"only 9 at the time"

Interesting perspective on Ayers and the Weather Underground by one of their intended victims.

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



Amanda of the Jungle

Normally I wouldn't spend my time searching online for vintage "Ramar of the Jungle" episodes. But when I read (via Ann Althouse's link) about the African adventures of Amanda Marcotte, and after seeing pictures like these stirred up my superstitious imagination (if not my primitive jungle urges), I decided to go the extra mile.

The cover is pretty tame:

marcottecover2.jpg

But the inside pictures are juicier. Check 'em out!

marcotte_jungle.jpg

Amanda has been so nice to me in the past that after seeing the extensive discussion about the book, there was just no way I could sit idly by.

So, in honor of the blogosphere's leading jungle woman, I hereby present a very fitting Ramar of the Jungle episode -- "Mark of the Bola" (1952):

....featuring Jon Hall as Dr. Tom Reynolds - a.k.a. "the great white "ramar" - and his associate, Howard Ogden, and Willie. Ramar and crew have great adventures in the jungle - fighting for truth, justice and the American way - in the heart of Africa.
While it's a bit cheesy by modern standards (and surely offensive to most activists), the this film nonetheless contains clear evidence of a feminist subtext, and the following line brought to mind Amanda Marcotte:
"the mere fact that a woman survived a calamity that struck down three strong men would arouse the superstition of any primitive mind."
As if we didn't need further proof that this film's subtextual narrative represents an early cinematic effort at gender-shattering intrigue, Dr. Reynolds actually gets a man to pass himself off as a woman in the hope of tricking the backward savages.

Why, it's almost socially redeeming! See for yourself!


LikeTelevision Embed Movies and TV Shows

(If the above won't stream, the link is here.)

And be sure not to miss the famous Noxzema comfort shave commercial at the end. If you get tired of Ramar, it's separately clickable.

(Take it off! Take it all off!)

posted by Eric at 07:18 PM | Comments (6)



Instructional Video


Via Jack Carino: Tech Support from the 1930s: How to dial a rotary phone. Jack is a friend from the Philippines who I met through Dani Molintas who wrote A History of Addiction. You can read more Dani at her blog Carpe Diem. You can read more Jack at Jack Carino. Jack is a collector of historical photos, especially of the Philippines. He is also an excellent photographer in his own right.

posted by Simon at 10:55 AM | Comments (1)



"profound desire not to be judged"

It's not every day that I open the Philadelphia Inquirer to an editorial page debate between Andrew Sullivan and a leftie activist. And when on top of that the topic involves collective responsibility, it's the sort of thing I cannot not write a blog post about.

Sullivan and Clarence B. Jones ("former draft speechwriter for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and currently a scholar in residence/visiting professor at the Martin Luther King Jr. Research & Education Institute at Stanford University") are on opposite sides on the merits of Jeremiah Wright's denunciations of white America.

Sullivan's Op-Ed consists of excerpts from his blog posts, including some of what I quoted the other day (that Wright's performance was "a calculated, ugly, repulsive, vile display of arrogance, egotism and self-regard") as well as more:

Wright himself, it seems to me, has become part of what Obama is fighting against: the boomer obsessions with red/blue, white/black, pro-/anti-Americanism. Those need not dominate this election, and Wright's racially divisive and, yes, bitter provocation requires a proportionate response.

This is no longer about cynics trying to associate one man's politics with another's. It is now about Wright attempting to associate himself and some of his noxious views with the likely Democratic nominee. He has given Obama no choice - but he has given him an opportunity. Yesterday, Obama went a long way toward seizing it. But making that repudiation stick will take more work.

Long before the Wright-Obama flap, guilt by association has been a topic of great ongoing interest to me, not only because I abhor holding A responsible for the conduct (and statements) of B, but because similar logic leads people to make massive communitarian judgments -- not of individuals, but of entire groups. This is of course even more unfair than holding A responsible for the conduct of B on the basis of some association, and I think that even if there is such a thing as guilt by association, collective guilt carries things way too far.

Like the Jeremiah Wright he defends, Clarence B. Jones would disagree with me, as he thinks that "white America" (meaning all white people living in America, down to the most recent arrivals from Eastern Europe) is collectively responsible for the bad things which other white people have done. Jones begins by citing with approval a quote from James Baldwin:

A vast amount of energy that goes into what we call the Negro problem is produced by the white man's profound desire not to be judged by those who are not white, not to be seen as he is, and at the same time, a vast amount of the white anguish is rooted in the white man's equally profound need to be seen as he is, to be released from the tyranny of his mirror.
Baldwin wrote that in 1962, when the forces of Jim Crow were defending the segregationist system while many Americans looked on in abject horror. (If I remember correctly, I'm pretty sure that there was a profound desire on the part of some white people not to be judged even by those who were white, but never mind. It's "white America" we're talking about.)

Next comes Cornel West:

Cornel West writes that in this essay, Baldwin "spoke the deep truth that democratic individuality demands that white Americans give up their deliberate ignorance and willful blindness about the weight of white supremacy in America. Only then can a genuine democratic community emerge in America."
OK, wait.

What does "democratic individuality" mean? It sounds like the type of indefinable code language used by people who want to win arguments without really having to say what they think. Like the left-wing communitarian term "social justice," which, although indefinable, clearly implies that the legal system should be involved in things like property redistribution and "human rights commissions."

I don't like it when people juxtapose unrelated concepts together and then repeat them until they sound like truisms. ("Structural violence." "Poverty is violence." "Pornography is violence." And of course "Jobs Not Guns!")

And if there is such a thing as "democratic individuality," then what stands in opposition to it? "Undemocratic individuality"? Does that mean the undemocratic individual should not be allowed to vote? (Or is it just code language for Republicans?)

Anyway, whatever "democratic individuality" is, I find it a bit insulting to read that "it" demands that "white Americans" (including, I guess, my white-ass self)give up "their" (meaning my) "deliberate ignorance" and "willful blindness" about the "weight" of "white supremacy in America."

How many mouthfuls (or mouthsful) of this do I need in one morning? Do I have to spend all day? If I am to be scolded for being ignorant, don't I get to hear what I'm ignorant about? I've studied American history in detail, and I think I'm at least as aware of slavery, racism, the Civil War, Reconstruction, the Klan, Jim Crow, the Civil Rights movement as most college graduates -- maybe more. I continue to read and I try to keep an open mind about these and other things. So what am I ignorant and willfully blind about? The weight of white supremacy? How can he be so sure that I'm ignorant and blind about that because I am white?

Or am I only ignorant and blind if I disagree over how the "weight"? Whose scale is to be used in its measurement, and who decides?

Jones argues that the reactions to Wright result from the "24/7 persistence of white racism":

Everyone seems quick to blame or condemn Wright for the possible impact or "political" consequences of his remarks on Obama's candidacy. My view is that whatever those consequences may be, they are fundamentally a result of the pernicious 24/7 persistence of white racism. Most white people (and, perhaps, some African Americans) are uncomfortable with a public discourse about or a reminder of this reality.
OK, I publicly disagreed with Wright's assessments, and frankly, I found his personality extremely unpleasant. But doesn't the fact that I (and countless other bloggers, pundits, and members of the general public) discussed him indicate something other than being "uncomfortable" with "public discourse"? I'd say it indicates quite the opposite. Or might Jones believe that disagreement with Jeremiah Wright indicates an aversion to discourse?

At the risk of sounding like a hopelessly ignorant cracker, let me just venture that people who disagree are not the ones with an aversion to discourse. Those who are uncomfortable with discourse are the ones who simply do not engage in discourse. As to why these silent hordes might be uncomfortable, I don't know. I can't speak for them. Maybe some of them just hate politics and political arguments. It seems like a major stretch to claim that they are all driven by 24/7 racism, but then, Jones is not so much attributing racism to the silent; he's attributing it to those who disagree with Wright.

To Jones, Wright is not the real issue. It's race:

Democratic primary voters have to decide whether Obama can address their concerns with high gas prices, rising foreclosures, absence of affordable health insurance, and the Iraq war. But the underlying issue, uncomfortably presented by Wright, is the reality of race relations in America.

That issue is the 800-pound gorilla in our national living room, which most politicians have been unwilling or too afraid to acknowledge or discuss.

The reactions of the media and political pundits to Wright's remarks are unambiguous reminders that white America remains seriously afflicted with amnesia with respect to its treatment of African Americans throughout most of our history.

There's another mouthful. "The media and political pundits" are "white America" and they suffer from amnesia.

Jones' argument is more illogical than guilt by association. It's collective guilt.

Guilt by birth. Guilt by skin color. Guilt imputed over generations. White America is collectively guilty, which means every white person is guilty. I am not merely responsible for the crimes of my ancestors; I am responsible for the crimes of other people's ancestors. (Unless, of course, I could show that I had been born with a black father, mother or other black ancestor; if so then the hereditary guilt of my white mother or father would be erased.)

This goes beyond guilt by DNA (although it may cross over to an emerging new area called "cultural DNA.")

It is deeply illogical, but to disagree with it is to be against dialogue, and to be in denial. More specifically, to be a state of "deliberate ignorance," "willful blindness" and collective amnesia. And, of course, to be motivated by a "profound desire not to be judged."

I don't want to dimiss Jones's argument out of hand, though. The reason I wrote this post is that I think that maybe the country could use some dialogue on the notion of collective guilt.

For what it's worth, I disagree profoundly with the idea of collective guilt, and I have condemned it in forgotten post after forgotten post after forgotten post. (No, it's not necessarily about race, nor is the idea limited to the left.)

Bear in mind that those forgotten blog posts do not represent any attempt at discourse or dialogue. Rather, they reflect the deliberate ignorance and willful blindness of my amnesia, and spring from my stubbornly profound desire not to be judged.

Which is a long way of saying that they simply reflect my whiteness.

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

I appreciate the comments.

posted by Eric at 10:49 AM | Comments (24)



Because The Night


For those of you who prefer the Patti Smith version. Patti wrote the song with Bruce Springsteen.

posted by Simon at 10:12 AM | Comments (5)



Carbon Nanotube Breakthrough

Nanocomp Technologies has announced a breakthrough in carbon nanotube production. They can make fibers in the 1 mm length range. This makes possible carbon nanotube cloth. Carbon nanotubes have wonderful properties. Very high strength. Light weight. Good electrical and thermal conductivity.

However, up to now, competitive commercial manufacturing processes have generally produced only short carbon nanotubes - usually tens of microns long - with current carbon nanotubes generally available in powder formats. And, as with most powders, they can be quite difficult to incorporate into final manufactured goods. Perhaps most importantly, final products made from traditional powdery nanotubes have poor bulk properties - exhibiting less than optimal strength and conductivity.

NCTI's patent pending processes change the game. We have developed methods to continuously produce very long, pure, carbon nanotubes, in the millimeter range of length, at high growth rates. Longer nanotubes mean greater strength, higher conductivity, easier handling, and greater product safety. They are key to providing the attractive properties exhibited by individual tubes.

Here are some of the properties.
* High Strength - our spun conductive yarns exhibit breaking strengths up to 3 GPa expressed or in other terms: 1.5 Nt/Tex or 450,000 psi and with fracture toughness that is higher than aramids (such as Kevlar® or Twaron® ). Our CNT sheets have breaking strengths, without binders, that range from 500 MPa to 1.2 GPa depending upon tube orientation. Aluminum breaks at 500 MPa, carbon steel breaks around 1 GPa.

* Electrical Conductivity - Capable of carrying more current than copper and are also more conductive than copper at high frequencies.

* Thermal Conductivity - Capability to transfer more heat than copper or silver on a per weight basis.

* Extremely Lightweight - Less than half the weight of aluminum

You can also watch a video that explains this breakthrough at Nanocomp video.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 07:31 AM | Comments (2)




A Wright-wing conspiracy?

In what probably won't shock most seasoned political junkies, it appears very possible that Jeremiah Wright's troublemaking conference yesterday at the National Press Club was set up by a Clinton supporter:

Shortly before he rose to deliver his rambling, angry, sarcastic remarks at the National Press Club Monday, Wright sat next to, and chatted with, Barbara Reynolds.

A former editorial board member at USA Today, she runs something called Reynolds News Services and teaches ministry at the Howard University School of Divinity. (She is an ordained minister).

It also turns out that Reynolds - introduced Monday as a member of the National Press Club "who organized" the event - is an enthusiastic Hillary Clinton supporter.

On a blog linked to her Web site- www.reynoldsnews.com- Reynolds said in a February post: "My vote for Hillary in the Maryland primary was my way of saying thank you" to Clinton and her husband for the successes of Bill Clinton's presidency.

The same post criticized Obama's "Audacity of Hope" theme....

(Via Glenn Reynolds, who also links a report that the same "Barbara Reynolds" invited Wright to the Press Club two years ago.)

There's more, including some devastating criticism of Pastor Wright.

Hmmm.... Maybe I should rethink what I said yesterday about Wright being on his best behavior.

While I'm in conspiracy mode, does anyone know for sure that this Jeremiah Wright is really a 100% Obama supporter, and that he always has been?

What about this?

clintonreynoldswright.jpg

It was widely linked, but quickly forgotten. Might there be more going on there than is commonly suspected? (Who or what is Bubba pointing at?)

If I really got into full-blown conspiracy mode, I might start wondering whether the entire Wright-Obama pageant wasn't orchestrated in advance to make Hillary look like the most centrist Democrat in history.

And hell I might as well push my full-blown conspiracy mode into overdrive, and ask another hellish question.

Why is Glenn Reynolds going out of his way to deny that he is related to Barbara Reynolds?

MORE: The plot deepens. Glenn Reynolds has all but admitted that the photo is true, which ought to stop all speculation in the comments about authenticity. (Of the photo; not the turkey; I see there's already been speculation over whether it's plastic.)

This narrows my area of inquiry to what did he know, and when did he know it?

Welcome all!

posted by Eric at 03:57 PM | Comments (13)



An Unkulunkulu atheist vows never to be out-atheisted again!

Unkulunkulu?

That name leaped out at me as I read John Derbyshire's Pajamas Media piece about atheism and science. Discussing some fascinating correspondence with author David Berlinski, he takes issue with what he calls Berlinski's "vague notion that atheism is a sort of religion -- "a doctrine," you say -- that people sign on to, perhaps after undergoing some formal instruction from a properly ordained minister."

Possibly it does take that form in some individuals, but far more often it is merely an indifference to supernatural explanations, on the part of people who find natural explanations sufficiently interesting. As one of those atheistical book authors says -- Hitchens, I think it is -- an atheist just believes in one fewer god than you. He is an atheist in respect of Yahweh in just the same way, and for just the same kind of reason, that you are an atheist in respect of Unkulunkulu.

What is your problem with Unkulunkulu, David? Why are you not willing to accept his mighty power? Are you secretly, in your inner heart, one of those arrogant atheists? Well, of course, so far as Unkulunkulu is concerned, you are!

This worried me, as I'm someone who believes in God, but in a fuzzy, generalized deist sense. While these various arguments over the unknown intrigue me, I often wish people would not get so worked up over them. Until today, I never really grappled with whether I'm an individual atheist where it comes to specific deities.

I must confess, though, that I never believed in Unkulunkulu:

Unkulunkulu is the creator god and great ancestral spirit of the Zulu people. Unkulunkulu is believed to have grown on a reed in the mythical swamp of Uhlanga. In the isiZulu language, the name means "the very great/high one". According to tribal myths, he took the form of half-man / half-tiger having a human torso and lower body, but with a lion-like face and claws. It is said that he came down from the sky to fight an Evil Demon in South Africa and won against the Demon on a No Moon Day.
I'm unable to find any depiction of this deity anywhere. A diligent search failed to turn up a single image, whether of a totem, statue, or picture.

The most commonly accepted deity in the American cultural tradition is of course the great, apparently bearded deity described here:

It is probable that Yahweh was at one time worshiped by various tribes south of Palestine, and that several places in that wide territory (Horeb, Sinai, Kadesh, &c.) were sacred to him. The oldest and most famous of these, the mountain of God, seems to have lain in Arabia, east of the Red Sea. From some of these peoples and at one of these holy places, a group of Israelite tribes adopted the religion of Yahweh, the God who, by the hand of Moses, had delivered them from Egypt.[49]

[...]

Scholars in the 19th century discussed over what sphere of nature Yahweh originally presided. Some recognized in him a storm god, a theory with which the derivation of the name from Hebrew hawah or Arabic hawa well accords (see also the Book of Job chapters 37-38). The association of Yahweh with storm and fire is frequent in the Old Testament. The thunder is the voice of Yahweh, the lightning his arrows, and the rainbow his bow. The revelation at Sinai is amid the awe-inspiring phenomena of tempest. Yahweh leads Israel through the desert in a pillar of cloud and fire. He kindles Elijah's altar by lightning, and translates the prophet in a chariot of fire. See also Judg. v. 4 seq.. In this way, he seems to have usurped the attributes of the Canaanite god Baal Hadad. In Ugarit, the struggle between Baal and Yam, suggests that Baal's brother Ya'a was a water divinity - the god of Rivers (Nahar) and of the Sea (Yam).

(Michelango's portrait is probably the best known portrayal -- so widely known that I don't see any need to upload it here. Does it constitute a prohibited graven image?)

Then, of course, there's Allah, said to be the Moon God. I'll upload his picture -- not because I think it's accurate, but just to demonstrate that I still live in a free country where graven images are not prohibited.

moongod.jpg

(Like I should care whether Allah -- or any other High Deity -- had origins with the Moon God.)

This all touches on my ongoing problem, which is that I see no contradiction between monotheism and polytheism. That's because I have no problem with polytheism, as I think that once you presuppose a deity, then there's no reason why there would have to be only one. God could do anything he wants, including reproduce. If God saw fit to make man, angels, a son, a devil, then what's the problem?

While polytheism is not necessarily at war with monotheism (because of the possibility of different manifestations of the god-spirit-deity to many people in many times and places) I have long seen monotheism as more at war with polytheism than the other way around, because it insists upon a limitation on the dimensionality of spiritual forces -- usually according to the demands of a particular deity.

Nothing new there, except that Derbyshire has now forced me to entertain what might be considered a provocative if not mean thought.

Are monotheists more atheistic than polytheists?

According to simple math, they may well be, because they disbelieve in more, and believe in fewer.

It's scary, because I've been called an atheist for not being a monotheist. It never occurred to me that the accusers were more atheistic than I.

Derbyshire is a bad influence.

Read it all.

posted by Eric at 02:03 PM | Comments (14)



Where Do The Commanding Officers Live?


Watch the video. Then contact these people:

House of Representatives
The Senate
The President

This shit (and if you watch the whole video that is no exaggeration) needs to get fixed at once. Total Bravo Sierra.

H/T Instapundit

posted by Simon at 10:54 AM | Comments (6)



Choose your identity group carefully, kids!

Reading Harvey C. Mansfield's review of Donna Freitas's "Sex and the Soul", I was struck by the foolishness of young people who (assuming Freitas is right) make the most personal sexual decisions according to a herd mentality.

...college students today enter a low hook-up culture when they leave the classroom. In case you don't know, a hook-up is a brief sexual encounter between two partners who don't necessarily know each other before and who don't necessarily want to know each other after. And it's free. The sort of transient sex that once was available to men only for money can now be had, without paying, from college women - as long as the man is a fellow student and minimally artful about his approach. If he is thwarted in one overture, he may try another with a reasonable prospect of success.


No doubt lurid anecdote and popular myth cause us to exaggerate the actual frequency of campus hook-ups: Most college students do not share in these delights. But most students also believe that "everyone does it," even if the individual student, for some reason, cannot locate a partner. Thus an active minority sets the tone and makes hooking up a "culture." When there are no sexual boundaries, either official or informal, the standard becomes the extreme, and all students feel the pressure to appear more promiscuous than they are. The traditional double standard of sexual conduct - more restrictive for women than for men - has been replaced by the single standard of the predatory male.

OK, leaving aside the question of whether the male sex drive is inherently predatory in nature, when I read that, I have to admit I found myself feeling some revulsion towards such apparently mindless followers. I don't think individual sexual desires -- or individual sexuality -- should be dictated by peers or by a peer-driven culture. I hated that stuff in high school (seriously, it stands out as a huge factor in my adolescent rebellion), and I was delighted that when I began college as a freshman at the huge UC Berkeley campus, there were no peers I felt in any way obligated to follow. That may be because there were tens of thousands of students, and no discernable herd, but in any case, I was on my own. I suppose if I wanted peers to follow I could have found them, but I was more interested in finding friends. True friends, in my view, do not mess with you on that intimate level. (Unless they are lovers, but that's not the same as peers.)

So my first reaction was to decry the apparent lack of individualism in the students as portrayed in the Freitas book. If they're that way about sex, little wonder they accept uncritically the postmodernist nonsense spouted by leftist professors.

It was downright depressing. Anyway, I kept reading, hoping that someone, somewhere (either on the campus, in the book, or in the review) would remember that the right to do something includes the right to not do it, and that the right to say yes of necessity includes the right to say no. Contrary to what some believe, freedom is license. But license is a different issue than judgment and responsibility, and these things vary from individual to individual.

Since when is the right to do something stupid a duty to do something stupid?

Anyway, I found little talk of encouraging individuality. I did, however, find some advocacy of replacing peer pressure with peer pressure:

Ms. Freitas does not celebrate this state of affairs, but neither does she spend most of her prose denouncing it. Instead she wants to understand how the hook-up culture functions and what forces might be at odds with it. Rather than confine her interviews to secular colleges, she visits religious ones, both Catholic and evangelical. The Catholic colleges, she finds, are little different from their secular counterparts; they seem "more adept at creating lapsed Catholics than anything else."

But evangelical colleges make an effort to oppose the hook-up culture with a "purity culture," asking a level of sexual restraint that would seem, for most young people today, all but impossible. One is inclined to admire the students who attempt to meet the purity culture's strict demands. But it is clear that such students often suffer deep anxiety in their search for a mate. The boys find it troublingly difficult to put off sex, and the girls are fearful that they will have failed in college if they do not get a "ring by spring" (of their senior year). While students in the hook-up culture appear more promiscuous than they are, purity students appear more virtuous than they are.

I realize that appearances are often influenced by what other people think; otherwise we would not wear clothes. But I'm not sure what is meant by the appearance of promiscuity or the appearance of purity. Is it dressing like a slut as opposed to dressing like a prude? Not to sound sexist or anything, but I think most guys would have a harder time pulling off such a "look" either way. Unless he's an obvious gay slut, how does a guy dress promiscuously? Can you tell by looking whether a guy is a virgin?

Or is it that these kids are merely lying about their sex lives or lack thereof? Are virgins claiming to be studs and sluts, while sluts and studs are claiming to be chaste? So they can fit in with their respective peer pressure groups?

I don't know, but college sounds like an awful place.

I'm glad I don't have kids, because I wouldn't want to have to pay money for indoctrinating my kids on how to be followers.

We hear a lot about "choice," and we tend to think of it as an individual thing. At least, I've always thought of it that way. I'd hate to think that choice is being redefined as a choice of herds.

The promiscuous herd? Or the purity herd?

Another question which occurred to me is why religion keeps getting juxtaposed against promiscuous sex, as if it's one or the other, and the purpose of the former is to combat the latter. (Is the implication that atheists are sluts, while Christians are pure? Why?)

I'd almost swear this begins to resemble identity politics. (Which is "choice" masquerading as the antithesis of choice.)

UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link, especially for quoting from this post, and a warm welcome to all!

Comments invited -- agree or disagree.

posted by Eric at 10:33 AM | Comments (15)



The Chickens Are Coming Home To The Roosters

Dennis The Peasant has a wonderful post up about the difficulties of being an uber feminist in an age of Political Correctness. It all revolves around Amanda Marcotte and some very delightful if politically incorrect illustrations.

H/T Insty

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 08:42 AM | Comments (0)



UGH!

On the radio yesterday, I heard Rush Limbaugh bragging that thanks to him (and what he called "Operation Chaos," but which I call "Operation Elect Hillary"), Hillary Clinton is now ahead.

When I distrust someone, I tend to be dismissive of whatever that person says.

Bad logical move. (Even liars sometimes tell the truth.)

Anyway, today I see news confirmation that things are going according to chaos plan:

WASHINGTON - Hillary Rodham Clinton now leads John McCain by 9 points in a head-to-head presidential matchup, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll that bolsters her argument that she is more electable than Democratic rival Barack Obama. Obama and Republican McCain are running about even.

The survey released Monday gives the New York senator and former first lady a fresh talking point as she works to raise much-needed campaign cash and persuade pivotal undecided superdelegates to side with her in the drawn-out Democratic primary fight.

Helped by independents, young people and seniors, Clinton gained ground this month in a hypothetical match with Sen. McCain, the GOP nominee-in-waiting. She now leads McCain, 50 percent to 41 percent, while Obama remains virtually tied with McCain, 46 percent to 44 percent.

Both Democrats were roughly even with McCain in the previous poll about three weeks ago.

However, within the Democratic Party, Hilllary and Obama are still running neck and neck:
The AP-Ipsos poll found Clinton and Obama about even in the race for the Democratic nomination. Underscoring deep divisions within the Democratic Party -- and a potentially negative longer-term impact -- 30 percent of Clinton supporters and 21 percent of Obama supporters said they would vote for McCain in November if their preferred candidate didn't win the nomination.
That's what they say now, when talk is cheap, the chips aren't down, and the Hillary "healing" period hasn't had time to work its vintage Clinton magic.

But then there's this interesting statement, which indicates to me that at least some people in the GOP leadership are beginning to think logically:

Also on Monday, the head of the Republicans' House campaign committee said the party would rather face Obama in November because the GOP believes Clinton would be more of a threat to McCain among moderate voters.

Said Tom Cole, a congressman from Oklahoma: Obama "is by any definition very liberal, to the left of Hillary Clinton, in a center-right country. That is very, very helpful to us."

Does Rush know? Or has he become a NeoRINO? As opposed to the old fashioned RINOs (who were generally opposed to social conservatism but held their nose and voted Republican anyway), the NeoRINOs imagine that they're helping the party by helping ensure its defeat.

This strategy actually predates Ann Coulter's pledge to vote for Hillary. It was Tom DeLay who actually pioneered the meme, when, back in February of 2007, he stated that the Republicans needed Hillary:

Hillary Clinton as president may be the best thing that ever happened to the conservative movement and the Republican Party.
The problem with Obama is that he's making them actually like Hillary, and see her as akin to a savior. Of "conservatism."

In a post a couple of weeks ago, I linked a warning that was going around along the lines of "Be careful what you wish for, Rush."

I think they've been quite careful.

If the Neo-RINOs win and Hillary is president, what are the Paleo-RINOs to do?

(I've been predicting this sort of treachery for so long that words fail me. Honestly, I don't know what to title this post. The three letter title I started out with is beginning to look like understatement, but I'll leave it the way it is in the interest of politeness...)

UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link, and for quoting from this post!

A warm welcome to all. Comments always invited -- agree or disagree.

posted by Eric at 08:05 AM | Comments (7)




In The Middle Of The Road


I saw Chrisse do this at On The Waterfront Music Festival in Rockford, Illinois. She was kickin. I don't know the line up for this year, but if you check back at the link it should be announced in another few months. It is always a great party and probably more music for the money than you can get anyplace else in the USA.

posted by Simon at 09:48 PM | Comments (0)



How many wrongs make a Wright?

Today I learned that there's no escape from Pastor Jeremiah Wright.

I didn't watch his live appearance before the National Press Club on C-SPAN, nor did I check my email until after he spoke. But since Pajamas Media had been nice enough to ask me to cover the event, when I finally saw their email I emailed back and said I'd try to watch it on video anyway, even though it would probably be too late for a piece.

Was I ever in for a grotesque afternoon! I found the 6 part video on YouTube and rarely have I been more disgusted with a speech by any public figure. To call this guy a demagogue is an understatement. Really, I found it hard to sit through, but I did.

Finally, it dawned on me that if I couldn't stand to watch a single speech by this master of malevolence, how could Obama have sat through 20 years of it?

So even though it was late, I wrote my post for Pajamas Media, and I hope you enjoy it.

My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the linking the piece in his roundup. After I wrote the PJM piece, I learned that a number of commentators are now wondering whether Wright might be sabotaging Obama. Glenn asks whether " the whole thing [is] being cleverly staged" to give Obama a Sister Souljah moment. (Plus, it might mean that Bill Moyer wasted his time over the weekend!)

Even Andrew Sullivan (long a Wright defender) has had it, saying this makes "any further defense of him impossible.":

This was a calculated, ugly, repulsive, vile display of arrogance, egotism, and self-regard. This is an outright attack on the stated beliefs and policies and values of Barack Obama in a secular setting.

All in all, not a good day for Obama.

Wright does seem to be going out of his way to create problems.

I'd almost think he was being paid, except I know there's no corruption in Chicago.

posted by Eric at 09:44 PM | Comments (2)



The Devil Speaks

Who is the Devil? That would be me. Who says so? That would be Obama's Spiritual Mentor, the person who coined the phrase Obama used as the title of one of his books The Audacity of Hope, the irreverend Jeremiah Wright.

"Theologically, Malcolm X was not far wrong when he called the white man 'the devil.' The white structure of this American society, personified in every racist, must be at least part of what the New Testament meant by demonic forces... "
Evidently there is good money in this kind of talk. The irreverend went into retirement in a $1 million dollar home (he needs to talk to Al Gore about his carbon foot print). Evidently he has come out of retirement because there is still money on the table.



Here is a bit I did on Black Liberation Theology. You can see what Wright's mentor James Cone has to say in this video. Glenn Reynolds has this to say (along with his usual enlightening linkage) about the irreverend's latest spew.
Yes, Wright's views certainly contradict Obama's stated beliefs, policies, and values.
My blog mate Eric also has a few words about Wright's latest pronouncements.

My take on all this? The irreverend Wright is trying to help his close friend Barack Hussein Obama get elected.

Update: 29 April 008 0335z

The Telegraph Co. UK. has a few words:

Barack Obama's former pastor returned to plague his White House bid yesterday with a nationally televised speech in which he blamed US policy for the September 11 attacks and praised the controversial black leader Louis Farrakhan.
And this choice quote from Obama's campaign manager.
David Axelrod, Mr Obama's chief strategist, admitted to the cable news channel MSNBC that the campaign had no control over the minister. "Obviously we would not have encouraged him to go on a media tour," he said.
They finish up with this gem:
Joe Watkins, a Republican strategist and pastor, who is black, said: "This hurts Obama tremendously because all it's doing is causing people to remember that Barack Obama has been a member of this man's church."
Obama is so forked. Burnt toast.

posted by Simon at 07:17 PM | Comments (9)



Supply and Demand


If you want to keep up on supply and demand fundamentals Purchasing Magazine and their e-mail newsletter is an excellent resource. Forgive the ads that come with the video. It is how they make the $$$ that helps them keep up with the news.

If you qualify Purchasing Magazine is free. If you don't qualify there is still their www site.

posted by Simon at 03:53 PM | Comments (1)



Gnip Gnop

What is Gnip Gnop? Ping pong spelled backwards. Officially Table Tennis. And what is so important about that? Let me see if I can narrow it down some. It is about state government. Illinois State Government. It is about FOO. FOO? That would be Friends of Obama (D, Rezko). Also FODu and FODa. That would be Friends of Dick Durbin (D, Corruption [State]) and Friends of Richard Daley (D, Corruption [City]). Like all tales of money in Illinois it has some interesting twists and turns. The LA Times tells the story.

WASHINGTON -- After an unsuccessful campaign for Congress in 2000, Illinois state Sen. Barack Obama faced serious financial pressure: numerous debts, limited cash and a law practice he had neglected for a year. Help arrived in early 2001 from a significant new legal client -- a longtime political supporter.

Chicago entrepreneur Robert Blackwell Jr. paid Obama an $8,000-a-month retainer to give legal advice to his growing technology firm, Electronic Knowledge Interchange. It allowed Obama to supplement his $58,000 part-time state Senate salary for over a year with regular payments from Blackwell's firm that eventually totaled $112,000.

No wonder Michelle was complaining how hard it was to get by. Fortunately it appears Obama got by with a little help from his friends. Now here is where it gets interesting. In Illinois no one pays a politician without expecting a little something in return. Nobody. That would be stupid.
A few months after receiving his final payment from EKI, Obama sent a request on state Senate letterhead urging Illinois officials to provide a $50,000 tourism promotion grant to another Blackwell company, Killerspin.

Killerspin specializes in table tennis, running tournaments nationwide and selling its own line of equipment and apparel and DVD recordings of the competitions. With support from Obama, other state officials and an Obama aide who went to work part time for Killerspin, the company eventually obtained $320,000 in state grants between 2002 and 2004 to subsidize its tournaments.

That is almost a 3 to 1 return on investment. In Illinois investing in politicians is a very profitable business. Much better than the 40% gross profit (about 5 to 10% net) that you get in normal business.
Obama's staff said the senator advocated only for the first year's grant -- which ended up being $20,000, not $50,000. The day after Obama wrote his letter urging the awarding of the state funds, Obama's U.S. Senate campaign received a $1,000 donation from Blackwell.

Obama's presidential campaign rejects any suggestion that there was a connection between the legal work, the campaign contribution and the help with the grant. "Any implication that Sen. Obama would risk an ethical breach in order to secure a small grant for a pingpong tournament is nuts," said David Axelrod, Obama's chief political advisor.

Ah, so $320,000 is small CHANGE. Or even $20,000. It sure would make a big difference in my life. In fact $20,000 is more than my yearly income right now. Much more. Obviously Axelrod travels in different circles than I do. Being one of the little people and all, who cling to guns, god, xenophobia, and bitterness.
Business relationships between lawmakers and people with government interests are not illegal or uncommon in Illinois or other states with a part-time Legislature, where lawmakers supplement their state salaries with income from the private sector.
Well that is true. It is not uncommon in Illinois. It is the way business is done here. See Rezko, Tony. The LA Times goes on:
But Obama portrays himself as a lawmaker dedicated to transparency and sensitive to even the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Recently, Obama expressed regret over a property deal with Illinois power broker Tony Rezko after Obama was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004. In an interview this spring with the Chicago Sun-Times, Obama said his regret was not just because the real estate and restaurant entrepreneur was under criminal scrutiny, but because he was "a contributor and someone doing business before the state."

Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs, who provided The Times with details of Obama's compensation from EKI, said Obama did nothing wrong acting on behalf of Killerspin. He said the state senator simply wrote a letter backing a worthy project developed by a constituent.

Killerspin's owner, Blackwell, was a political supporter and friend as well. Both men lived on Chicago's South Side. Blackwell, a savvy and successful entrepreneur, was one of the first donors to Obama's early campaigns, including the state senator's failed bid for a congressional seat in 2000. In the presidential race he is credited on Obama's website with committing to raise $100,000 to $200,000 for Obama's campaign.

When Blackwell sought backing for his table tennis tournament in 2002, other politicians, including U.S. Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, offered support for the event. But Obama was the only one who provided a letter that became part of the initial application for state funds, state records show. In addition, he wrote a state Senate proclamation heralding the first tournament and an official letter that welcomed "table tennis friends" to the 2004 contest and thanked spectators for helping to "make Chicago the table tennis capital of this nation."

Now here is where I see Obama making a big mistake. Never leave a paper trail. People might misconstrue it. And you know this is only one deal. Illinois politicians make hundreds of such deals every year. They are the difference between living in a rented apartment and owning a $1 million dollar mansion in Hyde Park. They are the difference between buying lettuce at the supermarket and arugula at Whole Foods.

One thing you can say about Obama relative to Illinois politics. He is an honest politician. He stays bought.

So it all comes down to: who owns him. And you thought slavery was outlawed by the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. Obviously it does not apply to politicians. Obama is a Slave to the Machine. The Chicago Machine. It is a tough job, but Obama Can Do It.

Which brings us to speculation. Why was Obama pushed forward so hard in this election season? My guess is that it was the Chicago Machine's last hope to limit the damage from the Rezko mess. If Obama wins the Presidency he can slow or stop further investigations into how Illinois/Chicago operates. With Obama tanking it has got to be putting those guys into the house of fear. You can smell it in the air.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 03:00 PM | Comments (2)



If thine balls offend the state....

In more posts than I can count, I've complained about the mandatory spay and neuter movement, which is built around the idea that whether your dog has testicles is the government's business.

Well now, via TigerHawk, I see that the busybody bureaucrats who can't stand balls on animals have ratcheted up their campaign, and they want to criminalize truck testicles! No, really:

TALLAHASSEE, Florida (Reuters) - Senate lawmakers in Florida have voted to ban the fake bull testicles that dangle from the trailer hitches of many trucks and cars throughout the state.

Republican Sen. Cary Baker, a gun shop owner from Eustis, Florida, called the adornments offensive and proposed the ban. Motorists would be fined $60 for displaying the novelty items, which are known by brand names like "Truck Nutz" and resemble the south end of a bull moving north.

Naturally, I had to check out the products, which are sold here, and look like this:

blueballs.jpg

I arbitrarily selected the blue balls, and I do not want any insinuations made, OK?

They come in colors, of course, and there are red and white ones to go with the blue ones, as well as green ones which would look great hanging from priapic Priuses.

What worried me the most was to see that the truck neutering ordinance was sponsored by a Republican. Might that mean that the war on sex (recently gathering steam among gay crackpots) is about to hook up with the animal neutering movement?

I hope not. (Otherwise, I might have to alter my earlier view that "Gonad Nazis" might be too strong a term for these nut-grabbers.)

In any case, I think that under established constitutional law principles, this law must fail. Not only because there's still a right to freedom of expression, but because there is a less restrictive alternative.

An ordinary vasectomy.

stitchballs.jpg

You know, a stitch in time?

posted by Eric at 12:50 PM | Comments (2)



The unbearable state of being "unable to say"

Many, many people have dumped on John McCain for betraying North Carolina Republicans by trying to stop the now-famous political ad (which skewers Obama for the Wright and Weather Underground relationships, and concludes that Obama is "too extreme for North Carolina").

Maybe Obama is too extreme for North Carolinians, but I'm wondering about McCain's motivation for opposing the ad.

He certainly irritated the conservative Republican base in North Carolina, as well as a lot of other people. And he is being seen as opposing the truth:

Predictably, however, Obama's cheerleaders in the mainstream media, the left side of the Blogosphere and political fellow travelers in the Democratic party immediately began blasting the North Carolina ad. Typical was Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean who called the ad "racially divisive" and challenged presumptive GOP presidential nominee John McCain to pass this "test of leadership" by forcing the state party to stop airing the ad (which by the way has been viewed more than 200,000 times on YouTube at last count). Amazingly, McCain quickly joined this condescending chorus, demanding that the ad be pulled as "inappropriate" and "offensive to some." During a Friday conference call with bloggers, McCain added that the ad "is not the tenor of the campaign we want to wage." And he said the North Carolina GOP is "out of touch with reality." A McCain campaign spokesman was unable to say what part of the ad conveyed the objectionable tenor.
(Via Glenn Reynolds.)

Unable to say?

Why might that be?

Unless the primary is over, McCain is not yet running against Barack Obama. Is it possible that what the McCain campaign found objectionable was that the ad might cause North Carolinians to vote for Hillary Clinton?

Suppose for the sake of argument that McCain would rather run against Obama. (I've been arguing ad nauseam that Obama would be easier for him to beat.) Imagine then (hypothetically) that McCain came out out and said that he'd rather run against Obama than Hillary, and that he hoped Democrats would vote for Obama. It would become a huge campaign issue, and Hillary's campaign would seize on it so fast it would make your head spin. So, if McCain thought that, he could never have said it; likewise, if he opposes running anti-Obama ads, he has to advance boilerplate claims that the ads are inappropriate or offensive.

This might explain why his campaign is "unable to say" why.

In any case, I think it was a mistake for McCain to attack the ad. He should have just kept his mouth shut, and I agree with M. Simon and Glenn Reynolds that attacking the ad only helped publicize it.

Obviously, I don't know whether McCain wants Obama to beat Hillary, and this is only speculation. I also don't know whether his reasons for opposing the North Carolina ad matter.

Frankly, I feel a bit conflicted posting about this, because I want McCain to win in November, and I'm not sure it's especially helpful to his campaign to speculate about a possible hidden agenda. I'm also well aware of the possibility that the more I claim Hillary has a better chance to beat McCain than Obama, the more I'm helping Hillary.

What this means is that I may be a conflict of interest. I want to say what I think, yet I don't want to say things that might be harmful to McCain's candidacy.

Having disclosed that, I should probably relax, and just say what I think, lest I find myself in the McCain camp's "unable to say" position.

Because things are sure to get worse before they get better.

posted by Eric at 11:54 AM | Comments (0)



The lock and key, helmet and cell-phone, nanny-surveillance class!

(And the other America...)

In a post titled "America's Worst Mom?" Dr. Helen questions whether New York Sun columnist Lenore Skenazy (who let her son take the subway home alone) is in fact the worst mother in the country, as many Newsweek readers contend. Said Skenazy,

"...Half the people I've told this episode to now want to turn me in for child abuse. As if keeping kids under lock and key and helmet and cell phone and nanny and surveillance is the right way to rear kids. It's not. It's debilitating--for us and for them."
Dr. Helen concurs with Skenazy:
When I was in graduate school in New York in the 80's, it was a far more dangerous place. I saw kids ride the subway all the time. No one seemed to care. Now that it's safer, no one thinks kids should come out of their homes.

Sticking the title "America's Worst Mom" on this particular mother, Lenore Skenazy, is rather ridiculous and alarmist given the things really bad mothers actually do to their children. The term should be reserved for people who deserve it.

Not only do I agree, but I think the angry safety "lock and key, helmet/cell-phone/nanny-surveillance" moms are evidence of a huge and growing cognitive disconnect in American culture, and the subways are a perfect place to begin.

As it happens, I have written a number of posts about the rash of subway and public transportation crime in Philadelphia. Most of the subway crime is caused by public school students, and I suspect the same would be true in most urban areas with subways.

But what is happening is that students are spilling out from schools (where they assault each other, and don't really receive attention until they do things like break the necks and jaws of their teachers) and into the stations, where they interact with the general public.

The "general public" includes many people who do not experience violence on a daily basis, but who instead imagine that they and their children can live in peace and harmony and in a nonviolent world. (Some probably adhere to the gentle John Lennon "Imagine" philosophy.)

This entire discussion simply begs the question of whether public schools aren't more dangerous than subways. In many urban areas, they clearly are, and it is just a given. The thing is, the kids who go to those schools, cause merchants to lock their doors as they spill onto the streets at 3:00 p.m. (an hour dreaded by the Philadelphia Police Department), are just as free to ride the subways as the children of the "lock and key, helmet/cell-phone/nanny-surveillance" moms.

But they are not living in the same culture, and I suspect that Ms. Skenazy's accusers are not only members of the latter group, but they perceive her to be either one of them, or someone who should be one of them. (Like affluent Berkeleyans who excoriate affluent moms for having too many kids, but think it's just peachy for the "oppressed" classes to do so. "Oppressed" is PC jargon for "non white lower class" of course.)

Our "society" (if I may use that word) is being overwhelmed by such hopeless and intractable double standards.

This touches on another double standard. Assaults on subways are treated as crimes, and the perps will be arrested if found. Contrast this with assaults in schools, which teachers try to ignore or sweep under the rug as best they can:

"Violence takes place on a day to day basis but it is rarely reported, because if you're a professional in the school district and you admit to any negative circumstance like a physical threat, you may lose your job."
If students in Philadelphia schools are assaulted at a higher rate than are subway passengers (which I think they are) it is beyond me to understand why a parent would be excoriated for putting a child on the subway, yet forced to send the same child to a violent school. The answer, of course, is that the parents who are forced to send their children to violent urban schools are not seen the same way, nor are their children seen or treated the same way.

(While this is a different topic, there is also a rather large double standard where it comes to crimes committed against children by children, which makes no sense legally, and which I have posted about before. I fail to understand why punching an adult in the face is so much more serious than punching a child in the face, but I'm probably elevating logic above the social reality that school children are supposed to tolerate what no adult would have to.)

Only some people live in a "lock and key, helmet/cell-phone/nanny-surveillance" world in which it is child abuse to let children ride subways. They are so out of touch that it doesn't even occur to them that they are proponents of a huge double standard -- which raises a glaringly obvious question:

If it is child abuse to put a child on an urban subway, then why isn't it child abuse to send a child to an urban public school?

The answer is determined not by reference to the legal system, or by reference to any fixed or ascertainable moral standard.

It is determined by class.

posted by Eric at 09:59 AM | Comments (1)



Pin The Flag On The Donkey

Don Surber has a nice bit on how Obama is self destructing. Or is it self deconstructing. Well what ever Obama is doing to himself there are a lot of twists and turns. Lots of them. Lots and lots of them.

He's looking less like Kennedy, and more like Steve Urkel.

In the 1980s, a smart, talented, hard-working, young intellectual came to Chicago and skyrocketed to success.

But enough about Steve Urkel. This is a political blog and so I must discuss again Democratic Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois.

Or rather his lapel pin, which has become like Donovan's mountain. First there is a lapel pin, then there is no lapel pin, then there is.

He put on a patriotic lapel pin shortly after 9/11 to show his patriotism.

He stopped wearing one when opinion swung away from the war in Iraq.

He started wearing it again after word spread that he told the radical chic in San Francisco that rural Pennsylvanians won't vote for him because they fear outsiders as they cling to their guns and their religion.

Finally, there is proof that Obama is his own man. He does not need the help of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright to make himself out as an out-of-touch, far-left radical.

Don even goes so far as to write parody song about the whole deal. Obama is now a joke. He has become even more forked than Kerry was at this stage of the Presidential campaign. There is an iron clad rule in politics. Jokes don't get elected. Especially bad jokes.

H/T The Pundit of Knoxville

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 04:19 AM | Comments (2)




metering the cycles of scales in my eyes

A comment to M. Simon's earlier post (about the video linked by Glenn earlier) made me search for the original, because I'm too "vane" to need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows....

Pmeters.JPG

And no, I don't follow leaders, I watch the parking meters!

(But that's Allen Ginsburg in the background so Look out kid...)

Which reminded me of a photo I took yesterday.....

ParkingMeters3.jpg

Yeah, I know her eyes are gone. Had to remove them to protect the poor stranger's privacy.

But the school aspect reminded me of another photo I decided it was safe to leave the eyes in. Scales and all.

Fish.jpg

Scales fall from eyes, of course then fish from ice to scales!

And from the metal to the petals (which fall too).

petals.jpg

This saint who was standing nearby has probably seen many cycles of petal to metal.

VillanovaCherries2.jpg

posted by Eric at 05:36 PM | Comments (4)



Classic Trance Music

If you don't want to listen, just watch it spin...

It'll work!


ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.....................

posted by Eric at 12:46 PM | Comments (1)



The battle of the bilge

In a PJM piece titled "Where Have All the Smart Media Moguls Gone?" Burt Prelutsky asks a couple of good questions about the news media:

....if you are a conservative and every time you pick up your daily newspaper, you find that everything you believe, not to mention all the things you hold dear, are being ridiculed not only on the editorial page, but throughout the entire paper, it shouldn't surprise anyone that the day finally dawns when a lot of them are going to say, "Why am I paying for this bilge?"

The question that comes to mind is why a business - any business - would go out of its way to antagonize, depending on the city, between, say, 40 and 60% of its market. Is it possible that while my back was turned, the DNC bought up every paper in the country except for the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Times?

While you'd never know it, the Philadelphia Inquirer was purchased by a conglomerate dominated by influential Republicans. In two years, they haven't made any changes I've been able to see. Certainly none that are reflected in the paper's editorial stances.

I keep up my subscription, though, because I have this stubborn and maybe goofy idea that a daily newspaper is a hallmark of civilization.

And while I don't consider myself a conservative, I've found that in terms of reading a conventional daily newspaper, being a small-l libertarian is even worse.

Unless, that is, you think having twice as many things to disagree with a newspaper about is "better."

(From a blogger perspective, it may be!)

UPDATE: A related battle of the bilge (or maybe a battle between the bilges?) is the battle between newspapers and TV stations for online readers. This has produced what Jack D. Lail calls a "golden age":

A golden age amid the rubble of declining revenues for newspapers and local TV stations? A golden age amid downsizing that is shrinking to newsrooms to the lowest levels in decades? A golden age amid the the boardroom battles in some of the largest media companies?

It certainly is and I say freakin' bring it on.

All-media-meets on the Web has created a local news and advertising battlezone in market-after-market the likes of which I've never seen in a 30-plus-year career.

(Via Glenn Reynolds.) They also tend to keep an eye on each other, which increases honest reporting.

(And that's not even factoring in the role of blogs.... The more Golden Ages, the better!)

posted by Eric at 12:34 PM | Comments (3)



encouraging lawbreakers while scolding the ethical

The National Rifle Association has more on Philadelphia Mayor Nutter's attempted enforcement of illegal and unconstitutional gun laws, and slams new Police Commissioner Ramsey for ignoring clear legal warnings from the District Attorney:

....while District Attorney Lynne Abraham previously advised Philadelphia's city council and mayor that their gun control proposals were unconstitutional, the city pressed on, defying the state's firearm preemption law in its attempt to circumvent the Pennsylvania legislature.

Enter Commissioner Ramsey, whose anti-gun leanings and arrogant, above-the-law mentalities have followed him to the City of Brotherly Love.

Not content with his city passing illegal gun control "laws," Ramsey is actually encouraging the City Council and Mayor Nutter to ignore the legal advice of city attorneys against enforcing the ordinances. Not only is he in favor of enforcing the illegal measures, he was recently quoted as saying, "As far as I am concerned, the laws are valid, and we will act as if this whole conversation with the D.A. just didn't take place."

When the City's Police Commissioner--the top law enforcement official--encourages the mayor and council members to ignore legal advice, that's not just blatantly arrogant and anti-gun, that's outrageous.

I agree that it's outrageous, but I'd also note that the lawless mayor and his lawless Police Commissioner have the wholehearted support of the apparently lawless Philadelphia Inquirer, which slammed the District Attorney for her refusal to enforce patently illegal laws:
As expected, the National Rifle Association sprinted into court and got a temporary hold yesterday on the five gun-control laws enacted in Philadelphia.

Unexpected, however, was District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham's announcing that she wouldn't prosecute anyone charged under the new ordinances.

Call it selective prosecution.

Fed up with the daily shootings in Philadelphia, the City Council passed - and Mayor Nutter promptly signed - ordinances last week that limit handgun purchases, target gun trafficking, and subject gun ownership to much-needed greater oversight by the Police Department.

Kudos to Council and the mayor for their strong stand. Too bad Abraham refused to stand by them.

I guess the Inquirer would prefer a raft of expensive lawsuits which inevitably would result from illegal prosecutions. The Inquirer allows that Abraham may be right, but nevertheless they want her to stick her neck out "in order to present a unified front."

Lynne Abraham is a staunch gun control proponent, but because she is also bound by certain ethical responsibilities. If she were to deliberately bring baseless charges and engage in prosecutions she knew to be illegal, she'd be acting in bad faith, and could ultimately find herself in the predicament of Mike Nifong. Disbarred, and maybe facing prison time.

Would the Inquirer take her case?

Sheesh.

At the rate Nutter, Ramsey and the Inky are going, pretty soon they'll be calling their three ring circus a form of "civil disobedience."

I've long complained about lawbreakers who want to take guns away from law abiding citizens, and I remember what happened in New Orleans. But seeing lawless government officials encouraged by news media to break the law and violate the Constitution -- while an ethical District Attorney is slammed by the media for upholding the law -- reminds me that if it can happen here, it can happen anywhere.

I wish the Inquirer had the sense displayed in some of the local leftie alternative weeklies. Here's the Philadelphia City Paper's Michael Washburn:

How do we prevent tragedies like the one at Virginia Tech? One answer is to redefine gun control so that it's not something we inflict on good, law-abiding people, but rather, part of the package of punishments that we impose on those who have shown criminal and antisocial behavior.
I'd love to redefine gun control that way.

But the problem with criminals is that they don't obey the law.

Maybe Nutter, Ramsey and the Inquirer can explain why.

posted by Eric at 10:31 AM | Comments (1)



Compare And Contrast




H/T Insty

posted by Simon at 10:14 AM | Comments (3)



This Is No Joke


posted by Simon at 02:53 AM | Comments (0)




the phobia of my phobia is my philia!

At the risk of sounding like a bitter asshole, I want to make another stab at explaining my ongoing fascination with the synergistic relationship between McCain Derangement Syndrome (MDS) and Obamaphobia. (See "Real conservatives want their party to lose, but only to Hillary".) This is not to say that there's a 100% overlap; only that when they do overlap, sparks fly.

The Ann Coulter, Pat Buchanan group of McCain haters (along with the quieter Dobson types) hate McCain so much that they declared they'd either vote for Hillary or sit it out. I didn't like this, and I said so repeatedly.

However, it is important to remember that when the McCain haters made these pledges, they assumed that Hillary would be the candidate. Little wonder that they were more outraged -- and at a much higher volume -- than almost anyone once it began to appear that Barack Obama would be the nominee. They were willing to sit it out, and maybe even vote for Hillary, but who the hell was this pleasant-talking young leftist to come along and ruin their McCain boycott? It might have been OK to sit it out for Hillary, but Obama?

The man forces their hand. Obamaphobia literally forces the McCain-hating Obamaphobes to eat their words, swallow their pride, and face the prospect of voting for the guy they pledged to oppose.

I have to admit, part of me -- the vengeful part -- simply loves seeing activist blowhards get their come-uppance, and I see Obama as the punisher. The scourge of MDS. OTOH, another part of me wants simply to see the Republicans win, so I see Obama as the unifier. Either way, I find myself loving the unelectable Obama -- because if he is not stopped, he'll force the McCain haters to vote for McCain.

I admit, it is not nice of me to feel this way. Rather than loving Obama for squeezing the McCainophobes, perhaps I should be more compassionate. And perhaps it is not Obama I love. Perhaps I just love seeing the phenomenon of hatred canceling hatred. There is remarkable, almost mathematical beauty in the way Obamaphobia cancels out MDS, while at the same time it is fueled by it. (It's as if the hatred for McCain is being sublimated into hatred of Obama in a poorly understood psychological process.)

It's too simple to say that hatred of Obama is necessarily the antidote for MDS, though, for as long as Hillary lingers, there remains hope for MDS. Because MDS can coexist peacefully with Hillary but not with Obama, there's a fierce hope in certain quarters (probably grounded in denial) that if only Hillary can make it, we can go back to hating McCain and back to making solemn pledges we'll never ever vote for him. This may be fueled by the conviction that if enough energy is directed against Obama, he'll fall from grace, and it will be "safe" to oppose McCain again. The better Obama does, the more opposing McCain looks like political suicide. I'd even go so far as to speculate that there's a direct correlation between Obama's fortunes and anti-McCain activity: as Obama rises, anti-McCain energy wanes, but as Obama falls, anti-McCain energy waxes.

Of course, the more inevitable Obama appears to be, the more the bitter McCain haters cling to Hillary.

Hillary is the fly in the ointment, as she prevents the true synergy of hate from fully blossoming. Obama has not yet closed the deal and cinched the nomination.

If and when he does, all right wing hope of stopping McCain by sitting it out will be extinguished.

So, from the perspective of the McCain-hating Obamaphobes, Obama kills hope, and Hillary keeps hope alive.

Like I say, I'd like to have more compassion .

But where's the compassion for those who still suffer from Hillaryphobia?

(I know things are getting pretty bad when I can't tell phobias from philias.)

posted by Eric at 04:11 PM | Comments (8)



The Drug War's St. Valentines Day Massacre?

The Chicago Sun Times has an editorial about the surge in violence in Chicago with the advent of Spring weather. A lot of hand wringing. What to do? What to do?

We can't stop trying.

The problem is guns. No, it's not about guns.

The problem is bad parents. No, we can't make bad parents good.

The problem is drugs. No, we can't stop the drugs.

The problem is jobs. No, we can't bring back the good jobs.

The problem is our schools. No, we can't ask our schools to solve all the problems that flow from broken families and broken neighborhoods.

But we can't stop trying.

In a dramatic gesture, Mayor Daley has called for a summit at City Hall today to search for solutions to the bloodbath of violence -- almost all of it involving guns -- that has swept across Chicago's neighborhoods in recent weeks.

Of course they don't have a single thing to say about stopping being stupid.
When we wrote that first editorial on Tuesday, the weekend body count was seven more dead and 29 shot but alive.

Now, horrifyingly, the week's tally is 12 dead and 40 shot, five of them in a single massacre in a Chatham home.

So let us have a look at a report on the Chatham massacre.
CHICAGO (CBS) ― Chicago police say the deaths of five people found murdered inside a Chatham neighborhood home were targeted, and neighbors should not panic.

Police said all the victims were beaten before being shot to death. And officers from the police prostitution, vice and narcotics units are also involved in the investigation.

Police brass called on the public to provide any information that may help solve the massacre. They added that the shootings appeared to be well-planned and that the home had been ransacked. Police said they do not know the motive, but they are talking to a number of people in the investigation.

Sounds a lot like another Chicago massacre. The St. Valentine's Day Massacre. So the Mayor, the Sun Times, and every one else in Chicago is howling about what to do. Rev. Michael Pfleger, who is a good friend of Rev. Wright, who is close to Mayor Daley, and who is a supporter of Barack Hussein Obama for President, is calling for more gun control. I don't know how he intends to make guns any more illegal than they already are in Chicago. Perhaps a round up of the usual suspects.

What no one dares talk about is:

Ending Drug Prohibition

Seriously. How stupid do you have to be given Chicago's History with Gangsters.

Look at that word carefully gang         sters.

So how stupid do you have to be to avoid figuring out the obvious? To learn from our previous history of prohibition? About average stupid will do quite nicely.

H/T Insty

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 03:43 PM | Comments (15)



The Coming Upheaval


This is a look back and a look forward. I was one of those "revolutionaries" back in the 60s. It all seems so stupid and puerile now. It must be by definition a youth thing, because despite the obvious failures kids 40 years later are still falling for it.

I have no romantic illusions to buy or sell. I lived through that era. I pity the fools still stuck there (Dohrn, Ayers, Wright, etc.). Obama seems to attract them. He also seems attracted to them. Another fool to be pitied.

He should have read Hunter S. Thompson to see where it all leads:

Strange memories on this nervous night in Las Vegas. Five years later? Six? It seems like a lifetime, or at least a main era---the kind of peak that never comes again.

San Francisco in the middle '60s was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run ...but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that coner of time and the world. Whatever it meant.

And that, I think, was the handle. That sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn't need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting--on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark--the place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.

I think the Obama wave will be no different. Once hope joins politics it is over.

Dividing up the spoils always creates spoils (in the mining sense - a desolate area , a moonscape). The way forward is the study of science, technology, business. All the things the Obama kids and their Professors claim to hate. They suck off the tit but hate the momma. I don't miss being young and stupid. At all.

H/T Juanita at Stop Obama

posted by Simon at 12:32 PM | Comments (3)



Worse than Jeremiah Wright? As bad as David Duke?

Here's something Ben Stein calls interesting, and I think it is interesting:

Interestingly, McCain chooses Ayers as a line of attack, rather than Wright (perhaps because he has his own troublesome pastor).

"I think not only a repudiation, but an apology for ever having anything to do with an unrepentant terrorist is due the American people," McCain said earlier today.

Via Hugh Hewitt, who asked the question which drew the statement from McCain -- and who has posted the audio here.

Regardless of how the two might play out politically (and Wright still gets the lion's share of attention), I think Bill Ayers makes Jeremiah Wright look like small potatoes. As I have said in countless posts, I am very uncomfortable with attributing guilt by association. However, I have to admit that as guilt by association claims go, the Ayers Obama connection is a near 10 on the Richter scale, while Wright is in the 5-6 range.

Here's why: Wright is an incendiary speaker, but Ayers is an actual, unrepentant, hands-on terrorist. A man who not only advocated killing, but who did his best to practice what he preached, and who regrets that he didn't do more. (Anyone who wants to see this laid out in numbing detail should read this excellent discussion by Rick Moran, who supplies plenty of links.)

Wright may have talked the talk, but Ayers walks the walk. This, IMO, makes it necessary for Obama to address the issue head-on, instead of issuing evasive statements about how Ayers is a neighborhood English teacher who did bad stuff in the past, but who's now become "respectable."

Unfortunately, the latter happens to be very true. I think it's a major reason Obama wants to duck the issue. Ayers and his evil wife should never have been allowed to become respectable. That they did is not an indictment of Obama, but an indictment of the left -- especially the academic, America-hating, left. These people are deeply embedded in the highest echelons of the Democratic intelligentsia, and Obama does not want to offend them.

This Democratic propensity for being soft on terrorism, IMO, explains partially why Hillary dare not kvetch too much about left-wing terrorist connections. She's also very vulnerable on the pardon issue, and while that had been comfortably relegated to historical obscurity, she knows that this could bust it wide open. As I said earlier,

...if voters start wondering about terrorist pardons. (So let's us Democrats just agree not to talk too loudly about that one, OK?)
But forget the election for a moment. Ayers is so thoroughly and completely beyond the pale that he is fair game on his own, entirely apart from any friendship he has with Obama. That Obama denies that they're really friends may or may not be true, but he has to do more than that, or else he will be hopelessly unelectable if he is the candidate in the fall. (I hope he keeps ducking this, and that he is the candidate, because McCain will cream him.)

A few weeks ago, I took issue with the idea that Jeremiah Wright was like David Duke:

I don't think the comparison of Duke to Wright is completely valid, because Duke is a Klan leader, while Wright is reacting emotionally to people like Duke. Duke is more wrong than the people who react to him -- for the simple (if childish) reason that he started it. That's because people who overreact -- even in an improper manner -- are not as culpable as the people who started it.

It is hardly a defense of Wright, but he is no David Duke.

Another reason that Wright is not like Duke is that by heading a terrorist organization -- the Ku Klux Klan -- Duke does more than advocate; he becomes a de facto terrorist. Wright is a hateful motormouth, but so far as I know, no one has shown him to be a terrorist.

In that major respect, Ayers is more like Duke than Wright is. Actually, Ayers is worse than Duke, because Duke has never been convicted of any terrorist actions.

But having said Ayers is worse than Duke, I just put my finger on the problem, which involves another grotesque double standard.

Ayers is respectable. Duke is shunned by all decent people.

To illustrate, imagine if John McCain admitted to a friendship with David Duke, and it turned out that the two had served on a board together, and appeared at a "public intellectual" forum together.

It would absolutely kill McCain's candidacy. Few Republicans would defend him. No amount of backtracking or denunciations of Duke by McCain could possibly save the latter.

Once again, I will admit what's probably a form of personal weakness. I try to be so fair-minded person that I'd apply the same standard to McCain that I apply to Obama. So, I probably wouldn't tar McCain with guilt by association if he denounced David Duke, and repudiated any friendship they might have had.

But that's just me. I'm not the voting public.

Ayers is a problem for Obama, because he is like David Duke.

But I have a couple of lingering questions which go beyond Barack Obama.

Why is Ayers respectable?

What makes David Duke so much worse than a convicted, unrepentent terrorist?

CORRECTION: Commenter DRE notes that Ayers was never convicted of anything. Rather, he and Dohrn "escaped federal prosecution because of government misconduct in gathering evidence, but they don't pretend they were innocent."

My mistake, so I'll restate the question:

What makes David Duke so much worse than an admitted, unrepentent terrorist?

MORE: Ayers' wife, Bernardine Dohrn, was convicted and served some time:

The couple turned themselves in to authorities in 1980. While some charges relating to their activities with the Weathermen were dropped due to governmental misconduct[4], Dohrn pled guilty to charges of aggravated battery and bail jumping, receiving probation. [5] She later served less than a year of jail time, after refusing to testify against ex-Weatherman Susan Rosenberg in an armed robbery case[6]
Rosenberg, it should be noted, was sentenced to 58 years, but was "pardoned by President Bill Clinton on January 20, 2001, his final day in office."

Soon afterwards, Rosenberg was rewarded with a nice teaching post at Hamilton College.

In 2004, Roger Kimball asked similar questions to the ones I'm asking now:

As it happens, a key witness in the Brinks case refused to testify as the trial approached. Prosecutors dropped their earlier charges against Ms. Rosenberg, figuring that she could serve a long prison term anyway for weapons possession. At the time, she was quoted in the New York Times saying: "We're caught, but we're not defeated. Long live the armed struggle!" When she was indeed sentenced to 58 years, she announced that "we were busted because we vacillated on our politics. . . . Our own principles were not strong enough to fight to win." According to Mr. Castellucci, one of the officers who apprehended her interpreted this statement to mean that "she regretted not shooting them." Given the context, Mr. Castellucci notes, "he was probably right."

So why isn't Susan Rosenberg still in prison? Because in January 2001, Bill Clinton commuted her sentence. The outcry at the time was loud and furious. And no wonder. Just as important: Why is Hamilton College opening its doors to her?

Hamilton College is just following the same terror-normative standard that is all too common in academia.

In light of the Dohrn and Rosenberg standard, I suppose I could ask the question again that technically does not apply to Ayers:

What makes David Duke so much worse than a convicted, unrepentent terrorist?

And while I'm at it, didn't Dohrn host the same Obama campaign launch? And didn't they both speak at the same "public intellectuals" event?

Far be it from me to explain why hobnobbing with terrorists is worse than pardoning them, however. Sheesh. (If I don't leave off with this moral relativism, I might start asking about Hillary hobnobbing with IRA leaders. That "not all terrorists are equal" business can get divisive.)

MORE: While I was not thinking about the respective races of Wright or Ayers when I wrote this post, it is certainly true that Wright is black, while Ayers is white. Apparently, it is considered by the McCain forces to be a worse offense to attack a black radical than a white radical:

....McCain continues to give himself special dispensation to challenge Obama’s relationship with Weather Underground radical Bill Ayers.


Because, you see, raising questions about a Radical of Color is “not appropriate and unhelpful,” but raising questions about a Radical of Pallor is McCain-tested and RNC-approved.

While there is certainly a double racial standard, I think this goes beyond race, because of the huge distinction between radical speech, and terrorist actions. (If Ayers were instead, say, Mumia abu Jamal, the analogy would IMO be more apt.)

Via this post by Ann Althouse, which caused Glenn to note that the commotion "ensure(s) wide circulation of the ad beyond North Carolina."

Regarding the same ad, M. Simon asked,

Are you so stupid about the Internet that you fail to realize that such a call will only draw more attention to it?
Well, all I can say is that the topic of promoting things by condemning them is an old one here!

posted by Eric at 10:36 AM | Comments (4)




not difficult, just hard
"Listen, I'm a f---ing steamroller and I'll roll over you and anybody else."

-- Eliot Spizter

While I'm a bit surprised, I'm nonetheless very relieved to know that as sex clients go, Eliot Spitzer was not "difficult":
Spitzer - identified in the Emperors Club criminal complaint as "Client-9" - was caught Feb. 13 on a federal wiretap arranging for Dupre, whom he knew as "Kirsten," to be delivered to his room at the Mayflower Hotel.

In the complaint, "Kirsten" insisted she didn't find the ex-governor very "difficult," even though her madam warned that he might want "unsafe" sex.

Law-enforcement sources said Spitzer didn't like to wear a condom.

The second hooker-informant also told investigators Spitzer was fond of using sex toys to enhance his own pleasure, the sources said.

"The full portrait of Mr. Spitzer's sexual interests has yet to be told," one source said.

(Via Glenn Reynolds, who also references Spitzer in the context of "kicks.")

I share the sex worker's sense of relief that Spitzer wasn't difficult. (Although I'm not sure that the many companies and individuals he prosecuted would agree.)

Beyond that, I really and truly don't want to know what toys he was into, much less what he did with them. I'm all for any governor's pleasure enhancement -- whether difficult or easy, and with or without toys -- as long as I don't have to pay for it. But if he was using taxpayer dollars to line his toy chest [CAUTION: very work-unsafe picture], that's when it's time to draw a hard line. At the very least, I'd impose a stiff fine.

I realize that saying this as someone who thinks prostitution should be legalized might make me look like a hypocritical libertarian.

But as the saying goes, hard cases make bad law.

Actually, in an earlier post about sex toys, I argued that "bad cases make hard law." Same difference (although Spitzer probably ought to avoid judges like the one I mentioned, lest his toys be confiscated and never seen again).

posted by Eric at 04:09 PM | Comments (3)



A bitch who prefers a cackling tone...
...singling out Clinton's voice as horrible necessarily invokes the woman-specific sexist context, even if that is not your intent.
So says the common-sense-challenged Melissa McEwan, regarding a political souvenir pen that plays the famous Hillary Clinton laugh. Adds McEwan,
So if you're inexorably compelled to criticize Hillary's voice, just know that you've got to own the sexist context, too.
To which Ann Althouse replies,
Look, we make fun of male candidates. We joke around about how they look and sound and it's often unfair and unrelated to their qualifications for office. It's part of the vivid debate we have in America. We don't have to pull back and tone it down because a woman (or a black person) is running. The candidates are seeking vast power. We should be irreverent and unafraid.

McEwan apparently means to be a good feminist by saying things they teach you to say in Women's Studies class, hushing and chiding us, and grasping after moral high ground with vague references to "history," but this notion that a powerful woman needs special protection from the full force of political debate -- with all its vicious mockery -- is not good for women. It may be stupid or unfair to judge a candidate by her laugh, but to cry sexism is lame.

Not only is it lame, it sets up a horrendously unfair double standard. What if the perpetrators of the ridicule are themselves women? Are they sexists too? And suppose a man's voice is being mocked? Why isn't that just as sexist?

As regulars may remember, I downloaded the Hillary Clinton cackle, set it as the ring tone in my cell phone, and played it for Coco. I don't know how impressed she was, but she is female, and she prefers female humans to male humans.

Once again, here's Coco reacting to the Hillary cackle:

Melissa McEwan, are you calling my bitch a sexist?

On what basis?

Or am I the one who's accused of sexism for downloading the ring tone and playing it for Coco? Why? As it happens, I did exactly the same thing with Mitt Romney's laugh. So what? I didn't support Romney and I can't stand Hillary. And I laughed at both their laughs. Will someone explain why I am sexist only for ridiculing Hillary's laugh, but not Romney's? By this logic I guess I'd be racist if I made Coco listen to a Barack Obama ring tone.

Sheesh.

While this is almost enough to make me lose my sense of humor, at least I can say that the ostensibly feminist champions of a humor-free society haven't gotten to Coco. Here's a picture I took this picture of her just an hour ago:

cocospringsmile.jpg

(Clearly having the last laugh....)

MORE: Regarding the race issue, Glenn Reynolds links Ann Althouse's post, adding that "mocking Obama is always racist, no matter how mockable he may be." (So says the Obama campaign.)

And Rick Moran's post about Obama's friendship with Ayers ("in the Age of Terror... our President being on a first name basis with an unrepentant terrorist is probably a bad example to set") reminded me that every Republican should hope this unelectable man is the nominee, and the rational strategy is to vote for him to the extent possible. My worry, as I've said many times, is that Hillary can still beat him, and that in the course of the battle with Obama she'll come out smelling more like a centrist than ever before.

(Which would really give her something to cackle over....)

If there is a Republican argument for Hillary based on strategy, I'm all ears.

posted by Eric at 03:11 PM | Comments (2)



Lest We Forget

Further eco-folly from long ago, a few Paul Ehrlich quotes for your enjoyment. The first is from 1970...

I'm scared. I have a 14 year old daughter whom I love very much. I know a lot of young people, and their world is being destroyed. My world is being destroyed. I'm 37 and I'd kind of like to live to be 67 in a reasonably pleasant world, and not die in some kind of holocaust in the next decade.

Actually, he'll be 76 on May 29th. Meanwhile, back in 1974 he had this to say...

There are, indeed, "hard times a-coming." Even if there is no final boom and bust, the economic world of the near future will be a very different place from that of today...

The vast diversity of businesses that manufacture and distribute the goods of our "cowboy" economy will have largely disappeared.

Most of the Japanese firms that today shower us with electronic gadgets will have gone defunct as Japan's situation deteriorates, and the higher costs of necessities will have so reduced demand for television sets, radios, tape decks, and the like that few new firms will have entered the market.

Similarly, a wide array of non-essentials, from convenience foods to recreational vehicles, will have largely vanished...

Probably before 1985, a general recognition of the changed economic status of the nation will lead to a stock-market collapse even more severe than the one that preceded the onset of the depression of the 1930s....it is very likely that before the end of the century the stock market, as we know it, will disappear as a factor in the lives of individuals...

The most unnecessary, wasteful, and antisocial activities-such as the packaging and bottling industries, some kinds of weapons, aircraft, cheap plastic products, etc.-are likely to be eliminated either in a conventional depression or the real energy crunch.

Just one more? Please? I'll keep it really short.

"I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000."
posted by Justin at 11:33 AM | Comments (4)



Wing nut joins the ring nuts. (A classical advance in science!)

For years now, ordinary lay people have been beaten down and subjected to "ringing" indictments of human activity by "scientific experts" who claim to know everything about past climates by reading tree rings. In a manner reminiscent of (and at least as accurate as) the ancient Romans' practices of auguring and divining, they have determined that man has heated up the planet to record levels, and that in the very near future, cities will be flooded, tropical pythons will be living in New Jersey, all the fish will die, etc.

Of course, right-wing spoil sports like me are fond of advancing claims that this, um, methodology, has been substantially called into question (also see Steven Milloy's "Tree Ring Circus").

But now it turns out that the 5000 year cutoff presumption (supposedly there are no trees older than that) is wrong.

What happened is that a particularly stubborn and recalcitrant Swedish tree, age 9500, has defied the overwhelming scientific consensus and lent support to the right wing agenda. That's because its existence demonstrates that it was a lot warmer (and a lot earlier) than the AGWOSC community claims.

The world's oldest tree has been found in Sweden, a tenacious spruce that first took root just after the end of the last ice age, more than 9,500 years ago.

The tree has rewritten the history of the climate in the region, revealing that it was much warmer at that time and the ice had disappeared earlier than thought.

[...]

It had been thought that this region was still in the grip of the ice age but the tree shows it was much warmer, even than today

Via Noel Sheppard, who adds,
....summers in Sweden were not only much warmer 9,500 years ago than the consensus view used to be, but ALSO warmer than today...even after all that awful carbon dioxide that man has released into the atmosphere in the past couple of centuries.

Yes, I'm sure media will be all over this story in the coming days...not!

According to the conventional tree ring circus wisdom, though, this living tree is a liar. (At the very least, it is living in an intolerable state of denial.)

Likewise, according to overwhelming scientific logic, it necessarily follows that if the tree's age lies in defiance of scientific wisdom, then surely its rings must also be lying. That's because only scientific trees tell the truth. And only scientific trees obey the Precautionary Principle.

That is, when their rings are properly interpreted by top scientists like Michael "Hockey Stick" Mann!

Mann_explains_treemometer.jpg

All hail the rings of trees!

But alas! Occasionally, there are times in this blog when I have to admit that I've been negligent in upholding the values I claim to cherish, and I'm afraid this is one of them. By my failure to engage in divining and auguring as I should have, I have been severely remiss in my obligations.

Now, while I might be (and have been) willing to analyze some animal entrails as the Romans did, it just so happens that because there's no roadkill handy nearby, I'm literally lacking in guts! Besides, I'm not sure my readers really wish to scrutinize gruesome pictures of possum innards. Moreover, the theme of this post involves plants, not animals, and rings, not guts.

Nor am I willing to rent a chainsaw and cut down one of my trees simply to entertain and enlighten readers. Not only would that cost money and be bad for the environment of my yard, but it would be too much work. (Plus it would upset Coco to no end.)

However, I do have a lovely specimen of Allium cepa, which, by the grace of the gods, just happened to be sitting in a plastic bag inside my refrigerator! Even more remarkably, it had already been cut in such a way that the rings were clearly revealed.

To accomplish my divination, all I needed to do was take a picture, and fearlessly read the rings!

goreonion3.jpg

My classical mission is accomplished. And it didn't take much guts.

(Well, maybe a little Gore....)

MORE: Missing from the above picture was Bill Clinton's onion ring. That's because Hillary wouldn't let him have it, of course.

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



It Is To Laugh

Doug Kmiec writing at Slate says he is an Obama supporter. He also gives evidence that he is a Republican. He actually has reasons or rationalizations or a rich fantasy life. Come to your own conclusions.

Today I endorse Barack Obama for president of the United States. I believe him to be a person of integrity, intelligence, and genuine good will. I take him at his word that he wants to move the nation beyond its religious and racial divides and that he wants to return the United States to that company of nations committed to human rights.
Twenty years of church going with his mentor Reverend God Damn AmeriKKKa has prepared Obama for this historic role. And Doug, about taking politicians at their word. They have a name for people like that. Born Yesterday. Straight off the Boat. A mark.
In various ways, Sen. Barack Obama and I may disagree on aspects of these important fundamentals, but I am convinced, based upon his public pronouncements and his personal writing, that on each of these questions he is not closed to understanding opposing points of view and, as best as it is humanly possible, he will respect and accommodate them.
Yeah Doug, but what has he actually DONE that convinces you? You know a politicians job is to be good with words so as to pull the wool over the eyes of the rubes. Actions speak louder than words. Well OK. I'm stupid. I'll go for words. Care to quote me from one of his pieces from the Harvard Law Review when he was at Harvard or during his tenure on the Law Review? Can't do that Doug? Why not? Oh, Obama didn't write one single article or comment in the Law review? All he had was his name on the mast head? Well there is prestige in that.
As Americans, we must voice our concerns for the well-being of our nation without partisanship when decisions that have been made endanger the body politic. Our president has involved our nation in a military engagement without sufficient justification or a clear objective. In so doing, he has incurred both tragic loss of life and extraordinary debt jeopardizing the economy and the well-being of the average American citizen. In pursuit of these fatally flawed purposes, the office of the presidency, which it was once my privilege to defend in public office formally, has been distorted beyond its constitutional assignment.
So there is the crux of it Doug doesn't like the war in Iraq. After all it has served no useful purpose except to be a Roach Motel for jihadis. Nothing useful there.
Sept. 11 and the radical Islamic ideology that it represents is a continuing threat to our safety, and the next president must have the honesty to recognize that it, as author Paul Berman has written, "draws on totalitarian inspirations from 20th-century Europe and with its double roots, religious and modern, perversely intertwined. ... wields a lot more power, intellectually speaking, then naïve observers might suppose." Sen. Obama needs to address this extremist movement with the same clarity and honesty with which he has addressed the topic of race in America. Effective criticism of the incumbent for diverting us from this task is a good start, but it is incomplete without a forthright outline of a commitment to undertake, with international partners, the formation of a worldwide entity that will track, detain, prosecute, convict, punish, and thereby stem radical Islam's threat to civil order. I await Sen. Obama's more extended thinking upon this vital subject as he accepts the nomination of his party....
Sen. Obama needs to address this extremist movement with the same clarity and honesty with which he has addressed the topic of race in America.

Well maybe he can go to the reverend God Damn AmeriKKKa for advice on what to do. After all Barack Hussein Obama could not disown him on the race question. Maybe Uncle God Damn, his good friend Calypso Louis Farrakhan and their buddy Momar Kadafi could help with answers to the most important questions of our time.

Don't read the whole thing. It is a waste of time.

Why do I subject myself to such suffering you ask? It is my lot in life.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 05:20 AM | Comments (4)




What Is It About Obama?
Obama Out Of Touch


Obama says I can take that punk Indiana. He ain't nothin.
NEW ALBANY, Ind. - In a state he has called a potential "tiebreaker," Sen. Barack Obama on Wednesday predicted victory in the Indiana primary, despite an electorate that closely mirrors states where he has recently suffered sizable losses.

The day after Sen. Hillary Clinton easily beat him in Pennsylvania, Obama set high expectations for himself in the two May 6 primaries in Indiana and North Carolina.

I predict he will get hammered again. This really puts the Ds on the horns of a dilemma. Barry O is damaged goods but, if they don't give him the nod they destroy the party (not to mention the Convention Center in Denver). That has got to hurt.



posted by Simon at 06:06 PM | Comments (4)



Bob Barr's borderline Libertarianism

If you're one of those people who has already dismissed the idea of Bob Barr's Libertarian Party candidacy being a serious threat to the GOP, check out Martha Zoller's thought-provoking piece at Pajamas Media. Barr seems to have learned a thing or two from the previous joke candidates:

One of the big stumbling blocks for old-time Libertarians was their view on open borders. In light of the existence of the nanny state in America today as well as a less than free market impeded by regulation, Barr is taking a more forward view than the Libertarian Party now professes on illegal immigration. He believes there must be border security but doesn't support a fence. In addition, he believes it is an issue of sovereignty. Libertarians have acknowledged that in a perfect world involving a free market and personal responsibility, an open border is not a threat because you have to make your own way. But this is not a perfect world and Barr's position on border security may play well with many voters.

There are many reasons why people decide to run as alternative party candidates. Sometimes it's to sell a book, get notoriety, or work to further an issue. Few candidates run with the idea they can win the presidency. However, if there is any election in recent years where an alternative candidate can make a difference, it is this one. The Republicans have their candidate. The Democrats are still tearing themselves apart. But there is still money out there for a candidate tap. Many people thought Ron Paul was a fringe candidate, but you can't deny his following and ability to raise money. This year a strong third party candidate could really muck things up.

I'd love nothing more than for Zoller to be wrong, and for Rhodium Heart's comment here -- which in turn launched this post -- to be right.

In any case, I still think Barack Obama will do more to unite the Republican Party than Bob Barr will to divide it.

posted by Eric at 02:54 PM | Comments (8)



Satan weighs in

By "Satan" I of course mean the left's favorite Satan, in the form of Karl Rove (author of every last sinister scheme to disrupt, divide, and destroy the Democrats -- the recent "Crash the Convention" plot being a perfect example).

Today, Rove fiendishly offers the Democrats free advice on Barack Obama's candidacy, in a WSJ piece provocatively titled "Is Obama Ready for Prime Time?" (Hint: that's a rhetorical question.)

Citing numerous problems with Obama, from the "bitter" remarks to the preacher who says AIDS is government genocide, to problems with blue-collar working class voters, to Obama's increasingly vanishing credibility, Rove concludes with observations about Obama's style, and some advice:

...He has been manifestly unwilling to expend his political capital on urgent issues. He has been only an observer, watching the action from a distance, thinking wry and sardonic and cynical thoughts to himself about his colleagues, mildly amused at their to-ing and fro-ing. He has held his energy and talent in reserve for the more important task of advancing his own political career, which means running for president.

But something happened along the way. Voters saw in the Philadelphia debate the responses of a vitamin-deficient Stevenson act-a-like. And in the closing days of the Pennsylvania primary, they saw him alternate between whining about his treatment by Mrs. Clinton and the press, and attacking Sen. John McCain by exaggerating and twisting his words. No one likes a whiner, and his old-style attacks undermine his appeals for postpartisanship.

Mr. Obama is near victory in the Democratic contest, but it is time for him to reset, freshen his message and say something new. His conduct in the last several weeks raises questions about whether, for all his talents, he is ready to be president.

Will this advice be followed? Of course not! Because it comes from Rove, it will be seen as deliberately disruptive, and regarded as about as trustworthy as advice coming from Rush Limbaugh (now pompously calling himself the "C.C-in-C USOC: Commander-in-Chief US, Operation Chaos").

The way the magic works is that by being Karl Rove and actually offering Obama and his supporters some very good advice, he pretty much guarantees that they will reject it! (Similarly, if Satan told a devout Christian to help an old lady cross the street, he'd probably respond by pushing her into oncoming traffic. Such reverse psychology is why the Communist Party went out of its way to work for integration in the segregated South, and it is one of the operative principles of culture wars.)

Hmmm....

Maybe I shouldn't be revealing Satan's secret here. I mean, what if an influential Democrat were to read this blog and tell his fellow Democrats how the Rove plan works?

That would be bad.

Or would it?

Only Satan knows for sure.....

posted by Eric at 12:53 PM | Comments (2)



Hillary's health plan?

From a silly AP story (that also attributes Hillary's lie about Bosnia to a lack of sleep):

For her part, Clinton is a veteran of her husband's back-to-back White House races and is keenly aware of the toll it takes on body and spirit. She, too, takes short naps on her plane and eats a steady diet of hot peppers, which she believes has helped her stave off illness. But she says she's getting very little exercise.
(Emphasis added.)

Really?

posted by Dennis at 10:38 AM | Comments (4)



The governor's daughter

The latest news blip involves a governor's daughter who was improperly awarded a master's degree she didn't earn:

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) -- Chastised for showing "seriously flawed" judgment in awarding the governor's daughter a master's degree she didn't earn, West Virginia University is weighing what must be done to recover from the scandal.

President Mike Garrison said late Wednesday it's unclear whether disciplinary action should be taken against the high-ranking academic officers who ordered a change in the academic records of Heather Bresch, daughter of Gov. Joe Manchin.

"West Virginia University is strong, and this process -- and our honest response to it, both from our office and the board of governors -- makes us stronger, and shows that we are a university whose governance is both shared and open," he said.

A panel led by two WVU faculty members issued a damning report Wednesday that said there was no academic foundation for retroactively granting Bresch a 1998 executive master's of business administration degree.

"Mistake was compounded by mistake. An unnecessary rush to judgment, spurred in some measure by an understandable desire to protect a valued alumna and to respond to media pressure, produced a flawed and erroneous result," the panel concluded.

The report does not conclude that Bresch did anything wrong in seeking clarification of her academic record. Nor does it directly fault Garrison, Bresch's longtime friend.

Blah blah blah blah blah.

I haven't checked, but I'm assuming the governor has to be a Democrat, because the piece doesn't say.

But I could be wrong, so I'll check right now.....

Oh yeah.

I'm confident that this won't be another Republican Party scandal.

posted by Eric at 10:11 AM | Comments (3)



Cheer up!

A friend emailed me some very happy thoughts (I'm being sarcastic), which are buried inside advice from a financial newsletter I found excerpted online:

The dollar will go to zero.
It doesn't matter, because nobody wants dollars anyway.
The US (the world) is entering a depression.
The international finance system is melting down.
The US is dying.
There will be a huge derivative explosion that will bankrupt all concerned.
We have too much domestic debt.
We have too much external debt.
We have no savings.
Our public education system is a disaster.
Our horrendous high school drop-out rate will lead to the US falling behind the Chinese and Indians.
The US is becoming a nation of obese and out-of-shape diabetics.
We don't make anything any more.
China will conquer the world.
The Russian will control all of Europe with their near-monopoly of oil and gas.
We've become the world's banker -- a bad idea.
We've become the world's policemen -- a bad idea.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are bankrupting us.
The Fed is pushing on a string.
Bernanke doesn't know what he's doing.
The boomers are becoming net sellers of assets to fund their retirement.
We are being overrun by immigrants.
Foreigners are buying up America.
Our children can't read or write.
We are morally bankrupt.
We are too dependent on imported oil.
Gas is heading for five dollars a gallon.
The western US is running out of water.
Social Security will implode.
There is not enough food to go around.
Global warming = global disaster.
Inflation.
Hyper-inflation.
Stagflation.
Deflation.
Depression.
Armageddon!
After looking at the stock and commodities markets, the author concludes by advising people to avoid stress.

Hmmm....

I guess that beats tackling it head-on.

Aside from quibbling with the many inaccuracies and dubious assumptions in the above list, my main complaint is that omits a leading human worry:

We're all* gonna die!

It puts the rest in perspective.


* I realize that there exists a sizable group of people who do not believe that they are going to die, but I would respectfully suggest that they're mistaken. (Some argue they're biblically incorrect.)

posted by Eric at 10:07 AM | Comments (2)



But I thought we were just voting for a nominee!

I thought I'd take another look at some hard Pennsylvania numbers.

I'll start with the Republican primary vote totals:

Republican Pres. Primary

(99% of vote)

John McCain. . . 587,168

Ron Paul. . . 128,467

Mike Huckabee. . . 91,423

Republican total. . . 807,058

Not that these low numbers mean much, but as a percentage of the total number of Republicans who voted for Bush in 2004 (2,793,847), the McCain/Paul/Huckabee combined vote total represents 28.8% of the 2004 GOP potential.

Compare the Democratic totals -- 1,260,072 (Clinton) plus 1,045,329 (Obama) for a total of 2,305,401 -- and divide that by Pennsylvania's 2004 Democratic (Kerry) vote (2,938,095), and you get a whopping 78.5% of the 2004 Democratic vote.

In the primary.

I'm only 53, but I have never heard of such a high turnout in any primary election.

The Republican low turnout is understandable, because after all, McCain is the known nominee, and it's pointless to vote. (Under these circumstances, the 200-plus thousand votes for Paul and Huckabee look especially ominous.)

I don't know what the political records are (or where they're kept), but the high Democratic turnout strikes me as nothing less than astounding.

Unless I am missing something, I think this means that Republicans face a serious problem in Pennsylvania. And if these numbers are similar elsewhere, may God help them to beat whoever the nominee is (and for the millionth time, I hope it is not Hillary).

No wonder people are treating the Obama Hillary race as if they're electing a president.

posted by Eric at 08:05 AM | Comments (4)



Crash The Convention - See You In St Paul
Crash the Convention - St. Paul


Jeff Gold of Stop Obama uses this picture to tell a story about what some folks are planning for the Democrat Convention in Denver and The Republican Convention in St. Paul.

I think it is part of Rove's secret plan to energize the Republican base despite the fact that there is a lot of bad blood between McCain and the base. There is nothing like a major street action to make them see where their interests lie.

posted by Simon at 07:14 AM | Comments (5)



Is Obama The Wright Issue In NC?


John McCain says that the North Carolina GOP should pull the "offensive advertisement". Wonderful John. Are you so stupid about the Internet that you fail to realize that such a call will only draw more attention to it?

Heh.

H/T Instapundit

posted by Simon at 12:04 AM | Comments (1)




What an elitist thing for me to say!
What's happening is an excellent argument for smoke filled rooms.
I can't believe I said that, but I did, in the heat of stress last night.

Right now it's looking pretty good.

Not just because I hate elections, and not just because this one is the biggest mess I've seen, but because regardless of who "wins," the whole game is idiotic. Parties are supposed to pick their own nominees, and the idea ought to be for the guys on the inside who know what they're doing to come up with whoever they think has the best chance of winning the general election, and who will hopefully be a credit to whatever the party believes in and wants to accomplish.

This pandering to various groups, to whoever screams the loudest in the primary, when anyone with common sense knows such people don't decide elections, is about as ridiculous as it would be for the employees of a company to elect the owner.

Does it matter that the old smoke-filled rooms brought us some of the greatest presidents the country has ever had?

Leftie blogger Jane Hamsher recently remarked on the irony that the smoke filled room principle is being rebadged as superdelegates "voting their conscience."

I just find it rather ironic that the same people who were quite recently whipping everyone into a frenzy about "deals in smoke filled back rooms" and the end of democracy are looking to that very process and having superdelegates "vote their conscience" in order to pull the party's bacon out of the fire.
I guess the assumption is that people who knew what they were doing under the old system were without conscience.

Such yearning for the past is by no means limited to the left. In 1999, some forgotten Bush aide actually said that smoke-filled rooms produced better candidates:

The old days of the smoke-filled rooms, says an aide, produced better candidates than the current primary process that has seen Lamar Alexander campaign nonstop for six years. "The genius of the old system was that people with the interests of the party at heart made decisions," the Bush aide argues. "They knew the guys' characters: He's got it, he doesn't. He's clean, he's a slimeball. Clinton wouldn't have got very far under that system."
Americans act as if they're stuck with the primary system, as if it's just part of American civics.

It isn't.

There's nothing in the Constitution requiring primary elections, and the modern system mainly arose because of activists who didn't get their way in the smoke filled rooms.

Personally, I kind of like the idea of activists not getting their way in smoke-filled rooms.

But then, I don't like activists, and I do like smoke filled rooms.

Must be elitism.

UPDATE: Speaking of superdelegates who might vote according to their consciences, Michael Barone looks at the potential peril they'd be in:

How would you like to be the superdelegate who casts, or is presented by the media as casting, the decisive vote? The vote that will determine whether Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee. The vote that will determine whether you are overriding the delegates elected by the people or whether you are overriding the people who have cast the votes. The vote that will determine whether the party rejects the first black with a serious chance to be elected president or the party rejects the first woman with a serious chance to be elected president.

Even to be part of a large group of superdelegates that is seen to have cast the decisive votes is to be in a position of political peril and the focus of furious discord. To be the single superdelegate seen as casting the decisive vote is to be in the position of the senator who cast the single decisive vote against the conviction and removal from office of President Andrew Johnson. He was not heard from again until John Kennedy wrote (or had ghostwritten for him) Profiles in Courage 87 years later. Which superdelegate wants to volunteer for that position or find himself or herself in it after a game of political musical chairs?

(Or Russian roulette....)

UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link, and for quoting from this post! A warm welcome to all.

Please keep in mind that I do not advocate smoke filled rooms merely as a way of resolving the current impasse, but rather as a way of avoiding such deep party divisions and strife. Hillary has high negatives and so does Obama. But notice the sudden appearance of Sam Nunn in the Obama campaign:

In a better world, Sam Nunn (or a David Boren) would have been the party's candidate for president. Such candidacies remain impossible under the iron law of Democratic primary politics: No centrist can secure the party's nomination in a primary system dominated by left-liberal activists. The iron law produces candidacies such as McGovern (1972), Mondale ('84), Dukakis ('88), Gore ('00) or Kerry ('04), who pay so many left-liberal obeisances to win in the primaries that they cannot attract sufficient moderates at the margins to win the general election.
Vice presidential prospects are still selected in by the older, better world of "smoke filled room" style politics -- the idea being to come up with someone who will broaden party appeal. I think there's much to be said for the method.

Comments welcome, agree or disagree.

posted by Eric at 05:49 PM | Comments (23)



Yes they can!

A good question from Mickey Kaus:

If Hillary Clinton is so convinced she can win, but she desperately needs money, can't she and her husband just write her campaign a check for, say, $20 million? $109 million - $20 million still leaves $89 million, no? ... Then she'd be on solid ground asking others to sacrifice for her candidacy as well. ...
(HT Glenn Reynolds.)

Well, I think the Clintons certainly can (write a check) because they have the money, and can more than afford it. I can only see two reasons why they won't spring for the money though (as Mitt Romney did when he was running).

Either they are greedy, or they are not entirely convinced that they can win. Or a little of both.

I think they can win, so the most likely explanation is greed.

(That and maybe a desire to avoid explaining the sources of their wealth.)

posted by Eric at 04:43 PM | Comments (4)



Pennsylvania and Ohio

I'm having trouble seeing much difference between them.

Not only are they right next to each other, they have similar population density (Ohio, with 11,353,140, is ranked 7th, while Pennsylvania, with 12,281,054, is 6th) similar geography (Pennsylvania is ranked 33rd with 46,055 square miles, and Ohio is ranked 34th with 44,825 square miles), and similar population density (Ohio is ranked 9th while PA is ranked 10th).

As to the Democratic Primary election numbers, here's Pennsylvania:

Clinton 1,237,696 (54.6%)
Obama 1,029,672 (45.4%)

Total Votes 2,267,638

State population 12,281,054 (18.46% of state total)

And here's Ohio:
Clinton 1,212,362 (54.6%)
Edwards 38,305 (1.72%)
Obama 982,489 (44.00%)

Total Votes 2,233,156

State population 11,353,149 (19.67% of state total)

The only difference is the rather insignificant Edwards factor.

If the Edwards vote is added to Obama vote, the total would be 1,020,794, and if the Edwards vote is added to Clinton vote, the total would be 1,250,667. (It's tough to say where the Edwards vote went, but I suspect that most went to Obama.)

Anyway, in terms of numbers, I'm not seeing any surprises. Whatever campaign events have unfolded since March (Obama's Wright speech, Hillary's Bosnia fabulism, Obama's Bittergate) seem to have helped or damaged both candidates equally.

Issue-wise, the main difference in Ohio seemed to involve who "opposed" NAFTA the most (and who got caught lying the most about it), and who would do a better job of answering the phone at 3:00 a.m.

I don't know whether the Pennsylvania numbers indicate a lower turnout than the numbers in Ohio, but if they do, that might be a clue to voter fatigue.

Otherwise, I'm not seeing much.

posted by Eric at 12:34 PM | Comments (0)



As heard on the Steve Gill Show

I was just a guest on Steve Gill's radio show discussing yesterday's Pennsylvania primary election, and I'd like to thank Steve (who also writes for Pajamas Media) and his producers for their hospitality, as well as the Pajamas Media reps who made this possible. (As I've pointed out before, I think I have a radio voice made for blogging, so I hope I did OK.....)

A warm welcome to new visitors who heard about this blog on the air.

Everyone else, be sure to check out the Steve Gill Show Website.

posted by Eric at 11:12 AM | Comments (0)



Keeping my selfish hope alive

Don't miss Rick Moran's analysis of yesterday's election.

Excerpt:

Hillary Clinton received 62% of the white vote. Barack Obama received 89% of the African American vote. The question facing superdelegates is: how can they run a candidate who loses the white vote by almost 2-1 in a state they absolutely must carry to win the election? And it wasn't just the voter's race that made a difference. Clinton ran up astonishing majorities in the mostly white, mostly rural counties in the northeast part of the state. In Luzerne county she received 75% of the vote. She got 70% of the vote in Wyoming county. Culturally conservative but economically moderate, these blue collar voters in places like Scranton and Wilkes-Barre were considered at one time "Reagan Democrats" - reliable Democratic voters when it came to candidates on the down ballot but Republican when voting for President. In recent elections, they have returned to the Democratic party in greater numbers and have given the party a victory in the state in every election since 1988.

These are the voters Barack Obama told his rich donor friends in San Francisco were "clinging" to religion and guns rather than voting what he feels are their economic interests. Indeed, Clinton bagged 58% of gun owners in the state while taking 58% of those who attend church weekly. Obama received 56% of the votes from those who never attend religious services.

Hillary is far more popular than Obama here in Pennsylvania, and not just with white people, but with working class people, middle income people, Catholics, and Jews.

The only groups he does well with are blacks, young people, the rich (incomes over $150,000), and the poor (below $15,000). Hardly a winning coalition.

My conclusion? There's only one I can draw definitively:

McCain would beat Obama hands down in Pennsylvania.

But could he beat Hillary?

For the umpteenth time, I'm seriously worried that he couldn't.

Once again, the Limbaugh crossovers should be careful what they wish for. Obviously, most Republicans simply prefer Hillary to Obama. There's nothing wrong with having such a preference (it's probably a no-brainer) but should it translate into helping Hillary get on the ballot?

I don't think so. Which is why I voted for Obama yesterday, and I hope I'll be able to vote against him in the fall.

But I'm worried that after yesterday's lesson, the Dems will soon wise up (there are plenty of signs they are), and it is increasingly unlikely that he will be the candidate.

Still, I can hope, can't I?

posted by Eric at 09:51 AM | Comments (4)



The hell with data! Where's our recession????

Quick, would someone please tell the Democrats that we're not in a recession?

I don't know who the candidate will be (and God help us if it's Hillary, because I'm not convinced McCain can beat her), but both Hill and O take it as an article of faith that we are in a recession, that it's all doom and gloom, that it's All Bush's Fault, that it's All Because of Iraq, and that therefore it All Boils Down To this rather silly "equation":

McCain = Iraq = Bush = Recession!

I put "equation" in quotes, of course, because emotions are neither facts no numbers.

While I wouldn't expect news which is emotionally unsatisfying to reach the front page of the paper, the business section of today's Inquirer.....

Sorry there.

I was just about to supply a link to some good economic news, but I can't. For whatever reason, today's otherwise normal-looking article by Mike Armstrong does not appear online, at least, not in any form I can locate.

According to the headline, it's good news:

Regional Data point upward

At least, I think that's good news. So where the hell is it? Today's column doesn't show up on the front page of the business section, nor not in Mike Armstrong's blog. Nor can I find it if I search the Inquirer.

And in specific searches, neither the first sentence -- "To the vast majority of people, it doesn't matter whether the United States is in a recession or not" -- nor the last -- "The recent data sure don't indicate a recession" turn up in the online edition of the paper.

Nor do they seem to appear online anywhere. A Google News search for "To the vast majority of people, it doesn't matter whether the United States is in a recession or not" yielded nothing, and similarly, a Web search failed.

Ditto the last sentence -- "The recent data sure don't indicate a recession." Nothing in News nor in a general Web search.

[If anyone else can find this stuff, please let me know. I couldn't. However, I don't have Lexis Nexis search capability.]

What gives here? Is there such a thing as selective news?

Do I have to constantly photograph or scan my newspaper to discuss what's in it? I mean, I will, but this sometimes gets to be a bit of a pain in the ass.

Anyway, here's the scan:

armstrongScan.jpg

And while my OCR software recoils at the task of pulling out words from gray text boxes, I was nonetheless able to convert the text, which appears below in full.

I'm no economist, but if "the good news" is that "the recent data sure don't indicate a recession," it ought to be reported.

I'm thinking, might there be a problem with the stubborn refusal of the economy to behave as it should and go into a recession in time for the election?

Is that why Armstrong's column is playing hide and seek?

I don't know, but the column reminded me of some gently sarcastic puzzlement expressed by leading economist Greg Mankiw the other day, when he linked the following chart:

industrial_production.png

That shows that the industrial production (a key measure of recessionary cycles) simply does not indicate a recession. If it did, we'd be in one of the gray bars.

Noted Mankiw (in what I think is a delicious understatement),

Someone forgot to tell the IP data that we're in a recession.
Someone is also forgetting to let the public in on the full economic news, and in an election!

I don't see why I should have to go into full teeth-pulling mode in this blog, but I will. I wish I could do this by means of a normal news link.

But what I'm having to do seems more like a news leak.

The worst thing about this is that I'm no more an economics blogger than I am a war blogger. However, I'm noticing a similar rule of reporting in both.

Bad news is good and good news is bad.

Oh the irony.

MORE: I am not arguing that the Philadelphia Inquirer (or any other newspaper) has a duty to make their stories available online. (Under the First Amendment, they can do whatever they want.) However, I think that when a highly relevant story about the economy appears in the print edition in a newspaper which is generally available online, it would be fair to treat it the same way other news stories are treated.

In any event, I thought it was highly newsworthy. So much so, that I decided to "report" it on my own.

UPDATE: Yay!

At 1:07 p.m. today, Mike Armstrong's column was posted, and it now appears in the Inquirer as a blog post titled "Could states' economies predict national recession?."

(Not the same title as "Regional Data point upward," but at least it's there....)

Continue reading "The hell with data! Where's our recession????"

posted by Eric at 09:21 AM | Comments (3)



Please Come To Denver


Jeff Gold of Stop Obama is discussing the plans of Recreate '68 to disrupt the Democrat convention in Denver in order to make sure Obama gets the nomination. A Brown Shirt operation.
...Obama supporters - lovers of popular democracy - are already threatening to tear down the Democratic Convention in Denver.

They call themselves "Recreate 68" (R68) and while they claim no association with Barack Hussein Obama, the facts speak otherwise:

1) Recreate 68's claim of being both against Obama and Clinton, is false. While there are no traces of "official Obama campaign" input into R68, an Anti-Clinton spirit predominates, and considerable R68 contingents are active in the official Obama campaign- with direct ties to influential Obama activists.

2) Leading R68 coalition members have both a history of harassing the Clinton Campaign, and pledging financial support for Obama.

3) Leading R68 organizers make explicit reference to stopping "superdelages" and emphasize a "fight against racism" and equally, the need to protest in Denver with "victims of racism". This obviously has nothing to do with Clinton, everything to do with Obama.

It might be a good idea to take a look at some of the Recreate '68 organizing principles.
2. To maintain solidarity with and respect the guidelines of all permitted activities, recognizing that there are many individuals who seek a safe and peaceful protest.
Implying of course that there are some who want violent protest. That should be great for news and blogging. I can't wait. A lot of leading bleeding.
6. Not to turn people over to the police, or share information with the police about other groups.
7. Not to publicly criticize the tactics used by other parts of our movement or cooperate with media efforts to be divisive or portray good protester/bad protester.
8. To publicly condemn police repression and brutality.
9. To be conscious that if violence or property destruction does occur, we will do what we can to help prevent it from being blown out of proportion and dominating the media coverage.
10. To remember that, when all is said and done, our greatest victory will be an activist community with a renewed sense of strength and unity.
I think we are starting to get a sense of what "community organizing" is all about. Say, wasn't Obama a community Organizer in his youth? Yes he was.

And what is all this Strength and Unity blather? I have a link to a nice letter from 1968 explaining the necessity of Strength and Unity. The letter is from Czechoslovakia.

Which brings us back to Jeff Gold.

"Recreate 68" seeks to recreate the spirit of the bloody Democratic National Convention of 1968 held in Chicago, and speaks with two heads. One head issues veiled threats to Denver authorities about inevitable conflict, another head claims it seeks to recreate not the blood of Chicago in 68, but the spirit of uprising and revolution permeating the globe in a year when Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were assassinated, Czechoslovakia saw its independence crushed, Paris was set a blaze by students, and Chicago became an American sideshow.
Well, that is the background. Jeff goes on at length, if you want to read more you know where to find him.

Now comes the second and possibly more interesting part of the story. Who is behind Recreate '68? Is there an Obama connection?

I stated previously, no evidence of official Obama campaign input into R68 exists. What we do possess, is evidence of R68 output into the Obama campaign. A clear relationship exists between those preparing disruptions in Denver, and those who support Obama. This explains why the disruptions R68 plans in Denver, will be minimal if Obama is elected, and maximum if he is not.

While R68 organizers claim neutrality in the Democratic Contest- by their own irrational admissions - if Clinton secures the Party Nomination, they promise 50,000 protesters. If Obama gets the nod, anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 max.

Well at this point that is Jeff's opinion. Let's see if he can back that up with sources.
If Hillary gets the nomination, we're going to have very large numbers -- a solid 50,000 people at every event," said organizer Glenn Spagnuolo. [politico]

If Hillary Clinton gets the Democratic presidential nomination, street protests at the party's national convention in Denver would number 50,000 people [source]
From my amateurish survey of R68's organization forces, their alliances, and their activists, a Clinton victory would provide them with a minimum 50,000 protesters. The reasons are plenty, and include Code Pink.

Jeff goes on at length to point out how anti-Hillary Code Pink is.

Then he gets to the heart of the matter.

For an openly pro-Obama and virulently anti-Clinton organization, to join in an effort to recreate the malaise of Chicago's 1968 Convention, amounts to extortion of the DNC; it is fascist, in its reliance on fear and violence.

R68 amounts to a strong-arming lf the DNC to submit the Party's Nomination decision not to the party or its vote, but to a vocal, and militant fascist minority!

It's as if Hamas regularly held rallies on Obama's behalf, contributed to his campaign, and then threatened to participate in uprisings against the DNC if Obama doesn't secure the nomination!

Say. Didn't Hamas endorse Obama? Yes they did.

And there is more.

The last, and potentially most powerful organizations which has yet to declare interest in R68, but is part of R68 networks and has been communicating a similarly militant message of confrontation for over half a year, is non other than MoveOn.

MoveOn, was behind the creation of the Color of Change (CoC), has involved both itself and the CoC, along with the League of Young Voters, in a gigantic coalition to indirectly promote Youth Participation, a message consistently appearing in R68's main communication channel - the Guerrilla News Network "RedPill" publication!

So far, MoveOn has yet to formally endorse R68, but placing militant banners on R68's flagship newspaper, is already a call to action. The message reads:

Nobody Is Going To Give You Anything, You Have to Take It

You know what I'm predicting? Like all mobs this one will be beyond the control of its organizers. In other words Blood In The Streets™.

As Stephen Green said in his post on the Pennsylvania election results.

The Democrats' process is designed to give everyone "a voice." Not a win, not a candidate, but "a voice." Unless, of course, the unelected and unaccountable "superdelegates" capriciously choose to strip the people of their voice. In which case, you know, too bad. What the Democratic primaries don't do -- what they seemed designed to put off doing -- choosing a nominee for the office of the President of the United States of America.

And for that, every pundit drawing a paycheck can be thankful. I raise my glass to Obama, to Clinton, to Howard Dean, to the DNC, and to every "bevoiced" Democrat across this great land of ours.

May they long be confused, and may the nation (or at least my paycheck) long prosper for it.

So would some one please Show Me The Money?

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 06:18 AM | Comments (2)



Passing The Smell Test

Anxiety Insights reports that the inability to identify odors may be an indication of severe PTSD.

A world first study of Vietnam veterans' sense of smell has revealed that an inability to identify smells indicates extreme symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Researchers from the University of Melbourne and Austin Health conducting smell tests on 31 male war veterans with PTSD, recruited from Austin Health's Veterans Psychiatry Unit.

"The worse their ability to be able to name a smell, in a smell test of over 40 'scratch and sniff' odors, the harder it is to manage their emotions," said John Dileo of the University's School of Behavioral Science, who conducted the study.

Dileo says that the difficulty Vietnam veterans suffering PTSD have in putting the name to a smell may be indicative of weakness in brain pathways related to emotional processing. He says the same areas in the frontal region of the brain that are involved in identifying smells are also involved in regulating emotion.

Of course a sample size of 31 is not very definitive. It is about the smallest sample size where Gaussian statistics apply. The results are interesting and definitely warrant a larger study.

There is a connection between the amygdala, smell, and memory.

Here is something I wrote a while back on the connection between the amygdala, PTSD, and fear memories. PTSD and the Endocannabinoid System. Here is one about PTSD Pot Alcohol & Substance Abuse.

We are really closing in on PTSD. I think a time will come when we realize the utter stupidity of making war on the self medicating.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 05:37 AM | Comments (3)



Some One Is Hacking Stop-Obama.Org

The site is up now. You can read a report of the hack at StopObama.Org.

My guess? The Democrats at StopObama must be causing the Obama folks a lot of pain.

posted by Simon at 12:44 AM | Comments (0)




Getting Ready For The Next One

Spengler at The Asia Times is taking a look at the world food crisis and sees it as a monetary phenomenon. He has charts and graphs. I think he is right.

The global food crisis is a monetary phenomenon, an unintended consequence of America's attempt to inflate its way out of a market failure. There are long-term reasons for food prices to rise, but the unprecedented spike in grain prices during the past year stems from the weakness of the American dollar. Washington's economic misery now threatens to become a geopolitical catastrophe.

Months ago, I offered that China, Russia and other cash-rich nations held the antidote to the incipient credit crisis: "If the US wants to remain the magnet for world capital flows it became during the 1990s, it will have to allow the savers of the world to become partners in the US economy, that is, to buy into its first-rank companies."(Western grasshoppers and Chinese ants, Asia)

Except we are not letting them become partners by buying assets.
No such thing occurred, of course, as Washington has made it clear that it would not allow sovereign funds to own the likes of Citicorp. What are the world's investors doing with the trillion dollars a year they used to invest in American securities, including subprime derivatives and various forms of collateralized obligations that turned out to have more obligation than collateral? They aren't buying American companies because they are not permitted to. They are buying food and other stores of value instead.
Spengler thinks that this will end the run of the dollar as the world's reserve currency.

I think Spengler, who is usually so astute has missed the boat on this one. As he points out the normal way inflation is sopped up is the purchase of productive assets. A call on future production. Since in its wisdom, the US Government (yes it is true - a case of wise government) will not allow the purchase of major assets, the only thing left to sop up all those dollars is production.

Where does that lead? More investment in productive capacity. Leading to even lower cost production than the currency imbalance would indicate. It then becomes a virtuous cycle. As the dollar rises due to all the production being absorbed, the production prices do not go up as fast as straight monetary calculations would indicate.

By dumping dollars these folks (who are taking a short term view and panicking) have outsmarted themselves.

BTW the same thing is happening in oil. Productive capacity is rising but people are buying oil like crazy with dollars as a way to store value. Gasoline inventories in the US are rising. And what happens when the tanks are full? The excess buying stops. What happens to prices then? Look for big declines in the price of oil once the buyers run out of dollars.

H/T LarryD by e-mail.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

Instalanched. Thanks Glenn!

posted by Simon at 10:41 PM | Comments (5)



Cuckoo


HT a friend

posted by Simon at 09:06 PM | Comments (0)



Pennsylvania -- broken machines and waiting....

Well the polls have closed and it's now time to watch the returns.

So far, it's too early to tell anything. (Yeah, Drudge and others have reported various exit polls saying it's too close to call, but I try to ignore them.)

First thing I heard on CNN confirmed that the voting machine irregularity I saw this morning was no isolated incident.

Broken machines are reported all over the state.

Stay tuned....

MORE: In other news, via Glenn Reynolds I see that Bill Clinton is complaining that they played the Race Card on him. (No he did! Yes he didn't!)

Sigh.

If only McCain could play the Rice Card.

08:37 -- finally some raw numbers:

Clinton 1629 Obama 819. (67% to 33%)

8:47 -- With one percent of the vote in, Fox News has called it for Hillary Clinton.

Hey that was easy!

8:50 -- Now Fox is explaining how Hillary won. With 3% of the vote in, that was fast too!

8:52 -- CNN isn't calling it for Hillary. She's now ahead 55-45.

I guess that makes for a little suspense, even if they have to fake it.

8:53 -- Now it's 53-47.

8:59 -- Don't miss Stephen Green's drunkblogging at PJM.

9:00 -- The Philadelphia vote is only 54-46 for Obama. (CNN says this is a bad sign for him, and I agree.)

9:03 -- Right now the state totals are 52-48 for Hillary. Nope, now it's back to 53-47, and CNN is now projecting that Hillary Clinton is the winner.

I think I'll join Stephen and have a Martini....

9:19 -- It's 54 to 46, Hillary.

Pretty close to the double digits she needs.

9:20 -- No sooner did I say that when the numbers switched to 52 - 48.

9:30 -- At this point, the numbers are Hillary leading 179,824 (53%) to
Obama's 162,436 (47%).

9:39 -- An interesting statistic here:

If Obama does win the nomination, a quarter of Pennsylvania Democrats voting today say they'd either support Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., or sit out the contest entirely; if Clinton's the nominee, one in six say they'd either vote for McCain or sit it out.
I can tell you one thing; if the election were only being held in Pennsylvania, McCain would need to be running against Obama to win.

9:53 -- I see that Hillary is winning by huge margins in blue collar and "red state" areas. I also noticed that Hillary seemed to be working harder, and making more appearances in those areas. While she was doing this, Obama was doing things like raising money in San Francisco -- where he bad mouthed the very people he should have been trying to win over.

It's almost a lesson in how to lose.

10:07 -- Hillary is now being introduced by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.

Smart move.

10:15 -- Following Nutter was PA Governor Ed Rendell, who introduced Hillary.

And now it's her turn....

The crowd is ecstatic, and they're chanting "YES SHE WILL!" and now Hillary is talking about her grandfather, and the dreams of Pennsylvanians like that who she carries. She's fighting for everyone who's paying for mortgages, high price of gas, etc.

The crowd loves it, and now she's congratulating Obama.

The women who were born before women had the right to vote, little girls who have hope....

Now she says she needs money to fight big money Obama.

More chanting.

She is very energized and it's a good speech (even if I can do without listening to her voice).

10:24 -- Now she's mentioning Earth Day, with clean renewable green jobs for all.

Ugh. I don't think I can take eight years of this.

Now it's health care.

A bigger UGH!

Why the relentless push for socialism?

I fear that the chief difference between Hillary and Obama is that she might be better able to implement this awful stuff, but he's just words.

10:29 -- She's now thanking Nutter, Rendell, Sestak, and Murtha. And her family. Her brothers Tony and Hugh, and her mother.

"A lot of work ahead."

I'll say.

10:31 -- Question isn't whether we can, but whether we will!

"My answer to any who doubt is, YES WE WILL!"

"Best speech I've ever heard her give!" exclaims Fox pollster Frank Luntz.

(I wonder what he'll say after the coronation.)

10:46 -- Now it's Barack Obama in Evansville, IN. He's thanking the Mayor and John Mellencamp, and "the hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians who have stood in our camp." Closed the gap.

Lots more speechifying. He's saying it's easy to get caught up in the distractions and the bickering.....

(I am sick of this election, OK? Can I say that?)

We are here because....

of the more than 100 workers in Logansport, IN.

We are here because of a young man without insurance.

We are here because there are families all across the country who can't pay their insurance and their mortgage.

We are here not here to talk about change for change's sake, but because families need it.

We are here because we can't play the same games....

Now he's knocking McCain for not being about change.

Iraq, war with no exit, etc.

Distracted us from Afghanistan.....

(Can I yawn now?)

Tax cuts offend his conscience. (Well, tax hikes offend more than that...)

10:58 -- Stephen Green:

Eight points is pretty clear and quite convincing -- that Hillary will go on, that Obama is a great pitch man but a lousy closer, and that the Democratic nominating process is dysfunctional at best and bipolar at worst.

Clinton can't quit now, not with Obama showing certain weaknesses with Democratic voters and near-fatal weaknesses with the general electorate. Keep in mind, voters want change, and voters in economically-distressed Pennsylvania more than most. But with them, Obama was either the wrong kind of change, not enough change -- or maybe too much change.

Stephen also comments on why this will go on and on.

What's happening is an excellent argument for smoke filled rooms.

11:02 -- Obama says his wife reminds him he's not a perfect man, and won't be a perfect president. (No, not at the rate he's going, he won't.)

The status quo will fight. You have the power.

(Right now, I'm thinking he will not make the mistake of another overly long speech, which is good, because I'm tired and grouchy and fed up with blogging this.)

Now it's our turn! If we shed cynicism, doubts, fears, we'll change the country and change the world. That's our job, that's our task.

With that I'm signing off. Enough is eventually enough.

ONE LAST THING -- On Fox News, Laura Ingraham just boasted that Rush Limbaugh was a major factor in Hillary's victory.

I don't know how true that is, but Hillary has some strange allies....

posted by Eric at 08:12 PM | Comments (4)



Having it and not eating it too?

I sent out this link in an email earlier, remarking lackadaisically that Hillary had eaten a cheesesteak in nearby Conshohocken (while Obama ate at a diner in Pittsburgh).

When I was reminded in a reply of the possible hazards of cheesesteaks (in particular, that a human being is supposed to "lose two weeks of life for each cheesesteak consumed"), I went back to the report to read it more carefully.

Sure enough, it does not actually say that Hillary ate the cheesesteak; only that she "picked up" one:

The former first lady greeted voters at a polling place in Conshohocken, in suburban Philadelphia. She also visited a local restaurant there and picked up a Philly cheesesteak.
A cheesesteak pickup? That could mean a lot of things, couldn't it? Hillary travels with the Secret Service, and is always accompanied by a stunningly beautiful "body person" - a mysterious Mideastern woman named Huma. The latter is as skinny as a rail, and it wouldn't surprise me if one of her jobs is to keep an eye on Hillary's figure.

Now come on! I'm not insinuating anything here. Any readers who think I am must have dirty minds!

I'm just saying, you know, with all the talk of elitism in this race, that the locals in Philly have a right to know whether Hillary ate that cheesesteak, and wasn't just putting on an act by pretending to be like the "little people" around here.

Despite the fact that it concerns little people, though this is no small matter. Some may recall that in 2004, John Kerry committed a horrendous Philadelphia cheesesteak gaffe by daring to order one with Swiss cheese!

During the 2004 presidential campaign, candidate John Kerry ordered a cheesesteak with Swiss cheese in South Philadelphia. According to the Philadelphia Daily News, "reporters snickered," because "in Philadelphia, ordering Swiss on a cheesesteak is like rooting for Dallas at an Eagles game. It isn't just politically incorrect; it could get you a poke in the nose."[12]

Needless to say, he lost.

Kerry cheesesteak.jpg

And in 2005, Mitt Romney despicably declared the cheesesteak to have "no nutritive value":

In 2005, before Super Bowl XXXIX, Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney turned down a cheesesteak wager by Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell in the traditional pre-Super Bowl bet between leaders of the states represented in the game. Rendell later told reporters, "He said the cheesesteak had no nutritional value."

And we know what happened to him, don't we? It might not have the nutritive value that multimillionaires and health-conscious models from the Mideast crave, but around here, it's what people eat, and by any standard, it certainly has political value.

Obviously, cheesesteaks are very dangerous. Certainly, more dangerous than I initially realized when I saw the breaking news reports about Hillary's.

I decided to look further, and sure enough, the story of Hillary's cheesesteak is being reported all over the country (if not the world).

Yet the details of what she did with it are simply nowhere to be found.

Newsday reports that she "bought" one:

She dropped by a polling place in Montgomery County in suburban Philadelphia, stopped by a diner and bought a cheesesteak before launching a round of satellite TV interviews.
The LA Times says she "ordered" one:
Campaigning outside Philadelphia, Clinton ordered a cheese steak at a restaurant as she continued her assault against Obama, brushing aside the suggestion that she has to score a big win today to remain competitive.
NPR comes close to implying that Hillary ate it -- describing her as "stopping" for one:
New York Sen. Hillary Clinton has spent the day so far making numerous campaign visits - even stopping for a mid-morning cheese steak -- in Montgomery County, a collection of Philadelphia suburbs that only recently became overwhelmingly Democratic.
Finally, I found a genuine clue at MSNBC -- that she ordered it "to go":
After the press conference, Clinton visited a nearby restaurant where she ordered a Philly cheese steak to go.
To go?

Uh oh.

This looks bad. Not one story says that Hillary ate a cheesesteak. Ever.

Look for yourself!

I'm smelling a big, cheesy scandal.

DISCLOSURE: I grew up in the Philadelphia area eating cheesesteaks. I still do.

Yo Hillary! Better come clean!

(At least Kerry ate his.)


MORE: Photographic evidence that she did in fact carry it out:

clinton_phillysteak_042208.jpg

UPDATE (04/23/08): Only in today's Inquirer did I learn that Obama engaged in an act of conspicuous consumption, and not only ordered, but sat down and ate his cheesesteak:

Obama got his obligatory dose of cheesesteak at a South Philadelphia landmark, Pat's King of Steaks at Ninth and Wharton Streets.

Along with his wife, he worked his way through the crowd to the counter, where he ordered two cheesesteaks, with onions. "Whiz with," Michelle Obama chimed in. (History: John Kerry infamously ordered his cheesesteak with Swiss.)

The couple sat down with a startled Charles McDermot of Roxborough and his daughter Ariel, 16. Obama had to fold his long frame to get under a bolted-down red plastic bench, at a bolted-down red plastic table, underneath the sidewalk overhang.

With the throng of cameras leaning over their shoulders, Obama and his wife tried to talk to their lunch companions. "We don't want to have Cheez Whiz dripping from our mouths," Obama said.

He ate all of the sandwich, then dipped into some French fries and opened a bottle of water. After taking a sip, he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.

"Do I have cheesesteak in my teeth?" he asked McDermot.

What a study in contrast!

(But it's too late to affect the results....)

posted by Eric at 06:37 PM | Comments (1)



how many buts does anyone need?

For some time now, I've been trying to figure out what would motivate a Republican to cross party lines and vote for Hillary even if he thought that Hillary would have a better chance of beating McCain than Obama.

I have tended to assume that hatred of McCain or wanting the GOP to lose would be the only possible reasons, but it finally dawned on me that there might be an additional reason.

There may be Republicans who don't mind having McCain lose to Hillary if that were the price that had to be paid for preventing the possibility of an Obama presidency. Thus, this group may be voting for Hillary for entirely different reasons than commonly believed -- i.e., not to save the Republican party from defeat, but to save America from Obama.

While this might be a form of strategy, is it reasonable to call it a Republican strategy?

Does anyone know of any crossover voters thinking this way? I don't think I'm just imagining them as there's this bumpersticker:

ABO.JPG

Wherever they are and whoever they may be, if Obama's the nominee at least McCain won't have to worry about them sitting it out.

It has to be remembered, though, that in politics, nothing is permanent. Rick Santorum, for example, was long known as an "Anyone But McCain" man. Until yesterday, that is. Now he's explaining "Why conservatives should support McCain."

Why? Because McCain is not only Anyone But Obama, he's also Anyone But Hillary!

posted by Eric at 03:33 PM | Comments (5)



When lemmings pounce!
It is unknown why lemming populations fluctuate with such variance roughly every four years, before plummeting to near extinction.

-- Wiki Lemming entry

Well, you gotta admit, as four year plans go, there's nothing like starting with a clean slate.

In fairness, though, it should be noted that while lemmings do occasionally jump from cliffs into the sea, the idea is migration, not suicide.

Pouncing is another matter. Usually we think of that as feline behavior.

So it was with great bemusement and puzzlement that I read an Obama staffer's remark about how Hillary Clinton's "lemmings" "pounced" on Barack Obama:

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Well, but you can't argue that the Clinton campaign didn't do some serious damage in light of the Wright stuff and the bitter comments--

SCARBOROUGH: That wasn't the Clinton campaign.

BRZEZINSKI: They pounced on it like lemmings.

SCARBOROUGH: That wasn't the Clinton campaign--

BRZEZINSKI: Oh, please.

SCARBOROUGH: And I don't know if lemmings actually pounce. I think lemmings go over cliffs.

Asks Mark Finkelstein,
Like Mika with her metaphor?

It's going to be tough, but thought I would try to decontextualize and then recontextualize the conflated and mangled subtext of the lemmings.

Nah, on second thought, it's too nice a day and I don't feel like looking for presidents precedents. (I won't even attempt to tie in the time Jimmy Carter was viciously pounced on by a killer rabbit.)

I did find this, though:

rush_lemmings_001.jpg

(No, I absolutely do not feel like photoshopping in Barack Obama being bombarded by hordes of Hillary's Limbaugh-driven lemmings.)

My simple advice to Mika and the Obama campaign is this:

if you're stuck with lemmings (especially bitter lemmings), try making lemmingade.

posted by Eric at 01:42 PM | Comments (4)



The Songs Of Distant Earth Days

Earth Day is fast upon us, and rather than crank out yet another primal scream of dismay, I have chosen (lazy me) to dredge the archives for crunchy nuggets of eco-wisdom past. They do say it's virtuous to recycle.

Earth Day: The Remix...

"We have about five more years at the outside to do something," ecologist Kenneth Watt declared to a Swarthmore College audience on April 19, 1970.

In January 1970, Life reported, "Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support...the following predictions: In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution...by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half....

Harvard biologist George Wald estimated [in 1970] that "civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind."

At least their hearts were in the right place. Still are, actually...

September 14, 2006 A leading U.S. climate researcher says the world has a 10-year window of opportunity to take decisive action on global warming and avert catastrophe.

NASA scientist James Hansen, widely considered the doyen of American climate researchers, said governments must adopt an alternative scenario to keep carbon dioxide emission growth in check...

"I think we have a very brief window of opportunity to deal with climate change ... no longer than a decade, at the most..."

Ain't that a pisser? We're doomed again. Still doomed. Doomed on stilts, for pity's sake. But, can someone tell me what's up with this "widely considered the doyen of American climate researchers" bit?

Is this even true? Widely considered by whom? Where could you go to verify such a claim?

It passeth my meager understanding. Best we just move on.

A Good Day To Recycle
...

Wherein our favorite peak oil profiteer, James Howard Kunstler, gifts an interviewer with his usual, calmly reasoned thoughts...

Mark Maynard: I can appreciate your pessimism, and, generally speaking, I share it, but do you think that yours is a message that will motivate people to change their behaviors? Are you so convinced that efforts to stop what is coming will be futile that you don't feel as though we should even try? Might it not be better to offer a chance for success, rally people together, and go out swinging?

James Kunstler: I resent the hell out of being labeled a "pessimist." In my writings, I offer a comprehensive view of how we can respond intelligently to these new circumstances. That's neither pessimistic nor cynical. So fuck you.

Slightly off topic, but still oh-so-satisfying. Truly, he is the gift that keeps on giving.

Merry Earth Day Mr. Kunstler
...

Kunstler got a rock-star reception last week at Middlebury College, where he entertained a standing-room-only audience with provocative predications about where our unbridled consumption is likely to land us. An eloquent, funny speaker who is not afraid to use the f-word, Kunstler agreed to a follow-up email interview with Seven Days.

They've had three years to outgrow him. I'm beginning to doubt that'll be enough.

Still, hope springs eternal...

"Check all of your assumptions at the door," James Howard Kunstler advises reporters before he commences an interview. "Don't assume that anything you think about the way we live today is going to be the same 10, five, even three years from now."

That was back in May, 2005. Cripes, we've only got seven years to go. Or maybe just a couple of weeks. Those nice clean fusion generators can't get here too soon.

I'm so troubled, I'd even settle for nice (less) clean fission plants. It's not like we'd need to use them forever, is it?

Take a good look at America around you now, because when we emerge from the winter of 2005 - 6, we're going to be another country. The reality-oblivious nation of mall hounds, bargain shoppers, happy motorists, Nascar fans, Red State war hawks, and born-again Krispy Kremers is headed into a werewolf-like transformation that will reveal to all the tragic monster we have become...

There are two things that the newspapers and TV Cable News outfits are not covering very well. One is that the Port of New Orleans is not functioning, with poor prospects for a quick recovery, and with it will go much of the Midwestern grain harvest.

Another thing that has fallen off the radar screen is the damage done to the oil and gas infrastructure around the Gulf Coast, especially the onshore facilities for storing and transporting stuff, and for marshaling the crews and equipment to fix stuff. The US is going to run short of its customary supplies for a long time. The idea that these things will not affect an economy of ceaseless mobility is not realistic...

By October, the hurricane season will be ending and the stock market crash season will be underway. It is hard to imagine that companies like WalMart really believe they will keep their profits up when their customers are paying twice as much as they did a year ago to heat their houses and fill their gas tanks.

It's been three years now, and WalMart is still with us. Hmmm.

Have yourselves a happy Earth Day. I sure will.

posted by Justin at 11:05 AM | Comments (3)



Unusual morning irregularity

When I got up this morning, today's much-anticipated Philadelphia Inquirer endorsement was available only online.

Well, for me, at least. And for my neighbors. I looked around, and no, they didn't just miss my driveway; there were no Inquirers to be found anywhere. Occasionally I'll have a missed delivery problem, but no papers anywhere is unusual. That it happened on Election Day raised my antennae a bit.

So naturally, I wondered who the Inquirer endorsed.

Obama:

The 46-year-old Obama offers the better chance of rising above the partisan rancor in Washington to achieve bipartisan goals. After eight years of George W. Bush's my-way-or-the-highway rule, Obama could become the uniter that Bush never was. His campaign has attracted people of all backgrounds and political persuasions.

Throughout his career as a community organizer and state legislator and senator, Obama has pursued justice for working-class people. The recent charge that he's an elitist doesn't wash, in light of his background and his life's work.

Opponents argue that Obama isn't ready to be president. Compared with Clinton and Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, Obama has the least amount of Washington experience. But that is likely one reason he's winning over so many voters. People crave change.

And Obama has demonstrated the resilience to bounce back from challenges in this long campaign. His speech in Philadelphia on race relations quelled the immediate political furor over his former pastor's anti-white rhetoric.

But Obama's address did more than serve his own political needs. It called on blacks and whites to consider each other's legitimate motives, and to move beyond conflicting perspectives. Turning a tempest into an opportunity for national reflection and action is a sign of leadership.

Frankly, I have mixed feelings about that speech, and I don't think he's really put Pastor Wright behind him.

The Inquirer goes on to criticize Obama for Bittergate:

Unfortunately, Obama followed up that memorable speech with a gaffe about "bitter" small-town Pennsylvanians clinging to religion and guns. He still hasn't explained adequately what he really meant. For someone whose eloquence usually seems effortless, it was an unforced blunder that may have cost him the chance to put away Clinton here and now.
No, I think what cost him more than Bittergate was what they're already calling Debategate. He can't handle tough questions, and I agree with Ann Althouse and others (via Glenn) that refusing to debate in North Carolina makes this look worse. Then there's "Wafflegate", but I think that's more along the lines of Obama doing vintage Hillary imitations than it is a core gate issue. (It's Hillamabamaristic.)

Today's Inquirer, of course, slams Hillary:

Clinton, 60, like Obama, wants to end the war in Iraq as soon as possible. Her plan for universal health care would mandate coverage for everyone; his plan doesn't go quite that far. But the policy differences between them are few. For example, both aim to roll back the Bush tax cuts for top wage-earners.

A second Clinton presidency could be as polarizing as the first one. She hasn't displayed often enough an ability to connect with voters. And her infamous Bosnia-sniper story, while overblown, did highlight the public's mistrust of her truthfulness.

Republican voters - those who haven't switched parties this spring - will find three names on the presidential ballot. But the GOP race is effectively over. JOHN McCAIN, 71, who received our endorsement in January, is the presumptive nominee. Former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas abandoned his effort weeks ago, and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas is carrying on his obscure campaign for reasons known chiefly to him.

He is?

Obscure is definitely the word for the Ron Paul campaign, because I've seen no signs of it (at least, in my neighborhood).

Maybe it's, like, a double-secret, stealth campaign. With invisible canvassing and invisible leaflets. And maybe his voters are voting in secret polling places, known only to them. (Those who know don't tell, and those who tell don't know! Shhh!)

But frankly, the Hillary campaign is not doing the world's greatest job of canvassing, mailing or leafleting. I have received two leaflets from Obama in the mail, and I have been visited by two Obama campaign workers. One of them even braved Coco's anti-campaign worker intimidation tactics and placed this beautiful, color-coordinated hanger on the door latch:

ObamaHanger.jpg

Nothing from the Clinton campaign.

Anyway, my Inquirer endorsement not in hand, I finally arrived at the polls. While there were at least two Obama signs in front of the building, I didn't see any from Hillary.

It was crowded, and I had to stand in line.

poll_line2.jpg

(Faces blurred to respect privacy.)

The situation seemed aggravated by a malfunctioning voting machine, as the poll worker shut it down while someone with electronic gadgetry screwed around with it. And meanwhile the poll worker was on the cell phone (around 7:25 a.m.) reporting something.

No idea what the problem was, but finally they let the voters use it again.

I returned a little after 8:00 a.m., and the Inquirer was sitting there, as were the neighbors' Inquirers. It just arrived too late for most of the commuter voter crowd, that's all. Probably nothing except a coincidence, but the paper almost always arrives well before 6:00 a.m., and usually before 5:00.

Speaking of coincidences, today is Earth Day, and Lenin's birthday.

So what would Lenin do? What is to be done?

Who would he endorse? Who would he vote for?

(The answers to those last two questions might not be the same. I'm thinking that Lenin's vote would depend on whether ideology is placed ahead of tactics, a decision which might be tactical, but still ultimately ideological. These things are complicated, but I'm thinking Lenin would probably vote for Hillary.)

MORE: For continuously updated coverage on the Pennsylvania vote (as well as regular reports from Bill Bradley and Vodkapundit's Stephen Green), be sure to visit this PJM link regularly.

UPDATE: Speaking of unusual occurences, what's with all this sudden UFO activity in multiple states?

Are the aliens making an Earth Day statement?

Or is it a last minute alien endorsement of Dennis Kucinich?

posted by Eric at 09:20 AM | Comments (3)



We All Pledge To The Same Flag


Notice anything missing in this video? No American flags. And Obama seems to have forgotten to wear the flag pin given to him by the disabled veteran.

In any case I don't think we should pledging to the flag. We should be pledging to the Constitution, like people who become naturalized, like people who join the military, like people who take an oath of office. It is not the flag that makes us Americans. It is the Constitution.

posted by Simon at 12:59 AM | Comments (1)




"Hillary's terrorist ties"

Not my title, but the title of Dick Morris's latest (and interestingly-timed) piece documenting Hillary's "close relationship with known terrorist sympathizers and Hamas supporters":

Her relationship with terrorists began in the mid-1980s when she served on the board of the New World Foundation, which gave funds to the Palestine Liberation Organization, at a time when the PLO was officially recognized by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization.

In 1996, the first lady initiated an outreach program to bring Muslim leaders to the White House. But, as terrorism expert Steve Emerson noted in The Wall Street Journal "Curiously, nearly all of the leaders with whom Mrs. Clinton elected to meet came from Islamic fundamentalist organizations.

"A review of the statements, publications, and conferences of the groups Mrs. Clinton embraced shows unambiguously that they have long advocated or justified violence. By meeting with these groups, the first lady lent them legitimacy as 'mainstream' and 'moderate.'"

Among these radical groups was the American Muslim Alliance (AMA) and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, both groups that support Hamas, who attended a White House reception hosted by Hillary in February, 1996.

Emerson says that its leaders "have sanctioned terrorism, published anti-Semitic statements, and repeatedly hosted conferences that were forums for denunciations of Jews and exhortations to wage jihad."

The American Muslim Alliance was headed in the '90s by Abdulrahman Alamoudi who met with Clinton and Gore in 1995. Emerson notes that "Mrs. Clinton [allowed] the American Muslim Alliance to draw up the Muslim guest list for the first lady's . . . White House reception."

Alamoudi, Emerson says was "the primary defender of Musa Abu Marzug, the Hamas political bureau chief responsible for creating the group's death squads." Marzug took "credit" when Hamas brigades sprayed machine gun fire into a crowded Jerusalem mall. But less than three days after Marzug was arrested by the FBI in July of 1995, Alamoudi said that Marzug "had never been involved in terrorism" and called his arrest "an insult to the Muslim community. Emerson reports that he "elicited contributions fro Marzug's defense fund" and called him a "political prisoner."

Then, Hillary ran for Senate on her own and suddenly it was payback time. On June 13, 2000, the American Muslim Alliance's Massachusetts Chapter held a very successful fundraiser for her candidacy. Tahir Ali, the chairman of the chapter, said "we must support all who have [Muslim] interests at heart."

Perhaps conscious of how controversial the contribution would be, Hillary or someone on her staff, tried to pull a fast one, recording the donation on federal filing forms as being from the "American Museum Alliance." But alert observers weren't fooled and Senate candidate Clinton was forced to acknowledge who the real donor was and, four months after getting the money, she returned it.

American Museum Alliance? Cute. No wonder she stalls about releasing documents. Of course, I was unable to confirm Morris's claim, but the guy is prominent enough that I think if he made something like that up, Team Hillary would yell bloody murder.
But by then, a few weeks before the election, she had abjured the use of soft money in her Senate campaign, so the donation was, in practical terms, useless, since it was well over the limits for hard money contributions.

The Palestinian terrorists know that Hillary hears their point of view. WorldNetDaily.com reported on Oct. 7, 2007, that leading terrorists have publicly called for her election. Aaron Klein, WorldNet Daily's Jerusalem correspondent, wrote, in his wonderful book "Schmoozing with Terrorists," Ala Senakreh, West Bank chief of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terrorist group said "I hope Hillary is elected in order to have the occasion to carry out all the promises she is giving regarding Iraq."

Senakreh has high hopes for a Hillary presidency. He told Klein "I hope also that she will maintain her husband's policies regarding Palestine and even develop that policy."

Abu Hamed, leader of the Al Aqsa Brigades in Gaza, noting that "the Iraqi resistance is succeeding," said that "Hillary and the Democrats call for withdrawal." Then he added, helpfully, "Her popularity shows that the resistance is winning and that the occupation is losing. We just hope that she will go until the end and change American policy."

He explained that "President Clinton wanted to give the Palestinians 98 percent of the West Bank territories. I hope Hillary will move a step forward and give the Palestinians all their rights."

Clearly Barack Obama should not have stayed in Rev Wright's church and his campaign should not maintain a "friendly" relationship with William Ayers. But what about Hillary's service on a board that gave money to a terrorist organization? And her hosting of a terror supporting group in the White House? And her acceptance of a $50,000 contribution from that group? And the statements of terrorists that they are hoping for her to win?

These are far more serious connections than have been established for Obama and either Wright or Ayers.

Regular readers know that I am very skeptical about WorldNetDaily, but on the other hand, I have heard very high praise for Aaron Klein. In an October piece titled "Terrorists for Hillary," Deroy Murdock also cited Klein in this regard and praised his reporting.

Of course, while the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade may be supporting Hillary, Hamas seems to have changed its tune, as they've endorsed Obama.

I don't put much stock in these endorsements or statements, but there's certainly a pot-kettle-black situation which probably explains why Hillary isn't exactly howling about Bill Ayers.

MORE: As to why Hamas would endorse Obama, in a "Good Morning America" interview today, Hillary provided a clue:

ABC News' Chris Cuomo asked Clinton what she would do if Iran attacked Israel with nuclear weapons.

"I want the Iranians to know that if I'm the president, we will attack Iran," Clinton said. "In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them."

Via Glenn Reynolds, who's reechoing the prediction that Hillary "would make the most uncompromising wartime President in United States history," and adds,
I think she'd kinda like obliterating somebody.
Hmmm...

It's not too late for the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade to change their mind, but at this point I don't think it's really going to sway Pennsylvania voters.

MORE: Glenn also notes that Ann Althouse likes Hillary's hawkishness. (I did too, and it was one of the reasons I thought she won the debate.)

posted by Eric at 11:25 PM | Comments (1)



The Heat In The Kitchen


I got to shake Truman's hand when I was on a train to St. Louis and he was headed to Independence. I was going to a Synagogue Youth Organization convention and some one said Truman was in the club car shaking hands. No one else was interested but I went back and shook his hand. Nice firm grip. There was a short line and he was talking politics with various folks. I wasn't interested in that so I went back to my seat.

BTW this is in no way an endorsement of defeatist Hillary Clinton. She is no Harry Truman. But neither is surrendercrat Obama.

posted by Simon at 09:59 PM | Comments (0)



Mr. Warman Claims Bad Reputation

Richard Warman claims he has a bad reputation because of a possibly erroneous story published by The National Post newspaper of Canada.

REGINA -- Linking one blog to another and allowing comments on her blog postings has landed one prominent Saskatchewan blogger in a legal quandary.

Kate McMillan of Small Dead Animals is one of several named as defendants in a statement of claim filed by Richard Warman with the Ontario Superior Court on April 7. Others include Ezra Levant, The National Post and one of its journalists, Jonathon Kay.

In the statement of claim, Warman alleges he was defamed on a blog known as freedominion.ca. He alleges those comments were linked to or commented upon on other blogs, including McMillan's and The National Post's.

You know, I didn't take any steps to determine if this story is true. So Mr. Richard Warman, if Richard Warman is your real name, sue me.

I expect by the time this goes viral on the 'net Mr. Richard Warman will have no reputation left worth defending.

And just to raise my Richard Warman score a bit I'm going to add a few more. Richard Warman, Richard Warman, Richard Warman, Richard Warman, Richard Warman, Richard Warman, Richard Warman, Richard Warman, Richard Warman, Richard Warman, Richard Warman, Richard Warman, Richard Warman, Richard Warman, Richard Warman, Richard Warman, Richard Warman, Richard Warman, Richard Warman, Richard Warman, Richard Warman.

With any luck Mr. Richard Warman, if Richard Warman is actually your name, will be able to find this without trouble.

H/T

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 09:25 PM | Comments (4)



Bitter blowback beats Bosnian backlash?
(But which elitist underdog wins?)

The great big Pennsylvania primary election happens tomorrow, and I couldn't be gladder, because at least it will be over.

Hillary is ahead of Obama here, and she has always been ahead. She'll win, but the only question is by how much. According to the punditry, if she wins by double digits, she may be able to claim not only a moral victory, but a real victory. If not, then the status quo continues.....

Bill Bradley sums it up pretty well:

Hillary needs a very big win [in PA] to make any dent in Obama's lead in earned delegates and the popular vote. Even if she gets that, it's hard to see her making up much ground elsewhere in the other contests remaining between now and June 3rd, when Montana and South Dakota close out the primary and caucus season.
There's an interesting discussion from a British point of view of Obama's condescending remarks:
The primary in Pennsylvania has got to be the last stand: not only has the state always been one where Mrs Clinton should, if she was to maintain any credibility at all, have had a strong win but it is now going to be a telling indication of how much damage has been done to Barack Obama by his disastrously misjudged comments about small-town, working-class Americans.

If you do not have the advantage of having been born and raised in America as I was - that is, if you are familiar only with British cultural assumptions - you may not fully appreciate why Mr Obama's remarks caused the political earthquake that they did or why they have been subjected to even more detailed exegesis than his previous most important utterances after the Rev Jeremiah Wright debacle.

Yes, except I think the Wright stuff counts more with the voters, because it goes to the heart of whether Obama is in fact what he says he is. The Bittergate remarks just don't seem to strike voters the same way, as it's more a question of whether he misspoke (or "mangled" the "conflation"), and whether he said anything especially unusual for a Harvard-educated left-wing Democrat.

To the British analyst (Janet Daley), the remarks illustrate more about the deterioration of the American bourgeiose than anything else:

In Britain, such sentiments about working-class people are expressed every day by politicians of all parties. They are the common currency of the patronising Left-wing snobbery that pours out of every orifice of the BBC.

Indeed, in the terms that Mr Obama gave to them, they would be seen as the kinder paternalistic version of the disdain that takes really visceral forms in more robustly contemptuous circles (for which organs such as the Guardian speak).

He clearly believed himself to be offering a sympathetic account of why Americans in (or out of) blue-collar jobs turned into gun-totin', Bible-bashing, benighted bigots. And given that he was addressing what was supposed to be a closed fund-raising meeting in San Francisco, we must assume that he believed himself to be among friends who would all discuss the redneck issue with frank loathing: by their standards he was being pretty gentle.

Since the Sixties, when a diluted and incoherent Marxist ideology took hold of higher education, and university became a Left-liberal sheep-dip through which every middle-class professional had to pass, respectability in America has generally involved contempt for precisely the people Mr Obama characterised as being so ignorant that they could not even understand the causes of their economic disadvantage.

In her analysis of this farrago, the Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan has written: "To rise in America is to turn left, unless you are very, very tough or protected by privilege of the financial or familial kind."

In other words, if you are somebody who came up from poverty, you cannot afford to buck the intellectual hegemony of right-thinking people (which is to say, Left-thinking people).

So yes, the US has discovered bourgeois guilt. It now has an educated class that believes, in the face of all the comparative evidence, that Big Government and enforced wealth redistribution must be the answers to poverty and that the wealth that is created by free markets is somehow tainted.

To hold on to socially or economically conservative views in this climate is to risk appearing backward - common, vulgar and comically downmarket.

Anyone clinging to such backward views really ought to be bitter. Because after all, the world is moving along in progressive direction and leaving them behind. (Bye bye!)

But speaking of Marxist ideology and bourgeois guilt, what about Obama's terrorist friendship connection? Do the voters care? Shhh! We really shouldn't talk about that too loudly, or the voters might start wondering about terrorist pardons. (So let's us Democrats just agree not to talk too loudly about that one, OK?)

Obama thought he was on safe ground in San Francisco, of course, and he said what the downtrodden bitter classes all know he thinks anyway, but is too slick to admit. I think the reason "Bittergate" doesn't seem to have made as much of a dent in Obama's polls is because most Democratic voters are quite used to that attitude. In fact, here's the way the elitist newspapers like to portray them:

Sexist_PA_Men.JPG

Of course, that's a pro-Hillary cartoon, but there's nothing unusual about that type of condescending sentiment. It's numbingly typical among Democrats, and Democratic voters are smart enough to realize that Hillary -- in her heart of hearts (yes, I'm assuming she has one) -- would think in a manner not much different from Obama. Plus, she's said "the wrong thing" so many times that it's tough for the voters to keep track.

This phenomenon -- of being caught saying the wrong thing at the wrong time in the wrong place -- brings up another issue, which is changing American politics. No one can get away with anything anymore:

....the old saying - that nothing is illegal unless you get caught - is out of date; with the preponderance of blogs, cable news networks, embeded reporters and more media attention to this campaign than any in history, everything will get caught.
Yes, but the problem with that is sooner or later, everyone will get caught doing everything. And when that happens, what criteria will the voters use to determine what really counts? The Wright videos are so outrageous, and the sound bytes they generate so difficult to ignore, that they ultimately count for more than who fibbed about NAFTA, or who got caught exaggerating what. (Which is why Obama had to mount an extraordinary effort with a masterfully written speech in front of a row of American flags to deal with Pastor Wright.)

There's another wrinkle to everybody being caught, and that is the backlash that can be created against the beneficiary of the attack:

In this groundbreaking year, in which one of three new precedents will be set, whisper campaigns threatening peril if any come to pass are sure to play a role. But while those underground smear attempts could hurt each candidate at which they are aimed, the benefiting opponent could find him or herself damaged in the backlash: Even if the offending group or individual is not associated with the campaign and merely tied to the party, a failure to respond fast enough could be grounds for criticism. This year, when everyone will be attacked unfairly, it could be the strength of the disavowal that proves more important than the offended candidate's outrage and response.
Thus, once the Gotcha game has been played, it's up to the voters to decide "whatcha got?" (And in this case, as Bill Bradley observed, "the Clinton attacks on Obama have done more to drive up her negatives than Obama's.")

But there's another psychological wildcard in the related phenomenon of voter fatigue. I could be wrong about this, but people seemed more tired of Hillary a few weeks ago than they do now. Obama is seeming more like a broken record, while Hillary seems endlessly capable of reinventing herself. He also seems not to handle combat well, but she seems to thrive on it.

The longer she remains an underdog, the more likable she becomes.

What worries me is that Hillary is very capable of winning the nomination, and if she wins the nomination, I fear she will be unbeatable by McCain.

But then, I have a penchant for looking on the dark side.

MORE: Speaking of Hillary's unbeatability, Jeralyn at TalkLeft says that "Hillary Clinton is the better candidate to beat John McCain this fall," and has a post titled "Electability: Why Hillary Is More Likely to Beat McCain" which lays it out.

(HT Glenn Reynolds.)

For the umpteenth time, any crossover Republicans who vote for Hillary in the primary either want the GOP to lose, or are not thinking clearly.

MORE: Nora Ephron's view of white men echoes the dualistic bigotry reflected in the above cartoon:

This is an election about whether the people of Pennsylvania hate blacks more than they hate women. And when I say people, I don't mean people, I mean white men.
(Via Rachel Lucas.)

As I said when I first linked the cartoon,

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.

I'm hoping that no matter who wins the primary, that message will linger.

posted by Eric at 05:55 PM | Comments (0)



A Novel Critique Of Life Prolongation

You may remember that four way debate on life extension over at Cato Unbound between Dan Callahan, Diana Schaub, Aubrey de Grey, and Ron Bailey. Nothing much came of it, except for the revelation that Diana Schaub gets a tad sanctimonious when her back is up.

If deathlessness ever arrives for human beings, I would cast my lot with the elephants who are said to gather and grieve over the bones of their departed. Elephant culture might already have surpassed the culture of immortalists. Based on the posts so far, cultural ignorance -- of the history of religion and love and politics -- is one clear cost of the quest for a non-transcendent immortality.

Huh. I'd wear a cap in her classroom every chance I got.

Oh yeah, Callahan's opinion is pretty much value free. Now there's an old nag that's crying out for pasturing.

I'd hoped for more.

And wouldn't you know it, the universe came through for me. The discussion got picked up over at Volokh's, leading to a truly original insight in the comments section by some guy named Dangermouse. He pretty much set everyone straight on the error of their ways (Bad life extensionists! Bad! Bad!) with an appeal to higher authority that, quite frankly, left me croggled. See, the quest for extended youth is evil and pointless because the Silmarillion tells us so. In the interests of scientific curiosity, I'm reproducing this mangled intellectual cud in its entirety...


This is the Akallabêth all over again. You people need to read more Tolkien:

But the King said: 'And does not Eärendil, my forefather, live? Or is he not in the land of Aman?'

To which they answered: 'You know that he has a fate apart, and was adjudged to the Firstborn who die not; yet this also is his doom that he can never return again to mortal lands. Whereas you and your people are not of the Firstborn, but are mortal Men as Ilúvatar made you. Yet it seems that you desire now to have the good of both kindreds, to sail to Valinor when you will, and to return when you please to your homes. That cannot be. Nor can the Valar take away the gifts of Ilúvatar. The Eldar, you say, are unpunished, and even those who rebelled do not die. Yet that is to them neither reward nor punishment, but the fulfilment of their being. They cannot escape, and are bound to this world, never to leave it so long as it lasts, for its life is theirs. And you are punished for the rebellion of Men, you say, in which you had small part, and so it is that you die. But that was not at first appointed for a punishment. Thus you escape, and leave the world, and are not bound to it, in hope or in weariness. Which of us therefore should envy the others?"

And the Númenóreans answered: 'Why should we not envy the Valar, or even the least of the Deathless? For of us is required a blind trust, and a hope without assurance, knowing not what lies before us in a little while. And yet we also love the Earth and would not lose it.'

Then the Messengers said: 'Indeed the mind of Ilúvatar concerning you is not known to the Valar, and he has not revealed all things that are to come. But this we hold to be true, that your home is not here, neither in the Land of Aman nor anywhere within the Circles of the World. And
the Doom of Men, that they should depart, was at first a gift of Ilúvatar. It became a grief to them only because coming under the shadow of Morgoth it seemed to them that they were surrounded by a great darkness, of which they were afraid; and some grew wilful and proud and would not yield,
until life was reft from them. We who bear the ever-mounting burden of the years do not clearly understand this; but if that grief has returned to trouble you, as you say, then we fear that the Shadow arises once more and grows again in your hearts. Therefore, though you be the Dúnedain, fairest of Men, who escaped from the Shadow of old and fought valiantly against it, we say to you: Beware! The will of Eru may not be gainsaid; and the Valar bid you earnestly not to withhold the trust to which you are called, lest soon it become again a bond by which you are constrained. Hope rather that in the end even the least of your desires shall have fruit. The love of Arda was set in your hearts by Ilúvatar, and he does not plant to no purpose. Nonetheless, many ages of Men unborn may pass ere that purpose is made known; and to you it will be revealed and not to the Valar.'

Settled their hash, didn't he? My condolences if you made it all the way through.

posted by Justin at 10:22 AM | Comments (6)



You shut down my supply and I keel you!
"Bloggers are the dealers in the world of internet addiction."
So said Ann Althouse, in a post about what to do when "The Internet" is down.

I have to admit, the South Park episode she links touches on one of my primal fears -- imagine if They were to actually shut down The Internet!

All I can say is that They better not, or We will declare war.

The problem with that is how do you declare war when The Internet -- the very medium from which such a declaration would emanate -- is not working?

The whole thing is a scary thought, and what makes it scary is that it doesn't matter whether it is true, any more than it matters to a small child whether there really are monsters in a dark room at night.

Nor does it matter whether bloggers are the dealers, or readers are users. Because we are all at least users. Whether we're in fact "addicts" is an issue for the shrinks, and a secondary consideration. Cut the supply (or the power to the supply), and we will be reduced to Stone Age primitivism. I'd have to go back to writing letters to the editor. Maybe sending faxes on occasion, if from time to time They are kind enough to turn on the electricity.

Nothing would be more degrading than having to go back to such groveling.

Fortunately, the experts have told me that it can't happen here.

But what if?

What if, say, the EPA decided to regulate Internet power consumption? Or suppose that power rationing -- already contemplated in Kansas -- kicked in as a result of failure to build more power plants? (Anyone who thinks the AGW crowd would support building more power plants should think again.) And while Solar powered Wifi sounds fine, if the broadband servers are down for lack of electricity what good is a solar router?

It's not the Internet which worries me; it's the power to the Internet. So long as we have the latter, the former is pretty resilient.

posted by Eric at 09:48 AM | Comments (5)



To hell with sides!

Last night I had dinner with some dear friends who are atheists. I'm not much of a religious debater, as I'm into contemplating my extreme ignorance of the unknown, and one can hardly argue from a position of extreme ignorance with those who have extreme knowledge.

I do love irony, though, and one of my atheist friends interjected last night that atheists spend more time thinking about God than most people -- maybe even more than many religious people do.

She's right. But then, atheism is a strongly held opinion about the nature of the unknown which posits mainly strong disagreement with the idea of deities.

Most organized religions also consist of strongly held opinions about the unknown.

Again I ventured my weary wish that people wouldn't spend so much time arguing with each other over the nature of the unknown. Both atheists and believers in deities hold that the unknown (and so far, still ultimately unknowable) is known, and knowable.

Fortunately, the atheists I ate with are good friends, so there were no arguments. But the way so many people can get into so many ferocious arguments over things which are unknown and unknowable never ceases to amaze me; it's literally a cosmic waste of time. People can get so nasty and so personal about unknowable things that I sometimes wonder whether they really know deep down as much as they claim they know.

Anyway, Glenn Reynolds put it quite well earlier when he mentioned the angry email he's getting for daring to link both sides of a discussion of a film discussing Intelligent Design:

I hate writing about this stuff because -- pardon me while I speak plainly -- the people on both sides of this issue are assholes. I mean, even by the low standards of Internet discussion. I'm getting email calling me a "theocon shill" for mentioning Stein, and email telling me I'll burn in hell for calling Intelligent Design "pernicious twaddle." Frankly, the rabid atheists and the rabid creationists seem an awful lot alike, and no proper hell could be truly hellish without the both of them yammering away at each other. Feh.
I'm thinking both "sides" better hope there isn't a hell.

(If they know what's good for them....)

posted by Eric at 12:00 AM | Comments (10)




"Do you have anything out of the ordinary?"

When the Patriot Act was passed, concerned civil libertarians were assured that the measures were to be used only against terrorists.

So what in the hell does a "24-hour street sweep" in which "federal, state and local law enforcement agencies pulled over cars, climbed on boats on the Mississippi River and served fugitive warrants" (link via Glenn Reynolds) have to do with terrorism?

Nothing that I can see. Except it's being called an "anti-terrorism initiative," called "Operation Sudden Impact."

And what are they doing raiding ordinary businesses?

According to a local news item titled "Do Tennessee Businesses Have Ties To Terrorism?" that's exactly what they're doing, and the explanation is downright pathetic.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Federal agencies raided several Memphis businesses in a coordinated effort to find information about possible terrorism ties.

The operation has been named known as "Sudden Impact."

The FBI along with hundreds of officers said they are looking for anything out of the ordinary. Agents take computers and paperwork from businesses.

What in the world is going on?

"We're the FBI and we're just here to search for anything out of the ordinary?"

Can they get a search warrant for "anything out of the ordinary"? Or are they doing these things without even getting search warrants?

One store owner said he was told the agents were looking for stolen electronics. While some business owners feel they are being targeted, law-enforcement officers said they are just trying to track down possible terrorists before something big happens.

"What we have found traditionally is that terrorists are involved in a number of lesser known type crimes," said Mark Luttrell, Shelby County sheriff.

There has been no word on if any of the confiscated goods have led to any arrests.

This almost seems too fantastic to be believed. Homeland Security and Patriot Act powers are apparently being used to conduct routine law enforcement -- all promises to the contrary notwithstanding.

Have the people involved no idea that we still have a Constitution? That police aren't allowed to just rummage through files and computers to search for "anything out of the ordinary"?

Before I lose it completely, let me try to calm down and be fair to the other side. The argument (if you can call it one) of the law enforcement officials involved is recited in the video here:

"Sometimes drugs, gangs and fugitives point to something else. Another crime: terrorism."
Huh? Well, why not trot out the old routine about terrorists selling pirated DVDs? (Yes, they invoked "Homeland Security" for that one too.)

That way, they could conduct door to door searches to look for possible "evidence."

And remember! Terrorists are also making money selling cigarettes. (Fortunately, for our brave law enforcement officials, the task of searching for terrorist-connected cigarettes has been made easier by the fact that the terrorist-enablers who smoke have been forced outdoors and onto streets where they are easier to surveil and search.)

Sheesh.

I'm hoping this is just an isolated instance of a tyrannical fishing expedition, and that all of the officials involved are disciplined, or held accountable in court. Federalization of local law enforcement is unconstitutional, and the use of the Patriot Act for routine law enforcement ought to be illegal. I'd note that this is by no means the first time; last summer the Patriot Act was used to go after cockfighting in East Tennessee. (Say what you want about cockfighting, but it's just not terrorism -- by any stretch of the imagination.)

Until I hear a good explanation of what happened and why, "Operation Sudden Fascism" sounds like a better name for this than "Operation Sudden Impact."

Seriously, this is an outrage, and people need to stand up to it.

Of course, I don't live in the area, so the only thing I can think to do is possibly contribute to the ACLU.

Where's my checkbook?

MORE: Regarding the apparent cooperation of citizens with the authorities, I like Megan McArdle's recent observation:

...the act of moving in compliant herds through the TSA lines, mindlessly adhering to the most ridiculous procedures the government can think up, contributes to making us what Joseph Schumpeter called "state broken". Citizens should not acquire the habit of following orders with no good reason behind them.

posted by Eric at 10:30 PM | Comments (2)



Thoughts on building a better Earth Day Birthday
When people attempt to rebel against the iron logic of nature, they come into conflict with the very same principles to which they owe their existence as human beings. Their actions against nature must lead to their own downfall.

-- Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf

May Mike Godwin forgive me for the post I am about to write.

Seriously, I hate it when people inject Hitler into every damned argument that comes along, especially when they do it in a serious manner. But what about Swiftian satire? Is that more forgivable? I mean, since we live in a time when everybody will eventually get to be Hitler for fifteen minutes, is it asking too much that I be allowed to make an occasional modest Hitler proposal?

Besides, this post really is not so much about Hitler as it is Lenin, who was in many ways Hitler's nemesis. Or at least one of his nemeses. The issue involves their respective birthdays. Hitler's birthday is today, while Lenin's birthday is on Tuesday.

And the issue really involves not a birthday, but Earth Day.

Tell me, pray, why must Earth Day always fall on Lenin's birthday?

What makes Vladimir Lenin so environmentally great? I can think of few things the man was more against than the concept of "bourgeois sentimentality," and the system he launched, inspired, and helped to build was so far from being environmentally green that it's fair to call it one of the nemeses of environmentalism itself.

Now, I realize that Lenin's state is now defunct, but if anyone thinks I am exaggerating about the monstrous anti-environmentalist attitude of the Soviet Union, consider that books like Marshall Goldman's The Spoils of Progress: Environmental Pollution in the Soviet Union were devoted to the subject.

[Goldman] devotes chapters to the pollution of Lake Baikal in Siberia, remarking that "Baikal is a unique lake in the world and all mankind will suffer from its desecration," and to the Aral and Caspian seas which is literally in danger of drying up as a result and the construction of hydroelectric statons. Proposals to restore the seas by building dams and reversing the flow of major rivers from north to south (Reshaping the Earth) may have equally profound and undesiarable results.

The book concludes by pointing out that the Soviet state is both manufacturer and polluter and its priorities lie with the increased production rather then conservation; with progress rather than restraint. Yet, hopefully, Goldman points to a number of beneficial state controls which if enlarged in the direction of restoring and protecting natural resources could have made Russia the most poweful and efficient of conservationists.

Goldman, was, I think, being overly optimistic, as the Soviet Union never had the funds which would have been necessary to devote to massive environmental cleanups on the scale required. Even after the fall of Communism, they still didn't:
Across Russia's vast steppes and Siberian taiga, and into the seas from the Baltic to the Pacific, the Soviet Union and later Russia have dumped, buried, spilled and exploded chemical and nuclear substances that had only one purpose - to kill people. They were the ingredients or byproducts of weapons of mass destruction. They were the wastes of the Cold War. Now, they continue to damage the land and people.

Although the Soviet Union has collapsed, a full accounting of the contamination it loosed on the environment has never been made. For most of the Cold War, the Soviet Union kept the sources of this pollution - the arsenals and bomb factories - shielded by the strictest secrecy. Little is known even now about the clandestine dumping and destruction of chemical weapons and radioactive materials. Moreover, little is being done about it, despite the health risks. In some cases, Russian authorities simply deny a threat exists and continue to stamp the files "top secret."

"This place has been abandoned," said Pankratov, surveying the chemical weapons graveyard, which lies less than a mile from one of the declared depots where nerve gas is stored. "No one is responsible for it. This information about old destruction sites hasn't been opened, it's still classified, and we are talking about it now because we have to face the obvious - we are talking about a dangerous contamination of the soil."

The contamination may become an enormous economic burden to a country already flat on its back. Russia simply cannot afford to clean up the poisons left behind by 50 years of dumping and discharge by the military and its bombmaking industry. The pollution is a potential health time bomb, causing an increased incidence of cancer and disease for which no one wants to take responsibility, especially the beleaguered Russian military.

And that's just military pollution. Factoring in industrial pollution (to say nothing of Chernobyl) and it's no exaggeration to describe what Lenin spawned as "the most appalling pollution problems in the world":
So much contamination by chemical wastes has been dumped into the drinking water supply that mothers in the Aral region cannot breast-feed their babies without running the risk of poisoning them (Feshbach, Friendly 2). The countries within the old Soviet bloc have the most appalling pollution problems in the world. These countries are riddled with polluted air, water, land, and devastated forests. Eighteen percent of the former USSR is classified as "very complicated" in terms of pollution. The most serious types (excluding nuclear wastes) are air and water (Dyukov 23).
I found some incredibly beautiful pictures (beautifully morbid, that is) at this web site.

This classic is titled "Smoke from the KMK steel plant":

street_star.jpg

Check the site out. There are plenty more, including scary pictures of sick babies, children playing in toxic slime, etc.

But be strong, and don't allow yourself to succumb to feelings of bourgeois sentimentality when you look at them. Progress means moving mountains, comrades! And diverting rivers!

Most timbering of the forests is done with clear-cuts, with as much as 70 percent of the cut timber going to waste. According to one estimate, acid rain is killing more than 500,000 hectares of forests in northwestern Siberia.

An official Soviet report on the "State of the Environment" in 1988 pointed to metal poisoning in various cities: cadmium in Odessa, manganese in Dnepropetrovsk and Rostov. "The highest degree of atmospheric pollution in 1988 was observed in 68 cities," mainly in the Ukraine, in Kuzbass, the Caucasus, east Kazakhstan and near the Ural Mountains. "The most polluted reservoirs in the U.S.S.R. are along the rivers and lakes on Kola Peninsula and along the Bug, Dnyestr, Danube and Don rivers."

There is no such thing as an environmental impact statement in the Soviet Union, although there are informal efforts to establish something like one. And no one can be certain who is responsible for most of the polluting because so much of it is associated with secret military enterprises.

Soviet agriculture is especially vulnerable, with much of the topsoil eroding. Farmlands have been heavily doused with pesticides and fertilizers. In the western Ukraine, thousands of square miles of farm land remain contaminated from the Chernobyl nuclear accident.

The most celebrated case of pollution involves the inland Aral Sea (see "The Death of the Aral Sea"). Once the world's fourth largest inland body of saltwater, the Aral Sea has lost two- thirds of its original size since 1970 and is expected to vanish by the year 2000 because massive Stalinist irrigation projects have diverted the waters of rivers that once flowed into the Sea into enormous cotton spreads.

I could go on and on with such reports. My point is, the idea of "Soviet environmentalism" is so ridiculous that the very term leaps out at me as an oxymoron.

So what's the point of talking about this today? Earth Day is still two days away, as it falls in Lenin's birthday.

Yet as we can see, it is the height of absurdity to call Lenin a friend of the environment.

Well, what about Hitler?

In terms of environmentalism, the man and his system were clearly way ahead of the times. While the Soviets raped the environment and poured pollutants willy nilly into the air and the water, the Nazi Party stressed respect for the earth.

In many varieties of the National Socialist world view ecological themes were linked with traditional agrarian romanticism and hostility to urban civilization, all revolving around the idea of rootedness in nature. This conceptual constellation, especially the search for a lost connection to nature, was most pronounced among the neo-pagan elements in the Nazi leadership, above all Heinrich Himmler, Alfred Rosenberg, and Walther Darré. Rosenberg wrote in his colossal The Myth of the 20th Century: "Today we see the steady stream from the countryside to the city, deadly for the Volk. The cities swell ever larger, unnerving the Volk and destroying the threads which bind humanity to nature; they attract adventurers and profiteers of all colors, thereby fostering racial chaos."31

Such musings, it must be stressed, were not mere rhetoric; they reflected firmly held beliefs and, indeed, practices at the very top of the Nazi hierarchy which are today conventionally associated with ecological attitudes. Hitler and Himmler were both strict vegetarians and animal lovers, attracted to nature mysticism and homeopathic cures, and staunchly opposed to vivisection and cruelty to animals. Himmler even established experimental organic farms to grow herbs for SS medicinal purposes. And Hitler, at times, could sound like a veritable Green utopian, discussing authoritatively and in detail various renewable energy sources (including environmentally appropriate hydropower and producing natural gas from sludge) as alternatives to coal, and declaring "water, winds and tides" as the energy path of the future.32

Even in the midst of war, Nazi leaders maintained their commitment to ecological ideals which were, for them, an essential element of racial rejuvenation. In December 1942, Himmler released a decree "On the Treatment of the Land in the Eastern Territories," referring to the newly annexed portions of Poland. It read in part:

The peasant of our racial stock has always carefully endeavored to increase the natural powers of the soil, plants, and animals, and to preserve the balance of the whole of nature. For him, respect for divine creation is the measure of all culture. If, therefore, the new Lebensraume (living spaces) are to become a homeland for our settlers, the planned arrangement of the landscape to keep it close to nature is a decisive prerequisite. It is one of the bases for fortifying the German Volk.33
This passage recapitulates almost all of the tropes comprised by classical ecofascist ideology: Lebensraum, Heimat, the agrarian mystique, the health of the Volk, closeness to and respect for nature (explicitly constructed as the standard against which society is to be judged), maintaining nature's precarious balance, and the earthy powers of the soil and its creatures.
There's a lot more, and one of the Nazi leaders, Richard Walther Darré, has been described as the "father of the Green movement." Indeed, Darré's "Blood and Soil" philosophy lies at the heart of today's Green Nazi platform (the Libertarian National Socialist Green Party.)

Lowell Ponte argued that Hitler "would have kissed [Paul] Ehrlich on the lips."

And no less than Reason Magazine has called Hitler a "visionary environmentalist."

Strong words, to be sure. And I am sure that many left-wing environmentalists would take serious issue with the idea of Hitler as an environmentalist. But in terms of philosophy, it is undeniable that Hitler was much more of an environmentalist than Lenin.

So my question remains. Why celebrate Earth Day on Lenin's birthday, especially when the birthday of a visionary environmentalist is just two days earlier?

I realize that there is still some dispute over whether the placement of Earth Day on Lenin's birthday is just a coincidence. The case can be made that it isn't, of course (and I have made that case in previous posts, including one in which I noted another coincidence -- that the very first Earth Day was held on Lenin's 100th Birthday). But let's give the green devil its due and assume for the sake of argument that the Lenin Birthday Earth Day is "just a coincidence."

In light of the dreadful Soviet environmental record, is it not then a horrible, terrible coincidence? Wouldn't it therefore make sense to move it? I realize that it's a lot of trouble to move a day that people have gotten so used to, but I don't propose moving it all that far. Just a couple of days earlier, that's all.

And to those sensitive souls who might object to moving Earth Day to Hitler's birthday, the answer could simply be that it, too is a coincidence.

Hey, today might just as well have been chosen for being, like, 420 (cannabis culture). Not only are some coincidences actually true, but as the cannabinoidists say, "Hitler's birthday has nothing to do with 4/20."

Though it is possible to look at the celebration of marijuana as being strategically placed on Hitler's birthday. A lot of bad things have happened on April 20, aside from Hitler's birthday. The Columbine shootings happened on that date in celebration of Hitler's birthday, The Oklahoma City bombing took place a day before April 20, and certainly dozens of white supremacist groups rally on Hitler's birthday. So perhaps the reason the marijuana celebration is on Hitler's birthday is so these hateful psychos will just get high instead of committing acts of terrorism. You show me a guy who sits around all day smoking pot, watching Cartoon Network, and eating Fritos, and I'll show you a guy who is not a threat to society. Wouldn't it have been better if Timothy McVeigh had just gotten baked instead of bombing a building? Or if Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold had stayed home and smoked a bowl instead of going on a shooting rampage? The Red Army faction actually dissolved itself on April 20 in 1998. It might have been because they all just wanted to get high instead of trying to bring communism to Western Europe. Maybe if Hitler had gotten high on his birthday it would have made him lazy and less motivated. He would have sat around with Heinrich Himmler and Adolf Eichmann, eating bratwurst instead of starting a world war and committing genocide.
Cool. The world could have been, like saved and stuff. And Hitler would have been able to build the better greener world he really wanted and we all want.

So like, by any reasonable or logical standard -- as well as in spite of any reasonable or logical standard, Hitler is far more deserving of the Earth Day Birthday coincidence.

pothitler.jpg

Because it's time for a new coincidence!

UPDATE: Today's the day, man!

A crowd of about 10,000 people collectively began counting down on the University of Colorado's Norlin Quadrangle just before 4:20 p.m. today.

Yet the massive puff of pot smoke that hovers over CU's Boulder campus every April 20 -- the date of an annual, internationally recognized celebration of marijuana -- began rising over the sea of heads earlier than normal this year.

See? It's already internationally recognized!

What more proof do we need that Earth Day should be moved to 4/20?

UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for linking this post, and for the reassuring words about possibly being forgiven by Mike Godwin. I try to leave Hitler out of most discussions. Honest!

A warm welcome to all! Comments always appreciated, agree or disagree.

posted by Eric at 03:05 PM | Comments (14)



A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words


Some music to go with the pictures may be worth even more.

Continued 2
Continued 3
Continued 4

posted by Simon at 10:55 AM | Comments (1)



A Traditional Mexican Folk Song


I think a little history lesson is in order. Perhaps a musical history would be of more interest. There are almost 2,000 references to the song on Youtube.

posted by Simon at 09:54 AM | Comments (1)



Pro-right-wing bias in the liberal media?

Former New York Times reporter Chris Hedges (author of American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America) has a thought-provoking Op Ed in today's Philadelphia Inquirer. He's fed up with the left for having sold out to "respectability" and to corporatism. And, in a charming echo of such conservative luminaries as Dobson, Coulter, and Buchanan, he's urging principled leftists to walk away from whoever the Democratic Party candidate is and support third party candidates:

The failure of the American left is a failure of nerve. It has been neutralized and rendered ineffectual as a political force because of its refusal to hold fast on core issues, from universal, single-payer, not-for-profit health care for all Americans, to the steadfast protection of workers' rights, to an immediate withdrawal from the failed occupation of Iraq to a fight against a militarized economy that is hollowing the country out from the inside.

Let the politicians compromise. This is their job. It is not ours. If the left wants to regain influence in the nation's political life, it must be willing to walk away from the Democratic Party, even if Barack Obama is the nominee, and back progressive, third-party candidates until the Democrats feel enough heat to adopt our agenda. We must be willing to say no. If not, we become slaves.

It's an entertaining read. And for reasons more strategic than principled, I have to agree with Hedges that it's a shame that so many leftists have sold out for respectability and corporatism.

Hedges not only admits to being bitter, he's proud of it:

....every four years Democratic candidates pay lip service to the old values of the party, but then they head off to Washington and do things such as ram NAFTA down our throats, throw 10 million people off welfare, and peddle health-care proposals acceptable to the HMOs, huge pharmaceutical giants, and for-profit health-care providers who are, after all, the very sources of our health-care crisis. What we as citizens need and work for in a corporate state is irrelevant.

The working class has every right to be, to steal a line from Obama, bitter with liberal elites. I am bitter.

Here here!

For all the talk on the right about returning to principles, the principled left has been so marginalized as to be all but muzzled. Why is it that conservative opponents of their party nominee get so much more media ink than liberal opponents of the Democratic nominee, anyway? (Seriously, I can't remember the last time I saw an Op-Ed like this. Surely Hedges cannot be alone.)

Fair is fair, and despite my penchant for complaining about the angry MDS conservatives, I think the dissenting left has every bit as much right to be heard as the dissenting right.

Is it possible that there's some sort of media double standard?

Normally, when conservatives and libertarians think of such double standards, we think of voices on the right being marginalized or shut out. But quite frankly, I've seen lots of ink devoted to angry right-wing GOP dissenters, but very, very little from Cindy Sheehan, Leslie Cagan, Medea Benjamin, and the Indymedia left types making it into the MSM -- despite the fact that such activists are the backbone of nearly every anti-war and anti-globalist demonstration. You'd almost think that either they don't exist, or the respectable liberal "corporatists" don't want them to exist. (Little wonder there's talk of Recreating '68.)

I'm beginning to think there might just be a perverse sort of pro-right-wing bias.

And in the liberal media.

Oh, the irony!

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

Comments always appreciated, agree or disagree.

posted by Eric at 08:49 AM | Comments (22)




"A cordial man of great dignity"

That's how Malcolm X described the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem in The Autobiography of Malcolm X:

I seized the opportunity to run down into the lobby, to see it again before Dr. Azzam arrived. When I opened my door, just across the hall from me a man in some ceremonial dress, who obviously lived there, was also headed downstairs, surrounded by attendants. I followed them down, then through the lobby. Outside, a small caravan of automobiles was waiting. My neighbor appeared through the Jedda Palace Hotel's front entrance and people rushed and crowded him, kissing his hand. I found out who he was: the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. Later, in the hotel, I would have the opportunity to talk with him for about a half-hour. He was a cordial man of great dignity. He was well up on world affairs, and even the latest events in America.
In 1964, when the book was written, there was no current Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. There was only one man alive at the time who had ever been the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, and that would be the notorious Mohammad Amin al-Husayni (often spelled Husseini). A notorious Nazi organizer and SS leader, he met with Hitler, Himmler and other Nazi leaders, organized and commanded the Bosnian SS, and did his utmost to kill Jews, whenever and wherever he found them.

There's one of the usual "neutrality disputed" Wikipedia battles, with post-modernist style bickering over whether the Mufti should be called an antisemite ("not sure that antisemite and fascist are the right terms") or even whether he was a Nazi ("Maybe he was a Nazi and maybe he wasn't, but we aren't going to learn the truth by privileging wartime propaganda from the Haganah over scholarly sources").

Please! Why Wiki has to allow itself to be tyrannized by nitpicking arguments against reams of historical evidence I do not know.

Anyway, his work with Hitler and Himmler, his formation of the Bosnian SS Handschar Division, his relentless murdering of Jews -- all this is beyond dispute.

See Indopedia, Yad Vashem , and innumerable links with plenty of pictures like these, excellent summaries of his life, and even a discussion of his American connection.

Here's the Mufti with Hitler:

muftihitler.jpg

And with Himmler:

muftihimmler.jpg

(Via Gates of Vienna.)

This YouTube video of a German documentary is excellent (be patient; the English subtitles appear soon after the beginning):

And another documentary in English, which ties him to more recent terrorist acts:

Arguments like this are often made that the Mufti was the grandfather of Islamofascism and the precursor to modern Islamist terrorism:

The Mufti's years in wartime Nazi Germany, where he lived in a confiscated Jewish mansion in Berlin as head of a Nazi-Muslim government in exile and where he spent confiscated Jewish monies on a lavish lifestyle and on the launching of an international anti-Jewish propaganda campaign, is an extraordinary story and would be unbelievable if there wasn't so much evidence. Upon arrival in Berlin, 1941, the Mufti met with Nazi Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbontrop and was then officially received by Adolf Hitler on November 28. Subsequently, and thorough the war years, the Gross mufti von Jerusalem would meet regularly with high Nazi officials and would play a leading role, perhaps more significant than is commonly known or may ever be known, in the "final solution" against the Jews
of Europe. He was intimately involved in the training of Bosnian and other Muslim SS Hanshar divisions in Nazi occupied Yugoslavia and in other Nazi occupied areas with Muslim populations. His broadcasts from Nazi Germany, transmitted to the Arab world, are amongst the most blood-curdlingly anti-Jewish in history. The Mufti should be viewed as on par with any one of the top Nazi villains and was in many respects far worse. This shocking story begs to be told and retold.

After the War, and after his conviction as a war criminal at Nuremberg and the issuance of a warrant for his arrest from Yugoslavia for crimes against humanity, the Mufti fled to Cairo where, as a guest of Abdel Gamal Nasser, another of his many protégés, he remained in exile for the rest of his life. From Cairo, he devoted his considerable energies toward the destruction of the State of Israel and the poisoning of any vestiges of peace between Israel and the Arab states. He would help Nazi war criminals settle in the Arab world through what is known as operation Odessa. He would further encourage his followers to seize power in Arab capitals and to establish National Socialist style governments.

There were three important phases in the Grand Mufti's career. The first is the period from 1920 when he inspired the first pogrom against Jews in Palestine to 1937 when he meets with Adolf Eichmann in Palestine and assumes influence in the Arab world at large. The second is the period from the 1937 Eichmann meeting, through his involvement in the Nazi-inspired Iraq coup, and on to his activities in Nazi Germany until the end of the war in 1945. The third is his activities from the end of the war to his death in Cairo in 1974.

My contention is that Muftism, the poisonous and fanatic legacy of Haj Amin el-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, continues to maintain a firm grip in the Arab mind and the Arab world today much to the determent of both the Arab peoples who are forced to live under the regressive socialist jack-boot of Mufti inspired regimes and to the possibility of peace between the Israelis and the Arabs. After the defeat of the Mufti's Nazi sponsors in 1945, the Soviet Union and the international left largely filled the power vacuum and the left remains the primary booster of Muftism in the Arab and Islamic world today. Muftism bears a large responsibility for modern terrorism and fanatic Islamic movements. While Europe was largely de-Nazified after the war, Muftism, or Arab-Islamic Nazism remains a major political and philosophical force. Arab peoples continue to groan under Nazi-Arab oppressive regimes and Mufti influenced pan-Arabists continue to wage war against non-Islamic nations and peoples.

The Mufti's tireless and single-minded career contributed greatly to a regressive trend in the Arab world. Progressive forward-thinking Arabs who have sought freedom oriented sovereignty and the benefits of modern democracy were swept away by the thuggish and radical followers of the Mufti. His inheritance is a Fascist movement that continues to predominate. His philosophical offspring continue to be animated by a modern Islamic form of authoritarian Socialism that was advocated by the Mufti from his Nazi perch in Berlin. His influence, philosophical as well as literal, calls out for examination as a means of understanding the present crisis in the Arab world. If nothing else, the destructive career of the Mufti serves as a testament to the degree in which one individual can influence and change the course of history.

To many Palestinians, he's their George Washington.

What was he doing in the early 1960s, when he met Malcolm X? In 1962, the Mufti headed the World Islamic Conference at which he again called for genocide:

The Mufti aided in Operation Odessa, which was a ratline smuggling thousands of Nazi war criminals into Egypt and Syria. Many Nazis, once settled in Arab capitals, changed their names, converted to Islam, and involved themselves in war against Israel. The Mufti promoted the so-called "right of return" for Palestinian Arabs, this after having exhorted Arabs to leave Palestine during Israel's war of independence. The Mufti worked to keep Arabs in refugee camps to be used as recruiting centers to fight against Israel. In his last public appearance in a speech before a World Islamic Conference in 1962, the Mufti called for the ethnic cleansing of all Jews from the Arab world. He died in Beirut July 5, 1974.
Several pictures here show that the Grand Mufti traveled about in the 60s and 70s, and there's no reason why he wouldn't have been in Saudi Arabia at the same time of Malcolm X's pilgrimage.

None of this is to say that Malcolm X approved of (or even knew about) the Nazi Mufti's politics; he may have been bamboozled.

But as Malcolm X moments go, I don't think it will be remembered as his finest. In fact, it doesn't seem to be remembered any more than what he said about the Jews.

Or for that matter, Catholics.

From a Playboy interview, a year before his Mecca pilgrimage:

MALCOLM X: Insofar as the Christian world is concerned, dictatorships have existed only in areas or countries where you have Roman Catholicism. Catholicism conditions your mind for dictators. Can you think of a single Protestant country that has ever produced a dictator?

PLAYBOY: Germany was predominantly Protestant when Hitler ----

MALCOLM X: Another thing to think of--in the 20th Century, the Christian Church has given us two heresies: fascism and communism. Where did fascism start? Where's the second-largest Communist party outside of Russia? The answer to both is Italy. Where is the Vatican? But let's not forget the Jew. Anybody that gives even a just criticism of the Jew is instantly labeled anti-Semite. The Jew cries louder than anybody else if anybody criticizes him. You can tell the truth about any minority in America, but make a true observation about the Jew, and if it doesn't 't pat him on the back, then he uses his grip on the news media to label you anti-Semite. Let me say just a word about the Jew and the black man. The Jew is always anxious to advise the black man. But they never advise him how to solve his problem the way the Jews solved their problem. The Jew never went sitting-in and crawling-in and sliding-in and freedom-riding, like he teaches and helps Negroes to do. The Jews stood up, and stood together, and they used their ultimate power, the economic weapon. That's exactly what the Honorable Elijah Muhammad is trying to teach black men to do. The Jews pooled their money and bought the hotels that barred them. They bought Atlantic City and Miami Beach and anything else they wanted. Who owns Hollywood? Who runs the garment industry, the largest industry in New York City? But the Jew that's advising the Negro joins the NAACP, CORE, the Urban League, and others. With money donations, the Jew gains control, then he sends the black man doing all this wading-in, boring-in, even burying-in--everything but buying-in.

Never shows him how to set up factories and hotels. Never advises him how to own what he wants. No, when there's something worth owning, the Jew's got it. Walk up and down in any Negro ghetto in America. Ninety percent of the worthwhile businesses you see are Jew-owned. Every night they take the money out. This helps the black man's community stay a ghetto.

While there's no way to know, somehow I doubt the Grand Mufti set Malcolm straight about the Jews during their half-hour talk.

Sorry for the late night posting, folks (I had zero time all day) and I wanted to squeeze in this post before midnight, because tomorrow is Hitler's birthday, and while pointing out that Malcolm X was just a handshake away from Hitler is one thing, I'd hate to have people question my timing.

MORE: Another mention of the Grand Mufti appears on page 350 of The Autobiography of Malcolm X (Grove Press, Second Printing, New York 1965.):

As some of the poorest pilgrims heard me preach, so did some of the Holy World's most important personages. I talked at length with the blue-eyed, blond-haired Hussein Amini, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. We were introduced on Mt. Arafat by Kasem Gulick of the Turkish Parliament. Both were learned men; both were especially well-read on America. Kasem Gulick asked my why I had broken with Elijah Muhammad. I sad that I preferred not to elaborate upon our differences, in the interest of preserving the American black man's unity. They both understood and accepted that.
Obviously, he meant "Amin Husseini," and it was probably garbled in the editing.

(The text is online here, and the "Hussein Amini" error is picked up and repeated here.)

posted by Eric at 11:45 PM | Comments (3)



A Rovin


In Amsterdam there lived a maid,
Mark well what I do say!
In Amsterdam there lived a maid,
An' she wuz mistress of her trade,
We'll go no more a-ro-o-vin' with you fair maid.

A-rovin', a-rovin',
Since rovin's bin my ru-i-in,
We'll go no more a-rovin',
With you fair maid.

One night I crept from my abode,
Mark well what I do say!
One night I crept from my abode,
To meet this fair maid down the road.
We'll go no more a-ro-o-vin' with you fair maid.

A-rovin', a-rovin',
Since rovin's bin my ru-i-in,
We'll go no more a-rovin',
With you fair maid.

I met this fair maid after dark,
An' took her to her favourite park.

I took this fair maid for a walk,
An' we had such a lovin' talk.

I put me arm around her waist,
Sez she, "Young man, yer in great haste!"

I put me hand upon her knee,
Sez she, "Young man, yer rather free!"

I put my hand upon her thigh,
Sez she, "Young man, yer rather high!"

I towed her to the Maiden's Breast,
From south the wind veered wes'sou'west

An' the eyes in her head turned east an' west,
And her thoughts wuz as deep as an ol' sea-chest.

We had a drink - of grub a snatch,
We sent two bottles down the hatch.

Her dainty arms wuz white as milk,
Her lovely hair wuz soft as silk.

Her heart wuz poundin' like a drum,
Her lips wuz red as any plum.

We laid down on a grassy patch,
An' I felt such a ruddy ass.

She pushed me over on me back,
She laughed so hard her lips did crack.

She swore that she'd be true to me,
But spent me pay-day fast and free.

In three weeks' time I wuz badly bent,
Then off to sea I sadly went.

In a bloodboat Yank bound round Cape Horn,
Me boots an' clothes wuz all in pawn.

Bound round Cape Stiff through ice an' snow,
An' up the coast to Callyo.

An' then back to the Liverpool Docks,
Saltpetre stowed in our boots an' socks.

Now when I got back home from sea,
A soger had her on his knee.


Here is another version by a men's choir I like.

And what brought all this on? I have always been a fan of sea shanties and songs. Ever since the folk music craze of 50s. It was one of the things that influenced me to join the US Navy. And then there was this: What Would Karl Do?

posted by Simon at 09:27 PM | Comments (1)



For All Mankind

A lot of people have been asking me publicly and privately, if the Bussard Fusion Technology is successful, can it be bottled up by special interests? I think the we have an answer from Dr. Richard Nebel who is now running the experiments in New Mexico.

Your concern is something that EMC2 has thought about. The Polywell is what is generally described as a "disruptive technology". Namely, it is a technological surprise that changes everything. A lot of people have/are investing a lot of money in energy technologies. The Polywell is their worst nightmare. Consider for a moment who isn't going to like the Polywell:

1. The fusion people. They've already gone ballistic (but we're not going to go there).
2. The fission people. They're working on a "nuclear renaissance".
3. The solar people.
4. The wind people.
5. Big oil.
6. The gas and coal companies
7. The biofuels people.
8. A few of the environmentalists.

As you can see, we are pretty much an equal opportunity irritant. We are very well aware that any number of people would like to sit on this technology and keep it out of the market. This is one of the primary reasons that Dr. Bussard chose to have this project funded by the Navy rather than privately funded (where we probably would have had a much easier schedule). With the Navy contract, we retain the rights to the intellectual property for commercialization.

Dr. Bussards's desires for this technology were very clear: he wanted it developed and used by the public ASAP. We intend to honor those wishes.

Dr. Nebel, if the latest experiment (WB-7) works out and you read this, I want you to know that if you can use my help I'm good to go. I'm willing to sweep the floors if that is the way you think you can best use me.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 05:52 PM | Comments (5)



Bush's Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan

It is not as bad as I thought.

...based on technology advances and strong new policy, it is now time for the U.S. to look beyond 2012 and to take the next step. We've shown that we can slow emissions growth. Today, I'm announcing a new national goal: to stop the growth of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.

To reach this goal, we will pursue an economy-wide strategy that builds on the solid foundation that we have in place. As part of this strategy, we worked with Congress to pass energy legislation that specifies a new fuel economy standard of 35 miles per gallon by 2020, and requires fuel producers to supply at least 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel by 2022. This should provide an incentive for shifting to a new generation of fuels like cellulosic ethanol that will reduce concerns about food prices and the environment.

We also mandated new objectives for the coming decade to increase the efficiency of lighting and appliances. We're helping states achieve their goals for increasing renewable power and building code efficiency by sharing new technologies and providing tax incentives. We're working to implement a new international agreement that will accelerate cuts in potent HCFC emissions. Taken together, these landmark actions will prevent billions of metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere.

These objectives are backed by a combination of new market-based regulations, new government incentives, and new funding for technology research. We've provided billions of dollars for next generation nuclear energy technologies. Along with the private sector, we've invested billions more to research, develop and commercially deploy renewable fuels, hydrogen fuel cells, advanced batteries, and other technologies to enable a new generation of vehicles and more reliable renewable power systems.

And how did we slow emissions growth? High gasoline prices have reduced the consumption of gasoline for one. The market works!

Lots of mandates in there. Do you know what it is called when the government controls an industry through regulation? Socialism. National Socialism.

First the auto mandate. He wants to go from a fleet average of 27.5 mpg to 35 mpg. Good. Sort of. And what if industry doesn't meet the goals? They pay a penalty. No mater what Bush has mandated an increase in auto prices. Swell. Just swell. Another thing that he doesn't take into account is that when cars get higher mileage at a given fuel price level people drive more. Cute. We will get higher auto prices and more road congestion. Brilliant move. So the saving in actual fuel consumption will be less than the numbers indicate. Of course with more people on the roads congestion will get worse. Cars that are in heavy traffic use more fuel for a given distance traveled even if they are hybrids. Another hit.

And the renewable fuel mandate? Well cellulosic ethanol sounds peachy. Except it is a dream right now. The technology is not available. In addition if it is based on crops like switchgrass it will still raise food prices because it will be in competition with land for food production. Another hit on the economy.

Mandated increases in appliance efficiency? The cost of appliances is going up. We will get more of the washers that require two wash cycles to get clothes clean. Where is the efficiency in that? Not to mention the cost in time. So what will it mean in terms of change? People will hold on to their old appliances longer. Genius.

And the lighting mandates? A study was done where a small town changed all its lighting to CFLs. What happened? Energy consumption went up. Why? With lighting costs lower people were not as careful in turning lights off when they were not in use. The hits just keep on coming.

The only positive thing in this whole bit is the work on new technology. That is the only thing that can fix the mess we are in. All the rest amounts to a huge tax increase on the economy. Oh well. At least he has put off the mandates for a while. By then we may be well into a New Little Ice Age and the Congress may be induced to repeal at least some of this non-sense.

We can only hope.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 04:12 PM | Comments (4)



The Truman Strategy

Commenter Rhodium Heart has made a really good point in a comment to Eric's piece How far off base can the "base" get? I think it is very on point and also is a good answer to my piece Who Will Stand With Us? I'm going to quote it in full because it is a luscious piece of analysis.

As an intro: Rhodium is referring to the fracturing of the Republican Party and especially the social conservative wing who might very well go for Alan Keyes if he runs on the Constitution Party ticket. The anti-war Republicans would be going for Bob Barr who will likely be running on the Libertarian ticket.

==

Alan Keyes' candidacy would be a gift from God.

Harry Truman was supposed to get trounced in '48 because of the division of the Democratic Party. Republicans were united behind Dewey, but the Dems were split left and right. Strom Thurmond and the Dixiecrats on the one side; Henry Wallace to the left. And Truman won. Part of the explanation is that Wallace's left-wing candidacy assured centrists that Truman would not be overly soft on communism.

The media will love to cover the well-spoken, dynamic (and ultimately loony) Mr. Keyes. And that will serve to assure swing voters, moderates, suburbanites, soocer moms, and the vestigial Rockefeller Republicans of the Northeast that John McCain is not too far right. How could he be when the hard right is so angrily against him!

Keyes will help McCain win this election, despite his best efforts.

==

Thank you Rhodium. I do believe you are correct. In fact McCain has been hinting quietly at a new coalition. I do believe he means it.

Here is a look at the 1948 Electoral Map

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 08:28 AM | Comments (1)



I Choose My Friends Carefully

Barry The Big O had a few Dreams from His Father.

To avoid being mistaken for a sellout,I chose my friends carefully.The more politically active black students.The foreign students.The Chicanos.The Marxist Professors and the structural feminists and punk-rock performance poets.We smoked cigarettes and wore leather jackets.At night,in the dorms,we discussed neocolonialism,Franz Fanon,Eurocentrism,and patriarchy.When we ground out our cigarettes in the hallway carpet or set our stereos so loud that the walls began to shake,we were resisting bourgeois society's stifling constraints.
Well of course. And fortunately we have another example of him throwing off bourgeois society's stifling constraints. And I have a name for it. Fingergate. What else did you expect?

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 08:12 AM | Comments (0)



A New Kind Of Politics


I think Barack H. Obama (D, Rezko) could prevent this sort of thing if he got his old friend Bomber "I didn't do enough" Ayres to practice his black arts and shut down Youtube.

Don't get me wrong. I think there is a future for Obama in politics. As a Chicago ward heeler. I'd start him out with a census of the local grave yards in order to figure out who is eligible to vote and get them registered before the next election.

Me? I practice politics Chicago style. I like my pizza from Pizzeria Uno and my hot dogs Chicago style too. And Italian Style Beef sandwiches with hot peppers? Yum.

HT Instapundit





"God-DAMN those pit bull owners"

Rachel Lucas likes Cesar Millan, aka the Dog Whisperer. And she recently used his techiques to ward off an ill-trained pit bull which some bratty kids were unable to control. She stopped what could have been a tragedy for all concerned, and none of the dogs were seriously hurt.

Good for her. I'm glad Millan's techniques worked, and I'm glad she and her dogs are OK. The people whose pit bull was off the leash give the breed a bad name.

As evidenced by this comment:

God-DAMN those pit bull owners. I fucking hate, hate, hate them. And don't tell me that it's not the dog's fault, man. I fucking KNOW that, stoner. It's just that that breed attracts those kind of tatooed idiot who wants his dog to project his 'toughness'. And they get a pit bull, and they can't handle it, or be bothered to train it, and it starts busting up the neighborhood pets owned by the local gentry.

We had one in our dog's first obedience training last year. Totally psychotic. Attacked any man, woman, child, or dog within 2 meters. The owner, a nice blonde lady, was trying to 'rescue' it from the pound. Needless to say, we left after telling the trainer that he had no business mixing that damaged canine in with other puppies. He said it was for socialization. Funny how we didn't want our pup torn up to rehab that monster. Wonder how the blonde looks with 4 puncture marks on the arm.

Want more? I just met one of our local assholes with a puppy on a fucking choke chain. Typical pit bull owner, tattoos, chin pubes, and hair that looked like a gorilla jacked off on it to get it spikey.

He was sooo proud that his brand new pit bull puppy was so tough that it needed a choke chain. At 8 weeks. I expect that the poor dog will have a permanent wheeze the next time we meet it. That, and a psychotic desire to attack my Shiloh Shepherd.

And the female that attacked Rachel was lactating. that means the owners are breeding her. Any bets on how thoroughly they researched the stud? How many generations they want back to check for inbreeding, line breeding, cross breeding, coefficient of (genetic) incidence?

What am I saying, any bets on whether they even tested the bitch for genetic defects known to the breed? Nope. It was just, hey, your male looks tough, let's mate them while we drink beer. We can sell the puppies for a bundle.

God, I wish my state had open carry laws. I'd target the pit bull second.

Target the pit bull? Not because there's anything wrong with the breed (oh no!), but merely because you think the breed attracts tatooed idiots you don't like?

I wish "Hound of Doom" (the pit bull hate commenter) would take a look at this picture of Cesar Millan:

cesarpits.jpg

Don't you just f--king hate, hate, hate him?

God-DAMN those pit bull owners!

You want to target his dogs?

Don't you just f--king hate, hate, hate me too?

CocoSmiles.jpg

Want to target Coco too? You'll have to target me first, I'm afraid.

Because pit bull owners are all, you know, scummy tattooed psycho animal abusers like me with the chin pubes, hair that looks like a gorilla jacked off on it to get it spikey, etc.

And we're all bad people who should be targeted, because the good Mr. Hound of Doom says so.

Sigh.

I try to be polite and I'm 100% in favor of free speech, but sometimes it's hard to be polite.

MORE: I didn't realize it, but Cesar Millan has a web page devoted to fun facts and famous pit bills, and says:

"My kids are around pit bulls every day. In the '70s they blamed Dobermans, in the '80s they blamed German shepherds, in the '90s they blamed the Rottweiler. Now they blame the pit bull."
I've been watching this orchestrated campaign of anti-pit bull bigotry evolve since the mid 70s, and I've never seen anything quite like it.

UPDATE: I should hasten to add something that should be obvious to anyone who reads this blog, which is that I do not consider Rachel Lucas responsible in any way for the commenter's words, any more than I am responsible for mine.

(I just couldn't ignore the comment, though.)

posted by Eric at 05:25 PM | Comments (10)



Finally on the campaign trail!
(But only when it came to my back yard....)

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have been everywhere in my area lately. As the Inquirer says, the Philadelphia suburbs hold the key to victory in the primary.

Yesterday, "High Tech Hillary" first appeared at Haverford College (just a few minutes away from here), and later she went to the Annenberg Center in Philadelphia where she paused to fix some electronics equipment which even Stephen Colbert couldn't fix:

The Colbert cable-TV show, which was taping its final appearance in Philadelphia, afforded a bit of comic relief for Clinton in the closing days of her Pennsylvania campaign against Sen. Barack Obama, who campaigned yesterday in North Carolina.

At the Annenberg Center, Clinton waited off stage as the show's host, Stephen Colbert, noticed that the set's backdrop picture showing the Liberty Bell failed to appear.

Colbert called out for help but was told that all the technicians had left.

In stepped Clinton, offering to lend a hand.

"Are you using a digital or analog truck?" she asked in a series of technical queries. "Try toggling the input," she instructed, and the picture returned.

She nodded in approval, and as she turned to leave, Clinton quipped: "Call me any time. . . . Call me at 3 a.m."

I guess the message is that if she knows how to toggle the input, she'll know how to push the right buttons at 3 a.m.

Likewise, Barack Obama has been all over the place, and one of my friends got a great picture of him at a Town Hall meeting in another high school.

But I've been feeling, like totally left out of the campaigns. You'd think that after going to all the trouble of changing my registration they'd be grateful and invite me to events and everything, but no!

Finally today at around 1:00 p.m., I read something I couldn't ignore. Hillary was to hold a Town Hall meeting at the Radnor High School at 11:00 a.m.! While that's literally walking distance from where I live, by the time I read about it it was too late to attend.

I was beginning to feel, like, completely left out, as if I'd never get to see either candidate. The election is on Tuesday, and no matter how crucial this area is right now, they won't be wasting time around here after then. So against my better judgment (and mainly in the interest of entertaining you, my dear readers!), I figured I'd head over to Radnor High, just to see whether people were still hanging around. When I got there the driveways were blocked, cars were pouring out and everyone was leaving. So I parked nearby, and just walked in through the exiting crowd, atracting no attention at all. Yes, the event was over, but there were still buttons and Hillary teddy bears like these for sale outside:

hillbears.jpg

People I asked said that Hillary had finished her Town Hall talk, but was still inside being given a tour of the school or something, so I walked in and saw that the main auditorium had emptied out, but there was a gaggle of cops and Secret Service guys were blocking access to a large hall that went towards the back of the school complex. They would not let me in, so I walked back out, then followed the driveway around to the back of the building, where I saw a line of media vehicles, and the campaign media bus:

hillmedia2.jpg

There were at least a half a dozen Secret Service agents hanging around the nearest exit doors to that media bus, and parked in front of the doors were several identical, heavy SUVs with thick glass, with Secret Service standing around them. I decided to just hang around inconspicuously where the media trucks were parked in the hope of seeing Hillary exit. Periodically, a Secret Service guy would come along and shoo people away from the highest point on the hill overlooking the exits, so I just walked around and waited. It was incredibly boring, and too far away to get a good picture, but I figured I was already there. so why not wait? At one point I was asked what I was doing and I replied that I had been "sent by the Classical Values dot com web site" to cover the event. (A statement which is technically true; since I am the classicalvalues.com web site proprietor, I can in theory send myself anywhere I want, can't I?)

After around an hour, most of the Secret Service guys went inside the building, and shortly after that, the doors opened without warning and Hillary came out, accompanied by body person Huma and Secret Service people. The latter are understandably paranoid about the "coming and going from building to car" part of their job, and they moved her so fast from the building to the SUV that it was all I could do to get a couple of poor quality photos -- this one being the best.

HillRadnor3.jpg

No sooner did she get in the SUV than the caravan took off, and it was bye bye Hillary!

byebyeHill.jpg

Better late than never, I guess.

There is one thing I learned today: a member of the paparazzi I'll never be. Too much sitting around waiting.

(OTOH, if I had a good zoom lens.....)

posted by Eric at 03:56 PM | Comments (2)



How far off base can the "base" get?

Yesterday, Glenn Reynolds remarked that Alan Keyes is getting nasty and linked this report about Keyes' announcement that he is leaving the GOP, apparently to seek the nomination of the Constitution Party.

While I share Glenn's skepticism about the Keyes candidacy, it just so happens that earlier I had earlier read an AP report that McCain was "winning back unhappy Republicans."

I occasionally tire of being a Republican traitor, and for the time being I am technically a Democrat for McCain. A DINO, if you will, because I will vote for McCain in the fall, regardless of whether I commit triple treason and fill out the form to change my party registration back to Republican before then.

Disgusted with both parties does not begin to describe how I feel. My problem is that I abhor activists (and activism) -- especially the tendency in both parties to impose conformity with all or nothing ideological laundry lists. I've written too many essays on the subject already, and this post is not about that subject per se. Rather, I'm intrigued by the dynamics of Barack Obama, especially what I'd call conservative Obamaphobia.

My theory is that from the conservative perspective, Obama has become a unifier. It's something that the far right is not comfortable with, because it wrecks the plan to sit the election out and let Hillary win. Obama is such a unifying force among disgruntled Republicans that he makes McCain far more palatable than he would otherwise have been.

WorldNetDaily describes Obama as:

one of the most dangerous men ever to be considered for the presidency of the United States of America.
I think they mean it. But there's more to this than ordinary Obamaphobia. Obamaphobia has reached the point where it now threatens to become the cure for Republican McCain Derangement Syndrome. From the perspective of the far right that wants the Republican Party to lose, such a threat cannot be tolerated.

The loser right might not want to acknowledge it, but Obamaphobia threatens to undo all their hard work, and they cannot sit idly by and allow Barack Obama to become the Republican unifier.

That, I think, accounts for the recent burst of third party activity on the right.

Last week it was Bob Barr as the Libertarian nominee, this week it's Alan Keyes as the Constitution Party nominee. Both parties are jokes, but taken together in a close race, the cumulative effect might pose a significant threat:

"It's my belief that McCain is very vulnerable on the right flank," adds Stephen Gordon, a former Libertarian Party political director. "Should both Bob Barr win the Libertarian Party nomination and Alan Keyes win the Constitution Party nomination, two of the three legs of the proverbial GOP stool will simultaneously be kicked very hard in November."

Ardent GOPers and Libertarians say McCain could be most vulnerable to third parties in the Rocky Mountain and western states. They also say small northeastern states with sometimes unpredictable contests, like New Hampshire, could be areas that McCain might suffer losses from third party gains.

Gordon says Barr in particular could do especially well in southern states because of his strong support for the Second Amendment, an area where many conservatives are distrustful of McCain's views. And even weak third party candidates could siphon enough votes in such states to possibly affect the outcome of the general election, notes Schnur.

It's conceivable that McCain could be hurt more by third party challengers than Democrats would be from a candidate like Ralph Nader, who's running under the Green Party ticket once again this year.

At Alan Keyes' Renew America website, a recent essay portrays Keyes as a sort of anti-Obama prophet whose viable candidacy was undone by his own party:
Dr. Keyes, more than anyone in the country, saw the dangers posed by the rise of Barack Obama, and was willing to endure the obvious ambushes that were set for him in the race, even though he knew there was little prospect of electoral success, and that the personal costs would be considerable. He knew that if he did not pick up the standard and run to the sound of the guns, a pro-abortion woman was going to be chosen by the GOP, and Barack Obama's evil record would never be exposed, smoothing his path to power.

Like the Lincoln-Douglas debates of an earlier century, the Keyes-Obama confrontations were of historic value. It's hard to imagine two men more different in their character and philosophy. It's hard to imagine two more disparate worldviews. And, it's hard to imagine how Alan Keyes, a man with broad Reagan administration foreign policy and national defense experience, could have rhetorically thrashed the inexperienced Barack Obama any more thoroughly than he did.

But, as you know, with the help of an Obama-loving media and a Republican establishment that was more in tune with the Democrats than it was with the timeless American principles represented by Alan Keyes, Barack Obama won the election handily, just as Douglas defeated Lincoln so many years before. And, as expected, Obama's rise to power in the days since has been swift, financed and promoted by the most radical and powerful forces of socialism in America today, including George Soros.

Wow. You'd almost think Keyes has a proprietary interest in being the Anti-Obama.
Alan Keyes, the great moral statesman of our day, has been foolishly betrayed by the Republican Party which he has faithfully supported and served throughout his adult life, and he is apparently about to leave it. And so, the duty of "we the people," the sovereign citizens of the United States, irrespective of political party, is to stand up and do the hard work necessary to make sure he's on our presidential ballot come November. We must go over the heads of the failed "leaders" and elites of our time, and make sure that he takes the oath of office in January.
Not that there hasn't been competition from other major movers and shakers in the far right, but Keyes appears to be positionining himself (at least attempting to position himself) as the number one Anti-Obama.

How much of a dent it will make in Obamaphobia as a Republican unity factor remains to be seen.

I continue to think that the best hope of the loser right remains Hillary Clinton. If she's the candidate, the unity threat posed by Obamaphobia will largely dissipate, and I think they'll all breathe easier. While few will actually vote for her in November, the rest will feel a lot more comfortable sitting it out.

A lot of people laugh when Barack Obama is called the unifier, but I think he is. I'm still not sure what to call this paranoid fear of Republican unity that I see cropping up on the far right.

If it's fear of Obamaphobia, then wouldn't that make it Obamaphobophobia?

The problem with that is that while Obamaphobia -- and even the more esoteric Obamaphobe -- have arguably become established words (at least for political junkies), Obamaphobophia remains hitless. Ditto Obamaphobophobe. I'd sure hate to use the wrong word for right losers.

The problem may be that this stuff is just too new for words. And besides, don't we have enough phobias and enough phobes as it is? I'm sure I'm not the only person who's sick to death of sticking the "phobia" suffix on everything that comes along.

And where does it end? No seriously. Being an admitted anti-Limbaugh RINO DINO crossover strategist who fears the pro-Hillary MDS Limbaugh group, I'd have to attach yet another suffix to my yet-undiagnosed phobic disorder.

Obamaphobophobophobia.

Surely, there have to be limits.

MORE: Not to be outdone by the loser wing of the Republican Party, the loser wing of the Democratic Party (activists such as Leslie Cagan, Medea Benjamin, Cynthia McKinney) plan on recreating the famous 1968 Democratic Convention riots this summer. The slogan? "Recreate '68!

A coalition of anti-war groups is vowing to protest this summer's Democratic National Convention in Denver under the rubric "Re-create '68," prompting criticism from some on the left who are loath to revisit what they see as a disastrous time for both the anti-war movement and the Democratic Party.
(HT M. Simon.)

It's an interesting read. Ironically, the gray-haired 68 rioters now find themselves deeply perplexed.

I'd say "what goes around comes around," but I don't want to be accused of helping to contribute to "cycles of violence"!

The angry right might be angry, but unlike the angry left, at least they're not into recreating historic violence.

posted by Eric at 09:12 AM | Comments (4)



Ecumenism


From the wiki: Although "Spirit in the Sky" is considered by many to be a Jesus rock song with a heavily Christian theme, Greenbaum was and still is a practicing Jew. He was inspired to write the song after observing a preacher on television.

Inspired by The Culture War Is Over.

posted by Simon at 02:03 AM | Comments (2)




Who Will Stand With Us?

I visit many sites on the 'net in the course of a day. And I see this kind of sentiment a lot:

I do not intend to send one penny until I know who the VP candidate is. I, too, would very much like it to be Mitt.

From what I can tell only the RINOs are supporting the party now in its hour of need.

They will own it. Which is good.

These are the times that try men's souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Thomas Paine

As my friend Eric the RINO says: I have supported the nominee with money and time no matter what. No matter the stand on issues dear to my heart. What is wrong with the so called party faithful?

The Communists are pouring money into Obama's campaign and you will let McCain down because he is not Right enough for you? Because his VP choice is not announced?

As is so often found in the Bible, there are always some who will betray the city out of a sense of pique. Sad to find so many like that in so many places.

Give To John's Campaign

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 11:37 PM | Comments (6)



Moral relativism?

From the Wiki entry for Osama bin Laden's father:

Sheikh Mohammed bin 'Awad bin Laden (Arabic: محمد بن عوض بن لادن‎), also known as Mohammed bin Laden (1908--September 3, 1967), a Yemeni immigrant to Saudi Arabia was a wealthy investor, businessman and patriarch of the bin Laden family. He married 22 times and fathered at least 55 children. Osama bin Laden is believed to be his 16th child and the only son with his tenth wife Hamida al-Attas, reportedly of Syrian descent.
Funny thing, but while I heard a lot of anger directed towards his son, I never heard much outcry against his immoral lifestyle.

Here's Ali Eteraz:

In America, Muslim polygamy exists.

Mormons are not the only ones practicing polygamy. And if you believe that Muslims, upon coming to America, become universally monogamous, you are sorely mistaken.

Eteraz goes on to criticize Muslim polygamy.

I haven't seen too much outcry from Americans who are shocked by Muslim polygamy (regardless of the age of the brides), whether in Muslim countries or here.

Is fundamentalist Mormon polygamy more shocking?

The reason I'm asking is because I was just watching Larry King Live, and there's quite a bit of fuss over fundamentalist Mormon polygamy. Women like this who "escaped the lifestyle" are prominently featured:

escaped3.jpg

I just had this uneasy feeling that if the same sort of thing had been going on in a polygamous Muslim compound, there might not be the same outcry.

And they might not be describing women as having "escaped from polygamy."

Next thing you know, certain activists will seize upon this case as an argument for the "one man, one woman" ballot initiatives, with the usual unholy alliances.

It's all a little too predictable for comfort.

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

Comments appreciated, agree or disagree.

posted by Eric at 10:05 PM | Comments (52)



How many clues do the clueless need?

Don't miss "The 'Useful Idiots' of Militant Islam" by Youssef M. Ibrahim. (Biography here.)

Analogizing to Lenin's "useful idiots," Ibrahim argues that their Islamist equivalent are everywhere:

Today's Islamist Lawrences are being cultivated among a broad swath of political analysts, scholars, anthropologists, pundits, missionaries, and even spies dissecting militant Islam and Islamofascism. While most carry out illuminating and necessary work, the fish they bait ends up ensnaring many.

A few recent catches: the archbishop of Canterbury urging the introduction of Sharia law in Britain; Harvard University, a bastion of secular scholarship, shutting its gym to men to accommodate Muslim women; authorities at Minneapolis's international airport negotiating for months with 700 Somali Muslim taxi drivers who refused to pick up passengers carrying liquor or depending on guide dogs.

Then there was President George Bush launching his Muslim initiative last June from the Islamic Center of Washington, a Saudi institution distributing educational material instructing Muslims to segregate themselves from other Americans.

Among other things, the Saudi-funded publications admonish Muslims in America "to dissociate from infidels, hate them for their religion, never to rely on them for support, and always oppose them in every way according to Islamic law." The question: how was it that among the estimated five million Muslim Americans with hugely varied institutions, the president's advisors picked a Saudi Islamofascist ghetto as a venue?

This cluelessness is spreading into the academy and the arts too.

Ibrahim supplies examples, and I'd add my experience with the local Saudi madrassa -- caught trying to run a jihadist summer camp with known terrorist-sympathetic speakers which violated its agreement with the neighbors as well as local codes, yet was given special privileges the same board refused to extend to a Christian school.

And as I pointed out in another post, the Islamic scholar who was newly appointed President of Bryn Mawr College assisted in the prosecution of a man for criminal hate speech in Canada.

So, I completely agree that cluelessness is spreading. What I'd like to know is how long should such people are to be called clueless.

I mean, how many clues do they need?

MORE: In his review of the Fitna film, Nick Packwood sheds quite a bit of light on the nature of Western cluelessness:

Wilders has created a document whose power lies in its not being seen.*** I could find more inflammatory rhetoric on YouTube in five minutes but nothing so powerful as the argument we are not allowed to hear. The cowardice of the West is unfolding precisely as Wilders has foreseen. The cowards are doing all the rhetorical heavy lifting, proving his argument for him. There is only so long our culture can hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil before we walk civilization over the cliff and plummet into the abyss of a new Dark Age. Either that or until the consequences of denial are no longer supportable as neurosis, our conversion symptoms fail and we collectively undergo a genocidal psychotic break. They do not call psychoanalysis the "talking cure" for nothing. We either have to face our problems directly or they shall govern us until the end, whatever that end turns out to be.
Read it all.

posted by Eric at 07:36 PM | Comments (3)



is it safe?

WARNING: Gruesome discussion follows.

At least, I guess discussions of how to kill people are gruesome to some people. I suspect that that a few readers, though, might come here because of occasional discussions of gruesome things. (In fact, a commenter to my previous post on lethal injection mentioned the "Classical Values Torture poll.")

The Supreme Court just ruled 7-2 that lethal injection is not cruel and unusual punishment, notwithstanding the risk that the procedure (known as "protocols") might not be carried out correctly. That the prisoner might suffer is considered part of the punishment.

What that means is that for now, the death penalty remains. That's a good result for people (including myself) who support the death penalty, but I don't think it will stop the endless bickering over whether the procedure is humane. There will continue to be problems, and I think that's because the statutes require "intravenous injection" of certain fatal drugs, but the laws do not contemplate the difficulty of finding a vein and establishing and maintaining a good rate of flow. (Kentucky law in question calls for "continuous intravenous injection of a substance or combination of substances sufficient to cause death.")

I found the legal links at Ann Althouse's discussion of the case, and I notice that her very first commenter proposes Nitrogen asphyxiation as a form of humane death.

For that matter, the same nitrous oxide ("laughing gas") that dentists use is inert, inexpensive, and (unlike some of the explosive gases used by anesthetists) quite safe to administer. Lots of stupid people have accidentally killed themselves getting high with the stuff; why not use it deliberately?

If the goal is humane elimination of human life, I'd say it's another good idea.

Another commenter pointed out that vets use Pentathol only:

Vets use only one chemical ; it seems peaceful enough.

Is the dog perhaps conscious and struggling to breathe for 30 seconds, unknown to everybody? It would have come up. People love their dogs.

I suppose you could brain-scan and look for panic activity.

Somebody holds the dog down in case it's not peaceful, so maybe everybody isn't so lucky. Still, it's likely to be the best that can be done, on the average.

An overdose of sedative sounds foolproof to me, but for dogs anyway you don't want it to drag out over many appointment slots.

As I pointed out in the earlier post, my vet sedates animals before the IV Pentathol shot. I realize that Justice Roberts rejected veterinary practice as "not an appropriate guide to humane practices for humans," but my argument was along commonsense lines.

There is absolutely no reason why putting a man to death should be any more complicated than putting a dog to death. Considering ubiquitously available technology, there is no logical reason why there need be any infliction of pain.

I think there's an unacknowledged desire in some quarters among death penalty proponents to do more than merely cause the condemned person to die, and it may be rooted in the desire to inflict further punishment.

The idea of humane death being rendered inhumane because of human incompetence never should have become an issue in the first place. Don't get me started on how or why the government is incapable of doing what even the most mediocre veterinary assistant could do; I wrote a post, and people seem to have missed my point, which is that capital punishment can be made less vulnerable to these endless legal challenges by making it absolutely painless.

These gruesome torture rape murders in Tennessee (which I posted about extensively and about which Glenn Reynolds posted the update about last week) are a perfect example of why the death penalty ought to be rendered legally unassailable in that regard. Tennessee's legal wranglings over the procedure are so typical, yet so unnecessary. I want awful people like that dead; I don't want lawyers supplied with a single legitimate argument about why the lethal injections might be botched and might cause pain when that can be avoided entirely.

Any vet tech can kill these people painlessly, quickly, and efficiently.

The law should not require "intravenous injection" from start to finish; a simple initial injection of a sedative (or admininstration of nitrous oxide gas) to the point of unconsciousness, to be followed by the IV infusion of a massive dose of Pentathol would be fine, and completely painless.

If the goal is to humanely get them off the earth, why not use the most efficient and humane means to that end?

posted by Eric at 06:11 PM | Comments (5)



End women's suffrage, Part II (End the Curse!)
If we took away women's right to vote, we'd never have to worry about another Democrat president. It's kind of a pipe dream, it's a personal fantasy of mine, but I don't think it's going to happen.

-- Ann Coulter

That was said in humor, right? I mean, like most of the serious women who are planning to vote for Hillary Clinton, Ann Coulter would not seriously want to take away her own right to vote, would she?

Certainly not. Why, the idea itself is laughable.

Anyway, a few weeks ago M. Simon posted this hilarious YouTube video in which clueless college students were asked to -- and did -- sign a petition to end women's suffrage.

What made it funny was not merely because the kids didn't understand what they were signing, but because the idea of taking away the right of women to vote is comical.

Right?

Not so fast. A man named Gary D. Naler (who makes Dobson and Robertson look like flaming liberals) has written a book called The Curse of 1920, which I just heard being plugged on the radio. From the Amazon book review blurb:

In 1920, a three-pronged Curse was unleashed upon America and the world, effecting the most dramatic and destructive changes to man since the Garden of Eden. This three-pronged Curse is: the women's rights movement; jazz, rock 'n' roll, and rap; and abortion and euthanasia. The Curse of 1920 chronicles the wholly destructive affects of this Curse, affording conclusive evidence from multiple sources, and critically gets to the very root of our nation's most compelling governmental, social, and religious problems. As this book clearly reveals, the root of this Curse lies in women, the black man, feminized men, the church, and is even rooted 3,726 years before in Abraham. But exposing these problems is only the beginning; for unless we take specific measures to reverse the Curse of 1920, it will continue to destroy us! These measures are clearly laid out here.
That's just the bare outline. At the book's web site, specifics like these are addressed in detail:
The Women's Rights Movement:

The escalating destruction of our nation in the last ninety years has proven that the woman is the weaker vessel who is easily deceived, and needs the strengthening of the law to protect her from the temptation of filing for divorce, rejecting her head, leaving the home, and destroying the family, or getting involved in government. Our nation has sadly proven that abandonment of patriarchal government destroys the home and this nation. To reverse this Curse:

(1) The Nineteenth Amendment must be repealed and men alone be given the right to vote and to govern,
(2) We must restore the patriarchal government whereupon this nation was founded, including property and divorce laws, and
(3) We must establish a sunset law on public welfare so as to restore the structure of the home--a man and a wife--as well as initiative.

To restore the black man to the head of his home:

(1) Welfare must be removed so that the woman and children must learn to once again depend on the man, and
(2) Patriarchal government must be restored and divorce laws changed to reflect the man's legal right to all assets in the home, including the children. Responsibility produces responsibleness, for both parties.


To restore the family:

(1) The man is the head of the home and head of society, and the woman cannot exercise the authority of the man in either,
(2) The husband is to love and honor his wife,
(3) The wife is to obey her husband,
(4) Divorce is not an option (except in the case of infidelity),
(5) The married woman is to be the keeper of the home and refrain from working outside of it, and
(6) Children are to obey their parents in all things.

And, women need to:

Repent and get out of men's clothing and the place of the man and find their place in the home under their husband's authority, covering themselves in modest women's clothing.

Zimran Music:

Abraham's marriage to the cursed Canaanite, Keturah, and the six sons they brought forth, clearly evidenced the course this nation has followed under the Curse of 1920--music, ensnared, doubly contentious, forsaking, and sinking down into the mud. The curse of Ham came upon this nation through Voodoo music, effecting the curse of Satan-headed Africa with all its ill and destructive practices. Therefore:

We must bring our children under the protective covering of responsible and moral censorship of the music and entertainment industry, both through government and through the home.

The web site also offers some selected quotes from the book like these:
As we will see here, because the woman has not allowed the man to rule over her, submitting to him, our homes and our society and our government are fraught with an imperiling tsunami of disastrous ills! [p. 26]

Two strong beasts came out of the sea in 1920--the first was violent and thrashing, and contrary to her name even intemperate, affording immediate devastation; the second was keen, cunning, and sly, and even more evil than her sister. Because of the wrath of the first beast, she was quickly slain. But her sister, who seemed to offer no harm, was allowed to go free. She, with deft shrewdness, walked the land as well; but learning from her sister, she moved silently and under the cloak of disguise. Waxed with persuasion and emotions and fed on self-rights and drunk on the need for power, she slew far more than her violent sister ever came near to. She, the latter, has been the far greater beast, for she has continued her violence unawares--the most destructive of all enemies! Now, she too must be slain! [p. 40]

Feminists have one purpose--to obtain power! And the only way they can obtain it is to erase the line of distinction between the sexes and create a government and society that is homosexual. From the standpoint of Yahweh's government, the sexual homogeneity of the government of this nation is a perversion, even as homosexuality per se is a perversion. [p. 53]

What then happens when the blood that comes from the bones becomes polluted? The blood then pollutes the whole body. Thus, that which is in the blood will be evidenced in the body. And in replication, that which is in government will be evidenced in society. So, why is there so much homosexuality in society today? The answer is quite obvious. Because there is governmental homosexuality--one and the same sex! Feminism! Removing the distinction between men and women in voting and in governing. When our government became homosexual, our society evidenced homosexuality. [p. 54]

[...]

And to repeat here once again, and will be drawn upon in Chapter 14--we must reject Africa's cursed matriarchy that has come upon this nation and legally restore our original patriarchal government. Marriage and voting laws must likewise be restored to uphold Yahweh's union of two into one flesh under the husband's headship. We must eliminate welfare, which continues Johnson's War on the Black Family. The coverings over women's bodies (and men's bodies) and heads that have become more and more like those of naked Africans must be restored--following in the lineage of Shem and not Ham. We must reject, eliminate, and censor the cursed black Voodoo Zimran music of jazz, rock, rap, et al., as well as the shameful and destructive excesses of the entertainment and advertising industries. And we must cease the slaughter of our innocent infants through abortion and the infirmed through euthanasia.

America, the heavenly kingdom, the blessed descendants of Shem, has been under the curse of Ham through the black man of Africa, the snake kingdom, and we must reverse this Curse of 1920 and cover our father's nakedness! [p. 222]

How many men would send a woman to an auto repair shop to have the car checked out? Not many, because the woman is vulnerable. So how could we fall for this now-proven failed idea that the family and this nation are better off with the woman having equal rights with the man? Is there a sanity check here? It is time we wake up to what is right and to what works and not be deceived--a quality all too often evidenced by the created. Our nation's ever-increasing rise in divorce rates since the 1800s is due to one thing--women's rights, the most destructive force today on the face of this earth! It destroyed the original Garden of God, and it is destroying America, the garden of God at the nations level. Again, Mrs. Annie Wittenmyer was right--suffrage has struck "a fatal blow at the home!" [p. 256]

Present-day conservatism is not masculinism, but homosexuality leaning to the right! [p. 270]

There's a lot more, and it's very, um, interesting, to say the least.

I don't know why the presidential candidates haven't been asked about any of these serious questions.

Sometimes I can't tell the difference between satire and reality. It happens when I have to spend a great deal of time trying to distinguish between what's serious and what isn't, and in cases like this, logic can actually cloud the process. After all, I am analyzing statements by real people, talking about a real issue, am I not? I guess this "movement" has to be considered right wing, doesn't it? Will right wing women support it? Should women get to vote on the question of whether they should lose the right, or is that hopeless paradox only part of the Curse?

I'm very confused.

However, I will make one serious observation grounded in my logical assessment of real life politics. It is my considered opinion that no movement to repeal the 19th Amendment will ever have the slightest chance of success. Not even if the 19th Amendment were first repealed, and that would be impossible.

A movement to repeal the First Amendment would have a better chance.

(There might be some slight irony in the last statement, as I doubt the First Amendment would pass today, but I don't want to speculate about such things as whether there's a "free speech gender gap," for that might be construed as offensive....)

MORE: Without regard to the question I just raised, nearly half of Americans think the First Amendment goes too far, although no gender breakdown is given.

But here are a couple of excerpts from the study:

Less than six in 10 agreed that people should be allowed to say things in public that might be offensive to religious groups. And barely a third of those surveyed said people should be able to say things that might be offensive to racial groups.

[...]

57% of those surveyed said that people should be allowed to say things in public that might be offensive to religious groups; the exact same percentage agreed that musicians should be allowed to sing songs with lyrics that others might find offensive. With regard to the latter right, differences in support between the sexes were particularly acute: 64% of men agreed with the right of musicians to sing offensive lyrics, as compared to 49% of the women surveyed.

Keeping in mind the requirements, and the onerous uphill struggle it takes to amend the Constitution, I'm not sure the First Amendment would make it through today, regardless of any gender gap.

UPDATE: The Padua Academy in the video above appears to be a private Catholic high school and not a college. Correction noted!

posted by Eric at 12:06 PM | Comments (15)



Obamadee and Hillarydum agreed to have a battle...

Anyone who enjoyed the Tweedledee and Tweedledum story as a child will enjoy David Kopel's piece in today's Wall Street Journal comparing Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama's positions on gun control. Instead of Tweedledum and Tweedledee, Kopel invokes an even sillier (and more surreal) spectacle -- Pat Robertson and James Dobson courting the gay marriage vote!

Imagine an election race of Pat Robertson versus James Dobson, each of them appearing at organic grocery stores and Starbucks throughout Massachusetts, with each candidate insisting that he alone deserves the vote of gay-marriage advocates. An equally silly spectacle is taking place these days in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Indiana, West Virginia and Kentucky, as Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama compete for the pro-gun vote.
A silly but completely apt comparison. It is just as difficult to see which of the two is "better" on the right to keep and bear arms as it would be to determine whether Dobson or Robertson is "better" on gay marriage.

Kopel demonstrates -- in damningly meticulous detail -- that both candidates have awful records, and he concludes that "Civil libertarians who support Mr. Obama or Mrs. Clinton because of their purported fealty to the Second Amendment may be bitterly disappointed."

Well, if you're a Second Amendment supporter and you're not feeling bitter, just wait until one of them is in the White House.

It just so happens that I watched the debate last night and wrote this piece for Pajamas Media. On the gun issue, the only "debate" seemed to involve which candidate could demonstrate a superior talent for obfuscation and for the abilty to display willful ignorance:

....both candidates lost. They seemed to be engaged in some sort of perverse contest to see who was better at obfuscating the documented anti-gun records of each, as well as competing to demonstrate a near-total ignorance about the Heller case. Obama said, "I confess I obviously haven't listened to the briefs and looked at all the evidence," while Hillary said, "I don't know the facts." Riiiight. (While they're probably both lying, if they are telling the truth, neither one belongs in a legislature, much in the White House!)
Reading Kopel's piece this morning makes me realize how difficult it must have been for them to be facing their left-wing, anti-gun constituents, and all the while they've been trying to con regular voters into believing that they're really not after their guns (when of course they are). No wonder they feigned ignorance and didn't dare disagree with each other. Imagine Pat Robertson and James Dobson having to appear before their constituents after having courted the gay marriage vote, and with everyone watching. It was an exercise in political surrealism worthy of Lewis Carroll.

Anyone who thinks there's more than a smidgen of a difference between them (or entertains delusional thoughts that either supports the Second Amendment) should go read Kopel's piece.

And be sure to laugh while you can.

posted by Eric at 09:48 AM



NO MORE BITTER BLUES?

After a long day in New Jersey, I settled down to watch last night's debate, and was up late writing this post for Pajamas Media.

My conclusion was that Hillary was the tactical winner, and nothing I saw alters my position that she is the stronger candidate, and would be the tougher one for McCain to beat.

Fascinatingly, they seemed to downplay the bitter churchgoing gun-clingers stuff (a lot more than I had expected), and Obama gave Hillary a pass on her Bosnia lies. But there were still plenty of sparks.

Last night I saw that NBC's Chuck Todd pronounced McCain the winner, and this morning I see that M. Simon has pronounced both of the candidates losers. I agree, and I suspect a majority of Americans would too.

So why not get the entire country to vote next Tuesday, and make it all be over?

Alas! November is still a ways off, and a lot could happen between now and then.

Like it or not, last night is what counts right now.

So if you want to see what I thought was happening last night, please check out my post!

posted by Eric at 09:07 AM | Comments (2)



Two Losers

Do you remember when Henry Kissinger said about the Iran-Iraq War "Too bad they both can't lose"? Well talk like that about Hillary and Obama is now entering the main stream press. Not that they actualy want them both to lose but, disaster is staring them in the face.

When they face off Wednesday night in their Pennsylvania debate, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will be fighting each other for the Keystone State's 158 delegates. But they'll also be fighting a common foe: A growing belief that neither can win the general election in November.

It's a problem Clinton has had all along, and Obama, despite being the front-runner, is now proving he belongs in the same soup.

Clinton started with half of America's voters saying they would never support her for President, and the number hasn't budged. Against Republican John McCain, she would have to win virtually every voter who hasn't already decided against her.

Obama is closing in on her dubious distinction. His slam against small-town Americans, saying they "cling to guns and religion" out of bitterness over the economy, is certain to cost him in Pennsylvania among the white working-class voters he had trouble attracting in other states.

The Keystone Cops of Politics in the Keystone State. Perfect.

I have been saying for a while that Barry and Hillary are ruining the brand. It appears I have an echo chamber that is returning my shout louder than I screamed it. Wooo. Hooo.

I'm beginning to wonder just how bad this could get? We haven't even seen the convention demonstrations or anything of that sort. They will not start until 22 August. That is four months of hammering away at each other. Even if The super delegates decide after the last primary in early June, that is still almost a month and a half more of banging. Plus, if the Dems come to a decision in June that allows the disaffected voters a couple of months to get on the McCain bandwagon or develop a write in campaign for the general election and then two more months after that until the vote. Talk about being on the horns of a dilemma and having no good options. It has got to really suck to be a Democrat operative. The pain must be intense.

Just six months ago I was writing off Republican chances in '08. Heh. Who ever thought up the idea of running Obama against Clinton was a genius. A total genius. The Republicans should give him a Medal without respect to party affiliation. Who ever did it deserves it.

Class warfare, racism, sexism, and identity politics all unraveling. God I love the Democrat party.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 06:35 AM | Comments (7)



The Punishment Is Necessary

I have been looking at some of the live blogging of last night's Clinton Obama debate. And I found something extraordinary. According to commenter Simon (not me) at Althouse

Simon said...

Oh, and great answer from Obama on capital gains! Even though raising the rate lowers revenue and vice-versa, he wants to to raise capital gains tax to punish people who make too much money! Picture perfect!

8:10 PM

So taxes are no longer for raising money they are a form of punishment? Whoa Nellie. So under Obama we will not be governed, we will be punished.

If this is some kind of Bondage game what is the Safe Word? How do we make him stop? Not voting for him is one way to register your preference. Not voting for any Democrat would be even better. Punish them all before they can punish us. That is the spirit! And I know a safe phrase they can use. "I want to go home". That is the ticket. In fact that seems to be the ticket Democrats are running on this year. The "Send Us Home" ticket. I'm all for it.

Jonah Goldberg at the Corner has this take:

I don't cry "class warfare!" very often. But the beginning of Obama's capital gains tax question was amazing stuff. He conceded the premise that revenues go up when you cut capital gains taxes. But he said it would be worthwhile to raise them nonetheless as an issue of "fairness" because some people are making too much money. In other words, even if the government loses money to pay for all of the wonderful things Obama wants to do, it'd be worth it because sticking it to rich people is a good in and of itself.
I get it. Obama thinks there are too many rich people in America and thinks they should be living elsewhere. Or maybe they deserve it because of slavery or something.

Well at least he has been listening to those U Chicago Economists about what happens when capital gains taxes get excessive. It is a start. I still think he needs to take a vacation for a couple of years in Illinois post Nov 08. After that perhaps he could retire "to spend more time with his family" post election '10. Or perhaps those of us in Illinois will get lucky and he will do it sooner. I'm praying for it. I want the punishment to stop.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 05:02 AM | Comments (2)




A New Plan To End Global Warming



Outlaw Fire




posted by Simon at 10:25 PM | Comments (3)



From A Source To Be Named Later

I just got an email from a friend who thought I'd get a laugh out of this. I have no idea if any of this is true. Sadly, the worst aspect of this is that it very well could be.

==

Your govt. in action!!!!!

A Washington , DC , airport ticket agent offers some examples of why our country is in trouble!

1. I had a New Hampshire Congresswoman ask for an aisle seat so that her hair wouldn't get messed up by being near the window. (On an Airplane!)

2. I got a call from a candidate's staffer, who wanted to go to Capetown. I started to explain the length of the flight and the passport information. Then she interrupted me with, "I'm not trying to make you look stupid, but Capetown is in Massachusetts " Without trying to make her look stupid, I calmly explained, "Cape Cod is in Massachusetts ; Capetown is in Africa "

Her response - click.

3. A senior Vermont Congressman called, furious about a Florida package we did. I asked what was wrong with the vacation in Orlando . He said he was expecting an ocean-view room. I tried to explain that's not possible, since Orlando is in the middle of the state. He replied, "Don't lie to me. I looked on the map and Florida is a very thin state!"

4. I got a call from a lawmaker's wife who asked, "Is it possible to see England from Canada ?" I said, "No." She said, "But they look so close on the map."

5. An aide for a cabinet member once called and asked if he could rent a car in Dallas . When I pulled up the reservation, I noticed he had only a 1-hour layover in Dallas . When I asked him why he wanted to rent a car he said, "I heard Dallas was a big airport, and we will need a car to drive between gates to save time."

6. An Illinois Congresswoman called last week. She needed to know how it was possible that her flight from Detroit left at 8:30 am and got to Chicago at 8:33 am. I explained that Michigan was an hour ahead of Illinois , but she couldn't understand the concept of time zones. Finally, I told her the plane went fast, and she bought that.

7. A New York lawmaker called and asked, "Do airlines put your physical description on your bag so they know whose luggage belongs to whom?" I said, "No, why do you ask?" She replied, "Well, when I checked in with the airline, they put a tag on my luggage that said 'FAT,' and I'm overweight. I think that's very rude!" After putting her on hold for a minute while I looked into it (I was laughing). I came back and explained the city code for Fresno , CA is 'FAT' - ( Fresno Air Terminal), and the airline was just putting a destination tag on her luggage.

8. A Senator's aide called to inquire about a trip package to Hawaii. After going over all the cost info, she asked, "Would it be cheaper to fly to California , and then take the train to Hawaii ?"

9. I just got off the phone with a freshman Congressman who asked, "How do I know which plane to get on?" I asked him what exactly he meant, to which he replied, "I was told my flight number is 823, but none of these planes have numbers on them."

10. A lady Senator called and said, "I need to fly to Pepsi-Cola , Florida Do I have to get on one of those little computer planes?" I asked if she meant fly to Pensacola, Florida on a commuter plane. She said, "Yeah, whatever, smarty!"

11. A senior Senator called and had a question about the documents he needed in order to fly to China . After a lengthy discussion about passports, I reminded him that he needed a visa. "Oh, no I don't. I've been to China many times and never had to have one of those." I double checked and sure enough, his stay required a visa. When I told him this he said, "Look, I've been to China four times and every time they have accepted my American Express!"

12. A New Mexico Congresswoman called to make reservations, "I want to go from Chicago to Rhino, New York ." I was at a loss for words. Finally, I said, "Are you sure that's the name of the town?" "Yes, what flights do you have?" replied the lady. After some searching, I came back with, "I'm sorry, ma'am, I've looked up every airport code in the country and can't find a Rhino anywhere." The lady retorted, "Oh, don't be silly! Everyone knows where it is. Check your map!" So I scoured a map of the state of New York and finally offered, "You don't mean Buffalo , do you?" The reply? "Whatever! I knew it was a big animal."

Now you know why the Government is in the shape that it's in!

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 05:52 PM | Comments (5)



No pain, no gain!

This letter to the Philadelphia Inquirer fascinated me:

David Reichenbacher
Philadelphia
This campaign is dragging on too long, forcing candidates and the media to make stories out of nonevents, like the definition of bitter. I'll tell you something, Hillary Clinton. I'm a Pennsylvanian, and I am bitter. Obama is in touch with us.
While I don't want to sound like I'm stuck on bitter, I think this calls for the dictionary:

bitter2.jpg

Painful?

Pain?

I can identify with that, because I have to drive to New Jersey and run around for the entire day, and there's nothing I hate more than being stuck in those awful suburban traffic jams. No seriously, it is pure pain. I don't want to go, and I'm delaying my departure by writing a blog post about the pain and bitterness I feel!

What would Freud say?

Back in the old days, we had a president who was elected for saying "I feel your pain."

"I feel your pain." Clinton looked at the unemployed man in the town hall debate forum... and many felt that was a crucial moment in his being elected. So much so that the phrase became a catch phrase of the 90's.
My how times have changed!

(Anyway, I can't decide who will best feel my pain right now, but I gotta go!)

MORE: Glenn Reynolds links a post about how Bill felt the pain of the little rural people back in 1995, after Hillary said "Screw 'em!"

In January 1995, as the Clintons were licking their wounds from the 1994 congressional elections, a debate emerged at a retreat at Camp David. Should the administration make overtures to working class white southerners who had all but forsaken the Democratic Party? The then-first lady took a less than inclusive approach.

"Screw 'em," she told her husband. "You don't owe them a thing, Bill. They're doing nothing for you; you don't have to do anything for them."

At that point, Clinton "stepped in, calm and judicious, not irritated, as if rehearsing an old but honorable debate he had been having with his wife for decades.":

I know how you feel. I understand Hillary's sense of outrage. It makes me mad too. Sure, we lost our base in the South; our boys voted for Gingrich. But let me tell you something. I know these boys. I grew up with them. Hardworking, poor, white boys, who feel left out, feel that our reforms always come at their expense. Think about it, every progressive advance our country has made since the Civil War has been on their backs. They're the ones asked to pay the price of progress. Now, we are the party of progress, but let me tell you, until we find a way to include these boys in our programs, until we stop making them pay the whole price of liberty for others, we are never going to unite our party, never really going to have change that sticks.
I think he felt their bitterness.

posted by Eric at 10:49 AM | Comments (3)



No fair clinging in an emergency!

One of the best political analysts in the business (IMO) is the Philadelphia Inquirer's Dick Polman. While he says that Obama "screwed up badly during that fund-raiser in San Francisco," he finds it quite amusing that Hillary is portraying herself as a gun-loving, working class hero:

If you want to enjoy a belly laugh, here are three reliable suggestions: (1) rent an old Woody Allen movie, especially Bananas, (2) rent Borat, or (3) listen to Hillary Clinton, of all people, attack Barack Obama as "elitist."

This is the same woman who during the last seven years, as evidenced by her tax returns with Bill, has become a millionaire 109 times over; whose husband has long supported the Colombian free-trade deal (deemed hurtful to American workers); who long defended his signing of NAFTA; . . . who, during her Senate career, voted in favor of confiscating guns during a national emergency (one of only 16 senators to do so; Obama voted against confiscation); and who, during the Democratic debates, has refused to shed any light on why the Clintons are safeguarding the identities of the global heavy hitters who are bankrolling the Clinton Library.

I should probably pay more attention to specific details about the candidates' records involving firearms, because I had tended to assume that Obama's gun control record was the same as (or slightly worse than) Hillary's. (Both are rated "F" by the NRA.)

Not that I would distrust what a guy like Polman says, as he's pretty careful with his facts, but still, there's "trust but verify."

So I checked it out, and it is absolutely true. Here are the votes from the Senate roll call:

Clinton (D-NY), Nay

Obama (D-IL), Yea

And here's the text of the amendment:
S.AMDT.4615
Amends: H.R.5441
Sponsor: Sen Vitter, David [LA] (submitted 7/12/2006) (proposed 7/12/2006)
AMENDMENT PURPOSE:
To prohibit the confiscation of a firearm during an emergency or major disaster if the possession of such firearm is not prohibited under Federal or State law.
That's pretty straightforward.

Obama would let people keep their firearms during emergencies, while Hillary would confiscate them.

I realize that both candidates are terrible on the gun issue, but I'd love to know what sort of philosophical thinking might explain their different votes on this, because frankly, elitist Obama comes out smelling better than "populist" Hillary.

(For the record, I think they're both elitists, OK?)

In terms of the gun-clinging behavior that's been under discussion recently, I think most people would agree that during an emergency is when you'd most likely have a need to cling to a gun -- like insurance, it's a "when all else fails" kind of thing. I'm reminded of a remark Obama made about why you'd be more likely to need a gun in a rural area:

"And by the way, Michelle, my wife, she was traveling up, I think, in eastern Iowa, she was driving through this nice, beautiful area, going through all this farmland and hills and rivers and she said 'Boy, it's really pretty up here,' but she said, 'But you know, I can see why if I was living out here, I'd want a gun. Because, you know, 911 is going to take some time before somebody responds. You know what I mean? You know, it's like five miles between every house.'

"So the point is, though, we should be able to do that, and we should be able to enforce laws that keep guns off the streets in inner cities because some unscrupulous gun dealer is, you know, letting somebody load up a van with a bunch of cheap handguns or sawed-off shotguns and dumping them and selling them for a profit in the streets."

While I disputed the idea that you're more likely to need a gun in a rural than an urban area, right now I'm thinking that Obama missed an opportunity to remind voters that under at least some circumstances, he thinks people should be allowed to cling to their guns. Not to defend Obama's dreadful Second Amendment record, but there's a certain consistency there. Sure, he might be a bit condescending about the gun issue, but in his naive way (and in his own mind) he at least makes an attempt to understand the people whose lifestyle he does not share.

But what could be more condescending than Hillary's view that the government should take away people's guns during emergencies?

I agree with Polman that Hillary's pose is downright comical, and I think Obama was right to ridicule her as Annie Oakley.

If the dust ever settles on Obama's latest gaffe, people might begin to realize that his error was grounded in being too honest, because he reflected what is considered conventional wisdom among the Democratic elites. FWIW, I think Hillary is the one who is being dishonest right now in pretending otherwise.

Her campaign is in an emergency situation, and she's clinging to guns that by her own admission she has no right to have!

posted by Eric at 09:47 AM | Comments (0)



Jamal Is On A Roll

Jamal just rips into Barry O and his whole shtick. Let me give you a taste but you gotta promise me you will go read the whole thing.

In the same speech in which Barry0-the-Big-Zer0 attacks one part of America, he defends another. Hussein0s description of White Rural American was an attack on their irrationality, gun slinging, and xenophobia. Hussein0's reference to black America (slavery) was no doubt a reference to Wright. Rather than denouncing Wrights xenophobia and hysterical irrationality, The Faker excuses it with the word Slavery.

While chastising one group for being xenophobic, he excused another for being equally so. The magic difference - skin color- Keep It Simple Fools. Snoop is in da House.

This isn't the first instance of Barry's lack of even the the most rudimentary grasp on fairness. In fact, we don't stop seeing it. A Republican just called Obama a "boy" and he is groveling for pardons and the Obama camp is upset. When Obama's surrogates called Clinton a Whore, what did Obama's boys do?

Talk about hustling the rubes.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 06:01 AM | Comments (1)



It Ain't Necessarily So


An excellent thought to keep in mind in this election season


posted by Simon at 04:36 AM | Comments (1)




Leftys Waterboard Man In Public
Public Waterboarding

Maybe I'm a little dense but doesn't this prove that waterboarding is not so bad? I mean if the anti-waterboarders would do it to one of their own how bad can it be?

You can read the full story at Philly.com. Let me excerpt a little. The question is will the Obama regime take on the previous Bush administration and indict them for war crimes?

Tonight I had an opportunity to ask Barack Obama a question that is on the minds of many Americans, yet rarely rises to the surface in the great ruckus of the 2008 presidential race -- and that is whether an Obama administration would seek to prosecute officials of a former Bush administration on the revelations that they greenlighted torture, or for other potential crimes that took place in the White House.

Obama said that as president he would indeed ask his new Attorney General and his deputies to "immediately review the information that's already there" and determine if an inquiry is warranted -- but he also tread carefully on the issue, in line with his reputation for seeking to bridge the partisan divide. He worried that such a probe could be spun as "a partisan witch hunt." However, he said that equation changes if there was willful criminality, because "nobody is above the law."

The question was inspired by a recent report by ABC News, confirmed by the Associated Press, that high-level officials including Vice President Dick Cheney and former Cabinet secretaries Colin Powell, John Ashcroft and Donald Rumsfeld, among others, met in the White House and discussed the use of waterboarding and other torture techniques on terrorism suspects.

Let me see if I get this. Waterboarding is torture. It is wrong. But leftys would do it to one of their own to score political points.

It seems to me that if there are going to be any war crimes trials those two mopes holding the poor guy down should be the first in the dock.

Further: Colin Powell, John Ashcroft and Donald Rumsfeld, discussed waterboarding and these guys actually practice it. Are they angling for jobs with the CIA?

HT Just One Minute

posted by Simon at 09:18 PM | Comments (12)



Picture Of WB-7 Fusion Test Reactor Available

There is a picture up at EMC2 Fusion showing the WB-7 Test Reactor vessel. All polished stainless steel with a nice logo.

H/T Tom Ligon

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



Obama Needs A Mate

A running mate. A Vice (Eliot Spitzer?) President Pick. Mayhill Fowler of "they are bitter because" fame reports.

Last night at a fundraiser in San Francisco, Barack Obama took a question on what he's looking for in a running mate. "I would like somebody who knows about a bunch of stuff that I'm not as expert on," he said, and then he was off and running. "I think a lot of people assume that might be some sort of military thing to make me look more Commander-in-Chief-like. Ironically, this is an area--foreign policy is the area where I am probably most confident that I know more and understand the world better than Senator Clinton or Senator McCain."
Wait a minute. He starts off with the Military and then twists it into Foreign Policy?

You know he has a great career ahead of him as Ackbar The Great, World Famous Prestidigitator. Count your fingers after shaking hands with him. He has lots of tricks up his sleeves.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 06:35 PM | Comments (0)



If you disagree with me, you've either been hoodwinked, or else you're a hoodwinker!

As I have been trying to make clear in these posts, I think Barack Obama's dismissive approach to people with different views is by no means limited to him. This approach is quite typical of the left, especially of the Democratic Party ruling class left (often referred to by the "embittered classes" as "the elite").

An assumption is made that when the "little people" are led, their thoughts are not their own, and can be discredited in much the same manner that one might dismiss "thoughts" uttered by a child who was repeating what he had heard from someone else. This reminds me of the Berkeley Code Pink group, which takes the position that grown men and women who believe in fighting to defend freedom or their country are children.

Here's a scan of one of the group's leaflets, which a friend and reader was kind enough to mail me.

codepink2.jpg

The idea that people who believe in the war are children in need of "education" is standard fare for the anti-war left; I've seen statements like this in countless articles:

Zanne Joi of Code Pink, one of the organizers of the debate, said its purpose is to keep the war "front and center."

A frequent protester at the recruiting station, Joi said: "Our hearts are broken every time we're there, to see people who say we're fighting for our freedom--we need to educate and inform."

In October Morgan organized a counter- demonstration outside the recruiting office, which attracted hundreds of pro-war demonstrators, outnumbering the anti-war protesters.

As I said at the time,
Not to be picky, but I think maybe Zanne Joi meant "reeducate."
It makes it a lot easier to convince yourself that you are right if you can imagine that the people who disagree with you are children. (Might this also explain why so many leftists are teachers, and teachers are leftists? Some of the worst political arguments I have ever gotten myself into were with teachers. The problem may be that people who are used to always being right cannot accept even polite disagreement.)

Sorry, but I was drifting away from the topic, and which is not "education," but the attempt by would-be rulers to marginalize -- and treat as children -- their would-be subjects. If people are children, it follows that they are followers. Some would call them sheep. But happens when a free citizen behaves as an adult, and refuses to be intimidated into accepting a subordinate role? In the event of clear evidence of stubborn recalcitrance, how is a free citizen who wants to be treated as an adult to be further marginalized?

One way to deny that he is thinking for himself is by attributing to him an improper or evil motivation. This happened to me once when, as a private citizen, I called the office of a San Mateo County Supervisor who was seeking to ban gun shows. Instead of listening to my argument, the receptionist only wanted to know whether I was a member of the NRA -- something which disqualified me from having an opinion. As I explained in another post:

One of the most common forms this classic ad hominem attack takes is to claim that an opponent works for or has been paid by some entity perceived as a malefactor.

The first time I experienced this personally, I had called the offices of a San Mateo County Supervisor who was seeking to prohibit gun shows, which I saw as a violation of the First Amendment. Before I could even state my position, I was asked, point blank -- "Are you a member of the NRA?" After I said I was, I was told that they had "heard enough from the gun lobby" and "we want input from ordinary citizens."

I'll never forget it. My argument was nullified without my being heard, much less addressed. I was considered a "lobbyist" -- simply because I had joined an organization and paid $35.00 or whatever it was. Not only was this deeply insulting, but it was profoundly illogical. Had I not bothered to join the NRA, my argument would have been exactly the same. And it would be exactly the same even if the NRA had paid me $10,000.

Had I not been a member of the NRA, I'd have probably been considered a misinformed child. Or maybe a bitter person who was down on his luck and "hoodwinked" by demagogues into supporting "wedge issues." But because I was an NRA member, I was seen as akin to a sort of "leader" -- at least as someone unlikely to be easily "reeducated."

A hoodwinker, even.

It may be that the ruling class mindset tends to divides the opposition into two classes -- followers and leaders. The former -- like children -- are less culpable and in need of education (new leadership/rulers), while the latter are seen as either motivated for personal gain (lobbyists) or possibly as malevolent. As hoodwinkers who ought to be ashamed, but aren't.

After all, these "leaders" are the people who get the followers all stirred up, aren't they?

I've never been able to understand why I have to be stereotyped in this way. I am not a childish follower in need of reeducation, nor am I leading (much less trying to "hoodwink") anyone.

This is supposed to be a free and enlightened country, right? Why is it that so many of the people who want to rule have a problem with free individual citizens having their own opinions?

I like to think that I make up my own mind, and I lead myself. But having my own opinion doesn't fit the equation that says followers are wrong because they are misled, and leaders are wrong because they're evil people.

Now, as I've said many times, in a free country, there is a right to be wrong. I realize that it is natural for the people who disagree with me to think I am wrong, and I am not so arrogant as to deny the possibility that they might be right, and that I might just be wrong. I know I can't expect them to admit that they might be wrong, and I'm not trying to win an argument over the merits of any issues here.

I'm left with one simple question.

Can't I even be allowed to be wrong on my own merits?

AFTERTHOUGHT: I want to stress that I do not mean to single out or castigate Barack Obama here. It may sound ironic, but I think he deserves credit for shedding light on an important subject that is not supposed to be discussed. That he said what he said so reflexively, when he thought he was among friends, that he's having so much trouble with the fallout -- this means that he did far more than irritate potential voters. I think he touched a nerve within his own party, by inadvertently exposing a very uncomfortable truth about the way their ruling class thinks.

Again, this touches on what Mickey Kaus mentioned earlier about "not crediting the authenticity and standing of your subject's views" which he called "a violation of social equality" and "a more important value for Americans than money equality." Kaus also said that "liberals lose elections when they forget that."

This is no minor point. It goes to the very right to disagree. It's at heart of what drives talk radio.

Hmmm.....

I'd even suggest it drives much of the blogosphere, but because I am a blogger, I shouldn't say that lest I be discredited as part of some "Blogger Lobby," and thus unable to hold legitimate opinions about blogging.

posted by Eric at 03:25 PM | Comments (6)



Guns, gays, whatever.

(When you've seen one "wedge issue," you've seen 'em all!)

For three days in a row now, Barack Obama's remarks about bitter churchgoing gun-clingers have been on the front page of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Today's story is headlined "Obama says he 'mangled' Pa. remark," and there's an accompanying exclusive video interview with Inquirer reporters which ought to supply a fix to even the most strung-out, hard-core political junkies.

No matter what you think, don't miss it.

In the interview, Obama explains how he "mangled" two separate points that got "conflated." (Hmmm....)

Despite watching it repeatedly, I was unable to discern any clear explanation of what he meant by the the clinging to guns part. Instead, he now substitutes anti-gay and anti-immmigrant "sentiments."

What's that about? Is bigotry now supposed to be interchangeable with guns?

The more I think about this, the more I think he's only made it worse.

First of all, he's not giving people credit for thinking what they think -- something Mickey Kaus touched on yesterday:

Superiority of this sort--not crediting the authenticity and standing of your subject's views--is a violation of social equality, which is a more important value for Americans than money equality. Liiberals tend to lose elections when they forget that.
(Via Glenn Reynolds.)

According to Obama, firearms ownership thus becomes not an individual choice, but something other people have planted in the minds of the "gun-clingers." Their clinging to guns becomes not an individual act, but something demagogic leaders drive people to as part of their exploitation of wedge issues. ("Condescending" is almost too kind a word to use for this ruling class-style denial of the fact that gun owners -- and I am one of them -- actually think what they think.)

And today, the guns have disappeared. They have been magically replaced by other "wedge issues."

Astounding.

While a transcript of the remarks has been posted, I noticed that they're "cleaned up" a bit, and don't accurately reflect the "uhs" and the pauses.

With the goal of full and complete textual accuracy in my mind, I listened to the interview repeatedly, and transcribed every word as accurately as I possibly could. Here's what I heard Obama say:

But I actually feel pretty good about, uh, the fact that I've tried to make it a hallmark of the campaign to say what I think, to say what I believe. Uh, the problem actually with this most recent episode is not that I was saying, uh, that that I was saying one thing behind closed doors and saying something else in public. The truth is actually that I've made these same comments uh, in a similar way, on the Charlie Rose Show, uh, back in 2004 or 2005, uh, I have said it in town hall meetings, in small towns. Um, the problem was that I just, mangled it. You know which happens sometimes.

The point that I was making was actually, two separate points that got conflated. Number one, that uh, people who have felt abandoned by, uh, Washington, and political leaders when it comes to an economy that's fallen apart. Uh, they find stability uh, in those things that they can count on. Their faith, the traditions, uh that have been passed down from generation to generation and in many rural communities that includes hunting. Uh, their family, their community - those are positive things. They also are vulnerable to, uh, you know uh, explanations for why the world is changing. Uh, and politicians seek to divide. And sometimes politicians over the last decade have used, uh, uh, anti gay sentiment, sometimes they've used anti immigrant sentiment, uh, and there've been, there's a long history of quote unquote wedge issues that I think distract from these very difficult issues that we have to deal with.

And so, my syntax was poor uh, but, uh as uh, as uh, as a wise, uh, older woman, uh, who was talking to me the other day said, uh, "You misspoke but you didn't lie."

What happened to the people clinging to their guns?

Were they "mangled" by insertion? Or have they now been mangled out of existence, now to be discarded? Why is there not a word about them?

(Sorry, but "hunting" is not the same. Don't call me a "hunter," because I don't hunt.)

Has the Second Amendment become a secondary wedge issue now that Obama has thought it over? Or has gun-clinging behavior been subsumed into anti-gay, and anti-immigrant "sentiments" which people don't really feel honestly, but only imagine they do because of exploitative prodding by their leaders?

The disturbing implication, of course, is that under the right, uh, leadership, uh, the negative thinking (all that gun-clinging, and all that bigotry) will be made to disappear.

I'm feeling plenty marginalized by this. It's bad enough to be told that as a gun owner I don't really think what I think, but I have been led into it by others.

But now I'm told that my guns are not the issue because they might as well be bigoted sentiments against gays and immigrants! But that if I harbor these sentiments (which I don't), they are no more mine than my gun-clinging behavior was.

Sheesh.

I'm sorry, but this wedge issue substitution game is too much.

MORE: Speaking of vanishing issues, along with guns, "trade" also seems to have disappeared. Obviously, there's a whole lotta mangling that goes into Obama's conflation.

DISCLOSURE: I am a gun owner who lives in Villanova, Pennsylvania -- "a small town about 12 miles due west of Philadelphia." Although I do not adhere to any organized religion, I do believe in God. I do not like gun control, and while I sometimes have bitter thoughts about attempts to take away my guns, I don't appreciate Obama's apparent contention that my thoughts are not my own.

How would he feel if I told him his thoughts were not his?

UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link, and welcome everyone!

Comments welcome, agree or disagree.

I'm intrigued by Glenn's thought about the relationship between elitism and conflation.

I have a related post about the conflation of adults and children, which is by no means unique to Barack Obama.

(But is it elitist conflation or conflationary elitism?)

MORE: Here's the video of Obama's Inquirer interview:

(Via Real Clear Politics.)

posted by Eric at 09:35 AM | Comments (26)




Why I'm a not-atarian (but a small "n" one)

The Mead piece on the Jacksonian tradition linked by M. Simon in an earlier post is a good read, yet it is also a reminder that I could no more be a large J Jacksonian than I could be a large L Libertarian. There's too much populist bigotry in the history of the former for comfort, and too much doctrinaire nonsense in the latter. Certain aspects of Jacksonian tradition are xenophobic, theocratic, and anti-melting-pot in the extreme, and almost remind me of the Know-Nothing movement. (But I do like their no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners approach towards self defense and military issues.)

While I can say what I think about most things, experience shows that adopting any label invites conformity to it. (Especially criticism from those who claim it.)

Once you say what you are, some asshole will come along and say that you're not, because he is.

Similarly, once you say what you aren't, some asshole will come along and say that you are, because he isn't.

It gets tedious.

(But fortunately, I don't have to run for office.)

UPDATE: Sean Kinsell links this post, and adds something which resonated with me:

The only problem with calling yourself a libertarian--besides, as Eric alludes to, being invited by supposed fellow travelers to engage in poker-faced debates over the most inane hypothetical situations imaginable--is that a lot of people don't understand that it doesn't mean "libertine" or "anarchist." I can't count the number of times I've had to explain that no, I don't think all governing bodies should be dissolved so we can frolic naked in meadows all day and subsist on game and wild berries. In general, though, even those who conclude I'm just a closet right-winger seem to give me a fair hearing without rancor.
I'll never forget an all-night theoretical debate over whether handguns should be allowed to be sold in elementary school vending machines.

I realized that libertarians waste far too much time debating things that will never, ever happen.

posted by Eric at 11:21 PM | Comments (6)



saving by sharing

I don't often blog about products or gadgets, but this one seemed, well.... almost touching:

2daloo1.jpg

It's called the "TwoDaLoo" and it is billed as "the world's first toilet two people can use ... at the exact same time."

More here:

Environmentalism has never been so intimate as with the TwoDaLoo, billed as the world's first simultaneous-flush two-seater toilet. The side-by-siders can be emptied individually or in a single 2.6-gallon-saving flush. With a "privacy wall" and LCD television and iPod docking station add-ons, couples (and, perhaps, just good friends) will enjoy doing double duty for Planet Earth.
And if we really want to do double duty for Planet Earth, just think of how many virgin arboreal trees could be saved by sharing the toilet paper?

The price is $1400, but the minimum order is 12. Think about it, though: where else can 24 people have that much fun for only $16,800?

They don't have a picture showing actual models using the TwoDaLoo, but here's one showing a really cute crash dummy couple:

2daloo2.jpg

Maybe I'm a big square (perhaps I'm getting curmudgeonly in my old age), but sitting together on that thing (or whatever rhymes with sitting) just doesn't strike me as a terribly sexy or romantic thing for two people to do together -- even if they are in love.

And if they aren't in love, well, it seems even less sexy and romantic.

But I guess it's a good way to get to really know someone.

MORE: The pot plot thickens. Wouldn't this encourage men to sit to pee? In violation of God's law?

No seriously.

MORE: Commenter Kevin points out that "this product was spoofed on SNL probably about 15 years ago, except it was called the 'Love Toilet'."

Hmm...

Does that mean that SNL should be allowed patent holder's rights?

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



Why I'm Not A Libertarian

Libertarians talk a good game on national defense but hate all wars. Libs do not get that wars are a series of disasters leading to victory. They don't have the bottom to ride out the disasters and turn them around. They have turned into Copperhead Democrats.

They don't get the American Jacksonian tradition.

I'm a Jacksonian - which is why I could never be a Libertarian Party member with the party in its current form. Who is the Jacksonian in the race for president? Who said:

"We are Americans and we will never surrender, they will."

That man will be the next President of the USA.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 07:22 PM | Comments (8)



Helping The Poor

If I was a lefty politician and really wanted to help the poor you know what I would tell my megadonors?

Forget redistribution. You are the experts - start another business. I will get government out of your way. If you are successful we will not tax away your gains if you use them to start even more businesses. A roaring economy will do more for the poor than any government program I could ever devise.

Because what do the poor want? Not just money, but also the opportunity to make a contribution. To be proud of themselves.

It is why I have devoted the last year and a half to Bussard Fusion Technology despite my retired status. I want to continue to contribute. I want to maintain my self respect.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 06:54 PM | Comments (2)



Restoring my traditional pessimism

In a post titled "Be careful what you wish for, Rush," Dave Kopel warns that the prolonged scrapping is making Hillary look better and better qualified to be president:

....I think that that the extended primary campaign is making Senator Clinton into a stronger, more appealing candidate.

Not unlike John McCain, she is more likeable as a scrappy fighter against a wealthier opponent than she is as the front-runner. Similarly, she is demonstrating toughness, resilience, and ability to adapt to unforeseen circumstances--good traits for a commander in chief.

(Via Glenn Reynolds.)

Moreover, the polls appear to confirm what I've been dreading -- that if Hillary Clinton beats Obama, she'll likely beat McCain in the fall:

The Real Clear Politics polling averages already suggest that if the election were held today, Senator Clinton would beat Senator McCain in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and that Senator Obama would lose both of those states to Senator McCain. You've got to go back to 1960 to find a candidate who won the general election while losing Ohio, and in 2008 it would be very tough to defeat a candidate who won both Ohio and Pennsylvania. Senator Clinton is effectively using bitter-gate not only to improve her already-solid chances of winning the Pennsylvania primary, but to strengthen her general election message as a traditional Democrat who embraces the best of America's past, present, and future.
All I can say is that this sucks bad. Despite her "message," Hillary is not a traditional Democrat; she's a 1990s Clinton Democrat, corrupt as corrupt can be, and she and her husband are doing a Peronist end-run around the 22nd Amendment. For the Clintons, I guess, that's traditional. Hell maybe they are traditional. (A scary thought. So much for the word "traditional.")

What worries me is that with Obama out of the way, recalcitrant anti-McCain Republicans will be able to breathe easy about sitting it out. Damn, just as he was emerging as the one guy who might be able to unite the GOP and their base, Obama just had to let loose with the bitter bullshit.

I know I'm sounding like a broken record again, but for years I've seen Hillary as inevitable, and for a while I thought maybe she wasn't, but then she was again. And now she is again.

Well, M. Simon still seems to think that Obama is still inevitable, but I don't share his sense of...of... optimism?

If they dump Obama there will be riots. Fires. Blood in the streets.

Remember '68. The left even is organized on that principle. Recreate '68

That is a position I do not believe they actually want to be in. May the hot heads prevail!

No, I can't really call that optimism, can I?

See what this election is doing? I can't even use ordinary words anymore.

Maybe I should hope pessimistically that optimism will be a bitter pill.

posted by Eric at 04:19 PM | Comments (5)



The Overwhelming Scientific plank walk

As I've explained before, I'm not so much into Global Warming denial as I am Global Warming Defiance. That's because the AGW political campaign is the largest attempted power grab I've seen in my life, and if there's one thing I do know, it's that bureaucratic attempts to solve problems are worse than the problems the bureaucrats attempt to solve. Basically, we the people emit carbon, and they the bureaucrats want to squeeze us and punish us any way they can, and tell us how to live. Nothing in the Constitution gives them such power, but they'll try to grab it anyway.

Global Warming, they say, results from certain human activities, which are therefore to be labeled "immoral." But which humans? American bureaucrats, working in tandem with international bureaucrats who generally hate Americans, take it as a given that Americans are the worst offenders, and should be squeezed the hardest.

Of course, one form this squeezing takes is persuading Americans to burn food as fuel -- which squeezes the world's poor by depleting the food supply. But never mind the rioting right now! For it is human activity that causes Global Warming, and the government bureaucracy says that burning food is the way to make it change.

As to alternative theories of which human activity might be the biggest cause, a guy blogging at Planck's Constant, however, maintains that Muslims are the worst offenders. However, at the end of his post, he offers a picture which casts doubt on his own assertion, for it clearly points to certain animals as the cause:

globwarm2.gif

The irony is that while the above was meant to be humorous, according to the Global Warming Alarmists' own data, animals are in fact the biggest cause of greenhouse gases. (Something which isn't widely reported because the bureaucrats who have to implement these things realize it is much less palatable to go after farms than cars.)

Here, let me repeat myself repeating myself!

For the umpteenth time, by the environmentalists' own data, eating animals is the number one cause of Global Warming.

The whole Global Warming debate has become so fraught with politics and ad hominem attacks that any serious debate has become nearly impossible.

Things have reached the point where, largely because of a obnoxious meme called "The Overwhelming Scientific Consensus," important correlations go unnoticed and unreported.

Now, while I don't like to point the finger at certain humans, or certain human activities as the "cause" of something I'm not even sure is being accurately measured, what about certain human inactivities?

How many people realize, for example, that there is a direct, statistically significant inverse relationship between pirates and global temperature?

I kid you not; check it out:

You may be interested to know that global warming, earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters are a direct effect of the shrinking numbers of Pirates since the 1800s. For your interest, I have included a graph of the approximate number of pirates versus the average global temperature over the last 200 years. As you can see, there is a statistically significant inverse relationship between pirates and global temperature.
The author supplies this graph:

piratesarecool4.gif

Very convincing, and very damning.

I don't know what the readers think, but I think that should end all debate -- not only about the real cause of Global Warming, but what should be done about it!

We obviously need to go back to basics, and regain our traditional walking the plank constant!

MORE: As a typical example of where Government Global Warming-mongering is taking us, consider that it's even creating artificially high prices of beer

...biofuel subsidies that are pushing more farmers to ditch their barley crops--which are necessary to make beer*--in favor of crops that earn them lucrative subsidies from regulators trying to fight global warming. Topping the list of these subsidized crops are rapeseed and corn, ingredient which are used in the creation of biodiesel and ethanol-gasoline fuel blends which supposedly reduce the greenhouse gasses that cause global warming.

Thanks to these crop shifts, the price of barley has doubled in the past two years, an increase that eventually gets passed along to consumers. Some brewers have raised their prices already, and many others are planning on raising them soon. German beer drinkers are already feeling the hit on beers like Erdmann's Ayinger, which raised its price from 6.10 euros to 6.40 euros over the last year. That's roughly fifty cents a beer for Germans who consume an average of more than 30 gallons of beer person each year.

But that seems like a fairly small price to pay for such a worthy cause, right? After all, if, as scientists like NASA climatologist James Hansen say, global warming threatens humanity with imminent catastrophe from climactic shifts and sea level rise, then biofuels might be a little more important than brew prices.

Problem is, it turns out that even if you consider climate change a serious threat, biofuels are hardly an effective means of preventing it. In fact, they just might exacerbate the problem. These days, anyone saying otherwise--like, for example, European regulators--must be sloshed.

Starving third world peasants are one thing.

BUT THIS IS MY BEER THEY'RE TALKING ABOUT, DAMMIT!

I have to say that I agree with the source of the above link:

rising beer prices [are] the point at which we must all stand astride history and shout "STOP!."
(Via this link to the source from Glenn Reynolds, who can be fairly described as beer-friendly.)

posted by Eric at 01:17 PM | Comments (1)



"Libertarian surge"?

Not my question, but George F. Will's.

The answer here is NO.

Even though I'm a small l libertarian, and I like Bob Barr, I can't support his third party candidacy on the Libertarian ticket.

I think beating Hillary in November is too important.

And I wish Bob Barr would remember what the Clinton operatives did to him in retaliation for his role in the impeachment proceedings, and not help enable their return to power.

(Of course, it may be that Barr was under the assumption that the Democratic nominee would be Obama.....)

posted by Eric at 10:50 AM | Comments (2)



A No Brainer

"That's a no-brainer. Of course it's a violation of international law, that's why it's a covert action. The guy is a terrorist. Go grab his ass." - Al Gore.

Heh

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



Annie where's your gun?
She's talking like she's Annie Oakley.

-- Barack Obama (on Hillary's sudden commitment to the Second Amendment.)

The dust has not settled on Barack Obama's remarks about bitter small-town folks clinging to God and guns. Far from it. This morning I briefly flipped through the radio dial. From left to right everyone was still talking. Bill Bennett, one of the most polite conservative talk show hosts (and never a part of the "vote for Hillary" crowd) is now saying that he just doesn't see how middle America could ever vote for someone who thinks like Obama, and he sees the remarks as reflecting the Marxist "religion is the opiate of the masses" meme. Bear in mind that I'm very accustomed to hearing attacks on Obama from the shrill and angry right, and this was anything but that. Bennett was being reflective and fair.

It is no understatement to say that if uncontained, Obama's remarks threaten the ethos of the Democratic Party, and of liberalism itself.

There's a lot of scrambling, with liberals -- especially Clinton supporters -- trying to sound like populists. Here's Reverend Bubba:

"One more time, the campaign opposite Hillary said, 'Well there really wasn't any difference in the Clinton years and the Bush years. Rural Pennsylvania really didn't do very well.' Do you agree with that?" he asked the crowd, which responded with jeers. Smiling broadly, Clinton continued: "I just thought I'd get a few witnesses here. You know I'm a Baptist. On Sunday, we look for witnesses."
The problem for the Democrats is that what Obama said is standard fare. Especially among the wealthier and better-educated Democrats, the idea that the flyover country people stubbornly cling to their "backwardness" is a garden variety belief of the sort that would not raise an eyebrow. This is precisely what they don't want ordinary voters to know. Which means ultimately, Obama may have to become a scapegoat over this.

But will the wealthy, well-educated Democrats (the ones whose support is necessary to fund campaign in the fall) be willing to throw Barack Obama to the wolves? That depends on the direction of the spin. Right now it's a bit too early to tell. If Team Obama can shake this, that's one thing, but they're in a tough spot, as they can't easily slough it off as mainstream Democratic thinking, and hence there's a major effort to explain the remarks "in context." For Team Hillary, the goal is to simply deny that the remarks are true, but avoid grappling with the fact that many of the Democratic intelligentsia agree with them. Thus, it is no accident that most of the "explanations" avoid looking at the one context which is the most important in analyzing any piece of discourse, and which is absolutely vital here.

The audience.

Without knowing the audience, it's nearly impossible to determine the context of a statement. No serious political candidate with even the most rudimentary rhetorical skills would imagine that he could give the same speech to a group of military veterans that he would give at a peace rally, and vice versa. Similarly, what might be said at an organization of business entrepreneurs would bomb at a union rally.

Why isn't more being said by the left about Obama's audience? It isn't as if the homework hadn't already been done for them. Well before these remarks broke, Zombietime did a great job of examining the attendees in detail. It's a hilarious post, and anyone who wants to understand the mindset of the rich San Francisco liberals who flocked to the Getty Mansion fundaiser need look no further. (Zombietime has audio too.)

I think the problem is that the Democrats need two things: as many votes from the bitter little flyover people who cling to God and guns as they can hoodwink them into delivering, and as much of the rich wealthy money as they can squeeze out of the types who attended the event covered by Zombietime.

By exposing the mindset of the latter, Obama's remarks are thus a much bigger threat to the Democrats' lifeblood than many analysts realize.

Which means that they may have to turn on him in order to redeem themselves. Yeah, I know it's more denial than redemption, but surely they can't be expected to admit that Obama the chameleon was only telling them what they wanted to hear so that they'd reach for the checkbooks, can they?

Needless to say, I'm not happy about this, because as I've said before, if Hillary can come from below and beat Obama, she will beat McCain. Middle America loves an underdog, especially an underdog from the "middle."

Yes, "middle" belongs in quotes, because whether Annie Hillary is really in the middle is about as "relevant" as the last time she fired a gun or went to church.

Hillary's "guns" have to be seen in context.

UPDATE: Speaking of context, Frank J. reports an additional remark by Barack Obama that never saw the light of day in the MSM:

"See, all I have to do is get those jobless crackers jealous of people with more money, and they'll forget everything I said. Stupid honkeys."
Hmmm.... Maybe this wasn't the political blunder that it first appeared to be.

MORE: Commenter Al Maviva raises an interesting point:

what's the difference between [Obama's] position, and a cosmopolitican libertarian's position?
Plenty. While I linked and discussed his post before, Sean Kinsell (who describes himself as a "an overeducated, corporate, atheist, homosexual urbanite who's spent the last dozen years in Tokyo and is now happily returning to New York" and who I think could fairly be described as "the cosmopolitican libertarian's cosmopolitican libertarian") explains in detail here.

posted by Eric at 09:20 AM | Comments (4)



A Little Cultural Education For Latte Liberals


Rumor has it that John McCain is going to be using bits of this in his latest commercial. I thought I'd post the original so those interested could see what the fuss was about before the fussin starts.

Bush II has a ranch in Texas. Reagan was notorious for working on his ranch to get away from Washington. Those guys knew how to connect with ordinary folks because they walked the walk. I would love to see Obama riding a horse. Or Hillary at an outdoor shooting range. Those are skills you don't learn in a weekend. That would be better than Dukakis riding a tank.


HT Instapundit

posted by Simon at 07:13 AM | Comments (6)



Section 43


My favorite version of this was a 45 size 33rpm record that I must have listened to 100s of times. There is no data on this version but it sounds a lot like the one I remember.

posted by Simon at 06:09 AM | Comments (0)



If We Appear To Be Condescending


This is a video clip from 24 Nov. 2004. The bit on condescension begins around 2:24. So Obama knew that the appearance of condescension was a killer in elections. A lesson obvious from the Nov. 2004 election. So how did he screw the pooch?

I think he can't help himself. He has a political persona and then there is the man underneath. And every now and then the man underneath leaks out. Keep faking sincerity Obama, until you get it Wright. Or as Flanders and Swann used to sing: "Always be sincere, whether you mean it or not."

HT Protein Wisdom

posted by Simon at 02:50 AM | Comments (0)




Optimism, not bitterness

Justin thought readers might enjoy this animated GIF from the Wiki entry for Concealed carry in the United States.

The title is "History of changes to Right To Carry laws," and it shows the evolution of concealed carry laws from 1986-2006.

300px-Rtc.gif

When I look at that, I see optimism.

Why is it that some people would look at that and see bitterness?

posted by Eric at 11:26 PM | Comments (1)



Clinging to the bitter end

Obama's remarks about bitter Pennsylvanians clinging to God and guns made the front page of today's Inquirer.

Curiously, even though it's a Pennsylvania story, they ran a NY Times piece which does not appear at the Inquirer's web site. I figured it would be easy enough to find the piece (after all, I only wanted to quote a few words), so I Googled part of the first sentence -- "The Democratic nominating fight took a sudden turn..." All the links point to this piece by Katharine Q. Seelye and Jeff Zeleny, but I've been opening it up repeatedly, and the "sudden turn" language seems to have dissappeared. What gives? Did some reporter goof? Are they now trying to throw Obama a lifeline? I just want to know why the Times called the Obama remarks a "sudden turn" in the first paragraph and now they don't.

I thought that maybe I should analyze the now missing language. The entire first paragraph that stares at me from the Inquirer is now missing, but some dutiful Freeper (perhaps bitter about being called bitter) supplied it:

The New York Times ^ | April 13, 2008 | KATHARINE Q. SEELYE and JEFF ZELENY
The Democratic nominating fight took a sudden turn with Senator Barack Obama's comments about small-town Pennsylvania voters providing an opening for the Clinton campaign to raise anew questions about Mr. Obama's ability to lure working-class voters.
Sheesh.

You know things are getting really bad when you have to go to the Free Republic to find the text of what's on the front page of the Philadelphia Inquirer!

The "sudden turn" language still appears in links to a few news aggregators like this and this but even that is disappearing, and I had to resort to the Google cache.

Thinking maybe the first paragraph had been dropped, I Googled the language from the fourth paragraph -- "the furor represented something of a last minute gift." Once again, the links pointed to the same Times piece, but the words were nowhere to be found.

Hmmm...

I had to go into full-blown, teeth-pulling mode, but I finally found the text which was nearly identical to that in the Inquirer at a site called the Ebolowa blog. Normally, I do not lift entire stories, but in this case, I had to work so hard to find it that I thought I should place it below so that interested readers can click to read it.

I'm curious about the mechanism here. Perhaps someone can explain to me how so much language could be first reported, then summarily dropped. Is the Times now acting like the BBC and changing stories when activists complain? Or are these stories put out through the news wire, allowing subscribing news outlets to run them in the print editions only, with the Times then changing them later?

I notice that the story below has a few very minor differences in wording from the Inquirer version, and closes with "Julie Bosman contributed reporting." The Inquirer version closes with "Inquirer senior writer Larry Eichel contributed to this article." As to Julie Bosman, she writes for the Times, and used to be the Washington assistant to Maureen Dowd, so I suspect that the story below is the original Times piece, as fed out over the wires. Larry Eichel is a longtime Inquirer reporter, widely respected as a straight shooter, and he made very few changes.

OK, while this example of "now you see it, now you don't," might not be the biggest deal in the world, let's assume subscribing newspapers are allowed to use these stories. Why would they not be allowed to place them online? Does the Times retain the right to control its Only Official Story, and make changes whenever it sees fit?

Maybe they do. Certainly, they can do whatever they want with their own words, as the First Amendment gives them the right to revise, alter, or delete whatever and whenever they want.

I have no problem with editing, and I do it all the time. But what happened here was more than editing. By taking out entire paragraphs containing language like "took a sudden turn" and "last-minute gift to the Clinton campaign" the entire tone and theme of the story is altered.

Any blogger who did this would not retain much credibility.

Anyway, I only wanted to comment on a couple of things. First, while the campaign did indeed take a sudden turn, the most sudden turn of all has been Hillary's very opportunistic claim to be a Second Amendment supporter. Just before the uproar over the Obama remarks broke, she was campaigning with Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter -- shortly after his dramatic signing of illegal gun control laws. While ducking the issue of whether she supported the laws, she renewed a call for the assault weapon ban:


Nutter often cites what he calls Clinton's ability to understand how to deal with the problems facing big cities as a reason he supports her. The New York senator's crime-fighting plan includes an anti-gun-trafficking initiative that would be based on partnerships between the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and local law enforcement to improve tracking of gun crimes and to prosecute traffickers. It would renew the Assault Weapons Ban and repeal the Tiahrt amendment, which limits the ATF's ability to share federal gun-trace data with local law enforcement.

Nutter signed five new gun-control laws yesterday that would limit handgun purchases in the city to one a month and require that lost or stolen firearms be reported to police within 24 hours, among other measures. The new laws are controversial because gun regulation is under the state's purview, not the city's. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the National Rifle Association plans to sue.

Gun control as an issue has not come up very frequently with Clinton on the campaign trail, but it could be important here in Pennsylvania, a state with a lot of gun owners. In the lead-up to the Wisconsin primary, she made a point of talking about learning to shoot a gun and her experience hunting. She often says she supports the 2nd Amendment and she believes her cities and states have a role to play in confronting the challenges presented by firearms. But it was not clear whether she would support the Nutter measures specifically or these kinds of measures generally. When asked during an interview with local radio this morning about what she would do as president to address the issue of cities and gun regulation, she gave her standard answer before going on talk up the proposals in her anti-crime agenda.

"I would start looking for a balance and find some common ground and end the polarization that has gone on," she said. "Obviously, I take the issue of gun crime and gun violence very seriously, and I'm also committed to protecting people's constitutional rights under the 2nd Amendment to own and bear arms and I don't see why we can't do both."

This woman has been a gun grabber from day one, and anyone who believes her lukewarm platitudes of support for the Second Amendment, well, they're in for a very bitter disappointment.

Yes, bitter. I did say that, and I won't retract it.

I think gun owners often find themselves bitter. Not because of bad economic times, but because of the endless attempts to screw around with them. Similarly, religious people face situations like the one I blogged about earlier, when busybody bureaucrats treat religious views as outside the scope of normal First Amendment protections.

So I have to agree with the last part of Obama's statement that "it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion."

I find it very telling that he would use the word "cling."

Clinging is a very normal human reaction that we all have when people are trying to take away what is ours. Liberals (Obama and Hillary being only two notable examples) have a long record of trying to take away guns.

What gun owner would not cling to his guns, perhaps even with feelings grounded in bitterness?

While I can only speak for myself, liberal gun grabbers like Obama, Hillary and Michael Nutter often make me feel like clinging to my guns -- to the bitter end. (Isn't that reflected in the phrase "from my cold dead hands"?) And what Philadelphia gun owner wouldn't feel embittered by the lawless and reckless attempt by Hillary's supporter Mayor Nutter to take away their guns?

OTOH, considering the time I've spent clinging to the New York Times story to the bitter end, I might be clingier than average.

(But things could be worse! At least I didn't say that they could have the story back when they pull it from my cold dead hands.)

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

Anyone who can explain the mechanism of how this spin control works, I'm all ears.

Continue reading "Clinging to the bitter end"

posted by Eric at 10:12 AM | Comments (15)



Following Malcolm's Call - Barry In His Own Words


"And yet, even as I found myself following Malcolm's call..." about 2 minutes and 3 seconds into the video. I think this is proof positive that Obama has the Wright stuff.

Not to mention the beginning of the video where he says white people have been doing him without them even knowing it. Now where is the fun in that? And does Michelle know about his secret life? He's out of the closet now.

Even when he is trying to sound serious he is ridiculous

As Ed Driscoll (who pointed me to this clip) says:

Four years ago, when another Democratic Senator running for the White House demonstrated that he was, in his own way, equally far out of touch with middle class voters, he at least did so by not knowing what to order on a cheesesteak (also involving Pennsylvania, in a nice example of retroactive synchronicity), or in a Wendy's, which Mark Steyn so memorably described. Or by not understanding that the average guy doesn't fly off to another state for a weekend of windsurfing whenever the mood strikes.

Talk about a rookie mistake: Leave it to Obama to make John Kerry's Brahmin hauteur seem earnestly goofy in retrospect.

Kerry was just out of touch. Obama seems mean spirited and out of touch. That is going to leave a mark.

HT Instapundit

posted by Simon at 12:51 AM | Comments (6)




Dealing With The Servants

At the University of Chicago students and staff are treated like Royalty and the neighborhood folks are treated like servants.

At my son's graduation there last summer almost all the wait staff were blacks from the neighborhood dressed like servants in the Jim Crow South (I lived there as a youth). It had an offensive feel to it. Just the way Jim Crow felt offensive to me.

That is the environment Obama was used to. His behavior fits in well with the people he associated with. And how do you behave towards servants? Well you certainly don't get into any kind of personal conversations with them.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 04:14 PM | Comments (10)



Mobys?

I report you decide. I was reading some comments about Obama's non-apology for his totally correct statement about values voters in Pennsylvania.

The following comments seem a little off key to me. What do you think?

USAF Sr. Airman April 11th, 2008 10:09 pm ET

I'm from Pennsylvania. I lost my civilian job due to outsourcing. I was VERY BITTER. Obama hit the nail on the head. It's not condescending, it accurate.

What exactly is a Sr. Airman? Is it something like a Junior Video Ranger with more time in grade? I'm not up on Air Force lingo (I'm a Navy man myself. We liked lad and mate. Now don't go getting ideas. Sr. Enlisted I heard. Sr. Sailor? nope.) so maybe Sr. Airman is a term of art I'm not familiar with.

And then there is this one.

BluecolorworkerinPA
April 11th, 2008 10:10 pm ET

He didn't defend, he is affirming the truth!

What exactly is a Blue color worker? Normally when a worker turns blue on the job we clear the airway, do mouth to mouth, CPR if indicated, and call for an ambulance. In Democrat America blue color workers post on the Internet. What a party.

Well the truth huts I suppose. And it is going to cost Obama a lot of votes. With any luck it will keep the Chicago Machine out of the White House. But please Lord, do not crater his campaign totally until he wins the nomination. I think Obama has some larnin to do about America and I really want him to feel our pain. Next stop for Obama? Job loss in 2010. America can be so cruel. Perhaps he has a Government plan that will help him keep his job. I'd like to see it. I'm sure I wouldn't like it but, I would like to see it. It is in cases like those where all those guns can come in handy.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

Update: Captain Ned in the comments says Sr. Airman is an actual rank in the AF, equivalent to Petty Officer 3rd Class in the Navy, also referred to some times as E-4 (a designation used in all services). However in that case I would normally expect to see it in the following order: Sr. Airman, USAF. But maybe in the guy's rush to defend Obama he wasn't thinking straight. Or maybe he is a Moby.

Let me add for those of you unfamiliar with the term Moby. It came from the performer Moby who suggested that people fake their life stories or credentials on line in order to give veracity to their criticism of the opposing (Republican in Moby's case) candidate. It goes something like this "I'm a life long Republican but I hate George Bush because he has sex with puppies and has gotten us into an unwinable war."

posted by Simon at 03:00 PM | Comments (6)



Good news, or bad?
You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.

And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

Barack Obama's supremely condescending attack on rural Pennsylvanians (the subject of countless posts already; see Glenn's two roundups from last night, and this one from today) surprises me mainly because he was dumb enough to say what so many Democrats think. James Carville and others have long derided middle Pennsylvania as the Alabama between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh (and I don't doubt Hillary thinks the same thing as Carville, even though she'd never be dumb enough to insult the people whose support she seeks right now).

This latest outburst worries me, because it may mean the premature end of Obama. I think Rand Simberg hits the coffin nail right on the head:

I think that this could be a campaign killer in the fall. That sound bite will be shown over and over again. I just regret that it came out this soon. Unfortunately, the Democrats still have a chance to eject him before he gets the nomination. But even if they do, it will still be an electoral disaster for them. The problem is that it isn't just Obama. Most of them are just smart enough not to voice their bigotry publicly, but this is how much of the party itself views rural and middle America, and it's going to hurt them all through the fall. And justly so.

(Emphasis added.)

(Via Glenn Reynolds.)

The good news is that McCain can beat Obama. The bad news is that so can Hillary.

Of course, news is news, and strategic thinking is not.

(I'd hate to think that news should depend on "news strategy.")

MORE: Lest anyone think Obama's sentiment are much different from the liberal sentiments around here, consider this cartoon which ran in the Pittsburgh Post and the Philadelphia Inquirer in February:

Sexist_PA_Men.JPG

As I said at the time, "no matter how they vote, they're suspect!"

Obama's attempt to "understand" the frustrated small town folk, while condescending, is less insulting.

UPDATE: Sean Kinsell (who grew up in the sort of area Obama claims to understand) has some choice words:

My mother has two handguns and takes shooting lessons because my father works nights quite a bit. If someone broke into the house, she'd have to fend for herself until the township police arrived. That's been a fact of life since long before manufacturing jobs started leaving.
And
Seekers of religious freedom were numerous among Pennsylvania settlers. William Penn was a Quaker whose beliefs had riled his father and the king. In Pennsylvania Dutch country, we're famous for having Amish communities. Lots of old Moravian and Lutheran churches, too. A combination of religious fervor and tolerance is movingly woven into Pennsylvania history from day one, and people in small towns have been going to church regularly since long before the decline of the rust belt economy. The insinuation that people just kind of started turning to religion to give them a sense of shallow comfort when the layoffs started is deeply offensive. I rejected the theology I'd been brought up with years ago as an accurate explanation for the origins of the universe, but it's just plain low to take cheap shots against the faithful.
He also takes issue with Obama's contention that small-town Pennsylvanians have "antipathy toward people who aren't like them" and notes that this more typifies New Yorkers and San Franciscans. (I can second that!)

Obama really stepped in it this time. Frankly, I think he did a better job (if a superficial one) when he claimed to "understand" why people might need a gun in rural Iowa.

And thanks, Sean, for the link!

MORE: And now it's Hillary Clinton, pro-gun churchgoer!

Who could have imagined that Hillary would cling to guns or religion?

posted by Eric at 01:56 PM | Comments (5)



Name that president!

WHO SAID THIS?

"The cheek of every American must tingle with shame as he reads the silly, flat and dishwatery utterances of the man who has to be pointed out to intelligent foreigners as the President of the United States."
See if you can guess the name of the stupid president being derided.

No, I'm not going to spoil it for you; you'll have to click on the link and see.

Since we're playing "Name that President" I'll ask another question in similar vein:

"Which administration is most hostile in history to the Bill of Rights?"
Think: Which president locked up far more American civilians than any other?

And: Is the Bill of Rights limited to certain amendments?

Answers here.

MORE: Commenter OregonGuy proposes John Adams (and the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798) as "the greatest, congressionally approved, attempt to nullify rights contained within the Constitution." Good point. Fortunately, it was an attempt that failed, and the Act was repealed before the Supreme Court ruled on it.

In terms of scope, though, the number of 25 (arrested under the Act) does not begin to compare with 110,000.

posted by Eric at 11:20 AM | Comments (2)



Which party left me?

I hate socialism. I abhor the welfare state. Seriously, I think it will eventually be the death of this country. Even more than that I detest identity politics. So, because the modern Democratic Party is built on both, I'm not a happy camper there (despite my current registration), and I never will be.

Now, both parties contain lots of people who call other people names and launch character attacks against them. The difference between the two parties in this regard lies primarily in the respective targets of the name-calling, and the nature of the justifications invoked. Democrats (and I refer to activist Democrats here -- the type I cannot stand) generally believe it's fair game to attack those perceived to be powerful, white, male, heterosexual, and on the right -- especially on the "Christian right." Libertarians of the pro-war variety are subject to a particularly vicious form of attack, and and not just because their partial agreement with the "left" on "certain social issues" is seen as untidy, but because they see it as a very dangerous invitation to wholesale defection by "weaker" leftists. You know, feeble-minded bourgeois types who secretly think that if you have a right to do what you want with your own body, you might just have the right to defend it. Or (worse yet) that "human rights" might even include the right to own your own property without government interference. Or that when the country is attacked by free-floating, strike-and-run terrorist irregulars, it might be a good idea to figure out a way to engage them.

But this does not explain fully why disagreement on some issues is considered far more threatening to the left than disagreement on all issues, and why it is targeted with such particular wrath. (Even Andrew Sullivan remains loathed by many on the left, and his voting for Kerry was seen as some sort of trick.)

That this kind of "partial agreement heresy" is attacked so furiously is complicated to explain, but this vintage gem from James Wolcott is a great example:

....I'm getting awfully tired of the trope from certain bloggers that Hey, don't label me or him a conservative. Why, I'm for gay marriage and marched for civil rights once upon a time and favor a women's right to choose.

Well, goody goody goody for you. So what?

The fact is that by subscribing to Bush's War on Terror and the invasion of Iraq with every corpuscle of your tired body you've made common cause with Republican conservatives, neoconservatives, and Christian fundamentalists who are dedicated to destroying those parcels of liberalism on which you stake your tiny claims of pride. When you align yourself with the likes of Hugh Hewitt, author of that polemical gem of understatement If It's Not Close, They Can't Cheat: Crushing the Democrats in Every Election and Why Your Life Depends on It, or Michael Ledeen, you've allied yourselves to political gangsters dedicated to waging permanent war abroad and cultural war here. Do you really think that conservative supremacy in the executive, congressional, and judicial branches of government means that gay rights and abortion rights will somehow be spared? These people won't be happy until not only is gay marriage but gay adoption is outlawed as well; they're not out simply to restrict abortion but to restrict contraception of any kind. There is absolutely no excuse for certain bloggers to be upset or dismayed by Bush's recent statement about teaching Intelligent Design in schools--you bought the whole package when you chose him as your staunch leader in the war on terror, mocking liberals for being too wimpy for the task. Fine; but find me a high-ranking Democrat who would preside over an administration as anti-science as this one, a prospective Democratic president who would threaten to veto stem-cell legislation, having never vetoed anything else that crossed his desk.

Wolcott's argument, was, of course, lost on me, as I don't buy whole packages; I hold my nose and vote for whichever candidate strikes me as the least offensive. Republicans are with some exceptions more protective of rights and of the country than are Democrats, and at a national level, their belief in federalism generally prevents the shrill social conservatives from doing much more than huffing and puffing, insulting people, and threatening to leave the party.

Still, the hard core activists in both parties are very distrustful of partial dissenters, and I think that what makes this partial disagreement so dangerous (and so threatening to both right and left) is that it exposes the inconsistency of the way they have agreed to divvy up rights which ought to flow logically from the position that free men all share the same rights. It's as if some group of conspirators sat down and said, "OK, you take the right to be hedonistic and atheistic, and we'll take the right to be greedy have guns and worship God!" It has worked so well that people just assume this division of the rights of man is a natural part of politics -- as if freedom is not a concept but a political pie to be cut up and offered (or withheld) in selective slices. The reason so many people miss the inconsistency is that by nature they are joiners, and they join parties for the same reason they join most things: in order to feel comfortable. Let's face it, if you're a gay atheist, you'll find more gay atheists in the Democratic Party, and they'll tell you you're "welcome" there, but that the Republicans hate you. (Fortunately for them, it's easy to point to high-profile conservative attacks on "secularism" and the "homosexual agenda" as proof.) And if you're a gun-owning believer in God who thinks your money is yours, you'll likely find more people like that in the Republican Party, and they'll tell you you're not welcome in the Democratic Party. (Again, high-profile attacks on gun owners, the "greedy" and "the Christianists" are standard Democratic fare.)

Frankly, it bothers the hell out of me that so many conservatives think that having a First Amendment right to insult people and call them names and launch character attacks means these things are desirable, even good to do. There's even a meme going around that because opposition to evolution has been labeled "politically incorrect" that it must be cool. It's as if they're aping the left by mindlessly doing the opposite.

Take identity politics as another example. I have hated it for years as the antithesis of all logic and reason, as the worst sort or groupthink, as outright pandering to the mob, even. Yet identity politics has in recent years crept and grown, until at last it has insinuated its way quite deeply into that group of people who call themselves the "Republican base." If you doubt me, just take a look at this humorous post about Christian identity politics. Now, I have long complained about the similarities between gay activists and anti-gay activists. (From the pre-blogging infancy of this blog, in fact.) I once thought it was a very ironic comparison. But identity politics has now spread to the point where there are groups of people on both sides of the aisle who are paranoid to the point that they see disagreement as akin to discrimination.

To be fair, Republicans who adopt identity politics only apply it to groups they approve of, just as Democrats who would support gay identity support groups could never imagine gun owners identity support groups.

Where is the line to be drawn?

What is sometimes forgotten is that identity politics was -- and is -- born as a reaction against bigotry and personal attacks. (Or worse.) Entire nations have arisen this way. Arguments grounded in identity politics led to Kosovo (and much further back in the Balkans) and could be advanced to divide Kurdistan, Rwanda, Canada, and if the cancer grows, maybe even the United States itself. I like to think that identity politics is un-American. But here, it typically arises in reaction to simple bigotry. It's easy to say it "shouldn't" but that doesn't change the fact that it does. (I wish some of the people who condemn it would condemn it wherever it occurs...)

Conservatives often forget that the Klan and Jim Crow gave birth to black identity politics. That sodomy laws and anti-gay bigotry created the gay movement, that obsessive preoccupations and denunciations of "the homosexual agenda" fuels gay identity politics, and even causes well-meaning people to embrace it -- thus promoting the very "agenda" being denounced. And off course, leftist attacks on "Christianists" accomplish exactly the same thing.

It's easy to say I'm a libertarian, but even there I'm screwed, because I'm a war-supporting libertarian -- something said to be impossible.

So what do I do? I left the Republican Party to help counter the Limbaugh Democrats for Hillary. Did it leave me? I don't know, but I'll say this right now: if Hillary is able to turn this around and beat Obama, she can -- and will -- beat McCain. That's because if she wins, she'll be a battle-hardened winner from the right -- placing her in the very comfortable middle. (People forget that a major reason for the apparent incompetence of the Clinton campaign is that they're great at triangulating Republicans, but not an attractive young black man with a message of hope, but that's another issue.)

Anyway, I find it downright creepy that a sizeable chunk of the Republican party actually, seriously want their own party to lose -- presumably so they can take it over. To them, if I return to the Republican Party I'm a RINO, because I'll vote for McCain.

If they're the base, I'm glad I'm not.

I'm thinking maybe I should be a Democrat for McCain.

It's not perfect, but it might make it easier to live with my conscience.

I still hate the bases, though. Sometimes I think both parties need acid.

MORE: I realize that this post barely scratches the surface of some of the complexities involved. Added to the problems I discussed is the increasing inability to determine the meaning of liberal and conservative, even right and left. Even I call myself a "classical liberal," but that is said now to be conservative." Fascism can arguably be called left wing, and Communism has been described as "right wing" -- at least to people who claim "right wing" means "submission to perceived authorities." (Which means hopeless individualists like me cannot be on the right.) The problem there is that a lot of mindless followers on both sides submit to authorities.

Discussion is further complicated by post-modernist contentions like "words are not truth." (But what if lies become true with age?)

MORE: In a recent post about Barack Obama, Baldilocks looks at the inconsistent way some conservatives apply the concept of individual responsibility:

....neither I nor any other person/group has the right to offer another person/group any absolution for the sins of their fathers--if those sins exist--nor make anyone feel guilty about sins not their own.

Someone asked what my rant on principles was about; this was it. Some conservatives talk about individualism but when it comes time to apply the concept under adversity--under conditions where the concept of individualism isn't reciprocated--it's too damn hard. So when the Obamas and Wright and James Cone--who aren't even conservatives--espouse Black Liberation Theology; when the relatively few other black supremacists, narcissists and conspiracy theorists spout their hatred, such people automatically become the responsibility of 30 million other Americans who happen to be black also. Why? Nobody serious asks white people to repudiate the darlings at places like Stormfront and Loose Change nor should they. (It's as if some of you thought that white people had a lock on lunacy. On the contrary, Crazy and Evil are equal opportunity employers.)

Haven't conservatives been telling liberals to dispense with the Group Identity Politics, to embrace Individualism? Well, Conservatives, heal thyself!

Read it all.

And her earlier post on the Golden Rule is great too.

posted by Eric at 09:33 AM | Comments (8)



Practice Makes Perfect

Barry Obama takes a lesson from Obi-wan Kenobi.

Too funny for words. So you will just have to click the link and watch the video.

H/T Backyard Conservative

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 02:29 AM | Comments (0)




A Little Dali Music


posted by Simon at 08:13 PM | Comments (1)



Investing in Spring

The following is a teensy tiny (barely 2 inches wide) sketch by Salvador Dalí which appears in Bill Rose's autobiography, Wine, Women and Words.

I love Dalí's line drawings, and this one looks a lot better in a photograph than it does in the book, because you can see the detail.

dalisketch_s.jpg

I don't know exactly what that is, but the setting of the book is New York, and Dalí lived there off and on during the time he did the illustrations for Rose's book, so I'm guessing it might be a surrealist vision of the New York Stock Exchange, being cannibalized by nearby skyscrapers.

But what do I know? I'm just a Dalí lover who lacks a Ph.D. in Art History, and is therefore not competent to issue authoritative opinions about such things.

By the way, if any of the readers of this blog look like Dalí, they're having a Dalí Lookalike Contest at the Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida next week.

lookalikecontest.JPG

Film Director John Waters will be the judge, so if you look like Dalí, it might be fun to enter.

Speaking of Dalí, here's collage I assembled not long after visiting his house in Port Lligat, Spain:

dalicollage3.jpg

Spring is finally here, and things are just starting to bud, including a baby Chinese Redwood tree which sprung up out of nowhere. Earlier today, it reminded me of the mutual interest Dalí and Federico Garcia Lorca had in Saint Sebastian, especially some of the pictures in Sebastian's Arrows.

Anyway, the tree strikes me as Dalinian, and Sebastian-like:

daliniantree2.jpg

And poor Coco wishes I'd just cut the art critic crap and play with her.

cocoSpring.jpg

UPDATE: Just five minutes before I published this post, Ann Althouse posted some great pictures of what I consider to be marvelously Dalinian branches. Spring coincidences must grow on trees.

posted by Eric at 05:40 PM | Comments (2)



The Art Of Bamboozling


posted by Simon at 01:04 PM | Comments (19)



The Madness Of Crowds

I was reading Alan Greenspan on the current economic crisis. A number of economic heavy hitters voiced their opinions and I couldn't resist adding mine.

I'm a layman in these matters so take my comment for what it is worth.

It seems to me that what is being argued is what the proper judgment in any given situation is. Ultimately there is no way to know. We went through a similar exercise in the dot com bubble. Every one knew that the situation was out of whack. (Remember the dot com jokes?) And yet despite every one's certainty that all the companies involved were over promising the money kept pouring in.

I don't see any way to correct the madness of crowds except to let it run its course. The corrective is to let some pain into the situation pick ourselves up and wait for the next one.

I don't think you can cure human nature. Gold is no panacea either. Suppose extracting it from sea water becomes feasible? Or mining it from asteroids? You then have inflation with no way to throttle it.

Our current system is as good as is possible with people at the helm. It gives us growth that is otherwise unavailable in other regimes. Still with men at the wheel there is always the danger of grounding the ship. Even with experienced pilots at the helm. So you do soundings in the bilge to check for holes and then call in the tugs to get the ship back in deeper waters.

All control systems will oscillate (to change metaphors) if the feedbacks and phases are conducive to that. When you have a system as complicated as ours there is no way to know exactly what the proper gain and delays (phase) should be. We rejigger the settings to the new assumed values and try again knowing that every now and then we will have events that exceed the capacity of the control system.

As others have pointed out: you will not have better luck next time. Accept it.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 12:30 PM | Comments (9)



More votes, more taxes! (A modest proposal)

Timothy Carney's "Tax bandits will have plenty to celebrate this April 15" was a bit of a distraction from the election -- although it was interesting to read that it's a day when Americans become more conservative:

WASHINGTON (Map, News) - You may celebrate Tax Day next week because you will finally be finished (you hope) with your tax returns. You may even cheer the good news that you will be receiving a refund. But April 15 is the day when nearly every American becomes a bit a more conservative, both because of the burden of preparing tax returns and the drain that taxes impose on family wealth.

For a minority of Americans, however, Tax Day is worth celebrating because taxes -- either the dollars you pay or the complexity of complying with the law (or both) -- are good news for them. I call them tax bandits, and they fit into four categories: the tax spenders, the tax receivers, the tax parasites and the tax shelters.

Everyone likes to bemoan the tax bandits this time of year, but nothing really changes.

As Carney notes, Milton Friedman had an explanation why:

"Why is it that hardly a year passes without a new tax bill? The reason is that so long as a tax bill is under consideration, with many billions of dollars at stake, lobbyists are actively pressing for the introduction or retention of special provisions to benefit their clients. And so long as lobbyists are active, thousand-dollar-a-plate dinners and similar devices will tap them for campaign funds."
In other words, change is impossible because the nature of the system is that people are in a constant war to get more turf, or keep whatever turf they already have.

I'm thinking that instead of going through the attempts at "reform" (which only generate bigger, and better funded lobbying campaigns), why not move Tax Day to Election Day? That way, people could vote according to what's most on their mind at the time.

Of course, some people might think of November as an unpleasant (if not depressing) time of year -- a time when it seems to add insult to injury to force them to pay taxes. Mid April being a time of joy and optimism, with Spring around the corner, paying taxes may seem not quite as onerous as it might be in the late Fall. So if that's a good argument against moving Tax Day to Election Day, then why not simply move Election Day to Tax Day?

(Or the nearest Tuesday.)

Hey, I just looked at my calendar, and in a remarkable coincidence, April 15 happens to be next Tuesday!

So I'll put my money where my mouth is.

I'd be willing to get the election over and my taxes over on the same day!

Hey why not? We've all heard about motor voters. What's wrong with taxpayer voters?

UPDATE: Rachel Lucas is not happy with the current tax system, and (among other things) proposes getting rid of withholding:We keep working harder and harder, trying to make something of ourselves and our lives, and we put up with having a huge portion of the fruits of that labor forcibly stolen from us so that lazy worthless assholes can live in luxury compared to real poor people. Knowing that I'm directly subsidizing lazy fucker's rabbit-like reproductive practices makes me literally sick to my stomach, but I keep doing it.

What's the alternative? Give up and become like them? No can do; I have pride. Refuse to pay the taxes? No can do; I don't want to go to prison. Become an activist? Frankly, judging by the evidence, that's just a waste of time. Nothing is going to change.

It might if paycheck deductions for taxes were eliminated and everyone had to write a check every year like I do.... Via Glenn Reynolds, who adds this:

I think we should move Election Day to April 16. It would make a difference!
Eliminate withholding and move the election date and things would change pretty damned fast.

(It never ceases to amaze me how many people whose taxes are withheld think they are "getting money back" each year. They don't think money they have earned is theirs.)

posted by Eric at 11:51 AM | Comments (0)



Nutter compares self to founders, breaks laws, declares independence, and embellishes resume!

Sorry for the busy title, but Philadelphia Mayor Nutter has been a busy man.

Not that he shouldn't be busy. In the wake of a plague of random attacks -- one fatal -- on Philadelphia commuters, a lot of Philadelphians want something done.

So what does Mayor Michael Nutter do?

He "defiantly signs" unconstitutional gun laws, which nearly everyone admits violate Pennsylvania state law. Moreover, while thumbing his nose at the Second Amendment, he compares himself to the Founders.

Council's measures appear to fly in the face of state law and legal precedent. The NRA says it will sue.

By Jeff Shields

Inquirer Staff Writer
Mayor Nutter likened himself and City Council members yesterday to the band of rebels who formed this country as he signed five new gun-control laws that defy the state legislature and legal precedent.

"Almost 232 years ago, a group of concerned Americans took matters in their own hands and did what they needed to do by declaring that the time had come for a change," Nutter said as he signed the bills in front of a table of confiscated weapons outside the police evidence room in City Hall.

"We are going to make ourselves independent of the violence that's been taking place in this city for far too long," he said.

Tell beating death victim Sean Patrick Conroy and the other commuters that the city will soon be "independent of violence."

This symbolic act of "defiance" is a costly move for Philadelphia, as gun owners will sue, and of course they will win.

He and Council are in for a fight, however. The city has tried and failed for three decades to buck the 1974 state law that reserves gun regulation to the state legislature. The state's preeminence appeared to be cemented in a 1996 Supreme Court ruling that allowed the legislature to prevent Philadelphia and Pittsburgh from enacting local gun laws.
Wrong. The cement is to be found not in a court ruling, but in state law -- specifically Pennsylvania 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6120(a) -- a 1994 statute which provides as follows:
§ 6120. Limitation on municipal regulation of firearms and ammunition.

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

That statute is quite specific, and it does not exempt Philadelphia. Why the Inquirer advances the claim that the Supreme Court "appeared" to have "allowed" the law, I'm not sure.

Might they be hoping that the new Court will disallow the law?

The laws will of course promptly be challenged, and the legislature is being painted as the enemy. Of Philadelphia's right to unilaterally and unconstitutionally enact "change" I guess:

National Rifle Association spokesman John Hohenwarter said he expected the organization to sue "within a short time frame."

Kim Stolfer, vice chairman of the Pennsylvania Sportsmen's Association's legislative committee, said the organization was considering its legal options and suggested that the enactment of the laws was a criminal act.

"He's committing five misdemeanor crimes," Stolfer said. "What kind of message is he sending when he and City Council are willing to commit crimes for issues that are not going to work?"

Nutter and Council are not likely to find a great deal of support in the legislature.

State Representative John M. Perzel (R., Phila.) said through a spokesman that the laws were unconstitutional. House Speaker Dennis M. O'Brien (R. Phila.) did not return a call for comment, and State Sen. Vincent J. Fumo (D., Phila.) declined to comment.

Even the city's fiercest proponent of stricter gun laws in the legislature, Democratic Rep. Dwight Evans, offered only lukewarm support.

Evans spokeswoman Johnna Pro said: "No one . . . feels the frustration" of city leaders more than Evans, so he would not criticize them.

But Evans, she said, also is a leader in the House of Representatives and "believes that everyone needs to allow the process to work, even though the process, at times, may be excruciatingly slow and incredibly unresponsive."

Phil Goldsmith, president of the gun-control advocacy group CeaseFire PA, said "it's worth trying" to enact and test the laws.

"It's a shame the city has to do something like this because the legislature has failed to exercise its responsibilities," Goldsmith said.

I like that. The Pennsylvania legislature has a responsibility to do what Goldsmith says. Although I agree it's a shame. A shame that the city's taxpayers have to see their money squandered defending blatantly illegal laws.

As Nutter admits, he doesn't care what the law says:

Nutter embraced the idea of taking "direct action" to challenge a legal status quo to protect city residents.

"If we all sat around bemoaning what the law was on a regular basis," Nutter said. "I'd probably still be picking cotton somewhere as opposed to being mayor of the city of Philadelphia."

Hmmm.... While I'd argue that challenging Nutter's illegal laws are a better way to protect city residents, I'm intrigued by the statement that he'd "still be picking cotton."

For a second there, I thought I'd been misinformed by the media about Michael Nutter. I had been led to believe that he was a middle class American, born and raised in Philadelphia. That he attended one of the finest prep schools in the Philadelphia area. And on top of that, a Wharton Business School grad. Sure enough, all of these details check out in his Wikipedia entry. His own campaign web page confirms the same details, adding that he worked as an investment banker. Not a word about manual labor, much less working in the cotton fields.

Baffling.

Americans love the "rags to riches" theme. Why would he omit something like that from his resume?

Can someone fill me in?

MORE: "FIGHTING CRIME" BY OPENLY BREAKING THE LAW. That's Glenn's reaction as he links Jeff Soyer's post on Nutter's madcap legislative crime spree. Notes Jeff wryly,

Worried about crime in his city, Philadelphia Mayor Nutter decides to join the fray and defy state law himself.
And here's Jeff on Nutter's claim that he's emulating the Founders:
Ah, yes, that band of rebels -- weren't they armed? . . .Until the Lobsterbacks confiscated their weapons, which is one reason we have the 2nd Amendment today?
Read it all.

MORE: Giving Nutter the benefit of the doubt, it occurs to me that Mayor Nutter might not be saying that he used to pick cotton, but that his ancestors did.

Let's assume it's a legitimate form of argument to claim that you did whatever you think your ancestors did. I'm of Norwegian descent. Does that mean I can claim that "If we all had sat around bemoaning the lack of opportunities in the New World, I'd probably still be raiding Irish villages and sacking monasteries"?

UPDATE: Clayton Cramer has a great response to the claim that gun owners "overreact" to discussion of reasonable gun control, and he makes an excellent analogy to the First Amendment.


Many of the gun control advocates over the years have stated that their goal wasn't keeping guns out of the hands of criminals or the mentally ill, but to completely ban either all handguns, or all guns. See Professor Volokh's quotes of politicians promoting complete bans here, media sorts promoting complete bans, and advocacy groups promoting complete bans.

Imagine what your reaction would be to laws requiring newspapers to delay publishing columns for five days while the government checked the accuracy of the facts and quotes contained therein. (Think of all the minor errors of fact, libelous statements, and misleading information that would not be published.) Now, imagine your reaction if such a law was proposed amidst a continual whining for a complete ban on liberal media outlets. Would you find something a bit worrisome about that?

I'm reminded of the claim that "all we want to do is treat guns the way we treat cars."

Oh, yes, of course they do.

(Beginning with firearms training for teenagers in the schools, carry permits issued to 16 year olds, and more....)

posted by Eric at 09:08 AM | Comments (4)




Exhausted By Islam

Who is exhausted by Islam? The young in Iraq are exhausted by Islam.

BAGHDAD -- After almost five years of war, many young people in Iraq, exhausted by constant firsthand exposure to the violence of religious extremism, say they have grown disillusioned with religious leaders and skeptical of the faith that they preach.

In two months of interviews with 40 young people in five Iraqi cities, a pattern of disenchantment emerged, in which young Iraqis, both poor and middle class, blamed clerics for the violence and the restrictions that have narrowed their lives.

"I hate Islam and all the clerics because they limit our freedom every day and their instruction became heavy over us," said Sara, a high school student in Basra. "Most of the girls in my high school hate that Islamic people control the authority because they don't deserve to be rulers."

Atheer, a 19-year-old from a poor, heavily Shiite neighborhood in southern Baghdad, said: "The religion men are liars. Young people don't believe them. Guys my age are not interested in religion anymore."

The shift in Iraq runs counter to trends of rising religious practice among young people across much of the Middle East, where religion has replaced nationalism as a unifying ideology.

As usual the New York Times misses the point. It is exposure to the unbending nature of the Islamic revival that is turning people away from Islam.

Islam brings murder and repression. The West offers Liberty and wealth. Which is more popular to the young and old? Which is better for business?

Samizdata is discussing the brittleness of Islam. The author of the post thinks that Islam can't stand up to rational examination.

I think one of the commenters had an even better idea. Ridicule. You believe What? And women should do What? And no popping down to the pub for a pint? And what is this about Mohamed marrying a nine year old girl? And authorizing brigandage? And Mohamed is to be emulated? What a larfer.

HT Instapundit .

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 05:18 PM | Comments (10)



It can't happen here?
Freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don't give it any value.

-- Dean Steacy, Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Conservative and libertarian American bloggers should be very, very glad that angry leftists are pretty much limited to hurling accusations at those who disagree with them, but that they cannot haul their opponents in front of so called "Human Rights Commissions" the way they can in Canada.

This is not to say that there aren't human rights commissions in this country, or that they don't stick their noses into places they really have no business sticking them as happened recently in New Mexico. (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

In the past couple of days, Glenn has a number of posts up about the situation of the Canadian bloggers being sued en masse and hauled before the Human Rights Commission.

Fortunately, there is an important difference between the U.S. and Canada. Because Canada has hate speech laws, and Human Rights Commissions operating without the restraint of the First Amendment, a man named Richard Warman is able to legally terrorize anyone he wants, and right now, he is suing numerous Canadian bloggers:

Richard Warman used to work for the notorious Human Rights Commission, which runs the "kangaroo courts" who've charged Mark Steyn with "flagrant Islamophobia."

Richard Warman has brought almost half these cases single-handledly, getting websites he doesn't like shut down, and making tens of thousands of tax free dollars in "compensation" out of web site owners who can't afford to fight back or don't even realize they can.

The province of British Columbia had to pass a special law to stop Richard Warman from suing libraries because they carried books he didn't approve of.

Richard Warman also wants to ban international websites he doesn't like from being seen by Canadians.

The folks named in his new law suit are the very bloggers who have been most outspoken in their criticism of Warman's methods.

A vicious sock puppet, his tactics are detailed here by Ezra Levant. A snippet:
Warman's not just suing me. He's suing some of the biggest names in the Canadian blogosphere - from Kate McMillan of Small Dead Animals to Kathy Shaidle of Five Feet of Fury (or, Five Feet of Furry, as the lawsuit says on page 2), to Free Dominion, the largest conservative chat site in Canada. Warman's goal is breathtaking in its chutzpah: he wants to muzzle the Canadian conservative Internet. It's not just his goal - it's the goal of the CHRC itself, and its friends at the Canadian Jewish Congress, who have stated their goal is to "tame" the Internet - or at least those voices they disagree with. It wouldn't surprise me one bit if the CJC was bankrolling Warman's lawsuit - they've done joint legal work together before, and Warman's number one defender is on the CJC's legal committee. The CJC hates conservatives, and this would be a way for them to do damage to the conservative blogosphere without taking the political flak for it.

Take a look at the language Warman's lawsuit uses to smear Free Dominion. At paragraph 17, Warman calls them an "extreme right-wing discussion forum". Look at that language - hardly distinguishable from the CHRC's and CJC's boilerplate insults reserved for neo-Nazis. That's what this lawsuit is about: an attempt by the CHRC's biggest star to try to marginalize Canadian conservatism. And why not? The CHRC has moved from targeting white supremacists to targeting mainstream conservatives like Mark Steyn; the Alberta HRC has already gagged Christian pastors and taken a run at Calgary's bishop, and two years ago they charged me with publishing the Danish cartoons of Mohammed. Surely attempting to criminalize conservatism is just the next, natural step for these congenital censors.

Wow. A sock puppet who labels everyone he disagrees with part of the "extreme right wing"?

Fortunately, in this country, guys like that don't have the ability to operate the way Warman does in Canada. (Although this is a good time to remember that Bryn Mawr College's new president assisted in a hate speech prosecution while she was in Canada.)

They'd like to, though. A speech code here, a speech code there, and pretty soon everyone gets used to speech codes, and laws follow. (It's a predictable result of the "activist-compliance cycle" I discussed earlier.)

So, in fighting the growing censorship movement, every little bit helps.

Because it can happen here.

The Canadian bloggers who have been sued are in dire need of help, which is why even though none of these arguments are new for me I felt obligated to write this post.

You can help by sending money directly, or by buying one of these T-shirts, which I found by simply following the links from the Hot Air post that Glenn linked yesterday.

I bought one yesterday, as it's the least I can do.

Hell, when Glenn linked this fundraiser post, and said he donated to all of the bloggers under attack, and Michelle Malkin "pitched in $100 to each blog!" so I feel like a piker.

Anyway, here's a listt of the blogs:

Ezra Levant

Kathy Shaidle

Free Dominion

Small Dead Animals

And the logo:

image002.jpg

UPDATE: One of my earliest friends in the blogosphere, the great Canadian blogger Nick Packwood (Ghost of a Flea) weighs in on the lawsuits, and adds a personal tangent:

A tangent here. People wonder why I quit university teaching. Imagine an office - all your colleagues and all your supervisors and anyone with a say in your tenure prospects, your research funding and your publications - where everyone organizes their careers in such a way that a "human rights" commission would have no reason to object. Their teaching practices, their research, their political views; everything they think and do including and especially their "private" lives from the television they (do not) watch to the fast food they (do not) eat to the sex lives they (do not) allow themselves to have. Even the concept of a "private" life dismissed as reactionary and/or illusory and in any event subject to the scrutiny of any undergraduate with internet access and a grudge. That is the life I escaped. Even a couple years after the fact I find it a surprise when my internal censor warns me against writing something for fear of losing my livelihood and my career and I realize I have already crossed that bridge, burned it and done a little dance some time ago. It is a small price for freedom compared to the price so many have already paid for me. But it is something.
My congratulations to Nick for breaking away from a life of living in fear. Many are unable to. (Anyone who thinks such career-based self-censorship is not a way of life here has probably not worked in academia, or lived in a town like Berkeley.)

Nick also links this:

"You know you've lost your freedom when you cannot call a censor a censor."

And more here:

This is a roster of the most prominent blogs leading the fight for freedom of expression in Canada and, just as importantly, freedom from arbitrary interference in freedom of expression by agents of the Canadian government. Flea-readers who are not familiar with the situation in this country - and particularly the kangaroo proceedings against Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant - may find it difficult to believe how quickly things can go so far wrong.
Please donate to the above blogs.

I'm pleased to announce that I finally got off my ass and matched Michelle's $100.00 per blog challenge.

(Frankly, it's a lot of money, but this is one of those "hang together or hang separately" deals.)

MORE: Here's Solomonia:

Follow some links, get familiar with this issue, and Americans, thank the deity of your choice for the First Amendment and remind yourself that lawsuits and unaccountable bureaucrats are not the way of solving the world's problems.

UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link and the quote! Welcome all.

Once again, please donate.

UPDATE: My thanks to Ann Althouse for the link!

posted by Eric at 01:45 PM | Comments (31)



Frauducrat? Or Refraudlican?

In Pennsylvania, massive Republican crossover registration has been altering the voter balance in several counties.

Naturally, the Republican Party wants these crossover voters (including me) back.

However, I'm not sure that accusing them of fraud is the best way to persuade them. Unfortunately, that's what they are doing, if this news item is correct:

HARRISBURG - Pennsylvania Republicans outlined a strategy yesterday to reverse the tide of voters abandoning their ranks in favor of the Democrats.

Party leaders said they would launch a statewide voter-registration drive on primary day, April 22. The intensely competitive race for the Democratic presidential nomination has prompted many Republicans to switch parties.

Republicans will coordinate a grassroots voter signup effort with county chairmen, and the GOP has been been negotiating with a firm that would pursue cases of fraudulent Democratic registrations. The state GOP will provide lists of party-switchers for volunteers to contact, and officials said they expected to bring two out of five defectors back into the Republican fold.

"We do want them back," said John McNally, who is in charge of the initiative for the Republican State Committee. "I want to assure every Republican that our party plans to address this issue."

Fraudulent Democratic registrations?

What can he mean? Isn't that just a matter of degree?

When I was registered Republican I often felt almost as "fraudulent" as I do now.

I guess I'm a fraud no matter which party I join.

What, there isn't such a thing as a fraudulent Republican registration?

posted by Eric at 11:13 AM | Comments (4)



the "genderblind" leading the gender vision-impaired

As I flipped through the radio dial the other day, I heard a conservative radio talk show host carrying on about what he seems to feel is a new form of immorality -- men and women living together at college. Not as lovers, mind you. This, I could understand, would implicate sexual morality (even those who don't believe in the concept have to admit that at least it would cause the meme to kick in). He was talking about roommates. He sounded quite annoyed about the idea that a young opposite sex couple might live together with neither romantic nor sexual involvement, and the calls he got from people doing that did nothing to dissuade him from the view that it was "immoral." (The fact that colleges allowed it particularly bothered him.)

What could be immoral about mere roommates? I wondered. Of course, his main objection did not seem to be to the uninvolved roommate situation, but the fact that it invited the possibility -- even probability -- of something more. Still, I could not understand an objection grounded in immorality to the situation of roommates. People are either involved or they are not, and if they are not, then by definition there cannot be sexual immorality.

I wondered, was his objection to the appearance of immorality? While I think that's quite a stretch, it might relate to a personal experience from back in 1973 when I was in college and I shared a house with one guy and two girls. There were no heterosexual involvements whatsoever, nor was there any homosexual involvement between the two women. The father of one of the girls, though, was indignant that his daughter was in a situation he considered immoral, and (much like the conservative radio guy I heard the other day), no amount of reassurances -- that his daughter was not a lesbian nor was she having sex with the guys -- would convince him otherwise.

Anyway, when I heard this radio tirade I was on my way to visit some friends who have a daughter in college, so I thought I'd ask them about this apparently "new" development. They said she lives in the dorm which is co-ed, and that opposite sex roommates were allowed, but had to be specifically requested. (Their daughter's roommate was female, of course.) The more I talked about this, the more I realized that many women consider males to generally have messy and annoying habits, and not too many would be willing to put up with a male roommate.

While my friends had no such worry, it did occur to me that some parents might have concerns about schools allowing opposite sex roommate situations, because it might activate "peer pressure." When I was young, I tried to defy peer pressure to the extent I could, so it's a little tough for me to understand parental concerns, but I do realize they are there, and might be an area for parental concern. (They do, after all, foot the bill for these social experiments, and I can see how they might be extremely pissed off if things didn't, um, work out.)

So, these thoughts crossed my mind, but for the time being, my quest to understand morality had not been solved, and I put on the back burner.

Yesterday, though, Glenn Reynolds linked something which introduced a new angle: "BRO-MANCE" -- defined as "the complicated love and affection shared by two straight males":

From "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" to "Good Will Hunting," popular culture is filled with examples of straight guy love. The sitcom "Friends" often crafted jokes around the ultratight nature of Joey and Chandler's relationship, and in the 2005 film "Wedding Crashers," Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson seemed to have something more like a tortured love affair than a friendship.

But close male friendship isn't just a quirky television fantasy or a running gag in the movies. Real-life bromances are everywhere. Kevin Collier, 26, a New Jersey construction manager, has lots of manly things in common with his best friend, including but not limited to, "tattoos, motorcycles and chicks," as Collier put it. But that hasn't stopped his friends from accusing him of having a "man crush" on his best friend Don Carlo-Clauss, 28, a semiprofessional fighter whose day job is in marketing.

They first met on the wrestling team at the University of Virginia. It was a bromance founded on shared misery. "When you spend six months out of the year being miserable together, you wind up with a lot of close relationships with your teammates," said Collier.

Experts say the prevalence of these friendships can in part be explained by the delay in major life milestones. Fifty years ago, a man could graduate from college, get a job and get married all within a couple of months. But today's men are drifting, as opposed to jumping, into the traditional notion of adulthood.

"The transition to adulthood is now taking about a decade longer than it used to," said Michael Kimmel, a sociology professor at Stony Brook University in New York whose upcoming book is called "Guy Land: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men." One set of men Kimmel interviewed for the book were fraternity brothers at Dartmouth College. Following graduation, seven of them squeezed into a two-bedroom apartment in Boston.

Financial pressures help fuel bromances because they make living with a roommate a sensible option. In addition, men are getting married later -- an average age of 27, according to a 2007 report by the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University, up from the average marrying age of 23 in 1960. Men with more education are marrying even later, in their 30s.

David Popenoe, director of the marriage project and an emeritus professor of sociology at Rutgers, cited the acceptance of premarital sex and the greater numbers of men and women who live together as reasons for the delay in marriage.

The straight men involved in "bro-mance" situations do not seem especially concerned about being considered gay:
According to Peter Nardi, a sociologist at Pitzer College who specializes in male friendships, all these phrases are safer than they used to be because men are less afraid of being perceived as gay. It has become more acceptable for them to show some emotion. Al Gore and Bill Clinton hugged when they won the 1992 election and sports figures cry on camera when they're busted for steroids, Nardi pointed out.

There seems to be little worry about perceptions of homosexuality in a bromance filled with macho pursuits like drinking beer, watching sports and playing video games. But rifts can occur when serious girlfriends enter the picture or someone moves to another city. Tipograph and Kopstein both have girlfriends and make it work.

That's just the men in the article. I found myself wondering whether the fear of being considered gay because of appearances might nonetheless exist elsewhere, and a very strange thought crossed my mind.

Would young men seek female roommates simply to combat the appearance that they might be gay?

It sounds crazy, but I remember back in the 1970s, when San Francisco's gay mecca reputation had become an emergent cultural theme, famed San Francisco columnist Herb Caen noted a new anomaly (I'm paraphrasing here):

In the old days, men on a business trip would take a male secretary along to avoid gossip. Now, they take along female secretary to avoid gossip!
With this principle in mind, is it possible that some college men might seek female roommates to avoid gossip? (Or, perhaps generate gossip in a "proper" direction?)

I have no way to know the answer, but I cannot help feeling sorry for people who would select roommates because of what other people might think. People who are that weak-willed probably need protection from themselves.

Still unsure how any of this involves morality, I decided to expand my inquiry from talk radio and talking with friends to the ultimate motherlode of all moral inquiries -- a Google search. Right away, I saw that opposite sex roommates are a major MSM meme right now. The Boston Globe has a piece called "Just roommates" and the phenomenon is being called "colleges' final frontier":

....some colleges are crossing the final threshold, allowing men and women to share rooms. At the urging of student activists, more than 30 campuses across the country have adopted what colleges call gender-neutral rooming assignments, almost half of them within the past two years.

Once limited to such socially liberal bastions as Hampshire College, Wesleyan University, and Oberlin College, mixed-gender housing has edged into the mainstream, although only a small fraction of students have taken advantage of the new policies so far. Clark and Dartmouth universities introduced mixed-gender rooms last fall, and Brown and Brandeis announced plans last month to follow suit.

The University of Pennsylvania, Skidmore and Ithaca colleges, and Oregon State University also allow roommates of different genders. Students at New York, Harvard, and Stanford universities, among many others, are calling for gender-blind dormitory rooms.

Activists? Gender-blind? It's one thing to allow opposite sex roommates, but if they're planning to treat sex as analogous to race, they might be asking for trouble, because that would mean forcing a girl to live with a boy and vice versa. There's still a right to privacy, right? Interestingly, the piece discusses the need to accommodate gay and transgendered students, although I don't see what forcing men and women to live together has to do with "accommodation."

But what's not clear to me seems quite clear to others. Consider some of the verbal diarrhea that passes for dialogue:

[Jeffrey] Chang [a Clark student who has lived with a female friend] persuaded administrators over the past two years to adopt gender-neutral housing and co-founded the National Student Genderblind Campaign, which promotes the rooming option at colleges across the country. The campaign contends that traditional rooming policies wrongly assume that men and women cannot live together non-sexually and "needlessly reinforce an oppressive gender binary."
Oppressive gender binary? That's a mouthful I'd never heard before, so I went to the organization's web page. They're pissed off about traditional sex segregation because it is (yes, I am serious) based on "heteronormative assumptions":
Originally instituted to create residential environments free from sexual tension, it is now apparent that same-sex housing policies were, and continue to be, based on traditionalist, heteronormative assumptions about sexuality. The remedy sought by such traditional policy is obviously unrealistic, as the reality of the situation is that couples of the same sex can officially live in the same room. Thus, a major claim in favor of conventional rooming policy is premised upon outdated rationale and should be challenged. Furthermore, while traditional gender-segregated policy is intended to eliminate sexual tension, in practicality it forces non-heterosexual students into rooming arrangements that may potentially be riddled with sexual discord.
So, because some members of a sexual minority might feel sexual tension, that means everyone must be made to feel sexual tension?

Or is the goal to create a better world of sexless beings who have no thoughts of a sexual nature?

It strikes me that once again, common sense is being lost. I see no reason why any college cannot accommodate students who feel "sexual tension" -- for whatever reason -- over their roommates, by simply helping them find another roommate. But activists want to turn the world inside out to advance their agendas, and they excel at making so much noise that people appease them so they don't have to listen to them. (By the way, "Genderblind" is by no means being treated as kooky fringe outfit; the group is also featured in a major piece in the Christian Science Monitor.)

Fortunately (so far, at least) these "gender neutral" programs seem to be offered as an "option." Genderblind praises Stanford for theirs.

But my experience with activists has taught me that "optional" has a way of becoming mandatory. I can remember when non-smoking was merely an option. When spaying or neutering your pet was an option. Activists tend to see "optional" as a foot in the door. * (Anyone who thinks, for example, that vegans are comfortable with the "option" of sitting down and eating a vegan meal with meat-eaters should think again.)

Of course, if this idea ever goes mandatory, there might also be religious objections -- only some of which tend to be "accommodated." (It would not surprise me to see Muslim parents objecting more loudly than Christian parents, but I guess that's off topic.)

This has turned out to be crazier than I thought it was when I started.

Don't blame me; I only wanted to explore the moral issue as logically as I could, and I'm more confused than ever.

(The damn activists always seem to get in the way.)

* It's an "activist-compliance cycle" and it generally goes like this. First come the activists -- usually obsessive busybodies hell-bent on telling other people what to do. With help from the appeasers, the activists manage to bully a constantly expanding group of compliers. Finally, the recalcitrant holdouts are forced along, by now angry compliers who are tired of having to do the right thing while the insolent recalcitrants indulge themselves with the increasingly endangered behavior -- which by that time has come to be seen as "immoral."

While this phenomenon might also be called the "morality cycle," I don't want to use that label, for it implies that morality is something to be manufactured by activists.

UPDATE: Regarding the word "bro-mance," I just received an email:

I am so sick of this need to attach tag-names to perfectly normal phenomena. What crap. So nice to know that is "OK" for two guys to be friends! These fu-king people have way too much time on their hands and need to mind their own business.
Mind their own business?

A sensible suggestion, to be sure.

But what if they have no business of their own to mind?

posted by Eric at 09:20 AM | Comments (6)



Surrender Or The Puppy Dies

Megan McArdle is discussing the failure (or lack thereof) of the media when it comes to the John Yoo memos on the legality of torture for American troops facing irregular combatants. The comments are extensive. With the usual Bush is Hitler slant. I have a little different opinion.

When people don't even know (so many commenting on the article) what John Yoo even wrote about, it is obvious that even for stories people commenting there are interested in, the media has been dishing up moldy slops.

Did Yoo shred the Constitution? How could he? He doesn't make policy.

What was Yoo asked to do? To research the applicable laws, national and international, dealing with torture and irregular warfare.

And what is the number one rule dealing with irregular warfare? Irregular warriors can be summarily shot after a military court. And how rigorous does that court need to be? It can be done on a battlefield.

Why is that a rule of war? Because irregular warfare that does not conform to the rules of irregular warfare endangers non-combatants.

Now if you can kill them on the spot why would torture be out of bounds?

Now that may be a true legal opinion. It says nothing about whether it is wise. It is obvious that our military leaders consider it unwise, despite the legality, because that is not the practice of our military.

Why don't our troops torture and execute as a matter of policy if they have the legal power? It impedes surrender. And we want them to surrender. We want easy fights - not fights to the death. We want to beat them not kill them. A man who changes sides is more valuable in terms of victory than a dead man. Dead men don't change sides.

Now in all this uproar over Yoo has any one of note covered the facts well enough so that at least the majority of the commenters to Megan's piece get it?

I see no evidence of that in those comments.

In this war which side is known as the torturing side? Which side executes civilians at random as policy? Which side is notorious for using human shields?

So for all the fools screaming Yoo, Yoo, Yoo, Yoo, and Bush too, why no outrage at the random mass murder of civilians as a military tactic?

Because the other side is using a tactic well known. It is: give up or the puppy dies.

And the puppy murderers are the friends of so many of Megan's commenters. Not to mention the leftys in general.

H/T Instapundit

Cross Posted at Power and Control

Lanched. Thanks Insty

posted by Simon at 09:14 AM | Comments (24)




An outrage that must be addressed

This interview of Daphna Ziman by Roger L. Simon (which Glenn Reynolds linked) deeply disturbed me, as I worry it may be an indication that anti-Semitism is becoming mainstream, if not downright respectable.

Daphna Ziman is an Israeli American who runs a charity for children and right after she was honored with an award from national African-American fraternity Kappa Alpha Psi (this was on the fortieth anniversary of Martin Luther King's assassination), the Director of the Los Angeles SCLC chapter (a respected civil rights organization started by King) launched into a viciously anti-Semitic diatribe, which she describes in detail in the interview with Roger.

I found it very painful to watch, but I recommend watching it to get a full idea of what happened.

Solomonia has a comprehensive summary (from Stand With Us):

I have to tell you of an experience I had last night that was so anti semitic and frightening:

Last night I was honored by Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, for my work with Children Uniting nations with African American children who are living out of home care. I have dedicated my life to saving these children from abuse, neglect and a life of crime. We created 'adoption day' and "Day of the child" determined to recruit caring adults to be mentors and life savers for our at risk children in the inner cities...

...After I spoke and thanked the fraternity and their members, Rev. Eric Lee, pres. and CEO of Southern Christian Leadership Conference of greater Los Angeles, was introduced as the key note speaker.

He began his speech by thanking Jesus for Obama, who is going to be the leader of the world. He continued by referring to other leaders Like Dr. King,being that this was the moment of celebrating Dr. King's spirit on the anniversary of his death, and Malcolm X.

It was right after the mention of Malcolm X that he looked right at me and started talking about the African American children who are suffering because of the JEWS that have featured them as rapists and murderers. He spoke of a Jewish Rabbi, and then corrected himself to say "What other kind of Rabbis are there, but JEWS". He told how this Rabbi came to him to say that he would like to bring the AA community and the Jewish community together. "NO, NO, NO,!!!!" he shouted into the crowd, we are not going to come together. "The Jews have made money on us in the music business and we are the entertainers, and they are economically enslaving us"

He continued as to how now the salvation has come and the gates have open for African Americans to come together behind Barack Obama, because now is the time to show them.(meaning the jews).

He continued to speak about ' White supremecy' vs the talents and visionaries in the core of African Americans. He demeaned being given freedom, by saying "To what?" to a country that kills women and children.

I could no longer be polite and sit in front of the crowd, so I walked out...

How closely connected this Rev. Eric Lee is with Obama or the campaign I do not know. At the SCLC website, he features an endorsement of Obama, but nothing is mentioned about any personal friendship or connection to the campaign. So, notwithstanding his "thanking Jesus for Obama" shtick, I think it would be unreasonable to ask or expect Obama to apologize for Lee.

However, if Lee does not apologize, I'd say the SCLC of Los Angeles has to be considered a bastion of anti-Semitism, and I hope it's not a trend.

I can't help notice that despite his attacks on Jews, Lee does not hesitate to defend Muslims against what he calls "racial profiling" (religion is a race?), and he is described here as a "keynote speaker at ANSWER's 3/15/08 antiwar rally, along with CAIR and some other lovely individuals."

If this was just one isolated loony tune preacher spouting anti-Semitic garbage, I might have ignored it. But this guy heads an important and respectable civil rights organization -- one started by Martin Luther King, Jr.

That makes his anti-Semitism not kooky, not isolated, but mainstream.

Few things are more dangerous than the mainstreaming of anti-Semitism.

I don't think examples are needed.

UPDATE: As skepticism about the facts was expressed in one of the comments, it should be noted that according to Roger L. Simon, Lee himself has confirmed the truth of what Ziman said:

Since doing the interview and writing the accompanying text, I have learned that Reverend Lee has written a response, which I had read over the phone to me. I want to read it in detail, but from what I gathered he essentially acknowledges that Ziman is correct, at least in part, in what she said he said. Lee seems genuinely to espouse the belief that African-Americans should only reconcile with Jews if Jews apologize for the supposed evil stereotypes they created of blacks via, I assume, the movies.
(Via Glenn Reynolds.)

I think the idea that anyone can apologize for the alleged actions of other people is illogical. However, Lee can -- and should -- apologize for himself.

posted by Eric at 11:02 PM | Comments (7)



"Dress for success" only gets you chump change!

I pride myself on trying to be well dressed (at least when the occasion arises), but while I was looking at Zombietime's latest post about Barack Obama's visit to Billionaires Row in San Francisco, I saw a picture of a man who made me feel ashamed to wear a suit and tie:

IMG_9358.JPG

Underneath the picture was this fashion tip for billionaires:

Fancy clothes are for mere millionaires and social climbers. When you get past a certain level of wealth, you inevitably assume the "casual billionaire" style, most famously expounded by Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. It's like -- I don't even have to try.
I never realized it until now, but I think I may be too overdressed to ever really make money.

I try to learn something every day, and the Obama billionaires have much to teach us.

If you want your style to match the times, be sure to check out the post.

UPDATE: M. Simon just pointed out that Glenn Reynolds linked the above post, but I got the link in an email this morning.

Glenn is right to express concern about "two Americas," and the "fancy houses and big political donations."

I see Glenn's point, but I'm sick of having to live in the other America where people dress for success like a bunch of brainwashed lemmings.

As I made clear, it's time for a change!

posted by Eric at 08:51 PM | Comments (2)



The moral authority of Glenn Greenwald.

(And the moral derangement of John Yoo.)

I could almost swear that Glenn Greenwald does not like John Yoo:

The fact that John Yoo is a Professor of Law at Berkeley and is treated as a respectable, serious expert by our media institutions, reflects the complete destruction over the last eight years of whatever moral authority the United States possessed. Comporting with long-held stereotypes of two-bit tyrannies, we're now a country that literally exempts our highest political officials from the rule of law, and have decided that there should be no consequences when they commit serious felonies.

John Yoo's Memorandum, as intended, directly led to -- caused -- a whole series of war crimes at both Guantanamo and in Iraq. The reason such a relatively low-level DOJ official was able to issue such influential and extraordinary opinions was because he was working directly with, and at the behest of, the two most important legal officials in the administration: George Bush's White House counsel, Alberto Gonzales, and Dick Cheney's counsel (and current Chief of Staff) David Addington. Together, they deliberately created and authorized a regime of torture and other brutal interrogation methods that are, by all measures, very serious war crimes.

If writing memoranda authorizing torture -- actions which then directly lead to the systematic commission of torture -- doesn't make one a war criminal in the U.S., what does?

For starters, let me get something out of the way. I'm against torture, and not only do I disagree with what John Yoo said, I'm to the left of leftie Alan Dershowitz on torture.

That does not mean that I don't realize torture is inevitable in times of war and in dire emergencies; I just don't think any legal precedent should be set which allows it, as that could lead to institutionalized torture.

But what exactly did John Yoo do that makes people consider him the latest Great American Satan? Did he issue any orders to carry out torture? Hardly. Not even his most vehement critics say that. Did he even approve torture? No. He argued as a Justice Department underling that there were no international laws or treaties which would apply to the president's dealing with illegal belligerent enemy detainees. Presumably, this would mean that the president could torture or even kill illegal belligerents if he wanted to. Yoo was either right or wrong in his analysis of whether the treaties were binding, but it's a far cry from the claim that he ordered or approved torture.

If I write a legal memo that it is legal to have sex with small children in country A, does that mean I approve of having sex with children, or that I "authorized" it?

Is the Supreme Court responsible for abortion? I don't think so. I realize that the communitarian view is that we are all responsible for the actions of others, but I think if a woman chooses an abortion, that is her responsibility -- and whether some lawyer or lawyers or judge or judges opine that she should go to jail for it is a separate issue. (I'll leave to others the question of whether performing an abortion on an unanesthetized fetus is a form of torture, lest I completely destroy whatever moral authority I once possessed.)

Greenwald (and many on the left) believe that Yoo is responsible for whatever acts of torture they say went on in Guantanamo or abu Ghraib (presumably including the illegal torture for which soldiers were punished) because of the famous "torture memo" he wrote in 2002. At the time, he was "a mere deputy assistant attorney general in the legal counsel office" (the headline shortened this to "junior aide"), and as such, he had no authority to issue orders to anyone, save his subordinates, his secretaries, and his staff. Obviously, there were a number of superiors in the chain of command -- in both the government and military hierarchy -- between him and whoever ultimately decided that his legal views should influence their thinking or their actions. Whatever Yoo's opinion was used for (and despite the screaming I'm not sure his critics know precisely), it was not because he was in any position to order it; his superiors would have had to adopt and ratify it. So, if we assume Yoo's analysis was incorrect, he bears responsibility for his legal errors, but only to the people who then ratified his work product. He's so far down in the chain of command that he's not even analogous to a clerk of a justice in the Supreme Court who might write a draft opinion which is then circulated and adopted into an opinion of the court.

But would anyone seriously maintain that, say, majority author Harry Blackmun's clerk (whoever that may have been) was responsible for Roe v. Wade, much less the decisions of women and their doctors?

(Yeah, I know. Many communitarians would say he was responsible, because we are all responsible. In fact, many communitarians would hold the secretary who typed Blackmun's clerk's opinion responsible. And the court printing office probably has the blood of the innocent on its presses.....)

Lest anyone think my analogy to the Supreme Court is misplaced, Yoo's opinion has been seriously said to have "approached the level of the notorious Supreme Court decision in the Korematsu v. United States, in 1944, which upheld the government's internment of Japanese-Americans during the Second World War." OK, for the record, I share their disdain for Korematsu, but a mere deputy assistant attorney general in the legal counsel office is simply not analogous to the Supreme Court.

As even Yoo's critics implicitly recognize, his argument was basically a view of presidential jurisdiction, and not a judgment on the advisability of torture:

"The memo espoused an extreme and virtually unlimited theory of the extent of the President's Commander-in-Chief authority," Mora wrote in his account. Yoo's opinion didn't mention the most important legal precedent defining the balance of power between Congress and the President during wartime, Youngstown Sheet & Tube Company v. Sawyer. In that 1952 case, the Supreme Court stopped President Truman from forcing the steel worker's union, which had declared a strike, to continue producing steel needed in the Korean War. The Court upheld congressional labor laws protecting the right to strike, and ruled that the President's war powers were at their weakest when they were challenging areas in which Congress had passed legislation. Torture, Mora reasoned, had been similarly regulated by Congress through treaties it had ratified.

In an e-mail response to questions this month, Yoo, who is now back at Berkeley, defended his opinion. "The war on terrorism makes Youngstown more complicated," he said. "The majority opinion explicitly said it was not considering the President's powers as Commander-in-Chief in the theater of combat. The difficulty for Youngstown created by the 9/11 attacks is that the theater of combat now includes parts of the domestic United States." He also argued that Congress had ceded power to the President in its authorization of military force against the perpetrators of the September 11th attacks.

Mora concluded that Yoo's opinion was "profoundly in error." He wrote that it "was clearly at variance with applicable law." When we spoke, he added, "If everything is permissible, and almost nothing is prohibited, it makes a mockery of the law." A few days after reading Yoo's opinion, he sent an e-mail to Mary Walker, saying that the document was not only "fundamentally in error" but "dangerous," because it had the weight of law. When the Office of Legal Counsel issues an opinion on a policy matter, it typically requires the intervention of the Attorney General or the President to reverse it.

I have to interrupt, because the statement that a memo written by a Justice Department attorney carries the "weight of law" is preposterous on its face. Even the Attorney General himself does not have the power to make law, because he is neither a judge nor a legislator; he is subordinate to the president. Only Congress has the power to make law (the only exceptions being when Congress delegates adminstrative power to issue regulations), and only the opinions of courts are legally enforceable. If the Attorney General holds the opinion that something is illegal, he cannot order someone imprisoned for violating his opinion; only a court can do that. Similarly, if an Attorney General thinks something is legal, that is only an opinion, because only a court can rule that it is the law.

Opinions are always subject to review and reversal, and Yoo's opinion was in fact "reversed" (if even that is the right word) in another opinion (which of course could also be reversed, as it binds no one). To say that these analytical opinions have the "weight of law" is a rhetorical stretch grounded in political considerations.

In any case, Yoo never "authorized" torture; according to his critics, he said that no law barred the president from authorizing it:

Walker wrote back, "I disagree, and I believe D.O.D. G.C."--Haynes, the Pentagon's general counsel--"disagrees."

On February 6th, Mora invited Yoo to his office, in the Pentagon, to discuss the opinion. Mora asked him, "Are you saying the President has the authority to order torture?"

"Yes," Yoo replied.

"I don't think so," Mora said.

"I'm not talking policy," Yoo said. "I'm just talking about the law."

"Well, where are we going to have the policy discussion, then?" Mora asked.

Mora wrote that Yoo replied that he didn't know; maybe, he suggested, it would take place inside the Pentagon, where the defense-policy experts were. (Yoo said that he recalled discussing only how the policy issues should be debated, and where. Torture, he said, was not an option under consideration.)

But Mora knew that there would be no such discussion; as the Administration saw it, the question would be settled by Yoo's opinion. Indeed, Mora soon realized that, under the supervision of Mary Walker, a draft working-group report was being written to conform with Yoo's arguments. Mora wrote in his memo that contributions from the working group "began to be rejected if they did not conform to the OLC"--Office of Legal Counsel--"guidance."

Remember, these are Yoo's critics, and right there, they're admitting that his opinion was ratified, revised, and circulated by his superiors.

To call him the culprit -- as if he authorized, much less ordered torture -- is not logical. It's an exercise in the absurd, by people looking for a scapegoat. (Yoo's opinion can be read here and here.) What especially seems to bother Yoo's critics is this:

Congress may no more regulate the President's ability to detain and interrogate enemy combatants than it may regulate his ability to direct troop movements on the battlefield.
Right or wrong, that is a legal opinion, and to say that it makes Yoo a "war criminal" or that the author's employment as a Professor of Law represents "the complete destruction over the last eight years of whatever moral authority the United States possessed" is pompous and preposterous in the extreme.

What makes Greenwald the supreme arbiter of morality, anyway? His former representation of a Nazi leader?

[NOTE: I should have said neo-Nazi leader above, as Greenwald's client was too young to have been a true Nazi in the historical sense.]

But in the very moralistic Greenwald doesn't stop there. In a more recent piece, he attempts moral linkage between Yoo and the "war crimes" (yes I am serious) of bloggers Megan McArdle and Daniel Drezner! Not because they support torture (they don't) but because they remarked the obvious -- that the American people are more interested in reading about Obama than Yoo right now. Greenwald's rant is so over the top that it isn't worthy of serious discussion, but I think Megan McArdle characterizes it pretty well:

Frankly, his assertions sound bizarre, even lunatic, to anyone who has ever met a journalist or a newspaper editor. And the later part of his rant, during which he accuses me and Dan of supporting the media establishment because it is helping us cover up our war crimes, ranges into the kind of frenzied conspiracy-theorizing that I generally associate with Ron Paul's more wild-eyed supporters. You know, the ones who tell you that when the rEVOLution comes, you'll be the first one with your back against the wall. The ones who aren't really arguing with you, but rather using you as a stand-in for everyone they've ever disagreed with, including the kids who made fun of them for wetting their pants in first grade. The ones who are filing their bizarrely capitalized missives from atop the massive stockpiles of canned goods and ammunition they have stored in an abandoned copper mine.
The emerging rule seems to be that having opinions which differ from Glenn Greenwald constitutes moral derangement, if not a war crime.

If that's moral derangement, I'm proud to be morally deranged.

Hey, can I be a war criminal too?

Not so fast.

Before anyone starts calling me a war criminal (or even a chicken hawk -- as Justin Raimondo snarked in a comment here), I should state for the record that I would have enlisted in the military, but the guys in the Justice Department never drafted the numerous legal memos which would have had to have been ratified to provide the "weight of law" which might have justified the necessary waivers which might have allowed such a thing. I know it's complicated, but I don't make the legal or moral rules.

Come to think of it, neither does John Yoo. Nor does Glenn Greenwald.

If that sounds like a moral comparison, it was unintentional.

(My apologies to John Yoo.)

MORE: Glenn Reynolds thinks it is mean to criticize "slick, geeky weasels or rancid, asexual cream puffs." And he says leftists get very upset when you talk that way. Fair enough. But I never said that Greenwald was a slick, geeky weasel or a rancid, asexual cream puff. For the record, I don't think he's slick, some of my best friends are geeks, and not only do I like both weasels and cream puffs, I think their moral authority is superior to his.

(The rancid and asexual sock puppets can scream "Don't you know who I am?" all they want.)

UPDATE: In a later post, M. Simon notes that Megan McArdle is being inundated with leftie commenters, which she is. As Simon notes, not only are they wrong, they're trying to wear her down:

In this war which side is known as the torturing side? Which side executes civilians at random as policy? Which side is notorious for using human shields?

So for all the fools screaming Yoo, Yoo, Yoo, Yoo, and Bush too, why no outrage at the random mass murder of civilians as a military tactic?

Because the other side is using a tactic well known. It is: give up or the puppy dies.

And the puppy murderers are the friends of so many of Megan's commenters. Not to mention the leftys in general.

I admire her for putting up with the comments. Most bloggers in her position would probably just turn them off.

posted by Eric at 10:17 AM | Comments (6)



North Dakota Discovery - 200 Bn Bbl Of Oil

Two hundred billion barrels of oil have been discovered in North Dakota.

America is sitting on top of a super massive 200 billion barrel Oil Field that could potentially make America Energy Independent and until now has largely gone unnoticed. Thanks to new technology the Bakken Formation in North Dakota could boost America's Oil reserves by an incredible 10 times, giving western economies the trump card against OPEC's short squeeze on oil supply and making Iranian and Venezuelan threats of disrupted supply irrelevant.

In the next 30 days the USGS (U.S. Geological Survey) will release a new report giving an accurate resource assessment of the Bakken Oil Formation that covers North Dakota and portions of South Dakota and Montana. With new horizontal drilling technology it is believed that from 175 to 500 billion barrels of recoverable oil are held in this 200,000 square mile reserve that was initially discovered in 1951. The USGS did an initial study back in 1999 that estimated 400 billion recoverable barrels were present but with prices bottoming out at $10 a barrel back then the report was dismissed because of the higher cost of horizontal drilling techniques that would be needed, estimated at $20-$40 a barrel.

Business Week confirms the report.
A long-awaited federal report on oil that could be recovered in parts of North Dakota, Montana and two Canadian provinces is to be released this week.

The Bakken shale formation encompasses some 25,000 square miles in North Dakota, Montana, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. About two-thirds of the acreage is in western North Dakota, where the oil is trapped in a thin layer of dense rock nearly two miles beneath the surface.

Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, said the number of wells in the Bakken increased from about 300 in 2006 to 457 at the end of last year. Bismarck-based MDU Resources Group Inc. announced its first venture into the Bakken this week.

The study being released Thursday by the U.S. Geological Survey was done at the request of Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., over the past 18 months.

"Technology continues to advance," Dorgan said Monday. "This is not going to be a red light or green light about oil development in the Bakken -- clearly there already is a big green light there. But I think the question is pretty clear: How much of that oil is recoverable using today's technology?"

The First report was a quote from New Energy which often gets things wrong. I'd say the Business Week Report is more reliable.

Here is a technique for Mining Oil. I think the peak oil folks got it wrong. As usual. Capitalism beats the fear mongers. Again.

H/T Paper Tiger in the comments at Classical Values.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 01:44 AM | Comments (30)




Meaningless news, but it's "surprising"

I don't know what is so damned "suprising" about the fact that an ABC News reporter found four soldiers in Iraq who said they were for Obama, and one or two who said they were for Hillary, but that's what the headline says -- "Surprising Political Endorsements By U.S. Troops" -- and the story implies (without daring to state directly) that soldiers in Iraq support Democrats by a huge margin.

Note the careful wording:

ABC's Martha Raddatz asked American soldiers in Iraq what issues are most important to them when looking at the presidential candidates.
And this:
Though the military is generally a more conservative group, soldiers like Sgt. Justin Sarbaum are just as eager for a pull-out as the Democratic candidates.
"Asked American solders in Iraq" does not specify the size of the group or how and why they were selected. "Soldiers like Sgt. Justin Sarbaum" means what? Anything you want it to mean, I guess.

Not one soldier who supports McCain was mentioned or interviewed. Somehow, I don't think that's because none could be found.

All this proves is that the United States is a democracy, and citizens -- yes even soldiers -- can vote for whomever they want.

Why, that's even allowed in Philadelphia. In the last mayoral election, I vaguely remember that Republican candidate (what's-his-name? Al Taubenberger, that's it) ran against Democrat Michael Nutter, and got 17% of the vote. Yet any fool could have run around with a microphone and a camera, and found half a dozen Philadelphians who would have gladly admitted they were for Taubenberger.

Unless there's some sort of accurate polling, anecdotal statements means nothing. In the last election Kerry 18% of the military vote -- which is better than Taubenberger did with the Philadelphia vote. What this means, obviously, is that anyone could have run around with a camera, interviewed Kerry supporting soldiers, and then solemnly and truthfully intoned that "soldiers supported Kerry."

This meaningless news item is a good argument against television.

posted by Eric at 03:38 PM | Comments (10)



The aberration routine

I've posted repeatedly about two attacks (one fatal) on Philadelphia's SEPTA commuters in barely over a week.

My last post was on Saturday. Little did I know at the time that there had been yet a third attack the night before:

In the third attack on or near SEPTA in Center City in 10 days, three men wearing black wigs assaulted and robbed a 30-year-old Southwest Philadelphia man riding the Market-Frankford El late Friday.

SEPTA police couldn't catch the suspects in the 11:35 p.m. incident as quickly as they nabbed those in an 8 p.m. attack Wednesday, just two days earlier.

Friday night's victim, whose name is being withheld by police, had to climb two flights of steps to report the assault and robbery of $20 to a cashier at the stop on 15th and Market streets, according to Richard Maloney, SEPTA spokesman.

By the time the cashier reported it to SEPTA police, the Market-Frankford train had traveled to 30th Street and the wig-wearing trio were nowhere to be found, Maloney said.

At that time of night, Maloney added that there may have been fewer SEPTA police on duty.

As SEPTA riders express fear for their safety, Mayor Nutter said Commissioner Charles Ramsey was working closely with SEPTA to enhance security.

The three attacks appear to be unrelated, police said.

Maloney called the attacks "real aberrations."

"For years we have been dealing with teens and deploy SEPTA police based on the time of school dismissals. They are usually boisterous and loud," he added. "There's bullying, but now, there's more presence of girls in these things," he added.

On Friday night, the three wig-wearers had boarded the train at 13th and Market streets, and immediately demanded money from the victim. One suspect struck the victim in the face and grabbed $20, before the victim got off at 15th and Market, after only one stop, police said.

(Emphasis added.)

Aberrations? That's what Maloney said after the first and second attacks.

And now it's the third attack, and as if he's reading from a prepared script, Maloney is calling it an aberration again.

If I may liberally recontexualize Senator Dirksen's famous fake but accurate quote, an aberration here, an aberration there, and pretty soon we're talking about a genuinely aberrational pattern!

While the latest attack was a little slow to make it into the Inquirer, the above was in the Daily News, and NBC called the series of attacks a "scary and disturbing trend." Interestingly, NBC does not quote Maloney's "aberration" routine; instead they quote a spokesman who cites the difficulty of policing the children:

"You can have three cops in one area. The kids will keep moving until they get to a spot where there isn't a cop and just assault the next person who comes by," said SEPTA Public Safety Director Jim Jordan.
The latest attack (which occurred on Friday) not only made it into today's Inquirer in a front page piece, but SEPTA seems to have backed away from the earlier contention that the attacks were "aberrations."
Crime data show that serious crime on SEPTA property is up 81 percent between 2004 and 2007. Jim Jordan, head of public safety for SEPTA, said the vast majority of complaints concern teenagers using the system after school.
Hmm... Does that mean aberrations are up 81 percent?

While security has been beefed up, the SEPTA spokesman seems to think that this is just a blip, and that in the summer, the attacks will die down:

"Schoolkids can be very disruptive and appear very threatening," Jordan said, adding that there are fewer problems in the summer when there are fewer teens going to school. "A major concern for us is people feeling safe."
Feeling safe is more important than being safe, because if people don't feel safe, they might drive instead of using public transportation. Or worse yet, they might look for employment outside of Philadelphia, in places where they don't have to fear being attacked by "the children."
Yesterday's move follows three recent attacks in or near subway stations, including the March 26 death of Sean Patrick Conroy, 36, a Starbucks manager in Center City. He was beaten and kicked on the Market-Frankford subway concourse at 13th and Market Streets and suffered a fatal asthma attack during the assault.

Five Simon Gratz High School students are charged as adults with murder in Conroy's death.

Conroy's father, Steve Conroy, said he was glad to see SEPTA shore up policing but called it "a day late and dollar short" for his son.

"If they're doing it on overtime, that says to me it is a temporary thing that eventually will be forgotten," Conroy said. He said extra police protection needs to be sustained.

Considering that the transit police can't really protect anyone or prevent crime, I think the more citizens carry concealed, the better. It might take a couple of highly publicized self defense incidents to send a message to the "children."

What kind of children rampage in stations and attack commuters, anyway? The kind who attack their teachers and break their jaws and their necks, perhaps?

Hey, this isn't just my idle thought; that's what the Philadelphia "children" were doing to their teachers just one year ago.

I'm thinking that a common factor might be Philadelphia's education aberration.

(Or maybe the kids have just decided to treat commuters like teachers. I wish these aberrations didn't have to go mainstream.)

MORE: Glenn Reynolds recently linked a classic post which discusses (among other things) the idea of turning predators into protectors:

Very nearly all the violence that plagues, rather than protects, society is the work of young males between the ages of fourteen and thirty. A substantial amount of the violence that protects rather than plagues society is performed by other members of the same group. The reasons for this predisposition are generally rooted in biology, which is to say that they are not going anywhere, in spite of the current fashion that suggests doping half the young with Ritalin.

The question is how to move these young men from the first group (violent and predatory) into the second (violent, but protective). This is to ask: what is the difference between a street gang and the Marine Corps, or a thug and a policeman? In every case, we see that the good youths are guided and disciplined by old men. This is half the answer to the problem.

But do we not try to discipline and guide the others? If we catch them at their menace, don't we put them into prisons or programs where they are monitored, disciplined, and exposed to "rehabilitation"? The rates of recidivism are such that we can't say that these programs are successful at all, unless the person being "rehabilitated" wants and chooses to be. And this is the other half of the answer: the discipline and guidance must be voluntarily accepted. The Marine enlists; the criminal must likewise choose to accept what is offered.

The problem with so many of the "boot camp" style approaches is that the people who are sent to them are not necessarily willing to make the commitment it takes to go from predator to protector, and it is folly to pretend that they are. (Although the circumstances are different, it's a bit like trying to force an alcoholic or addict into "recovery.") I don't think these approaches will work unless and until the individual decides for himself that he wants to make the change. Only at that point can the "dangerous old men" in the protector class really help.

You can lead a dangerous young predator to a dangerous old protector, but you cannot make him think.

posted by Eric at 07:29 AM | Comments (6)



Debacle In Denver

Lawrence O'Donnell Jr. imagines what it would be like with a deadlocked convention in Denver. Totally hilarious. Or is that Hillaryous? Any way, since this is a gay friendly blog I'm going to give you the opening scene.

FROM THE BLACK, we hear noises, confusing sounds. Grunting? Groaning? Sex? A massage? A workout? Weight lifting? fade in on: Skin. Sweaty skin.

A buttock? Male, female? Muscular. Hair. More hair. Definitely male. REVEAL hard-core gay sex scene between a flawless blond bodybuilder-hooker and a bald, middle-aged 300-pound man. A cell phone rings. The fat man reaches for it, hits a button to stop the ringing. Back to sex. A hotel phone starts ringing. And ringing. And ringing. The fat man picks it up and hangs up to stop the ringing. It rings again immediately. The fat man tries the same trick. And it rings again immediately. Finally, the phone wins. As the fat man talks on the phone, the hooker continues to do his job.

Fat man: Yeah ... Harold, can I call you ba-- ... Uh-huh ... I still haven't deci-- ... This really isn't a good time for-- ... Please. I have to-- ... I just-- ... I need-- ... (Desperate to get back to sex, gives up.) Okay ... Yes, I'm saying yes ... No, you can't announce it yet ... I'm giving you my word ... I've got to hang up now ... Okay. (Hangs up.)
Hooker (looking up from his work): Are you a superdelegate?

He has five pages more of equally funny or funnier stuff. Loved the scene with Bill Clinton and Charlie Rangel. Go read the whole damn thing. Way more fun than serious politics.

posted by Simon at 03:15 AM | Comments (2)



A Shortage Of Power

Carl from Chicago Boyz is discussing the looming collapse of the electrical power grid in Britain and how it relates to what is happening in America.

There is a looming electricity crisis that is about to overtake the United States. While our demand for electricity continues to increase due to construction, computers (data centers take up a significant portion of electricity demand), and potentially even electric cars, essentially no new "base load" supply of electrical generation is being added to the market. We do get the occasional wind farm or solar or geothermal source of energy, and a bit of conservation is on the rise, but these tiny dents in supply and demand, respectively, don't even begin to cover growth much less the fact that many electricity plants are aging and will face retirement in the future. Due to the long lead times involved with getting a new plant on line (at LEAST 5-10 years in the case of large base load coal or nuclear plants, best case), our problem is that we aren't doing anything NOW to head off the crisis LATER, when we won't have any options at all.
They have a nice graph showing how the grid in Britain will not be able to meet demand by around 2015. They also mention that already there are spot shortages in London.

We need to plan ahead and throw the Greenies overboard. Already they are contributing to the destruction of the rain forests, and starving the poor. Why we want to let them have so much power in the face of their almost total ignorance of anything outside their narrow interests is beyond me.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 12:24 AM | Comments (6)



Fake Wisdom

Jamal at Stop Obama has a white hot piece up critiquing Barack Hussein Obama. I'm just going to give you a taste from in the middle. But read the whole thing.

As with all the verbiage coming out of the reptilian stems of Farrakhans and Wrights, too many folks who should be thinking, are listening to cogitate, are applauding a concert or a vocal solo. Brothers don't ask themselves about the content of the words they is hearing from our unelected Negro leaders, who are only too happy to oblige with their histrionics, their impulsive head-twists, arm waving, plosive "ps" and labial "bs" their rising in terror "Ays" and descending to solemnity "um-hums" I'd say these ventriloquists have perfected the art of "pretense speech". They pretend to speak sense, but its mostly rhetorical smoke and mirrors expressing indignation at not having the choice to simply come-in and jive.

No, the Lord demand they speak - and lo, they imitate speech. A a bit of righteous outrage, colored words, shrill invocations, aphoristic mumbojumbo, and hyperactive metronomic gestures, to conjure up moral indignation and the Lords wrath. The brothers growing up and listening to this crap perfected the art of smiling, "a-huming" and getting up and swinging-a-clapping while not at all listening for logic, consistency, and implication. Its an ethnic circus show where everyone joins in on the act. Christian or Islamic, suffused with Ghanian shamanism.

While the Euro-Asian man has perfected the art of calm reflection and rational creative destruction - and made this the foundation upon which our world was built, a world transcending huts and canoes - the Negro leadership in this Euro-Asian world has decided to proclaim pride in its Tropical heritage, and perfected the art of "show thinking, and cliche pimping" in order to assault the foundations of the Euro-Asian world. This leadership has dug Americas blacks into a dark hole called "Fake Wisdom thought," but to suggest so is to be a Colonialist, anti-Africanist, Racist, Supremacist, or Race-Traitor.

Jamal has way more. And you know he is on the right path when his modern heros are Thomas Sowell and Shelby Steele.

Well Jamal, they are my heros too!

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 12:11 AM | Comments (1)




Unfair comparison

A friend just emailed me this picture from a German Mardi Gras float:

germanmardigras.jpg

I checked around, and there does seem to have been such a float, at the "traditional Rose Monday carnival parade in Duesseldorf February 4, 2008."

It's one thing to joke about our elections, but must those mean Krauts make fun of pit bulls?

I'm against such unfair stereotyping, and I can assure everyone that Coco would never bite Hillary on the butt.

Just look at how peacefully and patiently she listened to the Hillary ring tone.

What more proof do I need that my dog is anything but the butt-biting bigot portrayed by this vicious and insensitive float?

Duesseldorf, please, cut it out!

UPDATE: My thanks to Der Bloggenvater Herr Reynolds for the link, and welcome all!

posted by Eric at 04:10 PM | Comments (16)



Making the "humane" as inhumane as humanly possible?

This is going to sound a bit crazy, but something I've been reading repeatedly in arguments over the lethal injection debate makes no sense to me, and I think it has more to do with the inherently incompetent nature of government than it does with the procedure, which is being described as too cruel to be used on animals:

An anesthesiologist testified Monday that Ohio's lethal injection procedure isn't appropriate for dogs or cats, let alone humans.

Dr. Mark Heath's testimony on behalf of two murder defendants came in a Lorain County hearing on the constitutionality of state's method for putting prisoners to death.

Heath, an assistant professor of anesthesiology at Columbia University, says it's possible to perform lethal injection of prisoners in a humane manner, but that Ohio's method falls below the standard for euthanizing household pets.

Ohio requires its executions to be carried out "in a professional, humane, sensitive and dignified manner." The two men facing murder charges say the state's lethal injection procedure doesn't give the quick and painless deaths required by state law.

Lethal injections are on hold nationally while the U.S. Supreme Court considers a challenge in a case from Kentucky, which is among the roughly three dozen states that administer three drugs in succession to sedate, paralyze and kill prisoners.

The major criticism of the three-drug execution procedure is that if the executioner administers too little anesthetic or makes mistakes in injecting it, the inmate could suffer excruciating pain from the other two drugs.

Difficulties with two executions in recent years, in which the execution team struggled to find suitable veins in inmates' arms, brought complaints that the method is unconstitutionally cruel and unusual. Ohio officials stand by the procedure.

Of course they stand by the procedure. That's their job.

This is not new. I've read numerous accounts like this about botched lethal injections involving missed veins, deaths taking a half an hour or more, chemical burns, and among the cases cited by cited by Amnesty International was one in which "an autopsy found 19 puncture marks resulting from attempts to establish an IV line."

The lawyers for the prisoners are right. We wouldn't kill a dog that way.

What bothers me about this is that any doctor, nurse, veterinarian, or even veterinary assistant could do a better job than these prison guards do. Prison guards (known in bureaucratese as "execution teams") are not trained in basic medical techniques, and no amount of regulations can guarantee that a guard can obtain phlebotomist skills. They're simply told what to to in bureaucratically incomprehensible policy and procedure manuals and then they learn on the job. (Sorry, but if I were having blood drawn I wouldn't want a prison guard who does maybe one execution per year coming anywhere near me with a needle.)

Two obvious, glaring problems stand out.

First, why on earth can't these state governments hire a technician who knows how to find a vein to come in and just do it? There's no need to force a doctor to violate the Hippocratic Oath or anything; just hire someone who has worked for a blood bank or a vet. Or hell, even a former junkie. The problem (at least so it seems to me) is that the tradition has always been that prison guards carry out executions, and while any old fool can pull a switch or spring a trap, finding a vein requires skill. (And finding a vein under the formal public pressures inherent in a public execution requires more than technical skill.)

The other issue that has long bugged me about this debate is that it wouldn't even be necessary to worry about the inability to find a vein if they did what every compassionate vet does these days (and what was done to Puff when his time came).

Simply administer a sedative first.

No vein is needed. Just a simple shot anywhere in the body (the arm or the butt will do fine), and after a minute or so, the result is complete and total loss of consciousness. In the case of my dog Puff, he went peacefully, literally, to sleep, and once he was asleep, the vet found the vein, and injected the massive dose of pentabarbital (which promptly stopped his heart, killing him instantly).

What in the hell is wrong with that? Nothing could be more humane, yet it doesn't seem to have ever occurred to the bureaucrats. You'd almost think that the goal was not humanely assuring the condemned person's exit from this world, but incompetently fussing around and messing with his last few minutes in the hope that he'll die consciously or something.

Is that it? Is there a sadistic urge to make people not merely die, but die "consciously"?

I support capital punishment, but I don't see any logical or moral reason why people have to die in a conscious manner. What's the difference to society between the prisoner closing his eyes and going to sleep and getting the fatal shot later, as opposed to having to getting all set up with incompetently placed IV lines in the hope of receiving the "three ingredient" shot while he is conscious?

(Parenthetically, a prisoner first rendered unconscious by a tranquilizer could be killed in any manner at all. I suppose if the public has an emotional need for blood, he could be shot. Or even guillotined.)

This is not logical. The goal of lethal injection was supposedly to make it humane, right?

So.....

What part of the word "humane" don't they understand?

AFTERTHOUGHT: It occurs to me that maybe there's an argument here for bringing back traditional executioners -- people who specialize in killing. There's a reason why executioners are not normal people, and that's because most normal people have trouble carrying out the premeditated killing of another human being. (This might explain why trained marksmen who never miss at target practice often miss live human suspects.) It might be unreasonable to expect prison guards to just be able to strap a man down and "find a vein" in high-profile circumstances where even a trained phlebotomist might have problems. In any event, while lethal injection arises from the theory of a humane death, it has been rendered grotesque in its application (and probably cruel and unusual punishment) when there's no theoretical reason it should be.

posted by Eric at 02:33 PM | Comments (11)



Shape Up


Fortunately the Marines are a Branch of the US Navy (my service) or I would be really worried. Well any way, this is a tribute to all my jarhead friends. Semper Fi. Get some.

Update: Some related news from Vodka Pundit

From far outside the safety of the Green Zone, Michael Totten reports:
I stepped inside the school yard. Hundreds of children saw me and the Marines, and the whole place erupted in screams of excitement. It was as if Britney Spears or the guy from Coldplay had shown up. The volume was just extraordinary and I took a few steps back in surprise.

Wildly screaming children jockeyed for position in front of my camera. After a few minutes of pandemonium, teachers coaxed most of the kids into classrooms and left a few behind to pick up the trash and sweep the sidewalk around the courtyard.

And we all know how the Arab world cheers the weak horse.

posted by Simon at 01:37 PM | Comments (2)



Bad Law

The Volokh Conspiracy is discussing whether juries should be informed of the sentences that accompany a crime. Here is what I think:

I think introducing some common law standards back into our judicial system through jury nullification is a good thing.

Will the results always be good? Well no. But neither is our current system where only the facts are judged - not the law as well.

Remember Peter Zenger. Guilty as charged. Jury nullified. Free speech upheld.

The jury is supposed to protect us from bad people and bad law. Jury nullification helped repeal alcohol prohibition. One way to get bad law repealed is to make it unenforceable.

Not to mention runaway prosecutors. There seems to be a lot of them these days.

H/T Instapundit

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 01:04 PM | Comments (1)



Charlton Heston, R.I.P.

Rick Moran has a great piece about the great actor who was larger than life on and off the screen, and who defied just about every stereotype about Hollywood -- because he was an individual who dared to think for himself:

....He marched with Martin Luther King and was a staunch supporter of civil rights. He opposed McCarthyism and racial segregation. He spoke out against gay-bashing and opposed the Vietnam War, believing Nixon was a disaster as president.

He supported liberal Democrats early in his Hollywood career including Johnson and Kennedy. It appears that as long as Heston was doing what was expected of him as a Hollywood liberal, he could do no wrong.

But like many Democrats in the late 1970's, Heston's allegiances to both liberalism and the party began to weaken. Once he began campaigning for more conservative positions on issues like gun control, affirmative action, and national defense, the left turned on him with a vengeance. He didn't formally change his party affiliation until 1987 but it was clear by the early Reagan years that Heston had abandoned the New Left and the Democrats.

But it was his stint as President of the National Rifle Association that garnered the most controversy....

Read it all.

People forget that Heston's staunch support for civil rights did not begin and end in the King era. Heston recognized that not only is the right to keep and bear arms (which is the right to self defense) paramount among civil rights, but it guarantees that the rest of our civil rights are possible.

All Americans are in his debt (including those who don't realize that the right of self-defense is a civil right that makes them safer).

Whenever I hear the expression "from my cold dead hands," I'll remember him fondly.

posted by Eric at 12:19 PM | Comments (1)



Your White Guilt

Juanita Gonzales, a Clinton supporter, says that you need to get over Your White Guilt.

Obama's ascent rests on White America's Guilt Ridden identity, a Guilt reaching into all forms of speech and action deemed racist or insulting forming part of a totalitarian race regime mostly enforced against Whites, but to which we are all increasingly hostage. White Guilt is the work of Whites themselves, but its leading exponents are Blacks, while the flames are fanned by a general culture of Victimhood increasingly marketed to to all segments of American society.

In speaking of White Guilt, I am not speaking of "Whites" per se, but of America's totalitarian race regime, of which, Jamal argues, Mr. Obama is the main beneficiary.

It is long and it is very good. The Lady sounds like a Republican.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 11:44 AM | Comments (2)



Hillary's abominations turn me on!

I'm not an economist, so please forgive me if my standards are not up to those of mature adults with advanced degrees in the subject. I recognize that by their standards, I'm about at the level of the eleven year old boy who Hillary quoted on the Jay Leno Show. (More on that later.)

However, I try to be mathematically logical, and I try to use common sense in looking at economic issues. But I thought that maybe I should try harder (see Glenn's roundup of those who do), because the conventional chatter right now is that the economy is tanking, a recession is imminently upon us as we speak, and that runaway unemployment is ruining the quality of life for American workers. (Conservatives keep screaming that the rate is actually lower than it was under Bill Clinton, yet their screams never seem to turn into headlines.)

You don't have to be an economist to recognize political realities, and I do think that right now, there's too much popular support for the Iraq War for the Democrats to feel confident about making the war the number one issue. Besides, the conventional wisdom is that McCain wins on the war issue, because he's a tested warrior, plus it can fairly be said that he was a prophet of the successful -- even victorious surge.

"OH NOOOO!," said Glenn.

In McCain's case, that news comes as an "OH YES!" (The unpleasant fact that McCain was for the surge before there was a surge, and when even Bush was dragging his feet, makes him a very tough target.)

So, the Dems' strategy seems to be, let McCain the Old Warrior run on the war, and we'll run on the economy, and paint McCain as some sort of resurrected Herbert Hoover in a military uniform. (With echoes of one of those hands-off-the-economy geriatric types who sit and watch reruns of The Sound of Music while millions of American workers starve.) Especially when coupled with tying McCain to Bush, that kind of attack can be expected to lead gullible voters into imagining that McCain is already to blame for (what do they call it?) "the economic mess that we're in."

Again, you don't need to be an economist to see how silly that is. For starters, the president does not run the economy. Whatever happens is going to happen. The Dot Com boom happened while Clinton was president, and it happened in an emergent area of the economy the government bureaucrats had never thought to regulate. Yet Clinton is remembered for good economic times, as if it's cause and effect.

I think the weakness in the Democrats' strategy is to be found in their advocacy of a government "hands-on" approach, because government solutions tend to create problems which then call for more government solutions, and then more. Because socialism creates a demand for itself, socialists not only do not care that it does not work, they want it not to work. (The government's role in forcing banks to make bad loans which now need "fixing" being a recent example.)

Quite unwittingly, Hillary Clinton illustrated how this works with her latest, um, "anecdote" involving an alleged 11-year-old boy:

I was in Indianapolis the other day and I was shaking hands after I spoke. And there was this young boy about eleven years old and he's trying to tell me something--you know the crowd was yelling--so I leaned over and he said, "You know, my mom makes minimum wage and even though it went up, her hours were cut. So we're not making any more money. Can you help her?" You know, when somebody says something like that to you, it really does kind of energize me. I think, yeah, I can, I'm going to really try to help you, because this is wrong. And everywhere I go I hear stories like that about veterans who don't get health care, about people, who are, you know, losing their jobs, and I think we can do so much better. So for me it's just get up every day and fight on because this country's worth fighting for.
(Via Greg Mankiw's link to Cafe Hayek's Russell Roberts.)

OK, let me first get something out of the way. Hillary's lies excite me. In a twisted sort of way, they even turn me on. Perhaps that makes me a masochistic pseudophile. Or am I wrong? "Pseudo" is Greek for "lie" and if Hillary's lies turn me on, then I'm a Hillarypseudophile, right? I would seek treatment for my pseudophilia, except no such disease is listed. A pity, really. What gets me so turned on about Hillary is that she lies with men like a woman, and I love such abominations -- even if they are paving the way for an Obama Nation. So please excuse me if I find myself salivating over the possibility that the entire story is yet another Hillary hoax. I want her "truths" to be lies, OK? I know I'm getting distracted, and I don't want to get off topic. Fortunately, there are enough bloggers on her case that this may yet be ferreted out. Rob at Say Anything doubts that "this kid even existed in the first place."

The odds that Hillary managed to meet one of the 0.033% of American workers who actually make the minimum wage is pretty slim.
Back to Russell Roberts at Cafe Hayek:
I don't believe the story. What eleven year-old boy whispers into the ear of a big shot the details of his mother's wage/hours mix? And I like how she had to lean over--no one--not even Bill Richardson or Sinbad--can contradict her.
I'm thinking that it would have been nearly impossible for the economics lesson to have occurred while Hillary was shaking hands in front of a crowd right after a speech without someone's camera running.

If it did happen, why the hell hasn't the Hillary campaign posted it on YouTube? It would be, like, a lovely story.

Plus, Roberts has some free advice for him:

..if that little boy really exists, I'd like to tell him that a Senator fighting for you is a losing proposition. You have to fight for yourself. If your Mom wants more money, she needs to go back to school or work a second job. And as for you, stay in school. It's the best way to avoid earning the minimum wage.
I agree with that. Furthermore, even an 11 year old boy ought to be able to understand that the government is not his father.

While I was reading Greg Mankiw's blog, I also happened upon a wonderful pithy little economics witticism, which had been the Adam Smith Institute's quote of the week:


"Need" now means wanting someone else's money. "Greed" means wanting to keep your own. "Compassion" is when a politician arranges the transfer.
Wow. Is there any way McCain could work that into a speech? (Hey, I can dream, can't I?)

I guess the quote explains the "need" part in the old "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need."

I'm also wondering whether ability itself is increasingly being seen as an inherent a form of greed (maybe as a form of evil to be punished, or at least exploited) but that's another topic.

The war between need and greed is something most eleven year olds can understand.

MORE: Acknowledging that the United States may well be headed for a recession, Alan Greenspan has endorsed McCain -- even without knowing which Democrat will win the nomination. (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

MORE: As M. Simon notes in the comment below, John McCain is generally prettty good on economic issues, and this TCS piece by Arnold Kling (which Glenn linked earlier) is also helpful:

I feel awkward and defensive when the subject of economic inequality comes up. The fact is that I cannot say that I feel comfortable with the levels of inequality and excess that exist in our society.

However, I am loathe to call inequality a problem that requires a government solution. I do not see how it solves the problem to take power away from wealthy people who have a lot of it in order to increase the power of politicians who have far more of it.

What the American people really should feel awkward and defensive about is the level of inequality and excess of political power. Instead of asking ourselves what we can do about Warren Buffett or Bill Gates, we should be asking ourselves about what we can do about the Clintons and the Spitzers. Those who want more and more power should be our biggest concern.

Read it all.

posted by Eric at 10:33 AM | Comments (2)




Sending Signals

The Assistant Village Idiot has three posts up about sending signals

Social
By Politicians
Among Friends

Let me quote a bit from the first piece to give you the flavor.

Sophia has the office next to mine. She is a Christian conservative of slightly different flavor - chocolate chip to my vanilla, perhaps. Her window looks out over the copier, and she has affixed a long list of examples from around the world of what bad things happened to peoples who were not allowed to own guns. It's been up a few months. I don't know how many folks have read it.

One of the med students from another unit brought the psychiatrist over to look at it. Neither said a word, the younger just pointed to it and grinned mockingly. How do I know it was mockingly, rather than approvingly? Because our brains are very good at picking up social cues like that. Even the worst of us are pretty good at it. We evolved in groups where such things were important for survival. Tribes enforce their norms via gestures and expressions which are maddeningly difficult to describe.

GRTWT

posted by Simon at 11:12 PM | Comments (2)



A new crime which exempts the criminals it targets!

I've previously criticized the "lose a gun, go to jail" bill they've been promoting in Pennsylvania, because it would criminalize law abiding gun owners while doing nothing about the problem criminals it purports to address.

In her column today, Monica Yant Kinney excoriates Philadelphia Representative Dennis O'Brien (also Pennsylvania's House Speaker) for voting against the bill.

Sorry, Denny, but the really glaring thing is how anyone could be against requiring owners of a product that can take a life to report its loss or theft just as they would any other item of value.

You'd call the cops if your car was stolen, wouldn't you? You'd file a report if the wife misplaced her wedding ring. Why not expect the same if a Glock goes missing?

Um, sorry Monica, but unless you want to criminalize the failure to report lost wedding rings, I don't think the "really glaring" comparison is valid.

She paints O'Brien as some sort of nut, yet it's quite obvious that he's done some thinking about the bill:

O'Brien and I haven't talked since we had words at a crime forum last year, but to his credit he e-mailed a detailed 763-word response explaining his decision.

"While it may have been politically expedient to 'go with the crowd' on this one," O'Brien wrote, "that has never been my style."

To him, making it a crime not to report a crime would "cast an overbroad net" ensnaring the innocent.

That, he couldn't stomach.

Imagine, a legislator having qualms about ensnaring the innocent! The very idea! Doesn't he realize that there is no such thing as an innocent gun owner?

Still struggling to comprehend the latest city-suburb divide, I called Rep. Kate Harper in Blue Bell. She voted for the lost-and-stolen amendment with 17 other suburban Republicans, but said she could see why O'Brien had refused.

"It's not like we have an epidemic of people losing their guns," Harper said. "If the real problem is a guy in North Philly claiming his gun was stolen only after it's used in a crime, focus on that."

Meaning if the lost-and-stolen effort is really about scaring people out of becoming straw buyers, then target them, not the little old lady who forgets to tell the cops she gave Grandpa's gun to her son.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. This law would not target anyone who gives a gun to anyone. It makes it a crime to not report thefts or losses. Legal or otherwise, Grandma giving Grandpa's gun to a son (or to anyone else) is neither a "loss" nor is it a "theft."

Illegal transfers are already illegal. This bill does nothing about that. Instead it adds a new crime which could only be committed by persons who are not involved in illegal transfers. Illegal transferors are not affected by the reporting requirement, because an illegal transfer is neither a loss nor a theft.

To understand why, put yourself in the position of someone who has decided to sell a gun illegally. The buyer gives you the cash, you give him the gun. Where's the loss? Where's the theft? Anyone reporting a lost or stolen gun which was not lost or stolen would have to lie -- and would therefore be committing the different and separate crime or making a false report to the authorities.

Not only would there be no duty to report a loss or theft because of the absence of a loss or a theft, but the Fifth Amendment specifically prohibits laws requiring anyone to be a witness against himself. Thus, even if an illegal reseller were somehow charged with violating the reporting requirements in conducting an illegal transfer (and I don't see how he could), the case would ultimately have to be thrown out as there criminals cannot be compelled to report their criminal activities to the state. But let's follow this out with a hypothetical. A illegally sells his gun to B. No loss, no theft. Later, the police take the illegal gun from B, who alternatively:

  • won't say where he got it,
  • says he "bought it off the street" from persons unknown; or
  • admits he got it from A.
  • OK, assume the police trace the gun back to A, and they go to him. If B admits he bought the gun from A, then there was no theft, and no way to charge A under the theft reporting requirement. If B says nothing connecting the gun to A, then the state would have to establish that either an illegal transfer or a failure to report a theft/loss occurred. But not both, as they are mutually exclusive.

    What I think is going on here is an attempt to circumvent the Fifth Amendment by creating a legal scenario requiring criminals to report their own crimes. It would be impossible to require the reporting of illegal transfers, though, as that would violate the Fifth Amendment outright, so instead (and I'm being charitable here about their motives), they're trying to fudge by establishing a catch-all provision. The problem is, the reporting requirement involves the reporting of legitimate losses -- and illegal transfers are neither losses nor legitimate. So, true criminals remain exempt from the reporting reporting requirement. There can be no duty to report to the state a loss or a theft that did not occur. The crime can only be committed by law-abiding citizens who lose their guns or are victims of crime.

    I think this bill is just an attempt to single out guns and gun owners because the proponents don't like them.

    (Now, if Monica wants to criminalize the failure to report lost wedding rings, I'll be glad to reconsider....)

    posted by Eric at 07:05 PM | Comments (2)



    Dangerous pathway

    This is a bit tough to watch -- especially for those who are afraid of heights:

    Unbelievably, the Caminito del Rey is a real path in Spain and many people have died trying to walk it:

    The walkway has now gone many years without maintenance, and is in a highly deteriorated and dangerous state. It is one meter in width, and has over a 700 meter fall. Nearly all of the path has no handrail. Some parts of the walkway have completely collapsed and have been replaced by a beam and a metallic wire on the wall. Many people have lost their lives on the walkway in recent years. After four people died in two accidents in 1999 and 2000, the local government closed the entrances. However, adventurous tourists still find their way into the walkway.
    Probably a good idea to make sure your insurance is paid up before you try, though....

    posted by Eric at 02:16 PM | Comments (1)



    Only Hillary can deliver us from victory!

    Rush Limbaugh, long on record as preferring to see the Democrats defeat McCain this fall, has not given up in his battle to ensure the defeat of the Republican party which he seems to think is his to destroy.

    The fly in the ointment, of course, is Barack Obama, whom the Limbaugh right seem to detest even more than they detest McCain.

    I think Rush and his followers are drooling in anticipation of defeating McCain, but Obama ruins their appetite.

    From the Limbaughvian perspective, the worst aspect of Barack Obama is that if he's the nominee, he could very well cause many anti-McCain conservatives to swallow their pride and actually (gasp!) vote for their own party.

    Thus, Hillary remains the best hope for the GOP's defeatist wing (self styled as "real" and "principled" conservatives).

    How hard they'll work for her remains to be seen.

    AFTERTHOUGHT: Anyone remember when the conventional wisdom was that Hillary would unite the Republican Party?

    Sigh.

    Those were nicer times....

    posted by Eric at 12:43 PM | Comments (5)



    A death-defying extravaganza!

    Last night I attended a great blog party in Princeton, New Jersey -- the Spring BlogFest a/k/a Jersey Blogmeet, which was kindly sponsored by Fausta Wertz and Jim of Parkway Rest Stop, and held at the Triumph Brewing Company. (A great place to imbibe, too, or maybe over-imbibe, which no reputable blogger would ever do of course.) The beer and food were fantastic, as was the company.

    Fausta and I are old friends, and last night was the first time I met Jim, who writes some of the funniest stuff I've seen in the blogosphere. If you're not religious about Barack Obama, his post about breakfast at Obama's Diner should work you into fits of hysteria. (Hmmm.... It might just produce fits of hysteria for those who are into that sort of religion.)

    By the way, this morning Fausta has a very amusing post about the event which is a takeoff on the latest New York Times meme of "Death By Blogging." The official word from these scientific giants is that blogging can be a deadly disease causing,

    weight loss or gain, sleep disorders, exhaustion and other maladies born of the nonstop strain of producing for a news and information cycle that is as always-on as the Internet.
    Wow! That sounds even worse than cigarette smoking, gay sex, or even Global Warming!

    Seriously, I had no idea that I'm shortening my life with every post.

    (I'm pretty sure that everyone walked away from the party alive last night, but then I didn't do a body count.)

    Anyway, among the many bloggers who made it to the event despite death-defying odds, I was delighted to see Baron Bodissey of Gates of Vienna again, and I met Grouchy Old Cripple for the first time, as well as Teresa of Technicalities and Kate of KateSpot. Mr. Bingley of Coalition of the Swilling was also there, and I'd met him previously but didn't get a chance to chat last night. (A lot of people were there and I'm not one of those people who excels at making rounds.)

    Over dinner, I had a wonderful time talking with blogger extraordinaire TigerHawk, a Princeton phenomenon, an exciting conversationalist, and a great political analyst. And sitting right next to me was longtime blog friend Judith Weiss who took a picture of me with Mary Madigan and was nice enough to send it to me this morning:

    esmmSpringBlogfest.jpg

    Sitting on the other side of me were Gregor of Sad Old Goth, and Erica Sherman. Great blogs both. (And I am sorry about the death of Erica's family cat; all I can say is that I've been through it with several dogs, and it's like losing a human friend.)

    Checking out some of these blogs this morning, I see at Coalition of the Swilling that Charlton Heston died. A hell of a guy and a true inspiration, and I'm honored to be able to say that I once shook his hand. Fausta also has a post about Heston.

    R.I.P.

    I was also delighted to meet Joated, who has commented here, and whose link to an incredible picture of an albino alligator warmed the cockles of my heart, as I've always wanted to be a typical white alligator. You know what typical white alligators do, don't you? Why, they make typical white alligations.

    Sorry to get off topic, but it's very difficult to visit these blogs and stick with the point, which is that a great time was had by all who survived!

    There should be more events like this.

    My thanks to the hosts.

    Needless to say, I probably missed a few bloggers I met. If so, let me know! (Reading New York Times idiocy early in the morning has been scientifically proven to induce memory loss.)

    UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for linking this post in the New York Times-defying roundup. Welcome all!

    I'm especially happy to see comments from the great folks with whom I narrowly escaped death last night!

    Glenn asks an interesting question:

    Say, now that blogging turns out to be such a highly dangerous endeavor, will that mean the end of "chickenhawk" slurs in the blogosphere?
    I'm sorry to say that don't think so, because of the catchall rule that treats all warriors as chickenhawks and all chickenhawks as warriors. In a nutshell, the rule says that "everyone who supports the war is disqualified from having an opinion about it by virtue of who he is."

    posted by Eric at 11:10 AM | Comments (13)



    Trade Is A Two Way Street

    Mark Penn is a public relations guy working in the Clinton Campaign. He also does PR work for Colombia. And guess what? The Colombians are not happy.

    WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Colombian government said Saturday it has fired Mark Penn's public relations firm after the chief campaign strategist for Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton apologized for meeting with Colombian officials pushing a trade deal with the U.S.

    Colombian officials said they terminated their contract with lobbying and public relations giant Burson-Marsteller in response to a statement released Friday by Penn, the firm's chief executive, calling the meeting an "error in judgment." Clinton opposes the trade deal.

    "The Colombian government considers this a lack of respect to Colombians, and finds this response unacceptable," government officials said in a news release. The government will continue its push for a free trade agreement with the United States, they added.

    The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Penn had met with the Colombian ambassador March 31.

    Clinton advisers said the meeting was not connected to the campaign, but made clear the candidate was not happy to learn it. Penn later issued a statement expressing regrets.

    "The meeting was an error in judgment that will not be repeated and I am sorry for it," he said. "The senator's well-known opposition to this trade deal is clear and was not discussed."

    The Colombian government is trying to secure congressional passage of the agreement signed in 2006 by Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and the Bush administration.

    Heh.

    I just did a bit on what America has to do to improve its competitive position in the world. The direction the Democrats want to take us in is not the way to go. If we are going to sell we have to be willing to buy.

    Trade is a two way street.

    The essence of business is buy low and sell high. How can we buy low if we can't buy from the lowest cost producers? Protectionism slowly strangles economies. Why would we want to do that to ourselves just to support some politically connected businesses?

    We are Americans. We can compete.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 10:24 AM | Comments (3)




    McCain On Tolerance and Respect


    I especially like the idea that "Freedom is the Inalienable Right of Mankind" - illustrated by our first Republican President and echoing the first line of the Gettysburg address.

    Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

    and of course the words of Thomas Jefferson

    ...to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them,...

    I don't know who writes these spots but he is almost as good as JFK's speech writer Ted Sorensen. I used to work for Ted's cousin, Joe Rothkop in Omaha when I was a kid.

    HT Instapundit

    posted by Simon at 10:12 PM | Comments (9)



    Mathmaticious


    posted by Simon at 05:27 PM | Comments (2)



    More malignant than smoking?

    Unbelievable as it may sound to those who think politicians are honest, lies persist on the campaign trail.

    On the Obama side, there's been quite a bit of chatter over whether he's lying about the true scope of his admitted cigarette addiction. While a personal habit like smoking is something I would like to think of as a matter of no consequence to anyone except the smoker, his family, and maybe his doctor, the era of tolerance for smoking has long since come to an end. Thanks largely to the efforts of activists in Obama's own party, cigarette smokers are now vilified as criminals. Thus, to many people, Obama's cigarette habits are a more serious matter than Eliot Spitzer's call-girl habits.

    Hey, I don't write these rules. I think they're ridiculous, OK? And while I normally wouldn't give a rat's ass whether a candidate smoked, in Obama's case I'd like him to just admit it if he does, and maybe speak up for his downtrodden fellow smokers. As Obama's failings go, though, I think the smoking issue is pretty inconsequential. In an ideal world, no, he should not lie. Nor in an ideal world should reporters even ask about such silliness.

    As to Hillary, her latest lie is considerably more malignant. It turns out (at least, if the hospital's side of the story is correct) that a story she has been advancing as an argument in favor of socialized health care is nearly a complete lie, in every major detail. She falsely smeared a hospital for refusing care they did not refuse, to an uninsured woman who was actually insured:

    Over the last five weeks, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York has featured in her campaign stump speeches the story of a health care horror: an uninsured pregnant woman who lost her baby and died herself after being denied care by an Ohio hospital because she could not come up with a $100 fee.

    The woman, Trina Bachtel, did die last August, two weeks after her baby boy was stillborn at O'Bleness Memorial Hospital in Athens, Ohio. But hospital administrators said Friday that Ms. Bachtel was under the care of an obstetrics practice affiliated with the hospital, that she was never refused treatment and that she was, in fact, insured.

    "We implore the Clinton campaign to immediately desist from repeating this story," said Rick Castrop, chief executive officer of the O'Bleness Health System.

    It turned out that the story was one of those second hand anecdotes that was repeated by people who knew nothing about the case, and the Clinton campaign never checked it for accuracy. Nevertheless, Hillary repeated it again and again:
    saying that the story haunted her, Mrs. Clinton repeatedly offered it as a dire example of a broken health care system. At one March rally in Wyoming, for instance, she referred to Ms. Bachtel, a 35-year-old who managed a Pizza Hut, as a young, uninsured minimum-wage worker, saying, "It hurts me that in our country, as rich and good of a country as we are, this young woman and her baby died because she couldn't come up with $100 to see the doctor."
    So what will Hillary do now? Blame sleep deprivation and the long campaign again? Or maybe pull an Emily Litella and say "never mind"? (Has Hillary ever had a genuine Emily Litella moment?)

    This bothers me, and not just because these lies keep happening, but because this particular lie it goes to the heart of what is wrong with the Clinton candidacy. She is so singlemindedly obsessed with imposing socialized medicine that she is not only willing to malign a hospital with a false story, but she then projects this lie onto the entire American health care system.

    For this reason alone, she absolutely deserves to lose. Seriously, I think this is worse than the Bosnia stuff.

    Whether Obama lies about smoking pales by comparison.

    He can puff away to his heart's content.

    (But maybe he ought to think about whether it's a good long-term idea to destroy the health care system which he might need in the future....)

    MORE: Speaking of unconfirmed rumors....

    M. Simon just emailed me about the Snoop Dogg rumor that Barack Obama was funded by the KKK.

    Unfortunately (as I just told Simon) I'm on the way out so I don't have time for such shenanigans tonight.

    (ObamaKKKans?)

    However, it occurred to me that Hillary might be just the kind of person who'd fall for some of the ridiculous urban legend emails that float around endlessly. Maybe Republicans should start forwarding them to her campaign so she can work them into her speeches.

    That way, she could warn her supporters at the town hall meetings about the needles at the gas pumps and stuff.

    posted by Eric at 01:15 PM | Comments (5)



    Blogging locally while neglecting globally

    I realize I am supposed to be writing about Zimbabwe, and I do care about Zimbabwe. I really do. (I'm glad other bloggers like Lawhawk cover the situation in detail, though, because I'd be in a state of blog burnout if I had to.) I don't think I even need to tell regular readers that I cannot stand tyrannical Marxist regimes, and that consequently I support any effort to remove this thug from office.

    But I do write this blog, and I tend to write about whatever topic among the thousands available which seems most pertinent at the time I settle into my writing mode. It's a process I try to keep more or less spontaneous, although the fact that I might choose one topic does not mean that I am unaware or do not care about the many, many others. This blog is not a news aggregate site, nor can it possibly hope to keep up with all areas of possible interest -- much less someone else's idea of what should be appropriate, um, what's the phrase? Talking points?

    (Even seeing that phrase appear on my own screen just gave me a momentary shudder. The idea of following agendas is anathema to the way I blog. So much so that I write before I read email. Before I read comments. Even before I read other blogs.)

    Anyway, mindful as I am of the situation in Zimbabwe, the fact is that rampaging teenagers are very much in the local news lately, and it just seems like a more pressing issue. Like it or not, Philadelphians are more concerned about teen thugs terrorizing commuters than they are about Mugabe's thugs terrorizing Zimbabweans, and frankly, I'm more concerned too, as I ride SEPTA regularly, because, you know, it's cheaper and sometimes faster than driving. But I don't have to use public transportation. I think that if the powers that be are going to pressure people to use public transportation, they should make sure that thugs who terrorize commuters pay dearly. Giuliani knew how to deal with such problems in New York, and that's one of the reasons that he was thought of as presidential material. (Itself an unusual accomplishment for a mayor, even if he didn't make it.)

    I wrote about the unprovoked beating death of Starbucks manager Sean Patrick Conroy, which was said to be an isolated incident at a "safe" downtown SEPTA station. "The children" attacked him in broad daylight, apparently because they thought it would be a fun game to try to knock someone out with one blow.

    I thought it was awful, and a lot of people saw it as a hate crime. I oppose hate crime legislation, but I see the point of this argument. It's painfully obvious to anyone who isn't living in denial that if the races were reversed -- had a group of white teenagers fatally beaten a 36 year old black man on his way to work -- it would have been called a hate crime, there would have been a huge hue and cry, and the story might have gone national. (This is, you know, Pennsylvania. There's like, an election...)

    So now, barely a week later, another group of "children" at this same "safe" SEPTA complex have attacked another commuter. This time they didn't kill her; they just beat her up, knocked out a tooth, called her names, and took her purse:

    One of the girls tried to get Tazwell's attention by uttering a polite-sounding "Excuse me." Then they pounced.

    Tazwell, 24, said it took only a few seconds for the teens to knock her to the ground. They pounded her face with a barrage of kicks and punches, stole her purse and chanted "Watch your mouth! Watch your mouth!" when she finally got to her feet and tried to get help.

    It might sound like Tazwell received this brutal beating in some far-away land where savages have inherited the earth.

    But police said she was attacked near an underground concourse between SEPTA's underground lines and the Gallery mall at 8th and Market streets Wednesday night - exactly one week after Starbucks manager Sean Patrick Conroy died after being beaten by six teens on a SEPTA concourse just five blocks away.

    "They were children," Tazwell said last night. "I don't know them. I've never seen them, but they committed this act of violence. It doesn't make any sense."

    Tazwell said she got off a bus at 13th and Market streets at about 8 p.m. Wednesday and went underground to catch a train home.

    Police said she encountered the 12 youths on the walkway between the Gallery and a SEPTA platform.

    "Before I could get to the train, they approached me," Tazwell said, adding that she paused when a young girl said, "Excuse me."

    "I thought I dropped something at first. But when I saw that there was so many of them, I thought, 'I'm not going to get in the midst of this.' "

    Police said one of the boys kicked Tazwell in the back, knocking her to the ground.

    "My face hit the ground, knocking a tooth out. I had my hair pulled from the back, and I was punched and kicked in the face," Tazwell said. "They stole all of my belongings."

    Both Conroy and Tazwell were attacked from behind. (Such brave, such manly "children." Am I allowed to ask whether they were honor students? Or will that come in a later article, about the unfairness of having to make them face charges?)

    Five teens were arrested and charged with aggravated assault, conspiracy, robbery and theft. Two were minors, and police are searching for the seven others. The victim is recovering, and she shared her thoughts about why the attack happened:

    Tazwell said she suffered partial vision loss following the attack, and has painful bumps and cuts on her head. "I have a headache the size of Philadelphia," she said.

    Tazwell said she couldn't explain the ordeal she suffered, but believes that the root of the problem extends beyond the teens themselves.

    "It starts at home. They don't have strong foundations in their households, and that's why they come out and do senseless things."

    Tazwell's attack struck an already sensitive nerve in a city that was left unsettled by the slaying of Conroy, 36, who died from a fatal asthma attack after he was inexplicably attacked last week.

    I'd like to think that these are isolated incidents, but it doesn't appear they are:
    "It's really upsetting when you see this kind of stuff," said police spokesman Lt. Frank Vanore.

    "It's a level of violence from a group of people you don't want to see that kind of violence from. They [teens] don't feel what they're doing is serious."

    Anti-violence activist Greg Bucceroni said he's heard of teens attacking people at random across the city over the past three years.

    "They have total disrespect for law and authority. It's a thrill for them, and they brag about it later," Bucceroni said.

    "Unfortunately, sometimes people get seriously injured."

    Yeah, or (in Conroy's case) killed.

    Of course, the usual pattern is that people express outrage, then they ask why these things happen, and after not finding a satisfactory answer, eventually they just want to forget, and hope it doesn't happen to them.

    I don't think there is a satisfactory answer.

    Well, there is more here, and I suppose it is possible to call it an "explanation" for the "motive" behind the latest attack:

    Keenan Jones, the co-founder of Black Entrepreneurs and Rap United Together, a local entertainment company, said he worked with many of the teens involved in Wednesday's attack.

    He said the teens lost a friend and fellow group member to suicide on Tuesday. Jones said they didn't know how to deal with their loss, which is why they lashed out when they had words with Tazwell.

    "They were not some thugs who went downtown to attack people," he said.

    "Nothing justifies that type of act," said police spokesman Lt. Frank Vanore. "A lot of these kids have a video-game mentality where they think they can just start over without paying consequences."

    Well, it's reassuring to hear that they were not thugs. Hanging out and attacking a commuter was just their way of grieving.

    Forgive my sarcasm there, but ordinary words of disagreement failed me. While the police lieutenant might want to blame the video-game mentality, I don't think that's why they think they can just start over without paying consequences.

    I think there's a well-oiled apology lobby -- a culture, if you will -- that has much more to do with planting the idea of ultimate unaccountability in untrained, undisciplined brains than any video game could hope to achieve. That this apology culture exists and is ready to sound off at the drop of a hat is epitomized by the statement that they really weren't thugs but were processing grief. Families, friends, neighbors, and school officials can all be expected to add to the apology chorus. Every one of those kids will be called a basically good kid. A "father," even. Who "loved his friends." Who "wanted a job." Who "always smiled."

    No one will dare call them what they are. That's because there are only a few words which accurately describe people who hurt and kill other people for fun, simply because they know they can get away with it. Words like "bad" and "evil" come to mind. But the apologist lobby will not allow them to be used, and the bad and evil people know it.

    This is not to say that there's not also evil in Zimbabwe, for there is. But there's also evil in Philadelphia stations.

    And of course, there's evil in Philadelphia schools (which is why police and merchants live in fear of the dreaded 3:00 p.m. hour....)

    Yeah, I've written about the evil in the schools too. Hell, there's probably a common thread in the form of the ever-present apology lobby.

    Sorry I haven't written about Zimbabwe, though.

    I can't blog about everything.

    MORE: While I didn't acknowledge it because it seems whiny, this post does touch on the issue of blogger burnout -- something I can spot in myself when I start taking personally things that were never meant personally -- the argument that there's been too much silence about Zimbabwe being a perfect example.

    I have no duty to write posts about that or anything else. There is no such thing as a responsibility to write about anything, and I know that.

    Yet still....

    Sometimes it seems that demands are being placed on me by others, even though they are not. It is not rational, but when I sense that no matter what I do it's never enough, I can get pretty ticked off.

    By its nature, the blogosphere consists of a myriad of implicit demands, and so does a blog, because comments and email and links pour in. And if you're used to responding to these implicit demands on cue, they can start to feel like very irritating, very pressing obligations. To be implicitly (collectively) scolded on top of that for "neglect" can trigger irrational feelings of rage -- grounded in burnout. (It's a sort of "how dare you!" reaction.)

    Ann Althouse has some highly pertinent words of wisdom:

    I think the stress people feel -- in blogging, as in many other things -- comes from the unattended-to knowledge that what they are doing doesn't make sense.
    It's when I start to feel that same kind of stress I used to feel when I was doing litigation -- that there's no way to ever possibly finish for once and for all the damned task at hand -- that's when I know it's gone too far. So I speak up in posts like this.

    Money has no more to do with how I feel about it than it did when I was doing litigation. Yes, I was paid, but it made no sense. The feeling of obligation -- to write posts about certain subjects, or repeat myself for the umpteenth time about Another Issue That Will Not Die -- makes no sense.

    That these feelings are entirely my fault does not make sense either.

    posted by Eric at 10:56 AM | Comments (8)



    The Politics Of Biofuels

    I recently posted on the Biofuels Scam. So let us see whose fingerprints are on this scam that is starving children and causing the destruction of the rain forests. Time Magazine has the scoop.

    ...on Nov. 6, at a biodiesel plant in Newton, Iowa, Hillary Rodham Clinton unveiled an eye-popping plan that would require all stations to offer ethanol by 2017 while mandating 60 billion gal. (227 billion L) by 2030. "This is the fuel for a much brighter future!" she declared. Barack Obama immediately criticized her--not for proposing such an expansive plan but for failing to support ethanol before she started trolling for votes in Iowa's caucuses.

    If biofuels are the new dotcoms, Iowa is Silicon Valley, with 53,000 jobs and $1.8 billion in income dependent on the industry. The state has so many ethanol distilleries under construction that it's poised to become a net importer of corn. That's why biofuel-pandering has become virtually mandatory for presidential contenders. John McCain was the rare candidate who vehemently opposed ethanol as an outrageous agribusiness boondoggle, which is why he skipped Iowa in 2000. But McCain learned his lesson in time for this year's caucuses. By 2006 he was calling ethanol a "vital alternative energy source."

    Members of Congress love biofuels too, not only because so many dream about future Iowa caucuses but also because so few want to offend the farm lobby, the most powerful force behind biofuels on Capitol Hill. Ethanol isn't about just Iowa or even the Midwest anymore. Plants are under construction in New York, Georgia, Oregon and Texas, and the ethanol boom's effect on prices has helped lift farm incomes to record levels nationwide.

    Someone is paying to support these environmentally questionable industries: you. In December, President Bush signed a bipartisan energy bill that will dramatically increase support to the industry while mandating 36 billion gal. (136 billion L) of biofuel by 2022. This will provide a huge boost to grain markets.

    In other words they are all in cahoots on this. And guess what. All three candidates for the Presidency want to Do Something about Global Warming.

    God help us all.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 05:34 AM | Comments (0)



    The Biofuel Scam

    When Time Magazine starts discussing the current incarnation of the Biofuel Revolution as a scam you know it is all over for another Greenie Fantasy. What is the essence of the fantasy? That by getting Congress to pass laws the laws of supply and demand can be repealed.

    From his Cessna a mile above the southern Amazon, John Carter looks down on the destruction of the world's greatest ecological jewel. He watches men converting rain forest into cattle pastures and soybean fields with bulldozers and chains. He sees fires wiping out such gigantic swaths of jungle that scientists now debate the "savannization" of the Amazon. Brazil just announced that deforestation is on track to double this year; Carter, a Texas cowboy with all the subtlety of a chainsaw, says it's going to get worse fast. "It gives me goose bumps," says Carter, who founded a nonprofit to promote sustainable ranching on the Amazon frontier. "It's like witnessing a rape."
    And what is driving this bungle in the jungle? It looks like the heros of the left are out to reap windfall profits in cahoots with corporations just trying to make a buck from Government mandates.
    This land rush is being accelerated by an unlikely source: biofuels. An explosion in demand for farm-grown fuels has raised global crop prices to record highs, which is spurring a dramatic expansion of Brazilian agriculture, which is invading the Amazon at an increasingly alarming rate.

    Propelled by mounting anxieties over soaring oil costs and climate change, biofuels have become the vanguard of the green-tech revolution, the trendy way for politicians and corporations to show they're serious about finding alternative sources of energy and in the process slowing global warming. The U.S. quintupled its production of ethanol--ethyl alcohol, a fuel distilled from plant matter--in the past decade, and Washington has just mandated another fivefold increase in renewable fuels over the next decade. Europe has similarly aggressive biofuel mandates and subsidies, and Brazil's filling stations no longer even offer plain gasoline. Worldwide investment in biofuels rose from $5 billion in 1995 to $38 billion in 2005 and is expected to top $100 billion by 2010, thanks to investors like Richard Branson and George Soros, GE and BP, Ford and Shell, Cargill and the Carlyle Group.

    So a lefty mega hero is in the thick of this? Why am I not surprised? He promotes socialism by stealing food out of the mouths of hungry children. But you know. He only has their best interests at heart.
    But several new studies show the biofuel boom is doing exactly the opposite of what its proponents intended: it's dramatically accelerating global warming, imperiling the planet in the name of saving it. Corn ethanol, always environmentally suspect, turns out to be environmentally disastrous. Even cellulosic ethanol made from switchgrass, which has been promoted by eco-activists and eco-investors as well as by President Bush as the fuel of the future, looks less green than oil-derived gasoline.

    Meanwhile, by diverting grain and oilseed crops from dinner plates to fuel tanks, biofuels are jacking up world food prices and endangering the hungry. The grain it takes to fill an SUV tank with ethanol could feed a person for a year. Harvests are being plucked to fuel our cars instead of ourselves.

    What a brilliant idea.

    And did I hear that right? The oil companies are going to save the planet? From Time Magazine? Say it isn't so. Please. Next thing you know they will be touting the benefits of nuclear power. What is the world coming to? The Green religion is turning out to be a false god? Who could have predicted it? Believers are going to be devastated.

    Biofuels do slightly reduce dependence on imported oil, and the ethanol boom has created rural jobs while enriching some farmers and agribusinesses. But the basic problem with most biofuels is amazingly simple, given that researchers have ignored it until now: using land to grow fuel leads to the destruction of forests, wetlands and grasslands that store enormous amounts of carbon.
    The Law of Unintended Consequences strikes again. Because in the real world (where is that?) you can't just do one thing. It is all connected. Slow changes based on real economics and not government subsidies and mandates we can adapt to. Changes forced at the point of a (government) gun don't work nearly as well.
    In Brazil, for instance, only a tiny portion of the Amazon is being torn down to grow the sugarcane that fuels most Brazilian cars. More deforestation results from a chain reaction so vast it's subtle: U.S. farmers are selling one-fifth of their corn to ethanol production, so U.S. soybean farmers are switching to corn, so Brazilian soybean farmers are expanding into cattle pastures, so Brazilian cattlemen are displaced to the Amazon. It's the remorseless economics of commodities markets. "The price of soybeans goes up," laments Sandro Menezes, a biologist with Conservation International in Brazil, "and the forest comes down."
    Now who could have predicted that? Certainly not the socialists/communist who think a command and control economy can work better than individuals responding to real price signals. Hayek in his book The Road to Serfdompredicted this over 60 years ago. Not this exact crisis but, the general outlines of why command and control doesn't work.
    The growing backlash against biofuels is a product of the law of unintended consequences. It may seem obvious now that when biofuels increase demand for crops, prices will rise and farms will expand into nature. But biofuel technology began on a small scale, and grain surpluses were common. Any ripples were inconsequential. When the scale becomes global, the outcome is entirely different, which is causing cheerleaders for biofuels to recalibrate. "We're all looking at the numbers in an entirely new way," says the Natural Resources Defense Council's Nathanael Greene, whose optimistic "Growing Energy" report in 2004 helped galvanize support for biofuels among green groups.

    Several of the most widely cited experts on the environmental benefits of biofuels are warning about the environmental costs now that they've recognized the deforestation effect. "The situation is a lot more challenging than a lot of us thought," says University of California, Berkeley, professor Alexander Farrell, whose 2006 Science article calculating the emissions reductions of various ethanols used to be considered the definitive analysis.

    My guess is that because he was a believer he cooked the books and ignored side effects. But that is the problem with command and control. No government or "smarter than the market" fool can predict all the ramifications of a policy. Despite what policy makers tell you.

    Well Time goes on for pages more but let me leave you with the next stupid idea they are promoting.

    The experts haven't given up on biofuels; they're calling for better biofuels that won't trigger massive carbon releases by displacing wildland. Robert Watson, the top scientist at the U.K.'s Department for the Environment, recently warned that mandating more biofuel usage--as the European Union is proposing--would be "insane" if it increases greenhouse gases. But the forces that biofuels have unleashed--political, economic, social--may now be too powerful to constrain.
    Yeah. That is the ticket. Mandate something different. Which we have not got.

    Why not just end the mandates and let the natural evolution of technology and the market handle the change? Not going to happen. Why? The elitists do not trust the market or the people to make the "right" decisions. It would be a joke if people weren't going hungry because of socialist stupidity.

    The fall of the Soviet Union has taught these idiots nothing. You can just hear the voices in their head. "We are smarter than the stupid Soviets. We have Degrees from Harvard."

    Which of the Presidential candidates had their fingers in this pie? See The Politics of Biofuels.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 05:11 AM | Comments (4)



    Maliki Doesn't Give A Damn

    I just got turned on to a blog that seems to have some very in depth knowledge of what is going on in Iraq. Talisman Gate. There is an entry up about the recent fighting in Iraq. Panic in the Green Zone. Let me quote a bit:

    Those counseling caution and delay stressed that smashing Sadrist-related criminal cartels would spark a large-scale Sadrist reaction across Iraq at a time when the Bush administration wants to keep Iraq quiet especially with the '4000' milestone that was being approached and got passed a couple of days ago. Another argument against action counseled that the Iranians are angling for a fire-fight to sully any talk of progress that Gen. Petraeus may give in a couple of weeks when he appears before Congress, and that the Democrats and their allies in the US media would take these images out of Basra and elsewhere and package the news as a "security meltdown"...

    ...Maliki decided that he doesn't give a damn about US presidential elections and that the only timeline that concern him are Iraq's own upcoming elections...

    That doesn't sound like a weak leader at all. That sounds like a "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead kind of guy.
    It seems that much of the logistics for Operation Cavalry Charge were delivered through an airlift by the Iraqi Air Force because the military planners assumed that the outlaws would mine transportation routes in and out of Basra with IEDs. According to one source briefed on the campaign's logistics, the Iraqi Army in Basra (...I think we're talking about 3 Divisions that are in this fight) is amply supplied and overstocked with food, ammunition and spare parts, indicating that the planners are foreseeing a long campaign.
    So the Iraqis were handling their own logistics. Impressive.
    Operation Cavalry Charge is still in full effect and Maliki is brazenly saying that he hasn't signed a ceasefire with anyone. He's still out to arrest the criminals on his Most Wanted list, according to the press conference he held today in which he suggested that Sadr City too needed a clean-up.

    The Sadrists have called for a 'March of Millions' next Wednesday to protest America's presence in Iraq. Government spokesmen have already said that a peaceful protest is perfectly fine with them but that any violence will be met with overpowering violence.

    Stay tuned for grossly exaggerated estimates by western reporters of the numbers attending these rallies where these same western reporters will likely be the most animated of activists.

    Let me quote the author's profile so you can get some idea who he is:
    Nibras Kazimi

    Visiting Scholar at the Hudson Institute in Washington DC. I also write a weekly column on the Middle East for the New York Sun, and a monthly column for the Prospect Magazine (UK).

    Welcome to my blog. This is the place where I explore issues like whether Nostradamus had predicted the whole Zarqawi phenomena, and is Walid Junbulatt the real Hariri killer? In other words, this space is devoted to all the stuff that would peg me a crank should I try to put it out in print. But what the hell, journalistic credibility is way too over-regarded. Plus, blogging is an exercise in vanity; it is the joy-ride of ego-trips. So, excuse my pompous self-righteousness, and try to enjoy your stay.

    I like that attitude.

    Now about those pregnant men.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 12:51 AM | Comments (3)




    This time, we're really not going to vote for you!

    Here's something I think may be newsworthy. A coalition of social conservatives (the first name listed is CWFA director Matt Barber, a frequent emailer to this blog) has declared that if Mitt Romney is John McCain's vice presidential nominee, they will not support the ticket:

    As citizens, activists, and leaders with our feet on the solid ground of real world Republican and Independent voters, it is our duty to alert you that the grassroots is nearing a point of breaking with Republican Party leadership on many issues, not the least of which is the relentless whitewashing of Mitt Romney as a so-called "conservative."

    On this we cannot be silent.

    Senator McCain, despite the proclamations of your surrogates we hope you will act to earn the support of the conservative grassroots in November, unite the Republican Party, and lead it to victory.
    However, Willard Mitt Romney is a deal breaker.

    I'm a little confused. First, the social conservatives were saying that they wouldn't vote for anyone but Romney for president, and that they'd sit it out if McCain won the nomination.

    And now they say that if McCain puts Romney on the ticket, he'll lose their vote?

    I'd say McCain can't win with these people no matter what he does.

    posted by Eric at 09:26 PM | Comments (2)



    Internalization of gender constructs

    If you can be whatever gender you want, whenever you want, is it really fair that you should have to be a woman in order to get pregnant?

    I mean, isn't that unfair and unconstitutional discrimination on the basis of sex?

    I realize that this might sound a bit convoluted, but please bear with me. I'm not on drugs or anything; I'm just trying to analyze this news item:

    His appearance on US TV was part of a media blitz to knock down suggestions the pregnancy was a hoax.

    As well as the Oprah show, Beatie also gave a detailed interview to People magazine.

    The former beauty pageant queen, who conceived through artificial insemination, confessed many people saw him as a "freak".

    He said some of his own family members had referred to the baby as "monster".

    He accepts that not everyone will understand why he and his 45-year-old wife decided to have a child, which is due in July.

    The couple, from Bend, Oregon, said they had already thought about the task of telling their child how she came into the world.

    "When she's old enough, we'll sit her down and tell her everything," Beatie said.

    "We will tell her how her parents love each other and love her very much.

    "Our daughter is beating these incredible odds to get here - physical obstacles, social obstacles, everything.

    "And in my dreams I dream the world will see her the way we do,as this amazing gift to us. As a miracle."

    Beatie,who was born Tracy LaGondino in Hawaii, caused a worldwide sensation last week when he revealed the pregnancy in the gay magazine The Advocate.

    But after neighbours in Oregon poured scorn on the pregnancy it was thought to be an elaborate hoax.

    Beatie legally became a man after undergoing a sex change operation - but kept her female reproductive organs.

    He told People magazine he decided to get pregnant after wife of five years Nancy had a hysterectomy.

    "If Nancy could get pregnant, I wouldn't be doing this," he said.

    "But who hires a surrogate if they are perfectly capable of carrying their own child?

    "Why would I trust someone else when I know I'll do a better job of taking care of my body than anyone?

    "And I'll be the father and Nancy will be the mother.

    "Having this baby doesn't make me any less of a man."

    I think it's possible that many men would disagree with that last statement, but logically, I'll stick my neck out here and agree with it.

    Here's why. Having kept the internal genitals of a woman, this person never actually became a man. Therefore, the fact that the female genitalia are in working order cannot possibly make "him" any "less" of a "man" than "he" already "is."

    (Sorry to use so many quotes, but every one of those words is dubious under the circumstances. How can any man be any less of a man when he's a woman? And why should a little thing like that only matter to a "real" man?)

    What's happening here is nothing new. It's simply the deconstruction of sex in favor of the artificial construct called "gender." It's just words, and since "words are not truth," then there is no obligation to agree with whatever construct has allegedly occurred. This woman can call herself a man, but saying so does not make it so.

    I realize that according to post modernist theory, my saying so does not make it so either, so rather than lamely insist what common sense suggests (that this "man" is still a biological woman), I'll just repeat what I've been saying for some time:

    ...what I'm wondering right now is why I can't be a pre-post-operative female-to-male transsexual trapped in the body of a man, but who, because of pure luck, has no need to go through with the surgery, because I already have male anatomical features (i.e., a woman who wants to become a man but who is by accident of birth already trapped in the body of a man). It would be a terrible hardship (a cruel travesty, even) to make me surgically become a man trapped in the body of a woman who wants to become a man because the man is trapped in her body, if I can shortcircuit the entire process and merely accept the fact that I am already where I would be after surgery back and forth.

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

    Considering today's news, I'd say the process can very definitely be an internal one.

    So if I can change my sex any time I want, I can be pregnant any time I want.

    It's all a construct.

    Logically, of course, it also follows that if I don't want to be pregnant, I ought to be able to have an abortion any time I want.

    Right?

    Actually, that's not a new construct either.

    Just look!

    Real men can have abortions.

    GlennAbort.jpg

    I realize that some would call the man in the picture a virtual murderer, but that's off topic. Besides, I take a more liberal view of these things. I realize it's a complex legal question, but I think it depends on whether an actual, virtual or constructive life begins at the time of actual, virtual, or constructive conception.

    MORE: According to Ann Althouse, Amanda Marcotte thinks that "it makes a lot more sense to wear an 'I had an abortion' T-shirt than to wear an 'I was raped' T-shirt."

    Hmmm.....

    (This is what's called the pregnant pause.....)

    As Jack Benny would say, "I'm thinking it over!"

    posted by Eric at 08:20 PM | Comments (8)



    Fusion Report - April '08

    In the comments at MSNBC Fusion Report Dr. Richard Nebel, who is working on a test version of the Bussard Fusion Reactor, has this to say.

    Since there seems to be some confusion here, I guess I should clarify some things. Yes, we are operating the WB-7 and we have had plasma since the first of the year. What we don't yet have is full pulsed power capability which is required to test the concept. As many of you are probably aware, plasma experiments have a lot of different components that have to come together (vacuum systems, HV systems, safety systems, gas feed systems, etc.). The general proceedure is to test them component by component before you try to do an integrated test. We have been doing those component tests. The components that Alan alluded to that we were waiting on came in this week. Now we are building the hardware. We are a few weeks behind our original ambitious schedule (we started in September 2007 with a building and no equipment) but we haven't seen any showstoppers yet.

    As to Ned's "rules", we don't get to write those. Our customer does that.

    I'd say that is pretty good news. A month's slippage is not too bad for an R&D project. The fact that there are no show stoppers so far is good news.

    H/T JoeStrout

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 05:40 PM | Comments (0)



    the record rise and fall of the record rising and falling

    In a story headlined "Global Warming 'dips this year'," I read something which caught my attention:

    Global temperatures will drop slightly this year as a result of the cooling effect of the La Nina current in the Pacific, UN meteorologists have said.

    The World Meteorological Organization's secretary-general, Michel Jarraud, told the BBC it was likely that La Nina would continue into the summer.

    This would mean global temperatures have not risen since 1998, prompting some to question climate change theory.

    But experts say we are still clearly in a long-term warming trend - and they forecast a new record high temperature within five years.

    What I'd like to know is what is meant by the term "new record high temperature."

    How long have these "records" been kept, and what is the reference point for determining normal? Suppose no one had ever kept records until today. Wouldn't that mean that on every day forward for the first year, each day's temperature would set a new record for that day?

    In year two, each day would have either a higher or a lower temperature, right? So, on any given day, there would either be a record low temperature or a record high temperature. As time went by, there would necessarily be fewer and fewer record temperatures, and an "average" would emerge.

    How long have these records been kept? What are the mathematical odds of a record high temperature in the next five years? For all we know, it might be abnormal not to have a record in five years.

    I'm not a statistician, but I smell something odd going on.

    Has anyone run the numbers?

    UPDATE (04/06/08): Glenn Reynolds points out that the BBC has removed much of the text that I quoted above, which I would not have noticed had I not seen Glenn's post.

    I guess I can't assume that what's in the news is really in the news!

    Bear in mind that while I didn't find the BBC story at InstaPundit, Glenn originally linked and quoted it three hours before I did, but the text I copied and pasted was all there when I wrote this post.

    The BBC must have found their report embarrassing! Either that, or they didn't enjoy seeing skeptics link it with approval, and decided to teach them a lesson along the lines of "We can take back anything we say, so don't think you can just quote us whenever you feel like it!"

    (FWIW, the Google cache still reflects the original quote in question.)

    I'm wondering. Where does the BBC find these "now you see it, now you don't" editors, anyway?

    Does the former KGB run an employment service for the guys who used to make commissars disappear?

    posted by Eric at 12:53 PM | Comments (5)



    Help save us some more!

    In many ways, I think George Soros epitomizes hypocrisy. Having made a bloody fortune in speculation, he advocates socialism and speaks in terms of economic pessimism (all the while ignoring the new economy):

    In a documentary that aired on the BBC, Soros asserted that the current malaise in the U.S. financial markets signals the end of the age of leverage, easy money, and rapid growth. The new danger, he worried, would be that growing protectionism would send the global economy into a recession, "or worse."

    Oddly, he went on to say to the makers of the aptly named documentary Super Rich: the Greed Game that the benefits of the super boom weren't evenly distributed; in reality, relatively few people like himself benefited from the boom of the past 60 years. The implication: average folks have been fighting over table scraps for decades. Hardly makes one nostalgic for the good old super boom days.

    [...]

    Like an old general fighting the last war, maybe Soros really does despair for the world economy, or perhaps like an old lion, he has simply lost his stomach for the hunt.

    It's fine for Soros to have made his mega billions, of course. But let's not encourage those little serfs to imagine that they might be able to succeed on their own -- least of all in the emergent new economy which sprung up in those few places not yet subjected to merciless government regulation.

    I recently read (and highly recommend) an essay titled "Europe's Philosophy of Failure" by Stefan Theil. The thesis:

    In France and Germany, students are being forced to undergo a dangerous indoctrination. Taught that economic principles such as capitalism, free markets, and entrepreneurship are savage, unhealthy, and immoral, these children are raised on a diet of prejudice and bias. Rooting it out may determine whether Europe's economies prosper or continue to be left behind.
    Theil demonstrates that the children in Europe are being indoctrinated in top-down pessimism. That the free market is immoral, and that they can never succeed on their own. Their only hope is to be found in government -- and collectivism:
    Textbooks teach the minutiae of employer-employee relations, workplace conflict, collective bargaining, unions, strikes, and worker protection. Even a cursory look at the country's textbooks shows that many are written from the perspective of a future employee with a union contract. Bosses and company owners show up in caricatures and illustrations as idle, cigar-smoking plutocrats, sometimes linked to child labor, Internet fraud, cell-phone addiction, alcoholism, and, of course, undeserved layoffs. The successful, modern entrepreneur is virtually nowhere to be found.

    German students will be well-versed in many subjects upon graduation; one topic they will know particularly well is their rights as welfare recipients. One 10th-grade social studies text titled FAKT has a chapter on "What to do against unemployment." Instead of describing how companies might create jobs, the section explains how those without jobs can organize into self-help groups and join weekly anti-reform protests "in the tradition of the East German Monday demonstrations" (which in 1989 helped topple the communist dictatorship). The not-so-subtle subtext? Jobs are a right to be demanded from the government. The same chapter also details various welfare programs, explains how employers use the threat of layoffs as a tactic to cut pay, and concludes with a long excerpt from the platform of the German Union Federation, including the 30-hour work week, retirement at age 60, and redistribution of the work pie by splitting full-time into part-time jobs. No market alternative is taught. When fakt presents the reasons for unemployment, it blames computers and robots. In fact, this is a recurring theme in German textbooks--the Internet will turn workers into "anonymous code" and kill off interpersonal communication.

    Needless to say, such indoctrination has consequences:
    One might expect Europeans to view the world through a slightly left-of-center, social-democratic lens. The surprise is the intensity and depth of the anti-market bias being taught in Europe's schools. Students learn that private companies destroy jobs while government policy creates them. Employers exploit while the state protects. Free markets offer chaos while government regulation brings order. Globalization is destructive, if not catastrophic. Business is a zero-sum game, the source of a litany of modern social problems. Some enterprising teachers and parents may try to teach an alternative view, and some books are less ideological than others. But given the biases inherent in the curricula, this background is unavoidable. It is the context within which most students develop intellectually. And it's a belief system that must eventually appear to be the truth.

    This bias has tremendous implications that reach far beyond the domestic political debate in these two countries. These beliefs inform students' choices in life. Taught that the free market is a dangerous wilderness, twice as many Germans as Americans tell pollsters that you should not start a business if you think it might fail. According to the European Union's internal polling, just two in five Germans and French would like to be their own boss, compared to three in five Americans. Whereas 8 percent of Americans say they are currently involved in starting a business, that's true of only 2 percent of Germans and 1 percent of the French. Another 28 percent of Americans are considering starting a business, compared to just 11 percent of the French and 18 percent of Germans. The loss to Europe's two largest economies in terms of jobs, innovation, and economic dynamism is severe.

    Who benefits from this educational sham? Obviously, government bureaucrats and socialists of all stripes. But why would Soros and people like him wholeheartedly endorse inculcating economic pessimism? Out of guilt? Or might they just want to cut down on future competition, by nipping the competitive spirit in the bud?

    Telling people they cannot succeed without help from above may label itself as socialism, but the condescension involved resembles the classic feudal model in which the lords kept the peasants down by restricting their freedom of movement, taking a hefty share of what they produced, and above all by taking care of them (or at least promising to).

    One way of preventing success is to prevent failure, because when failure is not an option, success becomes elusive.

    What's often overlooked in the recent sub-prime mess is that much of it resulted from a policy grounded in making failure impossible. Economist Stan Liebowitz explains:

    At the crisis' core are loans that were made with virtually nonexistent underwriting standards - no verification of income or assets; little consideration of the applicant's ability to make payments; no down payment.

    Most people instinctively understand that such loans are likely to be unsound. But how did the heavily-regulated banking industry end up able to engage in such foolishness?

    From the current hand-wringing, you'd think that the banks came up with the idea of looser underwriting standards on their own, with regulators just asleep on the job. In fact, it was the regulators who relaxed these standards - at the behest of community groups and "progressive" political forces.

    Of course, all of these people are now being told they are "victims" in need of more "help."

    What's being missed is that they are already victims of the "help" that made it impossible for them to fail.

    I'm sure more help is on the way.

    posted by Eric at 10:12 AM | Comments (4)



    The Same Old Religion





    Marxism Is The Religion Of Thieves





    posted by Simon at 07:24 AM | Comments (5)




    The Wright sauce is not for the Chomsky gander

    A lot has been said about the Jeremiah Wright videos, and a lot more will be. I've argued that while I don't consider what Jeremiah Wright says to be necessarily indicative of what Obama thinks, it's still fair to ask him whether he agrees, as it doesn't speak well of him to belong to a church headed by such a loon, much less that he would consider the guy a mentor. It's worrisome, and it will continue to be worrisome.

    Still, I'm somewhat inclined to see Wright the way Richard Miniter sees him:

    The root of it is a perpetual grudge against America. Where does this grudge come from? From the 1960s Left, who believed it and taught it. The hippies may have seemed happy, but they were also paranoid and given to cartoonish conspiracy theories. And the counter-culture survives in an intact and virulent form in only one place: the black inner-city.

    The real scandal is the cynics who promoted these terrible views in the black community and sowed fears which continue to separate us.

    So don't blame Rev. Wright. He is simply the victim of ideological disease, doing the best that he can to help others in his somewhat incapacitated state.

    While I don't think it's much of a defense of Wright to say that his views derive from the left, what's more puzzling is why Obama (a Harvard grad and a very bright guy) would call Wright any sort of "mentor."

    In an earlier post, I speculated that Obama didn't look up to Wright at all, but felt superior to him:

    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...

    If Obama was merely using Wright and never looked up to him as he says he did, then it's hard to say that Wright's views are Obama's. (Not that this reflects terribly well on Obama's judgment or character, but being a typical user politician is not the same thing as being a true believer in Jeremiah Wright's anti-American hate.)

    So, while it is possible to see Wright in these contexts, I find it the opposite of persuasive to defend Wright as a sort of black Noam Chomsky, as Liz Spikol did in last week's Philadelphia Weekly:

    ...I don't see the need to condemn everything the reverend has said.

    Other than saying black people have gotten AIDS from the government (read The New York Times' Nicholas Kristof for an interesting commentary on that), Wright's excerpted remarks suggest a man whose primary belief is that racism has caused grievous harm to African-Americans and to American society in general.

    As Rice University religion and philosophy professor Anthony Pinn said on National Public Radio's All Things Considered, "Folks including myself may be taken aback by the inflammatory nature of the rhetoric, but I don't think very many of us would deny that there is a fundamental truth: Racism is a problem in the United States."

    Actually, as was made damningly clear in a Pajamas Media post that Glenn linked earlier, there's a lot more to Wright than angry racialized polemics; he spouts genuine loony tune conspiracy theories:
    But what's really telling are the flights of paranoid fancy -- like how Wright said that FDR knew about Pearl Harbor, that Bush was going to plant WMD in Iraq just like the Los Angeles Police Department frames suspects, and, most notoriously, that the U.S. government created HIV to kill "colored people." The idea that the Jews were working on an "ethnic bomb" partakes of a genre that combines historical fiction with sci-fi fantasy. "But Daddy," an alert sixth-grade biology student might query her well-educated father, "my teacher says you can't build a weapon that only targets one kind of person." Never mind the science, honey, we're here for the sermon.
    Even if we make allowances for over-the-top anger resulting from legitimate racial grievances, does that excuse bizarre and unfounded scientific claims? Paranoid nonsense should not be passed off as a call for a discussion about race, and I agree with what Lee Smith says:
    Reverend Wright's sermons are signs of a bewitched mind, and Senator Obama's apologia treated them as though they should initiate a discussion among the citizens of the nation that his deeply troubled preacher assailed.
    As to Liz Spikol, she doesn't mention FDR or ethnic bombs, but she sees nothing wrong or odd about most of what Wright says. Because, you know, his anti-Israel views make him guilty of simple "banality." And he might as well be just another Noam Chomsky:
    Some of Wright's other remarks struck me as unspectacular for the same reason. They're either true, or they've been said many times before.

    Let's break down one of them, just for fun, from 2001:

    "We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and the black South Africans, and now we are indignant. Because the stuff we have done overseas has now been brought back into our own front yard. America's chickens are coming home to roost."

    Saying the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, were a result of failed American foreign policy isn't new now and it wasn't groundbreaking then. One of the first calls I got after the attacks was from a college friend who said exactly the same thing, and I think he might've used the chickens line.

    From Michael Moore to Ann Coulter, people from every side of the political spectrum have long suggested we made our own bed.

    In June 2002 Market & Opinion Research International and Harris Interactive did a poll of Europeans regarding the reason for the 9/11 attacks. A majority of the people asked believed that U.S. foreign policy was partly to blame.

    Around the same time Rev. Wright gave the sermon from which these remarks were taken, the Christian Science Monitor reported: "But from Jakarta to Cairo, Muslims and Arabs say ... a mood of resentment toward America and its behavior around the world has become so commonplace in their countries that it was bound to breed hostility, and even hatred.

    "And the buttons that Mr. bin Laden pushes in his statements and interviews--the injustice done to the Palestinians ... --win a good deal of popular sympathy."

    Emphasis mine. And Pastor Wright's.

    The 9/11 Commission Report references the same problem--that of "millions of Arabs and Muslims angry at the United States because of issues ranging from Iraq to Palestine to America's support for their countries' repressive rulers."

    Having said what he did about foreign policy, in fact, makes Rev. Wright guilty of one thing he hasn't been accused of: banality.

    The phrase "state terrorism" in reference to Israel--whether you agree with it or not--is also banal. In 2004 the prime minister of Turkey--an ally of Israel--accused Israel of "state terrorism" after roughly 60 Palestinians, including children and innocents, were killed, and thousands were left homeless after their houses were destroyed.

    It was the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, in fact, that posed the question: Was Israel practicing "state terrorism"? The prime minister answered, "When you look at the structure of what has happened, how else can you interpret it?"

    In July 2006 The Nation published an article headlined "Israel's State-Sponsored Terrorism."

    Even Tikkun--a magazine of Jewish thought--has characterized Israel's policies toward Palestinians as "state terrorism." Is it really so incredible that Pastor Wright might say the same thing?

    As for U.S. complicity regarding Israel and South Africa, that too is pretty uninventive. More U.S. aid goes to Israel than to any other country. And the U.S. spent two decades opposing U.N. sanctions against apartheid.

    When the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act was presented to Ronald Reagan in 1986, he vetoed it. From personal experience, I can tell you I muddied many pairs of jeans during sit-ins to get my complicit college to divest from South Africa, and I'm not sure it would've happened at all if the bad publicity didn't embarrass them.

    To sum up, I guess Noam Chomsky would be a lot scarier if he were black. He'd get a lot more press too. Church of Chomsky, anyone?

    OK, I've read and heard an awful lot of vitriol directed against Wright coming from the right. It's become so repetitive that I just sort of tune it out. I suspect it will become more and more repetitive too.

    But there's something about a leftist like Liz Spikol telling me that Wright is really just a black Chomsky, and that's not a big deal, that made me realize something.

    Assume Spikol's argument is true. Wright is like Chomsky.

    That's no big deal?

    Actually, it's a much bigger deal. If Noam Chomsky were Obama's admitted mentor, it would be a huge deal. People would be much less forgiving of Obama. Why?

    I'm not entirely sure. But I think that Liz Spikol is very wrong to say that "Noam Chomsky would be a lot scarier if he were black."

    Quite the opposite. He'd be a lot less scary.

    That's because white Americans tend to be much more forgiving when anti-American leftist bile is spewed by an angry urban black clergyman (especially a Malcolm X wannabe) than when it's spewed by a privileged white professor from the intellectual classes. And they'd be a lot less forgiving of an Obama who looked up to a Chomsky than an Obama who looked up to a Wright.

    Had Barack Obama dedicated a book to Noam Chomsky, had he described such a man as his "mentor," his presidential campaign would have gotten about as far as Dennis Kucinich's.

    Similarly, Bill Clinton might have been able to get away with inviting Jeremiah Wright to the White House, but he'd have never gotten away with inviting Noam Chomsky.

    There is nothing logical about it. There is a double standard.

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

    Whether you agree or not, I'm always open to criticism, so feel free to join in the debate below -- which might be characterized as whether or not two wrongs make a Wright. (I hasten to add that regardless of whether I am wrong, I am not on the side of Wright.)

    posted by Eric at 10:31 PM | Comments (29)



    What would Jesus ban?

    This is the sort of thing which (as far as I'm concerned, at least) amounts to a form of religious indoctrination in the schools.

    MADISON, Wis. -- A Tomah High School student has filed a federal lawsuit alleging his art teacher censored his drawing because it featured a cross and a biblical reference.
    Here's the drawing in question:

    religious_drawing.jpg

    The lawsuit alleges other students were allowed to draw "demonic" images and asks a judge to declare a class policy prohibiting religion in art unconstitutional.

    "We hear so much today about tolerance," said David Cortman, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal advocacy group representing the student. "But where is the tolerance for religious beliefs? The whole purpose of art is to reflect your own personal experience. To tell a student his religious beliefs can legally be censored sends the wrong message."

    Tomah School District Business Manager Greg Gaarder said the district hadn't seen the lawsuit and declined to comment.

    According to the lawsuit, the student's art teacher asked his class in February to draw landscapes. The student, a senior identified in the lawsuit by the initials A.P., added a cross and the words "John 3:16 A sign of love" in his drawing.

    His teacher, Julie Millin, asked him to remove the reference to the Bible, saying students were making remarks about it. He refused, and she gave him a zero on the project.

    Millin showed the student a policy for the class that prohibited any violence, blood, sexual connotations or religious beliefs in artwork. The lawsuit claims Millin told the boy he had signed away his constitutional rights when he signed the policy at the beginning of the semester.

    The boy tore the policy up in front of Millin, who kicked him out of class. Later that day, assistant principal Cale Jackson told the boy his religious expression infringed on other students' rights.

    Jackson told the boy, his stepfather and his pastor at a meeting a week later that religious expression could be legally censored in class assignments. Millin stated at the meeting the cross in the drawing also infringed on other students' rights.

    This is a public school, and the state is not supposed to take positions on religion. It would be one thing had the school told students that they must depict or display images of the cross, but here a student acted on his own, and in a constitutionally protected manner. There seems to be a crazy idea floating around that freedom of speech does not apply to religious speech, as if that is somehow not protected or else is worthy of only a lesser standard of protection, like, say, cigarette advertising.

    What's hard to tell from this report is whether the school, by forbidding "religious beliefs in artwork," prohibits all crosses, and all religious symbols per se, or whether it only forbid their depiction if they reflected the artist's belief. In other words, would they allow "Piss Christ" images or Mohammad cartoons, but forbid art reflecting actual beliefs in Christ or Muhammad? If they are censoring all images regardless of belief, then I suppose the school might be able to argue that it did not discriminate based on religion, but I still think it's a stretch.

    By prohibiting "violence, blood, sexual connotations or religious beliefs" the school suggests that religious beliefs deserve to be singled out for social opprobrium -- as if they're all in the same immoral category. Yet religious beliefs (including atheism) amount to opinions about the unknown. Why should opinions about the unknown be treated differently than political opinions? And why should a swastika or hammer and sickle be allowed, but not a cross? I think the school is taking the position that religion is something to be ashamed of, and if that isn't indoctrination, I can't imagine what is.

    I'm wondering why the lamebrains didn't think to ban "drug related" images along with everything else.

    Which means that while the following Jesus image would be banned, it would not be because of the marijuana leaf.

    jesuspot.jpg

    As the link explains, there are people who seriously believe that Jesus may have used and/or supplied marijuana.

    Whether that is a religious belief or a scholarly belief, I am not sure. Either way, it seems about as worthy of artistic expression as a lot of things that pass for art these days. But it too would be banned in Tomah.

    Before anyone starts laughing too loudly about the marijuana Jesus, remember that cannabis was in fact used in the holy annointing oil mentioned repeatedly in the Bible, and that a number of scholars believe it possible that Jesus's biblical healing involved cannabis. (Take that, ye Satanic DEA!)

    Sigh.

    Well, things could be worse.

    At least they're not banning pig pictures.

    posted by Eric at 06:22 PM | Comments (5)



    Why do you think they call it "beauty sleep"?

    It appears that sleep deprivation can make you fat:

    Sleeping for eight hours a night is the secret to not putting weight on, according to scientists.

    Surly teenagers need 9hrs 12mins of sleep
    Have your say: Do we all need more sleep?
    They found that those who slept for less than six hours a night - or more than nine - put on more weight than those who slept for seven or eight hours each night.


    Seven to eight hours is the optimum time in bed
    The research published in the Journal Sleep found those who did not get enough sleep gained almost 4.4lbs (2kg) compared to those who slept for the recommended number of hours.

    Too much sleep is also bad for you, but getting too much sleep is about as likely for me as finding too much money lying in the street.

    Via Glenn Reynolds who linked the above at 6:13 this morning, when I was already up and on the road, after barely four hours of sleep, and quipped "It's early. Go back to bed!"

    Well, it's not too early now, but it's never too late!


    ZZZzzzz.....

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



    Every Vote Gets Counted

    In Cook County, Illinois every vote gets counted. Just to be sure sometimes they get counted six or seven times.

    Of Sen. Obama's 711,000 popular-vote lead, 650,000 -- or more than 90% of the total margin -- comes from Sen. Obama's home state of Illinois, with 429,000 of that lead coming from his home base of Cook County.

    That margin in Cook County represents almost 60% of Obama's total lead nationwide.

    Interestingly, Sen. Obama's 429,000-vote margin in Cook County alone is larger than the winning margin of either candidate in any state.

    Chicago Dems still know how to support their candidates better than anyone else in the country...

    Res Ipsa Loquitur.

    H/T Instapundit

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 02:28 PM | Comments (2)



    How low can I go?

    While I occasionally use one or more of George Carlin's seven dirty words, I try not to make a habit of cursing (which my dictionary defines as the use of "profanely insolent and reproachful language"). I exercise almost zero control over what commenters say, though, and four letter words could easily slip through unnoticed.

    So, I guess it's not surprising that the blog received a low rating at this site:


    The Blog-O-Cuss Meter - Do you cuss a lot in your blog or website?
    Created by OnePlusYou

    What did surprise me was to see that Dr. Helen -- at whose blog I found the test -- was rated High at 17.4%, for I'm a regular reader there and I generally think of her blog as considerably "cleaner" than this one. (It may also be that the software does not distinguish between what is said by a blogger and the material quoted.)

    I don't really keep track of whatever cursing occurs here, and I seriously doubt that any of the readers care. I've been scolded many times, but not for profanity.

    What, I should try harder?


    posted by Eric at 02:04 PM | Comments (1)



    Hanoi Jane Endorses Obama
    Hanoi Jane


    Jane Fonda has endorsed Barack Hussein Obama. I think that is going to hurt. Was the anti-aircraft gun she sat on responsible for shooting down John McCain? There is no way to know. You have to admit it doesn't look good. Especially for Obama.

    posted by Simon at 01:23 PM | Comments (4)



    The cynical mechanics of hate crime

    Regarding the Philadelphia beating death I posted about yesterday, in today's news I see that four more suspects have been arrested:

    During questioning yesterday, the four suspects offered much the same story as the one given by another Gratz High teen who was arrested shortly after the March 26 assault: They were just fooling around and never intended to kill Conroy, just sucker-punch him.

    None of the teens accepted responsibility for the initial blow that knocked Conroy to the ground or admitted delivering any fatal punches or kicks as he pleaded for help. They had gone after Conroy on a whim, police said, and were trying to do a "body drop," that is to knock him out with one blow.

    They admitted the intent to knock him out, and from a legal standpoint, it is quite forseeable that someone can die from being knocked out. So I think the murder charge is well founded.

    However, I don't think much will happen to these "children," and I'm inclined to agree with commenter Bob Thompson, who said this:

    Now here is how it is. In the old days, according to Lee Harris, since it was known by anyone who had a developed sense of understanding of man's natural tendency toward self-assertion, that someone must have the power to curb and check unacceptably aggressive natural tendencies. That someone is the chosen ruler, in our case the elected officials and appointed judiciary.

    That chosen ruler must be able to govern even the most ungovernable and the only power that can do this is the power of life and death. As we have gotten softer and softer in our penalties for capital crimes, the criminals have gotten more assertive and aggressive.

    The left has been the greatest moving force for softer treatment for serious offenders. Now the left is also behind 'hate crime' legislation so that they can continue to soften the penalties except for those crimes committed against one of their favored groups by individuals not in the favored group. Of course, there's not much behavior that liberals hate so they think these laws will mostly affect the wingnuts.

    I have disliked the notion of 'hate crime laws' since I first heard of it. Has the constitutionality of this type of differentiation been tested? It seems to me a real stretch to apply different penalties to different people for essentially the same criminal acts depending only on what was in their mind motivating them.

    What drives the push for hate crime legislation is that ordinary people cannot obtain justice, often because of the soft-on-crime mentality that is so prevalant on the left and has worked its way into the criminal justice system (aggravated, of course, by the fact that prisons are full of the easier-to-prosecute drug offenders). Well-funded activist organizations are devoted to sentence reduction programs, early release of criminals, and outright prison abolition. Pressure is constantly applied to go easy on criminals, and the result is that not much is done.

    Hate crime legislation thus appears to offer the hope of justice for people who are lucky enough to belong to one of the victim classes (and who can be depended upon to vote for the people who gave them "justice").

    What these voters miss is that the people offering special justice in the form of hate crime legislation are the very ones who otherwise advocate being softer on crime, and who generally portray criminals as victims.

    Undermine the system of justice only to later offer it back piecemeal?

    From a Machiavellian standpoint, it makes perfect sense.

    It's as if they're playing a game along the lines of "the Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away." What I can't figure out is why anyone is fooled.

    In my darker moments, I'm tempted to think that there's a large portion of the population who are quite comfortable being serfs.

    Hmmm...

    I've been reminded lately of the importance of avoiding cynical thoughts.

    But the problem is, this hate crime shit is in fact a deeply cynical (if not evil) process.

    So how am I to avoid having cynical thoughts?

    posted by Eric at 08:58 AM | Comments (3)



    A Man With Real Experience

    Yes. When it comes to war and peace we need to heed the words of a man with real experience. Al Gore.

    Gore said in 1988 that his experience in Vietnam:
    "...didn't change my conclusions about the war being a terrible mistake, but it struck me that opponents to the war, including myself, really did not take into account the fact that there were an awful lot of South Vietnamese who desperately wanted to hang on to what they called freedom. Coming face to face with those sentiments expressed by people who did the laundry and ran the restaurants and worked in the fields was something I was naively unprepared for."
    So the war was a mistake. OK. I don't buy that. But Al and I agree that the bigger mistake was abandoning the freedom lovers in South Viet Nam. A mistake the Democrats are intent on repeating in Iraq. How stupid do you have to be to repeat a mistake with truly terrible consequences a second time?

    I believe you don't have to be stupid to do that. You have to be a Democrat.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 06:26 AM | Comments (9)



    Ready For This?


    And what do you know the whole economic collapse schtick may have been totally exagerated.
    NEW YORK (AP) -- Wall Street began the second quarter with a big rally Tuesday as investors rushed back into stocks, optimistic that the worst of the credit crisis has passed and that the economy is faring better than expected. The Dow Jones industrials surged nearly 400 points, and all the major indexes were up more than 3 percent.
    Since Wall Street is considered a leading indicator this looks like good news is likely for the next 6 months. That gets us to the beginning of October. If the Democrats keep crying wolf - the war is lost - a great depression is upon us - they may be hard pressed to find believers when they try their next fear inducing panic mongering scenario.

    The Wall Street Journal says the crisis is fading.

    The rally on Tuesday was the best second-quarter opening day since 1938. The recent volatility, however, has left some analysts weary. "Nobody's kidding themselves," Mr. Yardeni said. "The financial crisis isn't over. But the Fed and Congress and other financial regulators have made it very clear that they are going to use all the powers available to them to avoid a financial meltdown and end this credit crisis."

    Investors are also keenly aware that the Labor Department's employment report, due out Friday morning, could damp any optimism. Economists are predicting that payrolls shrank by 50,000 jobs in March, which may send stocks down.

    But Tuesday brought some good news on the state of the nation's industry. A closely watched manufacturing report, released by the private Institute for Supply Management, ticked up last month, though business is still shrinking within the industry.

    Elevated export orders continue to offset flagging domestic demand, but manufacturers are feeling the effects of inflation: a gauge of prices paid for production materials reached its highest level in nearly six years.

    The institute's index edged up slightly to a reading of 48.6 in March, from 48.3 in February, slightly better than expected. Readings below 50 signal contraction.

    Spending on construction projects also improved, as overall spending fell 0.3 percent in February after declining 1 percent in January, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. Government-financed building is increasing even as private residential construction remains in a slump.

    Investors were also buoyed by a drop in commodity prices, which have reached record levels in recent weeks. The declines in prices for oil, gold and wheat could translate to cheaper prices for consumers.

    Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke says a recession is possible. However, he expects a rebound if a recession happens by years end.

    WASHINGTON -- Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke acknowledged Wednesday that a recession was possible, but he predicted a rebound by year's end, declaring in effect that the central bank had done its job and it now was up to Congress to tackle the still-deepening housing crisis.

    Bernanke also signaled that the Fed was unlikely to continue to cut interest rates aggressively. And he made clear that, although housing was "at the center" of the country's economic woes, preventing foreclosures and helping struggling mortgage holders were outside the Fed's area of responsibility.

    Bernanke's remarks before the Joint Economic Committee of Congress appeared to lend the weight of his position to congressional leaders who are pushing for quick action to forestall foreclosures, restructure the mortgage market and speed the refinancing of troubled loans.

    So that one is up to the Democrats. We will soon see if they are up to the task.
    "It now appears likely that real gross domestic product will not grow much, if at all, over the first half of 2008 and could even contract slightly," he said. And, after months of avoiding it, he used the word "recession," but only to concede that it was "possible." And he expressed optimism that the clouds would lift by the end of the year.
    If a recession does happen it will be one of the mildest on record, with output declining around 1% to 2% at most. So far the decline is in the .1% to .2% range. Down in the noise level.

    Bernanke also suggests that we need to invest in alternative energy sources and education. Let me start with education first. We are not making near enough use of the Internet. There is a very low cost way of delivering education. More effort needs to go in that direction.

    Alternative energy is going gang busters. Lots of effort in that field. Wind is booming. Solar may be on the verge of some huge cost breakthroughs and fusion energy may be just around the corner. For instance Bussard Fusion Reactor Research is progressing nicely. If the research results prove positive, working fusion power plants could be as little as three to five years away.

    And that other 3 AM call? That is looking good too. Military Operations are continuing in Basra. Despite every thing you heard about the Iraqi government caving to Al Sadr, it appears that the Iraqi Government was appeasing Al Sadr's troops with words while continuing to kill them with bullets. That has got to hurt.

    posted by Simon at 05:15 AM | Comments (0)




    Obama's town hall meeting at local school

    A close friend (and regular reader of this blog) saw Barack Obama speak earlier today at a town hall meeting at the Strath Haven High School where he took this picture from his second row seat:

    OBAMA-STRATH-HAVEN-4-2-08_s.jpg

    (Click on the picture for a larger version.)

    My friend thinks Obama is a better speaker than Bill Clinton, as well as possibly quicker on his feet. As an example of the latter, he related that when Obama was taking audience questions, he called on one of John R. Lott's sons, known as a conservative to the liberal students around him, but not to Obama. They made some barely audible groans, and my friend could immediately see a look of instant recognition on Obama's face that a hostile question was coming. Sure enough, the questioner said that his grandmother died because of socialized health care in Sweden. Without arguing with him, Obama deftly took advantage of the opportunity to distinguish his plan for universal health care from Swedish socialized medicine.

    Asked if he would hire Al Gore, Obama said he would:

    ....Obama was asked if he would tap the former vice president for his Cabinet to handle global warming.

    "I would," Obama said. "Not only will I, but I will make a commitment that Al Gore will be at the table and play a central part in us figuring out how we solve this problem. He's somebody I talk to on a regular basis. I'm already consulting with him in terms of these issues, but climate change is real. It is something we have to deal with now, not 10 years from now, not 20 years from now."

    Ugh.

    I just got back from a horrendously cold trip to the Midwest, and I could use a little Global Warming right now.

    I mean, if Obama puts Al Gore in the cabinet, the documented Gore Effect could kick in, and we'd all freeze to death.

    In light of the Precautionary Principle, I hope Obama reconsiders.

    AFTERTHOUGHT: Obama's offer of a Cabinet post to Gore makes me wonder something.

    Is Gore about to become another Hillary "Judas"? (Maybe that's why Bill is reported red-faced and steaming again.)

    Or is only one Judas allowed per campaign?

    posted by Eric at 06:35 PM | Comments (3)



    "if rape is inevitable"
    Distinguishing coerced sex from consensual sex can be especially difficult.

    -- Human Rights Watch in a report on prison rape.

    Traditionally, rape is a crime to which consent is a defense. Consent to intercourse, that is. However, when sexual intercourse takes place between an adult and a minor, neither side has the right to consent. Thus, if a male child rapes an adult, his best defense strategy would be to get to the police first, and say that the adult, um.... Would that be let him?

    The emerging rule seems to be that not saying no to a child is rape.

    But from a feminist standpoint, this is problematic, because the definition of rape is based on whether it is against the victim's will; not whether the victim resisted or said no. This Massachusetts Task Force definition typifies the feminist perspective:

    The Date Rape Task Force Report classifies most consensual sex between a couple as rape by the male, since most sex acts between willing partners do not meet the Task Force's requirements of "expressed consent" and "reasoned consent." If adopted, the Task Force's date rape definition will be the most far-reaching restriction of consensual sex imposed by any secular university in America.

    The Task Force deems any sexual act engaged in by a couple as rape unless it occurs after an explicit "yes" on the part of the woman, even though most happily-married couples have often made love together without explicitly discussing beforehand whether to have sex. Rape, according to the Task Force report, includes "any act of sexual intercourse which occurs without the expressed consent" of the complainant. "Expressed consent" has been defined narrowly by Task Force members like co-chair Janet Viggiani to mean a "yes" following a verbal request.

    The definition also classifies as rape any lovemaking that occurs without "reasoned consent," a requirement Viggiani says may be violated if the complainant is under any influence of alcohol, even if she is not legally intoxicated. Thus, if a couple shares a glass of wine and then has sex, the male can be defined by the Task Force as a rapist. The proposed rape definition applies not only to vaginal intercourse but also to oral sex and any other act involving penetration, no matter how slight.

    (In this regard, I've long wondered whether and why men can't be raped by women.)

    Clearly, consenting to the advances of a child can be a crime, but if the woman does not have to say no, where is the line to be drawn?

    These contradictions and more occurred to me as I read about the changing story of a "three-minute clip, filmed on a mobile phone, apparently showed a young and unconscious mother being gang raped as she lay helpless in her own home":

    The alleged victim claims it shows her being raped by three boys in front of her screaming children, aged two and four, after being drugged.

    But yesterday it was revealed that the 24-year-old woman has now been arrested on suspicion of unlawful sexual intercourse with a 14-year-old and perverting the course of justice.

    Scotland Yard confirmed it will take no further action against two 16-year-olds and a 14-yearold arrested in February in connection with the video.

    What happened? How do we know that the rape charge means simply that the teens got their story together and agreed that the woman instigated the sex? Or that she consented.

    I am unable to ascertain any of the details, such as even the woman's name. If she was arrested, don't they provide that?

    There's more here. Apparently the police believe the erstwhile victim is lying. She claims otherwise:

    In a shocking twist, the 24-year-old currently living in temporary accommodation in south-west London with her partner and young children, was arrested on Friday on suspicion of having sex with a minor and perverting the course of justice.

    She was subsequently bailed pending further inquiries and is due to return to the same police station later this month.

    No charges will be brought against the three teens - two aged 16 and one aged 14 - who were arrested over the episode earlier this year.

    The woman claimed the three youths spiked her drink and raped her repeatedly in a 14-hour ordeal at her south London home last November.

    But she did not report it to the police straightaway and claimed she was too scared to do so because the teenagers kept threatening her.

    It was only a few months later, when a friend spotted the sickening three-minute clip of the incident on YouTube, that her partner encouraged her to report it to police.

    I'd like to know who posted the video. If she posted it, I think that's evidence that she's lacking in credibility. But if the kids posted it, who knows what that might mean?
    The video had been posted on the site shortly after the episode took place and was seen by 600 people before it was removed by YouTube in February.

    The footage shows the mum having sex with the teens, while she is seemingly unconscious. Two of her children are heard crying in the background and at times the youths laugh into the camera.

    If they're laughing into the camera, it's a bit tough to take them seriously as rape victims. If this was in fact three teenagers on one (two of whom are 16 and probably look and act like grown men), I'm wondering whether the woman could have stopped them, even if she did instigate the sex. Again, from a feminist perspective, what matters is not what she said or did, but whether she did not want to have sex with them.

    The thing to remember is that according to feminist law, if she said yes, she's the criminal. If she didn't say yes, she's the victim of a crime.

    Baffling, I admit. It's also not clear whether she's actually going to be charged with a crime. Right now, she's been "arrested for investigation." (A crime we do not have in this country, where arrested persons must be charged with a crime or released.)

    But despite the horrific nature of the video, investigating police officers have questioned the woman's version of events. She could now be charged with having sex with a minor and perverting the course of justice.

    Her children have also been placed on the Child Protection Register and she fears social services will take them away from her.

    "I had no idea this would happen - I thought everything would be OK because I have told the truth," she said. "The police are turning it on me - it's ridiculous. I can't take much more.

    Her partner of 10 years, and father of her children, added: "What's happened is totally outrageous. And we've been forced to stay where we are living for seven weeks - it's unacceptable.

    "We've done nothing wrong and we're the ones suffering."

    A police spokesman confirmed the woman had been arrested and bailed and the teens are unlikely to face charges.

    I'd like to know exactly what happened.

    It's scary to contemplate that it might be a crime for a woman (or a man, for that matter) to accede to the sexual demands of gigantic young hooligans.

    posted by Eric at 03:17 PM | Comments (1)



    When does old news become new news?

    "This isn't exactly news."

    So says Hot Air about the claim by Jerry Zeifman that "he fired Hillary for unethical behavior and that she conspired to deny Richard Nixon counsel during the hearings." (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

    Well, no, the new report in question is not exactly new news. Nor was it exactly news when I wrote about it in January. Or when Patterico wrote about it in February.

    My post did get a comment, though. And the commenter was nice enough to allow that old or not, the news was "huge":

    Wow. This is huge. Why can't the pinko media see how important this is? If just a fraction of the liberals knew about Hillary's UNBELIEVABLE role in the Watergate proceedings, she'd have to move to Mexico.
    While the comment was flattering, once again, I was only writing about news that was reported in 1999.

    The problem with news from 1999 is that it's not news today, and therefore not worth reporting.

    There's no credit to be given anyone for reporting old news. Sure, I regurgitated it in January, but only because a post by Ann Althouse jogged my memory. (She may have been alluding to Zeifman too, and I don't think I deserve any more credit than anyone else.)

    If there is a rule, it seems to be that old news does not become new news until it is reported as such by someone in the MSM.

    At that point, it becomes news.

    Maybe even exactly news.

    posted by Eric at 11:14 AM | Comments (1)



    Local hate is "stupid." "National" hate is a campaign issue.

    Now that I'm back, I thought I'd look at two disturbing murders -- one local and one national. Here's what they have in common:

  • Both were committed by teenagers
  • Both are being called "hate crimes" by supporters of the victims.
  • Beyond that, they have little in common. The local murder occurred shortly before I left, and since then one of the teen perpetrators has been arrested and charged with murder. It was a black on white attack in which high school truants viciously attacked a peaceful Starbucks manager on his way to work in broad daylight at a downtown SEPTA station, kicking and beating him until he went into asthmatic shock. To the victim's many local supporters, it was a hate crime. The District Attorney says it was a random attack, and there's no evidence that they singled him out for his race.

    Anyway, it's still a local story, despite a headline saying "Subway attack upsets even out-of-towners":

    [Sean Patrick] Conroy, 36, was headed to the Starbucks he managed at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, at 12th and Market streets, shortly before 3 p.m. on Wednesday.

    He had just finished visiting with his fiancee - they got engaged on Easter Sunday - when five teens snuck up behind him in an underground SEPTA platform near 13th and Market streets.

    Police officials said one of the teens punched Conroy in the back of the head. The force of the blow dropped him to the ground.

    The young predators - four of whom were Simon Gratz High School students - commenced with a merciless beating, kicking and punching Conroy, causing him to have a fatal asthma attack, according to the medical examiner's office.

    A SEPTA police sergeant who was on foot patrol on the opposite side of the tracks tried unsuccessfully to revive Conroy, police said.

    The teens didn't bother robbing Conroy. Investigators determined that the attack had been a random, pointless explosion of violence.

    I guess it was random because they didn't know him, and by the one suspect's admission, had just decided to attack someone. I'm not a supporter of hate crime legislation because murder is murder, and I don't understand logically how this crime would have been "worse" had they decided to attack, say, "the next white guy" than if they had decided to attack "the next guy."

    For that matter, suppose that only an adult male would have satisfied the feral mob. Wouldn't it be a sex-based crime to attack a man instead of a woman? Or ageist to attack a younger man instead of an older man? Or a clean-cut man on his way to work as opposed to a disheveled wino?

    These are not idle distinctions, for there are advocacy groups which want to add "homeless" to the list. Once they do that, wouldn't it also be fair to add "the affluent" as well?

    It is never clear to me what criteria determine what is "hate" in hate crime cases, and for the umpteenth time, I think such laws create enormous possibilities for mischief. However, I think what drives people to support hate crime legislation is that there are always people who want to go easy on the perpetrators. Who defend and excuse them. Or at least minimize the evil nature of their crimes.

    This unprovoked attack on a total stranger who was by all accounts minding his own business was outrageous, and evil. Yet Michael Nutter called the crime "stupid," and a local expert from the University of Pennsylvania calls it "senseless":

    Only one of the attackers - identified by police at Kinta Stanton, 16, a 10th-grader at Simon Gratz - has been arrested. He's facing murder charges and has been charged as an adult.

    "It's beyond tragic. It's very senseless that this ignorant behavior could yield such tragic results,"said Chad Dion Lassiter, a youth-violence expert and adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Social Policy and Practice.

    Lassiter, who provides violence-prevention training in local schools, said the attacks underscored a need for parents, schools and community members to seriously invest in the lives of children and teen who may be troubled.

    "It's something we have to be committed to do and look at it from a mental-health perspective. Something is missing here. There's a lack of moral imperative within the young person," Lassiter said.

    "There's a hopelessness, despair, hurt and pain that they're not able to express in manageable actions."

    Lassiter said the teens won't realize the magnitude of their actions "until they're sitting in court, and a judge says you're being tried as an adult. They'll never get that moment back, and that family will never get that young man [Conroy] back."

    Jennifer Edwards, a 20-year SEPTA cashier who works at the Fern Rock subway station, said she was saddened to hear of Conroy's death but not totally surprised.

    "I've seen kids - young kids - attack people on trains for no reason at all," Edwards said. "I try to help people the best I can because I don't want anyone to get hurt." *

    (More details on the hate crime issue.)

    And a couple of letter-to-the-editor reactions:

    To conclude, without evidence, that this attack was perpetrated "for no reason" is to dismiss the possibility of this being a racial hate crime. Why do we presume that white people can only be perpetrators of racial hate crimes, and not also their victims?
    and:
    It is amazing how several black youths jumped a white male, and it is not a hate crime. If it were white teens who jumped a black male, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton would have been on the first plane to Killadelphia.

    I think these punks should be tried as adults when caught, and also seek the death penalty. But I'm sure they will get off because they come from a broken home.

    I have to say, I do think that if a group of white kids had jumped and beaten to death a middle-class black 36 year old Starbucks manager, the story would be much bigger news, it would have been dwelled on for a much longer period of time, and there would be a kneejerk demand for a hate crime prosecutions. I don't think the actions of a group of feral white thugs would have been so readily dismissed as "stupid" and "senseless."

    Anyway, regardless of what happens to the feral juvenile they've charged (who so far has refused to rat on the members of his pack), the story is bad for local business, and will die a local death. No national politician will touch it, even though we have two of them right here looking for votes in the presidential race.

    I see the Conroy shooting as an excellent argument for concealed carry. But then, I like to shoot off my mouth.

    Instead of being glibly smug about how potential victims should "carry a gun," let's hypothesize for a moment, and suppose that Mr. Conroy had been armed, and that once the blows started, had managed to draw and fire. I think it's very likely that he'd have been arrested, and that there would have been howls and protests on the left, as well as demands that he face prison time.

    Seriously. A 36 year old white man guns down black "school children" (which is a technically correct term for the thugs involved). At minimum, he'd have been called a "subway vigilante," and it would not surprise me to see certain activists demand that he be charged with a hate crime. There would be calls to do something to stop gun violence against children.

    Oh, the hypocrisy.

    Every time I look at anything closely, I see politically charged double standards involving activists.

    OK, so much for the local murder that no one wants to see as a hate crime and the powers that be would like to see go away.

    The national story (involving a murderous California teen who shot an effeminate gay schoolmate) now has its own Wiki entry. Both presidential candidates have weighed in on it.

    Hillary:

    I was deeply saddened by the recent death of 15-year-old Lawrence King who was killed at his school in Oxnard, CA. No one should face intimidation or violence, particularly at school, because of their sexual orientation or the way they express their gender identity.

    We must finally enact a federal hate crimes law to ensure that gay, lesbian and transgender Americans are protected against violent, bias-motivated crimes. We must send a unified message that hate-based crime will not be tolerated.

    Obama:
    It was heartbreaking to learn about Lawrence King's death, and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family. King's senseless death is a tragic example of the corrosive effect that bigotry and fear can have in our society. It's also an urgent reminder that we need to do more in our schools to foster tolerance and an acceptance of diversity; that we must enact a federal hate crimes law that protects all LGBT Americans; and that we must recommit ourselves to becoming active and engaged parents, citizens and neighbors, so that bias and bigotry cannot take hold in the first place. We all have a responsibility to help this nation live up to its founding promise of equality for all.
    What is it that makes the King death national news -- and even a campaign issue -- while the Conroy death is just a stupid local killing?

    Isn't it as stupid and senseless to murder an apparently amorous classmate for wearing makeup and high heels as it is to jump an anonymous man and beat him to death?

    I mean, suppose Conroy had been wearing makeup and heels and the same thing happened to him. Would that have made his death more of a hate crime?

    Why? Because he looked like someone's idea of "gay" in addition to being white?

    The main difference between these two killings is that the gay victim was well known to his killer. So well known that the killer seems to have had a twisted belief that by killing King, he was saving his honor:

    Earlier this year, some of Brandon's classmates say, Larry began "hitting" on him and remarking for all to hear that he thought Brandon was "cute." Other boys then ribbed Brandon by saying he must be gay himself.

    Brandon dismissed Larry with an obscenity, the students say, but it didn't stop there. They say the kid wearing eye shadow had gotten under the skin of the Young Marine.

    Michael Sweeney, an eighth-grader at E.O. Green, picked up on the whispering that followed -- the rumors that were so extreme, so out there, that they had to be bogus.

    "Brandon told this one girl that he was going to kill Larry," Michael said. "She didn't tell the principal. I didn't, either, after I heard about it. I thought it was a joke."

    Larry was shot the next day.

    There's an interesting analysis here which, if correct, means that the killer may have suffered from a true case of what is often used as a political insult -- "homophobia":
    The actual events leading up to King's death involved weeks of tension between the perp and victim; McInerney couldn't tolerate King's open homosexuality, and King couldn't pass up the opportunity to respond to McInerney's bullying by hitting on McInerney (in what way, or to what extent, has not been particularly well-reported).

    Of course, there is no advance that King could have made, in jest or otherwise, that would justify his murder. However, evidence surrounding the case suggests that King's homosexuality was not the core issue behind his eventual demise; rather, it was McInerney's profound fear of being labeled a homosexual combined with his willingness to resolve problems with violence.

    Now, while I don't use the term "homophobia," because it tends to conflate disease with prejudice, in this case it just might be accurate in the true disease sense.

    Fascinatingly, if the boy does suffer from true homophobia, the question is raised whether charging him with a hate crime isn't essentially punishing him for having a mental disease. This is not to say that his fear of homosexuality should be a defense, but enhancing criminal punishment for having a mental disease is hardly the way our legal system has traditionally operated.

    Sean Kinsell notes the difficulties of this case:

    In a free society, the authorities aren't policing everywhere you go and everything you do. You can go about your business as a law-abiding citizen without being watched all the time, but the trade-off is that you can get yourself into dangerous situations when no one is in a position to help you. It only takes minutes to get beaten up, and less than that to get stabbed or shot. (In this particular case, one of the issues is how McInerney managed to get a gun onto school property undetected; but then, if he was that much bigger and stronger than King, he could probably have broken his neck or banged his head hard enough to kill him without a weapon.) Eliminating the real dangers gays face is not going to be achieved by griping that they shouldn't exist and teaching young people to pretend they don't.
    In an email, Sean also points out that some people are asking why the murderer can't also be seen as a victim of sexual harassment. Perhaps he was, but apparently his homophobia and aggravated sense of honor got in the way of reporting the harassment to the proper authorities.

    It's a troubling case, and so is the unprovoked murder of a man on his way to work.

    But again, would the wearing of heels and makeup have been considered "provocation"?

    Not enough to justify a murder.

    Murder is murder, and legal system should punish murderers, whether their victims are murdered for being white, for being gay, for wearing makeup, for being "homeless," or for going to work at Starbucks.

    Unless the goal is to breed resentment and inject dishonesty and double standards into the process, I don't think the hate crime approach is helpful in any of these cases.

    MORE: Glenn Reynolds links this report about a Pizza Hut employee who violated corporate policy in carrying a gun he used to defend himself.

    This makes me wonder about Starbucks' policy, with which I am unfamiliar. But suppose that Mr. Conroy would have been fired for carrying a gun and that he never carried a gun for that reason. It could be argued that such a policy has the opposite effect of that intended.

    (It's not as if they don't have armed robberies at Starbucks.)

    posted by Eric at 10:32 AM | Comments (8)



    Stop Barack Obama

    I just came across a blog Stop Barack Obama that has a post up by an anti-fascist Black guy In Defence of Hate Speech, Lies, and Obama. "The center" refers to photos on the site.

    The next clown to diss sanity and discuss Black Liberation Apology on "Nation Publican Radio," was the braided brotha in the center- Professor Dwight Hopkins. Obama's been doing a lot of misleading on the term "professor" so if you want to see the minimum publication list required of a "professor," check out Dwight's.

    Today, Prof Dwight, a professed member of Obama's church, applied his impressive intellect to the defense of Hate-Speech.

    The guy is white hot and hates Obama with an undisguised passion.

    There are a number of other bloggers on the site. Well worth a read.

    HT Commenter bg at Gateway Pundit

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 07:53 AM | Comments (2)



    Core Support

    James Edmund Pennington says in a piece at The American Thinker what I have been saying in comments here and there for several weeks. He says that Obama has the nomination locked. Why does he say that? Because Democrats can afford to lose an election. They cannot afford to alienate their core supporters.

    The current agony of the Democratic Party, which grows more acute every day, is laden with an unspoken truth. As the unending Clinton-Obama struggle drags on, the core unutterable reality for Democrats is simply this: because of the composition of the Party's domestic coalition, its continued electoral viability makes absolutely necessary perpetual capture of 90+% of the black vote.

    Because of this grim fact -- of the Party's own making -- the Clinton/Obama fight is over. Obama has won, and every leading Democrat knows it. In short, because of his race, Obama must be awarded the Democratic nomination. So much for the myth of America's first major post-racial candidate.

    The anti-racist party is racist to the core. i.e. Barack is their affirmative action candidate.

    So why is Hillary going on if she knows this? And believe me the wife of the first Black President must know this. If she can't win the marbles she is going to destroy the game. A scorched earth policy. If she can't have it, it will not be worth having.

    The only question is: how badly will this hurt the down ticket races? My guess? Badly. Very badly. The House is gone. The Senate could easily turn as well.

    Let me add one further prediction. The Democrat nomination race will go on until the convention. Why? A decision before then would cost them a significant fraction of Hillary supporters. That alienated support would have time to organize demonstrations or worse outside the D convention. So there will be no decision until the convention votes.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 07:03 AM | Comments (6)




    First Things

    On the solemn occasion that is today, a reminder of why we remember:

    posted by Eric at 09:35 PM | Comments (0)



    Winter to Spring

    I'm finally back, and it's a balmy 69 degree spring day in Philadelphia. Birds are singing and daffodils are blooming. It's hard to believe that yesterday I was standing in freezing rain looking out over a frozen lake. Literally, from winter to spring in one day.

    Some fresh snow (on old snow) on State Street in Ann Arbor a couple of days ago:

    AASnow3.jpg

    And my yard, a few minutes ago:

    daffodils2.jpg

    It's been such a severe winter and the spring has been so ferocious that today's Chicago Tribune weather column discussed a possible "chilly new record" of the number of days that pass between 70 degree readings.

    In that spirit, the Tribune featured this editorial cartoon:

    IN LIKE A LION...OUT LIKE AN ICED-AGE WOOLY MAMMOTH!

    lionMammoth.jpg

    A few more odds and ends.

    Here's a short video of the demonstration in Madison I posted about yesterday:

    And on the UW campus earlier yesterday, as I tried to make a right hand turn there were so many students walking in the crosswalks at the same time that I had to sit there for ten minutes. While sitting, I turned on the camera briefly.

    As you can see, there are no lights, and not much to do but wait.

    Oh, and here's a sadly doomed organ factory building I photographed in Freeport, Illinois:

    organfactory2.jpg

    (I guess I should be glad I made it back in one piece with my organs intact.)

    posted by Eric at 08:23 PM | Comments (1)



    Tribalism

    This is an oldie buy goodie. I first published this in September of '06 at Power and Control

    ==

    Across the sea,
    Corpses in the water;
    Across the mountain,
    Corpses heaped on the field;
    I shall die only for the Emperor,
    I shall never look back.

    Japanese Popular Song: Umi Yukaba


    The war against Islamofascism is not the first time we in America have faced enemies who loved death more than life. Honor more than victory. We have faced such enemies every time we have faced one of the oldest human cultures on earth. Tribalism.

    What we call western civilization is really a series of attempts to get past tribalism and move towards universalism. The Jews with their universal laws (good for Jews and gentiles - the Jews of course were chosen to be burdened with more laws than the gentiles). The laws are (taken from this Wiki):

    The seven laws (commonly rendered as Sheva Mitzvot Shel Bnei Noach) are:

    1. Avodah zarah - Do not worship false gods.

    The universe is a unity. Since it is a unity there can be only one Maker. Tribal gods are null and void. Unity for a nation then becomes possible. Egypt solved the unity problem by incorporating local gods into their religion. They would find in their pantheon a god or goddess that was similar and graft the tribal god to it. The Romans pretty much took the Greek gods wholesale. Eventually Christianity spread the Jewish idea of the unity of the universe and the pagan gods and goddesses were junked. Still the Catholic Church will, if the demand is great enough, incorporate tribal gods disguised as saints.

    2. Shefichat damim - Do not murder.

    What is special about this law is that it was applied not just within the tribe, but universally.

    3. Gezel - Do not steal (or kidnap).

    Again what is special about this law is that it was applied not just within the tribe, but universally. There is no such thing as fair game for theft, kidnap, and plunder.

    4. Gilui arayot - Do not be sexually immoral (forbidden sexual acts are traditionally interpreted to include incest, bestiality, male homosexual sex acts, i.e. sodomy, and adultery.)

    The acts are still forbidden, but the prosecutorial zeal is not what it once was. Except for incest and adult-child sexual relations. That Jesus guy may have had something to do with this. Plus the fact that the status of women has risen from that of property (goats as one of my commenters likes) to people.

    5. Birkat Hashem - Do not "bless God" euphemistically referring to blasphemy.

    Again the act is still forbidden, but the prosecutorial zeal is not what it once was. Even among the devout, at least in the current western practice.

    6. Ever min ha-chai - Do not eat any flesh that was torn from the body of a living animal (given to Noah and traditionally interpreted as a prohibition of cruelty towards animals)

    This gives the idea that unnecessary cruelty is not a positive virtue. You can still eat your meat, but the kill must be with as little suffering as possible.

    7. Dinim - Set up a system of honest, effective courts, police and laws.

    Here is a truly novel idea. Your brother in law or cousin doesn't get special treatment. Every one is equal under the law.

    The Talmud also states: "Righteous people of all nations have a share in the world to come" (Sanhedrin 105a). Any non-Jew who lives according to these laws is regarded as one of "the righteous among the gentiles". Maimonides states that this refers to those who have acquired knowledge of God and act in accordance with the Noahide laws.

    In the west even the most devout secularist adheres to these laws as currently practiced. Exceping for some on the left who wish to devolve back to a state of tribalism in the name of multi-culturalism where certain tribes are to be given special favor. Everyone is not equal under the law. Of course this destroys the unity of a nation and would reduce the nation state to groups of warring factions when the big advantage of the nation is that it eliminates open warfare within a nation thus making the nation more economically advantaged and stronger morally and militarily. United we stand... and all that.

    Which is a long lead up to this very interesting look at tribalism in the Middle East.

    To understand the nature of the enemy in the Middle East and to evaluate the prospects for democracy and peace, we need to extend our gaze not five years into the past, but five hundred and even five thousand.

    I've spent the last four years writing two books about Alexander the Great's campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, 331-327 B.C. What has struck me in the research is the dead-ringer parallels between that ancient East-West clash and the modern ones the U.S. is fighting today -- despite the fact that Alexander was pre-Christian and his enemies were pre-Islamic.

    What history seems to be telling us is that the quality that most defines our Eastern adversaries, then and now, is neither religion nor extremism nor "Islamo-fascism," but something much older and more fundamental.

    Extremist Islam is merely an overlay (and a recent one at that) atop the primal, unchanging mind-set of the East, which is tribalism, and its constituent individual, the tribesman.

    Tribalism and the tribal mind-set are what the West is up against in Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, the Iraqi insurgency, the Sunni and Shiite militias, and the Taliban.

    It looks like what we are confronting is a very old form of human organization. The problem with this type of organization is that the justice it provides is not universal. The in tribe gets a measure of justice. The out tribes get the leavings.
    What exactly is the tribal mind-set? It derives from that most ancient of social organizations, whose virtues are obedience, fidelity, warrior pride, respect for ancestors, hostility to outsiders and willingness to lay down one's life for the cause/faith/group. The tribe's ideal leader is closer to Tony Soprano than to FDR and its social mores are more like those of Geronimo's Apaches than the city council of Scarsdale or Shepherd's Bush.

    Can the tribal mind embrace democracy? Consider the contrast between the tribesman and the citizen:

    A citizen is an autonomous individual. A citizen is free. A citizen possesses the capacity to evaluate the facts and prospects of his world and to make decisions guided by his own conscience, uncoerced by authority. A congress of citizens acting in free elections determines the political course of a democratic community.

    The citizen is an altogether different animal from the member of a tribe. He lives by a diffeent set of rules. A set of rules the tribalist considers unmanly and without honor. The civilized man rates peace and prosperity higher than honor. Which is not the same as being without honor. A mistake tribalists have been making about the democratically civilized for a very long time. Because the civilized man will allow himself to be dishonored for the sake of peace the tribal man assumes that the civilized man is weak. In fact the civilized man can be more brutal than the tribalist when the civilized man goes into the honor mode. When in that mode it is not just tit for tat revenge he seeks, but the complete destruction of the disturbers of his peace.

    The value of the civilized man is the value of the merchant who will take small humiliations for the sake of profit. For the tribalist no amount of profit is worth any humiliation. Which is why merchants and bankers are so despised by the tribalist.

    A citizen prizes his freedom; therefore he grants it to others. He is willing to respect the rights of minorities within the community, so that his own rights will be shielded when he finds himself in the minority.

    The tribesman doesn't see it that way. Within the fixed hierarchy of the tribe, disagreement is not dissent (and thus to be tolerated) but treachery, even heresy, which must be ruthlessly expunged. The tribe exists for itself alone. It is perpetually at war with all other tribes, even of its own race and religion.

    The tribesman deals in absolutes. One is either "of blood" or not. The enemy spy can infiltrate the tribal network no more than a prison guard can worm his way into the Aryan Brotherhood. The tribe recognizes its own. It expels (or beheads) the alien. The tribe cannot be negotiated with. "Good faith" applies only within the pale, never beyond.

    The tribesman does not operate by a body of civil law but by a code of honor. If he receives a wrong, he does not seek redress. He wants revenge. The taking of revenge is a virtue in tribal eyes, called badal in the Pathan code of nangwali. A man who does not take revenge is not a man. Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and the sectarian militias of Iraq are not in the war business, they are in the revenge business. The revenge-seeker cannot be negotiated with because his intent is bound up with honor. It is an absolute.

    Perhaps the most telling difference between the citizen and the tribesman lies in their views of the Other. The citizen embraces multiplicity; to him, the melting pot produces richness and cultural diversity. To the tribesman, the alien is not even given the dignity of being a human being; he is a gentile, an infidel, a demon.

    The tribesman grants justice within the tribe. In his internal councils, empathy, humor and compassion may prevail. Outside the tribe? Forget it.

    Civilization is a fragile thing because the lure of tribalism is always there. Socialism's appeal is that the government will take care of you in the way that being a member of a tribe did. The Nazis' appeal was to the greater German tribe. Sadly in America the Democrat Party is the Party where tribes gather; they just don't get civilization. Civilization works by encouraging the tribes to make the tribal identity secondary.

    I'm going to be looking into this topic further over time. The number one question is how the tribalist can be converted either over time or by generational change to more universal values.

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

    The civilized man pursues happiness. The tribalist pursues narrow justice.

    The number one problem for the civilized and the tribalized alike is mirror imaging.

    Update: 26 Sept '06 1651z

    Commenter Paul noted in the comments this very interesting piece by a libertarian anthropologist: Observations on Arabs

    Update: 27 Sept '06 1803z

    Clayton Cramer comments.

    Update: 30 Sept '06 0059z

    Elder of Zion and Liberty ans Justice and Infidel Bloggers Alliance comment.


    Update: 02 Oct. '06 0807z

    Captain's Quarters discusses Afghan tribalism. The comments are especially good. See the one by Dale in Atlanta.

    Update: 16 Oct. '06 1405z

    Israel Matzav has a good bit on tribalism in Gaza.


    posted by Simon at 03:56 PM | Comments (8)



    Democrats Take Up The Chant

    Jon Henke at The Atlantic dishes dirt on the Democrat candidates. Commenter Karen has this to say about the post.

    Rev.James T. Meeks is a superdelegate and a Illinois Senetor. So Obama has to vet superdelegates and he is responsible for everyone now. So Clinton is responsible for Eliot Spitzer as well correct? You make me sick...the Black guy is now responsible for everyone that he ever met, worked with or even passed on the street. This is the real racism in America..GOD DAMN AMERICA.
    OK. I think this will be a real help to the Democrats. It will help them lose.

    So Karen, can I quote you in the ads I'm working on for McCain?

    Would you call yourself a typical Democrat or a party activist?

    H/T Insty

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

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



    Some Obama Music


    I think it fits this election well, especially the ending. We have a comments section. Let us know what you think.

    posted by Simon at 05:16 AM | Comments (0)



    A Little Night Music From Iraq


    I think this video does more to explain Al Sadr's "victory" than all the pundits the lefty's can muster in the whole nation. Compare the amount of outgoing fire from the American and Iraqi Government forces to return fire from Al Sadr's boys. I think that brrrrrrrr sound you hear from time to time is a Vulcan type machine gun. They fire at rates up to 100 rounds a second. Some one with actual experience correct me if I'm wrong.

    posted by Simon at 03:33 AM | Comments (0)



    Al Sadr Wins

    At least that is how James Joyner is spinning it. Let me excerpt from a comment there (with typo fixed):

    Sadr could have made this much messier than it was if he wanted to
    So true. He could have had 5,000 dead to clean up instead of only 500. You have to give him credit for not wanting a bigger mess.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 02:23 AM | Comments (0)



    Looking For Ronald Reagan

    Libertarianism (without the surrender component) can bring us all together again. You know that Goldwater thingy. He really hated cultural socialists as much as he hated economic socialists. He was always firing away at socons. The Reagan revolution was a culmination of all that. It is how he brought "Reagan Democrats" into the fold. Stick with a core we can all agree on.

    Social conservatism at the point of a gun is just as much socialism as is economic liberalism at the point of a gun.

    The deal is: let us save government guns for thieves and robbers and external enemies and let society take care of itself. The government should not be making black markets. It only empowers criminals.

    Socons get vitriol from me because I hate cultural socialism as much as I hate economic socialism. I try to be consistent. I'm a Goldwater/Reagan conservative. Not too popular (except for lip service) in some circles. Every one liked the results. Hardly any one wants to stick to the philosophy.

    You know why we can't find another Reagan?

    Because Republicans no longer understand Goldwater.

    Pity.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 12:59 AM | Comments (8)




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