, but I think the media focus right now will do little more than help Hillary. It also puts her in a great position to later slam McCain for Obamanations from the penumbra of the innumerable bigoted endorsers -- like Parsley and Hagee -- that he will have accumulated. Quite disingenuously, Mother Jones is calling Parsley "McCain's spiritual guide" when he's nothing of the sort. But he's sure as hell a bigot, and there will be plenty of videos like this. Whether it's honest won't matter.

    Yes, I question the timing. The Clintons have known about this Jeremiah Wright stuff for ages, but its release right now couldn't be better planned from a strategic standpoint, and it will make for very effective campaigning.

    It would have been easy for McCain to beat Obama, but at this point I don't think he'll get the chance.

    Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, many Republicans want Hillary Clinton to be McCain's opponent.

    If Hillary wins, only some of them will regret it.

    UPDATE: Republicans for Hillary Should be Careful What They Vote For.

    MORE: Via Glenn Reynolds, a very insightful post from Instapunk, who thinks that the video has doomed Obama, and possibly Hillary as well.

    ...the video excerpts from the sermons of Jeremiah Wright are the only significant revelation that occurred this week. (Ferraro's faux-pas will be as insignificant as she is in two weeks time.) They are also fatal to Obama's chances of winning the presidency. They are probably equally fatal to Hillary Clinton's chances of winning the presidency. It's up to the Democrat Party to figure out how to deal with the catastrophe, but catastrophe it is, and there are multiple reasons why.
    I agree that the Wright stuff may very well have doomed Obama, although I don't think it has doomed Hillary. As a result, I think it may ultimately hurt John McCain.

    Timing is everything. Had the release of the videos been occurred after Obama's nomination, they'd have assured McCain's victory. As it is, Hillary has the most to gain, and I think the dust will subside, because as I've tried to make clear, nothing really hurts the incredibly dirty Clintons.

    Regardless of the merits of any of the arguments about the videos (and I think Wright is a despicable character), I think Instapunk is right to say Obama's candidacy is doomed. This is not good for the Republicans.

    More here.

    And Rick Moran sees a "scorched earth" policy:

    The Clinton campaign has declared total war - on Obama, on the party, on the media, on basically anyone who is in their way. It is a campaign quite unlike any the Democrats have seen since perhaps 1860 when Stephen Douglas refused to step aside for the good of the party and ended up driving the Dixiecrats out of the convention to put up their own candidate thus assuring the election of a Republican.

    No one will walk out of this year's Democratic convention (we think). But Hillary Clinton's tactics from here on out are apparently designed to cleave the Democratic party in two and bulldoze her way to the nomination by any means necessary.

    And just in case she falls short, she is going to damage Obama to the point that he will be "unelectable" in November.

    I think the Clintons will make the most of it, the Democratic Party will recover, and the two "factions" will reunite and blame the Republicans. (With media help, naturally.)

    The "unity" -- and the "healing" -- after a horrible campaign will be oh-so-touching.

    (Forgive my cynicism, but I see it coming.)

    posted by Eric at 10:25 PM | Comments (6)

    Calling all vegetables!

    While I eat my vegetables, I haven't really seen much by way of the future in them. Other than, perhaps, I eat them in order to prolong my stay on the planet.

    But Glenn Reynolds linked an interesting idea -- whether asparagus and other vegetables might be useful as fortune telling devices:

    I never suspected that perhaps instead of just eating it, I should be using this tall, green, veggie to help me decide how to plot my future, or find out what life entails for me. Until now, that is, after reading an article in the Telegraph online about Jemima Packington, who may be the world's only "asparamancer."
    According to the article, the asparamancer "throws the asparagus spears onto the floor and makes her predictions based on how they land."

    Considering the theme (at least the original intent) of this blog, from time I have played augur and looked at various omens and portents. I've also occasionally stooped to astrology, and I might do it again. ("For entertainment purposes only," of course.)

    But vegetables? Animal entrails, yes, but I don't know whether the Romans were into reading veggies. We've all heard of reading tea leaves, though, so I thought I'd give it a try.

    As it happens, there's some freshly bought asparagus sitting in the fridge, so I'm in luck.

    Here's what it looks like sitting in the bottom of the crisper drawer in its "natural" undisturbed state:


    Be a pity to ruin it by throwing it on the floor. Plus, the dogs love asparagus -- which would put a quick stop to my experiment in asparamancy.

    So I just thought I'd leave it trapped in its plastic sheath, but take it out and photgraph it. Here's a closeup of the asparagus heads.


    They look repressed, almost angry, don't they? All crowded in there, sweating profusely, and the color is almost like meat.

    I might be in big trouble. What would Freud say about someone whose looks at asparagus and sees sweaty meat?

    The blogger who linked the asparamancy piece (A.J. Rathbun) also wonders about other veggies:

    ...could other vegetables also be useful as fortune-telling devices? Should I be reading my salads and sides before eating them? Have any Al Dente readers ever discovered something pertinent about their life in a floret of broccoli? A slightly wilted leaf of kale? Let us know, so we, also, may take advantage of the prognosticatory powers of vegetables.
    I'm willing to give almost anything a try, but I don't have time right now to seek answers from every vegetable in my refrigerator.

    (Even thinking about it sounds oppressive. Like "You're not getting up from this table until you finish reading your vegetables!")

    Is this sort of thing new?

    I'm thinking that Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention may have predicted the predictions of vegetables with their song "Call Any Vegetable":

    And the chances are good
    That a vegetable will respond to you-hoooo

    RUTA-BAYYYYY . . .

    The rutabaga chorus really has to be heard to be appreciated, and I did find an ancient YouTube video of the band singing "Call Any Vegetable" in 1971:

    It's interesting that I'd read about vegetable prognostication right after I'd been contemplating a picture I took which seems fraught with cosmic significance.


    Surrealism is where you find it.

    MORE: Commenter Porkov noted that "the Classical way to divine the I Ching is by casting yarrow stalks."

    With that in mind, I decided to combine asparamancy with cooking, and in a somewhat cruel and callused manner, I cast the stalks into the boiling water to see how they fell.

    Oh the asparanity!

    (Well, they say that the hardest part of cooking a vegetable is... Oh never mind!)

    posted by Eric at 05:27 PM | Comments (1)

    The Industrial Side Of Things

    Bloomberg News has an article up on why it will be difficult to support the nuclear renaissance currently planed. Here is the money quote:

    ``I find it just amazing that so many people jumped on the bandwagon of this renaissance without ever looking at the industrial side of it,'' Schneider said.

    It would take any competitor more than five years to catch up with Japan Steel's technology, said the company's chief executive officer, Masahisa Nagata.

    That is what people don't get when they want some kind of rapid industrial change. The supply chain is long and it is demand driven. Steady growth is easy. Sudden surges are difficult if not impossible.

    HT linearthinker

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 03:25 PM | Comments (4)

    Smoke-filled chat

    Anyone get a load of Harry Reid's fireside chat? It was very picturesque -- right down to the details of a split-wood fire:

    It was the 75th anniversary of President Roosevelt's first Fireside Chat in 1933, delivered in the depths of the Great Depression. But with FDR long gone and a Republican in the White House, there was no obvious way to commemorate the occasion. So Reid and his aides hatched a plan: They lighted a split-wood fire in the green-marble fireplace in his office, pulled a leather armchair in front of it and invited reporters in for a "Fireside Podcast" delivered by Harry Delano Roosevelt. Or was it Franklin Delano Reid?
    I don't know what name should be bestowed on Reid, but I feel a duty to the earth to point out that what Reid and his aide did was a grotesque waste of carbon resources which sent the wrong environmental message.

    Not only is burning wood in a fireplace bad for the environment, but it is a crime in a growing number of American communities, and the fireplaces themselves are rapidly becoming illegal:

    Builders will be banned from installing wood-burning fireplaces in new homes, and it will be illegal to buy and install one when remodeling a home. Gas-burning fireplaces will be allowed.
    I don't know what the laws are in Washington, so I'm not about to issue a call for a special prosecutor. (Besides, legislators usually exempt government -- and themselves -- from all such laws, which is why school buses and "recycling" trucks are free to pollute like hell.)

    Remember, this appalling misuse of carbon resources is coming from a guy who wants to "toughen air standards," and calls for crackdowns on the evil coal industry.

    I'm not calling Harry Reid a criminal (or even a hypocrite), but shouldn't he be setting an example?

    What's next? A FDR-style cigarette in a holder?

    Perhaps this is just a question of Harry Reid needing to get with the times. I mean, I've waxed nostalgically over the "SPLIT WOOD NOT ATOMS!" generation, but that movement went out of style, and by the early 90s it was becoming as politically incorrect as smoking. Seriously; here's the NY Times from 1991:

    Environmental groups that had promoted the use of wood-burning stoves through slogans like "Split Wood, Not Atoms," are now supporting the restrictive measure under consideration here.
    As to smoking, and FDR's cigarette holder...

    Isn't there a lot of talk lately about the need for smoke-filled rooms in the Democratic Party?

    I realize that Harry Reid has long been an anti-tobacco crusader, but if he ever changes his mind, have I ever got a brand for him!


    No fireside chat would be authentic without them!

    MORE: The video of Reid sitting in front of the burning wood can be streamed here.


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

    Comments always appreciated.

    posted by Eric at 10:41 AM | Comments (5)

    The corruption of the pure? Or the purity of corruption?

    "Ruth Henderson" (pseudonymous name of a former booking agent for high-priced Manhattan call girls) has written a Pajamas Media piece about high-priced prostitution, and she explores the whys of prostitution:

    ...why would a rich, powerful and handsome man pay for extra-marital sex? Aren't there tons of women waiting to throw themselves at him for free? Yes, there are. But those women always want something: they want attention, intimacy and romance. They want to enjoy the high of sleeping with a powerful man. Escorts don't want or care about any of those things. At least one of the articles about the 22 year-old escort who slept with Spitzer implied that she didn't even know who he was. Based on my experience, I think it's highly unlikely that she knew or cared. She was in it for the money, and she had as much to hide as he did.
    While it's too early to tell for sure, I'd be willing to bet that she's still in it for the money. Perhaps not sex for money, but to the extent she can, she'll still be selling herself for money -- in the form of interviews, book deals, perhaps a lucrative modeling career. What was a scandal for Eliot Spitzer could turn out to be a golden, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for "Kristen." I don't know whether she has an agent, but if not, it wouldn't surprise me if whoever is handling her criminal case is already looking for one. (After all, a good criminal defense doesn't come cheap.)

    Of course, we don't call book deals or selling the film rights to a life story prostitution, any more than we'd call an agent a pimp. Nor do we consider it dishonest for a ghostwriter for a former prostitute to paint his client as a "victim" in a heart-rending "tell all" tearjerker. But I suppose if the book didn't sell well, another form of "conversion" might be in order -- written by a more moralistic ghostwriter, and marketed along different lines.

    Would any of this be hypocrisy? I don't know. I guess that would depend on whether "Kristen" believed in the newfound sincerity she was trying to market, or whether her claim of "reform" was a pretense and a con game. Few would call a traditional prostitute in an arm's-length transaction a hypocrite, though. Because what's being sold is sex. Tit for tat. No moralistic misrepresentation or hidden political agenda.

    In that respect, it's an honest profession.

    Once the victim-for-profit mentality sets in, things get murky, and even honest prostitution can be corrupted.

    Hey, it's only money.

    MORE: Speaking of money, Rich Noyes demonstrates that the liberal media are doing their best not to label Spitzer as a "Democrat," and to not refer to his transactions as a "Democratic sex scandal." OTOH, in the case of David Vitter and Larry Craig, the "R" word was routinely and numbingly applied.

    Might this mean that there's more money to be made by titillating the public with GOP sex scandals? If that's the case, then maybe Kristen's agent should take this into account, and try to spin the book as a feministic indictment of all powerful rich white men, making clear that most of her clients were Republicans. Otherwise, she might be stuck having to deal with publishers whose readers prefer the reformed sinner meme to the angry victim feminist meme, and who might insist on a convincing act.

    For most people, it's easier to feign victimhood than reform.

    Acting like you're a victim comes naturally, because most of us pity ourselves anyway. Acting like you're reformed, why, that's almost as tough as actually being reformed. And what if you have a slipup? If you're a victim, it goes with the turf. But if you're reformed (even if you only pretend to be reformed) a slipup makes you a lying hypocrite.

    I know it sounds cynical, but if you have to lie your way out of a sordid past, claiming victimhood is usually the least painful path. Hence, many claims of "reform" in cases like this are accompanied by vehement assertions of victimhood.

    (This is not to say that the truth is not also an option, but it won't always sell.)

    posted by Eric at 08:20 AM | Comments (3)

    Night Rocket

    H/T LGF

    posted by Simon at 12:27 AM | Comments (0)

    "Obama's Bra 54 Double 'D'"

    A lot of attention is being paid to the video of the pro-Obama, anti-American minister Jeremiah Wright.

    Similarly, a lot of attention is being paid to Eliot Spitzer's heterosexual prostitution scandal.

    I believe in being fair, and I've written two posts about Obama's "gay" scandal, as well as two posts about Spitzer. And M. Simon wrote a post about Spitzer, and also posted the Jeremiah Wright video, citing Glenn Reynolds' link. (The Wright video is of course everywhere by now; I saw it on Fox News earlier tonight.)

    I also discussed Wright, but I hadn't seen the video until today. While appalling, the video doesn't have sex. Just an angry, fuming, pro-Obama minister.

    Well, I stumbled onto a video that I think offers a little balance, and combines the religious and the sexual narratives.

    What follows is a video of an angry, fuming anti-Obama minister (James David Manning, Ph.D.) with lots of sex! In fact, Reverend Manning is furious about a heterosexual Obama sex scandal, and he condemns not only Obama but all of his followers, in the strongest possible terms.

    The title?

    Obama's Bra 54 Double "D"

    Seriously, I'd rather enjoy seeing a debate between this guy and Reverend Wright.

    posted by Eric at 10:59 PM | Comments (0)

    Obama's Spiritual Mentor Speaks

    It looks like we are finally going to have the long awaited discussion (when did it ever stop) of race in this country and Obama's spiritual mentor is going to lead it. Not necessarily in the direction he intended.

    His mentor comes with a mind set which says that poverty is caused by some (white) folks hogging the wealth.

    "Barack knows what it means living in a country and a culture that is controlled by rich white people," Wright says.
    Actually we know that wealth distribution is mostly a function of the distribution of natural abilities and the nature of the governing institutions. If the governing institutions favor wealth creation then you will have a place where even poor people are fat.

    Obama and Wright
    FOX News reports that Obama said this at a campaign stop in Ohio last week:
    "Jeremiah Wright ... has said some things that are considered controversial because he's considered that part of his social gospel," Obama said.
    Obama is not being entirely candid here. He means Socialist gospel.

    There was revival of of this in the 60s. It is at the core of the "progressive" movement. Of late it has fallen on hard times. The most modern churches now preach the gospel of wealth. Get some and do good for yourself and others with it. As opposed to government enforced theft followed by the government dole.

    It comes down to what actually happens in practice. Would you prefer to be at the mercy of 10 different corporations or one government agent?

    The question of course is: did Obama join the church as a political move or does he really believe that stuff? Or to put it a little more crudely - is he really Al Sharpton at heart?

    Obama Sharpton

    H/T Instapundit

    Update: This story is breaking big in a lot of different directions. Eric looked at this back in January and wondered if it really mattered. Instapundit has the latest on how this is finally breaking out in the mainstream media. So does it really matter? I don't think so in the way it is portrayed. We all know that Obama is a social engineer who wants to get a hold of government guns to enforce his vision. All that we are seeing is confirmation.

    Wright is raw. Obama is smooth. Different sales pitch. Same product.

    posted by Simon at 10:40 AM | Comments (1)

    "You might be first, but I'm the firstest!"

    Everybody wants to be first. It's an American tradition.

    Right now, there are a lot of "firsts" going around, and the Democratic Party seems to be engaged in a historic struggle over not so much who is first, but over who has the right (an entitlement, as it were) to be first. Technically, Barack Obama is actually first in terms of the numbers of states he's won, the number of votes cast, as well as the number of delegates. Yet according to Hillary Clinton's calculations, the fact that he is technically first only means that he should be allowed the number two spot on "her" ticket. That's because she is more entitled.

    As to why she is more entitled, it seems to have something to do with experience. Not Senate experience (as both of them have that), but vicarious experience -- something which is gleaned not by service in the Senate, but by having been married to a president. According to this logic, Laura Bush would more "experienced" than, say, Rudy Giuliani. Neither has served in the Senate, but only Laura Bush has been married to a president. And like Hillary, she was also married for years to a governor! You can't say that about a mayor!

    But that argument probably wouldn't be well received by Hillary or her supporters, who consider her first first ladyship to be a historic first. She was the first first lady to..... to, um, er, try and fail to implement socialized medicine! And she was the first first lady to like really care about people and stuff. You know, the children? And she was also the first first lady whose husband cheated on her and publicly denied it, then got impeached, and later disbarred. She endured all of that. These are all unique qualifications.

    Oh, and she probably considers herself the first first lady to be a woman first lady feminist. Or something. That's definitely considered an entitlement. She's not just a woman. Obama, of course, is "just" (maybe literally and barely just) black, and while having a black president would be a first, having a woman president would be firster.

    Maybe even firstest!

    Arguments over the role of race and gender have flared up repeatedly throughout the contest between Obama, who would be the nation's first black president, and Clinton, who would be its first female one.

    Earlier in the day, Hillary Clinton supporter and fundraiser Geraldine Ferraro gave up her honorary position with Clinton's campaign after she said in an interview last week that Obama would not have made it this far if he were white. Obama said Ferraro's remarks were "ridiculous" and "wrong-headed."

    This marked a new first. The first time a former first lady in second place has ever apologized for the following remark by the first lady woman to run for vice president in history:
    If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position.
    Now, while Ferraro might very well have a point, God forbid that anyone might make a similar remark about Ferraro's historic first. I mean, she went from Congresswoman to the number two spot on the Democratic ticket, without a stint in the Senate, and without even running in the 1984 presidential campaign, yet they bypassed number two candidate Gary Hart, and the number three Jesse Jackson to put her on the ticket. This drew criticism, but apparently Mondale was "determined to establish a precedent":
    Aides later said that Mondale was determined to establish a precedent with his vice presidential candidate, considering San Francisco Mayor (Later U.S. Senator) Dianne Feinstein and Governor of Kentucky Martha Layne Collins, who were also female; Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, an African American; and San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros, a Hispanic, as other finalists for the nomination. [2] Unsuccessful nomination candidate Jackson derided Mondale's vice-presidential screening process as a "P.R. parade of personalities", however he praised Mondale for his choice.

    Others however preferred Senator Lloyd Bentsen because he would appeal to more conservative Southern voters. Nomination rival Gary Hart had also been lobbying for the vice-presidential spot on the ticket once it became apparent that Mondale had clinched the majority of delegates; Hart's supporters claimed he would do better than Mondale against President Reagan, an argument undercut by a June 1984 Gallup poll that showed both men nine points behind the president.

    Ferraro, as Catholic, came under fire from the Roman Catholic Church for being pro-choice on abortion, in opposition to Church doctrine. Further controversy erupted over statements regarding the release of her husband's tax returns.

    Release of tax returns? God, not that again! When will all these sexist men stop demanding the release of female candidates' husbands' tax returns? I mean, whose money is it, anyway?

    I'm wondering. Might the 1984 ticket have set some kind of Democratic Party precedent along the lines of "women are entitled first, while blacks are entitled second"?

    It also turned out that Ferraro's recent remark was not a first, as she'd said the same thing in 1988:

    If Jesse Jackson were not black, he wouldn't be in the race...
    (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

    Where do these people get off anyway, being in races because they're black? It's not as if women would ever do such a thing.

    I'll say this for the Ferraro remarks. At least she didn't bring up the issue of how real estate deals involving questionable ethics can result in a lost halo.

    Too many firsts.

    But speaking of firsts, I found a vintage hit piece once cranked out by the VRWC organs at Newsmax which lists so many firsts that it's positively mind-boggling. [I'm quoting it in full not just because I'm a Clinton nostalgia freak, but because I sometimes worry that the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy's memory is succumbing to a form of Vast Right Wing Alzheimer's.]

    ....disbarment would merely be the latest in a long list of White House precedents.

    Clinton's remarkable record will also show that he is:

    The first elected president in U.S. history to be impeached -- Dec. 19, 1998.,

    The first president to be found guilty of a crime while still in office. (Leaking the private correspondence of Kathleen Willey in violation of the Privacy Act),

    The first U.S. president to be publicly accused of forcible rape -- by Juanita Broaddrick, Feb. 24, 1999.,

    The first U.S. president to approve the sale of sophisticated weapons technology to a hostile power while its emmisaries contributed to his campaign.,

    The first president to be accused by multiple witnesses, including one under oath before a federal grand jury, of using cocaine while he was the chief law enforcement officer of his state.,

    The first U.S. president to be accused of sexual assault on White House property -- by Kathleen Willey, March 15, 1998.,

    The first U.S. president to order a paramilitary operation where a network television camera crew was punched, kicked, and forced to the ground at gunpoint to prevent them from broadcasting live video coverage. (Elian Gonzalez's abduction -- April 22, 2000),

    The first sitting president to be the subject of a sexual harassment lawsuit -- filed by Paula Jones, May 8, 1994.,

    The first sitting president to be held in contempt of court for lying under oath and fined by a federal judge (in the Jones lawsuit).,

    The first U.S. president to order an armored assault on a church, resulting in the deaths of 55 members of the congregation along with 25 of their children. (Waco -- April 19, ,1993),

    The first U.S. presidential candidate to accept financial support from a KGB spy. (Aldrich Ames -- $7,000, 1991, 92),

    The first sitting U.S. president to be named in a federal criminal referral as a possible witness to and beneficiary of fraudulant financial activity. (Whitewater),

    The first president to consult with Congress about combat troop deployment while simultaneously receiving oral sex -- according to Monica Lewinsky and Rep. Sonny Callahan. (Starr Report -- Sept. 1998),

    The first U.S. president to have two senior administration officials die violently under mysterious circumstances while they were being pressed for testimony on assorted White House scandals. (Vince Foster, Ron Brown),

    The first U.S. president to have a major cooperating federal witness against him die in prison while waiting to give prosecutors the testimony they later admitted would have led to first family indictments. (James McDougal),

    The first U.S. president to launch unprovoked missile attacks on two sovereign nations. (Sudan, Afghanistan -- Aug. 20, 1998),

    With more than six months of the Clinton administration left, other equally impressive presidential firsts cannot be far off.
    Actually, the Clintons may have saved the best for last. The worst scandal of all (in which Hillary's family played a notorious role) was of course Pardongate, and it occurred just days before the Clintons vacated the White House.

    While "should'ves" are largely irrelevant, for the record I thought Hillary should have been the first first lady ever to have earned a pardon herself. But then, I'm very forgiving.

    And aren't we all supposed to be forgiving? Hillary's so forgiving that it's another one of her firsts. She's not only the first first lady to forgive the first philandering president in history to be impeached and disbarred, there's serious talk about her putting him on the Supreme Court!

    Now there's another very serious first! Imagine!

    The first first lady's former philandering husband to be put on the same court which ordered him disbarred!

    Considering the precedents, I'd say the Clintons are a first family with an endless thirst for more firsts.

    MORE: Michael Weiss quotes Ferraro's later "clarification" in which she abased herself by admitting that she was chosen as a woman, and not because of her qualifications to be vice president: 1984 if my name was Gerard Ferraro instead of Geraldine Ferraro, I would have never been chosen as a vice presidential candidate... It had nothing to do with my qualification.
    I suppose she means that being chosen that way is a good thing.

    By implication, Ferraro appears to be suggesting that that if Hillary were a man, she would never be in her position.

    What position is that? Being in second place to a black man who's there because of his position, but being "entitled" to be in first place because of her position?

    The logic is so thoroughly impenetrable that it has a certain beauty to it.

    MORE: Let's assume that both "sides" of the identity politics argument are right, and that Obama is entitled to the nomination because he's black, while Hillary is entitled to it because she's a woman. Isn't that ignoring the additional factor that Obama is ahead in the vote?

    I mean, all things being equal, the claim that feminism trumps race might make sense if that's the position of the Democratic Party. But aren't the voters saying otherwise? Even if we assume that all voters are voting according to the rules of identity politics (and all votes for Obama are because he's black, while all votes for Hillary are because she's a woman), if it's all about entitlement and if feminism trumps race, then why bother with all this voting?

    MORE: The "offer" to Obama notwithstanding, Nancy Pelosi says the Clinton campaign administration has effectively ruled out the possibility of any Clinton Obama unity ticket:

    Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi dismissed talk of a Clinton-Obama or Obama-Clinton ticket. She was answering a question about that possibility from a New England Cable Network reporter. TPM has the video.

    She said: "I think that the Clinton administration has fairly ruled that out by proclaiming that Senator McCain would be a better Commander in Chief than Obama."

    The Clinton administration?


    Things must be moving along faster than I thought.

    posted by Eric at 09:31 AM | Comments (2)

    Spitz Swallows Hard, Resigns

    After dithering about for a day or so Elliot Spitzer will soon be the former governor of New York.

    I think if Hillary had not been running as a Senator from NY with baggage, he might have held on. He got caught in a power squeeze.

    And dragging his wife on stage (see picture at link) for the announcement - pathetic. The mind starts to ramble. What would a hooker do that she wouldn't?

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

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

    Newer, safer, and worser!

    While I love and defend the free market system, one of the things I most hate about it is that because of the constantly changing nature and range of products for sale, there's no way to evaluate what you're buying until after you've bought it, and worst of all, there's no guarantee that something you like will continue to be available. No sooner do I find a favorite product than I get this sense of impending fear that I will lose it. I used to love Pentel Rolling Writer pens, but one day they disappeared without explanation from the shelves of Staples and Office Depot. There were plenty of "new" choices, and I bought a box of "gel" pens, which I stuck on the shelf, eventually to discover (long after I'd lost the receipt) that they are worthless. They don't write. Maddening.

    The Pentel Rolling Writer is still made by Pentel, and it is still available at, where it has drawn rave reviews. So why was it removed from the mega stores? Marketing? Advertising? What have these things to do with quality or functionality?

    What really fries me is when I can't buy just a plain old standard, no-frills, no-fuss item. Ever try to find, for example, plain yogurt in a supermarket? Sometimes it's impossible, as there are dozens of new flavors and brands, all crowding the shelves, and no room for the plain (which is of course treated as only one flavor among the dozens). Add to that the fact that there are many crackpots like me who only want the plain, and it will sell out first, leaving only the dozens of new flavors and brands. A little like trying to buy a men's size small sweater. Corporate bureaucrats in the Midwest somewhere decide that there should be only so many smalls to make room for the medium, large, extra large, and extra extra large. But in many cities, there are more small men than ever before. Asians and Latino men are generally smaller than white or black men, so in a city like San Francisco with a large Asian and Latino population, this guarantees that there aren't enough. Plus, women who buy men's sweaters usually buy size small. So do boys. I'll never forget the time I was laughed at by a clerk in a San Francisco Macy's, simply because I asked where to find the men's small sweaters.

    "Oh, they always sell out the same day we get them!" he giggled (a little too gleefully, I thought).

    Of course it wasn't his fault, just as it wasn't the fault of the people who decided to have Harvard Business School MBAs with no experience in the real world make inventory decisions that violate basic common sense.

    Such is life in corporate America.

    The other night I needed mouse traps, so I went to the same supermarket where I've always bought them, in search of plain snapping mouse traps.

    This kind of trap -- the kind invented in the 1890s -- which not only catch mice, but dispatch them in a generally humane manner.

    Mouse Trap.jpg

    There were none to be found. There were several poisons from which to select. No good, as what's toxic to mice is toxic to dogs. There were also glue traps, which strike me as a pretty cruel way to dispatch a mouse. Not that I'm hung up on being kind to disease-spreading varmints which don't belong in my house and are fouling my food, but they're only doing what mice do to survive, and I don't believe it should be necessary to torture them to death for that. An animal rights nut I am not, but I won't buy the glue traps.

    They also had live mouse traps for sale which looked like this:


    Now, I realize that most people would think of that as the most "humane" sort of trap. But is it really? Wild animals are not like dogs or cats; their instinct is to do anything possible to escape. Trapped animals will chew off a limb to get free from leghold traps, and it doesn't take much imagination to realize that a mouse trapped in a tiny plastic box would go totally nuts and exhaust itself trying to get out. They need water and food, and there wouldn't be any, which means unless you're anally retentive about checking the traps constantly, the "humane" trap would become a torture chamber for the mouse. Not as bad as a glue trap, perhaps, but almost. Plus, even if you're right there, what the hell do you do with the mouse? Let it loose outside? That's where it came from in the first place, and like most wild animals, they are territorial, and could thus be expected to find their way back to your kitchen.

    Which would mean you'd have to take the thing to the car and drive it somewhere, and then let it go in a totally alien environment. More than likely, this would result in a death sentence for the mouse, which would have no familiar burrow, shelter, or customary food supply. If it was lucky, it would get picked off by a cat or a hawk.

    No; I just want these little invaders dead, and as quickly as humanely possible.

    Eventually, I did find what appears to be the latest "new and improved" version of the 1890s snaptrap.


    At $5.99 for two, it was more money than I'd have paid for the old-fashioned kind of snapping traps, but it was late at night and the extra buck or so I might save didn't seem worth the time. I thought to ask a clerk whether they still had the old style traps and he said if they weren't there, they didn't have it. (Impeccable logic, I admit. Now why didn't I think of that?)

    So I brought them home, baited one with peanut butter (which has never failed me as mouse bait) and set it up in the trouble zone. It didn't take more than a couple of hours for a commotion report to reach my ears. I went in there, and sure enough, a mouse had been nailed!

    "Finally!" I thought. Picking up the trap, I walked over to the trash can to spring the jaws and drop the "dead" mouse inside. No sooner did I do that than the mouse instantly leapt from the trap with a kangaroo kick from hell, and started running around on the floor, looking not much the worse for its ordeal!

    "Those bastards!" I thought. Not only have they made an inferior mousetrap that doesn't kill mice, but they've made it more expensive to boot! But my thoughts quickly turned to the poor mouse, which I did not want to leave alive and rattled. I grabbed the broom and persuaded it to go into the corner behind one side of the trashcan, then readied my foot on the other for the moment of truth. Another nudge with the broom caused the mouse to come dashing from the corner towards my waiting foot, and then SPLUT! It was over. No, I am not quite morbid enough to take blood and guts pictures for the blog (this is not Peligro! or Alarma!), but trust me, it was gross, and I don't think I should have been forced into the role of brutal mouse butcherer just before bedtime.

    One question.

    Why does it say "KILLS MICE" in large letters?

    The spring in this stupid thing is weaker than a binder clip. Or, for that matter, a clothespin. To test it, I stuck my finger into the trap, and it shut with all the power of a rubber band. No pain at all; it was about as painful as it would be to close a book on my hand.

    To the company's credit, the box does say "Safer Around Children and Pets." I'll say. I don't have kids, but Coco would probably wag her tail in amusement if this thing snapped on her nose. It should say "Safer Around Mice!" and maybe "KILLS MICE (if you leave them stuck in the trap for at least 24 hours; otherwise it merely makes them hysterical)."

    Who would come up with such an inane design for a mousetrap? I'm thinking that maybe it resulted from lawsuits, but what kind of person would sue over a mousetrap injury? The most you'd expect from a normal snaptrap would be a bruised finger, unless you let your two year old play with it, and what kind of moron parent allows children to play with set mousetraps? If it has come to that -- if lawsuits have generated mousetraps that are "safer around children" but won't kill mice -- it's another example of how "safety" is ruining the quality of life, and ultimately threatening health and safety. In this instance I don't think the culprits are the safety Nazis, but more likely the trial lawyers, who believe in making things better by making them worse so they can make more money.

    Out of irritation as well as curiosity, I decided to conduct a search for mousetrap lawsuits. The first one I found was a man who sued because he was dumb enough to stick his penis in a mousetrap. Sorry, but that does not merit a product redesign, and more than would a penis/vacuum cleaner mishap.

    Mousetraps were not broken, and did not have to be fixed.

    While I couldn't find any cases, in product liability law, there does seem to be a "safer mousetrap" theory, and the idea is that the tort system provides a manufacturer with an incentive to come up with a safer design:

    Fortunately, by making manufacturers liable to the people they have injured, the once-revered common law tort system creates an incentive for the manufacturer to build a safer mousetrap.
    But if a safer mousetrap doesn't kill mice (and instead only tortures them), what's the point?

    To illustrate, I made the following video in which I demonstrated how safe the mousetrap is:

    I wouldn't want to do that with a traditional mousetrap, as it might affect my ability to blog about life in modern corporate America.

    posted by Eric at 04:31 PM | Comments (13)

    The case for prosecutorial hypocrisy?

    Yesterday, I opined that what's happening to Eliot Spitzer couldn't be happening to a nicer guy. That's because he's part and parcel of the system that did and does to people the very things that are now likely to be done to him.

    Roger Kimball (via Glenn Reynolds) questioned whether Spitzer is a genuine hypocrite, and wondered whether hypocrisy should be the horrendous sin that so many people make it.

    While falling short of one's own standards might be a form of hypocrisy, it would be impossible to have any standards at all if we did not fall short of them. If I decide not to engage in a personal vice again, and then I slip up, that does not make me a hypocrite unless....

    Unless what? Do I have to proclaim my personal standard in order to be tarred a hypocrite for violating it? In writing this blog, I try to avoid ad hominem attacks and personal insults, and I'm prone to complain about the use of attack phraseology -- in politics and in blogging. Yet, certain over-the-top people can push me over the edge, and I can't resist occasionally doing what I normally condemn. Hypocrisy? Sure. I admit it. I violate my standard. But that's what a standard is for. It's a gauge, a yardstick to determine how close I come to a goal.

    If we look at the word, it becomes clear that the concept of hypocrisy is not an "either or" absolute one, but is related to the degree of sincerity involved in approaching or upholding the goal, as well as the loudness of the claim that is believed in and upheld. Once again, my dictionary:


    And here's "hypocrite":


    Clearly, there are degrees of hypocrisy and hypocrites. Someone who admits to shortcomings but nonetheless believes in a standard which he nonetheless violates is far less of a hypocrite than someone who maintains that he is absolutely pure but doesn't believe in the standard he claims to uphold. Because hypocrisy involves putting on an act, those who never disclose or discuss their personal standards of behavior would seem to be at little to no risk of being guilty of hypocrisy for violating them. The word seems to be aimed primarily at:

  • the proclaimers of standards; who
  • don't believe in them; and
  • don't uphold them in their personal lives.
  • In Spitzer's case, we have an even more extreme and egregious example, for he is a man who is more than a proclaimer; he is an enforcer who has sent people to prison for violating the standards he himself violates. (As Glenn Reynolds put it, "he was paying 'em while he was prosecuting 'em." Like a vice cop who sells drugs.)

    The only unknown in all of this is whether he believes in these, um, standards.

    If he does not believe in the standard he has not only violated but sent people to prison for violating, then yes, he would appear to be an extreme hypocrite according to the dictionary definition. Quite possibly the most extreme hypocrite possible.

    This, of course, assumes that the word means something. As best I can determine, the endless tug of war over hypocrisy seems inextricably intertwined with the tug of war over morality itself.

    Whether any of us like it or not, hypocrisy has become the ultimate "morals charge" to be used by the "immoral" against the "moral." I place these in quotes because it is not clear that society agrees upon common, shared moral standards -- at least, not in sexual matters. (Ask whether homosexuality is immoral, and you'll get a wide range of often very passionate answers.)

    People who don't believe something is sexually immoral are in a collision course with people who think the opposite. But when the latter are caught doing what they consider to be immoral, those who reject the sexual morality standard are likely to be very ferocious in their condemnation, and see "hypocrisy" as their ultimate moral yardstick. (Yesterday I heard Sean Hannity loudly denounce prostitution as immoral -- as a crime against the family -- and I naturally wondered what would happen to him were he caught using the services of one.)

    Is paying for sex immoral? If so, why? Is it the act of sex which is immoral, or is it the paying for it? Because sex carries with it the possibility of substantial emotional entanglements, paying for it would seem to allow male gratification (something which used to be called a "release") without entanglement or commitment, theoretically by mutual consent. There was a time not long ago when respectable society regarded prostitution as a necessary evil, and looked the other way. In some places it was not illegal. Most cities had "red light districts" which were delineated as such, known to the police, and tolerated, but watched to make sure they didn't make trouble. Women unwilling or unable to have sex with their husbands saw brothels as providing a "release" in a manner far preferable to -- and far less hurtful than -- an affair. (With single men, there's even less guilt, and no one theoretically hurt.)

    This will sound ironic, but in the days when prostitution was legal, it was considered immoral. Yet now, despite the apparant lack of modern agreement on its immorality, prostitution is more illegal than ever before. The rise of the modern age caused the brothels to disappear, to the point that nowadays -- even though society is considered to be in a moral freefall -- paying for a prostitute is not merely an offense against morality, but a serious crime which can involve federal money laundering and even "conspiracy" charges.

    No, I am not kidding. Today's Wall Street Journal explains in appalling detail:

    Prosecutors are considering charging Mr. Spitzer with violations of the Mann Act, which bars transporting people across state lines for prostitution. Other possible charges could include structuring transactions to evade financial-reporting requirements; violating bans on interstate travel with intent to commit a crime; and helping an illegal entity to launder money. Some of the charges carry prison terms of more than five years.
    Many would argue that only "high profile" cases like Spitzer's would merit that kind of prosecutorial attention. But the laws are there to be used against theoretically anybody, and Spitzer was just the kind of guy who used to use them.

    Laws that start out as one thing have a way of morphing into something completely different, and completely monstrous. Despite our comfort at seeing Spitzer get a dose of his own medicine, we are all at risk. RICO was passed as to give prosecutors a "valuable tool" to go after organized crime. Today it can be used to prosecute members of a country club playing penny ante card games. When the 1099 laws were passed decades ago, I was outraged that I would have to report anyone I paid more than $600.00 to the IRS, but my accountant told me not to worry -- that the law would only be used to go after the "big guys." Oh really? Today it can be used to go after anyone. Your money is not yours, as it is under the supervision of the federal government, which requires banks to report nearly anything they might consider suspicious.

    Even attempts to follow the letter of the law are reported as suspicious:

    At least one suspicious-activity report was filed on the three wire transfers initiated by Mr. Spitzer in 2007, said the people familiar with the transactions. But the transfers don't appear to have explicitly violated banking regulations: Mr. Spitzer didn't disguise his identity, and the three payments of roughly $5,000 each are too small to automatically trigger federal reporting requirements. However, Mr. Spitzer could face legal jeopardy if two $5,000 payments were an attempt to divide a single payment of $10,000 or greater, thereby evading the federal threshold for automatic transaction reporting by banks.
    I remember when "money laundering" involved things like the Cali cartel. Now it's simply the payment of money for anything illegal. Hiring a prostitute can be money laundering, as can buying illegal drugs for personal consumption. (That was what Limbaugh found himself up against.)

    The law continues to evolve as we speak. Already, there's talk of charging ordinary clients of prostitutes with criminal conspiracy:

    Ms. Hirshman -- a former assistant U.S. attorney in Manhattan -- also argued that if federal prosecutors brought charges against Mr. Spitzer, they would be required to similarly charge the nine other unnamed clients in a federal complaint unsealed last Thursday, to avoid what's known in legal circles as "selective prosecution." None of the other nine unnamed clients have been charged in the case.

    "Historically, 'johns' haven't been prosecuted for conspiring with principals of a prostitution entity," says New York defense lawyer Gerald Lefcourt, who isn't involved in the case. "Could they be? Maybe. But that's not the way law enforcement has proceeded."


    At this rate, pretty soon if a man takes a woman out to dinner, wines her and dines her, and maybe gives her a nice present and then finally the two of them have sex to consummate the deal, they could both be charged with conspiring to circumvent the money laundering laws by engaging in sham barter exchange in lieu of money.

    I can understand why ordinary citizens love it when guys like Spitzer get caught up in a monstrous machine of their own making. When everything is illegal and everyone is guilty, the charge of "hypocrisy" offers at least small comfort to them. However, it avoids looking at the larger problem, which is that we are almost all guilty of one crime or another, and our freedom is conditional -- subject at all times to the whims of federal or local prosecutors.

    During the hoopla over the Jena 6 case, I was struck by a particularly truthful admission by the Jena District Attorney:

    I can make your life go away with the stroke of a pen.
    Indeed he can. Any prosecutor can.

    Of course, we all know that he is guilty too, and it's a "there but for the grace of God" situation. ("The grace of the gods" might be more appropriate, as this all resembles pagan theater.)

    When everyone is guilty, morality or immorality become irrelevant. Why, that check you wrote to pay the guy who cut your grass might have been a payment to an illegal alien or a deadbeat dad, and you too could be a conspirator of structured transactions, and a launderer of criminal funds!

    The problem is not Spitzer; the problem is that society is being Spitzerized.

    I was wondering about something, though. What if the charge of "hypocrisy" is the only form of morality ordinary people have left as a psychological defense against growing and uncontrollable tyranny?

    Should we keep it?

    MORE: According to both Fox and CNN, Spitzer is about to announce his resignation.

    Had he been a Republican, this would have been a bigger scandal, of course -- and the charges of hypocrisy would have been infinitely louder.

    It's a shame for the Republicans that Spitzer can't tough it out, and hang in there, because the juicy details, the pictures, the interviews with Kristen, etc., could have been depended on to last through the election.

    MORE (11:45 a.m.): Spitzer has resigned, effective Monday.

    It was a carefully scripted apology.

    UPDATE (03/13/08): Regarding the debate over why Spitzer would employ a prostitute (when he has "heaps of women throwing themselves at him"), Ann Althouse sees obvious advantages:

    ....It seems to me there are many obvious advantages. You save an immense amount of time and complexity by substituting an economic relationship for a personal one. It's dangerous to do something illegal, but it's also dangerous to create a relationship with someone who becomes emotionally attached and might do all sorts of reckless things.
    This is why sex with prostitutes is traditionally seen as less of a betrayal than a genuine affair.

    Why so many of the modern moralists can't understand that, I don't know. But many of them also see obtaining a release through pornography as a betrayal, and one that damages families. Depending on the circumstances, I suppose it could be. But shouldn't the determination of betrayal be up to the affected spouse?

    posted by Eric at 09:46 AM | Comments (7)

    A Wasting Asset

    Why do some "ladies" get paid thousands an hour for sex services? Supply and demand.

    It is not just about sex. It is also a social occasion. You might actually want to have a conversation with the lady between "jumps".

    Now how many upper middle class well educated good looking ladies do you find who are willing to have sex for money? Well, you find more of them if you are willing to pay more money.

    Some one who can do a discounted cash flow on a wasting asset is going to be a rarer find than a lady who can barely balance her checkbook.

    Prompted by a discussion of the Spitzer case at The Volokh Conspiracy

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 12:37 PM | Comments (1)

    Rush Spitzer, Eliot Limbaugh...

    There's not much I could add to the clamor surrounding Eliott Spitzer's call girl capers, other than to say that it couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

    Hell, I might as well just quote myself. Spitzer is a control freak par excellence:

    Spitzer has a long history as a control freak, whether it's constantly messing with ebay for things like gambling and stun gun sales, bullying UPS, going after toy guns -- to say nothing of real guns (naturally he's one of the worst gun grabbers in the United States, and wants to bankrupt the firearm industry). And on top of that, he's a petty and vindictive SOB:
    "It's now a war between us," Eliot Spitzer told me. "I will be coming after you."
    And that was because he didn't like something the man had written!

    So now, the forces of coming after are coming after him for his own coming. After.

    Poetic justice.

    This does not mean that I think the man should go to jail, or that I support criminalizing prostitution as Spitzer does. My personal feelings are a bit similar to my feelings about Rush Limbaugh's drug problems. I hoped it would make Limbaugh loosen up a bit, and this time, I hope Spitzer loosens up and disavows his send-people-to-prison, Nifong-like style of prosecutorial aggression.

    Humility is a good thing. Especially where it comes to that elevated elite we entrust with the power to prosecute the rest of us and send us to prison.

    UPDATE: Arthur Silber (a fierce opponent of prostitution laws) also sees poetic justice in what has happened:

    Given Spitzer's unfathomable stupidity -- and in light of the fact that he is now the victim of the kinds of overreaching police state tactics that he himself has endlessly championed and utilized -- this can only be regarded as an instance of an especially objectionable, arrogant, overweening, power-mad, vicious son of a bitch himself getting exactly what he has been delightedly happy to dish out to others.
    Via Glenn Reynolds, who also quotes Roger L. Simon's observation that "the outcry against Spitzer was not because he was some man seeing a prostitute, but because he was a guy who puts prostitutes in jail seeing a prostitute."

    At least Limbaugh never put anyone in jail for doing what he did.

    posted by Eric at 11:28 AM | Comments (2)

    the bottling and selling of "masculinity-obsession" and "gender-insecurity"

    We all have obsessions. I'm as guilty as the next person of having mine. But I try not to become too obsessed politically, lest I develop that disease of hyper-obsession known as "activism." I had my fill of activism and activists when I was in Berkeley, and I know the creature well. Not only can I spot em, I can smell 'em. Activists are the kind of people who are so obsessed that ordinary people avoid them. This might be the best approach, because activists are like trolls in the sense that there's no winning with them. They'll lie, evade, obfuscate, or if they lose on a point, immediately switch topics. And of course, because they're so much more obsessed than everyone else, they'll keep you up all night at a city council meeting forcing their opponents to hear them pontificate, moralize, and sermonize. Of course, any disagreement with them leads to a charge that the opponent is obsessed, moralizing, and sermonizing. For non-activists, this gets very tedious, and the process tends to weed out all except the activists.


    This post is already tedious, and I've barely started it. One of my admitted weaknesses as a blogger is that I have a serious aversion to repeating myself, and I don't enjoy arguments. I like to think that when I have made a point, I shouldn't have to ever make it again.

    Well, good luck dealing with activists if you feel that way. And for that matter, good luck dealing with Glenn Greenwald, a blogger I think it is fair to call an anti-masculinity activist (if not an angry eunuch).

    A recent Greenwaldian pronouncement takes the form of yet another tedious judgment on Glenn Reynolds, who Greenwald of all people calls

    the single most masculinity-obsessed and gender-insecure commentator in America, Glenn Reynolds (followed closely by his wife)
    (Wow. Do all the radio shriekers like Michael Savage know they've been beaten by a mild mannered man whose strongest word is usually "Heh"?)

    Masculinity-obsessed and gender-insecure?

    OK, let me make a stab at that. I think most regular readers know I am anything but masculinity obsessed or into the "manly man" crap. (Well, I have my lesbian tendencies, and I might be a pre-pre-op, transcended transsexual, but never mind that right now.) I tend to question all premises, and I have condemned what I see as a tendency to create canine and human eunuchs -- both male and female. But in general, I am a strong proponent of leaving people alone, and maximum sexual freedom, and I do not like activists who try to tell people how to live their lives. I don't like lectures on why (or how) to "be a man," nor do I appreciate lectures on the undesireability of manhood, or masculinity. To the extent I am obsessed, I'm obsessed with being left alone. People who won't leave others alone irritate me.

    Thus, I think I'm pretty good at spotting obsessions. I've been reading Instapundit for well over five years, and to call Glenn Reynolds "obsessed" with the subject of masculinity is laughable. Sure, there have been posts dealing with masculinity, and yes, Glenn promoted the Dangerous Book for Boys. (I think he also promoted a dangerous book for girls, as well as the Dangerous Book for Dogs. Maybe that was the Instawife; I don't know. I'm not keeping score like Madame Greenie La Fargewald. But I know the "manly man" variety of obsession when I see it, and I find it tedious. If Glenn Reynolds was about that, I'd have long ago stopped reading Instapundit.)

    But anyway, in classic activist fashion, Greenwald has pronounced Glenn "obsessed" with upholding manly manhood, and as evidence he cites a link to a post by Norman Podhoretz, and the previous links to the Dangerous Book for Boys.

    Why, I'm wondering, is there not a word about the "happily married gay couples with closets full of assault weapons"? I can't think of a better way to pee on the manly manhood brigade, but never mind that.

    This is activism!

    As I say, I hate repeating myself and I don't want to bore readers, and I know that with this post I risk getting into a peeing contest with a skunk (of the sort I've been repeatedly cautioned against since childhood) and end up looking as obsessed as Glenn Greenwald.

    (Or God forbid, obsessed with Glenn Greenwald!)

    My flesh crawls at the thought, and not in an especially good way. But still, I must elaborate. I think that to call Greenwald obsessed is an understatement, as he postively reeks of obsession as only a true activist can. To return to the "peeing contest with a skunk" analogy, Greenwald is like a skunk so saturated by the discharges of his anal glands that he reeks through and through.

    On the subject of "masculinity" he is so obsessed that if his obsession could be extracted, the stench could be bottled and sold in small quantities, like a fragrance.

    But alas! Unfortunately, the name has already been taken by Calvin Klein.

    And seriously, I don't have time for this shit. I really don't.

    But certain inner sock puppets do, and I am unable to control their obsessive urges as expressed here, nor their obsessive Calvinistic destiny as manifested here:


    Yes, Obsession is destiny! Nothing cums between me and my obsessions!

    But I think it's fair to ask who is really "the single most masculinity-obsessed and gender-insecure commentator in America"?

    Who is the busiest commissar where it comes to policing the masculinity of others?

    Is it transhumanist, pro-sodomy, gay-marriage-supporting Glenn Reynolds, who had the unmitigated effrontery to link a futuristic transmasculinst post like this long and sensitive discussion of the pros and cons of masculinity?

    Who is really obsessed? Who is calling who who?

    (Or who is calling who what?)

    Perhaps this is not worth getting worked up about. Or as Greenwald would call it, "hand-wringing" and "breathless moralizing." Ace also says Greenwald has "forgotten more about 'hand-wringing' and 'breathless moralizing' than most of us will ever know."

    He's also forgotten more about masculinity obsessions and gender insecurity than most of us will ever know.

    The obsessions have become tedium.


    Hey, that might be a good name for a new fragrance.....

    posted by Eric at 10:37 AM | Comments (1)

    may the best aroma win!

    In an earlier post I attempted to apply some of my grandfather's wisdom to today's political mudslinging -- especially his advice to my father to "never get in a peeing contest with a skunk, because you'll smell like him."

    I figured, if the scandal-saturated Clintons are like skunks, then the more Barack Obama reduces himself to their level, the more he'll damage himself, because he'll smell bad while they remain unaffected.

    The Clintons are of course the quintessence of tabloid material, so for years it's been natural for me to see this sort of thing staring at people in supermarket checkout lines:


    Yesterday, though, I saw clear evidence that this type of tabloid coverage, which has long been associated with the Clintons, has finally reached out and sprayed Barack Obama:


    Let me assure readers that only very rarely do I read tabloids, much less buy them. But when I saw the above I had to buy it, because I recognized the story and Obama's accuser from their WorldNetDaily incarnation. I was dismissively skeptical when I posted about it, but to see that the scandal had risen in respectability from the conspiracy-minded WorldNetDaily to a major tabloid like the Globe, I found myself stunned!

    However, once I got it home and read it, it turned out that the cover had been little more than a tease, because the article revealed, the accuser not only failed his lie detector test, but he admitted to Globe that he "spent years in prison in Florida, Colorado, and Arizona on various fraud charges..."


    Yet still, there's a dramatic interior headline -- OBAMA SCANDAL ERUPTS! (Along with the accuser's claim that the Obama camp set him up, and rigged the lie detector test.)

    I probably wouldn't have bothered with this post, except that Glenn Reynolds tantalizingly posted the National Enquirer cover after noting that he "just got back from Kroger's and the National Enquirer is really letting Obama have it."

    And indeed they are -- or they certainly seem to be.


    But was the Enquirer story as juicy as the Globe's?

    Unfortunately, I couldn't make out the headlines, because the picture is too small, and when I tried to magnify the image, I got blurry pixels, and not readable text. I was disinclined to go out for another supermarket tabloid run, but fortunately, Brendan Nyhan had a closeup


    In contrast to the exciting standard set by the Globe, the Enquirer is almost boring. The headlines involve aging but real news, and while the stories might be sensationalized, they're derived at least in part from factually true accounts (like the Bill Ayers story).

    As to "Screaming matches with wife -- over other women"

    Come on.

    I mean, how gay is that?

    By Clintonian standards, where's the stench? (The way they're acting, you'd almost think Obama was a Republican or something.)

    Personally, I think the Globe does a better job of upholding the traditional raunchy values that made tabloid journalism great.

    And while my admitted bias may be showing, I hate to see the tabloids neglecting Hillary.

    Can't I have a little Huma to go with my raunch dressing? (There are plenty of anonymous sauces.)

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

    posted by Eric at 04:42 PM | Comments (1)

    Kentucky fried free speech?

    This morning I read something nice about blogging -- that it -- along with Google, Starbucks, domain names, Spam (the meat, not the digital junk), professional wrestling, lingerie and teenagers -- may be a recession proof industry.

    I like that, as I'd hate to think that "the economy" and what it allegedly is going to do might affect my ability to blog (to say nothing of the ability of readers to read stuff which costs them absolutely nothing). The only way blogging would suffer from an economic downturn would be if a blogger had to spend more time working off line. I suppose that if things got really and unthinkably nasty, and the power grid got shut down, then blogging might be affected, but otherwise, I think blogging is generally recession-proof.

    Unfortunately, blogging is not government-proof. Despite the First Amendment (and its counterparts in every state), there's no end to attempts to regulate free speech online.

    In the latest bit of legislative idiocy, Kentucky Representative Tim Couch proposes criminalizing anonymous postings and comments:

    Kentucky Representative Tim Couch filed a bill this week to make anonymous posting online illegal.

    The bill would require anyone who contributes to a website to register their real name, address and e-mail address with that site.

    Their full name would be used anytime a comment is posted.

    If the bill becomes law, the website operator would have to pay if someone was allowed to post anonymously on their site. The fine would be five-hundred dollars for a first offense and one-thousand dollars for each offense after that.

    Representative Couch says he filed the bill in hopes of cutting down on online bullying. He says that has especially been a problem in his Eastern Kentucky district.

    According to another report, Couch has also been the "the subject of anonymous online roasting," which means the bill may represent a personal motivation.

    I think it's not only unconstitutional, but it flies in the face of this country's founding, and notably the Federalist Papers, which were anonymous postings. (Yeah, they had no Internet, so they printed them up and handed them out or posted them on walls and poles.) This idea that the Internet is more evil than other forms of human communication never ceases to amaze me, and this is a typical example.

    This comes on the heels of an ongoing threat to blogging -- the use of copyright laws to defeat free speech. The most recent example was the AP suing to shut down -- a blog which parodied and criticized misleading or dishonest AP photos. Glenn Reynolds linked Jules Crittenden's extensive roundup of negative reactions like this:

    ...if this tactic works, can it not be used by every mainstream news source out there to silence criticism of them?

    I say we have the makings of an important ruling on whether we bloggers are free to criticize the MSM without being dragged in to court at the whim of any MSM bigwig.

    All written MSM text is copyrighted too. Which means that by logical extension, bloggers could be dragged into court for the practice of "Fisking" news editorials and articles, because of course it is necessary to quote text in order to criticize it. Al Franken and Michael Savage maintained that there was no right to criticize them if the criticism involved using their names. (And of course the Saudis have a well-oiled (!) legal network which uses the legal system to defeat the First Amendment rights of critics in other ominous ways.)

    I've complained about these things for years, and it reminds me of the Che Guevara parody issue. Ridicule Communist propaganda, and the Commies will haul you into a capitalist court -- alleging infringement of their "property rights."

    Read together in the context of blogs, the emerging doctrine is that you have no right to criticize anyone anonymously, and no right to criticize or ridicule copyrighted material by citing it. Which would mean an end to blogging as we know it.

    It's easy to dismiss a silly law by a kooky legislator in Kentucky along the lines of "I'd never move there, so what do I care?" Dr. Helen recently observed that she wouldn't fit in this town, which wants to prohibit offensive speech. A growing number of universities do the same thing, and the argument could be made that no one is forced to go to any of them.

    But with blogging being online means being everywhere. So Kentucky can reach out and touch you. So can the AP, and so can the Saudis. It's easy for a hard core constitutional literalist like me to scream "What part of make no law don't they understand?" but that won't stop them.

    Which means that for most bloggers, mass defiance is probably the best approach. I have long resisted the temptation of requiring commenters to identify themselves, and Representative Couch has given me an excellent reason to never change my position. This is not to say that anonymous commenters are entitled to any more respect than identified commenters, or that rude or insulting comments are of any particular value; only that it's my own damned choice whether to allow them, just as it is my choice whether to read them, respond to them, or delete them. The latter is something I rarely if ever do, because comments speak for themselves, not for me or this blog, and I deeply resent any outside authority telling me what to do here. If they don't like this blog, they can start their own. If they don't like a comment left here, leave another comment criticizing it! But to use any form of government to tell me what to do is an outrageous violation of the First Amendment.

    So, I'll continue to parody whatever I want to parody, and as to my anonymous commenters, the nanny state can't take them away. I will not rewrite this blog's software on their say-so. Let them try to make me do it. They'll have to get past my first line of defense, a firewall named Coco.

    And if they manage to get past her, my fingers won't be cold and dead.

    UPDATE: My thanks to Jules Crittenden for linking this post, and especially for saying this:

    ...abusing legal processes to stifle criticism in a free society is wrong. Criticism of the powers that be, in America, is a classical value.

    posted by Eric at 10:30 AM | Comments (6)

    Infinitely debating the unknown

    In today's Inquirer, Temple University Math professor John Allen Paulos offers a somewhat utopian proposal to move the world towards "heaven on Earth":

    ...candidly recognizing the absence of any good logical arguments for God's existence, giving up on divine allies and advocates as well as taskmasters and tormentors, and prizing a humane, reasonable and brave outlook, just might help move this world a bit closer to a heaven on Earth.
    I make no secret of my belief in God, but I'm a skeptic where it comes to heaven -- whether of the divine or man-made varieties. I'm even more skeptical about promises of heaven, or proposals for how to get there. While this professor is a self-proclaimed atheist, I think he's making a mistake to imagine that atheism will bring about heaven on earth, because history shows that atheists who have promised heaven on earth have a rather poor track record of delivering. Human nature seems to be the problem, and while I can certainly understand the argument that religious strife has done much harm (whether in the form of the Inquisition, Crusades, pogroms, or Islamic expansionism, right on down to al-Qaeda and 9-11), I see no reason to believe that the absence of a belief in God makes people any more peaceful or productive than the belief in God. This is not to say that religions have a good track record (and clearly some religions are more peaceful than others), but the majority of religious doctrines at least in theory stress the need for people to get along. Assume that all of a sudden every last human being were simply to "recognize the absence of any good logical arguments for God's existence." Why would that recognition bring about world peace, or move the planet closer to heaven on earth?

    What always worries me about religious arguments (and I include atheist arguments asserting there is no God among them) is that they involve disagreements over the unknown. Many atheists assert that they know the unknown, which strikes me as requiring an act of faith essentially similar to the act of faith which is required asserting knowledge that a deity (or deities) exists. Claiming a belief (or a disbelief) is one thing, but claiming to know the unknowable is not logical.

    Atheism is often considered synonymous with materialism, and materialists posit that there is nothing out there except matter, because matter is all that we humans have been able to discern. That strikes me as a bit like arguing that there is nothing out there beyond the planets we have discovered because we have not yet been able to see or perceive them. But if you posit infinity, if you really consider the implications, then it makes placing limitations upon it illogical, because by its nature it is unlimited. However, even as I say that, I guess I should recognize that even my belief in infinity might be wrong, because infinity is not truly knowable. I like to think that I try to appreciate it, though. Maybe respect is a better word. It certainly is humbling. I can't make a claim that I "know" that physical matter is all there is, or that what we might call the life force, self awareness is merely a hallucination. Might be, I suppose. My belief in something "out there" that I call spiritual, and the independence of a soul beyond the body, these are my opinions based on my experiences, and maybe they are hallucinations. But I don't know that they are, and more than I know that I am alive. If awareness of a soul or spirit indendendent of the self is a hallucination, then self awareness itself might also be a hallucination. Which would mean I am according to materialist atheists living a hallucinatory life. I'm just skeptical that matter is all there is to it. Why would "matter" cause hallucinations of self awareness? Simply to protect and prolong that meaningless phenomenon we call life? If it is in fact meaningless, if we are all simply accidents of molecules and life is as inconsequential as lifelessness (and I have to allow for that possibility), I fail to see how the universal recognition of such meaninglessness would bring about heaven on earth.

    Human nature being what it is, it could be argued that such a universal recognition might have the opposite effect. I mean, some people might find meaninglessness depressing. Or they might use it to rationalize all sorts of anti-social behavior -- including the advancement of arbitrary judgmental ideas about fairness. Like, some people should have the right to control other people because, well, because they just think there are too many people and they've decided that they're endangering the planet! If man is meaningless matter, then by what stretch of logic does the planet become meaningful matter?

    Of course, this is not to suggest that all atheists are materialists. In theory, atheism merely means rejecting theism, which is the belief in religious theology. One could in theory be spiritual and still be an atheist. Assuming infinity, assuming an unexplained life force, assuming even the existence of souls does not require the belief in a structure, much less a ruling God or even multiple deities. A vast infinity of floating souls with no deities might not be emotionally appealing, but it's not inconsistent with atheism.

    I'm getting off track here, and it is not my purpose to encourage a schism between materialist atheists and spiritualist atheists; only to demonstrate the folly of asserting actual knowledge of the unknowable. I think atheism is a belief, but atheists (at least those of the fundamentalist materialist stripe) are usually unwilling to concede that, for they assert their beliefs are facts.

    Professor Paulos, though, does not see the debate as primarily one between atheists and theists (or materialists and spiritualists or deists), but between those who acknowledge no compelling arguments for God, and those who assert certain knowledge that not only is there God, but He is limited to certain texts. He describes these people as vituperative:

    ...the vituperative e-mail I've received from religious literalists in response to Irreligion has led me to conclude that there is a much more fruitful distinction than the common one between atheists and theists. The real fissure is that between those who acknowledge that there are no compelling logical arguments for God's existence (even if they choose to believe and practice their religion anyway) and those who are certain not only of God's existence but also of the verbatim truth of their particular holy book with all its idiosyncratic inconsistencies and egregiously false pronouncements.
    Which book? The Torah? The Bible? The Koran? The Book of Mormon? Hindu or Buddhist texts? Does he believe that those who believe in the Bible constitute the greater problem?

    Because, if he were talking of Islam, he might be seen as disrespecting Islam when he says that their book consists of "idiosyncratic inconsistencies and egregiously false pronouncements" and that Muslims should be treated like this:

    Yet time and again we indulge fundamentalists from every religion much more than H.L. Mencken suggested is necessary when he wrote, "We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart."
    Selective fear of religion aside, something about the use of the phrase "indulge" and the choice of that comparison might seem condescending, and I find myself wondering whether the goal is really persuasion.

    Would the world be a better place if these people recognized that their wives are not beautiful and their children are not smart? Why? What is meant by "indulge"?

    He goes on to lodge a remarkable complaint -- that large numbers of Americans refuse to consider that someone who believes the world is only 6,000 years old would be a bad leader:

    We aren't so forgiving in other domains. Almost everyone would concede, for example, that a presidential candidate who wanted to outlaw interest on loans and revert to a barter system would be an absurd steward for our troubled economy. So why isn't there a similar consensus that someone who believes the Earth is 6,000 years old and that Noah's Ark is an event in zoological history would be an absurd leader on issues such as stem-cell research, climate change and renewable resources?
    Why isn't there a consensus? (Never mind that outlawing interest on loans is Sharia law, and national policy in Islamic theocracies.) I think if a person uttering such beliefs ran for president, he would lose. I know there's a meme floating around that Mike Huckabee believes the earth is 6,000 years old, but no one can point to him ever saying that; at most he said (repeatedly) that he didn't know how or when God did it, but that God created the earth -- and man.

    Huckabee not only failed to win the Republican primary, but I think that had he actually been foolish enough to actually state "the world is only 6,000 years old," his support would have plummeted to single digits, and he'd have been laughed out of the race.

    I've never been even remotely a Huckabee supporter, but is it necessary to put words in his mouth? Why engage in hyperbole? To enlarge the ranks of the alleged ignoramuses said to agree with absurd pronouncements that were not made? How is this going to persuade anyone to be more logical? I share Professor Paulos's skepticism about the supremacy of religious texts, but I don't think the way to reduce irrationality is to exaggerate irrationality. This makes me wonder whether the idea isn't to imply that the Republican Party is full of crackpots who believe the earth is only 6,000 years old. (Or that John McCain "shared the stage" with a man who believes that.)

    And since when are "stem-cell research, climate change and renewable resources" necessarily of greater interest to atheists? Do atheists have more respect for the planet? If there something about rejecting belief in a deity which translates into concerns about how much petroleum we can extract from the ground, and whether there might be better alternative forms of energy?

    Why? Is there somewhere in the Bible that God said "go forth and drill for more oil?"

    According to some interpretations, yes:

    ....suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock" (Deut. 32:13)
    Clearly, God hates the environment.

    And atheists love it.

    If that's clear, we're on our way to heaven.

    posted by Eric at 01:29 PM | Comments (9)

    Why saturated skunks always get their way

    My grandfather used to advise my father when he was a boy, "Never get in a peeing contest with a skunk, because you'll smell like him."

    And my decent, well-meaning father passed along that wisdom to me -- along with the following, seemingly contradictory bit of wisdom: "Always stand up to a bully." Juxtaposing these "rules" caused me to spend a lot of time in my childhood trying to distinguish between skunks and bullies, but even now I can't spell out exactly what it is. It comes down to an "I know it when I see it," "wisdom to know the difference" distinction involving considerations of personal honor. If you fail to stand up to a bully, you dishonor yourself. But getting into a peeing contest with a skunk of a person can also bring dishonor. These concepts of virtue are not easy to master, especially for children.

    The primary issue is usually along the lines of "who started it." As a practical matter, if the skunk "pees" on you first, well, you already smell like him no matter what you do. So peeing "back" in a retaliatory manner isn't going to make you smell any worse.

    To that extent, the "peeing skunk" analogy fails.

    But obviously, we're not talking about peeing contests with skunks. First of all, no one in his right mind would pee on a skunk -- whether in a retaliatory or unprovoked manner; normal people would get the hell away from the skunk ASAP. And scientifically speaking, when skunks spray they do not pee, but rather, they direct a stream of long-lasting, highly offensive fluid from their anal musk glands. So it's an Aesop type parable -- a common-sense warning to "clean" people to avoid getting down and dirty with someone who is already down and dirty. (Interestingly, in nature skunks do not spray each other.)

    In a political mud-slinging contest, it's logical that the down and dirty person has a double advantage over a cleaner opponent. That's because throwing dirt at a thoroughly dirty person can't be expected to make much difference. A thoroughly dirty person simply remains thoroughly dirty, and no moral stigma attaches to additional "dirt."

    In this respect, political mud (or even skunk stench) can be analogized to saturation diving:

    "Saturation" refers to the fact that the diver's tissues have absorbed the maximum partial pressure of gas possible for that depth due to the diver being exposed to breathing gas at that pressure for prolonged periods. This is significant because once the tissues become saturated, the time to ascend from depth, to decompress safely, will not increase with further exposure.

    Commonly, saturation diving allows professional divers to live and work at depths greater than 50 metres / 165 feet for days or weeks at a time.

    The debate over whether Hillary Clinton is in fact a political "monster" (and what that means) obscures the fact that she and her husband are Machiavellians to the core, and are so experienced at slinging and receiving mud as to have long ago reached the point of total mud saturation. They wear their dirt with pride, which was why the Clinton campaign was very happy to call Obama a "Ken Starr." Ironically, Ken Starr was once Mr. Clean, who got into a mud-slinging contest of historic proportions with the saturated Clintons, and then lost. So he's the one who's remembered as Mr. Mud Slinger extraordinaire, a man far more dirty than the Clintons. Because of his attempt to be clean, he's forever thought of as muddied. (What's being forgotten is that the Clintons -- not Starr -- are the ultimate measuring stick, and they, not he, ought to be considered the dirt standard by which political dirt is to be measured.)

    Of course, throwing the Ken Starr insult at Obama is the penultimate invitation to mud-slinging. It's almost a double dare.

    By people who revel in their own mud.

    Barack Obama is faced with a choice now of whether or not to sling back. He desperately wants to remain Mr. Clean, a nice guy, and decent man. Clearly, he's been damaged by the Rezko revelations, so he's no longer Mr. Clean in that respect. But should he get down and dirty with the Clintons ("stoop to their level" is the phrase most bandied about) and resort to their kind of mud-slinging?

    Will he forever lose his once-refreshing ethos of decency if he does?

    Is it a question of honor?

    It's a judgment call, and I don't honestly know. If he toughs it out and loses by not fighting back on the Clintons' level, does he save what's left of his honor?

    Or is this one of those situations where he loses his honor by not returning fire and meeting the Clintons tit for tat (or, dirt clod for dirt clod)?

    I started this post yesterday and I was all ready to forget about my childhood lessons in virtue and write about more tempting topics, but then I saw that Ann Althouse has weighed in thoughtfully, and her post reminded me of the skunk-versus-bully quandary. Or is it a dilemma? I don't know, but Althouse seems to think that Obama is allowing himself to be bullied:

    ...I don't need to learn that Clinton will do whatever it takes to win, and perhaps that does earn the label "monster," but let's not ignore the deficiencies in Barack Obama. How does he intend to win by shrinking away when her people pull their tricks? Where is his vigor? And, more importantly, where is his courage? It was cowardly to allow the Clinton campaign to savage Power and rip her away from him.

    And now I'm wondering whether there is anything courageous about Barack Obama. Obama supporters, please: Make the case to me that the man has courage. And don't say that he opposed the war in Iraq, because I don't think, in the position he was in at the time, that it took courage to oppose the war. That served his political ambitions. Tell me something he did that was difficult to do, that took some risk to do what was right.

    Good points, and I guess I'm lucky not to be in a position of having to give Obama serious political advice as a staffer or something, else I'd be a nervous wreck.

    There are ways to show courage without slinging mud. One way would be to simply refuse to sling mud, and take whatever comes. Hold a press conference with Ken Starr and (without endorsing special prosecutor tactics) denounce mudslinging and the politics of personal destruction? That might sound silly, but the Clintons will characterize any defense by Obama as mud-slinging, so it might be an opportunity for Obama to just repeat more dramatically what he has been saying all along: that it's time to move past mud-slinging politics. Canning Samantha Power might look cowardly, but it is at least consistent with Obama's anti-mud-slinging ethos. (Perhaps he could invite the Clintons to do the same, and can Howard Wolfson....)

    The most troubling aspect of all of this is that the Clintonian style of mud-slinging seems to work. According to the very latest polls, Hillary now does better against McCain than does Obama.

    The mud-slinging against McCain is getting geared up; last night CNN had one of the most condescending hit pieces against McCain's wife that I've seen, and yesterday he was accused of a tantrum that wasn't. But it's barely beginning; they'll try to spin him as an angry old womanizing warmonger suffering from dementia.

    I think McCain may have teflon, though -- which is a very different thing than being saturated. Whether it will stand up to a sustained campaign of mud-slinging by the totally saturated Clintons, who knows?

    UPDATE (03/10/08): Comparing the Clintons to zombies who never seem to die, Andrew Sullivan admits that they make him sick -- literally:

    There have been moments this past week when I have felt physically ill at the thought of that pair returning to power.
    Read it all. (I addressed my own symptomatology here.)

    posted by Eric at 01:24 PM | Comments (3)

    The Time Has Come Today

    I saw the Chambers Brothers do this live at the Fillmore. If you were there with me and my friend Ed Herny, how did you like the magic cookies?

    Inspired by a discussion of the latest McCain commercial at Althouse.

    HT Instapundit

    posted by Simon at 08:16 PM | Comments (0)

    Who Ya Gonna Call?

    Suppose there was trouble in the hood. Suppose you were the head Code Pinker. Who would you call? Who else? You call the Marines.

    Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin, who can turn the air blue when shouting chants against American Marines called out for the Marines in front of Marine Recruiting offices in Berkeley yesterday.

    Eamon Kelley, the young Marine who is featured in Move America Forward's TV commercial that ran on Fox News earlier this week, could hardly believe his own ears when Benjamin called on the Marines for help.

    How about some details?
    "While we were at the protest in Berkeley from 12 to 4 p.m., a white Volvo drove by and a man spat upon CodePink," Kelley wrote in an email to MAF's Melanie Morgan. "They chased him down the street and got into a verbal altercation. The police were NOWHERE in sight.

    "That's not the best part, ready for this?

    "Medea Benjamin yelled and I quote "Marines!" She actually yelled for our help because this man had stepped out of his car. I even asked her if she was yelling Police and she told me, "I said Marines" then put her arm around my friend Allen (the Marine Vet). Ironic?"

    People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.

    It is just that some people never knew this and others forget, while some like Ms. Benjamin don't even want to know despite it being rubbed in their faces.

    Semper Fi.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 01:27 PM | Comments (13)

    Quote of the day

    "There's no such thing as normality in sex."

    So says Vancouver sex therapist David McKenzie, in a generally stodgy Globe and Mail piece about how much time people spend having sex.

    Don't expect me to contradict an expert!

    posted by Eric at 12:13 PM | Comments (1)

    Jokes that bomb

    Former Weather Underground leader Bill Ayers (recently in the news for his Obama connections) has a "funny" sense of humor, and apparently no regrets about setting bombs:

    ''I don't regret setting bombs,'' Bill Ayers said. ''I feel we didn't do enough.'' Mr. Ayers, who spent the 1970's as a fugitive in the Weather Underground, was sitting in the kitchen of his big turn-of-the-19th-century stone house in the Hyde Park district of Chicago.
    We didn't do enough? Excuse me, but isn't that a little hideous when seen in the light of today's news?

    Ayers might not have set off enough bombs, but with his expansive definition of humor, he's making up for it.

    Mr. Ayers, who in 1970 was said to have summed up the Weatherman philosophy as: ''Kill all the rich people. Break up their cars and apartments. Bring the revolution home, kill your parents, that's where it's really at,'' is today distinguished professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. And he says he doesn't actually remember suggesting that rich people be killed or that people kill their parents, but ''it's been quoted so many times I'm beginning to think I did,'' he said. ''It was a joke about the distribution of wealth.''
    Joke? Oh, I get it. Killing your parents will cause you to inherit their money. At least I guess that's a joke. If you're a Marxist Leninist who hates private property.


    Here's another hilarious joke he seems to share with his wife (now a tenured law professor):

    In 1967 he met Ms. Dohrn in Ann Arbor, Mich. She had a law degree from the University of Chicago and was a magnetic speaker who often wore thigh-high boots and miniskirts. In 1969, after the Manson family murders in Beverly Hills, Ms. Dohrn told an S.D.S. audience: ''Dig it! Manson killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them, then they shoved a fork into a victim's stomach.''

    In Chicago recently, Ms. Dohrn said of her remarks: ''It was a joke. We were mocking violence in America. Even in my most inflamed moment I never supported a racist mass murderer.''

    Yeah, I can dig that! Manson's racism is more important than mass murder, and cancels out any virtue in "pig" killing. (Remember that Manson's victims were total strangers.) I remember reading an account of the incident at the time. Bernardine even held up three fingers in a trident, waved the "fork" in the air in a grotesque imitation of the peace gesture, and encouraged her followers to do the same. It never caught on, though. Perhaps no one got the "joke."

    Sure enough, my teenage memory (I was a high school radical at the time) of the "fork salute" seems to be accurate:

    At a 1969 "War Council" in Flint, Michigan, Dohrn gave her most memorable and notorious speech to her followers. Holding her fingers in what became the Weatherman "fork salute," she said of the bloody murders recently committed by the Manson Family in which the pregnant actress Sharon Tate and a Folgers Coffee heiress and several other inhabitants of a Benedict Canyon mansion were brutally stabbed to death: "Dig it! First they killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them. They even shoved a fork into the victim's stomach! Wild!" The "War Council" ended with a formal declaration of war against "AmeriKKKa," always spelled with three K's to signify the United States' allegedly ineradicable white racism.
    If you read on, there's an endorsement of race war, plaus another "joke":
    Professor Dohrn has said of her Weatherman past, "We rejected terrorism. We were careful not to hurt anybody." Both assertions are false, however. Weatherman's twofold agenda was terrorism (which is why Charles Manson was Dohrn's hero) and war (the organization's very existence was launched with a formal "declaration of war"), and Dohrn periodically issued "war communiqués" to the public at large. The intention of the group was to shed their "white skin privilege" and launch a violent race war on behalf of Third World People. A Chicago district attorney named Richard Elrod was seriously injured in the Weatherman riot that erupted during the Chicago "Days of Rage" in October 1969, and he was paralyzed for life as a result. Dohrn later led a celebration of Elrod's paralysis by leading her comrades in a parody of a Bob Dylan song -- "Lay, Elrod, Lay." Moreover, law-enforcement authorities are still investigating a bombing in San Francisco that killed a policeman, for which Professor Dohrn is one of the suspects.
    In those days, a little thing like Manson's racism would have barely merited a dismissive sneer, because everyone in AmeriKKKa was racist, and poor uneducated Charlie would have been seen as part of the lumpenproletariat that couldn't be expected to understand the complexities of issues that only the elite educated revolutionary vanguard could grasp. The point was, they were trying to spin the Manson atrocities as acts to be encouraged. Manson's racism would have been subordinated to the larger, more important message that a bloody insurrection, class warfare, and even the race war that Manson dreamed about were all things to be encouraged. I remember these people quite well, and they were not known as a particularly humorous bunch.

    I do not believe Dohrn when she says the fork remark was a joke. No one saw it that way at the time. I was a Marxist, and it made me uneasy. Few would have laughed had I declared my solidarity with the Manson gang and given them the "fork salute."

    Anyway, this stuff has been on my mind now that I'm a newly reminted Democrat.

    I'm not terribly impressed by the Rezko affair (which pales in comparison to the litany of Clinton scandals), and the Naftagate thing strikes me as a big fuss over not much -- certainly unworthy of the "gate" suffix.

    To me, the most troubling feature of Barack Obama is his association with the dreadful Ayers Dohrn pair, who never should have been given teaching positions, much less treated as honored activists at a fund-raiser. Were they really friends with Obama? Are they friends? Or was Obama just going with the flow of things at the time? It might only indicate bad judgment on his part, because there are few people in this world who have done things as bad as Ayers and Dohrn. The fact that they're so totally unrepentant about the violence is even worse than the violence. It's one thing to be unrepetent, but this is worse than an ordinary lack of repentance, because they're proud. It was all for a holy cause.

    The problem for me is that I'm hardly in a position to condemn Obama for hobnobbing with the Ayers Dohrns, as I knew people who did just as bad or worse things, and I considered them friends.

    So I'm a hypocrite no matter what.

    Hillary is not in the greatest position to condemn Obama either:

    Barbara Olson reported, "Hillary has never repudiated her connection with the Communist movement in America or explained her relationship with two of its leading adherents. Of course, no one has pursued these questions with Hillary. She has shown she will not answer hard questions about her past, and she has learned that she does not need to-remarkable in an age when political figures are allowed such little privacy."
    There's no way to unring the bell, but I regret my Marxist past, and I wish Hillary would do the same.

    As to Barack Obama, I'm uneasy about his friendships, but he was a boy when Ayers was setting off bombs, and he has of course condemned the actions of the Weather Underground, so I'm inclined to be forgiving (especially in light of my own background).

    But he ought to come clean. After all, he is running for president.

    Jonah Goldberg (who notes that Hillary "couldn't be more aggressive without calling attention to how Bill Clinton pardoned Puerto Rican separatist terrorists") puts it pretty well:

    I don't think such associations should necessarily cost people their careers or place in polite society, particularly if some sort of contrition is involved. But shouldn't this baggage cost something?

    Why is it only conservative "cranks" who think it's relevant that Obama's campaign headquarters in Houston had a Che Guevara-emblazoned Cuban flag hanging on the wall? Indeed, why is love of Che still radically chic at all? A murderer who believed that "the U.S. is the great enemy of mankind" shouldn't be anyone's hero, never mind a logo for a line of baby clothes. Why are Fidel Castro's apologists progressive and enlightened but apologists for Augusto Pinochet frightening and authoritarian? Why was Sen. Trent Lott's kindness to former segregationist Sen. Strom Thurmond a scandal but Obama's acquaintance with an unrepentant terrorist a triviality?

    These are really good questions, and I say this as someone who has had similar ties and friendships, and who is reluctant to condemn Obama. Believe me, I understand the reluctance that anyone in his position might have, as where it comes to guilt by association, I'm very guilty. I not only abhor ratting on people, I abhor even the appearance of it.

    But I'm not running for president; I'm running a blog. If I ran for president, I might have a lot of 'splainin to do.

    Glad I don't have to. I might have to gag myself with a fork.

    No joke.

    MORE: Jim Geraghty sees Obama's Ayers/Dohrn connection as "another line of criticism that won't work for Hillary, but will work for McCain." Geraghty also quotes from a post at Ace:

    Unless McCain is a complete idiot, he'll drive this one like a stolen Ferrari.
    But doesn't that assume Obama is the nominee?

    MORE: Speaking of Hillary's own terrorist issues, I'm wondering whether the FALN clemency will help her or hurt her in Puerto Rico.

    Fausta sees Puerto Rico as a possibly decisive factor in the race. (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

    There's a very juicy analysis in the Wall Street Journal of the Clintons' FALN pardons.

    I don't expect to hear much about Ayers and Dohrn from Hillary.

    posted by Eric at 09:07 AM | Comments (0)

    Google is for bloggers and kids. Nexis is for adults and "real" journalists

    When I clicked on Glenn Reynolds' link to a CBS story titled "Obama's Rezko Ties Escape National Radar" I found myself drawn to a comparison made by the Clinton campaign to the press coverage of the Norman Hsu fugitive felon/campaign contribution affair, described as much more vast in scope and breadth than that devoted to the Rezko affair.

    Wolfson asserted the Clinton campaign faced more scrutiny over -- and was also more proactive and forthcoming in dealing with -- its own troubled fundraiser, Norman Hsu (alternately pronounced "soo" or "shoe"), a fugitive convicted on grand theft charges years ago. The campaign gave to charity $23,000 contributed by Hsu and identified and returned more than $800,000 in contributions he bundled for Clinton.

    "I can guarantee you that if the shoe were on the other foot, so to speak, no pun intended," Wolfson said, "I would have been getting those calls, those questions, left and right, and having to come up with answers that were satisfactory to a very serious and dogged press corps."

    In fact, a Nexis search of major world newspapers Tuesday yielded 2,568 hits for the words "Clinton" and "Hsu" versus only 426 for the words "Obama" and "Rezko." Expanding the search to include all media outlets, the Clinton/Hsu query produced more than 3,000 hits, while Obama/Rezko turned up 1,741.

    I see the point, and while I don't doubt the results of the Nexis search, something about "all media outlets" made me scratch my head.

    What, pray tell, does that mean? I've been reading about the Rezko affair (first discussed here by M. Simon back in April) daily, whether it's in Drudge, on blogs or in my local newspaper. Perhaps I'm dealing with the wrong media. I never performed a Nexis search, because I don't subscribe to Nexis, and I don't think most bloggers do.

    However, when I saw the word "all," I was kind of expecting maybe some sort of reference to online media. You know, like, Google? That's what I typically rely on when I do a search, and Google wasn't even mentioned.

    Does the internet count?

    I figured they must have just neglected to mention Google, but surely they had be right about the disproportionate numbers involving a story like this.


    An ordinary Google search I performed just now, yielded 728,000 hits for Obama/Rezko versus 278,000 hits for Clinton/Hsu.

    Limiting the search to Google News, I got 2,777 hits for Obama/Rezko versus a very paltry 65 hits for Clinton/Hsu.

    What gives here?

    Am I dealing with the wrong media?

    I'm not knocking Nexis, mind you, but I don't subscribe. And as Virginia Postrel noted,

    A Nexis search is not, in fact, easy for most people, by the way. Most people do not have access to the subscription-only service.

    Perhaps this means Googling is kids' stuff, not to be taken seriously? Not worth so much as a mention by "real" journalists?

    Especially when it undercuts a point they're trying to make.

    posted by Eric at 08:15 AM | Comments (4)

    Fusion Song

    The Bussard Fusion Ram Jet has its own song.

    It might go well as an introduction to the Bussard Fusion Reactor.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 07:27 PM | Comments (0)

    ....could this election get any wackier?
    Tom Maguire wants to know. (Via Glenn Reynolds, who calls McCain the Unity Candidate.)

    Tell you what. The front page of today's Inquirer promises "an absolute zoo," as the election is coming to Pennsylvania, ready or not.

    The problem is, Pennsylvania is where I live, and I don't think I'm ready for the coming absolute zoo.

    As things stand right now (at least, at this point in the post), I'm a Republican for McCain. As he is now the officially, formally recognized candidate, if I remain Republican I would have no reason to vote at all on April 22, and the absolute zoo will pass me by.

    Unless that is, I do something about it, and fast. The way I see it, Hillary is going to win this state, and the forces of Rush Limbaugh are going to do their damnedest to increase her margin of victory. This, it is believed, will help John McCain. Not only do I disagree with this approach, but I distrust it. Almost without exception, Limbaugh and the other major Hillary promoters hate John McCain and make no secret of it. So I am deeply suspicious of their claim that they are "helping" John McCain by helping Hillary at the polls.

    I think this might very well have the opposite effect. Yesterday's election results demonstrated the fragility of Obama's house of cards, because the Obamamania is already starting to wear off. I predicted that in the long term, he would be the weaker of the two candidates for this very reason, and that he, not Hillary, would be the easier of the two for McCain to beat.

    FWIW, I think despite what the polls show, Hillary really is a stronger candidate against McCain, which is why I was hoping she'd lose. Obamamania is in full swing now, but two weeks is a long time in American politics, and there's more than eight months to go. America will have plenty of time to scrutinize Obama, his record, and everything else about him, and what is refreshing about him now will be old and stale by then.
    As I noted, James Taranto was thinking along similar lines, and he argued that McCain would be very lucky to have Obama as an opponent.
    Obama has not yet quite won the nomination. If buyer's remorse kicks in over the next 12 days--i.e., in time for the Ohio and Texas primaries--Mrs. Clinton may still have a chance. But if Obama has the thing clinched a few weeks from now, there will be plenty of time for disillusion before November. John McCain may be the luckiest politician since . . . well, George W. Bush.
    Well, that bit of luck for McCain ran out, didn't it?

    Someone please explain to me how the red meat conservatives who hate him and who told Republicans to vote for Hillary have done McCain a favor.

    While I should probably be proud my theory about Obama proved to be true, I just wish the McCain haters had left things alone to run their own course.

    Considering that some of them plan to vote for Hillary instead of McCain, I guess I shouldn't be surprised by their "help."

    Hmmm.. I'm wondering how many of them really thought they were helping McCain. I suspect many of them simply thought Barack Obama would be a worse president than Hillary -- which, to be clear, is not the same strategy at all. (My strategy here is above all to stop Hillary, whose election I think would be the worst thing that could happen to this country. The fact that she's more likely to beat McCain than Obama is an additional, strategic reason to vote against her.)

    Anyway, I'd like to offset Hillary's Rush Limbaugh forces here in Pennsylvania, and that brings me back to Tom Maguire's question of whether this election can get any wackier.

    For me, it is just about to get wackier in one respect. Maybe surreal is a better word. I have decided to register as a Democrat so I can vote against Hillary Clinton to help thwart Rush Limbaugh's fake false flag, fake Trojan Horse campaign. (Is there such a thing as a Trojan Horse within a Trojan Horse?)

    In one fell swoop, I will transform myself from being a hated RINO to being a hated DINO, and thus demonstrate that I can fight a fake false flag with a real false flag!

    I realize it's a bit like putting on the enemy's uniform, but what the hell. Rush Limbaugh's minions are already swelling the Democratic voter rolls anyway, so why can't I be an anti-Limbaugh Democrat? I'm sure that Limbaugh's pro-Hillary Democrats would see this as just another example of an out-of-control McCain RINO pretending to be a DINO in order to make trouble. But if there have to be Republican DINOs, I think it's only fair that there should be pro-McCain DINOs as well as anti-McCain DINOs.

    Hell, once I change my registration, I'll be legally permitted to call myself a Democrat for McCain.

    An hour later, here I am, back from the Registrar of Voters and wackier than ever before.

    I thought to take a last picture of me as a Republican before I left, and I took another upon my return, so that readers could see my transformation.


    Note the Falkland Islands ruler I held when I was a Republican (taken at 2:57 p.m.) in contrast to the ordinary ruler I held as a Democrat (at 4:00 p.m.). That's my way of saying that Hillary Clinton is no Margaret Thatcher.

    What I can't figure out is my predominant reason for doing what I just did. To fight Hillary? To fight Limbaugh? To help McCain?

    And who's to blame for my current plight? (Bear in mind that I didn't want to change my party registration, as I feel more at home in the GOP.)

    There are too many ironies for me to process. Am I a McCain Democrat? A anti-Limbaugh Democrat? An anti-Hillary Democrat? A RINO DINO malcontent? I don't know.

    For the time being, I'm a Democrat for McCain.

    UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link and the quote.

    Welcome all! I appreciate the comments.

    The election is still six weeks away, and by the time it's over, I'll be a battle-hardened Democrat!

    MORE: My thanks to Bob Krumm for the link!

    posted by Eric at 04:43 PM | Comments (64)

    This is my brain on Hillary....

    I'm still recovering what's left of my sanity from the shock of the last few days, which can best be described as an aggravation of my post traumatic Clinton stress disorder.

    Let me try to explain what I have tried to explain before. I have a serious, serious problem with putting the Clintons back in the White House. It clouds my sense of objectivity, and probably impedes my ability to blog. This is why I find myself psychologically incapable of doing what Ann Althouse is doing, which she explained in a post declaring neutrality:

    ....Nothing is more boring than a blogger's endorsement, and I'm not interested in reading any blogger's day to day spin in favor one candidate or another. I would rather take a vow not to vote in November and to keep track of my pro and con posts and go out of my way to keep the tallies even than to turn into a blogger like that.

    So I'm taking a vow of neutrality, but it won't be dull beige neutrality. I think partisanship is too tedious to read. This is going to be cruel neutrality.

    I agree that blogger endorsements are boring, and I admire the vow of neutrality. It's just that the Clintons bother me to the core, and it goes back for more than a decade. I am mentally incapable of being neutral about them, and it would be dishonest of me not to disclose it to the readers of this blog.

    Normally this wouldn't be a big deal. Had Bill Clinton and his wife had the simple decency to behave as other presidents and first ladies have, I'd probably do nothing more than manage an occasional sneering look back at Clinton nostalgia. The stained dress, purloined files, missing furniture, etc. It might even supply humor. But even that would hardly be objective or neutral.

    However, the idea of returning them back to the White House fills me with horror that goes beyond mere politics. I'm no more capable of being neutral about that than I am capable of being neutral about things like governmental attempts to take away my guns or the various governmental campaigns to ban my dogs, or force me to mutilate them. To say that I disagree with such things is putting it mildly, as I disagree vehemently. However, I try to discuss them by at least attempting to be objective. Part of that involves disclosing what I think, and that includes disclosing how I feel. I'm just trying to be honest here. If I'm not objective enough, or if it's boring, my apologies to all.

    It may well be that I am suffering from some sort of mental illness. Whether to call it "Hillaryphobia" I don't know. "Clintonphobia" is more like it, as I view them as inseparable people. FWIW, I think they suffer from Comegalomania. I know I complain a lot about Hillary's screeching voice, but to tell the truth, just about every time Bill puts on his angry satyr face and throws another tantrum, I have the same reaction. I've had Clinton fatigue for years, but to see them alive again and playing their same old dirty tricks, appalls, disgusts and annoys me as few things can.

    To give you an idea of how neurotic I am, even an article about the effects of cell phones on the brain made me think about the Clintons.

    Listening on a cell phone, even with a headset and free hands, can make a driver as dangerous as a drunken one, a new study suggests.

    Researchers have previously explored this territory, but Carnegie Mellon University scientists tried a new tack: They looked at the brain.

    They used brain imaging to show that listening to a cell phone significantly reduces the brain activity that occurs during undistracted driving. This drop in brain function increases driving mistakes - such as weaving out of the lane or hitting a berm on the shoulder of the road.

    There are two accompanying pictures showing the results of MRI scans which "measured second-by-second changes in activity in 20,000 brain locations" and purport to demonstrate "a 37 percent decrease in activity in the parietal [driving] lobe", as well as a decrease in activity in the occipital [visual information processing] lobe:
    "You know the old TV commercial of an egg frying that said, 'This is your brain on drugs,'?" Just said. "Well, this is your brain on cell phone."

    Anyway, the one on the left purports to be your brain on a cell phone, while the one on the right shows a "normal" brain. (The red highlights the parietal lobes.)


    Such simplistic evidence is sure to lead to much agitation for more legislation. I wouldn't be surprised to see groups like MADD demanding a cell phone ban.

    Fortunately, the writeup does note a rather huge problem with the study. Lots of things can and do cause driver distraction.

    It could be argued that the simulation didn't accurately mimic real driving because the subjects had no pedals, and used a computer mouse to control the steering of their virtual car. The study's implications, Just and his coauthors wrote, obviously go far beyond cell phones.

    "If listening to sentences degrades driving performance, then probably a number of other common driver activities also cause degradation, including . . . tuning or listening to a radio, eating and drinking, monitoring children or pets, or even conversing with a passenger."

    That's what makes it so simplistic to single out talking on a cell phone. Or conversations with passengers. Not all conversations are alike. I'd be willing to bet that a "difficult" call would have an effect on a driver's mental state quite similar to a difficult conversation with a passenger. A mother talking to her daughter (whether on the cell phone or in person) about what time the soccer game is over and when she'll pick her up would have a very different effect on the mom's brain than the same conversation telling her that she had just been in her room and found birth control pills or pot. The former could be expected to cause minimal distraction, while the latter might make the driver go too fast, too slowly, or even veer out of her lane. Similarly, a conversation between two men talking about the weather or last year's baseball season would not be the same as a call from a son asking his dad to come down and bail him out of jail. There are distractions, and then there are distractions. Not all people are distracted the same way.

    The article mentioned "listening to a radio." Hearing the voices of the gloating, scheming Clintons as they climb to power again is to me very disturbing. Whether it's as disturbing as it would be to receive a call notifying me of an IRS tax audit, or a call from a doctor informing me of bad lab test results is not the point. To me these things are unpleasant distractions, and whether they involve a cell phone is not the point.

    To return to my point, when I saw those two MRI scans, my immediate reaction was not "this is your brain on cell phone!" It was "this is your brain on Hillary!"

    Fortunately, I am not alone. Even some Democrats (and I mean real Democrats, not the "DINO" variety am about to become so I can vote against the Clintons) are discussing and trying to come to terms with their Clintonphobia. (Or should that be "Clinton Derangement Syndrome"?)

    In today's Inquirer, a piece ostensibly for Democrats titled "A party's pre-voting therapy" explored that issue:

    Discussions at kitchen tables in America are becoming therapy sessions. And Hillary Rodham Clinton has become an American Rorschach test: What you see in Clinton has a lot more to do with you than with her. It has to do with your lived experiences, your deepest uncovered fears, your buried resentments, your dashed hopes, your angers and your aspirations.
    I agree 100% with that sentiment, although I do not agree with this:
    ....Hillary-bashing has become a perverse acceptable national pastime. That she is making history by being the first serious Democratic woman to run for president doesn't get her any slack. Instead, there is a malevolent overreaction, which usually finds expression as male qualities misapplied: she's too cold; she's too calculating; she's too ambitious; she'll say and do anything to get ahead. Men with similar traits are described as forces to be reckoned with; they compete to win; they are a worthy foe. With Clinton, these qualities inspire fear and loathing.
    Except I don't see it as sexism at all. With the exception of "cold," every negative listed above that applies to the ruthlessly Machiavellian Hillary applies in spades to her ruthlessly Machiavellian husband Bill. Calculating. Ambitious. Will say and do anything to get ahead. Inspires fear and loathing. "Cold" is not a nice quality in a man or a woman, and Bill's advantage is that he was at least "warm." (These days, however, the angry satyr routine might be ratcheting up the warmth levels to an uncomfortably hot degree.) Obama is warm. Nixon was cold. So what? Since when is personality temperature strictly a feature of gender? It would be about as rational to racialize it, and I think the argument is silly.

    Anyway, the above psychological analysis was written for Democrats, so much of it is lost on me. I am not a Democrat, although I was when I first voted for the Clintons. This is horrible, painful stuff, and I've tried to explain why neutrality is impossible for me -- even as a goal.

    Objectivity is another matter, though. While it's very tough to be objective all the time or maintain strict objectivity, I do believe in objectivity as a goal. While it is doubtful that I'll ever acheive it in the case of the Clintons, I think approaching objectivity must begin with disclosure of bias. I am deeply, deeply biased against the Clintons, and if I didn't admit it, I might as well just stop writing this blog. This is not to say that I don't allow for the logical possibility that I might be wrong, and that the Clintons might not be wonderful, morally upright people and the salvation of this country. A lot of things I don't agree with or believe in might be right; I never forget, for example, that according to many religious views I am headed for hell.

    So, I might be wrong. But that doesn't mean I don't have my thoughts and my strong feelings about the things I might be wrong about, and this blog to express them.

    Hell, I'd even be willing to submit to a brain scan. I think it would reveal that I'm driven to distraction by my Clintonphobia, but I don't think I'm suffering alone. Maybe if some scientists did comparative MRI imaging of all anti-Clinton bloggers I might learn that I'm not as sick as I think.

    Bad as it is, things could be worse.

    At least I'm not blogging about Hillary from behind the wheel.

    MORE: While I'd like to leave no stone unturned in my ongoing quest towards a stated goal of objectivity, I lack the technology to provide readers with an accurate MRI of my brain on Hillary. Still, I'm old enough to remember what my brain looked like on drugs, and I think the argument can be made that in my case Hillary has an effect similar to the effect we were once warned that drugs had, but with one important difference. There's no high with Hillary. Just the opposite.

    With that in mind, in the interest of continuing objectivity, this is the best I could do to depict my brain on Hillary:


    MORE: Commenter Socrates admits to being Clintonphobic and not only offers a full discussion of why, but suggests a 12 step approach:

    Hi, I'm Socrates* and I'm a Clintophopic.
    <Hi, Socrates!>

    Hey why not?

    1. We admitted we were powerless over the Clintons--that our lives had become unmanageable.

    2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.


    There's also the Serenity Prayer:
    "God, grant me the Serenity to accept the Clintonistas I cannot change, the Courage to change the Clintonistas I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference."

    posted by Eric at 09:45 AM | Comments (3)

    Encounter In A Parking Lot

    Often, situational awareness and a move to initiate deadly force can prevent trouble.

    I cringed as I approached the greeter at the door with a bag in my hand. Thankfully, the elderly lady ignored me and we exited the first door into the foyer. I became vaguely aware of two scruffy young men behind us as I stopped to look for traffic in preparation of entering the parking lot. They stayed behind us, rather than coming alongside.

    I handed Little Darling her bag and took her hand as we began to negotiate the maze of parked automobiles. I glanced back and saw that the two young men had spread apart, one on either side of us and to the rear. That is when I felt it. They had matched my stride and were circling me. Like an antelope, I knew I was being stalked by jackals, only I did not know why. Time was accelerating at head pounding speed, and Little Darling, blissfully unaware, was along for the ride.

    I saw our vehicle and began to approach it, but I wanted to be certain. I walked past, and cut between two unoccupied SUVs, grabbing a shopping cart to block the path from my front. The man on my right turned towards me and cursed as he saw his path was blocked by the cart jammed between the two vehicles sideways. I spun and drew my pistol from it's holster, keeping it at low ready, facing off the other young man who was quickly approaching me from behind. My thumb had already snicked off the safety and Little Darling, confused, peered from behind me.

    Follow the link to find out how the story ends. The comments section is excellent as well.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 09:35 AM | Comments (0)

    Hillary's dirty politics have gone too far!

    Earlier, Glenn Reynolds linked yet another example of Hillary Clinton's plagiarism ("a little less conversation, a little more action").

    Well, I have a complaint of my own. I think she's not only stolen one of my ideas, she's done it in a dirty manner.

    I refer to the "new" idea she's floating of a Clinton-Obama unity ticket:

    The morning after reviving her candidacy with two big primary wins, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) hinted Wednesday that she and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) may wind up as ticket mates.

    "That may, you know, be where this is headed, but of course we have to decide who's on the top of ticket," Clinton said with a laugh on the CBS's "The Early Show." "I think that the people of Ohio very clearly said that it should be me."


    "Ticket mates"?

    "Who's on top"?

    And with a laugh?

    Well I'm not laughing, as I consider this to be very hurtful plagiarizing of the post I wrote on February 27 -- one week ago!

    Except see, I was really nice, and I deliberately didn't say one thing about anyone being "on top" or "on bottom." That's because I went out of my way to avoid any hint of sexual innuendo -- even at the risk of boring my readers.

    Obviously, there's no way to talk about a Democratic unity ticket without mentioning racism and sexism, so I did that, but I kept it scrupulously clean, going out of my way to use non-sexual words like "political sausage," "subordinate role" and "number two spot":

    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.


    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.

    I don't know which I find more infuriating -- that Hillary would blatantly steal my idea or that she would deliberately sexualize it.

    Hey wait a minute. "A little less conversation, a little more action?"

    Action? Just what kind of action are we talking about?

    posted by Eric at 08:06 PM | Comments (1)

    Soldier throws puppy off a cliff?

    I can't believe the stuff that gets posted on YouTube.

    For the past several days, a large number of people have been outraged by a video purporting to show an American soldier throwing a live, screaming puppy off a cliff:

    WARNING: It is very disturbing.

    How the video came into being I don't know, but it has caused extreme and emotional reactions, including a club dedicated to attacking the Marine said to be depicted.

    And numerous outraged videos like this one, which include commentary identifying the soldier:

    Im being serious for once...

    Some sick Soldier throws a poor puppy off the cliff and kills it. I needed to get it off my chest, I won't have this video up for long, I just think the world should know what our soldiers are doing in thier spare time...

    The man who threw the dog was...

    He provides a name of a man from Washington state whose name I won't repeat but it's all over the Internet, as this has fast become a domestic and international news item. But "what our soldiers are doing in their spare time?"

    It hasn't even been established that this happened, much less that it's what our soldiers do in their spare time. The unverified video is encouraging extreme anger, and statements like this and worse:

    This piece of garbage needs to be burned alive and have sulfuric acid poured on him to put out the flames.

    I hope his fellow Marines beat the ever living shit out of this DISGRACE to the Corps and the ASSHOLE who did nothing to stop him. They both should be shot in the back of the head and their corpses defecated on.

    They have brought dishonor to the finest people in the world - those who fight against cruel scum like this. They are not Marines; I don't even consider them human.

    I pray each night for the protection of our men and women in Iraq, but as far as these two asshats go, I hope they're BEHEADED on camera by insurgents. THERE - I SAID IT!

    This has been making the rounds all over the world and Marine Corps is not only outraged, they're taking it very seriously and investigating it. It still hasn't been determined who made it and why, or whether it's real.
    The Marines are investigating the video, said Linda Yokoyama, an office assistant at the Kaneohe Bay Marine Base in Hawaii.

    "It will take a bit of time. Considering we've only known about it for 24 hours, we're moving as fast as we can," she said. "It's been a nightmare. The video is just horrible. Horrible."

    I've looked at the video several times, and it while throwing a puppy over a cliff would be an easy thing for a sicko to do, it would also be quite an easy thing to fake. (Just before the puppy is tossed, it goes off camera, and it would not be complicated to substitute a toy and throw it, then edit in the yelping sound.) As to why someone would fake this, I don't know. To get attention? To make the military look bad?

    Once again, anyone can make a video. And while cruelty to animals is a crime, pretending to throw a puppy off a cliff is not.

    It does look real, but I'm not alone in speculating that it could have been faked.

    The video has also raised questions among those who have watched it. At The Herald's request, veterinarians at Washington State University's College of Veterinary Medicine agreed to review the video.

    They cannot determine whether the puppy was real. One did note that it appeared to leave the frame of the video for a second and the people in the video could have switched it with a fake dog.

    "If this is something legitimate, it's one of the most egregious acts of animal cruelty I have ever seen, if not the most," said Dr. Matt Mickas, chief of Community Practice Services at WSU's veterinary college.

    He said it did not appear fake to him, because of the way the animal went slack by being held from the neck.

    "To me, the sound on the YouTube clip sounded like a puppy in distress -- the same sound we hear when the puppies come into the hospital," Mickas said.

    More here, here, and here. Allah speculates that the puppy might have been dead, and BlackFive opines,
    Regardless of whether the video is fake (hope so) or not, this Marine gave the enemy a moral victory here at home. His chops need bustin'
    I agree.

    If the guy committed this despicable act of cruelty, he really ought to be nailed, and there are legal ways to do that. But in addition to the anti-military publicity this has generated, to me there's something very unsettling about seeing how quickly an online lynch mob can just appear out of nowhere. They are threatening this man's family, condemning the military, demanding the man be tortured and killed -- all before his guilt or the authenticity of the video have even been established. Even professionals who ought to know better are offering anti-war explanations about why soldiers "do" things like that.

    So, I am outraged, but I am also skeptical. Just because the video is outrageous does not make it authentic. It strikes me as either stupid or insane that anyone would have himself filmed committing a crime and then put it on YouTube. But if it was faked, it's a good way to get a lot of attention without committing a crime.

    (There are a lot of fake videos on YouTube; not long ago I linked this one purporting to depict a man setting himself on fire.)

    It will be interesting to learn what the investigation turns up.

    I hope they act fast, as this is generating a lot of media attention and way too much public hysteria.

    A stubborn problem is that there is no way to criminalize fake depictions of things.

    (Otherwise most of Hollywood would be in prison, and so would many reporters.)

    UPDATE (03/06/08): One of my biggest concerns about the reactions to this video is the way it is generating and fueling anti-military bigotry. I worry that the military is being unfairly held to a higher standard than other members of society, and that whenever misbehavior or criminal activity by a soldier occurs, it activates all the classic signs of bigotry which would never be tolerated had the same individual not been a member of the military -- to say nothing of being a member of some other identifiable group.

    This unfairly places the military (and, unfortunately, its defenders) in the position of having to say what amounts to "we're not all sadistic puppy killers" -- something they should not even have to say.

    Via Glenn Reynolds, Winds of Change's Marc Danziger highlighted the reflexive way this happened in The Atlantic's coverage of a rape case in Okinawa -- which condescendingly noted that "most [soldiers] are not sociopaths" and then (with a classic "yes but") threw in the gratuitous argument that maybe our soldiers shouldn't be there:

    Yes, the overwhelming majority of U.S. military personnel aren't sociopaths. Moreover, downtown Baghdad or Falluja likely won't be sprouting outlets like Okinawa's Club Fujiyama. But the impact of these kinds of episodes on the U.S. image, not to mention on our strategic relationships, is one more reason to weigh carefully the hypothetical benefits of a long-term U.S. military presence against their very real costs. And for the Okinawans, at least, the price of Pax Americana has been very high indeed.
    Far more rapes -- and far more incidents of animal cruelty -- are committed by American civilians than American soldiers. I can't remember the last time a news report needed to point out that "most Americans are not sociopaths." The Philadelphia Inquirer features daily reports of horrid crimes, and not once have I read "most Philadelphians [or fill in the criminal's identity group] do not do this."

    It would be considered gratuitously insulting, and it is.

    Whatever the assholes in the video did (and there's more speculation in the comments below), if it turns out they did violat the law, they'll likely be punished more severely than a typical civilian would in a typical criminal court. To see their conduct in any way as an indictment of the military constitutes anti-military bigotry.

    (When such bigotry are carried to extremes, there can be predictable consequences, as we're seeing in New York today.)

    MORE: Ace and his commenters are generally leaning toward the theory that the video is fake, and that the puppy was either dead or stuffed.

    posted by Eric at 04:45 PM | Comments (13)

    Subjugation To The Market

    According to Professor Bainbridge European teaching on economics is not very market friendly. He quotes The Wall Street Journal article by Heidi Moore:

    Theil, who studied French and German financial textbooks as a fellow for the German Marshall Fund, compiles a couple of quotes from the books that guide Europe's impressionable young into what he calls a "deep anti-market bias." One German textbook intones, "The worldwide call for...more deregulation in reality means a grab for the material lifeblood of the modern nation-state," and a French one teaches, "Globalization implies 'subjugation of the world to the market,' which constitutes a true cultural danger."
    What is a market? A place to exchange what you have for what you want. So what is subjugation to the market? It is the tyranny of being able to get what you want through voluntary exchange. I could see why this might upset some people. If you look at the comments to the Wall Street Journal article it evidently upsets a lot of people.

    H/T Instapundit

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 12:08 PM | Comments (0)

    A red meat victory on the road to defeating McCain?

    According to Andrew Sullivan, the right is "celebrating" the victory of Hillary Clinton.

    That may be, but the evidence he cites (a remark by Hugh Hewitt) seems rather slim:

    A month ago talk radio was dead. Now it has resurrected Hillary?
    I think that's more a statement of irony than jubilation, but I could be wrong.

    What I would like to know is why visceral antipathy towards McCain correlates so strongly with visceral antipathy towards Obama.

    Any ideas?

    It's almost spooky, because a lot of that Hillary hatred that so possessed the angry red meat conservatives in the 1990s seems to have morphed into McCain Derangement Syndrome, and unless I'm wrong, there is a strong correlation between McCain Derangement Syndrome and Obamaphobia.

    What gives here?

    The reason I checked Andrew Sullivan first thing this morning is that I'm looking for theories, and I thought he might find some correlation between MDS, Obamaphobia, and what he calls "Christianism" (generally his code language for anti-gay bigotry) but it wasn't staring me in the face.

    There's a lot of emotion, though, and I wonder what is going on. Might it be that the people who hate McCain and have vowed to either sit this out or vote for Hillary are worried that Obama might be the spoiler? The reason I'm speculating about this is that I haven't seen many of the angry red meat, Anyone-But-McCain conservatives including Obama as an "anyone." Might it be that they hate Obama more than McCain, but hate Hillary less than Obama or McCain? Why?

    Is it because Obama comes off sounding nice, while Hillary sounds screechy and awful? Perhaps that's part of it. Last night an anonymous commenter explained it this way:

    If I have to sleep with a rattlesnake, I want the one that rattles loud and clear.

    If I have to have a Dem president, I want the one that everyone knows is a snake. I do not want the one that comes off as "such a nice, nice man!! We'll do whatever he says!!"

    If I have to have a Dem president, I want the one that NO ONE trusts.

    While I can't speak for the commenter, the problem is that a lot of conservatives prefer sleeping with the rattlesnake to voting for McCain. I am not at all sure this is driven by politics, or positions on issues. Just as McCain's 83% ACU rating means nothing, the fact that there's little political difference between Obama and Hillary means nothing. (Obama's middle name and his African relatives are considered far more important.) And I guess his smooth demeanor and ability with words frightens people.

    Seriously, I'd like to know what it is that makes the red-meaters so willing to overlook Travelgate, Whitewater, FBI filegate, Pardongate, Chinese money, Peter Paul, terrorist pardons, Norman Hsu, and more, more, more?

    I'm thinking along the same lines I've been thinking about and blogging about for years. For a combination of unholy reasons, they want a familiar, tried-but-true enemy back in the White House, and when enough people want something to happen, it will happen.

    I'm thinking that maybe "enemy" should go in quotes.

    UPDATE: Via Glenn Reynolds, Mickey Kaus links this interesting tidbit:

    there is definitely a sizable portion of the vote in Texas tonight comprised of Republican voters looking to "game" the Democratic primary. I spoke with numerous friends today, who claim to be Republican, who said they voted for Sen Clinton with the thought that it will prolong the Dem in-fighting and therefore benefit Republicans. I won't debate the merits of their argument here, but the phenomenon (Republicans voting for Sen Clinton to gain the system) is real and I think material to the results. I'm surprised I haven't seen anyone reporting it and just how large the impact might be. I'm sure it is contributing to the number of voters deciding in the final three days to support Sen. Clinton. Would be curious to hear your contributors comment on this dynamic. The VRWC conspires to save the Clinton campaign?
    I realize that they claim this "strategy" will "help" the GOP in November, but I'd feel a little more reassured if it wasn't being orchestrated by people who hate John McCain and want him to lose, or think his defeat as inevitable.

    If the Clintons get back in, they'll be back in for eight years.

    And as I witness the final destruction of the American health care system by a determined enemy who tried and failed in 1993, every time I hear that screeching voice, it will be hard not to remember the "strategy" that put it there.

    MORE: How big a factor is Rush Limbaugh, anyway?

    Via Glenn Reynolds, James Joyner links an Ohio exit poll showing that while 9% of the Democratic primary voters identified themselves as Republican, they were evenly split -- 49% Obama to 49% for Hillary.

    What that means for me is that if I want to help neuter Hillary and Rush, I should march right down to the Registrar of Voters and register as a Democrat in time for the crucial Pennsylvania election.

    MORE: Hillary hints at Clinton-Obama unity ticket.

    Well, that might be one way to unify the GOP.

    MORE: Dick Morris thinks Obama has to get tough:

    It's time that Obama counters her strategy by hitting back.

    His lofty politics of hope will avail him little in the aggressive rough and tumble world of modern politics. He's got to spell out the special interest connections that stigmatize Hillary as the tool of the lobbyists. He must underscore the need for her to release her tax returns for 2007 and 2006 to show the source of her newfound wealth.

    He's got to probe her relationship with Norman Hsu and Bill's financial ties to the emir of Dubai. He has to underscore how Hillary's so-called experience, particularly in military affairs is largely derivative of her husband's. He's got to learn to trade blows with the Clintons, the best counter-punchers in the business.

    Of course, Hillary's innumerable negatives are largely forgotten history. What matters now is Naftagate. And a legal but ethically questionable real estate deal.

    posted by Eric at 08:44 AM | Comments (14)

    Texas is red. Ohio is blue.

    I turned on the TV to watch the election results, and I'm already confused.

    It's too early to count anything in the Ohio and Texas Democratic races, but Hillary is winning the former and Obama the latter.

    Fox gives this reading:

    OBAMA 467,143 56%
    CLINTON 356,470 43%
    Except that's with one percent of the vote in!

    Texas must be a bigger state than I thought.

    MORE: Seriously, the idea of 800,000 people being one percent of the Texas vote has me worried.

    And it's not my imagination.

    Here's CNN:


    And Fox:


    Irregularities, I'm sure. Because, if there are 80 million Democratic voters in Texas, we're all in trouble.

    9:09 -- Breaking news. Huckabee is dropping out.

    Considering that McCain has now won 1195, putting him over the top (and assuring his formal status as the GOP nominee), I think Huckabee has made the right move. Fred Barnes just compared it to baseball, saying that for Huckabee to continue would be like a baseball team showing up for the tenth inning.

    Huckabee is expected to speak soon.

    9:18 -- Huckabee is speaking. He's using a baseball analogy about playing your best to the very end. But he acknowledges McCain will win, and is speaking for party unity.

    9:25 -- He mentions his wife, his small campaign staff, and the Apostle Paul.

    And to great cheers, he said he'd rather lose an election than lose principles.

    Stresses humble roots, dirt floor. It's a good speech, with a strong religious, populist, anti-establishment message.

    9:31 -- Quotes from Travis's "Victory or Death" letter from the Alamo. The crowd is deeply moved.

    9:35 -- Sean Hannity just opined that Huckabee will not be on the ticket.

    9:37 -- They're saying the numbers are meaningless, but Ohio is now 202,000 to 138,000 (58%-40%) for Hillary, while Texas is 554,340 to 481,716 (53%-46%) for Obama. The percent of the vote in Texas now shows as 5%.

    It still isn't right.

    9:42 -- In the races which aren't as important, Obama won Vermont, and Clinton won Rhode Island.

    9:45 -- Hillary's Ohio numbers are so high (58% to 38%, with 17% of the vote in) that I see no practical way for Obama to close the gap.

    And so, at the risk of being reckless and irresponsible, Classical Values calls Ohio for Hillary.

    9:47 -- Ohio is now 59% to 39%, with 18% in (for Hillary).

    And McCain is giving his speech in Dallas.

    He remarks that not long ago this would have seemed unlikely, and he's thanking Huckabee and all his former rivals.

    It's time to begin the most important part of the campaign.

    Says he never believed he was destined to be president, but stresses responsibility. Believes he owes his country, and I think he's utterly sincere when he says he's committed to something greater than himself.

    Promises he'll never forget his responsibilities, and that the campaign will not be another tired and empty debate.

    Stresses the war. Defends decision to destroy Saddam Hussein's machine. (LOUD applause) Also criticizes the failed tactics. Must be allowed to leave Iraq secure with US honor intact. Very credibly stressed our vital security interests and he sounds very convincing.

    9:56 -- Will encourage Islamic moderates. Will not abrogate trade treaties.

    (Meanwhile, Hillary is almost even with Obama in Texas.)

    9:58 -- I like his stress on encouraging economic growth as opposed to pursuing anti-business policies.

    Stresses civility (in contrast to an "uncivil brawl" for power). Much cheering.

    "We don't hide from history. We make history."

    Stresses the "hope built on courage, faith and the values which made us great" and exhorts the crowd to stand up for the country. "The contest begins tonight."

    "Won't you down, God bless America."

    A sincere speech which sounded as if it's from the heart.

    10:04 -- With 12% of the Texas vote in, it's now Obama with 641,109 (50%) to Clinton's 611,352 (48%). She's gaining steadily.

    10:09 -- No matter what happens, Hillary will claim victory tonight.

    Here's Stephen Green, drunkblogging again:

    Let me get this straight. A loss for Obama anywhere is a win for Hillary everywhere? I'm so spun my boxers are on backwards. And on my head.
    Via Glenn Reynolds, who also links soberblogger Megan McArdle, who says,
    Hippies like Obama--who could have guessed?
    As a McCain Deadhead for Obama, I not only guessed it earlier, I reveled in it!

    I don't know who's drinking (or smoking) what anymore.

    But I also liked what James Joyner said earlier:

    ....given the proportional allocation of delegates the Democrats use, the race will likely remain a virtual tie regardless of tonight's "winners" and "losers." The press and Democratic Establishment may start to hammer Clinton to withdraw and anoint Obama as the prohibitive favorite. But so long as she's got the resources and energy to run, I don't see why she'd quit. She is, as she noted in her announcement, "In it to win it." My guess is that will be true until the bitter end.
    (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

    Meanwhile, the race is continuing to be "competitive."

    Sigh. It promises to be a long night.

    I'm reminded of the line from a Dead song,

    Didn't get to sleep that night till the morning came around...
    It really sucks being a McCain Deadhead against Hillary.

    Too many conflicts of interest.

    10:25 -- Hillary and Obama are within a hair in Texas.


    10:30 -- Texas is now 49% to 49%. 685,880 Obama to 678,919 Clinton.

    I'd say that negative campaigning works -- provided there's a legitimate negative, and with crooked real estate deal with Rezko, and the appearance of a NAFTA lie, Hillary appears to have a legitimate negative.

    A pity for Obama that he has cemented himself into the role of being "above all that," because Hillary has plenty of much dirtier underwear.

    10:41 -- A virtual tie in Texas, with Obama ahead by a scant 2000 votes.

    This guarantees that Team Hillary will be descending on my home state like a plague of locusts. Howard Dean (via Glenn) was right that Pennsylvania will be the deciding state:

    The evidence in Pennsylvania shows that she has no plans to step down. Her campaign has been busy, opening offices and holding training sessions. Plans are in the works for her to hit the ground in the Keystone State as early as Thursday.

    Larry Sabato, political science professor at the University of Virginia, says Clinton's Pennsylvania activities point to someone not planning to withdrawal.

    "If she wins Ohio and breaks about even in Texas in the popular vote, she should be off and running in Pennsylvania," Sabato said.

    "Why would she listen to Bill Richardson and a bunch of Obama supporters about 'the need to get out?'" Sabato said. "As far as she is concerned, Obama is the usurper."

    10:50 -- Hillary is now ahead in Texas, and they're finally saying that Obama can't make up the difference in Ohio.

    Great. I'm wondering what all the people who issued calls for her to step down will say now?

    Once again, she will not go gently into the good night.

    She can still win this thing.

    Fox just called Ohio for Hillary.

    10:56 -- I think the people who wanted Hillary should be forced to listen to her.

    What I can't stand is that I have to.

    10:58 -- Hillary is now ahead by two points in Texas. Slow, steady gains, all evening. I think she has a good chance of winning it. God help this country.

    11:10 -- Just heard an Ohio warmup speech in anticipation of Hillary "Let us go to Pennsylvania, and West Virginia! Let us go to Michigan and Florida!"

    I'm sure Hillary's Michigan voters are feeling disenfranchised. At least as disenfranchised as Obama's, considering he wasn't on the ballot....

    (I know my bias is showing, but I don't want the Clintons back in the White House.)

    11:17 -- The crowd chants HILLAREE!, HILLAREE!, HILLAREE!

    And there goes that grating voice, gloating tonight.

    Is there at long last no way to stop her?

    "As Ohio goes, so goes the nation."

    "We're going all the way!" And I think she means it.

    She's saying that to be a president you have to win the battleground states and she ticks them off. (But Michigan? Really.) She's tested to be commander in chief on day one, and she knows how to turn the economy around. (Yes, with a rehash of her failed socialized medicine.)

    People want their turn to make history, and their voices to count. Urges everyone to join her campaign. Americans don't deserve promises, they deserve solutions, and they deserve them now.

    Again, she's ready to lead. Bashes Bush. Green jobs. End the war in Iraq, win the war in Afghanistan.

    When there's a crisis and that phone rings at 3am, there's no time for on the job training.

    Now she congratulates McCain and says she looks forward to a spirited debate with him.

    Crowd keeps chanting "yes we will!" or something equally original.

    (Seriously I don't think I can take eight more months of listening to that voice, much less eight more years.)

    11:27 -- Thanks her staff, plus Bill, Chelsea, and the mom who named her after the explorer. Also thanks Obama, and says she looks forward to discussing the issues that matter.

    11:29 -- She closes by repeating "YES WE WILL!"

    Actually, it's a brilliant way of rhetorically ridiculing "YES WE CAN!"

    How well it will go over with the Yesiwecans remains to be seen....

    11:33 -- Fox analysts are saying that the Obama campaign got cocky (they did) and the media consistently underestimates Hillary Clinton. (I may be biased against her, but I don't think I've done that. But then, I'm not what they mean by "the media.")

    Bill Kristol just said, "Pennsylvania is very big."

    (The horror. The horror.)

    11:38 -- Analyst Bob Beckel points out that the net gain for Hillary will only be 20 delegates, and that people should maintain perspective.

    Now Obama is giving his speech. He says it's close in Texas, but congratulates Hillary for winning Ohio and Rhode Island. "No matter what happens tonight, we have roughly the same delegate lead."

    He's not looking happy.

    He's also talking about McCain, and the two different visions they have for America. Accuses McCain of falling in line behind the policies which have filed America, and now he's talking like a pacifist, and of course reminding me of why I could never vote for him. (Still, he is not Hillary.)

    Bashing corporations, Wall Street versus Main Street. Want a new course for this country.

    Complains that John McCain and Hillary Clinton have echoed each other, and accused him of "speeches, not solutions."

    It's too bad, because I was hoping Obama was a twofer. (Get rid of Hillary, plus offer McCain an easier target.) He's now sounding a bit tired, and too socialistic.

    11:51 -- He's talking about the opportunity he had to go from a humble background to running for president.

    Whoa. Saying they're being fair to Hillary, they cut him off at Fox! (CNN continued the speech to the end.) Obama left the stage looking rather subdued, if not beaten.

    Hey, as long as Hillary doesn't win the presidency, I can handle all of this. But I'm not convinced that underestimating her has worked very well.

    12:03 -- Carl Bernstein has just pointed out that this is a big victory for Hillary because she got away with going after Obama at the last minute without ever having to release her tax returns.

    And Naftagate! The irony is that I rather liked the idea of Obama's covert reassurances -- especially if they took place.

    12:40 -- With 80% of the Texas vote in, Hillary Clinton is still ahead 50% to 48%, although Obama is winning the caucuses.

    I prefer sleeping to the suspense. But since Fox is verging on a prediction, I'll predict here and now that Hillary will win Texas.

    A Clinton Obama unity ticket is looking more and more likely.

    12:46 -- Fox predicts Hillary to be the winner in Texas.

    And with that I'm going to bed.

    I can go to sleep knowing that I never wanted Barack Obama to be president. What I cannot understand is why all these conservatives are either willing to bring back the Clintons, or else think they're better than Obama.

    Unless I'm missing something, history is being forgotten.

    posted by Eric at 08:31 PM | Comments (9)

    How to (finally) get the conservatives back on board


    The McCain-Clinton 2008 Unity Ticket:

    Don't Intrade's numbers suggest a winning strategy for McCain and Clinton is to do a unity ticket together? I know this must have been suggested before (probably on NRO), but Intrade's making me think it's a good strategy for them. McCain will win the Republican nomination (94.1), but Intrade suggests he won't win the Presidency (33.3). He has little base inside his party and even what base he has is unexcited. He can only win with independent and Democratic support, and they already have the "real deal" in Obama. Clinton won't win the Democratic nomination (25.6) and probably can't win the Presidency (17.3). But Clinton could agree to be McCain's VP nominee and, um, offer to heal the country together. McCain could even agree to serve just one term (excepting "emergencies" of course). McCain would need to turn his back on his party, but that's nothing new....
    (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

    What's not listed as a factor is the most telling one. All those conservatives who have vowed to vote for Hillary instead of McCain! (I've called them the Coulter-Clinton-Buchanan axis, and Lord knows how many more there are now.) As they're already on board with Hillary, it should be an easy task for her to bring them back where they belong.

    After all, haven't we've all heard that it would take Hillary Clinton to united the Republican Party?

    MORE: Speaking of uh-ohs, I just thought of something. What about an Obama-Huckabee counter-unity Ticket? (They already have a lot in common, and the strange bedfellows meme is spreading this season.)

    posted by Eric at 07:23 PM | Comments (1)

    Memory Lane leading back to Hell

    I'll be glad when this election is over.

    I don't think people realize the danger this country is in, and I'm not enjoying seeing Hillary Clinton (aka "The Clintons") being endorsed by so many people who ought to know better -- apparently because they really and truly think she'd be better than Barack Obama.

    While I was just joking about Grateful Dead nostalgia, there are some forms of nostalgia I don't need, and one of them is hellish Clinton fatigue nostalgia. At least, for me it's that. A lot of other people seem to be suffering from Clinton amnesia (some of which may be aggravated by Obamaphobia.)

    There's an elementary point that Rush Limbaugh and many Republicans and conservatives seem to be missing: if Hillary is not the nominee, she cannot win the presidency.

    But if she is the nominee, she can.

    To me the most important thing right now is to help prevent such a thing from happening.

    Much as I hate to stoke my Clinton fatigue, I just ordered David Bossie's Hillary: The Politics of Personal Destruction. There's one review, which says this:

    To fans and followers of Hillary, this book may not matter as much of it is "old news". However, David N. Bossie, former chief investigator for the US House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, spent a lot of time gathering former Hillary/Bill supporters (and still Democrats) as well as talking to others that the Clintons had surrounded themselves with such as Dick Morris and David Geffen plus others affected by their actions.

    The movie is very powerful especially Billy Dale's story as the former Director of the White House Travel Office and Frank Connor's son who describes how his dad was killed by a bomb set off by FALN terrorists, the group pardoned by Bill Clinton on his last day in office.

    There are also details and documentation of the Hollywood fund raiser setup by Peter Paul along with Stan Lee (yes, of Spiderman comics) and many other stories.

    Whether you are Democrat or Republican, the movie and book are worth viewing and reading just to see the type of person who is running for President of the United States.

    Unfortunately, I already know, and I already remember.

    Few people, however, remember Billy Dale, or what the vindictive Hillary Clinton did to him. A blogger named The Smokin' Frog:

    He was just a public servant, a career employee in the White House travel office. Not a big shot U.S. attorney. Just a work-a-day guy. He worked there for 30 years and for 8 different administrations. This was not a political job.

    But Hillary Clinton fired him, along with the rest of the travel office staff. That's her right, of course. She made it to the White House. But she could have stopped there, but no, "Miss Love and Compassion for All" had to ruin him. She nearly bankrupted him. She defamed his character with all of her outrageous lies about him. She had him charged with crimes. Why? Because she wanted "her people in there." Like I said before, she could have just fired him. But she chose to ruin his reputation instead and cost him thousands of dollars. After he was found innocent, and in about two hours, they had the I.R.S. go after him. Hillary keeps talking about invisible people. I'll bet she wishes Billy Dale was invisible.

    But what do the Democrats want to do these days? They spend their time trying to get subpoenas because some U.S. attorneys were fired. For goodness sakes they were fired, not ruined. Hillary Clinton makes Bush look pristine. She is the queen of the politics of destruction.

    Did the Democrats care at all about Billy Dale and the travel office staff? Apparently not, since they would love for Hillary to move back into the White House.

    At this point, I'm not entirely sure the Republicans care.

    I'll be glad when it's over.

    For the umpteenth time, the only way to make sure the Clintons don't retake the White House is to have John McCain run against Barack Obama.

    What is going on? Do people think the devil they know is better than the devil they don't know?

    I hope not. Because, not only is it illogical, it's also an argument against McCain.

    UPDATE: Just turned on the radio only to hear Ann Coulter carrying on about "B. Hussein Obama."

    Yes, but she's a Hillary supporter.

    (Only McCain is held accountable for what his supporters say.)

    posted by Eric at 04:58 PM | Comments (2)

    Did Obama Get The Memo?

    It appears Barrack "the Change" Hussein Obama is in trouble.

    The denials were sweeping when Senator Barack Obama's campaign mobilized last week to refute a report that a senior official had given back-channel reassurances to Canada soft-pedaling Mr. Obama's tough talk on Nafta.

    While campaigning in Ohio, Mr. Obama has harshly criticized the North American Free Trade Agreement, which many Ohioans blame for an exodus of jobs. He agreed last week at a debate with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton that the United States should consider leaving the pact if it could not be renegotiated.

    On Monday, a memorandum surfaced, obtained by The Associated Press, showing that Austan D. Goolsbee, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago who is Mr. Obama's senior economic policy adviser, met officials last month at the Canadian consulate in Chicago.

    According to the writer of the memorandum, Joseph De Mora, a political and economic affairs consular officer, Professor Goolsbee assured them that Mr. Obama's protectionist stand on the trail was "more reflective of political maneuvering than policy."

    Obama's camp says that they got the gist of the conversation that didn't happen all wrong.

    Here is the memo [pdf]. Of course there is no way to decide if the Canadians got the gist right or wrong. What is telling is that Obama originally denied the meeting ever happened. It is always the cover up that screws you.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 04:35 PM | Comments (0)

    "a good example of why many old die hard Deadheads say 1971 is their favorite year"

    And also a good example of my playing hookey from blogging, but I found a truly great recording of what I think may be the best Grateful Dead show ever, from the Capitol Theater on February 18, 1971. The entire show can be streamed or downloaded here, and the songlist follows:

    Bertha*, Truckin', It Hurts Me Too, Loser*, Greatest Story Ever Told* > Johnny B. Goode*, Mama Tried, Hard To Handle, Dark Star > Wharf Rat* > Dark Star > Me & My Uncle Casey Jones, Playin' In The Band, Me And Bobby McGee, Candyman, Big Boss Man, Sugar Magnolia, Saint Stephen > Not Fade Away > Goin' Down The Road Feelin' Bad > Not Fade Away > Uncle John's Band
    The reviewers carry on at length about how great "Dark Star" is. Personally, I think they played their best Saint Stephen, bar none.

    I realize only a die hard Deadhead would care about such things, and I also realize that many people would consider my even writing this post to be a classic example of self-indulgent psychedelic nostalgia, aggravated by a narcissistic, passive-aggressive sense of midlife "entitlement" which takes the form of imagining that I need a break from blogging about important issues.

    Yes, I really should be paying more attention to Hillary's impending comeback.

    I mean, isn't it bad enough that I listen to the Grateful Dead when I'm supposed to be watching the Oscars?

    Can I blame Hillary for my malignant malingering?

    Yes I can!

    While I had tried to ignore politics while wasting time digging through Dead archives, it just so happens that right as I was finishing this self-indulgent post, my insatiable curiosity got the better of me, and I thought to Google "Deadheads" and "Obama."

    Was I ever in for a shock.

    Not only is there a Deadheads for Obama presence on the Internet, but three Dead band members -- Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, and Mickey Hart regrouped to endorse Obama, and did a benefit concert for him, an event which Garance Franke-Ruta called "the Obama campaign's boldest cultural outreach effort to date."

    I'm even more out of it than I thought.

    Here's their press conference:

    And here's Obama thanking them.

    Unless Hillary wins big enough tonight to force me to register Democrat to vote against her in the Pennsylvania primary, I'm not voting for Obama.

    But hey, things could have been worse.

    It could have been Deadheads for Hillary.

    posted by Eric at 03:57 PM | Comments (1)

    NEWSFLASH! Hillary endorses McCain over Obama!

    The campaign for the presidency just keeps getting more and more surreal.
    Reading Pajamas Media's roundup on today's events, I found this gem -- an apparently accurate quote from Hillary Clinton:

    "I think that I have a lifetime of experience that I will bring to the White House. Sen. John McCain has a lifetime of experience that he'd bring to the White House. And Sen. Obama has a speech he gave in 2002."
    Asks Ed Morrissey:
    Did I read this correctly? Did Hillary just endorse John McCain for the presidency over Barack Obama? How else would anyone understand this comment?
    Perhaps Hillary is trying to conflate herself and John McCain.

    They do have so much in common! I mean after all, not only would they both be great at answering the White House red phone at 3:00 a.m., but they're both tested under conditions that would make most people crack. McCain was tortured as a POW in North Vietnam under appalling conditions, and Hillary had to endure life with Bill Clinton (and all that goes with that) in the White House.

    And of course, like John McCain a few months ago, Hillary Clinton is now running as the underdog:

    She not only is vigorously attacking Barack Obama but simultaneously portraying herself as a victim.

    It is a nifty political two-step.

    She is a victim because a male-dominated press corps has counted her out, she says, and has lavished praise on Obama without submitting him to any real scrutiny.

    At a Clinton rally in Westerville, Ohio, on Sunday, one woman carried a sign that read: "DON'T LET THE PRESS BOY-CRUSH PICK OUR PRESIDENT."

    Time's Karen Tumulty noted: "Indeed, at Clinton's first event of the day, there was almost an anger at the idea that the pundits and the press have anointed a winner before the people have voted."

    And Clinton told the crowd: "We're coming back. ... We need someone in the White House again who is a fighter!"

    (The latter could be a coded reference to McCain, and for all I know it might even be plagiarized from his campaign material.)

    Aside from the incredible and amazing similarities between Hillary Clinton and John McCain, another factor is the fact that many Republicans are voting for Hillary or being urged to do so for strategic reasons.

    This may be a form of outreach to them, by way of letting them know that she might as well be John McCain.

    The sobering reality is that Hillary could still very well win the nomination.

    (Something I've been predicting and dreading for years.)

    UPDATE: Rush Limbaugh is making a last minute push for Hillary.

    My problem with the strategy is threefold:

  • 1. Hillary can still win the nomination; and
  • 2. She will be a much more formidable opponent than Barack Obama; and
  • 3. A return of the Clintons to the White House would (IMO) be a worse disaster for the country than the election of Barack Obama.
  • posted by Eric at 10:24 AM | Comments (3)

    Redeeming the old stereotypes

    If I were an old fashioned sexist pig, I'd love Gloria Steinem.

    No seriously. I really would. While no reasonable person would call her a "leader" of women, to the extent she is perceived as that, she makes women who follow her ("all" feminist women, to sexist men who believe in stereotypes) look like absolute idiots.

    Analyzing the Obama-Clinton race in purely identity politics terms, feminist icon Steinem first brushes aside the McCain candidacy for the bizarre reason that his former P.O.W. status not only doesn't qualify him for office, but would be seen as a liability for a woman.

    ...she claimed that if Clinton's experience as First Lady were taken seriously in relation to her White House bid, people might "finally admit that, say, being a secretary is the best way to learn your boss's job and take it over."
    Hey, wait a second! That little snippet of vintage Hollywood Marxism is just too rich for me to ignore. Does she mean all secretaries working for all bosses? Or only women secretaries working for male bosses? Or is she simply stuck in an endless replay of "9 to 5" in which the three secretaries played by Jane Fonda, Lilly Tomlin and Dolly Parton took over the job of clueless sexist moron Dabney Coleman?

    I don't know, but the reason I'm asking is that I've always wanted to be a brain surgeon, but I'm a little too old to go through the years of medical school plus a residency program, and I like the idea of being a brain surgeon's secretary and then replacing her. (Yes, there are women surgeons. And even male secretaries. But surely someone told this feminist icon all about life in America.) Come to think of it, I'd like to replace Bill Gates too. Maybe he'll hire me as a secretary andI can.

    Steinem raised McCain's Vietnam imprisonment as she sought to highlight an alleged gender-based media bias against Clinton.

    "Suppose John McCain had been Joan McCain and Joan McCain had got captured, shot down and been a POW for eight years. [The media would ask], 'What did you do wrong to get captured? What terrible things did you do while you were there as a captive for eight years?'" Steinem said, to laughter from the audience.

    McCain was, in fact, a prisoner of war for around five-and-a-half years, during which time he was tortured repeatedly. Referring to his time in captivity, Steinem said with bewilderment, "I mean, hello? This is supposed to be a qualification to be president? I don't think so."

    Steinem's broader argument was that the media and the political world are too admiring of militarism in all its guises.

    Hmmm.... Is that an argument for or against women serving in the military? As to McCain's qualifications to be president, I'm thinking maybe his decades of public service in Congress and in the Senate might count for something. And actually, I think that had Hillary Clinton (or, say, a female combat pilot) been shot down, imprisoned and tortured, Steinem would be singing her praises as a woman who knew firsthand what suffering was all about, and had been there and faced the worst that humanity had to offer. It's called life experience. You know, being tested?

    Who knows, being imprisoned and tortured might even be more of a test than having your spouse cheat on you. I don't know, as I haven't been imprisoned and tortured. As to having been cheated on, yes, it has happened to me! Should I run for president? (Someone, form a committee quick!)

    But the part that most caught my attention was Steinem's statement that "redemption" for what she calls "gynocide" justifies the election of Hillary Clinton:

    Steinem told me the Illinois senator was "an intelligent, well-intentioned person." She added: "I would like very much to see him be president for eight years after Hillary has been president for eight years."

    But she also opined that "a majority of Americans want redemption for racism, for our terrible destructive racist past and so see a vote for Obama as redemptive." Then, using a term for the mass killing of women, she added, "I don't think as many want redemption for the gynocide."

    "They acknowledge racism--not enough, but somewhat," Steinem continued. "They would probably be less likely to acknowledge that the most likely way a pregnant woman is to die is murder from her male partner. There are six million female lives lost in the world every year simply because they are female."

    Assuming that the "majority" of Americans see a vote for Obama as "redemptive" (a pretty major assumption), this same American majority is at fault because they are avoiding their clear responsibility of redeeming themselves for millions of murdered pregnant women all over the world. By that logic, I am responsible (along with the American majority) for world starvation, Muslim honor killings, and genocide around the world.

    I've long been annoyed by the social conservatives' argument that I am somehow responsible for the personal decision of millions of American women to abort their fetuses, because it is not logical. But at least they're talking about something happening in the United States. Steinem's argument is sillier than the social conservatives, for she's seeking to blame Americans for events over which they have no control -- but of course Hillary will redeem us if only we would seek redemption ourselves by voting for her.

    Such logic is more than astoundingly bad. It's irredeemably bad.

    I'd be tempted to say that Steinem gives women a bad name, but that would be a sexist stereotype.

    The problem is that she is steeped in vintage stereotypes herself, and this lends credence to the idea that stereotypes are true.

    I've joked about the idea, but at times like this I wish I could choose my gender to "whatever, whenever" as certain activists have proposed. That way, I could register as a woman and redeem myself by voting against Hillary Clinton.

    As I explained, there'd be no need for messy surgery:

    If a woman can go from female to male (and can be called a man before the surgery) then why require the male lesbian (once s/he really reaches a deeper understanding of him/herself) to go through one surgery to become female and another to become male? Can't the process be an internal one?
    Yes it can!

    Yes I can be a woman against Hillary! And yes I can go back and redeem my manhood after the election.

    But would Gloria Steinem ever understand?

    MORE: Am I being too kind to Gloria Steinem? Via Glenn Reynolds, I see that Ann Althouse characterized Steinem's remarks about McCain as "mindcrushingly stupid," as well as an "old feminist rhetorical device."

    Glenn asks a good question about whether "mindcrushingly stupid," or "an old feminist rhetorical device" should be applied. I don't know, but I'm thinking maybe both.

    "Mindcrushingly stupid old feminist rhetorical device" does have a nice ring to it. (But only her mindcrusher knows for sure.)

    posted by Eric at 05:46 PM | Comments (4)

    Only Obama can save the superdelegates from a hideous fate

    Michael Goodwin thinks that tomorrow's election is not so much Hillary's last stand as it is Obama's last chance:

    This is Barack Obama's third chance to knock her out. If he can't close the deal this time, maybe he can't close the deal, period.

    Either the third time is the charm for him, or it could be strike three against him. Any result tomorrow that doesn't finish her off lets her argue that Democratic voters' love affair with Obama was just one of those flings. She'll say buyer's remorse has set in, and it's time to get serious about winning the White House.

    She'll also bring up her wins in the disputed Michigan and Florida primaries and repeat her vow to fight for those delegates.

    Given the wacky past two months, those arguments would keep her alive. They start with the claim that even a split decision tomorrow would fit a pattern showing voters can't commit to the Illinois rookie.

    This is reflected by the Clinton campaign's newly revised statements:
    Clinton's husband, former President Clinton, has asserted that his wife must win both Texas and Ohio to keep her campaign alive. On Friday, Hillary Clinton's advisers recast the stakes, saying if Obama lost any of the four presidential primaries Tuesday--Rhode Island and Vermont also vote--it would show Democrats are having second thoughts about him.
    Unless Obama wins everything tomorrow, it will be argued that he's "slipping" and the voters are "getting tired of him."

    And of course Hillary and Ickes will close in on the superdelegates.

    posted by Eric at 04:36 PM | Comments (1)

    Why the MSM nose holding?

    John Fund has joined a growing chorus of conservative bloggers in asserting that the MSM has not given the Rezko affair the scrutiny it deserves. But is this all because of pro-Obama bias?

    I'm not so sure that's the only reason, because it does not explain the failure of pro-Hillary newspapers to scrutinize Obama's dealings with Rezko. The problem is that as of yet, there has been no showing that anything illegal occurred. Obama was involved in a real estate purchase with a crooked businessman who may have gotten the purchase money from an even more crooked Iraqi billionaire. The problem is that dealing with crooks is not a criminal offense, nor is getting a 15% discount on a purchase price absent a showing of more. I can buy or sell real estate to or from the Mob or foreign crooks, and unless I commit a crime in the process, it's legal.

    Right now it appears that Obama may have committed a breach of Senate ethics, and was involved with unsavory people. As Hot Air asks:

    Why was a politician supposedly interested in clean politics doing business with someone with such a bad public reputation, and with a man whose creditors had already begun to take him to court?
    Excellent question, and it may very well work to the favor of McCain if Obama becomes the candidate.

    However, I think the MSM collectively see a bit of a risk in giving high profile coverage to a story about an aroma that might ultimately be about nothing more than the aroma.

    But I don't think that's the only reason they're avoiding it. Rather, I think that up until now, there's been a sort of unwritten "gentleperson's agreement" between the Clinton and Obama campaigns to just let well enough alone where it comes to financial transactions which might give off the appearance of impropriety, and the less-than-vigorous MSM coverage (especially by pro-Hillary newspapers) may reflect that.

    Fund's piece touches on the Clinton campaign's reluctance:

    This year, Hillary Clinton made a clumsy attack on Mr. Rezko as a "slum landlord" during one debate. But her campaign has otherwise steered clear -- at least until last Friday, when Howard Wolfson, a top Clinton aide, suggested to reporters on a conference call that "the number of questions that we don't know the answers to about the relationship between Mr. Rezko and Mr. Obama is staggering." Mr. Obama's campaign told me they have answered all questions about Mr. Rezko and have no plans to release any further records.

    Mr. Obama has admitted that the 2005 land deal that he and Mr. Rezko were involved in was a "boneheaded" mistake, in part because his friend was already rumored to be under federal investigation. The newly elected Mr. Obama bought his $1.65 million home on the same day, June 15, that Mr. Rezko's wife bought the plot of land next to it from the same seller for $625,000. Seven months later she sold a slice of the land to the trust that Mr. Obama had put the house into, so the senator could expand his garden.

    Mr. Obama has strenuously denied suggestions that the same-day sale enabled him to pay $300,000 under the house's asking price because Mrs. Rezko paid full price for the adjoining lot, or that he asked the Rezkos for help in the matter. Both actions would be clear violations of Senate ethics rules barring the granting or asking of favors.

    Assume for the sake of argument that there's no criminal involvement by Obama. Assume further that the Clinton campaign really goes ballistic, and pressure builds. Obama can be expected to do what anyone in his position would do.

    Drop the other Hsu.

    And I don't just mean Norman Hsu, but the still undisclosed Clinton tax returns, the Peter Paul affair, the Pardongate scandal, possible illegal foreign money pouring into the Clinton campaign via speaking fees, huge foriegn donations to the Clinton Library, and more.

    Obama's Rezko transaction has an unpleasant aroma and there may be more to it than that. But I think Hillary has a much bigger aroma, and there may be a lot more to it than that.

    (The public's right to know seems to be a secondary question.)

    posted by Eric at 10:28 AM | Comments (0)


    I haven't been following the news much lately. I've been more interested in working on The Bussard Fusion Reactor (BFR). So I missed the beginnings of happenings in Gaza. So for those of you as out of the loop as I am and for those interested in a recap and the latest news. Here goes.

    Let us begin with how this latest dust up began. It seems Israel is tired of being rocketed by the Palestinians. Or more properly: former Egyptians living in Gaza. The Jewish Telegraph Agency reported on Friday, 29 Feb:

    Rocket attacks enabled by Hamas have increased since Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza last month in a bid to stop the rocket attacks and have in recent days reached as far north as Ashkelon.

    A college student in Sderot was killed on Wednesday and a home in Ashkelon was hit Thursday. On Friday, a rocket hit a Sderot home while a family was having lunch, slightly wounding a woman.

    What was the response of the political echelon at the time?
    Top Israeli lawmakers called for massive military action in the Gaza Strip.

    Tzachi Hanegbi, the chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and a member of the ruling Kadima Party, told Israel Radio on Friday that Israel should reoccupy parts of Gaza and topple the Hamas government.

    Matan Vilnai, the deputy defense minister called for a "catastrophic" response, and Gideon Saar, a member of the opposition Likud Party, also advocated a raid, according to reports in Ha'aretz.

    Ehud Barak, the defense minister, has said such action is possible, but not in the immediate future.

    I guess by immediate future he meant within the next five minutes.

    So it started with rockets. Which actually have been a problem for Israel for years. This report from February of this year is emblematic.

    Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday evening fired eight Qassam rockets at the southern town of Sderot, one of which directly struck a home in the city leaving six people lightly wounded.

    According to the city's senior security officer, most of the rockets hit open fields around the city, but the barrage caused a power outage in one of the city's neighborhoods.

    So what happened next?

    The Jerusalem Post picks up the story.

    As IDF troops entered the northern Gaza Strip on Saturday, two soldiers and more than 50 Palestinians were killed, at least half of them gunmen, on the deadliest day in the territory since Hamas seized power there last June.

    Palestinian terrorists in Gaza fired over 50 rocket and mortar attacks on southern Israel, in defiance of the IDF assault.

    Six Israelis were wounded, all but one of them lightly, in rocket fire that reached as far north as Ashkelon, 17 km. from Gaza.

    Ashkelon used to be off limits or out of range (depending on your interpretation of events). Hamas promises even longer range rockets.
    Hamas is improving its rocket technology, and will soon be able to hit "any target in Israel," Reuters quoted a senior member of the organization, Fathi Hamad, saying Friday at a rally in the Gaza Strip.
    [Hamas Prime Minister Ismail...]

    Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh speaks after prayers at a mosque in Gaza City, Friday.
    Photo: AP

    Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, who was recently reported to have "gone underground" out of fear he would be targeted for assassination by Israel, also spoke at the demonstration. Haniyeh addressed the possibility of a large-scale IDF incursion into Gaza.

    That report was from 29 Feb. (Friday) So what was Hamas expecting?
    Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri also spoke about a possible IDF operation in the Gaza Strip, saying that Hamas was "in a war against the new Nazis."

    Zuhri's comment came after Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna'i said Friday that "as long as the rocket attacks escalated, the Palestinians are bringing upon themselves a bigger Shoah [Holocaust]."

    Now here is where it all gets even more interesting. The US Navy was moving some ships into the area before the dust up began.
    Feb 29, 2008 4:08 (Israel Time - ed.)
    US sends 3 warships to Mediterranean as tensions mount

    The US Navy is sending at least three ships, including at least one amphibious assault ship, to the eastern Mediterranean Sea in a show of strength during a period of tensions with Syria and political uncertainty in Lebanon.

    Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters Thursday the deployment should not be viewed as threatening or in response to events in any single country in the volatile region.

    "This is an area that is important to us, the eastern Med," he said when asked about news reports of the ship movements. "It's a group of ships that will operate in the vicinity there for a while," adding that "it isn't meant to send any stronger signals than that. But it does signal that we're engaged, we're going to be in the vicinity, and that's a very, very important part of the world."

    Another military officer, speaking on condition of anonymity because full details about the ship movements are not yet public, said a Navy guided missile destroyer, the USS Cole, was headed for patrol in the eastern Mediterranean, and the USS Nassau, the amphibious warship, would be joining it shortly.

    Another military officer, speaking on condition of anonymity because full details about the ship movements are not yet public, said a Navy guided missile destroyer, the USS Cole, was headed for patrol in the eastern Mediterranean and that it is accompanied by two refueling ships. The Cole is equipped to engage in a variety of offensive actions, including anti-aircraft and land attack missions.

    It is unusual to have logistic movements (two refueling ships) be revealed about a mission. It is also unusual to tie the movements of warships to the lower speed of the logistic vessels.

    What it does mean for sure is that operations will be sustained.

    What about reaction? The Hamas head guy in Damascus Khaled Mashaal has some really strange things to say.

    Damascus - Khaled Mashaal, the Damascus-based leader of the Palestinian militant movement Hamas, accused Palestinian authority leader Mahmoud Abbas Saturday of causing the Israeli offensive into Gaza Strip by saying Hamas supported the al-Qaeda terrorist network.

    'I accuse the leader of the Palestinian authority of providing an excuse for this Israeli Holocaust, whether he meant it or not,' Mashaal told reporters during a press conference in Syria.

    He added: 'Is it logical that a Palestinian leader accuses his people in Gaza and accuses them of supporting the al-Qaeda? Isn't it a chance for the Zionists and Americans to launch the attack?'

    So for him, it is not about rockets. He was double crossed by his own side. OK.

    As if all this murder and mayhem wasn't bad enough there is some very, very, bad news.

    Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian authority appear likely to be called off this week, after civilians were killed in heavy fighting in the Gaza Strip.

    Palestinian officials say at least 50 people have been killed in Israeli attacks.

    Fighting in Gaza continued into a second night, as Israeli air and ground troops attacked Islamic militants in the strip.

    But Palestinian medics say half of those killed since the offensive began on Friday night have been civilians and that has led to international calls for restraint.

    Mixing fighters with civilians used to be a war crime and the criminals were those doing the mixing. How times have changed.

    How has the Arab world reacted to the rocket attacks?

    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas would be the first to admit he is powerless to halt the attacks on Israel from Gaza, and there's been minimal intervention from Egypt or any other Arab government to persuade Hamas to call off these attacks.
    More analysis of Abab reaction from: Haaretz.
    As the death toll in Israel Defense Forces raids against miltiants firing rockets from Gaza climbed to more than 60 on Saturday, Palestinian Information Minister Riad al-Malki responded by saying: "Hamas gave Israel an excuse to start a war in Gaza."

    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also responded along these lines by saying that the "operation in Gaza is not just a reaction to the rocket barrage." Both comments can be interpreted as Palestinian backing of the Israel Defense Forces ground incursion in the Strip.

    Moreover, the very mild Egyptian reaction and the conspicuous absence of a convicting Arab voice also indicate that the IDF raid is perceived by the Arab world to be first and foremost a war against Hamas, not the "real Holocaust" of the Palestinian people - as Khaled Meshal claimed on Saturday.

    The fact that Al Jazeera devoted a whole episode of a popular debate show to the question "Why are the Palestinians keeping silent about the situation in Gaza?" also serves to prove this point.

    If you want to keep up to date with Israeli commentary from sources I like may I suggest Israel Matzav and Israely Cool. The links go to some starter articles. So look around for the latest.

    Instapundit also has more.

    An interesting bit of news from Lebanon. It seems the Saudis expect the war to extend to there as well.

    Saudi Arabia and Kuwait on Saturday called on their citizens living in Lebanon to leave the country as soon as possible, a Lebanese television report said.

    Future Television, privately owned by Saad Hariri who heads the majority anti-Syrian bloc in parliament, said Saudi Arabia had advised its nationals to leave Lebanon "as soon as possible."

    There was no one available at the Saudi embassy to comment on the report.

    A government source said that the Lebanese government was advised about the Saudi decision which called on their citizens to "leave Lebanon if they can and to be very careful in their movements inside the country."

    Kuwaiti citizens living in Lebanon received urgent messages on their mobiles saying that "all Kuwaiti citizens are asked to evacuate
    Lebanon as soon as possible."

    What we are seeing may just be the opening moves of a wider war. Combine that with recent US Fleet movements noted above and things may get really serious in the next few days.

    What Hizballah is probably waiting for is for Israel to be fully engaged in Gaza before opening the Lebanese front.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 11:00 AM | Comments (2)

    Baby Rushing or Pass the Ammunition

    It seems the Palestinians have invented a new sport destined for the Olympics. They call it baby rushing.

    Baby Rushing
    Tiny victim : A Palestinian medical worker rushes a baby into the hospital in Gaza City. (AFP/Said Khatib)

    Israelly Cool explains.

    Not much of a caption. Brief and to the (painful) point.

    But look at the picture again. Would someone really rushing a baby into hospital hold the baby up in that position?

    All that's missing from the picture is the Green Helmet.

    Which just gives you some idea of how badly those reporting events want to be fooled.

    posted by Simon at 10:55 AM | Comments (0)

    Obamacan triangulation of McCainocrats?

    Read this.

    AS Barack Obama enters the final stages of the fight for the Democratic presidential nomination, he is preparing to detach the core voters of John McCain, the likely Republican nominee, with the same ruthless determination with which he has peeled off Hillary Clinton's supporters.

    The scene is set for a tussle between the two candidates for the support of some of the sharpest and most independent minds in politics. Obama is hoping to appoint cross-party figures to his cabinet such as Chuck Hagel, the Republican senator for Nebraska and an opponent of the Iraq war, and Richard Lugar, leader of the Republicans on the Senate foreign relations committee.

    Senior advisers confirmed that Hagel, a highly decorated Vietnam war veteran and one of McCain's closest friends in the Senate, was considered an ideal candidate for defence secretary. Some regard the outspoken Republican as a possible vice-presidential nominee although that might be regarded as a "stretch".

    Barack Obama is now out-triangulating the Clintons.

    And of course, Obama is supposed to be to the left of Hillary -- even though leftists accuse him of being a rightist!

    Topsy turvy doesn't begin to describe what's going on.

    posted by Eric at 10:51 AM | Comments (6)

    Hillary's double-secret Republican smear campaign operatives!

    Remember the good old days when the Clintons were being accused of racializing the campaign? Lots of pundits and bloggers chimed in almost gleefully, with those on the right side of the political spectrum making no secret of their delight to see Hillary and her supporters hoisted by their own petard.

    Well, that is now old hat. The debate seems to be shifting now, and I think this week's Bill Cunningham moment may have marked a turning point. John McCain may have put Cunningham in his place, but that only caused Cunningham to promptly join the Coulter-Clinton-Buchanan axis, and probably damaged McCain's chances to win over the red-meat conservatives on the right.

    And it certainly did nothing to help McCain with the left. That McCain flirted with Cunningham in the first place is seen as damning proof that bigotry is alive and well in the GOP. The later attempt to create distance was widely seen as insufficient. A blogger I mistakenly called "hard left" in a previous post seems to have articulated the emergent mainstream Democrat position when he accused McCain of playing a racist "who me?" game.

    Just today, respected liberal analyst Dick Polman said pretty much the same thing -- and more:

    ....By depicting Obama in ceremonial Somali garb (a 2006 photo posted on the "Drudge Report"); by running anonymous quotes, supposedly from a "senior Pentagon official," about how Obama's ascension would be "the final victory" for "the Arab street" (news story in the Washington Times); and by writing, more politely, about how Obama's priorities are really "post-nationalist" and "post-American" (the National Review), the goal is to insinuate that a Trojan Horse has breached the castle walls, with plans to lead us to ruin.

    (Drudge said the photo came from a Clinton staffer, but this has never been confirmed, and Republican bloggers and operatives have been quite pleased to disseminate it.)

    John McCain won't say such things, of course. If Obama wins the nomination, McCain will hew to the high road and merely suggest with great civility that his young rival would be a risky choice in a dangerous world. He will occasionally denounce the low-road travelers, just as he rebuked Cunningham, but he will not be able to muzzle them. It would be truly ironic if McCain, whose first candidacy eight years ago was wrecked by right-wing smears, managed to triumph with their assistance in 2008.

    Hmmm... Hillary won't say such things either, but never mind that. I have a question, though. Does the fact that the picture was not disseminated here mean I am not a Republican blogger or operative? What about the fact that Polman displays it right there in his column? Or that the Inquirer and countless other newspapers displayed it prominently? Are they all working hand in glove with Republican operatives?

    Notice that whether the Clinton campaign leaked the photo doesn't really matter. If the right wing does the heavy lifting for Hillary, that's just fine all the way around. The dirty work gets done, and the people who did the dirty work are blamed and shamed for it.

    It's classic Machiavellian strategy. Hillary is free to go out of her way to condemn the right wing smears, and if she has any sense she'll be sure to go into as much detail as possible just in case anyone missed them.

    Before this race is over, Cunningham, Coulter, Limbaugh and company will have been respun as McCain's dirty tricksters. Why, the very fact that they're supporting Hillary and urging their followers to vote for her instead of Obama could easily be spun as proof of right wing racism!

    (Notice, of course, that far from disavowing their support, Hillary has welcomed it!)

    Oh the irony.

    And what about John Hagee, the anti-Catholic bigot condemned by Glenn Greenwald's favorite anti-gay bigot? How will he fit in? Will the fact that he endorsed McCain cause his rantings to be spun as the new Republican Party platform?

    Stay tuned. Whatever happens, this race promises to be a lot of fun.

    (Just to be clear, I remain adamantly opposed to the return of the Clintons to the White House.)

    posted by Eric at 09:01 AM | Comments (2)

    Mental health as entertainment

    I don't watch much television, and while I once heard of the show called "Frasier," I never watched it. But as my luck would have it, I am now in possession of a number of DVDs of the show.


    (I found them lying by the side of the road all covered with mud and grime while running earlier today, and several of them are unplayable from having been run over.)

    Are they worth watching? Or should I throw them away?

    According to the Wiki entry, the show is about a psychiatrist, and a British industry poll pronounced the series "the greatest sitcom of all time." But would I like it? Do I have to sit through it to find out? I put one of them on and it looked like standard TV fare. B-o-r-i-n-g.

    Speaking of entertainment and psychiatry, the other night when I saw the French actress Marion Cotillard win the Oscar for Best Actress, I commented that she appeared to be crazy.

    I said this based on her mannerisms, which were hysterical, weird, and clearly not under her control. Now I see tangible evidence that the woman is not playing with a full deck. Not only is she a 9/11 Truther, she also doubts the 1969 moon landing:

    "I think we're lied to about a number of things," she said, singling out September 11.

    Referring to the two passenger jets flown into the World Trade Centre, Miss Cotillard said: "We see other towers of the same kind being hit by planes, are they burned? There was a tower, I believe it was in Spain, which burned for 24 hours.

    It never collapsed. None of these towers collapsed. And there [New York], in a few minutes, the whole thing collapsed."

    Miss Cotillard suggested that the towers, planned in the early 1960s, were an outdated "money sucker" which would have cost so much to modernise that it was easier to destroy them.

    Turning to America's space programme, she said: "Did a man really walk on the moon? I saw plenty of documentaries on it, and I really wondered. And in any case I don't believe all they tell me, that's for sure."

    I don't believe all "they" tell me either, but the idea of pulling off a fake moon landing, with all the people and bureaucracies involved, without a single defection, is just too absurd for words. I don't usually criticize people for their opinions, and I realize that reasonable minds can disagree, but this woman clearly is not reasonable, and I don't think her mind is functioning well.

    After I wrote the post I thought I might have been a bit harsh, perhaps diagnosing her on thin evidence, but right now I feel vindicated.

    Not that I advocate playing doctor or anything, but I saw some "professional attire" in a store window yesterday, and I thought it belonged here.


    Not all disorders are curable. (Hence the handcuffs.)

    posted by Eric at 11:15 PM | Comments (4)

    Pressing my escape from bedfellows of hate

    I hate it when this happens.

    Actually, this is a double "I-hate-it-when-this-happens" post.

    That's because last night I tried to write a post explaining why I hated the fact that only a day after I commended McCain's approach to handling bigoted supporters (in contrast to Obama's inept approach) the question resurfaced -- this time taking the form of McCain accepting support from an anti-Catholic bigot.

    I do hate it when things like that happen. But what I hate even more than that was when most of the post I'm rewriting disappeared in front of my very eyes just when I was ready to publish it -- as if I never wrote it. (I hit the "escape" key to close the find-in-page box before I saved the text, and because I hit it one time too many, the text was erased without possibility of recovery. Never knew that "escape" did that. Grrr. On the bright side, though, I now know why so many corrections I "knew" I had "made" never appeared in the published post. By escaping from the find-in-page box, I undid the very corrections I have used the find feature to identify and correct. It is absolutely fiendish to have words disappear.)

    Anyway, last night I was almost tempted to ask, "What is this? Another day another bigot?" But that might sound bigoted. And depending on the meaning of the word, it might be bigoted. Many of us are bigoted in large ways and small.

    By most people's standards, John Hagee does appear to be an anti-Catholic bigot. At least (via Glenn Reynolds link to Ann Althouse) I see that John Donohue of the Catholic League says so:

    Catholic League President Bill Donohue said in a statement today that Hagee has written extensively in negative ways about the Catholic Church, "calling it 'The Great Whore,' an 'apostate church,' the 'anti-Christ,' and a 'false cult system.'"

    "Senator Obama has repudiated the endorsement of Louis Farrakhan, another bigot. McCain should follow suit and retract his embrace of Hagee," Donohue said.

    Here we go with the word game again.

    I guess "retraction" should now be added to denunciation, rejection, and repudiation.

    I don't know which if any of those labels should be applied here, but after the anti-Catholic bigot accusation surfaced, McCain at least made it clear that he does not support all of Hagee's views:

    ....a day later the Arizona senator sought to maintain some distance from the evangelical leader after the Catholic League and the Democratic National Committee called on McCain to denounce his support, citing controversial remarks Hagee has made in the past on a variety of subjects.

    "Yesterday, Pastor John Hagee endorsed my candidacy for president in San Antonio, Texas. However, in no way did I intend for his endorsement to suggest that I in turn agree with all of Pastor Hagee's views, which I obviously do not," McCain said today in a statement, "I am hopeful that Catholics, Protestants and all people of faith who share my vision for the future of America will respond to our message of defending innocent life, traditional marriage, and compassion for the most vulnerable in our society."

    A number of questions are raised. What is a bigot? Is John Hagee a bigot? If it is bad for him to be an anti-Catholic bigot, what about the fact that he's also reported to be an anti-gay bigot -- one of those Phelps-type nuts who claims Hurricane Katrina was sent by God to prevent a "homosexual parade." It seems to me that this claim is at least as irrational as the man's claims about Catholicism, and probably at least as religiously dubious.

    What is the proper standard with bigotry?

    And what about Mike Huckabee (already known as an anti-Mormon bigot)? He is very upset at Hagee for endorsing McCain, for he thinks he was more deserving of the endorsement:

    The dust up is emblematic of the uneasy relationship between McCain and the evangelical community. Evangelical voters have trended away from the Arizona senator in the Republican primary contests in favor of Mike Huckabee. The former Arkansas governor, an ordained Southern Baptist minister, told MSNBC that he was "shocked and disappointed" by Hagee's endorsement.
    Donohue, McCain's chief accuser, hammered home exactly that point:
    Today Donohue noted that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee expressed disappointment that he hadn't received Hagee's backing.

    "If Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Barack Obama were fighting over the support of Louis Farrakhan, we'd say they're nuts," Donohue said. "So what are we to conclude about McCain's embrace of Hagee, and Huckabee's lament for not getting the bigot's endorsement?"

    Well, for that matter, what are we to conclude about the fact that Donohue said gays who support gay marriage should consider themselves lucky not to be attacked in the streets?

    Let me say that I agree with Ann Althouse's characterization of this video of Hagee's anti-Catholic pronouncements as "disgusting."

    Politically, though, I see that this puts me into a strange bedfellowship with Glenn Greenwald, who adopts her characterization (as modified by Greenwald, of course).

    My larger concern here is why Greenwald (whose post carries on at length about the virtues of Donohue) is now sharing the bed with a man who considers gays lucky not to be attacked in the streets? What gives? Anyone with ideas like that would normally be labeled a bigot by Greenwald's standards, but far from merely being given a pass, Donohue gets a glowing writeup plus a podcast interview!

    Why? Simply because he's accusing McCain of bigotry? (Needless to say, Greenwald does not mention Huckabee, much less his lust for the Hagee endorsement.)

    Strange bedfollows indeed. If the same logic by which Greenwald tarnishes McCain is applied to Greenwald, then why isn't Glenn Greenwald tainted by anti-gay bigotry?

    What are the rules here? It strikes me that according to simple logic, political endorsements should flow in one direction -- from the endorser to the candidate endorsed. It is illogical to say that a candidate should be charged with sharing the specific views of someone who endorses him, but what's murkier is the extent to which an endorser's views pollutes the candidate he's endorsing. This would seem to depend not on whether there's any logical association, but on how obnoxious the views are, and particularly how notorious he is. The fact is that regardless of how bigoted he is, John Hagee is simply not as notorious in the public eye as is Louis Farrakhan, so his endorsement unlikely to be seen as "counting" as much.

    An endorsement coming from David Duke would be an entirely different matter, and it would not have been enough for John McCain to simply say he doesn't "agree with all of David Duke's views." He'd have had to specifically reject the Duke endorsement -- and Duke -- outright.

    There is going to be plenty more of this kind of stuff, because endorsements are in season, and so are charges of bigotry.

    This is not to say that Hagee is not a bigot, but if we look at the dictionary, there is bigotry everywhere, and bigots everywhere.

    I think I'll close by quoting from the dictionary again:



    As I said before, if the word means what the dictionary says, most of us are bigoted about one thing or another -- including Hagee, Donohue, Greenwald, and (gulp) me!

    How do I rid myself of these strange bedfellows?


    Maybe hitting the escape button last night wasn't such a bad idea!

    posted by Eric at 01:27 PM | Comments (5)

    Why John Wayne beats John Wilkes

    If you're stuck with a name (or part of a name) you don't especially like, are you entitled to start calling yourself something else? If you do that, do the circumstances change if you run for president?

    Obviously, I'm thinking about this because of the "Barack Hussein Obama" flap. I don't know what the rules are, and while I'm not fond of political correctness, I don't think the man's name is his fault, because it was given to him as an infant, and infants have about as much control over their names as they do accidents of birth. I think if you don't like your name, it is your prerogative to change it. Fortunately for John Kerry, his grandfather took care of that for him.

    For whatever reason, Jimmy Carter did not like using "James Earl Carter" -- to the point where he never used it, no one called him that, and he was even formally sworn in under the name of Jimmy Carter.

    I think Barack Obama is entitled to be sworn in minus the "Hussein" if that is what he wants.

    Obviously, none of this forbids anyone from referring to him as "Barack Hussein Obama," or for those who demand red meat, the more reproachful, Coulter-preferred appellation of B. Hussein Obama. I don't think this is much of an indictment of Obama, though. It's so shallow and opportunistic as to be an act of desperation, and I think it's a classic ad hominem attack, because the implication is that anyone unfortunate enough to have been given a name shared by a bad person must somehow be bad.

    Woe be unto anyone with the middle name of Adolf.

    As a red meat political tactic, though, it can't be denied that invoking the "Hussein" specter is a good way to rally the troops, if not whip people into a frenzy. Those who like red meat will drool in Pavlovian-style anticipation. However, I don't think it has much persuasive value. Obviously, the red meaters dislike Obama, and would never vote for him anyway, so they're not persuaded of anything (any more than a dog is "persuaded" that it wants to eat a steak by waving a steak in front of its nose). As to the people who aren't sure -- the ones who are thinking about voting for Obama, I think this ad hominem tactic would be lost on them, and it might make them more inclined to vote for him, not less. (That's why Hillary wouldn't be caught dead using it.)

    I don't know why Jimmy Carter didn't like James Earl Carter. Was it his populism? Certainly "Jimmy" sounds more folksy and down-to-earth than "James Earl." Might the name of the King assassin "James Earl Ray" have had anything to do with it? Things like word associations are subtle, and work on the unconscious mind, and I think it is quite possible that irrational voters might have been a bit uncomfortable with "James Earl Carter" precisely because of the assassination ring. Even now, people still remember that name. If you told random citizens to fill in the blank in "James Earl ______" I'd be willing to bet that in the 1970s, most people would have immediately said "Ray." Even now , a lot of people would, and I think Jimmy Carter was well aware of that.

    Ditto having the first two names of "Lee Harvey." A lot of us would change a name like that, and I think few American mothers would choose that combination as names for their baby -- and even if the dad was named Harvey and the father in law was named Lee, they still wouldn't do it.

    Or, take the name of that British champion of freedom, and friend of the American revolution, the great John Wilkes. Countless American babies were named after him, but as circumstances would have it, one of them grew up to assassinate Abraham Lincoln.

    No one in his right mind would say that this assassination made John Wilkes look bad, but the tradition of naming American babies in his honor died a sudden death. Even now, I'd be willing to bet that not too many babies are named in honor of John Wilkes -- simply because of the irrational association with the assassin's name.

    Something about the fact that a bad guy could make the name of a good guy live forever in infamy troubles me, because it is so deeply irrational, and poorly understood. There's no consistent rule, though. "John Wayne Gacy" didn't manage to tar the name of the actor, and I'm sure many American babies are still given Marion Morrison's stage name. (I also think that had Wayne run for president, he would not have been sworn in as Marion Morrison.) OTOH, I seriously doubt anyone named "Gacy" would ever consider running for president, as the name will live forever in Google infamy. (Wannabe sickos, of course, exult in playing name games.)

    But these things fascinate me, and it's why (no matter how disgusted I become with politics), I continue to blog.

    AFTERTHOUGHT: I am not trying to smugly condemn human irrationality here, and I don't know whether it comes off that way. Not only do I understand why mothers would hesitate to name babies after John Wilkes, but if I had a baby I wouldn't either. I would refuse to inflict on a child a name associated with popular prejudice, because that would make it tough on the child. Whether this means that I too am a coward ruled by popular prejudices, or whether it's a simple acknowledgment of a reality I cannot change -- those are questions for moralists, philosophers, and shrinks. (Personally though, I don't think it would be morally justified to "stand up to popular prejudice" by dragging an unconsenting child into such an argument.)

    MORE: Discussing Michelle Obama's complaint that the Hussein name is being used as a "fear bomb," Tom Maguire (via Glenn Reynolds) has an interesting post about "He Who Must Not Be Middle-Named."

    I'm a bit curious about what Obama should or could do about this, as I think he may be in a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't position. He's getting flak for name chosen for him at birth by others, which apparently he would rather not use. (In that respect, the phrase "keeping it in the closet" might be said to apply.) Obviously, he cannot deny his middle name. But does that mean he should start using it again? I think if he did that, he'd be in for even more criticism -- because he would then be seen as being proud of a name for which he should be dutifully shamed -- and it might even be claimed that "Hussein" was now his "choice."

    It's probably too late to change "Hussein" to "John Wayne."

    UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for linking this post, and a warm welcome to all. I see that Don Surber is holding a Barack Obama middle name contest, and TigerHawk makes an excellent point about how a Republican with an unfortunate middle name would be treated.

    Hell, they couldn't even leave Bush's middle initial alone.

    (Alas, poor Dubya.)

    While we're on the subject of names, there's probably much to be the Hillary Clinton approach to falsely bragging about name origins, then blaming your mother.

    On a final note, I was feeling guilty about the Hillary Rodham Clinton name anagram I discovered -- "Halt Old Horny Criminal" (and "Old Horny Maniac Thrill") -- because I didn't do the same with "Barack Hussein Obama."

    So, after much soul-searching I finally decided to do the fair thing, and I came up with "Bareback Human Oasis."

    Well, horny old criminals have to have somewhere to go, don't they?

    posted by Eric at 09:30 AM | Comments (14)

    March 2011
    Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3 4 5
    6 7 8 9 10 11 12
    13 14 15 16 17 18 19
    20 21 22 23 24 25 26
    27 28 29 30 31    


    Search the Site


    Classics To Go

    Classical Values PDA Link


    Recent Entries


    Site Credits