Change we can believe in!
Any revolutionary change must be preceded by a passive, affirmative, non-challenging attitude toward change among the mass of our people. They must feel so frustrated, so defeated, so lost, so futureless in the prevailing system that they are willing to let go of the past and change the future. This acceptance is the reformation essential to any revolution. To bring on this reformation requires that the organizer work inside the system....

--Saul Alinsky

I feel lost a lot. And I recognize that the past is gone, and that change is in the nature of reality.

So how come I'm not supporting revolution?

Forgive me, but when I hear the word "change" (especially from people who seek greater power over me), I generally assume they want to make things worse -- but for what they claim is my own good.

posted by Eric at 11:51 PM | Comments (4)

Why did we wreck our economy?

One of my pet peeves involves ideologues who misuse the word "we" -- especially in a scolding manner which implies that "we" all oppress the poor, have abortions, engage in hedonism, hate God, etc. Whatever it is that that's the ideological complaint of the moment, "we" are said to all be guilty of it.

Predictably, the latest misuse of the "we" pronoun involves the economy. Richard Miniter tears into the idea that "we" did it in post titled "No, We didn't Cause This Wall Street Mess":

You must be as tired of hearing it as I am. Somehow, we are all at fault for Wall Street's meltdown. We demanded cheap loans for houses we couldn't afford and voted in corrupt dolts, who took from Fannie Mae and told us what we wanted to hear. Now, we are getting what we deserve.
Yes, and I imagine that if Obama is elected president, I'll have to listen to endless scoldings about how "we" are all guilty for living in a country shameful enough to elect him. (Never mind that I oppose him.)

Likewise, if McCain wins, I'll have to listen to the left complaining about how "we" are a very guilty and racist people for letting it happen. In neither case am I given credit for being an individual; I'm lumped into a group in which I don't belong, and my motives are impugned.

Miniter points out that "we" did not elect Barney Frank or Chris Dood:

Rep. Barney Frank was elected by a majority of the people of his district in Massachusetts. Senator Chris Dodd is brought to us by many but not all of the voters of Connecticut. And so on. Most of us never had the chance to vote for or against these solons. So why should we be blamed?

The regulatory changes that led us to this point were the work of lobbyists, bureaucrats and lawmakers including Dodd and Frank and corrupt executives, like Raines and Johnson. We know or can know their names.

The idea of blaming "all of us" is a way to avoid blaming those who did the deeds and reaped their ill-gotten gains.

Well, I guess I should be glad that at least they're not blaming the blogosphere.

The misuse of the "we" pronoun also helps the guilty parties escape blame:

What about cheap mortgages? Sure, some of us took them when they were offered. But who offered them and why? Yes, it is the Clinton-era changes to the Community Reinvestment Act that forced banks to lend more for "affordable housing." Law firms, including ones connected to Obama, sued banks that failed to meet their low-income quotas for mortgages. Bankers were not driven by greed, as everyone says, but by fear. Fear of the baying hounds of regulators and lawyers would call them racist and ruin their careers. But who unleashed the hounds on the bankers?
Many of them were the same people who are now releasing the "we" pronoun on everyone except themselves.

posted by Eric at 10:02 PM | Comments (4)

Donations requested

If you visit this blog regularly, you probably know that I have no tipjar, but that I occasionally urge readers to donate to other bloggers instead. Right now, Dean Esmay could really use your help. Details and tip jar here.

While it's a real drag to ask people for money, I'd like to give a couple of reasons why I think readers should donate to Dean.

One is that while I don't ask for money, I like to think that if readers like what they see here, they might consider it worth an occasional donation. So, as I'm lucky enough not to need to ask for money for myself, shouldn't I be allowed to redirect some of that "goodwill" to others? As I see it, I have a responsibility to use this blog that way if I can.

Two is that Dean is a great blogger and thoroughly worthy of a donation even if he wasn't in need (which he is). He's been a personal inspiration, and he was one of the first bloggers to link and encourage me when I was completely unknown and he was well established. Which means that any readers who like this blog and also like Dean's World have a double obligation to make this donation. In fact, I'd go so far as to say to any reader who likes both blogs, you have no excuse not to hit Dean's tip jar!

So please, go donate now.

UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for linking this post. Please help out if you can; I donated yesterday and I'm donating some more today. I'm not George Soros and I can't afford to match your contributions dollar for dollar, although I would if I could, because I think helping Dean is a worthy cause right now.

posted by Eric at 09:15 PM | Comments (0)

Clinton: The Democrats Did It

posted by Simon at 03:30 PM | Comments (1)

Who gets to define rights?

What's shocking (to me) about the clamor to "save people's homes" (see M. Simon's earlier post) is that in many cases, they're trying to "save" people who owe more than the house is worth.

I think it is economically dishonest to talk of "saving" homes in this context. When someone is allowed to walk away from a loan in excess of the property valuation, he is the opposite of a victim.

To illustrate, suppose I had bought a house with a $350,000 taxpayer-guaranteed mortgage, and the house is now worth only $250,000. I'm financially screwed, and I'm on the hook -- in a bad way. I'd be far better off renting.

If the bank is willing to let me walk away from the indebtedness (or will allow a short sale, which many do) I'd be ahead $100,000.

Being able to walk away from a bad investment and have the debt forgiven is hardly victimization. (It is even considered income by the IRS, although there's legislation pending to change that.)

How the left and the MSM are able to spin as victims people who manage to walk away from legitimately incurred debts is beyond me.

I used to think that buying a house was a big decision fraught with risk -- something to be engaged in by responsible adults. That contracts were binding, you should read them carefully, etc.

Something must have changed.

I think it might involve the profoundly evil meme that "housing is a right." I say "profoundly evil" because such a "right" cannot exist except at the expense of other people.

From where derives the idea that anyone has the responsibility to provide housing for anyone else? I'm not saying people who cannot care for themselves because of disability or mental incompetence should not be cared for, but there's a huge difference between that and defining housing as a "right."

Of course, it's easy for libertarian cranks like me to prattle on about how "we" don't define housing as a "right" here in the free United States.

Many of "us" do. And they vote.

Quite incidentally, the United States adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as part of its support for the United Nations. Article 25 provides as follows:

1. Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
Fortunately, this is not binding on the United States as would be a treaty, so it cannot be enforced.

In her "Address to the United Nations General Assembly On the Adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," US Ambassador Eleanor Roosevelt said this: government has made it clear in the course of the development of the Declaration that it does not consider that the economic and social and cultural rights stated in the Declaration imply an obligation on governments to assure the enjoyment of these rights by direct governmental action. This was made quite clear in the Human Rights Commission text of article 23 which served as a so-called "umbrella" article to the articles on economic and social rights. We consider that the principle has not been affected by the fact that this article no longer contains a reference to the articles which follow it. This in no way affects our whole-hearted support for the basic principles of economic, social, and cultural rights set forth in these articles.

In giving our approval to the Declaration today it is of primary importance that we keep clearly in mind the basic character of the document. It is not a treaty; it is not an international agreement. It is not and does not purport to be a statement of law or of legal obligation. It is a Declaration of basic principles of human rights and freedoms, to be stamped with the approval of the General Assembly by formal vote of its members, and to serve as a common standard of achievement for all peoples of all nations.

I guess it should be comforting to know that even Eleanor Roosevelt recognized that there is no "right" to housing in the United States.

Needless to say, the US faces ongoing criticism like this for its failure to recognize what amounts to an obligation as a "right":

The refusal of the United States to recognise the right to housing is of course symptomatic of a wider problem in the international community which arises with the tendency to give a higher priority to civil and political rights over economic and social rights.
I suspect this is something that Obama would like to change.

Consider the following proposals from his Democratic colleagues:

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States regarding the right of citizens of the United States to health care of equal high quality (Jackson, D-IL)--H.J.Res. 30. Creates a constitutional right to equal health care.

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States respecting the right to decent, safe, sanitary, and affordable housing (Jackson, D-IL)--H.J.Res. 32 and Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States respecting the right to a home (Rangel, D-NY)--H.J.Res 40. Creates a constitutional right to housing.

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States respecting the right to full employment and balanced growth (Jackson, D-IL)--H.J.Res. 35. Creates a constitutional right to full employment.

(Links added; more here.)

Considering that Jackson is Obama's national campaign chair, I think it's worth asking Obama how he defines rights.

But just as the word "socialism" is taboo, some questions can never be asked.

MORE: Suppose a clear majority of Americans decide that there is a "right" to property at the expense of others. Founder James Madison cautioned that what a majority might want is not necessarily an ideal standard:

There is no maxim, in my opinion, which is more liable to be misapplied, and which therefore, needs more elucidation than...that the interest of the majority is the political standard of right and wrong. Taking the word "interest" as synonymous with "ultimate happiness," in which sense it is qualified with every necessary moral ingredient, the proposition is no doubt true. But taking it in the popular sense, as referring to immediate augmentation of property and wealth, nothing can be more false. In the latter sense, it would be the interest of the majority in very community to despoil and enslave the minority of individuals; and in a federal community, to make a similar sacrifice of the minority of component States. In fact, it is only re-establishing, under another name and a more specious form, force as the measure of right....

Letter to James Monroe, Octr 5th, 1786

Tyranny by the majority is still tyranny.

It's comforting to know that such things were on the minds of the founders.

posted by Eric at 11:44 AM | Comments (6)

Vote for Obama! Or else!

Victor Davis Hanson has one of the best analyses of the current predicament vis-a-vis the election that I have seen in recent days. (A must read.) He thinks time is running out (that's the title of the piece!), and even though the most moderate Republican in history is running against the most left wing Democrat in history, ordinary voters still don't get it:

The truth is that we have an election between a moderate Republican whose centrist positions worry conservatives, who is pitted against a fringe-hyper-liberal candidate who must somehow assure the voters he is merely liberal. Never in recent history, have Republicans nominated one so moderate, never Democrats one so hard left. Yet we are not getting from a proud and unapologetic Obama "My left-wing views have at last proven prescient and arrived, and McCain's namby-pamby moderation is not what these crisis times call for."

Instead, it is dissumaltion all the time, as Obama (for now) essentially has refuted most of his prior positions on the major issues. Even his tax-and-spend plans are now on hold, pending the Wall Street uncertainty. We know nothing really of his background between Columbia and Harvard Law School. Few can figure out exactly what he and Ayers were trying to do with the Chicago Annenberg Challenge other than to give someone else's millions to further the hard-left agendas of a number of cronies whose efforts did not result in any marginal improvement in the Chicago schools.

In other words, the most liberal presidential candidate in our memory is suddenly posing as a moderate centrist not much different from McCain (e.g., "I agree with John..." ad nauseam). And McCain thus far has not been able to scratch the thin veneer. Had Palin once worked in community organizing with a Timothy McVeigh, or had McCain been the member of a white supremacist church for 20 years, or had McCain been judged the most conservative member of the Senate, the McCain-Palin ticket would have long ago imploded.

I couldn't agree more. The Bill Ayers connection needs to become known.

Hanson thinks the race card has been played very skillfully:

The most brilliant prepping has been an anticipatory demonization of the white working class in an effort through shame, fear, or pity to sway them to vote Obama. The narrative advanced is that if McCain wins, the real reason is because working-class Democrats--once they collectively get into the privacy of the voting booth--sighed and voted against Obama because he is of half-African ancestry, despite telling pollsters they would not.

In the last two weeks I think I have read at least 20 op-eds with one of the following three premises: (1) warning: Many Americans are racists, and the election will thus hinge on race, so you have one last chance to get it right; (2) shame: The world is watching, and will either like or dislike us, depending on our support for Obama; (3) fear: If Obama loses, expect furor or even near riots.

However, it's being overdone, and he thinks they need to cool it:
The white working class is tiring of the constant sermons on race, either chauvinism or veiled threats or overt insults. Obama's supporters really need to cool it, and stop suggesting that at each dip in his polls, Americans are proving less than noble people. The only thing that will really lose them the working-class vote is the gun-to-the-head, you'd better vote this way or else attitude.

I grew up among the Democratic working classes, and I can vouch for one eternal truth about them: anyone who lectures them about what they "must" do--or else--will simply achieve the opposite result, every time....

Good advice for the Obama campaign. I hope they fail to heed it, and I hope they continue to overplay their hand.

Endless accusations of racism and thuggish Obama Truth Squad tactics may be McCain's best hope.

UPDATE: My thanks to Sean Kinsell for linking this post in a great discussion of elitism.

posted by Eric at 09:34 AM | Comments (4)

ITER vs The Stone Axe

Stephen Strauss takes a look at big science and comes away unimpressed. He talks about two exhibits he saw. One for the $15 billion ITER (pronounced EATER - heh) and another about neolithic technology - mat weaving, pottery making, chipping stone axes.

At the recent European Science Open Forum conference in Barcelona, for example, I was strolling through exhibits aimed at -- please don't gag -- science outreach. The underlying theme of all these displays seemed to me to be: since their schooling actually teaches many ordinary people to be discomforted by -- if not to actually fear and loath -- science, let's see if we can't do something in these venues to get people to hate science a little bit less.
And why do people hate science so much? Well it is hard to understand and requires a lot of complicated math and difficult concepts. I'm pretty good with that sort of thing. I understand Einstein but the math is beyond me. String Theory? Fuhgeddaboutit. So how about neolithic technology?
Right across from ITER was an exhibit in which a group of paleo-archeologists had set up a display to show the technology of the past in operation. So you had a guy sitting cross-legged, banging away at a rock to make a hand ax. Chip, chip, and chip. You had someone else weaving plants together to make a mat. Weave, weave, and weave. Someone else was taking clay and making a pot. There was no placard asking: Hand axe making, will it always be 40 years away? There were no critics of the effort calling it a huge waste of national resources.

So what does the juxtaposition of the two very different demonstrations of technology tell us about disbelief?

To begin with, the ITER project and all hugely expensive big science efforts -- think the International Space Station, think Large Hadron Collider, which recently has received a tonne of press -- aren't like making hand axes. I looked at the man diligently chipping away and realized that the price of his failure wasn't very high. So what if it turned out the rock type you made axes from wasn't strong enough to chop wood? You simply went back and made axes from something else until you got an ax that worked.

And you, in this case, would simply be some intrepid carver and not some large part of the Paleolithic science world.

On the other hand, if ITER fails, it is massively unlikely there is going to be another effort to correct its errors. Research on its level is simply too big and expensive and time-consuming. But what if it succeeds -- but only kinda? What if its results show that you can produce energy, but that it is 10 time times more expensive than energy from other sources? What if figuring out how to make that equation more favorable will require at least three iterations of ITER?

So how should we be thinking about such projects? A little differently to be sure.
What you put in place with these vastly expensive research efforts is a "can't afford to fail" paradigm. Unlike trying to find the best plant material to weave into a mat, ITER, the Large Hadron Collider, etc., must succeed on first go-round. With ITER, there is no second kind of rock to be chipped away, no other plants to be woven, no different type of clay to be baked into a plate.

And that's what I so disbelieve about it. It's not really experimental science; it's risky, we-can't-fail, all-or-nothing science and I would respond to that paradigm with the wisdom of stone axe makers.

Sometimes your research should be based not on how glorious success might be, but on how little you will have lost if you screw up.

So what should we be doing about fusion? Lots of small "understand the science" and "proof of concept" projects. Say 100 two million dollar efforts. About 10 twenty million dollar efforts based on the successes of the two million dollar jobs. And one or two two hundred million dollar efforts based on the promise of the $20 million efforts. Total cost of around a billion dollars a year when everything is fully ramped up. Nothing that is too big to fail and nothing where testable results are fifteen to thirty years off.

Of course I have my favorites. Here is one that I described in the Fusion Report of 29 August 2008.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 05:32 AM | Comments (19)

Who Stole The Chairs?

So who is to blame for the mess we are in? Victor Davis Hanson has some thoughts on the subject.

no one dares to ask what really drove the wheeler-dealer portfolio managers. Who re-elected these shady politicians of both parties? Who fostered the cash-in culture in which both Wall Street profit mongering and Washington lobbying are nourished and thrive? We citizens did -- red-state conservatives and blue-state liberals, Republicans and Democrats, alike. We may be victims of Wall Street greed -- but not quite innocent victims.

Let me explain. The profiteering was not just the result of a few thousand scoundrels on Wall Street or in Washington, as greedy and as bonus-hungry as many of them no doubt were. Look at the housing market as a sort of musical chairs in which everyone profited as long he grabbed a seat when the music stopped. Then those left standing -- with high-priced loans and negative equity when the crash came -- defaulted and stuck taxpayers with debt in the billions of dollars. But until then, most owners who had sold homes cashed out beyond their wildest dreams.

Thousands of dollars in past profits are still in sellers' bank accounts or were spent on their own consumption. If the shaky buyer at the bottom of the pyramid should not have borrowed to buy an overpriced house, then the luckier seller higher up hardly worried that the cash-strapped fool was paying him way too much with unsecured borrowed money.

We created the cultural climate for this shared madness. Television shows advised how to "flip" a house after putting in cosmetic improvements. Real-estate seminars and popular videos convinced us that homes were not places to live in and raise a family but rather no different from piles of chips on a Vegas table.

We created the phony populist creed that everyone deserved to own a house. So lawmakers got the message to relax lending standards in service to "fairness." But Americans forgot that historically nearly four in 10 of us aren't ever ready, or able, to sacrifice for a down payment, monthly mortgage bills, home maintenance and yearly taxes -- and so should stick to renting.

I'm one of those 4 in 10. And you know what? I'm renting. I may have no assets but my liabilities are limited as well. Call it a form of reverse security. If my income goes down I can move to cheaper digs. What can a home owner do when the market tanks and his income goes down? Marx had a term for it: Stucco. That would be Groucho not Karl.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 04:39 AM | Comments (3)

Karl Rove On How Democrats Failed

Simon's Law:

It is unwise to attribute to malice alone that which can be attributed to malice and stupidity.

posted by Simon at 02:35 AM | Comments (0)

At least conservatives still smoke red meat

We all know that smoking is conservative, because Republicans tend to defend tobacco, while Democrats tend to attack it.

With that principle in mind, I decided to look back in time at cigarette ads.

Sure enough, I spotted what can only be called "cultural conservatism" in this ad:

And there's no denying that genuine Paleo Conservatism is at play in this one:

Finally in the 1960s, LSD was added, and people started coming out of the TV!

But it was still a form of conservatism that had not yet been snuffed out.

(I hope there's no serious message here. I'd hate to think that conservatism might be as endangered as smoking. But nothing ever seems to remain the same. And therein lies the paradox.)

posted by Eric at 11:19 PM | Comments (2)

With Friends Like These
Honkies Save Our Homes

It looks like the community dis organizers need some help. From Mr. Obama.
WHAT exactly does a "community organizer" do? Barack Obama's rise has left many Americans asking themselves that question. Here's a big part of the answer: Community organizers intimidate banks into making high-risk loans to customers with poor credit.

In the name of fairness to minorities, community organizers occupy private offices, chant inside bank lobbies, and confront executives at their homes - and thereby force financial institutions to direct hundreds of millions of dollars in mortgages to low-credit customers.

In other words, community organizers help to undermine the US economy by pushing the banking system into a sinkhole of bad loans. And Obama has spent years training and funding the organizers who do it.

THE seeds of today's financial meltdown lie in the Commu nity Reinvestment Act - a law passed in 1977 and made riskier by unwise amendments and regulatory rulings in later decades.

CRA was meant to encourage banks to make loans to high-risk borrowers, often minorities living in unstable neighborhoods. That has provided an opening to radical groups like ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) to abuse the law by forcing banks to make hundreds of millions of dollars in "subprime" loans to often uncreditworthy poor and minority customers.

I have covered this at length but it you missed it try ACORN Is Not About Nuts and The Best Congress Fannie Could Buy and Barney Frank Frankly Not Frank.

What is going on in my opinion is nothing short of a coup attempt. The American Thinker explains who planned it and how they plan to pull it off. Obviously these events are way beyond my control. The only chance we have is on November 4th. If Obama gets in with a Democrat Congress you can kiss the Republic goodbye.

Let me add that Eric has a very nice chart from the American Thinker article that gives the basics in a very quick look.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 07:48 PM | Comments (1)

So why isn't it cool for presidents to have terrorist friends?

Via Glenn Reynolds, I am delighted to see that the Ayers story is starting to be reported in the MSM.

Well, the New York Post might not be the New York Times, or the Washington Post, but it's a start:

CHICAGO - While Barack Obama has long downplayed his connection to Bill Ayers, a co-founder of the violent Weather Underground radical group, new documents show the two worked much more closely together in starting an educational foundation than has been previously known.

Recently released board-meeting minutes for the Chicago Annenberg Challenge show the two were present together at least six times in 1995 as the foundation's members discussed how to organize and operate the project, which was Ayers' brainchild.

It's going to take time to get this story out, and it will be denied, minimized, and obfuscated, in every possible way. Unfortunately, a lot of people don't remember Ayers and the Weather Underground, and a new generation of young people have either never heard of them, or think it's no big deal, because they've heard they were cool. Like "Weren't they working for social justice or something?" Or "I think my English teacher used to be with them, so it's no big deal." That's the problem; young people simply do not understand why it's a big deal. Many of them have been raised and trained by people who think a guy like Bill Ayers is perfectly acceptable. Mainstream, even.

So, in addition to getting this story out, there needs to be an effort to remind people that doing things like blowing up an NCO club is way uncool. Definitely not part of the mainstream.

And that people who were into stuff like that but wish they were more successful, well maybe they shouldn't really get to be mainstream.

And maybe their close cronies shouldn't get elected president.

posted by Eric at 04:50 PM | Comments (0)

So many dots! So little time!

I'm of two minds about the "Cloward-Piven Strategy" theory of Obama and Ayers, which is explained here and represented in the following chart:

ACORN Networ.jpg

While I first heard about it last night thanks to a comment from Donna Barber, it is a very interesting theory and it might well be true. In that respect, it is worthy of study. As is Gramscian Marxism.

However, there's another side of me that tends to worry about conspiracy theories (whether true or not) being used as an obfuscatory tactic, especially when they complicate relatively simple issues and appear out of nowhere and muddy the waters just when relatively simple issues have become tough to ignore.

I refer to Bill Ayers, and his close association -- possibly even mentorship of --Barack Obama, over a long period of time. Over the past few days it has struck me that this is just about to "break through" from the blogosphere and talk radio and into the MSM. And now that it seems about to do that, there's a sudden interest in what may or may not be the "root cause" of the Ayers-Obama association.

Forgive me if I seem blunt, but what's damning is Obama's association with an unrepentant terrorist.

A guy wearing a bracelet bearing the name of an NCO killed by a terrorist IED was a close collaborator and friend of a guy who wanted to kill other American NCOs with IEDs, and who regrets he did not do enough.

This -- the one thing that will outrage middle America more than anything about Obama -- is the subject of a desperate media and campaign coverup.

Yet suddenly, the topic shifts to a tactic floated by obscure Columbia professors in 1966.

Again, the theory might be correct. But why right now?

I'd hate to think that when Obama is finally asked about Ayers, he'll be able to snark back with something like, "Yes and they're also saying that my friendship with Ayers is part of something called the 'Cloward-Piven Strategy,' which I'd never heard of until now" -- to great laughter from a pliant and clueless audience.

If Obama is elected, there will be plenty of time to look for root causes. I may be wrong, but right now, I think the focus should be on Ayers.

MORE: M. Simon aptly summarizes the Cloward-Piven strategy as a practical application of Lenin's "Worse is better," and Alinsky's Rules for radicals. No doubt it is both.

As I've noted many times, the fact that socialism does not work because it requires more socialism means that failure is success. But saying that won't win an election.

posted by Eric at 10:19 AM | Comments (9)

Barney Frank Frankly Not Frank

The Boston Globe, normally a reliable liberal paper, says that Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank (D - Corruption) has a lot to do with the mortgage crisis. It opens with a quote from Cong. Frank

'The private sector got us into this mess. The government has to get us out of it."

That's Barney Frank's story, and he's sticking to it. As the Massachusetts Democrat has explained it in recent days, the current financial crisis is the spawn of the free market run amok, with the political class guilty only of failing to rein the capitalists in. The Wall Street meltdown was caused by "bad decisions that were made by people in the private sector," Frank said; the country is in dire straits today "thanks to a conservative philosophy that says the market knows best." And that philosophy goes "back to Ronald Reagan, when at his inauguration he said, 'Government is not the answer to our problems; government is the problem.' "

In fact, that isn't what Reagan said. His actual words were: "In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem." Were he president today, he would be saying much the same thing.

Because while the mortgage crisis convulsing Wall Street has its share of private-sector culprits they weren't the ones who "got us into this mess." Barney Frank's talking points notwithstanding, mortgage lenders didn't wake up one fine day deciding to junk long-held standards of creditworthiness in order to make ill-advised loans to unqualified borrowers. It would be closer to the truth to say they woke up to find the government twisting their arms and demanding that they do so - or else.

The roots of this crisis go back to the Carter administration. That was when government officials, egged on by left-wing activists, began accusing mortgage lenders of racism and "redlining" because urban blacks were being denied mortgages at a higher rate than suburban whites.

The pressure to make more loans to minorities (read: to borrowers with weak credit histories) became relentless. Congress passed the Community Reinvestment Act, empowering regulators to punish banks that failed to "meet the credit needs" of "low-income, minority, and distressed neighborhoods." Lenders responded by loosening their underwriting standards and making increasingly shoddy loans. The two government-chartered mortgage finance firms, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, encouraged this "subprime" lending by authorizing ever more "flexible" criteria by which high-risk borrowers could be qualified for home loans, and then buying up the questionable mortgages that ensued.

I go into more detail on all the components of the problem at ACORN Is Not About Nuts and at The Best Congress Fannie Could Buy.

However, I just came across an American Thinker article which asks the question: are the people behind this stupid? Or was it a plan?

Despite the mass media news blackout, a series of books, talk radio and the blogosphere have managed to expose Barack Obama's connections to his radical mentors -- Weather Underground bombers William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, Communist Party member Frank Marshall Davis and others. David Horowitz and his Discover the have also contributed a wealth of information and have noted Obama's radical connections since the beginning.

Yet, no one to my knowledge has yet connected all the dots between Barack Obama and the Radical Left. When seen together, the influences on Obama's life comprise a who's who of the radical leftist movement, and it becomes painfully apparent that not only is Obama a willing participant in that movement, he has spent most of his adult life deeply immersed in it.

But even this doesn't fully describe the extreme nature of this candidate. He can be tied directly to a malevolent overarching strategy that has motivated many, if not all, of the most destructive radical leftist organizations in the United States since the 1960s.

So this is a long time coming.

The American Thinker article points out that the strategy behind it has a name. The Cloward-Piven Strategy of Orchestrated Crisis. Lenin also had a name for it: Worse Is Better.

I think a deeper look into what the American thinker has to say is in order:

Before the 1994 Republican takeover, Democrats had sixty years of virtually unbroken power in Congress - with substantial majorities most of the time. Can a group of smart people, studying issue after issue for years on end, with virtually unlimited resources at their command, not come up with a single policy that works? Why are they chronically incapable?


One of two things must be true. Either the Democrats are unfathomable idiots, who ignorantly pursue ever more destructive policies despite decades of contrary evidence, or they understand the consequences of their actions and relentlessly carry on anyway because they somehow benefit.

I submit to you they understand the consequences. For many it is simply a practical matter of eliciting votes from a targeted constituency at taxpayer expense; we lose a little, they gain a lot, and the politician keeps his job. But for others, the goal is more malevolent - the failure is deliberate. Don't laugh. This method not only has its proponents, it has a name: the Cloward-Piven Strategy. It describes their agenda, tactics, and long-term strategy.

The Strategy was first elucidated in the May 2, 1966 issue of The Nation magazine by a pair of radical socialist Columbia University professors, Richard Andrew Cloward and Frances Fox Piven. David Horowitz summarizes it as:

The strategy of forcing political change through orchestrated crisis. The "Cloward-Piven Strategy" seeks to hasten the fall of capitalism by overloading the government bureaucracy with a flood of impossible demands, thus pushing society into crisis and economic collapse.
You know that sounds a lot like the Alinsky Method - Rules For Radicals. The American Thinker article goes much deeper into Cloward-Piven with lots of links and how the players are connected (see the connection chart - it is a beaut). May I suggest that a thorough reading is in order?

H/T commenter Dan at Classical Values for the Boston Globe bit.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 06:33 AM | Comments (2)

ACORN Is Not About Nuts

ACORN is about vote fraud in Michigan.

Several municipal clerks across the state are reporting fraudulent and duplicate voter registration applications, most of them from a nationwide community activist group working to help low- and moderate-income families.

The majority of the problem applications are coming from the group ACORN, Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, which has a large voter registration program among its many social service programs. ACORN's Michigan branch, based in Detroit, has enrolled 200,000 voters statewide in recent months, mostly with the use of paid, part-time employees.

"There appears to be a sizeable number of duplicate and fraudulent applications," said Kelly Chesney, spokeswoman for the Michigan Secretary of State's Office. "And it appears to be widespread."

Chesney said her office has had discussions with ACORN officials after local clerks reported the questionable applications to the state. Chesney said some of the applications are duplicates and some appear to be names that have been made up. The Secretary of State's Office has turned over several of the applications to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Well. Two hundred thousand potentially fraudulent voter applications. I think it is a pretty good bet that those voters would be voting for Democrats since B. Obama has hired ACORN to do work for his campaign.

I think it would be instructive to learn more about ACORN.

If you thought the New Left was dead in America, think again. Walk through just about any of the nation's inner cities, and you're likely to find an office of ACORN, bustling with young people working 12-hour days to "organize the poor" and bring about "social change." The largest radical group in the country, ACORN has 120,000 dues-paying members, chapters in 700 poor neighborhoods in 50 cities, and 30 years' experience. It boasts two radio stations, a housing corporation, a law office, and affiliate relationships with a host of trade-union locals. Not only big, it is effective, with some remarkable successes in getting municipalities and state legislatures to enact its radical policy goals into law.

Community organizing among the urban poor has been an honorable American tradition since Jane Addams's famous Hull House dramatically uplifted the late-nineteenth-century Chicago slums, but ACORN and Addams are on different planets philosophically. Hull House and its many successors emphasized self-empowerment: the poor, they thought, could take control of their lives and communities through education, hard work, and personal responsibility. Not ACORN. It promotes a 1960s-bred agenda of anti-capitalism, central planning, victimology, and government handouts to the poor. As a result, not only does it harm the poor it claims to serve; it is also a serious threat to the urban future.

It is no surprise that ACORN preaches a New Left-inspired gospel, since it grew out of one of the New Left's silliest and most destructive groups, the National Welfare Rights Organization. In the mid-sixties, founder George Wiley forged an army of tens of thousands of single minority mothers, whom he sent out to disrupt welfare offices through sit-ins and demonstrations demanding an end to the "oppressive" eligibility restrictions that kept down the welfare rolls. His aim: to flood the welfare system with so many clients that it would burst, creating a crisis that, he believed, would force a radical restructuring of America's unjust capitalist economy.
The flooding succeeded beyond Wiley's wildest dreams. From 1965 to 1974, the number of single-parent households on welfare soared from 4.3 million to 10.8 million, despite mostly flush economic times. By the early 1970s, one person was on the welfare rolls in New York City for every two working in the city's private economy.

That is very interesting. It may explain why Bill Clinton was so interested in welfare reform and why he worked with Republicans to get the job done. It may also explain why a certain faction of the Democrat Party hates the Clintons so. He was ruining their game.

What else has ACORN been involved in? Would you believe that part of their organizing has been an effort to get voters enrolled in states other than Michigan? And that in the original bail out plan ACORN was to get money from the plan?

Washington, Sep 27 - House Republicans have made clear that they will fight for an economic rescue package that protects the interests of families, seniors, small businesses, and all taxpayers. And as discussions continue in order to forge an agreement that reflects these principles, the American people are taking note of a left-wing giveaway Democrats are pushing to force taxpayers to bankroll a slush fund for a discredited ally of the Democratic Party. At issue is the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now - better known as ACORN - an organization fraught with controversy for, among other scandals, its fraudulent voter registration activities on behalf of Democratic candidates. Here are just some examples of ACORN's most recent scandals and unlawful activities:

- "ACORN is a long-time advocacy group with whom Obama was once associated. Recently, though, ACORN workers in two states have pleaded guilty to election fraud, an unlikely recipient of federal largess." (Fox News Report, 9/26/08)

- "Seven ACORN workers were charged with 'committing the biggest voter-registration fraud in [Washington] state history.'' (The Seattle Times, 7/26/07)

- ACORN workers submitted "just over 1,800 new voter registration forms, but there was a problem. The names were made up - all but six of the 1,800 submissions were fakes... The ACORN workers told state investigators that they went to the Seattle public library, sat at a table and filled out the voter registration forms. They made up names, addresses, and Social Security numbers and in some cases plucked names from the phone book. One worker said it was a lot of hard work making up all those names and another said he would sit at home, smoke marijuana and fill out the forms." (Fox News Channel, 5/02/08)

Those ACORN folks are some busy beavers. They kind of give a new twist to the idea of a work party. I wonder if they get their training in Chicago? Well no. ACORN Headquarters is in New Orleans, Louisiana. That might explain the Hurricane Katrina debacle. Curiouser and curiouser.

So who else was going to benefit from the mortgage bail out bill?

The housing package signed into law by President Bush extends an unlimited line of credit to troubled mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and rescues homeowners near or in foreclosure. The measure also increases the federal debt limit by another $800 billion -- and sends millions of dollars in aid to [the National Council of La Raza] and the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN.

Representative Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota), a member of the House Financial Services Committee, says she finds it "unconscionable" that the legislation included funding for the two groups, which serve as political action arms of the Democratic Party.

Did you know that La Raza means "The Race" in Spanish? Fortunately they are not racists. At this point funding for ACORN and La Raza has been stripped out of the funding bill for the stock market bail out. I think that funding for them is still included in the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bail outs unfortunately.

I wonder why ACORN has not been prosecuted under the RICO Statutes?

WASHINGTON, Sept 25, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ -- James Terry, Chief Public Advocate for the Consumers Rights League, today testified at a joint House Administration and House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing on "Federal, State and Local Efforts to Prepare for the General 2008 Election," where he highlighted "corruption at every level of ACORN including embezzlement, cover-ups, misuse of taxpayer funds and voter fraud." An excerpt of his testimony follows:
James Terry, Chief Public Advocate, Consumers Rights League:
"ACORN routinely says it will clean up its act. Yet, given its decade-long history of voter fraud, embezzlement, and misuses of taxpayer funds, ACORN's pattern of fraud can no longer be dismissed as a series of 'unfortunate events.'
"The problem of voter registration fraud raises serious questions for this committee, and the Consumers Rights League appreciates that the right questions are being asked.
"Here are the most important questions right now: We know about the thousands of potentially fraudulent voter registration cards turned in by ACORN and caught by officials. But given the size of ACORN's efforts and the fact that the abuses appear to be systemic, we believe it is fair to question how many more fraudulent registrations have not been discovered, Furthermore, as this mega organization with a decades long history of violating the law is turned to get out the vote efforts, we believe it is fair to question how many fraudulent registrations may lead to fraudulent votes or what other activities they are willing to undertake to influence the election.
Pretty good question. Why isn't the government going after them? One thing is for sure, if B. Obama gets in nothing will be done about them.

Oh yeah. If you want to learn more about how ACORN was also involved in mortgage fraud may I suggest reading: The Best Congress Fannie Could Buy.

Update: 29 Sept 008 0723z

Here is a present for ACORN that Chris Dodd and Barney Frank included in the mortgage bail out bill (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac). A similar provision in the Wall Street bail out bill has been eliminated in the current version. So I'm told.

H/T commenter JBean at Just One Minute.

Update: 29 Sept 008 1129z

The American Thinker has an article that explains that the above documented methods of vote fraud are not an accident but part of a plan. Fraudulent names. The same name multiple times. Names out of the phone book etc.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 03:25 AM | Comments (0)

A Man And His Mouth

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 02:28 AM | Comments (0)

I hate football! (But when in Rome....)

A sports blog this is not.

Regular readers know that the above might even be understatement, as I have less than zero interest in athletic events. Where it comes to sports, I'm like an alien visiting a strange planet. This has never been more true than since the move to Ann Arbor, Michigan where I find myself living just a block away from the Michigan athletic complex, in an area dominated by students, many of whom would be stereotyped as "jocks." However, I very much like the fact that even though they have loud parties, they generally mind their own business, don't care what other people do (nor do they express busybody fears of "pit bulls"), and I can enjoy the relative anonymity of being an older guy who happens to live in the neighborhood.

Just because I'm generally uninterested in organized athletic events does not mean that I'm hostile, though. I'm also ignorant about science fiction, but I'm not hostile to that. Why, were I to be plunked down in the middle of a Science Fiction Fair somewhere, I'd probably be curious enough to at least ask questions, and maybe read some of the most important things. (You know, the stuff that SciFi folks might see as basic "cultural literacy.")

Additionally, there's that slogan "When in Rome." Considering the absolute intensity of what happens when there's a football game down the street, I don't think it is any exaggeration to say that living here and not attending a football game at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor would be a bit like time-traveling back to ancient Rome and not bothering to attend a gladiatorial event. You'd not only be violating the "When in Rome" rule, you'd be missing out on an important aspect of the culture.

I think that's enough by way of a background explanation of what happened to me yesterday, which was in and of itself a highly unusual event in my life:

I went to a football game.

And not just any football game, but Michigan versus Wisconsin. The Wolverines versus the Badgers! Yes, by a process of inverse anthropomorphism, football apparently turns people into animals -- in this case it was a battle of the mustelids versus a weasel like group. Interestingly, both animals are quite vicious in real life, and although combat is unlikely in nature, I think wolverines could defeat badgers. (As happened yesterday with the human variety.)

The human variety of wolverine can be just as wild as the natural variety, especially when seen in its characteristic blue and gold phase:


Yes, that's me on the left, wearing a very fraudulent T-shirt. This year's official T-shirt is bright yellow gold. Too bright for me. So my blue color is out of date, plus I never attended Michigan Law School. And even though I am a lawyer, my only connection with "Michigan Law" is a blog post I wrote criticizing one. But I'll leave the T-shirt ethics to others; I am in Rome doing as Romans do, and that shirt is the "When in Rome" equivalent of a toga.

When I first entered the stadium, here's what it looked like:


Eventually, it was filled to capacity; around 110,000.

The first half of the game went so poorly that I was beginning to wonder whether everyone was a bit deluded about the Wolverines being such a great team. The Badgers scored two touchdowns and a couple of field goals, and were ahead 19-0. But finally, in the third quarter, the Wolverines showed their stuff. During halftime, I had heard someone talking about how they had "worn out" the Badgers and allowed them to get ahead, but they'd definitely come back and finish them off, but I thought this was wishful thinking. To my astonishment, the Wolverines did just that, and pulled off a wildly impressive upset victory. I don't think I've ever heard a crowd go as wild.

A couple of action pictures I took:



In the stands, a couple of very blue Wolverine fans:


And in the air, the Goodyear Blimp was replaced by the DIRECTV Blimp!


The final score was 27-25.

Here's a video of the final "Hail to the Victors" as the team leaves the field in triumph.

To show what a total ignoramus I am, I was already familiar with the tune, but because I'd heard it played repeatedly at Republican events and conventions I had assumed that it was a traditional celebratory tune intended for political rallies. Once I learned that it is the official Michigan victory song, I put two and two together, and realized that it had been seared into my memory as a "political" tune only because I had heard it played for years to honor President Jerry Ford, who was a noted football star here in the 1930s. (Fool that I am, I had unwittingly put a political spin on something that wasn't political.)

I can't believe that I had so much fun doing something I'm not supposed to like.

posted by Eric at 11:16 PM | Comments (4)

Macsmind Hacked - Obama Plans To Disarm America

Gateway Pundit has the details.

This is MacRanger of Macsmind. As you know I was hacked by operatives of the Obama Campaign last month. Well, it happened again. Basically they flooded the site with "sql bombs" according to the host that caused the shared server to stop running. Subsequently be had to disable the site. This had to do with running the "Obama wants to Disarm America" post which more than 2 million people viewed on the site. Just like the goons in Missouri, the Obama truthers can't let the truth be known. I've now moved the blog back to blogspot at at least temporally. Because of the hacking job I had to move to another host but unfortunately they haven't got the server up yet to redirect the traffic to blogspot. I would appreciate a mention to your readers. I'm getting a couple of hundred emails about "what happened", but as you can imagine it hard to get the word out by reply.



Macsmind can currently be reached at blogspot. Here is the video they didn't want you to see:

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 05:07 PM | Comments (3)

Bracelets, NCOs, and improvised explosive devices

Remember Barack Obama's "me too!" bracelet? In an amazing twist, it turns out that the woman who gave it to him does not want him to wear it anymore:

Ryan's father Brian -- who is no longer married to Tracy -- told Wisconsin Public Radio that his ex-wife had misgivings about Obama wearing the bracelet and mentioning their son on the campaign trail. It seems as though just as Tracy Jopek supports Obama and wants to end the war, Brian Jopek has a different take on what should happen in Iraq and may be more inclined to support McCain.

(You can listen to Brian Jopek about 10 minutes into THIS CLIP.)

After pointing out that he and Tracy are not married anymore, Brian says that "from what I understood from email exchanges with Tracy....she wanted to put a name, she wanted Sen. Obama to know Ryan's name...She wasn't looking to turn it into a big media event...She just wanted it to be something between Barack Obama and herself."

Bryan Jopek went on to say that "because of some of the negative feedback she's gotten on the Internet, you know Internet blogs, you know people accusing her of... or accusing Obama of trying to get votes doing it... and that sort of thing, she has turned down any subsequent interviews with the media because she just didn't, she just didn't want it to get turned into something that it wasn't. She had told me that in an email that she had asked, actually asked Mr. Obama to not wear the bracelet anymore at any of his public appearances."

Conservatives are now criticizing Obama for exploiting a fallen soldier whose mother has asked him to stop wearing the bracelet or mentioning her son's name. I'm not sure what the reality is behind this story -- I have a call into the Obama campaign and Tracy Jopek to find out more about this story, and will let you know what they say.

Obviously, this is going to heat up. Whether it will become MSM news is another matter.

What seem not to be getting much attention are the dead soldier's thoughts on the war. What did Sgt. Ryan Jopek think?

Who knows?

When I read that Ryan Jopek's father had also served in Iraq, I just found myself wondering. Obviously, there's a family quarrel underlying this story, and if there's one thing I've learned, there are always two sides in a family dispute.

If Obama has weighed in on the mother's side, and she has changed her mind, it doesn't make his campaign look any better.

But any better than what?

Considering what Obama's friend Bill Ayers and his Weatherman group had in mind for Army NCOs back in 1970, I don't see how anything could make his campaign look worse. I'm not a member of the military, but according to Wiki, all grades of sergeants are NCOs. Which means Sgt. Jopek (the guy whose name is on Obama's bracelet) was an NCO.

Here's what was planned for the NCOs at the Fort Dix NCO Club:

In less than the blink of an eye, the blast of eight tightly-bound sticks of dynamite shattered the brittle wooden shell of the building hastily constructed during the Second World War, adding jagged splinters and rusting nails to the shrapnel that ripped through cheap tables and chairs, taffeta and chiffon, uniforms, and flesh.

Before the concussive shock waves reverberated off nearby buildings, half a dozen human beings closest to the outside wall of the NCO Club became mist.

The roof, lifted skyward by the explosion and suddenly absent a supporting wall as it returned to earth, crashed down on the dead and dying. Leaking bottles from the shattered bar fed the rapidly spreading flames, and deafened, dazed and bleeding survivors crawled or stumbled towards escape in ones and twos.

As soldiers from nearby buildings ran to help the bleeding and burned, a carefully-crafted 12″ pipe-bomb studded with roofing nails hidden in a nearby trash can went off, turning rescuers into additional victims.

Just outside Fort Dix confused onlookers sat in stunned amazement, as a pair of nondescript young women nervously laughed and counted ambulances for a half hour before losing count and heading back to the townhouse in Greenwich Village. The message had been sent.

Though he would have no way of knowing it at the time, the Weatherman's attack on the non-commissioned officer's dance would stand as the deadliest act of terrorism on U.S. soil for 25 years, 1 month, and 13 days, until Timothy McVeigh drove into Oklahoma City and infamy.

Fortunately, that did not happen, as the anti-personnel bombs didn't go off at Fort Dix. Instead, they blew up in a Greenwich Village townhouse, killing three of the bombmakers. One of them, Diana Oughton was at the time romantically involved with Bill Ayers, who will never forget her as long as he lives. Touchingly, they met while working for CCS -- an educational program of the sort to which Ayers has dedicated his life:
Oughton dedicated herself to the school and teaching and designed a fund-raising button that read, CHILDREN ARE ONLY NEWER PEOPLE.[13] It was at CCS that Diana Oughton met Bill Ayers. The two fell in love and soon began living together. In 1968, when the school ran into severe problems and lost its funding, Oughton and Ayers sought to become active elsewhere in the community.
This led the lovebirds to the SDS, the "Jesse James Gang" and ultimately, to the Weathermen (and of course the failed Fort Dix bombing which killed Oughton instead).

I'm sure Ayers considers his deceased ex worthy of a bracelet; I don't. However, I find irony in the wearing of a bracelet to honor an American NCO killed by an improvised explosive device, by someone who befriended a guy who believed passionately in killing American NCOs by an improvised explosive devices.

Should I? Am I making more of this than I should? I realize that Obama was just a kid when the improvised explosive device failed to kill the NCOs, and took out Ayers' girlfriend instead.

But Ayers has expressed a lack of remorse, and has said he was sorry he and his group didn't do more, has he not?

My question is simply this:

Should someone who worked closely with a guy like that and may have been his protege be elected president?

I can't believe it's necessary to pose a question like that. But it's a damned serious question, and it isn't being asked. Seriously, of all the reasons Obama should not ever be elected president, I think the Ayers issue is Reason Number One. It's why I keep writing post after post after post about it.

Forgive me for saying this, but I'm seeing more irony than sincerity in Obama's wearing of the bracelet with that NCO's name on it.

MORE: Here's Joe Trippi (who thinks the election will be a rout for Obama):

In my view McCain may have sounded more dangerous to voters as he tried so blatantly to make them think Obama wasn't a safe bet in this very "scary" world.
If he's right, then McCain needs to turn up the volume on Ayers. (And on Obama's lack of respect for dissent.)

Anyone who thinks McCain is scarier than Obama needs a dose of reality.

posted by Eric at 02:14 PM | Comments (6)

No justice! No peace! And this means you!

Is there a First Amendment right to intimidate people?

What is intimidation?

I don't see easy answers to these questions, because to a certain extent, demonstrations -- and demonstrators -- are intended to intimidate. (I have experienced this personally on a number of occasions, and I won't bore readers by quoting yet again from numerous posts.)

Not only do demonstrators fully intend to intimidate their targets, but their goal is to discourage people from sympathizing with their targets. If the target is popular (or sympathetic), the goal is to make him unpopular (and unsympathetic). And if the target is unpopular or unsympathetic, the goal is to send a message along the lines of "Don't even think of sympathizing with this scum!" Open mindedness becomes a casualty. In the name of "free speech" of course.

Whether demonstrations constitute intimidation in the legal sense is another issue. The standard legal definition provides no clear line:

INTIMIDATE - means to intentionally say or do something which would cause a person of ordinary sensibilities to be fearful of bodily harm. It is not necessary to prove that the victim was actually frightened, and neither is it necessary to prove that the behavior of the person was so violent that it was likely to cause terror, panic or hysteria.
A concerned old lady holding a sign would certainly not constitute intimidation, because a "person of ordinary sensibilities" would not fear bodily harm. But a huge angry crowd, hurling insults and shouting obscene slogans, that very well might be. The larger the crowd, the more intimidating it is. Intimidation can be accomplished by sheer numbers alone. But then, even a smaller crowd of demonstrators can be extremely intimidating, especially if they are known for a history of violence. Angry large tattooed bearded men holding signs saying "TEAMSTERS LOCAL 666 -- DO NOT CROSS OUR LINE!" would frighten most people away. Why? Because they would have a reasonable fear of bodily harm.

Where this gets especially dicey is in the case of demonstrators targeting people who have to be at a certain place -- i.e. a captive target group. If you have to go to work, and the Teamsters are there in force, they have their First Amendment rights, but what about your right to earn a livelihood? And what if the demonstrators target your home? Even if that's done in a "peaceful" manner, it's enough to make most people give way to whatever the demands are. So I would call it intimidation.

What about jurors? While there are strict laws prohibiting "jury intimidation," these laws typically contemplate criminals, mob cronies trying to frighten individual jurors. Where it comes to demonstrators, it's a fuzzy area.

Not so fuzzy, though, to have escaped the attention of the Village Voice's Nat Hentoff. Writing about the trial of a police officer in the Abner Louima shooting case, he describes the scene:

And when this federal jury declared itself seriously divided, Reverend Al, in a televised weekend press conference, urged his supporters to insist that Schwarz [the accused cop] be thoroughly convicted. Accordingly, on the following Monday, while the jury continued to deliberate, busloads of anti-Schwarz demonstrators descended on the courthouse, shouting dire epithets and becoming so boisterous that Schwarz and his attorney, Ronald Fischetti, needed a police escort to get through. The intent was to convince the jury to do the right thing. Remember: This jury was not sequestered.
If that's not intimidation, then what is?

Remember, these jurors are not like military recruits trained and hardened in boot camp. They are ordinary people, who have to ride the subway home, and they know that what they are doing is a matter of public record, and that thuggish activists will remember whatever they do long after the case has faded away into oblivion. How many people remember Abner Louima today? Two groups: political junkies and angry activists. Political junkies won't hurt you, but it's in the nature of activists to always be angry, and never forget.

The thing is, our legal system requires that these cases be tried, and juries have to hear them. But who in the hell would want want to be a juror in a high-profile case that attracts the presence of demonstrators? This is not to say that demonstrators are necessarily wrong (in some cases I would agree with their position), but I do think their very presence has an intimidating on those inclined to be fair and impartial.

These are just a few examples. I can't draw the exact line, but I think there is real tension between the First Amendment and the right to be free from intimidation.


Maybe I should have titled this post "Why Activists Win, Part IV"

posted by Eric at 12:24 PM | Comments (1)

new hood, old friends

I've been in Ann Arbor for almost two months now, but I've hardly met anyone other than a few people in the neighborhood.

One of the coolest things about blogging, though, is that it can turn out you know more people in more places than you realized. I tend not to think of bloggers in terms of their geographic location, and perhaps for that reason, I had not realized (or remembered) until a couple of weeks ago that one of my very first friends in the blogosphere -- the legendary Dean Esmay -- lives within driving distance of here, and visits Ann Arbor regularly. So after touching bases by email, we arranged to meet up for a post-lunch coffee today at Mark's Midtown Coney Island, where I'd never been (I'm still finding my way around), but very much enjoyed.

It was a real honor for me to finally meet Dean after all these years. There aren't all that many classical liberals, but Dean is one of them, and he's been an ongoing inspiration to this blog from the very beginning. We might not always reach identical results in our thinking (does anyone?), but we share the same principles, and I wish there were more bloggers like Dean, whose integrity is impeccable, and whose ability to see through bullshit is second to none.

It's incredibly cool that I've moved more or less into Dean's hood. Having a respected old friend living in the area makes Ann Arbor go up in my estimation.

And speaking of hoods, after we had coffee and talked for a couple of hours, we went outside and posed on the hood! (Of Dean's car, that is....) There was no one around to take the picture, so I positioned my camera on a USA Today box, and set the timer.

Here are the two troublemakers on the hood:


And if you don't find that picture enlightening enough, you'll definitely be enlightened by Dean's bumper, which has the bumpersticker to end all bumperstickers:


Dean's own design, of course. Naturally I'm jealous, as they can't be bought anywhere.

Of course, now that I've unleashed Dean's logically unassailable meme on the world, just watch some leftist whiner design another bumpersticker that says,

"If Bumper Stickers Are the Answer, Then What Was the Question?"

While it's probably just a coincidence, I see that since our little get-together, Dean has issued a death threat against his readers. (Geez, he seemed so peaceful over coffee....)

Seriously, though, it's not easy being in a new place, and I'm grateful to Dean for making me feel welcome here. It's amazing to think that I was lucky enough to have an old friend, right here in my new place.

Another lesson in the magic of the blogosphere.

posted by Eric at 10:36 PM | Comments (5)

For Sarah

Fanfare for the Common Man

posted by Simon at 12:24 PM | Comments (1)

It Wasn't Broke

The video is about 9 minutes. If you would like more details on how we got into this mortgage meltdown mess may I suggest The Best Congress Fannie Could Buy.

H/T No Quarter

posted by Simon at 11:11 AM | Comments (17)

I Have A Bracelet Too

posted by Simon at 10:43 AM | Comments (3)

"Ben is far better informed than the critics" (Including yours truly!)

I don't think I've ever said "I'm not an economist" as many times as I have in the past few weeks.

But I'm not.

My point is that I, along with a lot of people who are not economists, continue to sound off on a daily basis about extremely complex economic issues of vital importance to the country, without really knowing what we're talking about. While this is our sacrosanct right as American citizens, I somehow find myself doubting we would do quite the same thing if the issue involved the details of whether Ted Kennedy's brain surgery had been performed correctly.

Oh, I'm no brain surgeon either. But it doesn't a brain surgeon to comprehend that brain surgeons know more about brain surgery than non-brain surgeons.

With that it mind, I could readily understand what leading economist Greg Mankiw said about Ben Bernanke and the bailout plan:

I know Ben Bernanke well. Ben is at least as smart as any of the economists who signed that letter or are complaining on blogs and editorial pages about the proposed policy. Moreover, Ben is far better informed than the critics. The Fed staff includes some of the best policy economists around. In his capacity as Fed chair, Ben understands the situation, as well as the pros, cons, and feasibility of the alternative policy options, better than any professor sitting alone in his office possibly could.

If I were a member of Congress, I would sit down with Ben, privately, to get his candid view. If he thinks this is the right thing to do, I would put my qualms aside and follow his advice.

(Via Eric Posner whose post was linked by Glenn Reynolds earlier.)

If only Greg Mankiw were a member of Congress right now.

He's not, though -- any more than I'm an economist.

My admitted ignorance about economic matters is analogous to my admitted ignorance of military matters. I can't count the number of times I've pointed out that I'm not a war blogger, and it's one of the reasons I can't offer much more than stressing the importance of victory. I want our side -- meaning this country -- to win.

While I know it's not an exact analogy, I tried to point out earlier that economists are like generals. Especially Ben Bernanke, who strikes me as the economic equivalent of General Petraeus:

If we were going to face the conditions which might trigger another Depression, we couldn't pick a better man to possibly prevent it than Ben Bernanke:
Bernanke is particularly interested in the economic and political causes of the Great Depression, on which he has written extensively. On Milton Friedman's ninetieth birthday, November 8, 2002, he stated: "Let me end my talk by abusing slightly my status as an official representative of the Federal Reserve System. I would like to say to Milton and Anna: Regarding the Great Depression. You're right, we did it. We're very sorry. But thanks to you, we won't do it again."
I think it's fair to say that (at least in academic terms) Bernanke's Depression-prevention expertise is roughly analogous to General Petraeus's Vietnam-prevention expertise.
I'm in no position to second guess either General Petraeus or Ben Bernanke, so I won't.

I just wish our politicians and the chorus of self-appointed experts would try listening to him before grandstanding.

This is not to say "the experts" are always right.

But what kind of track record does Congress have? Why did they ignore Alan Greenspan's warnings?

BAIER: The legislation was blocked.

In 2005, Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan added his voice on Fannie and Freddie, after Fannie leaders admitted major accounting screwups. "Enabling these institutions to increase in size - and they will once the crisis in their judgment passes - we are placing the total financial system of the future at a substantial risk."

Adding later at another hearing on the topic -


ALAN GREENSPAN, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: If we fail to strengthen GSE regulation, we increase the possibility of insolvency in crisis.


BAIER: But the two mortgage giants had staunch defenders. Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer said, "I think Fannie and Freddie over the years have done an incredibly good job and are an intrinsic part of making America the best-housed people in the world. If you look over the last 20 or whatever years, they've done a very, very good job."

And Sen. John McCain co-sponsored legislation pushing for regulation, delivering a speech on the Senate floor in 2006. "For years I have been concerned about the regulatory structure that governs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. And the sheer magnitude of these companies and the role they play in the housing market, the GSEs need to be reformed without delay."


BAIER: That bill made it out of the Senate Banking committee with a party-line vote. All of the Democrats voted against it. But fearing that they didn't have the votes to pass it, Republicans didn't even bring it up on the Senate floor. Sen. Obama did not weigh in on that bill.

So, while I'm not recommending mindlessly following the experts, I think there's a lesson here that mindlessly ignoring proven expertise is reckless.

posted by Eric at 10:43 AM | Comments (5)

John McCain Is Right

posted by Simon at 10:44 PM | Comments (2)

I want my narrative shift, dammit!
"If This Campaign plays to type, McCain will hit an absolute home run tonight and the narrative will shift yet again."

So says the Corner's Rich Lowry.

With a buildup like that I guess I've gotta watch.

Right now I'm making blackened catfish with red beans and rice.

You know, a Southern flavored dinner for a Southern flavored debate.

Gimme a break; I'm in Michigan now.

Maybe I'll have some time between bites to watch the narrative unfold....

08:57 -- The narratives are warring on both CNN and Fox, and the debate hasn't even started yet. I guess you could call this live-pre-debate blogging.

Damn, that catfish smells great!

And the kids in the hood are driving up and down the street honking their horns. Not in anticipation of the debate, mind you. They're honking in anticipation of tomorrow's Michigan versus Wisconsin game.

9:03 -- Lehrer begins by creatively switching from foreign affairs to the economy by means of a 1952 Eisenhower quote, and starts by asking Obama about the economy.

He's giving a speech.

Quite credibly McCain stresses the work involved in successfully coming up with a plan.

Obama is trying to reframe the issue as involving "deregulation" and saying he told them so. Incredible.

I need more catfish.


9:10 --McCain reminds everyone that he also said he told them so, but comes back quoting Eisehower with a real stinger about D-Day (brilliant) and accountabilty.

Obama is stuttering.

9:13 -- McCain is talking like a president. Obama is making speeches.


Sincerity debates phoniness. I didn't think I'd see that tonight.

9:17 -- Pork barrel spending! McCain tears Obama a new one, and Obama looks defensive. Rope a dope fails. McCain is barely warmed up.

9:20 -- Asked about their differences in tax policy, McCain says he wants tax cuts, and reminds people that the corporate tax rate is 35%, and notes that Ireland's is 11%. Obama says businesses actually pay lower taxes because of "loopholes." (What? Like not being taxed on losses?)

Obama slams the market solution.

McCain calls this an example of "walking the walk versus talking the talk." Reminds of his record against wasteful spending.

McCain is relying on his record and his ethos, and it is working. Obama looks like a confused man trying to sound profound.

Now Obama is bashing the oil companies.


9:30 -- I'm captivated, and my catfish is getting cold.

But it's looking more and more as if Lowery was right about the narrative.

9:38 -- Obama tried the old "McBush" meme, and instead of being rattled, McCain saw it as a golden opportunity to contrast his position with Bush. And he reminded everyone about his position on Iraq, and how he was proved right.

Now Obama is talking about his original opposition to the war. (What was Obama then? State assemblyman or something?)

9:43 -- Glenn has a roundup of lots of other live bloggers with faster fingers than mine.

I'm just licking off the catfish juice.

9:49 -- I love the way McCain smiles when he's hit. Remarkable.

9:52 -- Ann Althouse also noticed McCain's calmness -- no glee -- under pressure:

McCain gesticulates and smiles. Obama looks a little pissed off and interrupts a few times with the muttered phrase "That's not true."
And like a kindly schoolmaster, McCain just gently chided Obama with some gentle advice on not giving away your intent to your enemy.

Brilliant. Just brilliant.

10:05 -- They went from the bracelets from mothers of sons who gave their lives (McCain wears one; Obama said he has one) to Afghanistan, to Iran.

Obama stressed Afghanistan and the Taliban, while McCain sees linkage in the overall war.

McCain says that opposes unconditional talks. Obama talks about direct diplomacy and cites Kissinger.

(McCain is again unfazed, with that little smirk.)

After Obama's speech, McCain retorts, "I'm not going to set the White House visitor schedule before I'm president; I don't even have a seal yet!"(That's the line of the evening, I think.)

He got Obama to stutter again. (Pointing out that talks with Iran legitimize their insane remarks about wiping Israel off the map.)

10:18 -- Russia. McCain again shows his strength. I look Putin in his eyes and I see a K a G and a B.

I think if anyone can make Putin stutter, McCain can.

(He's now got the Democrats gnashing their teeth the way the right wing of the Republican Party once did. Add he does it with a smile!)

10:21 -- Noting the danger, McCain stresses the importance of standing with the Ukraine. Obama follows, first agreeing, then nitpicking.

That's the pattern with a lot of this debate. McCain takes a strong position on something, then Obama agrees and tries to undercut it. (It's not man to man; it's almost leader-follower. I'd be tempted to pity Obama, except he wants to be president.)

10:29 -- Stephen Green is drunkblogging, and Bruce Carroll is Vicodinblogging (because he has some).

So why don't I get any?

10:35 - Flashback to Stephen Green: 8:09PM Pardon me as I wet myself while McCain spanks Obama over his promise to negotiate with Iran "without preconditions." It's like gay porn, only this stuff turns me on. (Sorry, Bruce!)

Now why didn't I think of that?

It's over, and I think McCain creamed Obama.

I did miss a pronunciation issue, though:

Why does Obama pronounce Taliban as "Tal-ih-ban"?? It makes it sound like a Japanese restaurant.

Pah-ki-stan, Tal-ih-ban. Ghen-gis Khan. Obama, Kerry.

I wonder how he feels about "Chee-lay."

10:46 -- The analysts are having at it, and no one seems to think Obama won, but they think he held his own. I think the differences in levels of experience and character was overwhelming. And McCain doesn't need to say anything.

Stephen Green:

7:58PM Do a shot every time McCain says "I have a record." He doesn't *need* to say, "And my opponent doesn't."

10:46 -- CNN calls it "a tie," and they're saying McCain engaged in name-dropping. Whatever.

I think McCain is so much more experienced, has so much more common sense, is so much more grounded, that it wasn't even a contest.

But they keep saying Obama "held his own" Held his own? Why are his supporters even saying that? He's ahead in the polls, right? He wants to be president of the United States and Commander in Chief of the most powerful armed force in the world, right?

To say he "held his own" sounds almost belittling.

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds has a poll up. McCain is winning overwhelmingly. (10 to 1 the last time I looked.)

Meanwhile, CNN is nitpicking over minor verbal flubs of interest mainly to snarky political junkies.

MORE: On Fox, Giuliani just made a good point -- that "neither one of them demagogued on the economy."

And a couple of excerpts from the Corner:

Regarding McCain's "I Don't Even Have a Seal Yet" remark, Kathryn Jean Lopez says,

I bet most people watching don't know the backstory.
And Amy Holmes -- "From a Civilian Mom":
Watching at home here in NYC with her husband and two little babies: "I hope I am not assessing out of my pro-McCain bias, but McCain has had Obama on the defensive 90% of the time. And Obama is rambling on so much- good lord I can barely follow him!"
I quite agree.

It will be interesting to see how ordinary voters react.

MORE: Here's Ed Morrissey:

McCain kept Obama on defense all night long, made Obama lose his composure, and maintained his own in a very presidential performance. This one is a clear win for McCain.

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds links this analysis at Politico (arguing that McCain "gave one of his strongest debate performances ever") -- although Glenn didn't think McCain's performance was his best:

I'd say he gave a B-level performance and Obama was a B-minus. Edge to McCain, but not by a lot, and neither candidate distinguished himself. Both, I suspect, were tired and distracted from the economic events.
I admit, I'm partisan here, and I'm quite a fan of McCain's style. I've enjoy watching his failure to get rattled during debates ever since I saw him smile when Mitt Romney nailed him -- despite the fact that most observers thought McCain was wrong:
McCain likes a fight, he sparkles when he gets one, and he won't back down. He's turned Romney's Iraq "timetable" remark from a war over the words into something resembling a fistfight he provoked. Romney thinks it's about the words, but I think it's more along the lines of a duel.

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

Anyway, that's my McCain narrative, and I like it.

I hope the pit bull with lipstick does as well!

MORE: For those who missed the debate, Dean Esmay has the video.

And Dave Price thinks McCain missed an excellent opportunity to bring up Bill Ayers:

I also think that when Obama rather snottily brought up the humorous "bomb Iran" song and some hyperbolic comments regarding N Korea, McCain should have countered with the Ayers card. Obama looked petulant and petty anyway with his "coming from you" remark, but pointing out that Obama had some level of relationship with an unrepentant terrorist that bombed the Capitol would have been devastating as Obama's complaint centered on McCain's national security judgment.
I agree, but the problem is that it's not yet October.

Also, last night was the first time ordinary people in middle America had a chance to see McCain and Obama debate and form impressions. McCain might not have wanted to come off as going straight for the jugular on their first date.

MORE: Just for the record, I don't think McCain held off bringing up Bill Ayers because he feared being arrested by the Obama Truth Squads.

MORE: Don't miss Jennifer Rubin's "Who Won the Debate":

on foreign policy McCain simply hit it out of the ballpark. He again and again came back to Obama's opposition to the surge and to his willingness to meet without conditions with Ahmadinejad -- who, he reminded viewers, has called Israel a "stinking corpse." Likewise, he skewered Obama for his initial response on the invasion of Georgia that both sides should "show restraint."

How did they hold up on temperament? Obama seemed peeved, and a number of observers - including Juan Williams and Alex Castellanos -- agreed. McCain was occasionally funny and poked at Obama but showed none of the nastiness or ill-temper which his foes identify.

But the "gotcha" may have been from Obama -- who eight times conceded that McCain was "right" on a point. McCain rushed out a video capturing a number of these.

Yes, and M. Simon managed to find and embed the video before the debate stage had even been cleared!

UPDATE: Here's the recipe Donna asked about in the comments:

Cajun Blackened Fish Recipe Cajun blackened fish was made famous by New Orleans chef Paul Prudhommes. In this blackened fish recipe, fillets of fish are coated with a blend of herbs and spices, and pan-fried in butter.

1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

1.5 pounds fillets

6 tablespoons butter (more or less)
1/4 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/4 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 green bell pepper, thinly sliced

Place all the herbs and spices in a bowl; mix well. Dip the fish fillets into the mixture to coat lightly.

Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet; add the peppers and sautée until softened. Remove the peppers to a warm platter and cover lightly with foil to keep warm.

Add 4 tablespoons butter to the skillet, heat until sizzling. Add the coated fish fillets and fry over medium heat for about 4 minutes on each side, until browned and cooked thru.

Transfer the blackened fish to a warmed serving platter and surround with the fried peppers.

Except 4 minutes is too long. I cover the pan, then cook for 3 1./2 minutes on one side, then turn and cook for 2 !/2 minutes on the other. Use common sense and poke at it to make sure. Catfish varies in consistency.

Recipes, BTW, are not to be followed to the letter, but they are intended to give a general idea. Eat your mistakes and keep practicing.

The key is mixing the spices. I make a lot, store it in a jar with a screwcap, and dust the fish heavily before cooking. You don't have to cook the peppers if you don't have them, but cooking garlic in the butter ahead of the fish helps. Experiment!

posted by Eric at 08:56 PM | Comments (16)

First, they came for the radio talk show hosts...

Last night when I heard (via this link that M. Simon sent me) that the Obama campaign is threatening the licenses of TV stations that run NRA anti-Obama ads, I noted that Team Obama does not go ballistic unless the information is seen as:

-- devastating; and

-- dead right on the facts.

The way they went after Stanley Kurtz with both barrels because of his Ayers reporting was a clue.

I think it's quite obvious they fear the gun issue, and they should, because they are vulnerable as hell on it.

This morning Glenn Reynolds linked Sebastian of Snowflakes in Hell who had a great post about this latest outrage -- the details of which turned out to be worse that I thought:

So basically, stop running NRA's ads, or your broadcast license could be in jeopardy. They detail the WaPo's repetition as proof. This is Chicago politics at its finest folks. If you can't win fair, win dirty. This is not how a free society is supposed to function. This is not the kind of man I want leading my country.

Besides, every bit of what NRA claimed is true. It's the Obama campaign and the news media that's lying.

And if you think that's bad, check out the Obama Truth Squads. No seriously, pro-Obama government officials are issuing legal threats against people who "speak out falsely" against Barack Obama!
St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce and St. Louis County Circuit Attorney Bob McCulloch are threatening to bring libel charges against those who speak out falsely against Barack Obama.

KMOV aired a story last night, that stated that St. Louis County Circuit Attorney Bob McCulloch and St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, both Obama supporters, are threatening to bring criminal libel charges against anyone who levels what turns out to be false criticisms of their chosen candidate for President.

Look, this is the United States under the Constitution, not the Soviet Union under Communism where people could be summarily charged with "Anti-Soviet Agitation" for criticizing their rulers.

I recently wrote a post about Obama being a threat to the Second Amendment, which included two of the NRA videos; M. Simon embedded the one that's upset the Obama Truth Squad in this post. Along with more links and this remark:

This is politics Vladimir Putin style. Every single Democrat on the ballot needs to be defeated.
Right now, I'm speechless, because apparently if Simon and I were in St. Louis they might decide to haul us up on "criminal libel charges."

Excuse me, but are these people insane?

Isn't the Obama campaign's hostility to the Second Amendment bad enough? Do they really have to trample on the First Amendment as well?

I agree with Glenn's reader Carolyn Gockel :

The whole NRA flap is going beyond gun rights advocates...I'm not as pro-gun as you and I am furious.
Even I am amazed, cynic that I am.

First, Obama's Truth Squads went after radio talk shows who dared to host Stanley Kurtz, and tried to silence them by threatening criminal charges:

Kurtz has obviously hit a nerve. It is the same nerve hit by the American Issues Project, whose television ad calling for examination of the Obama/Ayers relationship has prompted the Obama campaign to demand that the Justice Department begin a criminal investigation. Obama fancies himself as "post-partisan." He is that only in the sense that he apparently brooks no criticism. This episode could be an alarming preview of what life will be like for the media should the party of the Fairness Doctrine gain unified control of the federal government next year.
Ugly, ugly, ugly.

Then they tried to silence author David Freddoso, who wrote a book critical of Barack Obama.

And now it's threats of litigation, license revocation and even criminal charges for running NRA ads.

Anyone beginning to see a pattern here?

I'm with Glenn. Where's the ACLU when you need them?

I mean, who else are you gonna call? The Department of Justice? Aren't they're already compromised? See my post for more about that; I have to agree with the Volokh commenter who said,"I fear that under the Obama administration, the lawyers sending these letters will be government employees."

If Team Obama is acting this way in an election, imagine what they'll be like if they get power.

MORE: Via Glenn Reynolds, Patterico notes a larger pattern:

Let's face it: this kind of thuggery is standard operating procedure for the left. In 2006, when ABC ran “The Path to 9/11,” Harry Reid & Co. wrote a mafia-style letter threatening ABC’s broadcast license. In 2004, a group of Democrat lawmakers wrote Rupert Murdoch and threatened Fox News’s broadcast license over what they believed was skewed reporting. And the DNC threatened Sinclair Broadcasting’s broadcast license over an anti-Kerry documentary called “Stolen Honor.” Kerry spokesthug Chad Clanton was quoted as saying: “I think they’re going to regret doing this, and they better hope we don’t win.” He hastened to add that it wasn’t a threat.

[UPDATE: Beldar adds that the DNC and the Kerry campaign initially responded to the Swift Vets by threatening TV stations that might dare to air Swift Vet ads -- telling them that they should refuse the ads or be held "responsible."]

Bad as all this was, I think the threats of criminal prosecutions by the Obama people represent a new low.

MORE: Video of Team Obama's St. Louis Truth Squad here.

That prosecutors, sheriffs and other law enforcement personnel could be on board with this assault on the First Amendment is amazing, and shocking.

If there is any criminal activity here, it's on the part of the officials who are violating their clear public duties.

Truth squads now may have consequences later.

MORE: Jonathan Gewirtz is a very careful fact checker. He has read all the posts relating to the NRA ads, and his careful analysis -- along with this fact check of FactCheck leaves little doubt that the ads are factually correct.

Via Glenn Reynolds.


Does that mean they should call the Truth Squads the Lie Sqauds?

UPDATE: Missouri Governor Matt Blunt has strongly condemned the Obama Truth Squads as an abuse of law enforcement reminiscent of the notorious Sedition Acts:

JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Matt Blunt today issued the following statement on news reports that have exposed plans by U.S. Senator Barack Obama to use Missouri law enforcement to threaten and intimidate his critics.

"St. Louis County Circuit Attorney Bob McCulloch, St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, Jefferson County Sheriff Glenn Boyer, and Obama and the leader of his Missouri campaign Senator Claire McCaskill have attached the stench of police state tactics to the Obama-Biden campaign.

"What Senator Obama and his helpers are doing is scandalous beyond words, the party that claims to be the party of Thomas Jefferson is abusing the justice system and offices of public trust to silence political criticism with threats of prosecution and criminal punishment.

"This abuse of the law for intimidation insults the most sacred principles and ideals of Jefferson. I can think of nothing more offensive to Jefferson's thinking than using the power of the state to deprive Americans of their civil rights. The only conceivable purpose of Messrs. McCulloch, Obama and the others is to frighten people away from expressing themselves, to chill free and open debate, to suppress support and donations to conservative organizations targeted by this anti-civil rights, to strangle criticism of Mr. Obama, to suppress ads about his support of higher taxes, and to choke out criticism on television, radio, the Internet, blogs, e-mail and daily conversation about the election.

"Barack Obama needs to grow up. Leftist blogs and others in the press constantly say false things about me and my family. Usually, we ignore false and scurrilous accusations because the purveyors have no credibility. When necessary, we refute them. Enlisting Missouri law enforcement to intimidate people and kill free debate is reminiscent of the Sedition Acts - not a free society."

What's shocking is that any law enforcement people would get involved in something like this.

posted by Eric at 04:44 PM | Comments (6)

A Ten Minute Explanation

H/T The Patriot Room

posted by Simon at 04:16 PM | Comments (0)

What? No Ayers bailout plan?

Tony Blankley tears the MSM a new one for its blatantly biased reporting as well as the more shocking non-reporting. Especially about Ayers:

...worse than all the unfair and distorted reporting and image projecting are the shocking gaps in Obama's life that are not reported at all. The major media simply have not reported on Obama's two years at New York's Columbia University, where, among other things, he lived a mere quarter-mile from former terrorist Bill Ayers. Later, they both ended up as neighbors and associates in Chicago. Obama denies more than a passing relationship with Ayers. Should the media be curious? In only two weeks, the media have focused on all the colleges Gov. Palin has attended, her husband's driving habits 20 years ago, and the close criticism of the political opponents Gov. Palin had when she was mayor of Wasilla, Alaska.

But in two years, they haven't bothered to see how close Obama was with the terrorist Ayers.

There's a lot more, and Blankley concludes with an anaology to Wall Street:
The public will be voting based on the idealized image of the man who never was. If he wins, however, we will be governed by the sunken, cynical man Obama really is. One can only hope that the senior journalists will be judged as harshly for their professional misconduct as Wall Street's leaders currently are for their failings.
I wish that ordinary people (the millions of non-activist voters who only get to have their say every few years) would realize that they are being fed a steady diet of left-wing activism, by activist journalists, carefully calculated to persuade them to vote in their favorite left-wing activist to be Commander In Chief.

The non-reporting of the Ayers story epitomizes the dimensions of the problem, and I think the Wall Street analogy is not a bad one.

Because at this point, by keeping the lid on the Ayers story, the non-reporting reporters are doing more than simply protecting Obama (or even Ayers). They're engaged in their own damage control, and trying to prevent a major credibility freefall.

I don't think the economists will be able to help them much.

posted by Eric at 12:25 PM | Comments (1)

Cheerful thought on home economics

I'm having trouble being optimistic right now.

About anything.

Which probably means I should stop whining now and delete this post.

But if I do that, I will have nothing to say at all.

The problem is that it's bill paying time, and paying bills always reminds me of death.

But hey, my checks are in the mail! Maybe I should cheer up; I'm probably worth more than the damned gummint.

And I have to say that an analysis by Steve Gill of a disturbing trend in polling has counterintuitively cheered me. Gill shows how a recent Washington Post-ABC poll is "a textbook example of how partisan media outlets manipulate 'news.'"

A disturbing trend in recent elections has been the intentional use of skewed polling by the media to promote their ideological bent rather than to report the news. We got another dose of this biased effort to twist the news to the liking of the media giants just this week with the latest Washington Post-ABC poll, which "revealed" that Barack Obama has moved to a nine-point lead over John McCain in the presidential race. The mainstream media breathlessly reported this information as indicative of McCain's loss of campaign steam after the post-convention bounce and the recent euphoria over Sarah Palin.

But what the news outlets failed to report in their coverage about the Washington Post-ABC poll was the fact that 38% of the individuals who made up the poll identified themselves as Democrats, while only 28% identified themselves as Republicans. (See poll question #901.) Not surprisingly, a poll of mostly Democrats revealed that most of them wanted Democrat Barack Obama to be president rather than Republican John McCain. (Last month, the same poll used a 13-point edge for the Democrats among likely voters to produce similar results heading into the conventions.) The heavily skewed partisan nature of the poll is the real story, not the bogus numbers produced as a result of what is essentially a "push poll."

Now, if I could just figure out how to interpret today's front page:


I can't help notice that the front page story is authored by "TODD SPANGLER - FREE PRESS WASHINGTON STAFF," but the pollster is in Iowa, polling Michiganders by phone. It's all Greek to me, and I can barely remember any of my high school Latin.

It's like, reconciling the above with the overall average poll results at RealPolitics (which show Obama ahead only by 5.2.% overall) makes paying bills and balancing my checkbook look easy!

Which is a cheerful thought.

So I guess can stop whining now.

posted by Eric at 11:13 AM | Comments (2)

Between No And Hell No

Instapundit reports:

Reader John Marcoux writes:
Congressman Paul Kanjorski (D-PA) was just on CNBC and said that his mail and calls on the bailout plan are running 50-50: 50% no and 50% hell no.
This is what Barney Frank is up against. Even if the Democrats ram through the plan without Republicans signing on, they will be left holding the bag if the plan fails, as it very well could, and have to face the wrath of their constituents.
The Democrat plan is larded up with pork for ACORN and similar frauds. The Democrats are also trying to use this bill to stop production of new oil resources. The Democrats have a majority in the House and there is no filibuster there. Let them pass it and reap the results. The Republicans need to stick to their guns. A clean bill or no bill.

I have already instructed my representative. Instruct yours:

Contact Government:

House of Representatives
The Senate
The President

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 09:56 AM | Comments (5)

Instapundit has a lot of links on Obama's efforts to eliminate free speech in America.

Obama threatening the licenses of TV stations that run NRA ads

Shut up about Barack's Gun Banning History

Obama Attacks - NRA Responds

This is politics Vladimir Putin style. Every single Democrat on the ballot needs to be defeated.

posted by Simon at 09:11 AM | Comments (3)

"Old" news about to re-break?

According to the New York Sun, the McCain campaign is gearing up to talk about Bill Ayers:

WASHINGTON -- The McCain campaign is gearing up to criticize Senator Obama for his past associations with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright and a former Weather Underground operative, William Ayers, in the home stretch of the presidential race.

The McCain campaign, according to one aide, decided it would play the Wright and Ayers cards after Mr. Obama's campaign ran ads linking Senator McCain to a talk radio host, Rush Limbaugh. "Our position is we are no longer going to feel constrained to avoid his very real associations in contrast to the very fictional associations he has imputed to John McCain in this campaign," this aide said.

The Wall Street Journal on September 19 quoted one of Mr. McCain's top aides, Mark Salter, as saying the campaign was "tired of catching spears." He also said, "They played it one way, we played it another way. Now we're both going to play it the same way."

I don't think they really need Jeremiah Wright; after all, Wright only talked the talk. Ayers is the real thing.

Plus, Obama made no secret of his ties to Wright. Ayers is the real stealth scandal: a coverup within a coverup within a coverup. They are definitely hiding something.

Therefore, Team Obama would prefer that this all be about Jeremiah Wright. Naturally; that way, they can scream about how it's "old" news. And of course "racism":

Any decision to run ads that feature Mr. Obama's former spiritual adviser, Rev. Wright, is bound to attract jeers from the press. Already, Time magazine's Karen Tumulty has written that an ad featuring a former Fannie Mae chairman, Franklin Raines, was racist. Mr. Raines, like Mr. Obama, is an African American. An ad that pointed out Mr. Obama's longtime association with Rev. Wright, who emphatically hollered in one videotaped sermon: "God Damn America," will likely draw responses from Democrats claiming that Mr. McCain is appealing to the racial fears of Americans.
Ah, but hold on. There's more.

There's Ayers (although why he seems to be playing second fiddle to Wright, I'm not sure):

The McCain campaign's push will likely not be limited to Senator Obama's ex-pastor, whom the Chicago lawmaker criticized in the spring after having earlier said he would not disown him. Another association will be William Ayers, the former agent for the Weather Underground, a violent left wing group that exploded defense labs and other government buildings in the late 1960s and 1970s. Mr. Ayers, in an interview with the New York Times published on September 11, 2001, said he regretted not doing more when he was in the group. Senator Obama attended a fundraiser at the home of Mr. Ayers and also served on the board of the Woods Foundation with him in Chicago.

Mr. McCain's chief strategist, Steve Schmidt, on a conference call with reporters Monday said that Mr. Obama has not been as forthcoming as he should be about his relationship with Mr. Ayers. "What we know for sure and is beyond debate and argumentation is this: Senator Obama said that William Ayers is a guy he lives in his neighborhood. We know that that is a disingenuous and untruthful answer. ... There is a greater relationship than that of a guy who lives in my neighborhood between the two of them," he said.

Boy, is that the understatement of the campaign.

There's now a lot more than the fundraiser at the home of Mr. Ayers and their service together on the board of the Woods Foundation. Surely, the Sun reads the Wall Street Journal. By now, they must have heard that a young lawyer somehow landed the top job handing out millions of dollars to radicalize school children in the name of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge.

Again, here's Clarice Feldman:

How is it possible that Obama in writing two autobiographies could ignore his 13 year-long association with Ayers if he were not purposely trying to hide or downplay it? How is it possible that the media could continue to ignore the CAC story? How is it possible that American voters, who regularly indicate such enormous concern over educational issues, could be so long kept in the dark by the Fourth Estate about the educational project Obama ran into the ground while he aided his revolutionary pals in recruiting Chicago kids to their extreme left wing mission?
I realize that the story isn't being reported, but why is the Sun being cute and dangling tantalizing hints? (The left is freaking; I found the link at Raw Story.)

Unless the goal is delay, I can't --

Oh, now I get it.

Is that it? Are they all locked into the traditional "October surprise" routine?

I guess I should remind myself that in the blogosphere, October surprises are usually rehashes of August and September news....

Maybe I should be patient.

posted by Eric at 12:46 AM | Comments (3)

The End Of Free Speech In Missouri

Two public officials in Missouri are threatening to bring criminal charges against any one who speaks falsely against Obama. You know it should be illegal to blaspheme against The One. In a police state.

St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce and St. Louis County Circuit Attorney Bob McCulloch are threatening to bring libel charges against those who speak out falsely against Barack Obama.

KMOV aired a story last night, that stated that St. Louis County Circuit Attorney Bob McCulloch and St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, both Obama supporters, are threatening to bring criminal libel charges against anyone who levels what turns out to be false criticisms of their chosen candidate for President.

St. Louis C of CC Blog has more on the Obama Truth Squads.

I have been saying for some time on various blog comments that a coup is under way. I'm going to say it out loud. If one Democrat is left in office after this election the American people will deserve what they get. They don't just need to be defeated. They need to be crushed.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 12:39 AM | Comments (2)

It Is All The Fault Of White People

Eric asks Whose fault will it be if he loses?. I think Obama has already answered that question. Listen to the video (about 35 seconds). The answer is at the end.

posted by Simon at 12:15 AM | Comments (4)

Whose fault will it be if he loses?

It's not too often these days I see a headline that says "Why Obama will lose" so I was fascinated.

EDMOND -- When Benjamin Franklin was dispatched to France as ambassador of the United States in 1776, he won the hearts of the French through his authenticity. Rather than take on an affected and phony continental style, Franklin eschewed the powdered wig of the European gentleman and donned the fur cap of an American frontiersman. Original genius and polymath, Franklin understood that the French would see through any false pretension but respect an authenticity that sprang from an unpretentious and naive love of country.

What a contrast there is between Franklin and Barack Obama. Obama is a Harvard lawyer who is a mile wide and an inch deep. He is only the latest in a long line of shallow elites that consider it stylish and intellectual to despise their own culture and heritage.

The piece is by Professor David Deming (remarkable for his struggle to speak his mind despite academic tyranny), and it was linked by Glenn Reynolds and Bob Owens, who has this to add:
He [Obama] never experienced his first taste of mainland American until he was already a grown man, and his experience was further indoctrination and immersion in universities with a radical leftist bent. He was further radicalized by 20 years of indoctrination in a Christian cult founded on the teaching of the Black Panthers and Malcolm X, one that taught a self-segregating, blame-casting "black values system" that added spiritual alienation to his pre-existing cultural alienation. He embraced an infamous domestic terrorist as a friend and partner in schemes designed to undermine core American cultural values to push small "c" communism and radicalism, and pissed away the future of a generation of Chicago's school children as he helped launder $150 million of educational grant money to former terrorists and radicals that sought to indoctrinate, instead of educate.

Barack Obama isn't anti-American, but he is un-American. Our cultural memory and experiences are something he read about in books, but never lived, and something he cannot feel.

Yes, but if he loses, it won't because he lacked authenticity, or was the protege of Bill Ayers, or even that he lost the debate over the issues; it will be because America is a racist nation.

I guess an inauthentic man needs an inauthentic excuse.

posted by Eric at 09:56 PM | Comments (0)

And if you put lipstick on a pit bull, then what?

I'm usually a patient and reasonable person, but this time, M. Simon has gone too far.


At least, that was my reaction (Coco is in unilateral agreement, of course) to the above "Dog Man" picture. Especially when I read Beldar's link which led to this:

...wolves are more equal than caribou, says the Humane Society in its endorsement of Barack Obama. The Humane Society Legislative Fund's president writes that the group has never before endorsed a presidential candidate, but Sarah Palin simply poses too great of a threat to animals....
The post mentions "the Humane Society's decision to veer off into PETA territory." That's putting it mildly; see these three posts for starters. HSUS has made a convicted Animal Liberation Front criminal activist a deputy in their organization, and he has gone from illegal pre-dawn raids on mink ranches to legal (but trumped up, IMO) raids on dog breeders. Naturally, he wants to end all dog breeding. So presumably, the cute little Fifi dog Obama is holding will be part of what the new HSUS boss wants to be the last generation:
"One generation and out. We have no problem with the extinction of domestic animals. They are creations of human selective breeding."
Sorry, but these people have a very radical agenda, and the fact that they have warmly endorsed Barack Obama provides yet another reason to vote against him.

I'll take a pit bull wearing lipstick any day!

And really. "Dog Man"? (Surely Simon must know what the term means in pit bull lingo....)

Not to get overly cute, but for the life or me, I just can't resist sharing a true story of a pit bull with lipstick:

Although something of a genius in working dogs, even Tudor had a problem with Centipede. When he walked the dog, he stayed back at the end of the leash. Puzzled, Tudor stopped and looked at the dog, and the dog lay down! As patient as he was with the dogs, he wasn't sure that he could ever get Centipede in shape. He decided to rely upon natural ability and endurance for his first contest, which Centipede won handily in less than thirty-five minutes.

The next opponent had a bit of a reputation, so Tudor enlisted his friend Red Howell to work the dog. Now Red was a real genius with dogs, a harbinger to the coming of Ham Morris just a few years later, another gem at training animals. Red never used force in training his dogs, but he understood their psychology. He discovered that Centipede was a natural house dog, and he would do anything for attention. Red's girls would dress Centipede up in dresses and put lip stick on him, and the dog thrived on it.

Red and Centipede worked out a deal. If Centipede would run the turn table mill for a specified time, he could go in the house after his rub down. Nothing else would work. Centipede was unexcited by cats, and if Red placed a dog in Centipede's view, his eyes showed fire, but the dog was too smart to not know that the harness was keeping him from getting to the dog, so he didn't run the mill. Somehow Red was able to convey to the dog that he would get a reward for running the mill. The first time he took a few steps on the mill, Red brought him in the house. Very quickly, the dog got the idea. So Centipede spent a good part of his keep in Red's house with his young daughters. Howell told Bob Wallace that Centipede was absolutely the smartest dog he ever saw of any breed. He would bring Red a bottle of beer, opening up the ice box to get it. Red swore that he could have taught him to open those bottles too.

The match between Centipede and Black Boy would qualify as a classic contest. The dogs met in the center like a couple of freight trains, and first Black Boy had the upper hand. In fact, the lead changed a couple of times, with its being anyone's match up until the two-hour mark. At that point, Centipede finally took command for good. Saddler gave it up in 22 more minutes in a desperate attempt to save his dog. (Emphasis added.)

Advantage, lipstick.

NEPOTISTIC DISCLOSURE: Centipede's name appears eight times in Coco's pedigree.

posted by Eric at 05:39 PM | Comments (4)

Obama Plans To Debate Himself

A senior guy in the Obama Campaign says Obama is going to show up at the debate Friday no matter what. John McCain says he will only show up if Congress does what it has to do to resolve the Mortgage Securities crisis. No doubt Obama needs the face time on TV to bolster his failing campaign, because if it wasn't failing he would have no need to show up.

Obama campaign senior strategist Robert Gibbs predicted this morning that John McCain will change his mind after all and show up tomorrow in Mississippi for the first scheduled presidential debate, rather than skip it to concentrate on the financial industry bailout. "I believe the debate's going to happen as scheduled," Gibbs told reporters at a breakfast meeting hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. "I actually think he's going to come to the debate," Gibbs said of McCain. "I think he will decide a president is capable of doing more than one thing at a time." In any event, Gibbs said, Barack Obama will be there.
If Obama shows up he is going to look like a fool debating himself. McCain is off in Washington trying to fix the Mortgage mess and Obama is on TV debating himself. Obama will be looking very Presidential. Very Presidential indeed.

Lets see how that would work in practice. Obama on the right says I have always said... and when it comes time for the Obama on the left to respond it will be that is not the Obama I once knew. I sure hope the TV guys provide a laugh track.

Did I mention that McCain has Obama pwn3d?

H/T Just One Minute commenters.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 03:07 PM | Comments (9)

Bill Clinton Fires Up The Base

It appears that Bill Clinton has fired up the Democrat base. Not necessarily in a good way.

...the straw that really broke the leftwing camel's back was Clinton's statement today to Chris Cuomo on ABC's Good Morning America defending John McCain's request for a debate delay until after the financial bailout crises is resolved. Here are a couple of things that Bill Clinton said that drove the left absolutely bonkers:
We know he didn't do it because he's afraid because Sen. McCain wanted more debates.

...I presume he did that in good faith since I know he wanted -- I remember he asked for more debates to go all around the country and so I don't think we ought to overly parse that.

This caused a firestorm of anger at both the Daily Kos and the Democratic Underground. So just how angry is the leftwing blogosphere with Bill Clinton? You can get an idea by reading this sampling of comments posted at the Democratic Underground:
SHUT THE HELL UP BILL!!! I can't stand his ass anymore.

the reality is that his presidency was All About Bill, he screwed interns and progressive values with equal abandon, and he ushered in Republican control of all three brances of the government.

What "Jewish Holidays" was he talking about on Larry King,He said he would campaign for Obama after. The Jewish Holidays, WTF message is he trying to send. This is a man that knows exactly what his words are and mean.

Bill Clinton is a black hole that runs on egotism. I am so sick of tired, old act. Don't go away mad, Bill. Just go away.

The Daily Kos is also quite angry with Bill Clinton as you can see:
he has now put his legacy and his wife's future on the line with his comments this week...people will look back and place a lot of blame on him...otherwise Obama wins and Clinton is sent into the dust bowl of history...

now Bill clinton is hiding behind his freindship with McCain as cover for not attacking him. Would he be so charitable if Hillary were the nominee? i think not. The sooner we get both Clintons off the national stage, the better off we all are. I for one intend to rally New Yorkers to defeat Hillary in the next Senate race. Hers ad Bills type have seen their best days, and we should put them out to pasture. We all saw the real side of Bill Clinton during the primaries. He is a two faced little coward who once did some good things for the country, but that was then. What exactly has he done for anyonre lately besides side with Hillary in dragging down the Democratic party? besides, if he is the great all-knowing and powerful campaign person, why didnt Hillary win? Give me a break!!!!

If you are looking for more entertainment of a similar sort you can visit Daily KOS and/or Democratic Underground. I think Bill is a PUMA. You know the Party Unity My Ass brigade.

I think Barry made a big mistake when he got Bill to promise to campaign for him. Heh. Well the long knives are out and it looks like Bill has the longest and sharpest one. What can Obama do? Well nothing. He needs those PUMA votes.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 03:04 PM | Comments (1)

A Dog Man
A Dog Man

H/T Beldar

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

The great Obama versus Obama debate? Why not?

Now that John McCain has suspended his campaign and postponed his appearance in the debate, it appears that Barack Obama is planning to go it alone:

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., McCain's representative in debate negotiations, told The Associated Press that McCain will not attend the debate unless there is agreement on a solution that is publicly endorsed by Obama, McCain, the White House and congressional leaders.

Asked whether the debate could go on, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said: "My sense is there's going to be a stage, a moderator, an audience and at least one presidential candidate."

The jockeying between McCain and Obama began after the senators spoke privately Wednesday.

Even if McCain does not show, there are still plenty of questions to ask Obama. (Beginning with how he came to be an apparently trusted asset of Bill Ayers while Obama was a new lawyer and political nonentity. Why would "a guy who lived in my neighborhood" who hardly knew Obama entrust this obscure stranger to head his pet project involving many millions of dollars?)

Besides, Obama has flip-flopped on so many issues, this might be a good time for him to debate himself.

They could always start with the usual YouTube video clips, and give him a chance to, you know, respond.

posted by Eric at 10:52 AM | Comments (0)

Keeping Up The Burn Rate

Obama is going to have to raise a lot of money to maintain his required burn rate. His efforts should keep the television advertising business out of recession for a few more months.

Democrat Barack Obama's campaign has budgeted $39 million to win Florida, and that's just one of several "robust" set asides for swing states, campaign manager David Plouffe told supporters in a fundraising appeal this month.

That figure alone explains why Barack Obama decided to forgo taxpayer money for his general election campaign.

Simply put: His strategy for winning requires a bigger budget than public money would allow.

The Sunshine State strategic plan alone would have consumed nearly half of the $85 million allotted for the general election by the Federal Election Commission.

"This shows you the sheer magnitude of what we are trying to accomplish," said Plouffe. "We are spending more money and more time on the grass roots than any presidential campaign in history."
It's a strategy, however, that has many other Democrats worrying.

"They've had an experience where every time they had a problem, people would donate money," said one Democratic insider. Noting that some of Obama's key primary victories came after he dramatically outspent former rival Hillary Rodham Clinton, the insider asked: "What if they don't outspend John McCain in Ohio, Michigan and Virginia?

Yep. What if they don't? And it is not just a matter of outspending. He has to do it by a large margin, because as his primary race against Hillary proved, he had to spend a lot more dollars per vote than Hillary did.

Lets look at some battle ground states and their electoral votes. And assume it will take money proportional to the electoral votes (very roughly) to win a state.

CO - 09 $13
OH - 20 $29
FL - 27 $39
PA - 21 $30
MI - 17 $24
VA - 13 $18

That is $150 million (roughly) to win those 6 states. That means he has to raise about $75 million a month just to win those states. If his calculations are correct. In August he only raised $66 million. Given other states he has to spend in and campaign expenses I'd say he has a problem. And that does not even count providing any money to down ticket races.

Look at it another way. He outspent Hillary by 3 to 1 or more in a number of states and still lost to her. No wonder why he has to rally by day and fund raise by night. If he maintains a pace like that he is going to be very tired by the last debate. And tired people make a lot of mistakes.

How is McCain dealing with the fundraising problem? He has decided to Leave The Money and Get The Votes. In other words he and Palin will be campaigning and doing very little fund raising. They will be rested and refreshed for the debates.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 09:52 AM | Comments (3)

Obama To Get Help From Johnson Brief

Mr. Obama, who already has had a Johnson problem, is sticking his oar back in the same waters.

Former Fannie Mae chairman Jim Johnson was dumped from Obama's vice presidential search team, but he's still playing a behind-the-scenes role on the campaign.

Former Senator Tom Daschle, a top Obama backer, emailed a select list this afternoon that he and Johnson would be leading a briefing intended largely for Clinton's campaign brain trust next month.

"Jim Johnson and I have scheduled another informal breakfast discussion and update on the campaign early next month," he wrote to a list including Senator John Kerry, James Carville, and Richard Holbrooke, as well as Clinton's former top campaign aides, including Howard Wolfson, Geoff Garin, and Harold Ickes.

Johnson's involvement comes at a moment when political association with the failed mortgage giants is particularly toxic. He was already the subject of a McCain ad attacking Obama.

He must need those PUMA votes really bad to risk another attack ad from McCain tying Obama to one of the guys in charge of the Fannie Mae meltdown.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 09:49 AM | Comments (0)

the case for bailout?

If we were going to face the conditions which might trigger another Depression, we couldn't pick a better man to possibly prevent it than Ben Bernanke:

Bernanke is particularly interested in the economic and political causes of the Great Depression, on which he has written extensively. On Milton Friedman's ninetieth birthday, November 8, 2002, he stated: "Let me end my talk by abusing slightly my status as an official representative of the Federal Reserve System. I would like to say to Milton and Anna: Regarding the Great Depression. You're right, we did it. We're very sorry. But thanks to you, we won't do it again."
I think it's fair to say that (at least in academic terms) Bernanke's Depression-prevention expertise is roughly analogous to General Petraeus's Vietnam-prevention expertise.

On a less serious note, can anyone Paul Krugman says is Satan be all bad?

I'm inclined to take another look, and I want to be fair. (It's the least I can do; especially because being fair is supposed to be one of my rules.) Like Professor Bainbridge I can change my mind. Who knows? there might be virtue in waffling right now.

Bernanke thinks that the government might not only be saving the economy by this bailout, but getting a good deal:

Bernanke said there is plenty of blame to go around for the current crisis, as he named Wall Street firms and banks that underestimated risk of the securities they were creating, rating agencies and regulators.

But he said the primary problem is a drop in home prices, which sparked a rise in foreclosures that have cut the value of trillions of dollars of mortgage-backed securities to what he termed "fire sale" prices.

The lack of demand for those securities, in turn, forced banks and Wall Street firms to take $500 billion in charges that dug into the capital they use to make loans.

Bernanke said that when the government starts buying the mortgage-backed securities from the banks, it will provide a market that doesn't exist now, and allow the prices to rise from the current depressed levels to ones more justified by the fundamentals of the loans, most of which are not in default.

"I realize it's a very complicated story," Bernanke said. "The bottom line, though, is banks are holding all these complex hard-to-price securities and their capital is low. Those two things together don't allow them to make adequate loans. This approach is one way to address the problem."

Here's the part I like:
And he stressed repeatedly that while the Treasury Department plans to spend up to $700 billion buying the securities, it can expect to recoup most if not all of that money by selling them at a higher price later on, once markets have stabilized. He argued that doing nothing would cause the economy to slow so much that there would be a bigger hit to tax collections than the program will eventually cost taxpayers.

Bernanke said he expects most of the securities will be bought through a reverse auction, in which holders would offer them for sale and the government would buy those offered at the best price.

I might be naive, but Bernanke strikes me as a decent and knowledgeable man, who is not out for himself.

Maybe all the political hotheads (including myself) should try counting to ten, and at least listen to him. He might just be worthy of our trust. If he is worthy of our trust, and he turns out to have been right, it would be a tragedy to ignore him simply because there's an election and everybody wants to win. (I think it speaks highly of McCain that he suspended his campaign, btw.)

Earlier today, I did not hesitate to embrace the third rail. If I can do that, I see no reason why I can't occasionally waffle too.

And if the economic collapse of the United States isn't worth waffling over, then what is?

MORE: Please forgive the sloppiness of my thoughts and the spontaneous way I may have presented them here. It's late at night, and I probably shouldn't be writing a blog post. But I think this is damned serious.

AND MORE: For more on why this might not even be the bailout it's said to be, read The Paulson Plan Will Make Money For Taxpayers." It's fascinating, and here are former hedge fund manager Andy Kessler's conclusions:

.... it is possible, all in, for this portfolio to generate between $1 trillion and $2.2 trillion -- the greatest trade ever. Every hedge-fund manager will be jealous. Mr. Buffett is buying a small piece of the trade via his Goldman Sachs investment.

Over 10 years this could change the budget scenario in D.C., which can also strengthen the dollar. The next president gets a heck of a windfall. In the spirit of Secretary of State William Seward's purchase of Alaska for $7 million in 1867, this week may be remembered as Paulson's Folly.

(Via Glenn Reynolds.)

posted by Eric at 01:05 AM | Comments (4)

Top Obama Fundraiser Meets Ahmadinejad

That Obama has all the best friends.

A founding member of the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois met in New York City tonight with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Jodie Evans, who co-hosted Obama's first major fundraiser in Hollywood in February 2007 just after Obama announced his candidacy and is a top fundraiser and donor to Obama's campaign, led a delegation of leftist anti-American groups that held a private meeting near the United Nations. The stated purpose of the meeting was to "serve as an opening for diplomatic resolution" to prevent war between Iran and the United States.

The government of Iran is listed as a state sponsor of terrorism by the State Department and is strongly believed to be developing nuclear weapons.

Obama has stated that he would be willing to meet with Ahmadinejad and other enemies of the United States without conditions. Evans met with Obama in Beverly Hills last week at an exclusive $28,500 per person fundraiser. As a bundler for Obama, Evans is granted regular briefings with top Obama staff members and meeting with Obama and his vice presidential nominee Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware.

Obama has come under heavy criticism from military families and troops support organizations over his alliance with Evans.

Evans is co-founder of the pro-terrorist group Code Pink and works with state sponsors of terrorism to undermine America in the war on terror. She also has publicly announced her support for the terrorists in Iraq, her sympathy for Osama bin Laden and her "love" of Hugo Chavez.

You know, if this gets out it is sure to give the Obama Campaign a big boost with the bitter clingers. So you know. Spread it to all your e-mail buddies and help it go viral. Obama needs all the help he can get. With so many out of work in America these days it is your duty to help him keep his job. As the Junior Senator from Illinois.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 11:46 PM | Comments (3)

the coverup of the coverup of the coverup

The biggest story of the campaign is that a man running for president was not only a close associate, but was quite possibly even a protege of an unrepentant terrorist.

It's huge, rapidly unfolding news, but aside from yesterday's WSJ article, it's still not news to most voters, and I think it's obvious that the MSM want to keep it that way. They're more concerned with investigating the intricacies of an obscure Alaska bridge that wasn't built.

The Corner's Peter Kirsanow summarizes the latest:

Stanley Kurtz's piece today describing what appears to be an attempt to cover-up the extent of Sen. Obama's ties to William Ayers should have journalists salivating. This is a big story that, so far, the press seems determined to avoid.

A rookie reporter could look at what Stanley's adduced and clearly see that Sen. Obama has engaged in serious misdirection regarding his relationship with Ayers. The ties between the two are far more lengthy and extensive than Obama admits.

Via Glenn Reynolds, who adds, "And yet, they avert their eyes."

They have to. The mere possibility that Obama could be a protege of an unrepentant terrorist is immensely damaging, which is why it has to be covered up by Obama, and why the coverup itself has to be covered up by the MSM. If the voters learn about this, and have time to learn about who Ayers is, they will not want to elect Obama president. The longer it goes unreported, and questions are not asked, the better the chances that the voters will never know.

As to the swarms of reporters who have investigated every facet of Sarah Palin's life, they have done their damnedest to make her minuscule association with the Alaskan Independence Party a major campaign issue, but where it comes to an unrepentant terrorist having a close relationship with a presidential candidate, and who might even have been the guy's mentor, they don't consider it even worth a look.

...What did Ayers see in (or hear from) Obama that caused the former to take such an interest in him?

Stanley shows that there's a reasonable probability that Ayers plucked Obama from obscurity to chair the Chicago Annenberg Challenge ("CAC"). Then, after working together on the CAC and directing millions to radical organizations, Ayers hosted Obama's political coming out party. That certainly looks more like a mentor-protégé relationship than a tenuous relationship between two guys who happen to live in the same neighborhood.

The story of a why an unrepentant terrorist has such a close relationship with a presidential candidate should have reporters swarming over the Obama campaign demanding answers.

I don't know which is a bigger story: the close association, Obama's coverup of the association, or the media blackout. Considering the latest, I think the near total failure of reporting it is a huge story in itself. I said "near total," because a few journalists like Michael Barone of US News are behaving conscientiously. And the Washington Times's Inside Politics section ran a column titled NEWS BLACKOUT which quotes from this Newsbusters piece:
"The association between Obama and Ayers has received virtually no attention from the three broadcast networks, with the conspicuous exception of a primary-season debate sponsored by ABC when George Stephanopoulos asked Obama about his relationship with Ayers. Out of 1,365 broadcast evening news stories about Obama prior to the end of the primaries, only two mentioned Ayers - one a brief mention of the debate question on the April 17 'Nightly News,' and the other an April 20 'World News Sunday' story about [John] McCain raising the Ayers issue on 'This Week.'

"With just 42 days left until Election Day, the broadcast networks have not presented a single in-depth report on Obama's relationship with Ayers. But Kurtz's review of the documents at the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC) showed the two 'worked as a team to advance the CAC agenda,' which 'flowed from Mr. Ayers' educational philosophy, which called for infusing students and their parents with a radical political commitment, and which downplayed achievement tests in favor of activism.'"

(I guess it would be unreasonable of me to expect the MSM to report on their own non-reporting, wouldn't it?)

Read Stanley Kurtz's full report here. More background here.

That a story of this magnitude is being ignored, involving as it does a man poised to be elected president, is nothing less than shocking.

Whether it's surprising is beside the point. There's only one way to get them to stop ignoring it, and that's to make noise.

MORE: Clarice Feldman looks at the close working relationship between Obama and Ayers, and asks some good questions:

How is it possible that Obama in writing two autobiographies could ignore his 13 year-long association with Ayers if he were not purposely trying to hide or downplay it? How is it possible that the media could continue to ignore the CAC story? How is it possible that American voters, who regularly indicate such enormous concern over educational issues, could be so long kept in the dark by the Fourth Estate about the educational project Obama ran into the ground while he aided his revolutionary pals in recruiting Chicago kids to their extreme left wing mission?
(Via Glenn Reynolds.)

posted by Eric at 10:54 PM | Comments (6)

Eight Is Enough

Evidently, despite the poll numbers, the Obama Campaign is in melt down mode. The ever popular Jane Pauley, a former NBC regular, is not a big enough draw to get many Obama supporters to come have a look. Quoting from the Times of Northwest Indiana about a panel discussion on the economy:

PORTAGE Former television news anchor and Hoosier native Jane Pauley returned to her professional roots Monday during a local appearance on behalf of Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama.

Pauley, who said she worked for the state Democratic Party before launching her successful news career, took part in a panel discussion aimed at touting the benefits of Obama's economic plans for Hoosiers over that of his Republican challenger John McCain.

While the subject matter was complex at times, Pauley occasionally took the opportunity to inject partisan humor into the discussion.

"Why would you want a maverick when you've had a cowboy in the White House for two terms already?" she asked, referring to McCain's description of himself.

She doesn't know that real Americans play cowboys and Indians when they are kids? Or that Maverick was once a very popular TV show? Well it doesn't matter.
Alas, Jane's witty comment didn't enjoy as much currency as it deserved. That's because only eight people showed up for the rally.
According to carnival slang that would be a "blue one". In other words a low turn out appearance as opposed to a "red one" where the crowds are numerous. I think it has to to with Obama's numerous friends who "burned the lot".

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 10:40 PM | Comments (1)

Jewish Democrats For McCain-Palin

I assure you that Democrat assistance for the McCain/Palin team wasn't intentional.

NEW YORK (CBS) ― Politics and diplomacy were not a good mix at Monday's protest rally against Iran at the United Nations.

Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin didn't participate in the "Stop Iran Now" rally and there were a lot of hard feelings about it.

It was a simple sign that read "We Want Sarah. Shame On The Rally Organizer."

Howard Webber from Brooklyn held it.

"As important an event as this is, you needed a unity of Democrats and Republicans to show Ahmadinejad that we're not going to accept a nuclear Iran."

Buddy Macy of Little Fells, N.J., felt much the same way.

"I'm so disappointed, upset," Macy said. "She would have brought 10,000-20,000 more supporters of Israel. People who were curious were stopped because of partisan action."

Well it was more partisan in the aftermath than the Obama team hoped.
"Republicans benefitted more than the Democrats did," political consultant Hank Sheinkopf said. "Why? Sarah Palin wanted to be there, but it looks like she was purposely told not to and rejected. It gives her standing, particularly among those people who are thinking about voting Republican anyway."
For Jews in New York to be even thinking about voting Republican is a serious reversal of fortune for the Obama team. I covered the New York situation a while back in Is NY In Play? And you know what? Maybe it is.

H/T Instapundit

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 10:38 PM | Comments (0)

Just Weird

It seems like Mr. Obama has heeded the call of President Bush.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- With extraordinary stakes on the line, President Bush has invited both presidential candidates and the leaders of the House and Senate to the White House on Thursday in hopes of securing a bill to rescue the economy. Bush took the unusual step Wednesday night of calling Democratic Sen. Barack Obama directly to invite him to the meeting, White House press secretary Dana Perino said. An Obama spokesman said the senator would attend.
Well. Isn't that lovely? Yes it is.

But what were Obama and his pals saying earlier? Obama had a few words on the subject.

But he disagreed with McCain's call for postponing Friday's first presidential debate in Oxford, Mississippi.

"It's my belief that this is exactly the time when the American people need to hear from the person will be the next president," Obama said in Clearwater, Florida. "It is going to be part of the president's job to deal with more than one thing at once. It's more important than ever to present ourselves to the American people."

Yep. Having the debates on time is so much more important than helping to negotiate one of the biggest spending bills Congress has ever authored.

Good ole Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, chimed in.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid issued a statement saying that the presidential debate should go on and that McCain's negotiations should not be a "photo op."
This is the same guy who said a day earlier that McCain's presence was essential. Evidently once McCain decided to be there he was no longer needed.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said McCain's move was "just weird."

"We haven't heard hide nor hair of Sen. McCain in these negotiations," said Schumer, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. "He has not been involved except for an occasional, unhelpful statement, sort of thrown from far away, and the last thing we need in these delicate negotiations is an injection of presidential politics."

Good old Chucky Schumer. So according to Reid, Johnny Mac was essential until he wasn't and then Chucky sees McCain's move as a grand stand play. Until of course he finds out Obama has changed his mind. Then it will be Obama's being Presidential. And that evil McCain playing politics. First.

You know what is missing from the Democrat Machine is earpieces. So that when the message changes every one will be on the same page and speak with one voice. Axelrod needs to get right on it. Before his team looks even stupider. If that is possible. Given enough time I'm sure it is.

I forgot to add ∅ has been pwn3d.

And this little gem from Jim Ryan at Just One Minute.

By withdrawing into inaction, McCain leaves Obama with two intolerable options: follow McCain the leader or be left standing there with his dick in his hand.
It's a Zen thing.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 10:29 PM | Comments (0)

Harry Reid Can't Make Up His Mind

Harry Reid yesterday said McCain's help with the financial crisis was essential. According to a McCain adviser:

"Yesterday, Harry Reid said that consensus couldn't be achieved without John McCain's leadership. John stepped up and is providing that leadership.
Today the Senator from Nevada changed his tune.
A Democrat tells ABC News that, in a phone call late this afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., that it would NOT be helpful for him to come back to Washington, D.C., to work on the Wall Street bailout bill.

McCain this afternoon suspended his campaign and said he would skip the first presidential debate in order to return to Capitol Hill to work on the log-jammed Bush administration legislation, which, as of Wednesday afternoon, was in peril.

McCain had phoned Reid to ask about the prospects of him, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and others to sit down and work together on hammering out a bipartisan proposal.

"Sorry," Reid said to him, a Democrat close to Reid says.

I suppose Obama will be voting absent when it comes to hammering out a deal. Evidently in the Senate he is NOT The One they have been waiting for.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 10:05 PM | Comments (0)

McCain Suspends Campaign To Work Mortgage Crisis

John McCain suspends campaign asks Obama to do the same.

U.S. Republican presidential candidate John McCain will suspended his campaign tomorrow to work on the U.S. economy.

He has also requested a postponement of this Friday's presidential debate.

In addition, McCain has asked Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama to join him in setting aside campaigning to focus on the financial crisis.

Obama said he is talking to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. He said if you need me call me. Evidently he doesn't think his presence will help. I'm inclined to agree.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 04:46 PM | Comments (9)

Better a fiddle than a flame thrower

There were a couple of things that came up in comments that I thought bear repeating in a separate post.

One is this: check out the view of an economist I've been reading for a long time and whom I trust, Arnold Kling. Bottom line:

The risks of enacting the plan are far worse than the risks of doing nothing.
(Via Glenn Reynolds.)

I realize that there are times when the urge to "do something!" becomes irresistible. An economic crisis weeks before an election is surely one of those times. But that does not mean that doing something is the thing to do. Sometimes, not doing something is the thing to do. It ought to at least be considered as an option. The problem is, when hysteria rules, one of the most common popular cries is what?

The government just sat there, doing nothing!

This was reflected in a column I saw by Rochelle Riley in yesterday's Detroit Free Press, titled "Candidates fiddle while Rome burns." Among other things, she says this:

While Rome burns, I don't want to hear the gladiators fight about who, why and wherefore of the Iraq war. That ticking sound we hear isn't counting down the days since the surge changed life in Baghdad. It is the sound of America's economy nearing Armageddon.

Even if we accept the historically problematic analogy to Nero, what is being forgotten is that the economic "fire" under discussion is in large part a fire the government started, whether intentionally or not. Unlike the Great Fire of Rome, which was falsely rumored to have been started by Nero, whose persecution of Christians was described by Tacitus as an attempt to stop the rumors by shifting blame. At any event, there were no fiddles in ancient Rome, so Nero could not have "fiddled" during the Great Fire any more than Governor Roosevelt could have gone on TV in 1929 to discuss the Great Crash. (And no, that is not a moral equivalency argument!)

But hey, if the Great Fire analogy won't work, I guess there's always Armageddon.

Anything to get the government to "do something!" What if the government has already done something? What if it has already done too much, and that any more will be like throwing gasoline on a fire uner the mistaken belief that it is water?

What's the hurry?

Anyway, amidst the endless talk about endless bailouts, and the immediate need for the government to do something, I have a nagging question -- especially for those who think "the government" is a blank check.

Who will bail out the bailout?

Or, if we look at the government the way a college kid looks at daddy's money, "What happens when Daddy's check bounces?"

Why aren't these questions being asked? It's as if everyone is making a kneejerk assumption that the money is there to bail everything out and make everything OK. Yes, of course it is there. Why? Because, well, it just has to be there! Because, like, this is the United States and everything, and the government is just so huge and has so much money it's awesome man! The government has enough money to bail out everything, and if they run short, why they can always print more, right? And if that doesn't work they can always take it from the rich people, all those fat cats who've stolen it from the government and the poor people, right? So it's like, there will always be plenty of money to bail everything out, because all money comes from the government and like if it weren't for the government printing it you wouldn't even get the money they let you take home with your paycheck!

This is why the bailout beats doing nothing, even if it's the wrong thing.

Unfortunately, telling people what they want to hear is just as important now as it was in Nero's time.

And where it comes to "economic issues," the Democrats are far better at telling people whatever they want to hear than are Republicans.

MORE: Speaking of the "Do something now!" mentality, Ilya Somin has the Bailout Quote of the Day, from Mike Pence: "I must tell you, there are those in the public debate who have said that we must act now. The last time I heard that, I was on a used-car lot," said Rep. Mike Pence, R-Indiana. "The truth is, every time somebody tells you that you've got to do the deal right now, it usually means they're going to get the better part of the deal." (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

Used car lot? Would that be what Jeff Goldstein means when he says "Obamalot"?

posted by Eric at 03:50 PM | Comments (0)

The Crony Capitalist Clique

Our financial troubles are caused by people treating the government as if it was their own piggy bank. And it is quite evident that our current troubles are a case of hogs gone wild.

In the past couple of weeks, as the financial crisis has intensified, a new talking point has emerged from the Democrats in Congress: This is all a "crisis of capitalism," in socialist financier George Soros' phrase, and a failure to regulate our markets sufficiently.

Well, those critics may be right -- it is a crisis of capitalism. A crisis of politically driven crony capitalism, to be precise.

Indeed, Democrats have so effectively mastered crony capitalism as a governing strategy that they've convinced many in the media and the public that they had nothing whatsoever to do with our current financial woes.

Barack Obama has repeatedly blasted "Bush-McCain" economic policies as the cause, as if the two were joined at the hip.

Funny, because over the past 8 years, those who tried to fix Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- the trigger for today's widespread global financial meltdown -- were stymied repeatedly by congressional Democrats.

This wasn't an accident. Though some key Republicans deserve blame as well, it was a concerted Democratic effort that made reform of Fannie and Freddie impossible.

The reason for this is simple: Fannie and Freddie became massive providers both of reliable votes among grateful low-income homeowners, and of massive giving to the Democratic Party by grateful investment bankers, both at the two government-sponsored enterprises and on Wall Street.

So we know who the pigs are. And we know who was dishing out the slop (taxpayer dollars - your dollars). Sadly the pigs are going to require one more feeding before they get slaughtered and delivered to the market.

posted by Simon at 02:15 PM | Comments (2)

Leave The Money - Get The Votes

It looks like Sarah Palin has more value as a vote getter than as a fund raiser.

John McCain's campaign is scrapping, rescheduling or offering surrogates for nearly every one of the fundraisers Sarah Palin was to hold this month, instead having her campaign jointly with McCain, prepare for her sole debate next month and get some foreign policy exposure.

According to an internal fundraising calendar put together in late-August just before McCain's vice presidential selection, Palin was to have headlined nine fundraisers across five states by now.

She's attended just one to date.

And she'll miss several more that had been in the works for this week, having reunited with McCain to stump in suburban Philadelphia Monday before heading to New York City for two days of meetings with foreign leaders in town for the United Nations General Assembly.

"It only makes sense that we would maximize her time and make sure the schedule lets her spend time meeting with voters, mobilizing volunteers and communicating her record," said an aide to Palin, requesting anonymity to discuss strategic matters.

It seems like that is a very good idea. According to the polls at Real Clear Politics Obama has been gaining ground. And that does not even include ACORN vote fraud.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 02:06 PM | Comments (1)

The third rail is easy to embrace

George Will thinks that in the near-hysteria over how to control the current economic stampede, people are forgetting the big picture:

An enormous range of complex judgments will have to be made about who will decide -- and by what criteria -- to whom money will be directed, and how to value and price the financial instruments, and the assets behind them, that the government might soon own. But these micro problems, although quite huge, pale next to the macro problem, which is:

This crisis has arrived during the ninth month of a vast demographic deluge -- the retirement of 78 million baby boomers. As the population ages, the welfare state -- primarily, a transfer-payments pump providing pensions and medical care for the elderly -- requires more rapid economic growth to generate increasing revenues. To the extent that today's crisis results in large amounts of capital being allocated by considerations other than those of economic efficiency, the nation will be consigned to less-than-optimal economic growth.

Eric S. Raymond wrote a very disturbing post about this, and he thinks it will require getting rid of the so-called "entitlements.":
The IBD correctly notes: "Allowed to grind on without real reform, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid will do what no invading army or cabal of terrorists has done or will ever do: bring this mighty republic to its knees. Increasing federal taxes by 150% will strangle economic growth."

I think the IBD is too optimistic. Even pushing tax rates to 100% confiscation wouldn't finance the entitlements black hole at the rate we can expect the client population's needs to grow -- especially not after 2050, when the demographics of the U.S. will tilt in a distinctly less favorable direction. A mere 150% increase in current rates certainly won't do it. One way or another, the Federal entitlements system seems headed for a terminal crash. The only question is when it will happen.

Raising taxes can delay this, but not prevent it. And might, actually, trigger it sooner; the historical evidence suggests that current tax rates may already be at above the minimum level where, by suppressing and unhealthily redirecting economic activity, they actually reduce total revenue. (One reason to believe this is that the much-derided "Bush tax cuts" actually increased revenues despite the effects of the bust.) But even if this isn't true yet, diminishing returns will set in at some point as rates go up.

The only alternative to raising taxes (or deliberately inflating the currency, which in this context has similar effects) is to buy debt and pay entitlements out of that, pushing the unsustainability problem into the future.

The fundamental problem is that income-transfer programs (and the interest service on the debt purchased to keep them running) are spending wealth in higher volumes than the economy can actually generate, and demand for that spending is rising faster than the economy is growing. Thus, raising tax rates is no longer a way out, if it ever was.

At some point, the U.S. government is going to lose both the ability to increase revenues and the ability to sell bonds. At that point the entitlements system will crash. Transfer checks will either stop issuing or become meaningless because the government has, like some banana republic, hyperinflated the currency in order to get out from under its debt obligations.

(My previous thoughts about this are here.)

The problem is, even though the Big Crash is ultimately inevitable, getting rid of the "entitlements" could result in rioting in the streets. Even revolution. Politicians cannot face things like that. They can't even talk about entitlements, which have long been considered a "political third rail."

Fortunately, there is no such third rail for bloggers, because bloggers don't have to worry about getting elected. In that sense, they are either part of the current flow, or else they're ungrounded, depending on your point of view. So I can reach out and touch the third rail with complete impunity. I won't get shocked, not even if I say it's time to scrap the welfare state.

Why, I can even yell "Get rid of Social Security!" "Take care of yourself and your own family!" "Buy guns!" "Store food!"

But I wish that those for whom this really is a political third rail would remember that there's nothing to fear but the fear of death.

(Which means we have nothing to fear but the inevitable itself.)

QUESTION: Amidst the endless talk about bailouts, I have a nagging question for those who think "the government" is a blank check:

Who will bail out the bailout?

(Or, if we look at the government the way a college kid looks at daddy's money, "What happens when Daddy's check bounces?")

posted by Eric at 11:30 AM | Comments (6)

The double-secret Tom Eagleton non-prediction prediction!

How many Eagletons do we need in this election?

I mean, no sooner was Sarah Palin's nomination announced than the liberals went ballistic with Palin/ Eagleton comparisons and predictions. Which went nowhere. It was just a lame attempt to rattle the McCain campaign.

So, when I read that poor Tom Eagleton's political corpse had been disinterred yet again by pundits invoking his specter vis-a-vis super-gaffer Joe Biden, I figured it was some kind of "Let's even the score!" deal. Possibly by vengeful right wingers (or by wishful thinkers on the left who want to float the idea while crediting the right wing).

That might explain the peculiar attempt to make it appear that the prediction came from Glenn Reynolds -- the "notorious conservative blogger" who has been dutifully not predicting Biden's Eagleton moment right from the start.

But will Glenn's "non-predictions" really fool the truly reality-based searchers for the truth?

To these seasoned conspiracy theorists, the fact that Reynolds would predict by not predicting (especially because as "notorious conservatives" go, he's notoriously non-conservative) makes infinite sense. As I have explained in more posts than I have written, expert analysts (especially Gleen Grenwald) have determined that when Glenn Reynolds says something, he really means quite the opposite, just as when he links something, he's really not linking it at all, but he's playing a complex game of passive aggressive linking. This also means that when Rush Limbaugh says something but Glenn does not, Glenn actually said what Limbaugh said, whether he did or not! (Likewise, when Glenn says someone is straight, he means they're gay. Hmm... Did he ever say Joe Biden was straight?)

So obviously (at least to anyone who studies these things in the detail that's required) it would be a simple thing for Glenn to predict something by not predicting it. As a matter of fact, I can't think of a more effective passive aggressive way of predicting something will happen than by predicting it won't happen!

The real question no one is asking is: who didn't predict this first?

posted by Eric at 09:50 AM | Comments (5)

"The biggest story of the campaign"

That's how the Guardian describes the New York Times revelation that a lobbying firm owned by John McCain's campaign manager Rick Davis "was being paid $15,000 a month by Freddie Mac until last month.":

The story is this. The lobbying firm of Rick Davis, the manager, was being paid $15,000 a month by Freddie Mac until last month. That fact is a direct contradiction of words McCain had spoken Sunday night. At that time, responding to a Times story being prepared for Monday's paper revealing that Davis had been the head of a lobbying consortium led by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae until 2005, McCain said Davis had done no further work for either mortgage giant.

Someone's lying - either Davis to McCain, or McCain to the public. I trust you see the problem here.

Who lied to whom? This is the kind of thing we might not know for a while, or maybe never. My hunch would be that Davis concealed it from McCain and that McCain, as is his wont, just winged it Sunday night, without really caring whether it was true, because that's what he does. But let me clearly label that a hunch. I don't know. But it doesn't really matter.
The author (Michael Tomasky) thinks Davis has to go. If the Times allegations are true, he's probably right. But I don't agree with the characterization of the story as "the biggest political story of the general-election campaign so far."

Yes, a campaign aide taking money from a robber baron in Robin Hood drag looks bad, especially when it was denied. (Whether the "everybody else did it" defense will work is questionable.)

But (IMO) nothing could top a candidate himself working with an unrepetentant terrorist to push radicalism on school kids.

Obama can't say everybody else did that, can he?

MORE: As commenter Debbie points out below, the McCain campaign says the Times's allegation is not true (surprised, anyone?):

...the allegation is demonstrably false. As has been previously reported, Mr. Davis separated from his consulting firm, Davis Manafort, in 2006. As has been previously reported, Mr. Davis has seen no income from Davis Manafort since 2006. Zero. Mr. Davis has received no salary or compensation since 2006. Mr. Davis has received no profit or partner distributions from that firm on any basis -- weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, semi-annual or annual -- since 2006. Again, zero. Neither has Mr. Davis received any equity in the firm based on profits derived since his financial separation from Davis Manafort in 2006.

Further, and missing from the Times' reporting, Mr. Davis has never -- never -- been a lobbyist for either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Mr. Davis has not served as a registered lobbyist since 2005.

Though these facts are a matter of public record, the New York Times, in what can only be explained as a willful disregard of the truth, failed to research this story or present any semblance of a fairminded treatment of the facts closely at hand. The paper did manage to report one interesting but irrelevant fact: Mr. Davis did participate in a roundtable discussion on the political scene with...Paul Begala.

Again, let us be clear: The New York Times -- in the absence of any supporting evidence -- has insinuated some kind of impropriety on the part of Senator McCain and Rick Davis. But entirely missing from the story is any significant mention of Senator McCain's long advocacy for, and co-sponsorship of legislation to enact, stricter oversight and regulation of both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- dating back to 2006. Please see the attached floor statement on this issue by Senator McCain from 2006.

Not surprisingly, The Times has studiously ignored Obama's campaign people:
The New York Times has never published a single investigative piece, factually correct or otherwise, examining the relationship between Obama campaign chief strategist David Axelrod, his consulting and lobbying clients, and Senator Obama. Likewise, the New York Times never published an investigative report, factually correct or otherwise, examining the relationship between Former Fannie Mae CEO Jim Johnson and Senator Obama, who appointed Johnson head of his VP search committee, until the writing was on the wall and Johnson was under fire following reports from actual news organizations that he had received preferential loans from predatory mortgage lender Countrywide.

posted by Eric at 08:52 AM | Comments (7)

"white privilege" defined

From Team Obama:

White privilege is being able to claim your experience as a POW has anything at all to do with your fitness for president, while being black and experiencing racism is, as Sarah Palin has referred to it, a "light" burden.

And finally, white privilege is the only thing that could possibly allow someone to become president when he has voted with George W. Bush 90 percent of the time, even as unemployment is skyrocketing, people are losing their homes, inflation is rising, and the U.S. is increasingly isolated from world opinion, just because white voters aren't sure about that whole "change" thing. Ya know, it's just too vague and ill-defined, unlike, say, four more years of the same, which is very concrete and certain.

White privilege is, in short, the problem.

Via Kevin D. Williamson, who fails to understand that your're either part of the problem, or part of the solution, and Obama is the solution.

The full "White privilege" quote, in its superb fulminating essence, can be found here. (It's from Tim Wise, a guilty white guy who conducts the kind of seminars the bureaucrats like to make guilty white folks attend.)

Here he is:

Obviously, whiteness is a disease.

MORE: If you liked the above, you'll love Wise's open letter to Hillary's female supporters -- "Your Whiteness is Showing":

First, for those of you threatening to actually vote for John McCain and to oppose Senator Obama, or to stay home in November and thereby increase the likelihood of McCain winning and Obama losing (despite the fact that the latter's policy platform is virtually identical to Clinton's while the former's clearly is not), all the while claiming to be standing up for women...

For those threatening to vote for John McCain or to stay home and increase the odds of his winning (despite the fact that he once called his wife the c-word in public and is a staunch opponent of reproductive freedom and gender equity initiatives, such as comparable worth legislation), all the while claiming to be standing up for women...

For those threatening to vote for John McCain or to stay home and help ensure Barack Obama's defeat, as a way to protest what you call Obama's sexism (examples of which you seem to have difficulty coming up with), all the while claiming to be standing up for women...

Your whiteness is showing.

When I say your whiteness is showing this is what I mean: You claim that your opposition to Obama is an act of gender solidarity, in that women (and their male allies) need to stand up for women in the face of the sexist mistreatment of Clinton by the press. On this latter point--the one about the importance of standing up to the media for its often venal misogyny--you couldn't be more correct. As the father of two young girls who will have to contend with the poison of patriarchy all their lives, or at least until such time as that system of oppression is eradicated, I will be the first to join the boycott of, or demonstration on, whatever media outlet you choose to make that point. But on the first part of the above equation--the part where you insist voting against Obama is about gender solidarity--you are, for lack of a better way to put it, completely full of crap. And what's worse is that at some level I suspect you know it. Voting against Senator Obama is not about gender solidarity. It is an act of white racial bonding, and it is grotesque.

And that was written before the unbearable whiteness of Sarah Palin (whose marriage to an Eskimo descended man must make her at least as white as snow...)

posted by Eric at 12:28 AM | Comments (4)

"Disparate impact." A deadly remedy for a misdiagnosis

Want to understand what happened?

Ace has a very terse and cogent explanation:

If the federal government were guaranteeing a trillion new dollars for no-money down car purchases with no credit checks or proof of employment or income, what do you think would happen to the price of cars?

They'd triple. For a while.

Housing market turns into dangerously overinflated bubble. Which is what always happens when a trillion fresh, cheap, easy dollars flow into a sector and begin chasing the same limited pool of goods.

Millions of credit-poor homebuyers -- with erratic and unverified incomes -- now have mortgages with payements well out of their range. But at least the homes are still worth their selling price... so if they default on a $350,000 house, no sweat, the bank now owns the $350,000 house, which can be sold for $350,000 to someone else.

But finally the bubble bursts -- and now all those credit-poor, erratic income homeowners now have mortgages for $350,000 on houses actually worth $150,000.

So what do they do? They walk away or stop paying. Which makes perfect economic sense.

Leaving Fannie and Freddie guaranteeing a trillion in bad mortgages. Which means you're guaranteeing them.

The bank made a $350,000 payment to the home-seller -- but now has only a $150,000 home to show for it. Uh-oh.

You the taxpayer just went on the hook for that $200,000 loss.

Wall Street's contribution? They stupidly bought up derivatives based on these junk mortgages, thus putting themselves, and the entire financial system, at dire risk.

(Via Glenn Reynolds.)

As to what caused the push for no-money down home sales with no credit checks or proof of employment or income, it's easy. I've lost track of the number of posts I've written about it.

Ace singles out Barney Frank for especially harsh treatment, and while Frank is an insufferable fool, he's as replaceable as a piston ring. (As are "Chris Dodd, ACORN, Franklin Raines, Penny Pritzker, Jim Johnson, and of course Barack Hussein Obama.")

The problem is the relentless push for socialism (a word few will use), which has done enormous damage to the economy by the simple misuse of a two word phrase:

"Disparate impact."

This is the legal doctrine behind much of the abandonment of standards in the name of "fair lending," but it is not limited to banking. It has come to permeate almost every aspect of business culture, and it is explained here:

These [disparate impact] claims do not allege, and need not prove, that individuals were treated differently because of their race. Instead, it is enough to show that a neutral practice has a disproportionate effect -- that is, a disparate impact -- on some racial group.

For instance, if a landlord refuses to rent to people who are unemployed, and it turns out that this excludes a higher percentage of whites than Asians, then a white would-be renter could sue. It would not matter that the reason for the landlord's policy was race-neutral and had nothing to do with hostility to whites. The landlord would be liable, unless he could show some "necessity" for the policy....

There are lots of other examples of race-neutral policies that can be challenged because of the disparate impact they have in the housing market. Suppose a lender refuses to make home loans to felons -- or simply to people with poor credit ratings. Those practices also will have a disparate impact. The same is likely true if a city makes a particular zoning decision (the underlying controversy in Cuyahoga Falls) or has per-house or per-apartment occupancy limits (an increasing area of controversy in many communities).

Whether it's real, intentional, discrimination does not matter. To illustrate the dishonesty of this doctrine, let me return to Ace's example of automobile sales. Suppose I decide to sell my used car, and I run an ad offering it for $10,000. Right there, I would be having a disparate impact on the people who did not have $10,000. (I realize none of them would complain, but be patient. I'm still a low level "operator.") Suppose I decide it would be easier to sell the car if I offer financing, but only to those "with approved credit." Another disparate impact. But still no one complains. Eventually, I sell the car, use the proceeds to buy another one, then two, then five, and ultimately I find myself renting an unused parking lot for the 500 or so cars I have accumulated as my inventory. At that point, my "discrimination" will begin to attract enough public attention that one of my hapless credit-unworthy "victims" (someone I've turned down) will find a lawyer, and claim that my credit practices (which had nothing to do with anything but covering my bottom line) have a "disparate impact" on a particular group of people to which he happens to belong.

Sound unfair? You bet. But this same basic operating principle lies at the heart of the heart of the crisis.

In an earlier post in which I discussed the abandonment of banking standards, an angry commenter came right back at me:

Sorry, but that's a rather desparate attempt to blame this Republican generated disaster on minorities and liberals. Phil Gramm is the perp here, loosening the rules for the benefit of the financial sector, not so minorities could get loans. The worse part is that you know it and can't admit it.
Ever trying to be reasonable, I replied thusly:
My complaint is with the elimination of standards. (No one has refuted the claim that "if Freddie and Fannie had stuck to low-risk lending they would today not be needing any government bailout.")

Standards were eliminated for everyone. Many of the bad loans were not made to minorities, who were used as pawns and suffered more than the fat cats. The claim that I blamed "minorities" when I did not is simply an attempt to impugn my motivation and make the claim that I do not really think what I think.

Saying "you know it and can't admit it" is a classic example of discounting my opinion by asserting that I actually think something else but am too dishonest to admit it. That is not an argument on the merits, and it's about as reasonable as saying that I'm bitter and cling to religion and guns.

Once again, I maintain that it was a mistake to eliminate lending standards. You can disagree with me, but accusing me of bigotry or saying I actually think something else (when I don't) does not refute my claim.

I'm thinking I was too gentle, because I failed to point out that the charge I was "blaming minorities" was grounded in a fundamental error. The "disparate impact" movement is not about minorities. It is not about racism.

It is a lie. A lie grounded in labeling as "discrimination" things which are not. A lie promulgated and perpetuated by those who want to control the business sector. A lie which is always driven by the dishonest accusation that someone is guilty of discrimination. A lie backed by an ever present witch hunt mentality.

I realize, though, that "lie" might have too inflammatory a ring to it for some readers. But I think most reasonable people can agree that "disparate impact" is at least an error in logic.

I think it's a huge, tragic error. One for which we are all paying a very dear price.

posted by Eric at 11:25 PM | Comments (10)

Helping to bring about "change"?

Is education still an issue?

Anyone who thinks it is, or who wants to learn more about Barack Obama's background in the field should read "Obama and Ayers Pushed Radicalism On Schools":

Despite having authored two autobiographies, Barack Obama has never written about his most important executive experience. From 1995 to 1999, he led an education foundation called the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC), and remained on the board until 2001. The group poured more than $100 million into the hands of community organizers and radical education activists.
As to why Obama is downplaying his leadership of the CAC, I think there are two reasons. For starters, the CAC was the brainchild of unrepentent terrorist Bill Ayers:
The CAC was the brainchild of Bill Ayers, a founder of the Weather Underground in the 1960s. Among other feats, Mr. Ayers and his cohorts bombed the Pentagon, and he has never expressed regret for his actions. Barack Obama's first run for the Illinois State Senate was launched at a 1995 gathering at Mr. Ayers's home.

The Obama campaign has struggled to downplay that association. Last April, Sen. Obama dismissed Mr. Ayers as just "a guy who lives in my neighborhood," and "not somebody who I exchange ideas with on a regular basis." Yet documents in the CAC archives make clear that Mr. Ayers and Mr. Obama were partners in the CAC. Those archives are housed in the Richard J. Daley Library at the University of Illinois at Chicago and I've recently spent days looking through them.

The Chicago Annenberg Challenge was created ostensibly to improve Chicago's public schools. The funding came from a national education initiative by Ambassador Walter Annenberg. In early 1995, Mr. Obama was appointed the first chairman of the board, which handled fiscal matters. Mr. Ayers co-chaired the foundation's other key body, the "Collaborative," which shaped education policy.

As the author Stanley Kurtz argues, this work with Ayers is hardly guilt by association; "it's guilt by participation."

Which comes to the second reason Obama doesn't want to talk about his work with Ayers and the CAC. The outfit promoted a radical approach to education based on Ayers' view that student radicalism should be emphasized, and educational achievement de-emphasized:

The CAC's agenda flowed from Mr. Ayers's educational philosophy, which called for infusing students and their parents with a radical political commitment, and which downplayed achievement tests in favor of activism. In the mid-1960s, Mr. Ayers taught at a radical alternative school, and served as a community organizer in Cleveland's ghetto.

In works like "City Kids, City Teachers" and "Teaching the Personal and the Political," Mr. Ayers wrote that teachers should be community organizers dedicated to provoking resistance to American racism and oppression. His preferred alternative? "I'm a radical, Leftist, small 'c' communist," Mr. Ayers said in an interview in Ron Chepesiuk's, "Sixties Radicals," at about the same time Mr. Ayers was forming CAC.

Little wonder Obama doesn't want anyone to know. It's one thing to hang out with a guy like Ayers in a bar and have a few beers. I could forgive something like that. But here he was, partnering with Ayers in a radical enterprise to indoctrinate children, by messing with their heads.

As if that's not bad enough, they also steered money to ACORN:

CAC translated Mr. Ayers's radicalism into practice. Instead of funding schools directly, it required schools to affiliate with "external partners," which actually got the money. Proposals from groups focused on math/science achievement were turned down. Instead CAC disbursed money through various far-left community organizers, such as the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (or Acorn).
Of one thing we can be glad. The effort failed, because (surprise!) student test scores failed to improve.
Mr. Obama once conducted "leadership training" seminars with Acorn, and Acorn members also served as volunteers in Mr. Obama's early campaigns. External partners like the South Shore African Village Collaborative and the Dual Language Exchange focused more on political consciousness, Afrocentricity and bilingualism than traditional education. CAC's in-house evaluators comprehensively studied the effects of its grants on the test scores of Chicago public-school students. They found no evidence of educational improvement.
At least, I guess the fact that it failed is good. But it's money down the drain, fed into the small c communist coffers.

Kurtz is right that there's a lot more to this than "guilt by association."

As CAC chairman, Mr. Obama was lending moral and financial support to Mr. Ayers and his radical circle. That is a story even if Mr. Ayers had never planted a single bomb 40 years ago.
Obama's coverup is quite understandable. Associating with an unrepetant terrorist radical is one thing. Working with him is another.

But partnering with him to help bring about his radical educational ideas?


Whether the voters will ever know the details, I don't know. Obama continues to insist that the issue is how old he was at the time Ayers and his outfit were bombing people, and that his critics are stuck in the 60s.

What ought to matter is how old he was when they were both trying to bring about "change" in the 90s.

MORE: Noting that the MSM has "quite consciously and deliberately ignored and minimized this subject," Glenn Reynolds links the WSJ piece and also a great Hot Air post (from which I'll quote liberally):

Kurtz' report provides a very interesting look at the early political life of Barack Obama. He had already entered politics at the time he joined the CAC, and even at that stage had allied himself with ACORN, which has found itself at the center of more than a dozen voter-fraud investigations. Obama also allied himself with Ayers and helped the former Weather Underground fugitive push forward with his plans to radicalize an entire generation of schoolchildren in the area through the CAC. Note well the parallels to community organizing that play out in the activities of the CAC, and recall again how Obama claims that activity as a major qualification for the presidency.

Ayers wanted teachers trained to instruct against "oppression" and to push schoolchildren towards political beliefs Ayers valued -- apparently valuing them higher than actual education. Barack Obama agreed, and for several years worked in close partnership with Ayers to implement that educational policy. Even had Ayers never tossed a single bomb, this kind of educational philosophy would likely raise eyebrows with most parents, who desire a real education for their children and not some sort of political indoctrination camp. With the context of Ayers' violent radicalism, however, it makes the CAC even worse -- a breeding ground for future Weathermen, ready to follow Ayers' lead when the time comes for the revolution that Ayers and his wife (and co-terrorist) Bernardine Dohrn to this day desire.

Barack Obama not only supported this, he helped run this program for several years. What does that say about Obama's idea of mainstream, as he has repeatedly described Ayers and Dohrn? What does that say about his own politics, his own ideas on education, and what kind of philosophy he brings to American politics?

In an earlier post (titled "What if Ayers really is mainstream?") I speculated that the fact of Ayers being part of the Democratic mainstream is the real issue they want to hide:
Is Ayers mainstream or is he not?

I think the answer is that experienced and powerful Democrats fear that he may very well be mainstream, and that this makes the Democratic Party look bad.

Think about it. If it is "mainstream" to be an unrepentant terrorist who tramples the American flag and regrets not bombing enough, that is hardly an indictment of "the 1960s" (for the man has not changed his radical views), nor is it merely an indictment of Barack Obama.

It is in fact a horrendous indictment of what is apparently part of the Democratic Party's "mainstream."

So what if the Obama is right, and an extreme radical like Bill Ayers really is part of the "mainstream"?

The implications for the Democratic Party are very ugly.

I keep saying this is worse than Jeremiah Wright, and I think it is. Far worse.

You'd almost think Wright was a distraction from this, um, mainstream issue.

MORE: Joshua Muravchik, writing in Commentary, looks at the Obama Ayers collaboration and says,

"There may be much more, so far successfully hidden by all concerned; but even these facts suggest that Ayers was among Obama's closest collaborators."
My guess is that Obama would continue to say he hardly knew the guy.

I say "would" because I'm not convinced the Ayers questions will even be asked.

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

An issue that should not be forgotten

Regular readers know that I am a Life Member of the NRA and a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

I've said that I could never vote for Barack Obama because of his socialistic background. (The ACORN connection especially worries me.) But aside from being one of the most socialistic politicians in America, Barack Obama is also one of the most vehemently anti-gun politicians, and for that reason alone, I could also never consider voting for him -- even if I believed his malarkey about how he supports the free market system.

Like his running mate Joe Biden, Barack Obama is rated "F" by the NRA for numerous reasons, and that last link spells many of them out.

In short, Obama-Biden constitute the most anti-gun ticket in United States history.

Little wonder the NRA is running this ad:

obama nra.jpg

I'm glad they're running it. This is a major issue that neither the complex economic debate -- nor the relentless promotion of the "Vote for Obama or else you're a racist!" meme -- should be allowed to obscure.

M. Simon sent me a link to some great NRA videos here.

In this one, a veteran who fought for his country says he will never vote for a man who wants to take away his right to own a handgun:

And here's one revealing Joe Biden's appalling record :

How anyone who owns a gun (or who believes in the right to keep and bear arms) could even consider voting for the Democratic ticket is beyond me.

posted by Eric at 11:54 AM | Comments (6)

Some Lovely Friends You Have Buddy

posted by Simon at 11:32 AM | Comments (0)

Fanning the frames of flames

According to Matthew Rothschild, "the race boils down to racism":

With Election Day approaching, McCain surrogates or supporters may not be able to resist the temptation to fan the flames of racism. Expect the snippets of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright to resurface. Expect video of Michelle Obama sounding militant. Expect disgusting ads about Obama's admitted drug use as a very young man. Expect that picture of Obama in Muslim garb again.

This campaign will ultimately be a referendum on the intractability of racism.


The way things are going with these endless charges of "racism," I think it's more likely to be a referendum on the intractability of the imputation of racism. Which of course the imputers would claim proves their point. That's because when an issue -- dishonest or not -- is injected into a campaign as relentlessly as "racism" is being injected into this campaign, it's there, and it won't go away easily. The old "try not to think about elephants" routine. American voters are being inundated -- on a daily basis now -- with the following, deeply ugly, message: if you're white and you don't vote for Obama it's because you're a racist.

The only people who have any hope of a defense are Republican stalwarts. They can say "I just voted the Party line as I always do." Not so for Democrats and independents. If they vote for McCain, they will have to live with the unsettling knowledge that post-election inquisitors will always be able to ask them who they voted for in 2008, and if they answer McCain, it will be seen as suspect. And even if they say, "It's my business who I voted for!" leftie McCarthyites will take that as a tacit admission that they voted for McCain. And either way, they're obviously racists, right?

Not that I could ever convince anyone on the left that I'm anything but a cracker, but I thought it might at least be entertaining to take a look at the "flames" Mr. Rothschild cites in his indictment piece.

  • Expect the snippets of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright to resurface.
  • It's hard to forget a malevolent clown like Wright. I can't stand the guy, although as I have said many times, I think Obama's close association with Bill Ayers is far worse. Forgive me if I am wrong, but not only were the Wright snippets first dug up by Clinton campaign operatives, but what really upset people was the one showing the guy screaming "God damn America!" Please correct me if they were really upset by Wright's race and not by the hateful things he said, but that's my memory of it, and I don't see what Jeremiah Wright has to do with race. Unless, of course, it's the same identity politics formulation that because he is black, all criticism of him by whites is assumed to be racist. (Or might the author think that hating America is "black"? The thought would never cross my mind, but I'm just wondering.)

  • Expect video of Michelle Obama sounding militant.
  • Militant? I remember a video in which she said that she was proud to be an American for the first time in her life, but that didn't strike me as especially militant. The debate revolved around her patriotism, which Obama's opponents were questioning.

    Hmmm.... So what's with the word "militant"? Am I missing the videos of her calling for armed struggle against "the Beast" like Ayers and his odious wife? I doubt such videos exist, and even if they did -- even if she had been as loony as the Weather Underground -- how would pointing that out be a form of racism? I think "unpatriotic" is the correct word here. Why didn't he say "Expect video of Michelle Obama sounding unpatriotic?" Is it possible that Rothschild is uncomfortable with the word? Or does he think that "militant" is a better word to fan the flames of racism because somehow (in his mind, at least) militant equals black? (Frankly, if I didn't know any better, I'd swear that was racist thinking on Rothschild's part. But he can't be the racist, because he's leveling the accusation. So forgive me!)

  • Expect disgusting ads about Obama's admitted drug use as a very young man.

    It's news to me (an admitted former drug user) that drugs have anything to do with race. As a matter of fact, the last time I visited the leading liberal news site (Raw Story) I saw countless lurid pieces revisiting Cindy McCain's past drug use. Naturally, in any campaign, such stuff can be used to generate "disgusting ads." And I agree that they're disgusting. Certainly they don't persuade me of anything. But can anyone tell me why they'd only be racist in the case of Barack Obama? Again, unless drug taking equals black (something no reasonable person would contend) I think this might reveal a certain bias on the part of the author.

  • Expect that picture of Obama in Muslim garb again.
  • Personally, I thought using that picture was a low blow, and the Clinton campaign should have been ashamed for doing it. But it fed into the meme that Obama was a Muslim, and Islam is a religion, not a race. I don't like anti-Muslim bigotry, but it is no more "racism" than is anti-Catholic bigotry.

    I think the racist "flames" are being fanned by the hyperventilation of Rothschild's mind.

    The problem is, if enough people want this race to be a referendum about race, it will become that.

    Whether it should won't matter.

    posted by Eric at 10:42 AM | Comments (3)

    Just say no! To Bush!

    Things look pretty bad for McCain right now. The left has been pushing the McCain=Bush meme for so long that a lot of people have come to accept it through osmosis.

    And now that there's been an "economic meldown," there's a huge "rescue plan" being pushed by Bush. The Democrats are jumping all over each other trying to make political hay out of it. (Adrianna Huffington's "The Bailout Plan: Welcome to Economic Shock and Awe" from this morning is typical.)

    And so far, McCain seems to be going along with it (although not so loudly as to be irreversibly loud).

    Far be it from me to offer advice that wouldn't be heeded. But I can reflect on what other people are saying, and I think Newt Gingrich got it right last night when he said that McCain should go against Bush on this one. Show he is in fact real maverick he's always claimed to be.

    He has consistently condemned pork, and if this isn't pork, then what is?

    Here's Thomas Sowell:

    Whenever there is a lot of the taxpayers' money around, politicians are going to find ways to spend it that will increase their chances of getting re-elected by giving goodies to voters.

    The longer it takes Congress to pass the bailout bill, the more of those goodies are going to find their way into the legislation. Speed is important, not just to protect the financial markets but to protect the taxpayers from having more of their hard-earned money squandered by politicians.

    Regardless of what Barack Obama or John McCain may say they are going to do as president, after a trillion dollars has been taken off the top there is going to be a lot less left in the federal treasury for them to do anything with.

    Already Senator Christopher Dodd is talking about extending the bailout from the financial firms to homeowners facing mortgage foreclosures-- as if the point of all this is to play Santa Claus.

    Dodd. That's the guy who's the number one recipient of Fannie Mae's, um, largesse. He just loves this gigantic bailout (which really ought to be called the Mother of all Pork Barrels):
    bailing out people who made ill-advised mortgages makes no more sense that bailing out people who lost their life savings in Las Vegas casinos. It makes political sense only to people like Senator Dodd, who are among the reasons for the financial mess in the first place.

    People usually stop making ill-advised decisions when they are forced to face the consequences of those decisions, not when politicians come to their rescue and make the taxpayers pay for decisions that the taxpayers had nothing to do with.

    The Wall Street Journal, which has for years been sounding the alarm about the riskiness of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, recently cited Senator Christopher Dodd along with Senator Charles Schumer and Congressman Barney Frank among those on Capitol Hill who have been "shilling" for these financial institutions, downplaying the risks and opposing attempts to restrict their free-wheeling role in the mortgage market.

    As recently as July of this year, Senator Dodd declared Fannie Mae and Freddie "fundamentally strong" and said there is no need for "panicking" about them. But now that the chickens have come home to roost, Senator Dodd wants to be sure to get some goodies from the rescue legislation to pass out to people likely to vote for him.

    McCain ought to say NO to all of this, in no uncertain terms. This will put him squarely in opposition to Bush, and with any luck, it will transform Obama into the status quo, Bush administration-supporting candidate.

    Obama=Bush! Maybe that's "change" -- but I don't know how well it will go over with Obama supporters.

    The reason this makes so much sense is that there's so little time. Neither the voters nor the politicians will be able to understand (much less reflect on) all of the infinite permutations of 700 billion dollars worth of pork, and process that intelligently during the next few weeks while there's an election on. (I do not mean to sound condescending; I can't process it either.) When voters are confused, they tend to proceed with caution.

    So I think McCain taking a true-to-his-character, anti-pork, maverick stance works for a variety of reasons.

    Hell, it might even be the right thing to do.

    (Ask me when I've had time to process the numbers, in a year or so....)

    MORE: Megan McArdle has a very sensible post which attempts to answer an excellent question; How close was the financial system to melting down? Conclusion: Consider that the Great Depression came upon a society much less dependent on unsecured credit than we are. Then count your lucky stars that our financial officials are moderately competent.

    How likely was this doomsday scenario? No way to know. But it was possible. That's quite scary enough. That it was scary is the whole problem. It's scary but economically scary, not war scary. This favors the Democratic Party, and unfortunately, their candidate is (IMO) an ardent socialist.

    McCain has to stop him -- even if it means opposing Bush now at the risk of making the economy wait a month. I'm no economist, but I think hasty solutions have a poor enough track record.

    The timing is not merely bad, it's f*cking insanely bad.

    (Believe it or not, I'm actually sorry for the country.)

    MORE: These poll results cheered me a bit:


    This is not to say they agree with me (or Gingrich -- a guy I generally can't stand, BTW), but it's nice to know I'm not alone in my priorities.

    Electing a socialist now would throw gasoline on the fire.

    MORE: Don't miss "Catastrophic apocalyptic armageddon!
    Or something.
    " from Rachel Lucas. (Unless I'm reading her wrong, she seems to like Gingrich's idea.)

    At the risk of displaying my ignorance, I do think the economy is beyond our immediate control.

    Unlike the election.

    MORE: Here's the view of an economist I trust, Arnold Kling:

    The risks of enacting the plan are far worse than the risks of doing nothing.
    (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

    posted by Eric at 09:12 AM | Comments (0)


    H/T Uppity Woman

    posted by Simon at 07:58 PM | Comments (0)

    Thirty Missing Investigators

    H/T The Patriot Room

    Welcome Instapundit readers. Here is something else that needs investigating. Crony Capitalism. Since the cronies are in Congress and include all of the Democrats (the Black Caucus is especially strong in that area) and many Republicans the investigation will need to be done by the people. Throw the bums out.

    BTW thanks to commenter ZZ Mike here is some text on the Thirty Investigators.

    For those of you who asked: at a McCain Town Hall a woman got up and asked why there were 30 people in Alaska investigating Sarah Palin and yet no media people were in Chicago investigating the ties of Obama to Bill Ayers and the Crooks from Crook County (Chicago).

    posted by Simon at 07:36 PM | Comments (32)

    Condoleezza's Ambition

    If one were to read Hugh Muir's politics diary at the Guardian UK, one might get the impression that Condoleezza Rice were slyly passing judgment on Sarah Palin or hints to herself by manipulating the Great Seal (cf. Barack Obama's glossy Seal 2.0, whose Latin phrase sounds whiny to me: "Really, we can!"):

    Is Condoleezza Rice, who was often spoken of as a potential Republican presidential candidate, fully on board with the Sarah Palin phenomenon? She seems to be dropping hints that she might be still available, for now, or perhaps when the cavalcade rolls again in four years? On her recent trip to Libya on Air Force Two, the napkins that came with the drinks bore the great seal of the US; except that instead of E pluribus unum "From many, one", the legend read E pluribus unam. Most took this to be a misprint, but Latin scholars noted that unam is a feminine form. From many, one woman, is it? Which one?

    It is a typo, and it says nothing about Condoleezza Rice that someone made a mistake on a cocktail napkin.

    How do I know it's a typo?

    Because I, unlike those mentioned by Muir, actually am a Latin scholar.

    In the phrase e pluribus unum, the word unum (neuter gender) is in the nominative case, the case that names the subject. But unam (feminine gender) can only be accusative, the case that marks the object of a transitive verb (among a few other things, e.g., extent of space or duration of time).

    The formulation with unam is meaningless without a transitive verb, while unum is a purely descriptive phrase not requiring a verb of any kind.

    As an aside, e pluribus unum makes better sense when considered not as "one out of many", which is ambiguous, but rather as "a union (composed) of a great many (states)". (The preposition e/ex with the ablative case--i.e., e pluribus--can denote the material out of which a thing is composed.) That's why it's part of the Great Seal of the United States: it speaks specifically to the nature of the union, not about a melting pot, not about pluralities, but about many states forming 'one thing' (unum).

    In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the neuter idea underlying unum were not foedus, a kind of "covenant" or agreement underlying the idea of federalism. Then we're talking about one federal government which depends upon a great number of constituent states, and the very essence of the nation depends upon maintaining the sovereignty of those constituents.

    posted by Dennis at 06:08 PM | Comments (4)

    My late "Astroturf roundup"

    Astroturfing by the Obama campaign?

    Say it isn't true!

    M. Simon posted about it last night, and the pieces are now all falling into place. The evidence is overwhelming. More here.

    Michelle Malkin has posted one of the videos they've been desperately trying to pull. YouTube accounts are being closed left and right. It appears the chief culprit is the Winner & Associates firm.

    Within an hour of publication of the Jawa Report's investigation, "eswinner" deleted the smear video that he had uploaded several times on September 11.
    There are more, and all the accounts have been closed.

    I figure that if they're such dishonest wimps that they can't stand behind their own work, the least I can do is republish here what they took down. That way, if they sue me for "copyright" violations, I can play "discovery" with them.

    So here it is. (I've also downloaded it and saved it, and so have others, so it will never go away.)

    (It's a lie, of course, as Palin was never a member of the AIP.)

    People who want an encapsulated version of this story can find a good summary here, along with an observation:

    If all of this is true and the Obama campaign can be connected to it, it would represent a massive set of FEC violations, as well as the ultimate repudiation of "hope and change" and "New Politics". In fact, it would be a massive demonstration of Chicago Politics on a national scale.
    Via Dave Price, who adds,
    The only question now is how long the MSM can ignore this blatantly dishonest scheme. It took weeks for Dan Rather to be discredited.
    As Glenn says, stay tuned.

    Gee, I didn't realize how the words "Astroturf" and "Roundup" look together. I guess Astroturf is not Roundup proof after all.

    UPDATE: Via Darleen Click in the comments below, Ethan confesses -- "But with lots of disclaimers. (heh)"

    Also "Ace is rolling up the sidewalks behind and catching lots of other bit players in this nasty business."

    posted by Eric at 05:23 PM | Comments (3)

    Fannie Mae trivia question

    While many have heard about how Barack Obama took over $100,000 from Fannie Mae ($126,349, according to Open Secrets), I think I've found the Fannie Mae trivia question for the day.

    Who turned down $100,000 from Fannie Mae?

    No, that is not a trick question or a joke. (Nor is the economic crisis triggered by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac a laughing matter, even if these things beg for ridicule.)

    According to George F. Will (who is not laighing), the answer is the CATO Institute:

    In the 1994 elections, Republicans ended 40 years of Democratic control of the House of Representatives. So in 1995, a vice president of Fannie Mae wrote a letter to Ed Crane, president of the Cato Institute, saying that Fannie Mae intended to give that libertarian, free-market think tank a $100,000 grant.

    Politics produced Fannie Mae. It was created by the government in 1938 to further the government objective of increased homeownership. It was sold -- semi-privatized, sort of -- for a political purpose: to help President Lyndon Johnson finance the Vietnam War. Fannie Mae has no objection to interventionist government; the regulatory state created and cosseted it. And it has always known which side its bread is buttered on -- on both sides, by taxpayers, through the implicit federal guarantee of Fannie Mae's obligations.

    But in 1995, Fannie Mae, attempting to ingratiate itself with conservatives, approached Cato with cash, thereby proving that it understands libertarianism no better than it understands subprime mortgages. When Crane responded that Cato never accepts government funding, he received a starchy letter from Fannie Mae hotly denying that it was in any way a government entity.

    I guess that was supposed to be a serious denial, even if it looks ridiculous in retrospect.

    Will goes on to discuss another of the seemingly endless government subsidies (in this case more "corporate welfare for GM, Ford and Chrysler"), which also aren't meant as jokes, no matter how ridiculous they look.

    And he closes by citing Marx. Which Marx?

    Not Groucho, but Karl:

    In "The Communist Manifesto," Karl Marx marveled that, such is capitalism's dynamism, "all that is solid melts into air." Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch should not be the last to learn the truth of that.
    "All that is solid melts into air?"

    (I don't know what Groucho would have said, but at the risk of sounding optimistic, I don't think Karl took into account the dynamism involved in using gaseous emissions to solidify our liquidity to prevent liquidating our solids.)

    posted by Eric at 04:37 PM | Comments (2)

    Who would Jesus tax?
    "Catholic social doctrine as I was taught it is, you take care of people who need the help the most."
    Don't worry, I'm not going to play "Name that Christianist" again. The speaker was Senator Joe Biden, and he was explaining how his religious views define what he thinks ought to be government policies on taxation.

    While there wasn't much media ink wasted on the statement (which was barely reported), imagine the uproar had Sarah Palin invoked the "social doctrine" of the Assemblies Of God.

    Why? Because Sarah Palin is said to be a "Christianist" and a "theocrat," while Joe Biden never is.

    What is a Christianist? Here's the definition, straight from the source:

    I mean merely by the term Christianist the view that religious faith is so important that it must also have a precise political agenda. It is the belief that religion dictates politics and that politics should dictate the laws for everyone, Christian and non-Christian alike.

    Precise political agenda about what?

    Suppose that according to Catholic doctrine, abortion is a sin. If an anti-abortion politician were to cite Catholic doctrine in advocating abortion policy, why would that make him any more of a "theocrat" or "Christianist" than if he cited Catholic doctrine in advocating taxation policy.

    What gives here? Why is abortion more Christianist than taxation? I mean, Jesus never mentioned abortion, yet the "render unto Caesar" line has been quoted to death. So if it is "Christianism" to have abortion policies dictated by Christianity, why isn't it even more "Christianist" to have our tax policies dictated by Christianity?

    Hey, Jesus hung out with tax collectors, didn't he?

    And while there is no biblical evidence that he hung out with either pro-abortion or anti-abortion people, he may well have, because it's beyond dispute that the Romans routinely practiced abortion, while Judaism generally frowned on the practice. (As to what the Talmudic scriptures teach about abortion, it's murky.)

    So the question remains, why is advocacy of one Christian doctrine called "Christianism" and the other isn't?

    Should start thinking of the IRS as a group of radical Christianists?

    No, and the answer is simple. Opposition to abortion is right wing, which makes it automatically theocratic and Christianist. Support for tax hikes is left wing, which means it cannot be theocratic or Christianist, no matter how fervently religion is invoked.

    Got that?

    MORE: Damn! I didn't see it, but Glenn Reynolds beat me to calling Joe Biden a Christianist:

    JOE BIDEN, CHRISTIANIST: "The political left likes to score Republicans for claiming that God is on their side, but here we have Mr. Biden claiming support from both God and Caesar. If Sarah Palin tried this, she'd send the boys at the Daily Kos into cardiac arrest. We won't get into a theological debate with Mr. Biden, except to say that Biblical tax rates tended to run around 10%, not the 39.6%-plus that Barack Obama's tax plan calls for."
    No, I don't have time to examine the abortion rates from the Caesars' times. My point would be the same.

    posted by Eric at 03:05 PM | Comments (4)

    Master Of The Astroturf

    That would be David Axelrod, Obama's Campaign Manager.

    David Axelrod has long been known for his political magic. Through his AKP&D Message & Media consultancy, the campaign veteran has advised a succession of Democratic candidates since 1985, and he's now chief strategist for Senator Barack Obama's bid for President. But on the down low, Axelrod moonlights in the private sector.

    From the same River North address, Axelrod operates a second business, ASK Public Strategies, that discreetly plots strategy and advertising campaigns for corporate clients to tilt public opinion their way. He and his partners consider virtually everything about ASK to be top secret, from its client roster and revenue to even the number of its employees. But customers and public records confirm that it has quarterbacked campaigns for the Chicago Children's Museum, ComEd, Cablevision, and AT&T.

    ASK's predilection for operating in the shadows shows up in its work.

    The article is kind of old (March of this year) so why did I bring it up? It might have something to do with a bit I posted earlier today: Is Team Obama Astroturfing? And for those of you not familiar with the term the wiki has an explanatory article Astroturfing. The short version: a well financed public relations campaign pretending to be a grassroots effort.

    It seems nothing about Obama is what it seems to be. Except for his Chicago/Crook County connections. Which are better left in the dark. For Obama. Obviously McCain has other ideas.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 01:28 PM | Comments (2)

    Politics Chicago Style

    posted by Simon at 12:49 PM | Comments (1)

    Not even a conspiracy theory -- much less "history"

    I hate conspiracy theories, especially blogging about them. Even more do I hate spending my time checking them out to see whether they have any merit. That's because few reasonable people care. Reasonable people don't waste time with conspiracy theories, and tend not to believe them. So, if a conspiracy theory is "debunked," the reaction of reasonable people is a collective "so what?"

    OTOH, to the people who believe in conspiracy theories, there is no such thing as debunking. To the contrary; the latest scientific evidence is that debunking only heightens their determination to hold firm, dig in their heels, and relentlessly present "The Truth" -- and save the rest of us miserable people from our complacent selves.

    So, trust me when I say that few things are more tedious than what I did last night, which was to stream a very tedious BBC broadcast and listen in the hope of verifying the "evidence" in support of recent contention that not only was last week's economic bailout a Bish coup, but that sinister Bush coups run in the sinister Bush family.

    Oh yes:

    The Bush family, in the form of Prescott Bush, has tried a more aggressive coup before in order to install fascism in this country. This treasonous plot was called "the Business Plot," because the high-level plotters - including Prescott Bush - were Wall Street men who openly supported fascism.

    It seems this time around, the Bush family is trying the more subtle approach to open bloodshed: first create a crisis, then under the guise of addressing that crisis, overthrow democracy. Yes, it does sound terribly conspiracy-theory-esque when explained just this way. But what else does one call a criminal conspiracy to destroy Congressional powers permanently, alter Judicial powers permanently, and steal public funds?

    The author argues that this "latest" Bush coup leaves us no choice but impeachment or revolution. (See Bob Owens's and Jeff Goldstein's thorough discussions of that, which Glenn Reynolds linked yesterday.)

    But for the "coups are a Bush family tradition" meme I would not have had much to add. And frankly, if the same argument had been made a writer at or some other conspiracy site, I would not have bothered to examine the "evidence." The problem is, the author in question here -- Larisa Alexandrovna -- happens to be the managing news editor for Raw Story. The latter is a site I visit regularly, and while I knew it was liberal in its orientation, reading that the news editor thinks this way hardly inspires confidence.

    Nor is the author backing down from her claim of Prescott Bush's 1933 coup involvement. She has attacked her critics as "right wing idiots," and at her blog she also maintains -- apparently seriously -- that this is no conspiracy theory:

    Another one [critic] actually thinks that the infamous Business Plot is a conspiracy theory. So much for history lessons. Who needs them anyway, right?
    History lessons?

    Again, here's the "history" this Raw Story editor believes is so settled as to be beyond dispute:

    This treasonous plot was called "the Business Plot," because the high-level plotters - including Prescott Bush - were Wall Street men who openly supported fascism.
    While the Business Plot (which went nowhere) has been debated by historians, no one has cited a single legitimate historian anywhere who seriously maintains that Prescott Bush was involved -- much less as a "high level plotter." Instead, the people who are jumping on the "Bush Coup I" bandwagon cite as evidence a BBC radio show.

    Here's how it is described -- by the BBC:

    The coup was aimed at toppling President Franklin D Roosevelt with the help of half-a-million war veterans. The plotters, who were alleged to involve some of the most famous families in America, (owners of Heinz, Birds Eye, Goodtea, Maxwell Hse & George Bush's Grandfather, Prescott) believed that their country should adopt the policies of Hitler and Mussolini to beat the great depression.

    Mike Thomson investigates why so little is known about this biggest ever peacetime threat to American democracy.


    I hate seeing shit like that late on a Sunday night. Honestly, it felt like homework. Very ugly homework.

    But like the dutiful schoolboy I never really wanted to be, I did my duty, and I found the entirety of the interview archived here, and I listened for more than 27 minutes.

    At no point is there any allegation that Prescott Bush was involved in the Business Plot.

    From the show, starting at 20:07:

    ...a shipping company called HAL was accused of providing free passage to Germany to American journalists willing to write favorable copy on Hitler's rise to power. The company is also alleged to have brought Nazi spies and pro-fasicst sympathizers into America.

    John Buchanan has studied this latest section of the report and has discovered that one of the company's managers came from a very famous family:

    "The thing that surprised me the most was to discover in the documents that this company Hamburg America Lines had in fact been been managed on the managed on the US side at the executive level by Prescott Bush, as part of a web of Nazi business interests that were all seized in late 1942 under the Trading With The Enemy act by the US Congress, and Prescott Bush is the grandfather of the sitting president of the United States."

    The claim is also made that names were edited out of the government archives, which does not prove Prescott Bush's involvement in a coup.

    In short, there's nothing whatsoever to tie Prescott Bush to the coup. (Ironically, Ms. Alexandrovna is right to maintain that this is no conspiracy theory, because there's no evidence to support it.)

    This is confirmed in Prescott Bush's wiki entry, which contains a heading titled Alleged plot to overthrow FDR:

    On July 23, 2007, the BBC Radio 4 series Document reported on the alleged Business Plot and the archives from the McCormack-Dickstein Committee hearings. The program does not in any way state or imply that Prescott Bush was involved in the plot. The program mentioned Bush's directorship of the Hamburg-America Line, a company that the committee investigated for Nazi propaganda activities, and the alleged 1933 attempt, supposedly led by Gerald MacGuire, to stage a military coup against President Franklin D. Roosevelt aimed at forcing Roosevelt to resign (or, failing that, to assassinate him) and at installing a fascist dictatorship in the United States. [6]
    OK, Wiki got it right -- but only about the contents of the actual audio portion of the radio program.

    However, it's simply inaccurate for Wiki to say that the program "does not in any way state or imply that Prescott Bush was involved in the plot" -- because the program description clearly states exactly that. Again, the BBC:

    The coup was aimed at toppling President Franklin D Roosevelt with the help of half-a-million war veterans. The plotters, who were alleged to involve some of the most famous families in America, (owners of Heinz, Birds Eye, Goodtea, Maxwell Hse & George Bushâs Grandfather, Prescott) believed that their country should adopt the policies of Hitler and Mussolini to beat the great depression.

    Mike Thomson investigates why so little is known about this biggest ever peacetime threat to American democracy.

    So, because there's a clear conflict between what Wiki says and what the BBC says, and because a news editor for a prominent web site asserts Prescott Bush's involvement in a coup is "history," I felt obligated to listen to it (and not take Wiki at its word).

    I suspect that some of the people citing the radio show as "proof" have not listened to it, but instead rely solely on the description.

    Whether this was a complete waste of time, I don't know. Those who want to believe Prescott Bush was involved in a coup may have an emotional need to believe that, so in that sense this is -- and always will remain -- undebunkable.

    This reminds me of the time I listened to a long radio interview with a crackpot who claimed he enjoyed sex and drugs with Barack Obama (and that the latter had acted as a sort of limousine tour guide even though he was a state representative at the time). I thought it was absolute nonsense, but I slogged through it, and eventually, the man's story was debunked. But at least there was an actual allegation made during the radio interview to be believed or disbelieved depending on whether you're a conspiracy theorist.

    In contrast, here there is no accuser, and no accusation.

    I don't think this rises to the level of a conspiracy theory.

    (Even for unreasonable people.)

    MORE: Back in 2004, Hugh Hewitt said something in another context that I think might -- and I mean might -- be helpful here:

    It would not be hard for intelligence services from around the world to build blogs with an intent to deceive or manipulate, putting out solid content to gain an initial audience before using it to disseminate disinformation intentionally.
    (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

    Of course, there's no showing that any intelligence service has been involved in promoting the "Bush family coup" disinformation.

    For starters, the BBC is not a blog.

    posted by Eric at 12:14 PM | Comments (5)

    There Is No Blockade Of Iran

    At least not yet.

    Here is where it started for me.

    posted by Simon at 11:15 AM | Comments (0)

    They can't help it, Part II

    Considering the way the vicious attacks on Sarah Palin generated sympathy for her (with a resultant backlash reflected in earlier polls), I would have thought that her attackers would by now have learned to control themselves, at least for the few weeks that remain in this increasingly ugly campaign.

    Almost ten days ago, I opined that her critics just can't help it:

    ....the media feeding frenzy results from the fact that they find Palin irresistible for a variety of reasons. She's new, she's a woman (which in their twisted way of thinking makes her a traitor), she didn't go to Harvard (or Princeton, like Charlie Gibson), and she belongs to the wrong church. As Andrew Sullivan says, the mere fact that she belongs to the Assembly of God justifies the use of the Dowdification method of quotation falsification:
    She is a long-time member of the Assemblies Of God. That's all you need to know.
    Imagine the reaction if someone said that about membership in the Catholic Church.

    So, they just cannot help themselves. That libertarians like David Harsanyi, Vin Suprynowicz, and Radley Balko (link via Glenn Reynolds) have praised her only makes them angrier....

    While I was talking about the media, it's become clear that Palin Derangement Syndrome goes a lot deeper than that. Her email account was hacked (to a chorus of enormous left-wing approval by people who would howl over the monitoring of email of al Qaeda operatives), and most recently, she was first invited, then disinvited, to an anti-Ahmadinejad protest. (Such a lack of American unity no doubt delighted Ahmadinejad and the mullahs.)

    The highly emotional "Disinvite Palin" campaign has all the earmarks of the "can't help it" mentality I described.

    Sources say the axes were out for Palin as soon as Sen. Clinton pulled out because she did not want to attend the same event as the Republican vice presidential candidate. "I have never seen such raw emotion -- on both sides," said someone close to the situation. The groups sponsoring the rally against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaking at the UN were reportedly told, "it could jeopardize their tax exempt status" if they had Palin and not Clinton or Democratic VP candidate Joe Biden on hand. . . ."It's an absolute shame that this has happened," Hikind said. "To threaten organizations ... to threaten the Conference of Presidents that if you don't withdraw the invitation to Gov. Palin we're going to look into your tax exempt status ... that's McCarthyism."

    The same story quoted President of "Hillary Now" Bob Kunst: "I'm absolutely appalled at the behavior of the Democrats. I'm a Democrat and for the first time in my life I'm going to vote Republican. I can't take it anymore."

    I am quite familiar with Kunst, a gay activist with solid left-wing credentials. To see him talking that way is a real eye-opener.

    I don't know how much damage this will cause the Obama campaign. Noting that the activists demanding Palin's withdrawal included a man fired from the Obama campaign over his negotiations with Hamas, Jennifer Rubin asks some good questions:

    It remains to be seen whether this issue will plague Obama as he continues to struggle to establish both his foreign policy credentials and his support for Israel. One supporter of the McCain-Palin ticket on Capitol Hill remarked ruefully, "Has it occurred that the reason that neither Obama nor Biden would show up is maybe that they would rather meet with Ahmadinejad without preconditions than protest his presence at the UN?"

    This week culminating in the Friday's presidential debate will reveal whether the McCain camp intends to pressure Obama directly to explain why his supporters nixed the event and why his VP declined to attend in Clinton's absence.

    Meanwhile, the controversy will continue to ricochet through the Jewish community. There is no shortage of questions: Why were specific groups with a partisan agenda allowed to prevail? Why did presidential politics overtake the larger issue of Iranian nuclear weapon acquisition? And why were the member groups of the Conference not all consulted?

    For now, the only point on which most can agree is that those involved -- the rally sponsors, those who pressured the cancellation and the Obama campaign -- have brought unwanted scrutiny and provided ammunition for Ahmadinejad to claim that opponents of Iran's nuclear ambitions are neither serious nor united.

    Pajamas Media founer Roger L. Simon thinks it is time for Jews to reexamine their traditional kneejerk ties to the Democratic Party:
    From the days of FDR, the vast majority of American Jews have identified with the Democratic Party almost if it were their religion. This included most especially secular Jews like me whose blasé attitude toward their faith and toward religious observance in general made such a replacement all the more important emotionally. This same Jewish majority also identified with the cause of social justice and, as Barack Obama among many others has noted, were some of the most active participants in the civil rights movement of the Fifties and Sixties. That was all how it should have been and was a perfectly logical and praiseworthy epoch in the development of our country.

    Hello - those days are over! The events leading up to Monday's anti-Ahmadinejad demonstration by Jewish organizations at the UN put the final nail in an already long-moldering coffin. Jews should no longer align themselves with the Democratic Party any more than they should align with the Republicans. They should act and think for themselves, devoid of ideological or partisan bias. They should first be Americans, not Democratic Party Americans.

    The virtual night of the long knives played out between the Democratic Party and various Jewish organizations surrounding the Iran demonstration, including allegations that party operatives were threatening the loss of tax exempt status over Sarah Palin's appearance, with more unpleasant revelations undoubtedly to come, is obviously causing people to reconsider this allegiance to the Democratic Party that approaches fealty.

    I urge my fellow Jews to keep thinking about this and not to retreat into the cocoon-like safety of an outmoded tradition. Change is difficult. But remember that Hillary Clinton - that paragon of the Democratic Party, a woman who calls herself a "progressive" (oh, desecration of the English language!) - was willing to forego the protest of the man who is arguably the most significant enemy of the Jews since Hitler for partisan and (most likely) personal pique reasons. How morally repellent is that!

    Plenty, I'd say. Roger is right. (Read it all.)

    It is amazing that Sarah Palin is continuing to cause so many people on the left to miscalculate on such a grand scale, but for a lot of reasons, she is. The disinvition to an Ahmadinejad protest is proof that she triggers an emotional reaction which her enemies cannot control -- even when (as here) she agrees with them! Incredible.

    Once again, they really can't help it.

    AFTERTHOUGHT: This whole incident makes me wonder what other issues Sarah Palin's enemies won't allow her to agree with them on. (The more reasonable she sounds, the more they hate her. What would they do if she dared advocate separation of church and state?)

    UPDATE: Thank you, Sean Kinsell for linking this post! Adds Sean:

    The hysterical detractors are succeeding admirably--if that's the word--at getting the public to associate opposition to Palin with derangement.
    Be sure to read Sean's thoughts.

    posted by Eric at 09:37 AM | Comments (1)

    The Vice President From Rezko

    It looks like Joe Biden and B. Obama have some mutual acquaintances. Or at least mutual once removed.

    DENVER -- No matter what help Barack Obama might get from Sen. Joseph Biden, his newly named vice presidential running mate won't give Obama much cover on the Tony Rezko front.

    Biden has described himself as a 30-year friend of a key figure in the Rezko trial who's pleaded guilty to a federal extortion charge in Chicago and is awaiting sentencing.

    When the Delaware senator began contemplating his own 2008 presidential run, he initially was helped by Chicago lawyer Joseph Cari Jr., who also served as Biden's Midwest field director in his failed 1988 bid for president.

    In 2005, Cari admitted to taking part in an $850,000 kickback scheme that prosecutors say was part of a larger political fund-raising operation for Gov. Blagojevich overseen by Rezko, who was convicted in June of wide-ranging corruption involving state deals.

    On the day Cari's name first surfaced in the federal probe of the state Teachers Retirement System, the former finance chairman for the Democratic National Committee and for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee was to have hosted a Biden fund-raiser in Chicago. Cari was a no-show at that July 25, 2005, event.

    Offering Cari a vote of confidence at the time, Biden said, "All I know is Joe Cari is a friend, and he's an honorable guy, but I don't know anything beyond that."

    So how did Biden approach Obama? My guess is that he said "A friend of a friend sent me."

    You can take the politician out of Chicago, but you can't take the Chicago out of the politician.

    I'm looking forward to Obama's "I am not a crook" speech.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 04:51 AM | Comments (0)

    Is Team Obama Astroturfing?

    My Pet Jawa thinks so.

    It is also likely that the PR firm was paid by outside sources to run the smear campaign. While not conclusive, evidence suggests a link to the Barack Obama campaign. Namely:
    * Evidence suggests that a YouTube video with false claims about Palin was uploaded and promoted by members of a professional PR firm.

    * The family that runs the PR firm has extensive ties to the Democratic Party, the netroots, and are staunch Obama supporters.

    * Evidence suggests that the firm engaged in a concerted effort to distribute the video in such a way that it would appear to have gone viral on its own. Yet this effort took place on company time.

    * Evidence suggests that these distribution efforts included actions by at least one employee of the firm who is unconnected with the family running the company.

    * The voice-over artist used in this supposedly amateur video is a professional.

    * This same voice-over artist has worked extensively with David Axelrod's firm, which has a history of engaging in phony grassroots efforts, otherwise known as "astroturfing."

    * David Axelrod is Barack Obama's chief media strategist.

    * The same voice-over artist has worked directly for the Barack Obama campaign.

    This suggests that false rumors and outright lies about Sarah Palin and John McCain being spread on the internet are being orchestrated by political partisans and are not an organic grassroots phenomenon led by the left wing fringe. Our findings follow.
    Go and read it all.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 04:14 AM | Comments (0)

    Do they really hate cowboys?

    Noting Biden's attack on the "the cowboy mentality of the Bush-McCain era," Bill Quick comes out swinging in defense of cowboys:

    I like cowboys. They are one of the greatest American icons.

    Why do Obama and Biden hate America and her greatest icons?

    (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

    Hey wait a second!

    How does Biden manage to get away with attacking the "cowboy mentality" in a DC suburb while simultaneously clinging to his guns in the coal-mining country?

    What he ">said to the coal miners was this:

    "I like that little over and under, you know? I'm not bad with it.."
    His words, not mine. And while I know he was referring to a gun, isn't it common knowledge among the enlightened classes that guns are phallic symbols?

    Geez. I don't mean to overanalyze, but as I've just finished attempting to comprehend what George Lakoff calls "biconceptualism," I'm like, all primed. I'm truly in the mood for what the PoMos call "subtext."

    And considering Biden's remarks, there's no way to avoid the fact that the subtext of the moment involves cowboys.

    I think that if we closely examine all possible facets and subfacets of this subtext, if we take into account the attacks on cowboys, the "cowboyesque" statements to the coalminers, the statement about liking "that little over and under, you know" and analyze all of this in the broadest possible spirit of "biconceptualism," it might be possible to come up with a new, um, frame.


    Because deconstructing biconceptualism has to start somewhere.

    posted by Eric at 12:30 PM | Comments (3)

    Charisma is destiny?

    Top Democrat issue framer George Lakoff has some advice for the Obama campaign. (From a psychiatric pdf file.)

    Stop talking about issues. It's all about "character" (in quotes because according to Lakoff character is just "narrative"):

    In 1980, Richard Wirthlin - Ronald Reagan's chief strategist - made a fateful discovery. In his first poll he discovered that most people didn't like Reagan's positions on the issues, but nevertheless wanted to vote for Reagan. The reason, he figured out, is that voters vote for apresident not primarily on the issues, but on five other "character" factors; values; authenticity; communication and connection; trust; and identity. In the Reagan-Carter and Reagan-Mondale debates, Mondale and Carter were ahead on the issues and lost the debates because the debates were not about the issues, but about those other five character factors. George W. Bush used the same observation in his two races. Gore and Kerry ran on the issues. Bush ran on those five factors.

    In the 2008 nomination campaign, Hillary ran on the issues, while Obama ran on those five factors and won. McCain is now running a Reagan-Bush style character-based campaign on the Big Five factors. But Obama has switched to a campaign based "on the issues," like Hillary, Gore and Kerry. Obama has reality on his side. And the campaign is assuming that if you just tell people the truth, they will reason to the right conclusion. That's false and they should know better.

    "Reality," of course, is code language for the Democratic positions on the issues. I don't know whether Lakoff thinks character actually exists or really should matter, but he certainly sees it as a winner in the narrative department. It's all about manipulation and marketing:
    Unfortunately, it is also easy to manipulate these things with marketing techniques. As Cillizza points out, McCain and Palin are being marketed as American icons: the war hero and the ideal mom. Obama and Biden were marketed (honestly) as realizations of the American Dream, living hope that it is still possible - with Obama as the lone figure with the charisma, character and talent to actually unite the country and bring back the dream. So far, the McCain-Palin narratives are proving powerful. Palin has enormous charisma of her own. Meanwhile the Obama narrative is being given up in favor of "the issues." It is as though, after the Republicans attacked Obama's charismatic leader persona, the Obama campaign gave up on it, instead of realizing that they could capitalize on it.
    Notice the switch from character to charisma, as if they're as interchangeable as moving parts in a machine. It does not seem to have occurred to Lakoff that McCain might actually have character in the true sense of the word.

    However, he thinks Obama has character, because charisma is his "character." And because narratives and stereotypes are real reason which is reality, his charisma is also "real reason":

    ...the enlightenment theory of reason doesn't describe how people actually work. People think primarily in terms of cultural narratives, stereotypes, frames and metaphors. That is real reason.

    Realities matter. To communicate them, you have to make use of real reason. That's what Obama did in the nomination campaign when he used his personal narrative to communicate about the country's needs. Obama needs to go back to being Obama. The Obama campaign's job is to shine a light on those realities through Obama's unique personal qualities as a leader and communicator.

    Through a form of trickery known as "conservative populism" which was invented in the 1960s, the Republicans have hoodwinked working people into imagining that they agree with guys like Reagan and McCain (and presumably, they've tricked the working people into believing that these man have character). The real job of Obamacrats is to show them -- by "real reason" (meaning resort to charisma), that they have been fooled:

    The Obama campaign has problems with conservative populism. They don't seem to understand it. Conservative populism on a national scale was invented in the late 1960s. At the time, most working people identified themselves with liberals. But conservatives realized that many working people were what I have called "biconceptuals" - they are genuinely conservative in their mode of thought about patriotism and certain family issues, though they are progressive in their understanding of nature (they love the land) and their commitment to communities where people care about each other etc. So conservatives have talked to them nonstop about conservative "patriotism" and "family values", thus activating their conservative mindset. At the same time, conservative theorists invented the ideal of "liberal elitism": that liberals look down upon working people and are not like them. Conservatives have been working at constructing this mythology for nearly 40 years and liberals have stood by and let it happen. Palin is a natural for the conservative populists. She understands their culture.
    See? They're clinging to religion and guns only because their "biconceptual" mindset has been cynically activated. That's why they're so easily fooled into voting against their own interests:
    Conservative populism is a cultural, not an economic, phenomenon. These are folks who often vote against their economic self-interest and instead vote on their identity as conservatives and on their antipathy to liberals, who they see as elitists who look down on them. Simply giving conservative populists facts and figures won't work.

    They tend to vote for people they identify with and against people who they see as looking down on them. The job for the Obama campaign is to reverse the present mindset that the Republicans have constructed, to reveal the conservatives as elitist Washington insiders who cynically manipulate them, to get conservative populists to identify with Obama and Biden on the basis of values and character, and to have them see realities through Obama's leadership capacities. Not an easy job. But it's the real job.

    Well, I agree that it's not an easy job to get conservatives to see that Obama's and Biden's "values and character" are really like their own.

    But then, if character is really just a narrative, and is actually a phony way of marketing charisma, then maybe he has a point. If not, then Lakoff (and the people who agree with him) are some of the most cynical opportunists in the business.

    Call me a bamboozled biconceptual, but I think McCain's life is more than just a cleverly marketed narrative. Sure, there's a lot of political marketing involved in this campaign, as there always is. But no amount of marketing (in politics or anywhere else) can alter the fact that there can be genuine differences in the quality of what is being offered for sale. If character exists (and I think it does; hence the satirical post title), no amount of marketing can change it. There are vast character differences between John McCain and Barack Obama, and these will remain, regardless of who wins and who loses.

    MORE: In a stunning show of "real reason," Joe Biden (campaigning in coalmining country) is appealing to the "biconceptual" crowd, and bitterly clinging to his guns:

    One of rural Democrats' biggest fears about Obama? That he'll come after the Second Amendment. Not so, said Biden -- and he'd better not try.

    "I guarantee you, Barack Obama ain't taking my shotguns, so don't buy that malarkey," Biden said angrily. "They're going to start peddling that to you."

    "I got two, if he tries to fool with my Beretta, he's got a problem."

    Biden has said he doesn't hunt, but shoots skeet with his two firearms. "I like that little over and under, you know? I'm not bad with it," he said today.

    Via Glenn Reynolds, who cruelly reframes the issue by pointing out that Biden has an "F" rating from the NRA.

    See what happens? Biden speaks reality, while Reynolds resorts to cynical activation of the "biconceptual" mindset!

    Sorry. I really should take "reality" more seriously.

    MORE: Rex Murphy looks at Obama's narrative, and his charisma, and thinks both are depleted:

    ...Mr. Obama was the slate; the crowds brought their own chalk.

    This is the nature of Mr. Obama's particular kind of charisma. People project their best wishes on him, they fill in the blank of a very attractive and plausible outline. His is not, emphatically, a charisma of deeds. For what has he done, save run for president? He is an accommodating vessel - cool, smart, biracial and "unfinished." This is the Gatsby quality of him that others have noted. Like Gatsby, he is a receptacle of others' glamorous invention.

    People see in him, or wish to see, the last great ideal of the American polity fulfilled, a final and full racial accommodation. That should he be elected president, America will have achieved, by his singular persona, the perfect emblematic demonstration of having exorcised at last the great stain of its racially riven origins.

    Mr. Obama's charisma is, in this sense, external, something extended to the candidate. And it follows that that which is given may equally be taken away. The sparkle has, in fact, dimmed. He travels now in a lower orbit, closer to Earth - which is to say, he grows more mundane. The great word "hope" sounds less frequently now. He picks a running mate thick with the dust and rancour of many long years in Washington.

    His acceptance speech in the Olympic-style stadium could not gather the inspirational energy of his earlier arias. Of late, the flash supernova of U.S. politics is seen "competing" with a second-on-the-ticket female governor of a remote state. There's more than a gap between the "audacity of hope" and "lipstick on a pig." The mouth that spoke the first phrase should not be capable of the second.

    He has shrunk into a combative partisan.....

    Read it all.

    posted by Eric at 10:44 AM | Comments (7)

    Christianist theocrats are closing in for the kill!

    I got a kick out of the Issues-O-Meter that Ann Althouse linked earlier.

    It lists ten issues, each one with a button which, when clicked, makes the figures of McCain and Obama slide back and forth on the scale below so you can see how close or far apart on a given issue they are.

    On the economy, for example, it shows them as pretty far apart:


    I thought this was all nice, wholesome, harmless entertainment, so I emailed the "Issues-O-Meter" link to a liberal friend. Imagine my surprise when he emailed me back with a snarky remark about their respective positions on gay marriage: "they look so cozy together!"

    Hey wait a minute! How did they "look"? I went back to the test, clicked the "Gay Marriage" button (if that isn't a hot button issue, what is?), and sure enough, they are close. Touchingly close, in fact.


    Why, they're closer than two figures on a wedding cake!

    What's up with that? Isn't the Culture War supposed to be tearing the country apart?

    I mean, according to Andrew Sullivan things have gotten so bad that the forces of theocracy are closing in:

    "With Sarah Palin, America has taken one very large leap toward a completely theocratic politics."
    (Via Ann Althouse.)

    Interestingly, the hated "Christianist theocrat" who's forced America to take this great leap was specifically asked about her religion was the other night, and here was her answer:

    Faith is very, very important in my life. I don't believe I wear it on my sleeve and I would never try to shove it down anybody else's throat and try to convert anybody. But just a very simple faith that is important to me -- it really is my foundation.

    What kind of "completely theocratic politics" is that? Not wearing it on her sleeve? Never trying to convert anybody? Not trying to shove her religion down anyone's throat. Not even Andrew Sullivan's?

    How lame can theocracy get?

    A hell of a way to run a culture war, I'd say....

    posted by Eric at 05:14 PM | Comments (4)

    Mommy, I Learned A New Word - Psephology

    Long time commenter and e-mail friend linearthinker brought that word to my attention. He quotes this definition:

    "...the statistical analysis of elections. Psephology uses compilations of precinct voting returns for elections going back some years, public opinion polls, campaign finance information and similar statistical data."
    And then he explains why it is important.
    One quarter of all registered voters are Catholics and Biden is losing Obama their votes.
    And since he was so kind to include a link to an article on the subject I will too. The Elephant Bar quotes from The Telegraph UK.
    Remember, you read it here first: on September 11 this blog reported a mounting backlash from Catholic bishops against Biden, Barack Obama's "Catholic" pro-abortion running mate. At that time I estimated eight bishops had come out to denounce Biden; the total is now 55. Beyond that, Biden is being trashed across every state of the Union by Catholic newspapers, TV and radio stations, and blogs. It is a tsunami of rejection.

    The story has now hit the secular media. Last Saturday Time magazine asked: "Does Biden Have a Catholic Problem?" By Wednesday the issue had moved onto the front page of the New York Times. Joe the Jinx has blown it, big time. Biden has only himself to blame: he started this war, with his notoriously undisciplined mouth. He knew the dangers. Last August, Archbishop Raymond Burke, former Archbishop of St Louis and now Prefect of the Apostolic Segnatura in Rome, said communion should be denied to pro-abortion politicians "until they have reformed their lives".

    Archbishop Chaput of Denver had already announced Biden should not receive communion because of his pro-abortion views. Defiantly, Biden took communion in his home parish in Delaware in late August. On September 2 the Bishop of Scranton, Pennsylvania (a crucial swing state) banned him from communion in his diocese. That is effective excommunication.

    Uh. Oh. Joe is deep in it. Now here is the killer:
    There are 47 million Catholic voters in the United States. One quarter of all registered voters are Catholics. At every presidential election in the past 30 years the Catholic vote has gone to the winning candidate, except for Al Gore in 2000. This year 41 per cent of Catholics are independents - up from 30 per cent in 2004. Psephologists claim practising Catholics were the decisive factor in the crucial swing states in 2004: in Ohio 65 per cent of Catholics voted for Bush, in Florida 66 per cent. They were drifting away in disillusionment from the Republicans and split 50-50, until Joe Biden worked his magic. This is electoral suicide by the Democrats.
    Yep. And Jews are drifting away from the Democrats as well. In fact it looks like they are now being pushed. It all starts with an anti-Ahmadinejad rally. Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin were both invited to the rally. When Hillary pulled out Democrats threatened to sic the IRS on the Jewish organizations if Palin showed up at the official event.
    CBS2 has a Democratic politician on record with the story of why Sarah Palin's invitation was rescinded after Hillary Clinton pulled out of the event upon hearing that Palin was also invited and planned to attend the rally to protest Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaking at the UN, with one Democratic lawmaker calling it "McCarthyism."

    Once Clinton canceled and announced she would not attend, according to the report, the "axes were out for Palin" and the Jewish Groups which organized the event were told their tax exempt status would be jeopardized if Palin attended but Hillary Clinton or Democratic vice presidential candidate, Joe Biden did not.

    CBS 2 spoke to Assemblyman Dov Hikind, Democrat from Brooklyn, who said, "This is insulting. This is embarrassing, especially to Gov. Palin, to me and I think it should be to every single New Yorker."

    Hikind goes on to to declare, "It's an absolute shame that this has happened. To threaten organizations ... to threaten the Conference of Presidents that if you don't withdraw the invitation to Gov. Palin we're going to look into your tax exempt status ... that's McCarthyism."

    Jeeze Democrats. What a way to shore up support with a core constituency. First the Catholics. Now the Jews. You would almost think that this was an attempt to lose in a landslide. Here is another little bit on the subject from an article titled: Jews For John McCain Poll Shocker.
    The Siena Poll of New York likely voters is really going to upset the tummies of the Democrat Party, if they have any sense at all.

    New York Jews have not voted Republican en masse since Ronald Reagan and as of six months ago didn't appear to have changed.

    The tide has seemingly turned though. In the Siena Poll (cross tabs) section is a demographic which should make Mr Obama start thinking about what to do with all of his spare time after next November.

    The issue would be Sen. John McCain garnering 57% of the New York Jewish favorable view and Mr Obama getting a miserable 38% favorable rating.

    That is not good news for the Obama/Biden camp, since the last time this happened Ronaldus Maximus Reagan won in such a landslide the world doesn't even remember who his opponent was. (actually the guy who ran against Reagan went on to get a job building houses for free and roaming the globe trash talking the United States and Israel)

    It seems like the only identity politics the Obama team can play well is Black. That will guarantee him about 12% of the vote. Add in the Democrat "progressives" and it is still not enough to win an election.

    You know this is pretty stupid for a Harvard educated guy who taught at the University of Chicago. Not to mention the fact that he has spent his adult life in Chicago identity politics. He should have spent more time in the ethnic wards on the North Side. They have Catholic areas up there. Jewish areas. And don't forget the hippie contingent. He might have learned a thing or two.

    I think he is one of those kind of people who are over represented in academia. Too smart to learn anything new.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 03:48 PM | Comments (7)

    Unleash the squirrels!

    While I haven't spent as much time as I perhaps should on the subject of ACORN, last week's Detroit Free Press article about the group's connection with local voter fraud was hard to ignore.

    Now (from Bob Owens, who is not surprised) I see that the group is up to the same thing in North Carolina.

    Via Glenn Reynolds, who posed a subconscious question:

    Shouldn't they be investigated by the Justice Department? Or am I dreaming here?
    That's a reference to the fact that even under a Republican administration, the Justice Department seems unabashedly leftist in its orientation. Headed by Obama supporters, the department's Criminal Section charged with investigating voter fraud appears to be more interested in punishing Republicans for legal activity than going after Democrats for illegal activity.
    the Criminal Section has been given the green light to use these same criminal statutes to harass and prosecute political activists (particularly Republicans) who are engaging in protected political activity, not violence or the threat of violence. No candidate for federal, state, or local office should take this unprecedented threat lightly. The entire apparatus of federal election law enforcement was assembled for this conference including every FBI agent and Assistant United States Attorney responsible for election-related matters.

    The Criminal Section is headed by a former ACLU attorney, Mark Kappelhoff, who was actually hired by this Administration. So much for the claim that the Bush Administration only hired "conservatives" in the Civil Rights Division. In apparent violation of a memorandum from Attorney General Mukasey that directed employees to be "particularly sensitive to safeguarding the Department's reputation for fairness, neutrality and nonpartisanship," Kappelhoff has contributed $2,000 to Obama -- not exactly the hallmark of "neutrality and nonpartisanship." But even worse was the presentation by one of his career lawyers, James Walsh, obviously made with Kappelhoff's approval.

    Walsh is a former Voting Section lawyer who transferred to the Criminal Section after working for Senator Ted Kennedy on a detail. Not surprisingly, Walsh is also a contributor to Obama, which is certainly on par with the almost $150,000 that DOJ lawyers and staff who live in Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia have contributed to the Obama campaign, including John Bert Russ, the lawyer in the Voting Section who is responsible for the observer program that will send out hundreds of federal observers on election day.

    Walsh made it clear that the Criminal Section intends to use the civil rights statutes to criminally prosecute anyone they consider to be engaging in voter "intimidation" or "oppression." Now, that might sound like a reasonable idea until you realize that Walsh and Kappelhoff's definition of "intimidation" and "oppression" goes far beyond what you and I would imagine. Walsh stated that because we have an African-American presidential candidate, there would be voter suppression -- a baseless assumption that plays on left-wing stereotypes of America as a racist nation. Every single example of wrongdoing that Walsh and other presenters used in their presentations talked about Republicans: there was not a single example of any wrongdoing committed by any Democrats in the entire two-day conference.

    It almost sounds surreal, and it echoes the familiar theme touched on by Bill Whittle yesterday -- the persistent meme that all resistence is futile and there is nothing anyone can do.
    When all is said and done, Civilizations do not fall because of the barbarians at the gates. Nor does a great city fall from the death wish of bored and morally bankrupt stewards presumably sworn to its defense. Civilizations fall only because each citizen of the city comes to accept that nothing can be done to rally and rebuild broken walls; that ground lost may never be recovered; and that greatness lived in our grandparents but not our grandchildren. Yes, our betters tell us these things daily. But that doesn't mean we have to believe it.
    (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

    Over my lifetime I've seen wave after wave of what might be called "urban flight." People who stay in large cities learn to put up with a lot. They accept the broken urban infrastructure and the dysfunctional schools as facts of life, as things which simply cannot be changed. Try to change them, you'll go nuts. (A good friend simply quit teaching because of it..)

    This is nothing new, of course. Nor is my cynicism. The term "You can't fight City Hall" goes back to the mid 1800s. Those who don't put up with it simply leave to the relative comfort, safety, and convenience of the suburbs or small towns, where they can live in ever-vigilant fear of "City Hall" -- which idiomatically is a large enough term to encompass the now-dysfunctional United States Justice Department and government in general. It probably includes the taxpayer-funded "charity" in question.


    A little ACORN here, a little ACORN there, and pretty soon you're talking about real power. Most people would throw up their hands and say "There's nothing you can do about it!"

    I disagree, and I say this as one of the more cynical people in the blogosphere. If I can notice ACORN's fraud in the local paper, and I can take time to write a post about it, and if Bob Owens notices it in his local paper and writes a post about it, then others can. The more noise that is made, the more likely something can be done about it -- if for no other reason than the "squeaky wheel" principle.

    I realize that the organization's deep ties to Barack Obama might tend to intimidate those charged with investigating these things, for after all, they don't want to appear "partisan."

    But this is an election, right? We still live in a democracy, right? There are still laws, right?

    I'm cynical, but I'm not too cynical to make a little noise. Not that I'm expecting the Justice Department attorneys to start acting like pit bulls (lipsticked or not).

    But ACORN's conduct is so blatant, so repetitive, and so egregious that it doesn't take a pit bull.

    Even a squirrel would know what to do.

    (I might not work for the Justice Department, but I can squeak, can't I?)

    posted by Eric at 11:08 AM | Comments (1)

    Palin On Iran

    Part 2

    posted by Simon at 12:46 AM | Comments (1)

    Obama Has A Housing Problem

    H/T Uppity Woman

    posted by Simon at 11:57 PM | Comments (0)

    Soros Stocks Up On Lehman

    This is a story from August 15th so it is a little old. However, it ties in with this story about the interrelations among climate change profiteer Al Gore, climatologist Jim Hansen, and the financial firm Lehman Brothers. So lets look at the connection between George Soros and the now bankrupt Lehman Brothers.

    George Soros thinks the world may be in for a long recession and that housing prices will continue to fall more than most economists expect. He thinks a "superbubble" has been forming for 25 years--and it's currently collapsing.

    But he thinks Lehman Brothers is going places.

    The notable philanthropist, political activist, and hedge fund investor who made a killing on smart currency bets in the 1990s, disclosed in a filing yesterday that his fund raised its stake in the troubled investment bank from 10,000 shares to 9.5 million shares during the second quarter.

    The stake, worth about $188 million, comes to 1.4 percent of Lehman's outstanding shares.

    Let's hope he's in it for the long haul, because the trade doesn't seem to be paying off so far. Lehman shares started the second quarter in the mid-$40s, falling to $19.81 by June 30.

    Lehman Brothers is trading today at about 21¢. Which is to say George has lost all his money. Unless he made money covering the positions of naked shorts. Which is way more complicated than I want to explain here. You will have to look it up.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 10:28 PM | Comments (0)

    Some children are born unwanted. Others aren't.

    An anti-abortion group has sponsored this anti-Obama ad, in which Gianna Jesson (a woman who survived an abortion) points out that "If Barack Obama had his way, I wouldn't be here."

    It's hard hitting, and intended to highlight the fact that Barack Obama's position on abortion is to the left of Hillary Clinton and Barbara Boxer.

    While I think abortion is immoral, I oppose criminalizing early term abortion primarily for two reasons:

    1. I am philosophically uncomfortable with the idea of imprisoning women who are so miserable with the idea of having a child that they decide to terminate their pregnancies. (However, this means that there is no excuse for waiting, and I therefore believe that the earlier the abortion is performed, the better. The longer a woman waits, the more immoral it becomes.) I have a problem with compulsory anything, including compulsory pregnancy, and it strikes me as especially unconscionable to require a rape victim to carry a child to term. (Again, though, there's no excuse for delay.)

    2. I believe that in order for a human being to have rights, there must be a functioning human brain. What we would call consciousness. Where the line is to be drawn exactly, I do not know, but common sense suggests (to me, at least) that embryos are not human beings of the sort possessed of rights. Thus I do not consider the use of the morning-after pill to rise to the level of immorality. At some point in the fetal development (and there is no agreement on what this point is) there is a conscious human brain. Again, the earlier the abortion is performed, the less I'd be inclined to call it a crime (or put a woman in prison for it).

    I am horrified by third trimester abortions (the stage at which Ms. Jesson apparently was when she was aborted), and I am shocked that any doctor would perform one except to save a mother's life.

    So I'm hardly in the anti-abortion ("pro life" I guess is what they call it) camp. Nor can I be considered solidly pro-choice. (I know I'll never have an abortion, though, so it's easy for me to shoot my mouth off.)

    I don't agree with McCain on abortion, nor do I agree with Barack Obama.

    But Obama's position strikes me as more outside the political mainstream than McCain's, and I think the above ad raises a legitimate point.

    One of the red herring memes that has long annoyed me is the idea of an "unwanted child." This is said to be the worst fate in the world. Why? Clearly, this Gianna Jesson woman was unwanted, or else why would her mom have had her aborted? But she obviously would rather have not been aborted. So she's more content with having been an unwanted child than not to have been a child at all.

    I think most unwanted children (aborted or born) would say the same thing. So it strikes me that "unwanted" is a rhetorically sneaky term having more to do with what the mother wants than what the child wants. Clearly, if a mother does not want a child, she can put it up for adoption. Is that really a tragedy? They make it sound like "unwanted child" is some kind of horror. I don't get it. Are there not also unwanted adults? So what? I can understand why a woman might not want to see her pregnancy through (and I have philosophical problems with forcing her), but because she is not required to keep the child after birth I don't see what the status of the child ultimately being wanted or unwanted should have to do with it. How do we know what person will be "unwanted"? It strikes me as implying a moral judgment based on the child's anticipated eventual status as a justification for the abortion. Little different than, say, a judgment that the child would be born into poverty. Or born with alcoholic (or homosexual) genes. It just strikes me as arrogant to decide based on some statistic that a child will be "unwanted," and that this is a terrible fate.

    Do any of us know to a moral certainty whether we were really and truly "wanted"? If any of us learned that we weren't wanted, I don't see how that would have been an argument for abortion. Whether we agree with the right to an abortion or not, it is supposed to be based on a woman's right, not a judgment on the status of her child. I know the distinction sounds like nit-picking (and activists on both sides would not care), but I think there is a huge logical difference between "I cannot face going through with this pregnancy" and "The baby would be an unwanted child after its birth." The former strikes me as an understandable reason grounded in an individual decision, while the latter strikes me as grounded in communitarian social-planning eugenics.

    Even if I'd thought my mother wanted to abort me, I'd rather have it be because she couldn't go through with the pregnancy. Not because she thought I'd be an "unwanted child."

    I think there is a difference. It may sound silly, but I'd rather be murdered by someone who hated me than by someone who thought I was part of the overpopulation problem.

    posted by Eric at 04:15 PM | Comments (9)

    Washington Post Says: Don't Trust Us

    It seems that the Washington Post says that Franklin Raines really wasn't an Obama adviser. And by the way, you can't believe what we write in our newspaper. Talk about boosting the brand.

    The Obama campaign last night issued a statement by Raines insisting, "I am not an advisor to Barack Obama, nor have I provided his campaign with advice on housing or economic matters." Obama spokesman Bill Burton went a little further, telling me in an e-mail that the campaign had "neither sought nor received" advice from Raines "on any matter."

    So what evidence does the McCain campaign have for the supposed Obama-Raines connection? It is pretty flimsy, but it is not made up completely out of whole cloth. McCain spokesman Brian Rogers points to three items in the Washington Post in July and August. It turns out that the three items (including an editorial) all rely on the same single conversation, between Raines and a Washington Post reporter, Anita Huslin, who wrote a Style section profile of the discredited Fannie Mae boss that appeared on July 16. The profile reported that Raines, who retired from Fannie Mae four years ago, had "taken calls from Barack Obama's presidential campaign seeking his advice on mortgage and housing policy matters."

    So yeah. Obama seeking advice from Raines is not the same as Raines advising Obama.

    Well there is at least one impossible thing there I can believe before breakfast. Hope and Change people. Hope and Change.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 02:21 PM | Comments (6)

    Some children are born sinful. Others are born normal.

    Reflecting on the discovery that a Tennessee Democratic legislator's son was the hacker who accessed Sarah Palin's email account (see Rick Moran's post on the general subject), Richard Miniter makes a prediction:

    I predict that the same crowd that said that Palin should have been able to control her 17-year old daughter will defend the 2o-year old hacker by saying no one can control their kids. At least they will be right once.
    I agree with the prediction, but at the rate the story is being reported, the Obama supporters won't even need to put themselves to the trouble of defending the kid. There's a lot more detail at Gateway Pundit, and it's a big story.

    At least, most people would think so. If they had a chance to read about it. But as Michael Silence notes, maybe they won't:

    I find nothing on the story in the New York Times or the Washington Post. Oh, that's right, it wasn't Joe Biden's e-mail that was hacked. Seriously, unless my search was incomplete, how do you not carry something on that story?
    The Times and the Post aside, though, I don't even know whether the story will get tabloid treatment.

    The tabloids are too busy titillating their viewers with stories like these:


    What this means, obviously, is that Biden's kids must be perfect angels. Well, even perfect angels occasionally get arrested, but isn't that just a technicality raised by mean-spirited Republicans to hide their hypocrisy?

    Yes, hypocrisy. We all know that the rule that "no one can control their kids," only applies to Democrats. And the Republicans are hypocritical to maintain otherwise.

    Republicans have long been held to a much higher standard, and therefore, so should their children! How hypocritical of them to demand that their kids be treated the same way as the kids of Democrats!

    Misbehaving Republican children are sinful and their parents are hypocrites. Misbehaving Democratic children are normal and their parents are blameless.

    It's, like, genetic or something.

    Why, they even have a bumpersticker to go with the thought:


    Republicans are mean people and they have mean children.

    Only a right wing hypocrite with bad genes could possibly disagree.

    posted by Eric at 01:51 PM | Comments (5)

    John McCain Is A Great Man

    Yeah. We all knew that. So that is not the story. What is the story? Look at who is saying it.

    Former President Bill Clinton has largely kept himself out of the public eye since his wife lost the Democratic primary to Barack Obama.

    However in a rare television interview tonight, the former president called Republican presidential candidate John McCain "a great man" and praised GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin as an "instinctively effective candidate."

    On a day when Obama sought to convince voters that he's best able to handle the economic crisis, the former president said it was his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., who gave today "the most detailed position."

    In an interview with CNBC's Maria Bartiromo, Clinton, who has tried to put to rest rumors of tensions between himself and Obama said, "I've never concealed my admiration and affection for Sen. McCain. I think he's a great man.

    I'm sure Bill has Obama's best interests at heart. Like helping him keep his seat as the Junior Senator from Illinois.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

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

    The Man With No Plan

    It seems like the man with a plan for solving the Iraq War has No Plan for solving the economic crisis.

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama said on Friday he supported efforts by the U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve to shore up confidence in the financial markets and said he would hold off from presenting his own economic recovery plan.

    "The events of the last few days have made it clear that we must take further bold and decisive action to shore up confidence in our financial markets and avoid a deepening economic crisis that could jeopardize the life savings and well-being of millions of Americans," Obama said in a statement.

    But mister we has proposed no bold and decisive action. I guess voting present is bold and decisive for him. No doubt he has to confer with Jim Johnson and Franklin Raines before he can take any bold action. Or perhaps he has to visit the Mudd hut to find out what to do. After all the man whose name is Mudd personally thanked Obama for his help. And why shouldn't he? The man whose name is Mudd wound up with a 22 room Colonial mansion in return for assisting with the destruction of Fannie Mae. I'm betting that Obama is now wishing that he only had slum lord Tony Rezko to worry about.

    One thing you can say for sure. Mr. Obama appears to have a lot of friends who are real estate geniuses. People who can take trillions and turn them into billions while making a tidy profit on the side.

    It is my opinion that given his understanding of economics, we should all work hard to help Barack Obama keep his Senate seat.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 11:55 AM | Comments (1)

    John McCain Plays Race Card

    Time Magazine says this video ad plays the race card. Two black guys stealing from an old white woman.

    This is hardly subtle: Sinister images of two black men, followed by one of a vulnerable-looking elderly white woman.

    Let me stipulate: Obama's Fannie Mae connections are completely fair game. But this ad doesn't even mention a far more significant tie--that of Jim Johnson, the former Fannie Mae chairman who had to resign as head of Obama's vice presidential search team after it was revealed he got a sweetheart deal on a mortgage from Countrywide Financial. Instead, it relies on a fleeting and tenuous reference in a Washington Post Style section story to suggest that Obama's principal economic adviser is former Fannie Mae Chairman Frank Raines. Why? One reason might be that Johnson is white; Raines is black.

    Well yes. Johnson is fair game. In fact Mr Johnson has been hit hard today in a video showing his connection to Senator Obama.

    So I guess what we have today is a white guy and a black guy teaming up to steal from the white woman. We are truly fortunate that Mr. Obama is no racist. Otherwise the number of crooks he could partner with would be severely limited.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 11:51 AM | Comments (3)

    Change I never wanted to see

    I won't vote for Barack Obama. I can't, because aside from everything else, his politics and policies are too socialistic for me.

    However, I have a long history of defending him in this blog -- which stretches all the way back to his run against Alan Keyes, which actually prompted me to start "" (Yeah, I let it lapse -- probably one of many of my financial mistakes in life.)

    But my defense of Barack Obama (whom I saw as kind) did not end with a reaction to the candidacy of Alan Keyes (whom I saw as cruel).

    When he was campaigning against Hillary Clinton, I found him to be pleasant and polite (again Obama the Kind) in contrast to Hillary the Cruel. I noted it in my Pajamas Media column about the South Carolina debate:

    At least Obama sounds reassuring, even if his policies aren't.

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

    How touchingly naive that looks now.

    Well, at least I was cynical enough to recognize the political irony of this civility theme, which I amplified in a post titled "Hillary the Cruel does Obama the Kind":

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

    But you can't say that.

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

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

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

    It will be? Please.

    In light of yesterday's news, I don't know whether I was a rube to see Obama as kind. Or civil. Or polite. Or whatever word is allowed these days.

    Let me stop right there before I get to the news item.

    I'm not engaged in overwrought political hyperbole "whatever word is allowed these days," because apparently I'm not supposed to talk about civility.

    At least, not according to writer Frank Furedi who was given an official warning from his publisher:

    I was moved to despair when I found out that one of my favorite words, "civilized," ought not be used by a culturally sensitive author because of its alleged racist implications.
    So if I shouldn't praise civility, that probably goes for probably equally applies to politeness.

    Anyway, the news is that Obama seems to have abandoned what probably in retrospect ought to be called his "politeness meme":

    "I need you to go out and talk to your friends and talk to your neighbors. I want you to talk to them whether they are independent or whether they are Republican. I want you to argue with them and get in their face," he said.
    In your face. Great.

    There went my argument in favor of Obama. (With that statement, he's demonstrated that he doesn't mind moving to the style of the shrill and angry Alan Keyes. Or the venomous Ann Coulter. Yeah, or even "Anndrew Coulter.")

    I might not have wanted socialism, but I had at least hoped for civility. I know I'm not perfect in that regard, and I've often admitted I don't live up to my own standards. I can't say I've never lost my temper or succumbed to the temptation of in-your-face politics, because I have. But standards -- and civility is a very important standard -- set a goal, and not living up to them does not make the standards wrong.

    With civility out the window as a standard, can condemning civility itself be far behind?

    If liking civility is now considered a form of racism, what does that mean? Incivility becomes good? Rudeness and in-your-face politics are now desirable ways to communicate?

    Forgive me if I say that it's not looking like a better world.

    AFTERTHOUGHT: I realize that there are those who would accuse me of racism for disliking Barack Obama's recent angry rhetoric. (And probably for liking the older, kinder, Obama.) According to this view, not liking angry rhetoric coming from a back man is racism (if the critic is white).

    Well then, what about my intense dislike -- for many years -- of Alan Keyes' angry rhetoric?

    I don't remember any accusations of racism.

    And I might be wrong, but I suspect that if Keyes had a sudden change of heart (and did a Culture War about-face) his newfound white friends would not be accused of "racism" for liking him!

    MORE: From Glenn Reynolds, a question:

    if Obama is President, will Time regard every criticism of his administration as racist?
    Yes, just as they regard every criticism of Palin as sexist.

    posted by Eric at 11:28 AM | Comments (5)

    Johnson Connected To Obama

    H/T Hot Air

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

    A PUMA Speaks To McCain

    You can see a longer (39 minute) version at CBS5 Television.

    H/T Hot Air

    posted by Simon at 05:29 AM | Comments (0)

    posted by Simon at 02:35 AM | Comments (1)

    Gains Of 30 Years Wiped Out
    Temperatures In Decline
    click for larger image
    It looks like the era of Global Warming is Over. Icecap reports:
    Many scary stories have been written about the dangers of catastrophic global warming, allegedly due to increased atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) from the combustion of fossil fuels. But is the world really catastrophically warming? NO. And is the warming primarily caused by humans? NO.

    Since just January 2007, the world has cooled so much that ALL the global warming over the past three decades has disappeared! This is confirmed by a plot of actual global average temperatures from the best available source, weather satellite data that shows there has been NO net global warming since the satellites were first launched in 1979.

    Since there was global cooling from ~1940 to ~1979, this means there has been no net warming since ~1940, is spite of an ~800% increase in human emissions of carbon dioxide. This indicates that the recent warming trend was natural, and CO2 is an insignificant driver of global warming.

    Furthermore, the best fit polynomial shows a strong declining trend. Are we seeing the beginning of a natural cooling cycle? YES. Further cooling, with upward and downward variability, is expected because the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) has returned to its cool phase, as announced by NASA this year.

    You know this is really terrible news for financial outfits like Lehman Brothers.
    LONDON - Lehman Brothers shut down its carbon emissions trading desk after the bank filed for bankruptcy protection, a source close to the company told Reuters on Monday.

    "Everything's stopped, blocked ... it's a bit anarchic," he said.

    Lehman declined to comment on the matter.

    Trouble ahead, trouble behind. And speaking of behind. Who was helping Lehman to make carbon trading popular?
    Al Gore's carbon trading business GIM was banked with Lehman Bros. It will be interesting to see how this will play in the future but I suspect that this increases the risk of participating in Carbon trading. Merrill Lynch was also deeply involved in this business.

    Last year Lehman Brothers released a long and highly publicized report about climate change in which they preached about decarbonization, trying to make their investors keep getting high profits from the Kyoto carbon trade scheme and the support of huge public subventions. All that, of course, with the applause of the usual choir of politicians, the entire media and the Greens.

    Last year Lehman Brothers released a long and highly publicized report about climate change in which they preached about decarbonization, trying to make their investors keep getting high profits from the Kyoto carbon trade scheme and the support of huge public subventions. All that, of course, with the applause of the usual choir of politicians, the entire media and the Greens.

    A year ago they couldn't predict their bankruptcy but were predicting the climate 100 years ahead. Thousands of green militants have been using the Lehman report as a proof of global warming and impending chaos. Lehman Bros said it! sacred words! Its scientific advisor is James Hansen!

    Well what do you know? Gore and Hansen. Two of the most prestigious names in the Carbon Trading and Global Warming Science business. If you have any stock in those two guys now is the time to short it, before it goes to .

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 09:23 PM | Comments (4)

    Raines In Obama Parade

    Ben Smith had this cute little piece out on 16 July of this year on the Raines - Obama connection.

    An ill-timed -- for Obama -- profile of former Fannie Mae CEO Franklin Raines, forced out in an accounting mess a few years ago.

    The Style Section piece reports that he's recently been taking "calls from Barack Obama's presidential campaign seeking his advice on mortgage and housing policy matters."

    Taking calls? Doesn't that mean Obama has been calling him? The McCain Campaign had a nice video out on the connection between Obama and Raines. And there is another video out of Fannie Mae head Daniel Mudd praising Obama.

    So who is Daniel Mudd? I think it will come as no surprise that he lives in a Mudd hut. A 22-room Mudd hut. Evidently ripping off the taxpayers pays very well. Very well indeed.

    As more than a million US homeowners face devastating mortgage foreclosures, ousted Fannie Mae CEO Daniel Mudd continues to live in an opulent Washington, DC, mansion replete with expansive gardens, servants' quarters and a home theater.

    Mudd, whose former company is being bailed out by billions in taxpayer dollars, calls home a 22-room Colonial mansion on Newark Street in tony Cleveland Park, built on the former property of President Grover Cleveland.

    The eight-bedroom, eight-bath pad includes large public rooms with fireplaces, a home theater, a gym, a wine cellar, a solarium, servants' quarters, a terrace off the master-bedroom suite, and a gourmet kitchen.

    The gated, landscaped property also features a pool, fountains, gardens and a guesthouse.

    The property is so lavish that some company employees dubbed it "Mudd Manor."

    And they're furious that the executive at the helm of the ship as it sank into profound crisis has surfaced relatively unscathed, at least for now.

    "Hey, he lost his limo and corner suite [at the office], but Mudd Manor is not a bad place to contemplate your next move," said a bitter Fannie Mae employee who requested anonymity.

    "Most Fannie Mae employees are reeling from their employee stock-option-plan account balances' going to cents on the dollar."

    So the little people get fleeced and the big guys walk.

    That Obama has some really swell friends.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 08:12 PM | Comments (3)

    Obama Gets Help

    posted by Simon at 06:22 PM | Comments (0)

    An Admission Of Guilt

    It looks like Congress is planning to leave town without addressing the financial meltdown.

    Sept. 18 (Bloomberg) -- The Democratic-controlled Congress, acknowledging that it isn't equipped to lead the way to a solution for the financial crisis and can't agree on a path to follow, is likely to just get out of the way.

    Lawmakers say they are unlikely to take action before, or to delay, their planned adjournments -- Sept. 26 for the House of Representatives, a week later for the Senate. While they haven't ruled out returning after the Nov. 4 elections, they would rather wait until next year unless Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, who are leading efforts to contain the crisis, call for help.

    One reason, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said yesterday, is that ``no one knows what to do'' at the moment.

    Yeah. They don't know what to do. Why would that be? Maybe because they have their finger prints all over the cause of the problem? What are the chances Congress will work to fix what it broke? There is a number that expresses the odds exceedingly well.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 06:04 PM | Comments (4)

    Debunking the undebunkable

    I've long thought that correcting misinformation (often called "debunking") helps enable human understanding. I think this is a principle which many bloggers believe in, to the point where it's often considered one of the basic advantages of the blogosphere. As the theory goes, the more bloggers do this, the more "self correcting" the blogosphere becomes.

    So I was a bit taken aback to learn about a study which claims that correcting misinformation can have the effect of causing people to adhere more strenuously to the misinformation which is being corrected.

    a series of new experiments show that misinformation can exercise a ghostly influence on people's minds after it has been debunked -- even among people who recognize it as misinformation. In some cases, correcting misinformation serves to increase the power of bad information.

    In experiments conducted by political scientist John Bullock at Yale University, volunteers were given various items of political misinformation from real life. One group of volunteers was shown a transcript of an ad created by NARAL Pro-Choice America that accused John G. Roberts Jr., President Bush's nominee to the Supreme Court at the time, of "supporting violent fringe groups and a convicted clinic bomber."

    A variety of psychological experiments have shown that political misinformation primarily works by feeding into people's preexisting views. People who did not like Roberts to begin with, then, ought to have been most receptive to the damaging allegation, and this is exactly what Bullock found. Democrats were far more likely than Republicans to disapprove of Roberts after hearing the allegation.

    Bullock then showed volunteers a refutation of the ad by abortion-rights supporters. He also told the volunteers that the advocacy group had withdrawn the ad. Although 56 percent of Democrats had originally disapproved of Roberts before hearing the misinformation, 80 percent of Democrats disapproved of the Supreme Court nominee afterward. Upon hearing the refutation, Democratic disapproval of Roberts dropped only to 72 percent.

    Republican disapproval of Roberts rose after hearing the misinformation but vanished upon hearing the correct information. The damaging charge, in other words, continued to have an effect even after it was debunked among precisely those people predisposed to buy the bad information in the first place.

    What that means is that when you're dealing with people who really want to believe something, and you show them it is not true, they'll believe it more firmly than ever.

    Disconcerting, to say the least. But it might explain what it is that makes what we call the "hard core" hard and loyal to the core.

    The Rathergate scandal stands out as an example of what I saw as the blogosphere doing its job. Dan Rather lost his job as a result, but he maintained his innocence, and he still has a core of devoted followers. The 9/11 Truthers are probably an extreme example of this phenomenon.

    Speaking of "debunking," longtime readers may remember my role in debunking dishonest web site called "Capitol Hill Blue." At least, so I thought at an earlier point in my blogging career. As I was to learn (and as I explained here), there's no such thing as permanent debunking. At least, not to the loyal readers of Capitol Hill Blue:

    Longtime readers may remember that I devoted a great deal of time to debunking that rather ridiculous "news site" run by Doug Thompson -- which featured fictitious characters like the disappearing "George Harleigh." I remember being foolish enough to think that because Capitol Hill Blue had been "discredited" that it would just go away. Not so. Capitol Hill Blue and Doug Thompson have a seemingly endless capactity for self reinvention -- which in turn is now forcing bloggers to reinvent the wheel doing what was supposedly done long ago. In "UPDATE 2: He's Baaack - More Lies, Hilarity & Hypocrisy from Doug Thompson & Capitol Hill Blue" and "One Man, Two Phantom Sources, a Few Fictional Friends, and Zero Credibility a very thorough blogger has painstakingly built yet another case against CHB and Thompson. I'm delighted to be cited as a source, but I wish it wasn't necessary for anyone to be doing this all over again -- especially in such painstaking detail.
    I concluded with this question:
    Is there any way to debunk anything so that it stays debunked?
    According to this latest research, no.

    I guess the rule is that if you're dealing with a true believer of any kind, forget it. If the study's conclusions are right, attempts to change his mind will only have the opposite effect of strengthening his position -- especially if you're using facts as opposed to opinions.

    And of course, opposing opinions are also wasted on true believers, which most activists are.

    I don't know how scientific the study is, but it would appear confirm something I have long suspected -- that arguments are generally a waste of time.

    They might make things worse.

    posted by Eric at 02:03 PM | Comments (8)

    absence of standards guarantees success!

    Yesterday I wrote a post ("The government giveth standards, the government taketh them away") in which I cited economists who see the lowering of banking standards as a major cause of the current economic mess.

    Investors Business Daily has an editorial titled "Congress Tries To Fix What It Broke" which notes the prominent role of Democrats (especially Barack Obama) in abandoning "lending standards that had served the banking industry well for centuries."

    Everyone in the subprime business -- from brokers to lenders to banks to investment houses -- absolved themselves of responsibility for ensuring the high-risk loans were good.

    The mortgage lenders didn't care, because they were going to sell the loans to other banks. The banks didn't care, because they were going to repackage the loans as MBSs. The investors and traders didn't care, because the MBSs were backed by Fannie and Freddie and their implicit government guarantees.

    In other words, nobody up and down the line -- from the branch office on main street to the high-rise on Wall Street -- analyzed the risk of such ill-advised loans. But why should they? Everybody was just doing what the regulators in Washington wanted them to do.

    So everybody won until everybody lost, including the minorities the government originally mandated the banks to serve.

    The original culprits in all this were the social engineers who compelled banks to make the bad loans. The private sector has no business conducting social experiments on behalf of government. Its business is making profit. Period. So it did what it naturally does and turned the subprime social mandate into a lucrative industry.

    Of course, it was a Ponzi scheme, because they weren't allowed to play by their rules. The government changed the rules for risk.

    In order to put low-income minorities into home loans, they were ordered to suspend lending standards that had served the banking industry well for centuries.

    Why there is so much resistance to discussing something which ought to be discussed, I don't know. What really irritates me is the way people misconstrue this debate as an attempt to "blame minorities" for the problem. On the contrary; they are the victims, not the problem. Abandoning lending standards hurt minorities (especially low income minorities) at least as much as it hurt the fat cats, and probably more, because the former lack the financial resources of the fat cats.

    But I don't think the goal here was to help minorities so much as it was to advance socialism.

    The more the system fails, the more socialistic things become. Abandonment of lending standards guaranteed that the system would fail.

    But in socialist terms, the failure was a success.

    posted by Eric at 12:07 PM | Comments (0)

    Krisis? or Hyperbole?

    Whatever it is, the Germans who write stuff like this certainly want to get people's attention over here in Amerika. I mean, look at this crap:

    End of an Era

    In fact, it really does look as if the foundations of US capitalism have shattered. Since 1864, American banking has been split into commercial banks and investment banks. But now that's changing. Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch -- overnight, some of the biggest names on Wall Street have disappeared into thin air. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are the only giants left standing. Despite tolerable quarterly results, even they have been hurt by mysterious slumps in prices and -- at least in Morgan Stanley's case -- have prepared themselves for the end.

    "Nothing will ever be like it was before," said James Allroy, a broker who was brooding over his chai latte at a Starbucks on Wall Street. "The world as we know it is going under."

    Many are drawing comparisons with the Great Depression, the national trauma that has been the benchmark for everything since. "I think it has the chance to be the worst period of time since 1929," financing legend Donald Trump told CNN. And the Wall Street Journal seconds that opinion, giving one story the title: "Worst Crisis Since '30s, With No End Yet in Sight."

    But what's happening? Experts have so far been unable to agree on any conclusions. Is this the beginning of the end? Or is it just a painful, but normal cycle correcting the excesses of recent years? Does responsibility lie with the ratings agencies, which have been overvaluing financial institutions for a long time? Or did dubious short sellers manipulate stock prices -- after all, they were suspected of having caused the last stock market crisis in July.

    The only thing that is certain is that the era of the unbridled free-market economy in the US has passed -- at least for now. The near nationalization of AIG, America's largest insurance company, with an $85 billion cash infusion -- a bill footed by taxpayers -- was a staggering move. The sum is three times as high as the guarantee provided by the Federal Reserve when Bear Stearns was sold to JPMorgan Chase in March.

    The most breathtaking aspect about this week's crisis, though, is that the life raft -- which Washington had only previously used to bail out the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- is being handed out by a government whose party usually fights against any form of government intervention. The policy is anchored in its party platform.

    "I fear the government has passed the point of no return," financial historian Ron Chernow told the New York Times. "We have the irony of a free-market administration doing things that the most liberal Democratic administration would never have been doing in its wildest dreams."

    I'm cynical, but it's hard to ignore, because that would be a form of denial.

    But what form of denial would it be?

    Why aren't the economists I occasionally read such as Arnold Kling, Greg Mankiw, and Megan McArdle in a similar state of panic?

    I'm no economist, but my initial gut reaction is that what's driving stocks downward (and the concomitant panic thinking) might be connected to the huge AIG bailout. I'm not alone:

    Heavy-handed federal bailouts started this mutually reinforcing spiral rolling downhill by scaring anyone still holding stock in similar firms. And other regulations make it more likely to end badly.
    Makes sense to me. And of course regulations call for more regulations -- especially when they fail. So it really gave me an attack of "I-TOLD-YOU-SO-itis" to read this:
    Every blunder of government regulation invites an understandable impulse to give failed regulators more money and power. Yet financial markets invariably notice looming financial problems (e.g., Enron) months before credit-rating agencies notice anything amiss - regulators even lag behind the rating agencies.

    In the process of turning US taxpayers into involuntary stockholders in AIG, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, federal bullies shoved the voluntary stockholders into the ditch. Bear Stearns stockholders weren't treated much better.

    If you're still brave enough to own stock in other financial firms not yet blessed with such enlightened assistance from the feds, those precedents should make you nervous. So how could anyone possibly expect these "bailouts" to improve market confidence?

    Call me an ignoramus. Say I'm in denial. But right now it's not the market I fear; it's the government.

    As to the German editorial panic over "the foundations of US capitalism," the election's just a little too close. I question their sincerity.

    Above all, I question the timing.

    posted by Eric at 09:51 AM | Comments (6)

    "the biggest issue that nobody's talking about"

    According to Those Who Know Better (like CNN's Jack Cafferty) the closeness of the race means that race is the biggest issue in the election:

    Race is arguably the biggest issue in this election, and it's one that nobody's talking about.

    The differences between Barack Obama and John McCain couldn't be more well-defined. Obama wants to change Washington. McCain is a part of Washington and a part of the Bush legacy. Yet the polls remain close. Doesn't make sense...unless it's race.

    Oh, no. The fact that the man is a socialist -- and the most left wing candidate in US history -- has absolutely nothing to do with it.
    Time magazine's Michael Grunwald says race is the elephant in the room. He says Barack Obama needs to tread lightly as he fights back against the McCain-Palin campaign attacks.

    He writes, "Over the past 18 months, Obama has been attacked as a naive novice, an empty suit, a tax-and-spend liberal, an arugula-grazing elitist and a corrupt ward heeler, but the only attacks that clearly stung him involved the Rev. Jeremiah Wright - attacks that portrayed him as an angry black man under the influence of an even angrier black man."

    The angry black man, he goes on to say, doesn't have broad appeal in White America. And even though the makeup of our population is changing, whites are still the majority in this country. How ironic that the giant step forward of nominating an African American for president may ultimately keep us mired in the past.

    I could say defensively that I don't think Obama is "angry" and don't care, but it's beneath my dignity. This whole line of attack is simply another example of people who will not allow other people the simple human dignity of being allowed to think what they think.


    posted by Eric at 12:41 AM | Comments (7)

    Partnership Between Fannie Mae And Congressional Black Caucus

    I guess we can tell who some of the crooks are. Obama gets a prominent mention.

    Also see Cash Cows and Pigs for links explaining in some detail the mortgage meltdown.

    posted by Simon at 10:37 PM | Comments (0)

    Who Is The Party Of The Elite?

    And just in case you can't figure out who the party of the elite is, have a look at ∅bama Gets Up Close And Personal With Regular Folks.

    H/T Gateway Pundit

    posted by Simon at 09:20 PM | Comments (6)

    Obama Gets Up Close And Personal With Regular Folks

    Isn't that a wonderful shot at the beginning of ∅bama warming up the crowd? If I had to guess, I'd say that Michelle has cut him off for the duration.

    Obama raised $9 million at $28K+ a head. That would be over 300 people. I wonder what you had to pay for the good seats?

    H/T No Quarter

    posted by Simon at 09:12 PM | Comments (1)

    Sins of the flesh?

    I saw a car parked near the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and I couldn't resist a shot. (License number altered to protect what I guess is "privacy.")


    "Whatever can that mean?" I thought.

    Cannibals for Obama?

    Some things I find hard to swallow. I understand that people are into all kinds of lifestyles and stuff, but seriously, why would anyone eat a vegetarian? And why would such a person support Barack Obama? If anything, I'd expect whatever cannibals there are who support Obama to be into eating red meat conservatives, and even that they'd tend to keep in the closet. (For obvious reasons.)

    Might this have been some sort of "false flag" by devious Republican tricksters trying to make Obama supporters look depraved, while poking fun at vegetarians? I doubt it, because very few people would get it. Besides, there's already a bumpersticker which they could use to ridicule vegetarians, which says "Eat a vegetarian."

    So I was stumped, and it wasn't until I Googled the phrase that I realized that the "taste" referred to is not the taste of flesh, but the taste of, um, secretions. Here's Meghan Lane, the student coordinator of the Health and Sex Peer Education Program (at UC Berkeley's Daily Cal):

    Vegetarians taste better: What you eat affects the flavor of your semen/vaginal secretions. Meat and asparagus supposedly make sexual secretions taste bitter, garlic can make them taste garlicky and fruits, especially pineapple, can give secretions a sweet taste.
    Note the weasel word "supposedly." This can only means that the author does not claim to be speaking from personal experience. I'm too much of a skeptic to take her word for it. On the other hand, I'm not sure I'd want to apply the old "trust but verify" doctrine too liberally.

    Hmmm. Maybe I mean literally. I'd hate to have to investigate a claim that liberals taste better too. I'll just take the word of a commenter named "Do-Gooder" that they do. At least, where it comes to "normal" sins of the flesh:

    ....everyone knows liberals taste better. We're like those Japanese cows that get fed beer and are regularly massaged leading to contented stress-free lives. Though I have never tasted it myself, I am led to believe it is the finest beef in all the world. And as us liberals are happy-go-lucky types who do not believe the sky is going to fall in at any moment, we too lead stress-free lives, get regular massages (a little known perk) and drink beer (or vodka in my case). Thus we are finger ******* good. Any mountain lion would be proud to gnaw on us.
    Is there a "conservatives taste better" meme?

    And is it flesh in the sexual sense, or flesh in the old fashioned normal sense? (Or should I say flesh in the normal sense, or flesh in the old fashioned sexual sense?)

    Yes. And no. Because sex has nothing to do with it:

    99% of academics polled say that conservatives taste better when char-broiled.
    What this proves is that whoever said "in matters of taste there can be no disagreement" did not have access to the Internet.

    Beyond that, there may be profound implications for the old saying that "you are what you eat."

    posted by Eric at 04:19 PM | Comments (8)

    Cash Cows and Pigs

    If you want to learn more about Obama and the Democrat's connection to the mortgage meltdown may I suggest the following to start:

    The Best Congress Fannie Could Buy

    McCain ties mess to Obama - video

    Fannie - A Time Line

    The government giveth standards, the government taketh them away

    H/T Hot Air which describes McCain's efforts to fix the problem in 2006. Well before disaster struck.

    posted by Simon at 02:17 PM | Comments (4)

    The government giveth standards, the government taketh them away
    ...if Freddie and Fannie had stuck to low-risk lending they would today not be needing any government bailout.
    So said Arnold Kling (who bases his view partly on personal experience), and while I'm not an economist, I'm inclined to agree.

    It strikes me as logical that "low risk lending" is impossible without the presence of standards to evaluate risk. Otherwise, how could a risk be called low?

    But in any case, they threw the standards out. As to the reasons why, Stan Liebowitz suggests that groups like ACORN played a role:

    Perhaps the greatest scandal of the mortgage crisis is that it is a direct result of an intentional loosening of underwriting standards--done in the name of ending discrimination, despite warnings that it could lead to wide-scale defaults.

    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.

    In the 1980s, groups such as the activists at ACORN began pushing charges of "redlining"--claims that banks discriminated against minorities in mortgage lending. In 1989, sympathetic members of Congress got the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act amended to force banks to collect racial data on mortgage applicants; this allowed various studies to be ginned up that seemed to validate the original accusation.

    Again, I have no way to track the numbers and evaluate this stuff. But if he's right, the problem was largely caused by government being constantly goaded and pressured by activists:
    bank regulators required the loosened underwriting standards, with approval by politicians and the chattering class. A 1995 strengthening of the Community Reinvestment Act required banks to find ways to provide mortgages to their poorer communities. It also let community activists intervene at yearly bank reviews, shaking the banks down for large pots of money.

    Banks that got poor reviews were punished; some saw their merger plans frustrated; others faced direct legal challenges by the Justice Department.

    Flexible lending programs expanded even though they had higher default rates than loans with traditional standards. On the Web, you can still find CRA loans available via ACORN with "100 percent financing . . . no credit scores . . . undocumented income . . . even if you don't report it on your tax returns." Credit counseling is required, of course.

    Ironically, an enthusiastic Fannie Mae Foundation report singled out one paragon of nondiscriminatory lending, which worked with community activists and followed "the most flexible underwriting criteria permitted." That lender's $1 billion commitment to low-income loans in 1992 had grown to $80 billion by 1999 and $600 billion by early 2003.

    Years ago (back in the 1980s) you couldn't buy a house if any of the downpayment was borrowed. The loan applications asked about that in a direct question, and if you answered "Yes," the banks could not make the loan. They also required independent appraisals to verify that the bank's 80% mortgage was solid.

    I'm not saying that everything that happened is a direct result of lowering standards, but it's hard not to see the lowering of standards as a major cause.

    And I think I'm being charitable by not saying "eliminating" standards.

    What did they expect would happen?

    Might as well eliminate grades in school.

    posted by Eric at 02:13 PM | Comments (6)

    Whose Side Is He On?

    It seems like Senator ∅ has taken a crash course in order to gain foreign policy expertise. One minor problem. The course is crashing.
    The Obama campaign spent more than five hours on Monday attempting to figure out the best refutation of the explosive New York Post report that quoted Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari as saying that Barack Obama during his July visit to Baghdad demanded that Iraq not negotiate with the Bush Administration on the withdrawal of American troops. Instead, he asked that they delay such negotiations until after the presidential handover at the end of January.

    The three problems, according to campaign sources: The report was true, there were at least three other people in the room with Obama and Zebari to confirm the conversation, and there was concern that there were enough aggressive reporters based in Baghdad with the sources to confirm the conversation that to deny the comments would create a bigger problem.

    Instead, Obama's national security spokeswoman Wendy Morigi told reporters that Obama told the Iraqis that they should not rush through what she termed a "Strategic Framework Agreement" governing the future of U.S. forces until after President Bush left office. In other words, the Iraqis should not negotiate an American troop withdrawal.

    According to a Senate staffer working for Sen. Joseph Biden, Biden himself got involved in the shaping of the statement. "The whole reason he's on the ticket is the foreign policy insight," explained the staffer.

    What a howler. Joe Biden a foreign policy expert.

    And Candidate ∅ calling for troop withdrawals in America and trying to delay them in Iraq.

    How about that New York Post article?

    WHILE campaigning in public for a speedy withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, Sen. Barack Obama has tried in private to persuade Iraqi leaders to delay an agreement on a draw-down of the American military presence.

    According to Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, Obama made his demand for delay a key theme of his discussions with Iraqi leaders in Baghdad in July.

    "He asked why we were not prepared to delay an agreement until after the US elections and the formation of a new administration in Washington," Zebari said in an interview.

    Obama insisted that Congress should be involved in negotiations on the status of US troops - and that it was in the interests of both sides not to have an agreement negotiated by the Bush administration in its "state of weakness and political confusion."

    "However, as an Iraqi, I prefer to have a security agreement that regulates the activities of foreign troops, rather than keeping the matter open." Zebari says.

    Well what do you know. The Iraqis would rather be running their own country instead of having a Junior Senator from Illinois running it. It is almost like they favor self government over foreign rule. I thought the lefties were saying that self government in the Middle East was impossible. I think the evidence points to the contrary. It appears it is rather robust and in fact so robust that they have rolled Senator ∅.

    Speaking of lefties. I appears that the Demthuglies are out in force on this issue.

    The real news I see in the Obama statement is that there may be an encouraging evolution in his position on Iraq: The "rebuttal" shows that the senator no longer shares his party leadership's belief that the United States has lost the war in Iraq.

    He now talks of "the prospect of lasting success," perhaps hoping that his own administration would inherit the kudos. And he makes no mention of his running mate Joe Biden's pet project for carving Iraq into three separate states. He has even abandoned his earlier claim that toppling Saddam Hussein was "illegal" and admits that the US-led coalition's presence in Iraq has a legal framework in the shape of the UN mandate.

    In his statement on my Post article, Obama no longer talks of "withdrawal" but of "redeployment" and "drawdown" - which is exactly what is happening in Iraq now.

    While I am encouraged by the senator's evolution, I must also appeal to him to issue a "cease and desist" plea to the battalions of his sympathizers - who have been threatening me with death and worse in the days since my article appeared.

    And that is not the only place the Demthuglies have been out in force. It seems they still don't like Milt Rosenberg.
    Rosenberg's producer, Zack Christenson, e-mailed National Review's Corner with this message:
    Tonight, we have David Freddoso on our show discussing his new book. As we speak, thousands of Obama supporters are flooding our phone lines and e-mail boxes, just as they did for our show with Stanley Kurtz. An Obama Action Wire was sent out tonight to intimidate us into taking Freddoso off the air.
    I caught the last twenty minutes of Extension 720. I'll download the podcast as soon as it is available.

    The first thing I heard when I tuned in was a female caller who identified herself as a journalism student. She started reciting obvious Obama-nut talking points, when Rosenberg--a very calm man by the way--interrupted and asked, "Did you receive that e-mail and are you quoting from it?"

    She responded that she had, but was adding her own insight. She then went on to tell the longtime host of the program that she supports Obama because he "simultaneously represents integrity and class."

    The Obama campaign has nothing to do with integrity and class. The first attempted disruption of Rosenberg's program could have been written off the work of a rogue staffer. But this time, uh-uh, no way, not a chance. The Obama, make that Obama himself has to answer for their intrusion on free discourse.

    And just in case you were wondering about the book being discussed. Here it is with a link to Amazon so you can check it out. The Case Against Barack Obama: The Unlikely Rise and Unexamined Agenda of the Media's Favorite Candidate

    In any case I seem to recall that this kind of political behavior was well known in history. So well known that it had a name. Storm something I think.

    H/T Just One Minute.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 11:36 AM | Comments (1)

    Egad, yet another economic crisis!

    According to leading economist Greg Mankiw, this situation looks serious:


    And there's the usual scary headline to go with it:

    Economists Warn Anti-Bush Merchandise Market Close To Collapse

    Not to be a nay-saying pooh-pooher (and yes I do realize that people will be losing businesses and jobs) but just for once, can't we please just let the market take care of these things?

    While Glenn Reynolds hasn't specifically weighed in on the Anti-Bush Merchandise Market collapse, yesterday he asked a good question:

    How many bailouts is too many?
    I don't know, but we have to draw the line somwhere, and I just don't see why the government has to bail out the Anti-Bush Merchandise Market.

    Besides, no matter what the government does, the fact is that Bush will be out of office soon, and the market won't exist.

    It would take a coup to save it (and even that would have to be followed by an extremely benevolent, dissent-tolerant Bush dictatorship).

    I'm no economist, but I predict that this time, the Democrats won't support such messing around in the marketplace.

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

    As I'm no economist (nor am I particularly economical), I especially welcome economical opinions -- such as the one below from Peter Ingemi:

    Considering the hysterical reactions from people on the net and even from some people I know I'm sure the new anti-Palin market will more than make up for it.
    That's probably called "transitioning" to a new market or something. Maybe reinventing. There has to be a technical phrase....

    Come on, help me out.

    And while I'm at it, will someone please explain what Glenn means when he asks whether it's "TIME FOR ANOTHER BAILOUT?" Coming as it does on the heels of yesterday's "How many bailouts is too many?"

    I'm left with the feeling that Glenn Reynolds might be hedging his bets.

    What's really going on? Is he holding onto his anti-Bush merchandising stocks in the hope of that last minute Bush coup that's been promised for years by Ted Rall, Chris Hedges, and others? Which others? How about libertarians in deadly sneakers?

    Or might Glenn be waiting for the right opportunity to sell short?

    Not to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but at times like this, can we really be too careful?

    MORE: Let's not forget about the total all-American classics that many of these merchandisers have in stock, and which never go out of style.

    Like this:


    No matter what your preference, if you're a rabid activist, it can always be displayed with pride.

    posted by Eric at 10:54 AM | Comments (5)

    Stability versus sideshows

    Dick Polman is on the left, and while I don't agree with him politically, he's a shrewd political analyst. Yesterday, in a column calling the current economic problems a "mojo opportunity" for Obama he expressed obvious irritation at his party, saying that if Obama couldn't exploit this economic opportunity properly, they didn't deserve to win:

    The Wall Street meltdown has provided Barack Obama with perhaps his best opportunity to extricate himself from the sludge poured so copiously by his opponents. This is serious stuff, unlike the various pig/lipstick/Britney/Paris/Palin sideshows, and, quite frankly, if Obama can't turn this economic crisis to his political advantage, he doesn't deserve to win. Indeed (and here I am updating one of my old lines), if the Democrats can't win a presidential election in this climate, they should simply go out of business, just like Lehman Brothers, and take up residence in the history wing of the Smithsonian Museum, sharing a display window with the Whigs.
    I don't think the economy is the sure-fire winner for the Democrats that Polman thinks it is. At this point in history, many American voters are cynical enough to grasp that while presidents are routinely blamed for "the economy" during every election cycle, they don't actually run the free market system, and whether prices of oil or real estate go up or down, they don't deserve the credit or the blame.

    I may be wrong, but I don't think the average voter perceives either Obama or McCain as an economic wizard capable of performing miracles.

    The president is seen as a stabilizing figure, though, so in uncertain economic times (which these are), it is natural for people to look to leaders for signs of reassurance. Obama is hardly reassuring. He is young, he is green, and he is on the left. By contrast, to say that John McCain has "been around" is almost understatement. So, while neither man is an economic magician, McCain wins on the "stability" issue. (Hence the campaign to picture him as an angry, tantrum-throwing man, or as a literally demonic warmonger -- a "warmongerer" depending on your educational preferences.)

    Statistically, the race is a virtual tie. McCain offers experience, but is somewhat hobbled by being a longtime member of the incumbent party, while Obama, even though he is new, seems eloquently repetitive. His message that "we need change" is already sounding stale, and his efforts to tie McCain to Bush could backfire, not just because McCain really is a maverick, but because most American voters realize in their hearts that Bush is not actually Satan. Activist Democrats tend to forget that his low approval rating (currently at 32.6%) does not mean that the other 64.3% aren't tired of Bush for a number of reasons, but neither does it mean they're gnashing their teeth and stuck in a permanent case of Bush Derangement Syndrome. Too much reliance on BUSH=EVIL=MCCAIN could backfire -- especially if something happens that gives Bush an opportunity to look like a beleaguered senior statesman doing what's best for the country at the last minute.

    So I think McCain Obama remain a draw. If I were a Democrat, I'd be counting on Biden right now. Not Obama. Biden might not be my idea of a senior statesman, but he beats Obama in that department. And it's such a close race that if Obama and the Democrats have any sense, they ought to sit back and let Biden play the senior statesman game -- even if it might appear to slight Obama.

    Biden can play the old LBJ game of "Which finger do you want on the button?" Frighten people. He can cleverly capitalize on the Palin-bashing, not by endorsing it, but by emphasizing his stability -- and (by insinuation) the unstable nature of the other side.

    People on the left have done their best to make Sarah Palin look like a kook, and a religious nut. (Perfect example here.) I don't think she's a kook, but the GOP better hope there aren't any videos floating around of the sort that would make her look that way. The Kenyan "witch hunter" stuff (which Drudge linked yesterday) has no real substance to it, but I think the idea might be that if they throw a lot silly stuff at her -- the "sideshows" which Polman dismisses -- it might have a sort of cumulative effect, so that Biden won't have to address it directly, but he can just remind Americans about the importance of stability, and the importance of whose finger is on the button. This worked for LBJ when he ran against Barry Goldwater (who was painted by Democratic operatives as a kook with slogans like Bill Moyers' "In your guts, you know he's nuts," and whose endorsement of "extremism in defense of liberty" proved to be a bonanza for the other side). I think a similar approach might be able to work again, assuming Biden can pull off the "stability" "senior statesman" ethos -- and assuming sufficient numbers of Americans buy into the meme that Palin is a kook.

    But there's a downside in framing the question as "Do Americans care about stability?" in that the familiar and older McCain is seen as inherently more stable than the younger, unfamiliar Obama. Biden is also known for his gaffes, and he might not be able to pull off looking like a senior statesman without the appearance of sexist condescension.

    It's a complicated game. Charlie Gibson learned that male condescension only helped Governor Palin, who not only did not come off looking kooky, but made him look like a bit of an ass. OTOH, Gibson doesn't have Biden's "finger on the button" advantage; all he can do is push the edit button and erase anything that might have benefitted his quarry guest.

    Of course, there's a downside in framing the question as "Would America prefer to have Biden's finger on the button?"

    Not only does it up the ante to national security (an area where Democrats don't fare well), but people might start asking, "well then, why he isn't at the top of the ticket?"

    Besides, if we want to debate "sideshow" issues, I think Jeremiah Wright has them all beaten. He makes Palin's pastor look boring. (Frankly, I'm a bit disappointed by the absence of snake handlers in any of these churches, but that's just me.)

    Polman is right about one thing. Focusing on the "sideshow" tends to make people forget that the election is between McCain and Obama. However, the more Obama looks like a loser, the better the case for focusing on the "sideshow" becomes.

    If Biden pulls an LBJ, we'll know why.

    UPDATE: Here's Rick Moran on the current economic situation:

    ...there seems to be general agreement that the situation is serious but that the Federal Reserve is on top of the situation. There is some disagreement whether the federal government should be stepping in with both feet, but, as far as the immediate crisis, it is being handled.

    The problem is uncertainty -- a state of affairs financial markets hate. And that uncertainty is due to the least predictable element in the markets -- the human mind. The next few days will tell the tale whether 50 million years of mammalian evolution has produced a rational being using his higher brain functions or a frightened, panicky marmoset scared of his own shadow who relies on the medulla oblongata for smarts.

    Fear? Hasn't Barack Obama been preaching against that for the past year?

    posted by Eric at 10:17 AM | Comments (3)

    McCain Goes After Vote Fraud

    John McCain has opened up a new front in the vote fraud wars.

    ARLINGTON, VA -- The McCain-Palin 2008 campaign today announced the formation of the Honest and Open Election Committee, with a mission to ensure that every qualified citizen has the opportunity to vote in a fair and transparent manner. The committee will work with state and local election officials to anticipate, and where possible resolve in advance, problems likely to arise on Election Day.

    The advisory committee will be co-chaired by former United States Senators John C. Danforth and Warren B. Rudman. The committee also includes current and former members of Congress and former state secretaries of state, election officials, and state attorneys general, along with prominent academic experts in election law. The diverse composition of the committee reflects the McCain-Palin campaign's desire to put partisan politics aside in the hope of seeing a fair and transparent election in November.

    The committee will advise the campaign with respect to policy and actual or potential legal proceedings involving the campaign laws and practices in various states working towards avoiding litigation when possible.

    One thing to keep in mind is that the Democrats have a nationwide vote fraud machine by the name of ACORN. I have looked at their involvement in vote fraud at Election Fraud Control. There are links there that explain how to report suspected election fraud. I also look at how they have been involved in the mortgage meltdown at The Best Congress Fannie Could Buy.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 06:57 AM | Comments (1)

    Fighting Over The Money

    It seems like the Democrats are fighting over money.

    Earlier this month, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made a personal appeal to Barack Obama: Help me grow the Democrats' Senate majority by sharing some of the $77 million you've got in the bank.

    Obama's campaign said no.

    Although Democratic insiders say a better deal could still come, the Obama campaign so far has agreed only to let Senate Democrats use Obama's name -- as well as those of his wife and running mate -- in mail and online fundraising pitches. The campaign has planned no joint fundraising events with House or Senate Democrats, and insiders say none is likely to be held before Election Day.

    In rejecting a direct request from his Senate leader, Obama has put a fine point on the financial pressures he's feeling as the presidential race turns toward the fall.

    Obama raised a record-setting $66 million in August, leaving his campaign with about $77 million in cash now. Because he has turned down public financing, he can keep raising money through Election Day. John McCain, having accepted public financing, can't do that -- but he already has the $84 million in public money in his campaign coffers.

    More importantly, McCain will get substantial help from the Republican National Committee -- which has dramatically outraised its Democratic counterpart -- and the Republican Party's state and local committees.

    I discussed ∅bama's money troubles in Obama Piggybank Broke. His figuring was that he had to raise $100 million a month for three months for his campaign and $50 million a month for Congressional races. So although $66 million may be a record it is far below what he needs to win. Given that he outspent Hillary by margins of 3 to 1 or more in a number of states and still lost those states in the primaries he is in a world of hurt. And so is the Democrat Party.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 06:54 AM | Comments (0)

    Fannie - A Timeline

    If you want to get deeper into the history of the mortgage meltdown, The Wall Street Journal has a page of links to its past articles. Here are a few titles and dates to give you an idea.

    • Inside Fannie 03/19/02 - Fan and Fred don't function like other companies. They're allowed to pile up debt, implicitly guaranteed by taxpayers, without being held to even the minimum of corporate governance standards.

    • Frantic Fannie 02/28/02 - Companies taking on so much risk and debt, and backed by taxpayers, ought to be more transparent in what they tell the world.

    • Fannie Mae Enron? 02/20/02 - Fan and Fred look like poorly run hedge funds: lots of leverage and snarkily hedged risk. Does the word Enron ring any bells?
    Go to the page for links.

    Here is a relevant bit from the New York Times from 2003.

    The Bush administration today recommended the most significant regulatory overhaul in the housing finance industry since the savings and loan crisis a decade ago.

    Under the plan, disclosed at a Congressional hearing today, a new agency would be created within the Treasury Department to assume supervision of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored companies that are the two largest players in the mortgage lending industry.

    The new agency would have the authority, which now rests with Congress, to set one of the two capital-reserve requirements for the companies. It would exercise authority over any new lines of business. And it would determine whether the two are adequately managing the risks of their ballooning portfolios.

    The plan is an acknowledgment by the administration that oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- which together have issued more than $1.5 trillion in outstanding debt -- is broken. A report by outside investigators in July concluded that Freddie Mac manipulated its accounting to mislead investors, and critics have said Fannie Mae does not adequately hedge against rising interest rates.

    Did the new oversight plan get passed by Congress? What do you think? I'll save you the trouble of looking it up. No.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 06:44 AM | Comments (1)

    McCain On Obama And The Mortgage Meltdown

    McCain echos what I said in The Best Congress Fannie Could Buy. Obama's cronies and advisers are the thieves.

    H/T Instapundit

    posted by Simon at 06:33 AM | Comments (1)

    Let there be light

    The days are getting shorter here in my new town. (Ann Arbor.) If experience is any guide, they'll continue to get shorter until December 21. The problem is, Michigan is further north than Pennsylvania, and as far as I'm concerned, the days were too short there in the winter. Quite frankly, I was suffering from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), and it might have even affected my blogging! I shudder at the thought, because that might mean that my darker moments might reach out and make other people's moments a tad darker. And we can't have that, can we?

    So I'm thinking of buying one of those "light therapy" devices. Maybe something like this:

    Like water, air, or food, light plays a vital role in our daily lives and in our feelings of comfort and well being. Based on the latest scientific research, the Lumiram AuroraTM Full Spectrum Light System has been engineered for those who have shown to be adversely affected by the lack of Natural Sunlight, due to inadequate exposure of their living and work space or during the dark and depressing Fall and Winter months.
    But I'd better be careful not to ever run for public office, or else I might be accused of "eltism" by Keith Olbermann, who's now asking whether Sarah Palin has "ever been treated for depression or is subject to mood swings."

    Apparently she bought a tanning device instead of a Florida vacation.

    Hey, at least Palin's critics have finally decided to focus on serious issues.

    posted by Eric at 11:36 PM | Comments (6)

    Or am I missing something?


    A criticism of Barack Obama that cannot be called "racist":

    Barack Obama is truly a phenomenon of our time-- a presidential candidate who cannot cite a single serious accomplishment in his entire career, besides advancing his own career with rhetoric.

    He has a rhetorical answer for everything. Those of us who talk about the threat of Iran are just engaging in "the politics of fear" according to Obama, something to distract us from "the real issues," such as raising taxes and handing out largesse with the proceeds.

    It's a very insightful piece, and its author, Thomas Sowell, cannot be charged with racism for writing it.

    Or can he? I don't think so, because Sowell is black. And according to the standards of identity politics, when a member of a racial minority group criticizes another member of the same minority, that is not racism.

    Not only that, but according to the crazed identitarian rules that prevail today, Thomas Sowell is arguably "blacker" than is Barack Obama. Unlike Obama -- who is "not descended from slaves, nor was his childhood marked by poverty, segregated schooling or social deprivation" -- Sowell grew up in poverty in the South:

    He grew up in poverty in the South when black folks were still on the fringes of society. As a kid he visited the home of some white folks, for the first time saw the taps for both hot water and cold water, and thought that the "rich" people "drank a lot of water" because they had two taps. He did not even know that blond was a possible color for hair until he was older. His family moved to New York City when he was still a child. When he enrolled in the schools, he had to fight the Southern stereotypes because everyone knew that "Southern kids were dumb."
    So, while I am not personally impressed by identitarian arguments based on race, at least they can't apply them to Sowell's criticisms of Obama. Unless I'm missing something.

    Maybe I am. I've been wracking my brains over the bizarre assertion that Sarah Palin is "not a woman." The idea is that she's "a Republican, conservative man who just happens to be in a woman's body." Assume that's the case. There's nothing suddenly wrong with being transgendered, is there? Or am I missing something else?

    Maybe I am.

    Perhaps the rule is that you can't be what you are unless you agree with what they tell you you have to think in order to be what you are.

    It sounds simple, until you discover that you're not allowed to disagree, because you'd be disagreeing with your missing self, which is not yours.

    MORE: According to the comments below, what I've been missing is that conservatism is racism.

    Does that mean that as a small l libertarian, I'm off the hook?

    posted by Eric at 12:59 PM | Comments (10)

    Obanomics 101

    posted by Simon at 10:01 AM | Comments (4)

    "fittingly called The Manipulator"

    Michele Catalano takes a close look at the Jill Greenberg affair in a piece titled "Unrepentant Photographer Turns McCain Into a Monster":

    What has become of journalistic integrity? As if it wasn't already on its way to a slow death, its demise has been shoved forward a few steps thanks to the Atlantic and photographer Jill Greenberg.
    In its defense, the Atlantic explained that "When we contract with photographers for portraits, we don't vet them for their politics." Fine. No one is asking them to. But Catalano points out something I also objected to -- it's not so much Greenberg's politics that are at issue, but the fact that this was not the first time she engaged in deceptive tactics to advance her political views.
    Too bad Jill Greenberg has a history of behaving unprofessionally.

    In 2006, she was taken to task for her photography exhibit called End Times, in which she manipulated very young children into crying in order to use those kids to portray her own views on the state of world politics. She then went on to launch an attack against a photographer who disagreed with her methods.

    Given Greenberg's reaction to the current controversy ("Some of my artwork has been pretty anti-Bush, so maybe it was somewhat irresponsible for [the Atlantic] to hire me."), it's obvious she is pretty laid back when it comes to integrity.

    I'll say. "Laid back" is a kind way of putting it.

    Here's Greenberg in her own words, explaining in an interview why it's OK to make children cry to promote her greater cause (linking Bush and the Iraq War to End Times):

    ...Maybe getting kids to cry isn't the nicest thing to do, but I'm not causing anyone permanent psychological damage.
    It was hard work too:
    We would book 12 or so for one day, and see who we could make cry. At the end of the day I was not in a good mood. I don't like making little kids cry.
    You know what? I probably wouldn't enjoy making little kids cry either. I've never given it much thought, but if I decided to make little kids cry in order to promote my favorite cause, it wouldn't surprise me if people thought that raised questions about, you know, my integrity. (Being that I'm male, I might not get the same sort of pass, either. But that's another topic.)

    Little wonder she rationalizes. It's all about the "strength" and "beauty" of the "images" (may Godwin forgive me for thinking about Leni Riefenstahl):

    ...That was one of the things that interested me about the project--the strength and beauty of the images as images. I also thought they made a kind of political statement about the current state of anxiety a lot of people are in about the future of the country. Sometimes I just feel like crying about the way things are going.
    I don't know whether she cried or not, but she certainly seemed upset by the criticism directed at her. So upset that she switched her subject material from sensitive children to insensitive bears -- which she compared to bloggers:
    After my "End Times" series, with children crying, I wanted to do more work with children, but I needed to take a break because I'd gotten such crazy backlash from people who think it's a scandal that children cry.

    I wanted to you ask you about that.

    You know, children cry. My daughter was crying because she couldn't wear tights under her pants when it was 80 degrees out. So, I joked that I was going to shoot grizzly bears because they're safer than bloggers.

    Has the controversy affected what you've done since?

    It has. The controversy and all the internet nonsense affected me, because how could it not? I think that the photos of bears growling represent the randomly misguided rage that came at me.

    I didn't know that bears were known for randomly misguided rage. They do have their instincts, and of course they can be dangerous. While I'm not sure how "randomly misguided" or rage-filled the attacks on her were, mine was pretty specific. But I think she's missing the point when she characterizes her critics as "people who think it's a scandal that children cry." The point was never that children cry; it's that she made them cry.

    Michele Catalano mentions Greenberg's attack on a fellow professional photographer, Thomas Hawks, who described her retaliatory tactics:

    First she tries to discredit me as an insane person with personal problems who she doesn't even think has kids (even though in my blog post about her I clearly state I've got four children, have photos of my four children up on flickr and elsewhere on my blog etc.) She tells this to a professional publication American Photo (whom I've asked for a retraction from and who never contacted me to verify her claims even though they pulled quotes from my same post that referenced that I had four kids).

    Next, Jill tracks down my employer, an unrelated third party who has absolutely zero to do with my personal views and opinions and tries to apply pressure to get me to pull my post. She literally calls my boss this morning who has absolutely zero to do with any of my blogging. (By the way Jill, I blog from my own laptop on my own time). The last company who thought that they could intimidate me by involving my employer, an unrelated third party, went by the name PriceRitePhoto. I don't think they are in business anymore but feel free to Google them to read the story.

    And then her husband tells me that in his opinion I'm committing libel. I'm committing libel for having an opinion that what Jill is doing to these kids constitutes abuse. That to emotionally work these kids up is abusive. My opinion Robert Green. He goes on to tell me that if I want to discuss this further that I get a lawyer.

    Wow. She makes bloggers look like lambs by comparison. (Perhaps she identifies with the bears more than she lets on.)

    She doesn't seem to mind using the First Amendment to her own advantage and use children to assail Bush and link him to the far right, but heaven forbid that another photographer dare criticize her! (A classic example of "free speech for me, but not for thee!")

    Michele Catalano concludes with the hope that her latest crooked manipulation is her last:

    By bragging about how underhanded, dishonest and childlish she behaved in regards to the shoot, Jill Greenberg brought on herself everything she deserves, including but not limited to some very bad publicity. This is not the first time she gave professional photographers a bad name; hopefully it is the last.
    Considering the woman's smarmy, sanctimonious self-righteousness, I doubt she thinks she has done anything wrong. In her mind, it's all for a higher cause. (And not about her, of course.)

    Jill Greenberg can make children cry, demand her critics be fired, and use her photo assignment from the Atlantic as an opportunity to literally demonize McCain by making him into a profane, blood-dripping monster. This all fits the profile of a bully. But then, when people don't like it, she quickly becomes the victim, and they're bullying her.

    Catalano observed that her web site is "fittingly called The Manipulator."

    It's a perfect fit. Greenberg chose the name well.

    posted by Eric at 09:30 AM | Comments (3)

    The Best Congress Fannie Could Buy

    This is a long and complicated story about how Obama backers were behind the mortgage industry meltdown. It hast to start some where, so lets start with a well known Chicago name Penny Pritzker. It starts with a bank failure.

    Unfortunately, this wasn't the case for the 1,406 people who lost much of their life savings when Superior Bank of Chicago went belly up in 2001 with over $1 billion in insured and uninsured deposits. This collapse came amid harsh criticism of how Superior's owners promoted sub-prime home mortgages. As part of a settlement, the owners paid $100 million and agreed to pay another $335 million over 15 years at no interest.

    The uninsured depositors were dealt another blow recently when the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a lower court decision to put any recovered money toward the debt that the bank owners owe the federal government before the depositors get anything.

    But this seven-year-old bank failure has relevance in another way today, since the chair of Superior's board for five years was Penny Pritzker, a member of one of America's richest families and the current Finance Chair for the presidential campaign of Barack Obama, the same candidate who has lashed out against predatory lending.

    Yeah, that ∅bama. A man who stands up for the little guy. After his friends have kicked them down.
    Though Superior Bank collapsed years before the current sub-prime turmoil that is rocking the world's financial markets - and pushing those millions of homeowners toward foreclosure - some banking experts say the Pritzkers and Superior hold a special place in the history of the sub-prime fiasco.

    "The [sub-prime] financial engineering that created the Wall Street meltdown was developed by the Pritzkers and Ernst and Young, working with Merrill Lynch to sell bonds securitized by sub-prime mortgages," Timothy J. Anderson, a whistleblower on financial and bank fraud, told me in an interview.

    "The sub-prime mortgages," Anderson said, "were provided to Merrill Lynch, by a nation-wide Pritzker origination system, using Superior as the cash cow, with many millions in FDIC insured deposits. Superior's owners were to sub-prime lending, what Michael Milken was to junk bonds."

    In other words, if you traced today's sub-prime crisis back to its origins, you would come upon the role of the Pritzkers and Superior Bank of Chicago.

    Well, isn't that special. Kind of reminds you of ∅'s special friend Tony Rezko who worked the low income housing scam in Chicago. Small potatoes that Tony. He only destroyed millions in housing value. Pritzker was involved with trillions. But you know the Democrats really have a heart for the poor. As long as they can rob them blind.

    OK we have a looked at one thief for ∅bama. How about another? James A. "Jim" Johnson,

    James A. "Jim" Johnson, born in Benson, now lives on the top floor of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Washington, D.C., with views of the Potomac and the Washington Monument. But you'll also find him in the inner circle of many of the nation's power groups.

    In the last year, Johnson, who once was a member of an organization known as Friends of Hillary, has become tightly tied to the presidential campaign of Barack Obama. It's Johnson's job to vet potential vice presidential candidates for Obama, a duty he also performed for Walter Mondale, who ended up running with Geraldine Ferraro in 1984, and John Kerry, who ended up with John Edwards, four years ago.

    Just a regular guy with lots of money? Maybe not so regular.

    He was a backer of Walter Mondale in 1984.

    Following the failed 1984 presidential bid, Johnson went about the business of making money. He joined with diplomat Richard Holbrooke in founding Public Strategies, which gave political advice to business clients. Later, he did similar work with Sherman Lehman in D.C. Holbrooke and Johnson remain together now, as vice chairmen of Perseus, an international merchant bank and private equity fund management company.

    In 1990, Johnson went to work for the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and quickly became its $5 million-a-year chairman. His compensation rose to a reported $21 million by his final year, 1998.

    But Johnson did more than make a lot of money at Fannie Mae. He increased his connections -- and his access to power -- by establishing Fannie Mae foundations that spread around millions of dollars. Homeless shelters, colleges, hospitals all benefited from Fannie Mae Foundation money.

    Well, what do ya know. Another ∅bama backer tied to the breakdown of the mortgage industry.

    Which brings us to the Fannie Mae Foundation. A sweet little set up for handing out cash to a nice little outfit called ACORN among others. Here are a few of the grants to ACORN.

    ACORN Housing Corporation - Dallas
    Dallas, TX $20,000 approved in 1993
    Support of a housing counseling program.

    ACORN Housing Corporation - Little Rock
    Little Rock, AR $1,000 approved in 1997
    Ninth Maxwell Awards of Excellence honorable mention grant for a 9-unit affordable homeownership project using sweat equity.

    ACORN Housing Corporation - Washington, DC
    Washington, DC $3,386 approved in 1994
    Support of computer equipment necessary to operate the Desktop Home Counselor.

    ACORN Housing Corporation of Illinois
    Chicago, IL $3,386 approved in 1994
    Support of the purchase of computer equipment required to operate the Desktop Home Counselor.

    ACORN Housing Corporation of Illinois
    Chicago, IL $35,000 approved in 1994
    Support of the placement of Americorps members with homeownership counseling programs.

    ACORN Housing Corporation-National
    Chicago, IL $100,000 approved in 2004
    General operating support of an organization that helps families of limited means to secure and protect decent housing by providing housing counseling services, building homes, and educating policy makers in Chicago, IL; Phoenix, AZ; and Brooklyn, NY

    OK so ACORN helps people who were barely qualified or totally unqualified get housing. So what would they be doing? Finding landlords who would rent to them? Well no. Landlords want to get paid. Fannie Mae had no such scruples. Ever hear of NINJA mortgages? Funny name, huh? It stand for No Income, No Job, No Assets. Just the kind of reliable folk honest lenders are looking for. People with a credit score of ∅.

    Help with getting poor people mortgages was only one service ACORN provided. Another was help with elections. I wrote a little about that in Election Fraud Control. Let me quote a little from that piece. The question I'm asking is who you might need to be on the look out for when it comes to voter fraud?

    Now who might you want to be on the look out for? A group called ACORN.
    Late last month six people hired by ACORN were indicted for their role in filing false voter registration forms involving a 2006 drive to increase Missouri's minimum wage.
    Here is something else interesting I'll bet you didn't know about ACORN:
    ACORN is a former legal client of Senator Obama's, as the Sun-Times reported in 2006:
    In 1995, former Republican Gov. Jim Edgar refused to implement the federal "Motor Voter" law, which Republicans argued could invite fraud and which some Republicans feared could swell the ranks of Democratic voters.

    The law mandated people be allowed to register to vote in government offices such as driver's license renewal centers.

    Obama sued on behalf of ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. The League of Women Voters and other public-interest groups joined in.

    "He and his client were the ones who filed the original case -- they blazed the trail," said Paul Mollica, who represented the League.

    Voter fraud? From a Chicago Machine politician? I'm shocked. Actually I think the Chicago Machine needs to be praised. Jesus brought a few people back from the dead. Jesus himself is reported to have come back from the dead. But the Chicago Machine is special. They bring tens of thousands back from the dead. No wonder they hail bama as The One.

    It seems the Obama campaign has rather close ties to ACORN.

    JAFFA, Israel - Did Sen. Barack Obama's campaign attempt to hide a paid working relationship with a radical leftist organization that has admitted to major financial improprieties and has been convicted in numerous major voter fraud scandals?

    That question is being openly asked by the Republican National Committee after it was disclosed Obama's campaign paid more than $800,000 in services to Citizen Services Inc. (CSI), a nonprofit organization that is an offshoot of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN.
    That bama. He has such an honest face.

    Here is an interesting case of Name That Party.

    Milwaukee has discovered some more voter fraud with 10 more voter registration workers are being investigated by Wisconsin authorities. Fittingly, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel covered the story in its paper on August 29. Unfittingly, the Journal Sentinel forgot one, tiny aspect of the story... that the voter fraud was perpetrated by Democrats. In fact, one of the organizations, ACORN, is intimately linked with Barack Obama.
    Milwaukee's top election official said Thursday she plans to seek criminal investigations of 10 more voter registration workers, including two accused of offering gifts to sign up voters.
    So, what we have here is an Old Media story about voter fraud where the salient fact that the fraud is being committed by Democrats and Democrat organizations is somehow absent from the story. What a surprise, eh?
    Yes it is a surprise. Why would an honest Party like the Democrats do such a thing? I blame it on a few bad apples. bama, that proud community organizer, has been duped. No way he could be involved in such shenanigans.
    Well it seems like he actually was tied in to the ACORN web of intersecting interests.

    And ∅bama was not the only one involved. Barney Frank a noted champion of the poor was out in front, attacking the Fannies.

    There were many moments of high entertainment during last week's House hearings on Fannie Mae's creative accounting. But our favorite was the Mister Magoo performance given by Barney Frank (D., Massachusetts) after learning that Fannie had handed out $245 million in bonuses over five years. Mr. Frank chided Fannie CEO Frank Raines and CFO Tim Howard, saying, "At the level of compensation you get, we ought to be able to count on you to do your very best without additional incentives."

    Here's a case of misplaced moral outrage if we've ever seen one. Mr. Franks is mad about the salaries when he really should be mad at the rigged political game that has made them possible. Fannie's regulator, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, has reported that Fannie has been cooking its books. Add that to the increasing evidence that Fannie has been ignoring its mission to provide affordable housing, and we wonder if Mr. Frank doesn't need an eye checkup.

    Ditto for the good liberals in the Congressional Black Caucus. Members of this group are often the loudest defenders of Fannie and her brother, Freddie Mac. Can it be that the annual donations made by the Fannie Mae Foundation to the Caucus have blurred their vision too?

    Well what do you know. A wretched hive of scum and villainy. Our very own Congress. Well that was a report from 2004. Let me use the Way Back Machine and go back to 2002. A lovely year. We were still distracted from the thieves by the aftermath of 9/11. But some people were paying attention. The Wall Street Journal for instance. They had a cute name for their piece Fannie Mae Enron?
    We were reading President Bush's budget the other day (we know, get a life), when we came across an unusual mention of our all-time favorite companies -- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. What we found is a tale we think taxpayers and investors should want to hear.

    It seems that Fan and Fred, two "government-sponsored enterprises" that hold the majority of all home mortgages in the U.S., have been growing their debt at an annual rate of 25%. They now have about $2.6 trillion in debt outstanding, a big number in any case, but really big considering that taxpayers are on the hook for it. The budgeteers also expressed some anxiety about Fan and Fred's increasing dependence on derivatives.

    Hmmm. Where have we heard this before? The more we've since looked at Fan and Fred the more they look like poorly run hedge funds: lots of leverage and snarkily hedged risk. The word Enron ring any bells?

    Last year, Fan's debt/equity ratio was about 60 to 1, more than five times the average for commercial banks. Moreover, as mortgage lenders, Fannie's equity can hardly be said to be well-diversified. Risk thus becomes a critical question.

    Fan and Fred face two kinds of risk: credit risk from the possibility that mortgage holders will default, and interest-rate risk from the possibility that mortgage holders will prepay, leaving Fan and Fred on the wrong side of the spread, that is, lending at low rates and borrowing at high rates. Of course, giant risk won't lead to giant problems if it's properly hedged.

    But Fan and Fred's risk management looks to be rather frisky. Take insurance. Some credit risk can be reduced by buying insurance against default. But lately the siblings have been cutting back on insurance, leaving them with greater exposure to default. Self-insurance may not be a dumb strategy in good economic times, but in a sharp downturn it can look pretty stupid.

    Well, things have turned down. The Chickens are coming home to roost. Say haven't I heard that some where before? Oh, yeah. ∅bama's favorite minister. Before he wasn't ∅bama's favorite minister.

    Well Barry ∅bama was right in there looking out for the interests of the taxpayers.

    Senator Barack Obama and two other prominent Democrats urged federal housing regulators on Tuesday to cut the golden parachutes of the ousted leaders of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, another sign that the government bailout of those mortgage giants could reverberate through the presidential campaign.

    Mr. Obama, the Democratic presidential nominee, asked that any "inappropriate windfall payments" to the chief executives and senior managers of those agencies be voided, in a letter to Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. and the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the new regulator for Fannie and Freddie.

    Together, Daniel H. Mudd of Fannie Mae and Richard F. Syron of Freddie Mac are eligible for as much as $24 million in severance, retirement benefits and deferred compensation.

    "Under no circumstances should the executives of these institutions earn a windfall at a time when the U.S. Treasury has taken unprecedented steps to rescue these companies with taxpayer resources," Mr. Obama wrote.

    Why yes. Mr. ∅ was outraged. The very people who helped to rip off the American people were taking millions from the taxpayers while ∅ was helping the thieves get away with trillions. I'm outraged. At the theater. What a great act. And he seems so sincere.

    Bob Sikes looks into some of the fun and games. He quotes Jennifer Rubin.

    During Obama's time on the Woods Funds ACORN received grants of $45,000 (2000), $30,000 (2001), $45,000 (2001), $30,000 (2002), and $40,000 (2002) from the Woods Fund. (Obama in the early 1990's helped train ACORN organizers and later served as counsel in 1995 for ACORN in a "motor voter" registration lawsuit.) And ACORN certainly appreciated whatever assistance Obama afforded the radical organization over the years.
    ∅ must be a genius to keep all that all in his head. So lets look at another little connection. Which politicians did Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae's Political Action Committees support? How about a look at the top five.
    1. Dodd, Christopher J D-CT $133,900

    2. Kerry, John D-MA

    3. Obama, Barack D-IL

    4. Clinton, Hillary D-NY

    5. Kanjorski, Paul E D-PA

    You know. Some of the names on that list look familiar. I'm sure I've seen them some where before.

    Let's follow the money some more. Brian Lamb is interviewing Peter Wallison a Resident Fellow of the American Enterprise Institute.

    LAMB: Let me show you a piece of paper. This is not very fancy graphics, but there are 70 members of the House Financial Services Committee. Every time you see a line through a name, that means that, in the 2008 cycle - and you can actually turn the pages here, same thing on the other side - the names really don't matter.

    But out of the 70 members, 50 of them got (ph) money for their campaigns ...

    WALLISON: That's right.

    LAMB: ... from Fannie Mae. And, of course, money from Freddie Mac.

    But we can add to that, not only do they get tremendous amounts of money all the time in the coffers, they have their PACs give to PACs.

    WALLISON: Yes.

    LAMB: And the PACs end up serving the members.

    WALLISON: Right.

    Well that is more than enough for one day. You have enough leads to follow the money and vote out the bastards behind it.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    Welcome Instapundit readers. You might also like Fannie - A Time Line.

    Update: 29 Sept 008 1135z

    Here are some more articles that will help flesh out the story:

    ACORN and vote fraud: ACORN Is Not About Nuts

    Especially have a look at the American Thinker article linked at: Barney Frank Frankly Not Frank which also covers the mortgage fraud stuff.

    posted by Simon at 07:03 PM | Comments (11)

    Is NY In Play?

    The New York Post has some surprising news. Johnny Mac and Sarah Palin have picked up 5 points in New York State.

    Boosted by the selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate, Republican John McCain has experienced a surge of support among women in heavily Democratic New York state - where he has closed the gap with Barack Obama, new private polls show.

    The internal Republican and Democratic polls, details of which were provided to The Post, have stunned members of both parties - and produced deep worries among Democrats.

    One great concern for Democrats is that the data show a continuous movement toward the McCain-Palin ticket by women, a majority of whom traditionally favor Democrats.

    The movement by women toward McCain is being credited to Democratic attacks on Alaska Gov. Palin, last week's "lipstick on a pig" crack by Obama and to the continuing unhappiness by female Democrats over Obama's failure to pick Hillary Rodham Clinton as his running mate.

    "If it winds up being tight in New York, that means McCain wins the election nationally," said a prominent Democrat familiar with some of the polling data.

    I guess ∅bama's team was scoring an own goal with all the attacks on Sarah and ∅'s cuteness with the lipstick joke. Evidently no women want to be called pigs even vicariously. Given the way Black Culture disrespects women (shouldn't that be sluts, skanks, and hos? ed. - yes it should), how was he to know? Besides, it worked against Hillary. And you know what happens in a typical family when the woman makes up her mind? The man gives in eventually just to keep the peace. Lets see, there are about seven more weeks of hectoring to go. Hardly a man can stand up to that. Not to mention getting cut off. Fork it. ∅ is done.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 11:53 AM | Comments (8)

    Out with the old!

    Many people are being influenced (some may find themselves beaten into submission) by the idea that John McCain represents all that is "old," while Barack Obama represents all that is "new."

    I've lost track of the number of times I've heard this theme. Of course, I realize that constant repetition of something does not make it right. I'm such a stubborn case that if anything, the more something is repeated, the more resistant (and the more suspicious) I become. I suppose that if the repetitive classes who want to convince the world that socialist tyranny is "new" ever gain power, stubborn cases like me might find themselves targeted for "reeducation." I'm not into being a martyr, so I'd probably just tell them whatever I thought they wanted to hear, then do my best to make up for my sins by subverting socialism by passive aggressive stealth. (Become what Stalin called a "wrecker," but keep the wrecking ball in the closet....) The bottom line is that being outspokenly and resolutely opposed to socialism is no way to get ahead in life. It's a mark against you. And if you're a truly repentant radical who regrets his radical Marxist past, you're unlikely to be hired by the companies and firms that hire or kowtow to unrepentant radicals.

    Enough personal rambling.

    But I did enjoy this piece by Michael Ledeen, who it's my guess probably won't be seeking a job in the Obama adminstration. Not if he keeps pointing out what any student of history should know by now.

    Obama's ideas are old and tired:

    Obama is an advocate of ideas that have aged to the point of dementia. He's an old-fashioned radical, and the leftist ideas that inspire him are no longer relevant to our world. As Hegel used to say, the world changes, and the ideas that once described reality, and could be used to effectively change it when necessary, no longer apply to the changed world. Obama's political ideas have aged, which is why they have no policy saliency. They're just words, fossilized remnants of a civilization that no longer exists.

    Once upon a time, Obama's vision of "change"-which is based on class structure and top-down collective enterprises-was not only contemporary but exciting. It inspired a generation of Americans to create the welfare state. But then the welfare state aged, and now, in the wild-west world of globalization, instant communication, the blogosphere and so forth, it is very old hat. The ideas are still hanging around, however.

    Yes, they are not only still hanging around, their ideas act as economic embeds which in my darker moments I see as poised to bankrupt the national economy:
    ....what would happen if tax eaters ever became the majority? If de facto nationalization of the private sector continues as a growth "industry" the way it has, pretty soon most people will be transformed into de facto tax eaters, because they'll be working for the government.

    And when we're all working for the government, who will pay the taxes?

    Eric S. Raymond sees a catastrophe coming, but he also sees hope:
    The fundamental problem is that income-transfer programs (and the interest service on the debt purchased to keep them running) are spending wealth in higher volumes than the economy can actually generate, and demand for that spending is rising faster than the economy is growing. Thus, raising tax rates is no longer a way out, if it ever was.

    At some point, the U.S. government is going to lose both the ability to increase revenues and the ability to sell bonds. At that point the entitlements system will crash. Transfer checks will either stop issuing or become meaningless because the government has, like some banana republic, hyperinflated the currency in order to get out from under its debt obligations.

    Unlike the oncoming European demographic crash, the entitlements crash will be survivable in that there will still be people around to make things and trade things with. But it's going to be ugly. probably rioting-in-the-streets ugly. People dependent on income transfers will starve or die of preventable diseases in large numbers, unless they can find work or private charity. Since many of those people will be old, work will be unlikely unless they are exceptionally capable at something. Families will have to re-assume the burden of caring for their elderly; retirees without children will be in especially severe jeopardy.

    Violent revolutions have been fought over less wrenching economic changes than this one promises to be.

    (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

    The essay is a must-read, and Raymond allows room for optimism:

    In the rest of this essay I am going to make, against my best judgment, the optimistic choice of a near-term crash; bear in mind that if I'm actually correct in my pessimism the devastation will be worse...
    I think the country might be approaching a turning point of sorts. We've gone about as far as it's possible to go with the socialist-flirtation, welfare-state mode without plunging over the abyss into the irreversible, tyrannical, full-blown variety.

    I probably rant and rave too much against socialism and risk boring readers. (Always a mistake in blogging.) But the reason I do that is that I think this country is in serious denial, as if they want to have their socialism and not have it too. What will happen if the day of reckoning that Eric S. Raymond warns about ever comes? Is this just something to not think about the way we don't like to think about a nuclear attack on a major U.S. city?

    Or is it paranoia? I mean, don't we have an unlimited supply of freedom, resources, and enough of the can-do American spirit of individuality to overcome all obstacles? What worries me is that socialism is incompatible with freedom. So is extreme debt. (Even the 13th Amendment to the Constitution allows that slavery in payment of debt is not slavery.)

    Free countries do not declare massive "entitlements" by one class to the money of another class, especially when the money is not there. In free countries, no one is "entitled" to the property of someone else without just compensation.

    What worries me is that the closer we get to full-blown socialism, the more the word becomes politically unmentionable. Even discussing an end to the entitlement system is politically taboo. This puts politicians who might want to do something about it in a very difficult position.

    It's all too easy for me to shoot off my mouth. I'm not running for anything, and I couldn't get elected to anything. Not unless I moved to one of those outlying areas where people go to imagine that they're fleeing socialism, but even there I'd be unelectable, because I refuse to respect things like the war against condoms on bananas. (So for now I can just shoot off my mouth against socialism in the hope that its final triumph might be postponed.)

    Michael Ledeen ends on a note of optimism:

    In the past few days, the polls have suggested that the Democrats may not only fail to gain the glorious victory they've been confidently anticipating for the past two years, but things may actually go against them in November. It would not surprise me. They have become the ultimate reactionaries, they cannot explain the world or suggest sensible ways to improve it. If the voters recognize this, they will take their chances with the mavericks. Holding their noses, to be sure, but they'll do it.
    Hey, I've got lots of experience with nose-holding, so I can drink to that!

    Except the choice is so clear (and the stench of socialism coming from the other side is so overpowering) that I don't have to hold my nose this time.

    UPDATE: Via Glenn Reynolds, a look at the history behind today's mess from Investors Business Daily:

    Obama in a statement yesterday blamed the shocking new round of subprime-related bankruptcies on the free-market system, and specifically the "trickle-down" economics of the Bush administration, which he tried to gig opponent John McCain for wanting to extend.

    But it was the Clinton administration, obsessed with multiculturalism, that dictated where mortgage lenders could lend, and originally helped create the market for the high-risk subprime loans now infecting like a retrovirus the balance sheets of many of Wall Street's most revered institutions.

    Tough new regulations forced lenders into high-risk areas where they had no choice but to lower lending standards to make the loans that sound business practices had previously guarded against making. It was either that or face stiff government penalties.

    Read it all.

    The editorial warns that the worse it gets, the bigger the government bailout will become -- while Obama and company clamor for more of the same meddling that created the problem:

    ...the worst is far from over. By the time it is, we'll all be paying for Clinton's social experiment, one that Obama hopes to trump with a whole new round of meddling in the housing and jobs markets. In fact, the social experiment Obama has planned could dwarf both the Great Society and New Deal in size and scope.

    There's a political root cause to this mess that we ignore at our peril. If we blame the wrong culprits, we'll learn the wrong lessons. And taxpayers will be on the hook for even larger bailouts down the road.

    But the government-can-do-no-wrong crowd just doesn't get it. They won't acknowledge the law of unintended consequences from well-meaning, if misguided, acts.

    What they won't acknowledge publicly is that the failure of the banking system is a success for government.

    And the fact that socialism does not work is part of the plan. It's not supposed to work; its failure is supposed to put the government to work.

    UPDATE: I wrote this post before the AIG bailout, which I think is yet another example of the relentless push towards a socialist, state-run economy.

    Glenn Reynolds links Fabius Maximus, whose thoughts are apt:

    The consequences of the recent government interventions -- of which this is the latest, not the last -- are wide and deep. Far greater than most Americans imagine, far beyond anything even hinted at in the government's terse announcement. America is changing -- right now, right before our eyes, in a way totally unconstitutional.
    Is socialism inevitable? Do we have it now?

    Does anyone care?

    posted by Eric at 11:24 AM | Comments (5)

    Praise the Lord! (And pass the applications....)

    Regardless of whether Obama turns out to be Jesus, there's still an election, and halos don't necessarily translate into votes. (Jesus never ran for public office, nor did he win an election.)

    Under normal circumstances (which I hope we still have in this country) what it takes to win is votes. In an earlier post, M. Simon observed that "Marxism doesn't even sell well to its target population: the poor," and later, that "they have no game at this point except mud slinging."

    The problem is, no matter how much mud is slung, it takes more than mud to win an election. It takes votes. Each voter has the legal right to cast one.

    But what if there aren't enough votes? Or voters?

    Today's Detroit Free Press revealed that ACORN (a notorious Marxist group with such close ties to Barack Obama that he's been called the "Senator from ACORN") has been manufacturing voters. So many that it's tough for many local bureaucrats to look the other way:

    Several municipal clerks across the state are reporting fraudulent and duplicate voter registration applications, most of them from a nationwide community activist group working to help low- and moderate-income families.

    The majority of the problem applications are coming from the group ACORN, Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, which has a large voter registration program among its many social service programs. ACORN's Michigan branch, based in Detroit, has enrolled 200,000 voters statewide in recent months, mostly with the use of paid, part-time employees.

    "There appears to be a sizeable number of duplicate and fraudulent applications," said Kelly Chesney, spokeswoman for the Michigan Secretary of State's Office. "And it appears to be widespread."

    Chesney said her office has had discussions with ACORN officials after local clerks reported the questionable applications to the state. Chesney said some of the applications are duplicates and some appear to be names that have been made up. The Secretary of State's Office has turned over several of the applications to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

    The U.S. Attorney's Office on Friday declined to confirm whether an investigation was taking place.

    In recent years, ACORN's voter registration programs have come under investigation in Ohio, Colorado, Missouri and Washington, with some employees convicted of voter fraud.

    ACORN officials said they were looking into the problem.

    I do not doubt that they are. Anything to improve the system.

    I agree that as products go, Marxism is a hard sell. I don't know whether Marxists believe in the laws of supply and demand, but isn't this what might be called manufacturing a (fraudulent) market?

    Nevertheless, might it not still fit the religious meme? You know, bringing people -- in this case, thousands of people -- back from the dead?

    (It might take a miracle, you know....)

    posted by Eric at 09:33 AM | Comments (1)


    I just got an interesting e-mail:

    My name is Eric Baumer, and I'm a PhD student in the Department of Informatics at UC Irvine. I'm working on a project called metaViz (, which is designed to find potential conceptual metaphors in political blogs. The goal is to draw reader's attention to patters suggestive of metaphor, give them the opportunity them to reflect on what those patterns mean, and encourage them to come up with their own interpretation. There's a tutorial video on the site that has more detail about how to use the visualization.

    I thought you might be interested to see that Classical Values is one of the blogs we're analyzing with metaViz. You can also look at aggregates of all the Democratic or Republican blogs we're tracking, as well as campaign speeches by McCain and Obama.

    Feel free to post about metaViz. If any of your readers might live in Orange County, CA, you can also mention that we're looking for participants for a user study and direct them to our contact page. I'm more than happy to answer any questions you may have, and thanks for your time.

    Of course I'm always interested in research. Especially when I'm the subject. Have a look and let Mr Baumer know what you think. A comment or two here wouldn't hurt either.

    posted by Simon at 03:10 AM | Comments (1)

    Is Obama Jesus?

    In this video Tom Brokaw holds up an ∅bama button saying Attention Sarah Palin. Jesus Christ was a community organizer. Pontius Pilate was a Governor. Thus comparing ∅bama to Jesus. Well they do say he is The One We Have Been Waiting For. So maybe the connection is not so far fetched. Stupid maybe. Not far fetched.

    Just another sign that ∅ and his friends don't understand Christians. How in the heck do they expect to get the Catholic Democrat vote with carp like that? Or evangelicals? Maybe they are trying to get a lock on the Unitarian vote or hope that they can lock up the Atheists for Jesus contingent.

    They just added another point or two to McCain/Palin.

    Now I'm Jewish and naturally have my reservations about the Son of God bit. But still, I know way better than to insult my Christian friends with shite like that.

    Yet ∅'s "friends" think that is a winning slogan. ∅'s friends are his biggest enemies. Seriously. I couldn't think of a more stupid slogan in what is mainly a Christian nation.

    The bitter clingers are not going to like that at all. At all.

    And a lot of Blacks are devout Christians. What is he trying to do? Suppress the Black turnout? It is hard to imagine a more inept political campaign. In fact I have never seen one this bad in my lifetime. No doubt we will have to wait four more years to see something worse if the Gore, Kerry, ∅bama progression holds.

    It is like they think religion is for the little people whose votes he doesn't need to win.

    Of course the wags on the right have a really good counter slogan. Invoking Godwin's Law of course. Adolph Hitler was a Community Organizer. FDR was a Governor. We all know how that one worked out.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 01:40 AM | Comments (10)

    Corruption Eruption

    The panel interviewing ∅bama was from WTTW (PBS) Chicago. It looks like the Chicago Annenberg Challenge and the connection between it ∅bama and Ayers is going to break out big time now that there is video footage out there where ∅bama admits the connection. Maybe we will finally get some media attention to the results of ∅bama's efforts on behalf of education in Chicago.

    It will be interesting to see how ∅ handles this latest corruption eruption.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 12:06 AM | Comments (5)

    Some Are Jotting Down Notes

    posted by Simon at 10:26 PM | Comments (2)

    Don't say I didn't warn them!

    Anyone remember Jill Greenberg, the far left photographer who deliberately made children cry for photographs so she could depict them as victims of the religious right? Her rationale was along these lines:

    I also thought they made a kind of political statement about the current state of anxiety a lot of people are in about the future of the country. Sometimes I just feel like crying about the way things are going.
    I thought the woman was a highly partisan, far left BDS type, and I didn't give her much thought after I wrote my post.

    I was shocked, though, to see today that Greenberg has gone mainstream in a big way. The Atlantic hired her to take the most unflattering photos possible of John McCain for their cover (to which they've added words like "porn" and "adultery" in a plausibly deniable manner), and she's decided to take the photos and embellish them. McCain thought he was posing for The Atlantic, but it turns out he was being used in a sinister game of cheap political trick photography.

    ...what we see here is a candidate for President showing up at a photo-session for a cover shot for a magazine he knows is not going to give him an Obama-pass, but still making time for it. Waiting for him is the contracted representative of that magazine, Jill Greenberg, who has literally set a trap for him and then lures him into it. She mocks the McCain staff for not being "very sophisticated" about lighting when, in truth, the lighting used for a professional photo session is very complicated. There are umbrella lights, fill spots, and a raft of others being used at any given time.

    I imagine that Ms. Greenberg was in full charm mode with Senator McCain at the same time she was executing her little partisan plot. Indeed, I am certain she was nothing other than sweetness and light to him. What she was doing was quite another thing, a vile thing. Simply put, it was betrayal for a cheap political frisson for her.

    Then Greenberg extended the betrayal to her Client, The Atlantic. She either did not deliver all the images of the shoot to the client or she began to manipulate them for her own uses as seen above. In this digital age, she probably ftp'd the images to The Atlantic, kept the originals on her own system, and then made the cheap and disgusting photoshops seen above.

    (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

    It is certainly deceptive and slimy. Greenberg has upped the ante from her previous trickery with children to "political pornography" and gotten ahead in the process.

    But was it really a betrayal of The Atlantic? In view of the fact that they let someone with Greenberg's known background negotiate a two-week embargo in order to re-license the images (in a supposedly arms-length transaction), I'm having trouble seeing The Atlantic as her victim:

    The Atlantic didn't select the diabolical looking McCain for its cover. Greenberg is hoping to license that image to some other magazine (she negotiated a two-week embargo with The Atlantic so she could re-license images from the shoot before the election).

    Warned that the image is just the kind of thing that will stir up the anti-media vitriol in the conservative blogosphere, Greenberg said, "Good. I want to stir stuff up, but not to the point where I get audited if he becomes president."

    That said, she goes on to explain that she's thought about replacing McCain's mouth with bloody shark teeth and displaying the image on a billboard with the message that the candidate is a bloodthirsty war monger.

    Given her strong feelings about John McCain, we asked whether she had any reservations about taking the assignment in the first place.

    "I didn't," she says. "It's definitely exciting to shoot someone who is in the limelight like that. I am a pretty hard core Democrat. Some of my artwork has been pretty anti-Bush, so maybe it was somewhat irresponsible for them [The Atlantic] to hire me."

    Might she be right? Surely The Atlantic has heard of Google. Greenberg's manipulation of children by making them cry for political purposes is partisan and vile. I knew about it, and posted about it over two years ago, and I'm not even in the business.

    So I may be wrong in my suspicions, but right now it's hard to see The Atlantic as anything but Ms. Greenberg's turn-a-blind-eye collaborator in this venture. They lent their still respectable name to the photoshoot, lured McCain in, and the predictable result is this:


    (Soon to be on the billboard, of course...)

    But really. Is it reasonable to expect a photographer who deliberately made children cry as pawns in her partisan antiwar crusade to be upfront and honest with John McCain?

    I'd say shame on The Atlantic, but what's the point?

    There's not even a pretense of journalism anymore.

    MORE: A priceless comment from Bill White:

    What the heck is a "warmongerer"? Someone who does something to warmongers?
    I don't know, but Matthew Yglesias called Joe Lieberman one, and Russell Shaw used the same epithet against Paul Wolfowitz, so a warmongerering we will go!

    (Normally I'm not one to especially care about errors, but imagine the outcry if Bush called Ahmadinejad a "warmongerer.")

    UPDATE: Via Glenn Reynolds, The Atlantic has apologized. And they're even considering suing:

    "The editor of The Atlantic Monthly said Monday he is sending a letter of apology to John McCain after a woman the magazine hired to photograph the Republican presidential nominee posted manipulated pictures from the photo shoot on her Web site. . . . Editor James Bennet said Greenberg behaved improperly and will not be paid for the session. He said the magazine is also considering a lawsuit."
    My faith is restored a bit by this news. (At least vis-a-vis The Atlantic.)

    I mean really. I've complained a lot about "demonization" by the MSM. The problem with the Jill Greenberg stuff is that it's the real thing.


    Looking at the above picture makes me think that the word "demonization" has lost its sting. I've used the word so long that when the real thing comes along, it seems inadequate.

    (Hyperbole can become a form of crying wolf.)

    And I'm glad to see that The Atlantic has taken a stand against demonization.

    posted by Eric at 04:44 PM | Comments (7)

    Inside His Melon

    posted by Simon at 01:49 PM | Comments (0)

    Looking for signs of strength?

    Last night, M. Simon touched on an important theme in American politics when he opined that Barack Obama,

    has come off as weak. And as I pointed out in Midway for Obama, Americans do not elect weaklings to office.
    How true. Say what you want about Bush, but weakness is not the first thing that comes to mind. If anything, his strength has made him even more hated by the left -- especially because in spite of his faults, that's the one thing the voters like (perhaps "respect" is a better word) about him. In the post 9/11 period, strength matters more in the voters' minds than ever.

    Most Americans grasp intuitively that like any bully, our terrorist enemies understand -- and fear -- one thing: STRENGTH. Weakness, OTOH, emboldens them, and they have nothing but contempt for those perceived as weak. (Hence the series of attacks through the late 1990s.)

    What that means is that voters who are concerned for the security of this country can be expected to look at which candidate is the stronger, and which is the weaker. I think it's fair to say that in this race, the contrast is so shockingly apparent that anyone can see it -- even a leftist.

    No wonder the left is so furious. It's as if (in psychological terms) they hope their anger will become a form of strength. But I don't think it will, and not just because they're supposed to be keeping their angry leftist wrath in the closet until after the election, but because leftist "strength" is based on intimidation tactics, and most people (especially ordinary voters) see intimidation as a bullying tactic. Bullies may seem strong, but their strength tends to limit itself to targeting people weaker than themselves, or who for whatever reason find it expedient (or, in the case of large companies and boards, not cost effective) to cave, or simply not stand up to them.

    When a strong person stands up to them, they'll find another target -- in much the same way that a burglar who knows a homeowner is armed because of an NRA sticker (or, a United States Marine Corps sticker) on the door would do well to choose the house with the peace symbol instead. (Similarly, a home with no dog is more likely to be hit than a home with a dog, and a home with a larger, tougher dog is less likely to be hit than a home guarded by a teacup poodle.)

    But what about Obama's ties to Communists like Frank Marshall Davis and Communist terrorist Bill Ayers? They're strong, aren't they? In terms of signs, isn't that more like having a hammer and sickle on your door than a peace symbol? If you were a burglar, which house would you target? The peace symbol house or the commie hammer-and-sickle house?

    I think most rational burglars would target the peace symbol house. Which may be why when push comes to shove, pacifists like to have the hard left behind them. (They may deny it, but their commie compatriots offer them at least an appearance of the strength they lack.)

    They can pretend that it's all about peace, but it's really all about fear.

    However, if the choice is between the hammer and sickle and the NRA/USMC sticker(s), I think most burglars would choose to invade the former instead of the latter, because in spite of the "sign" of strength, they're still less likely to be armed. (And less likely to know how to shoot.)

    It's all hypothetical, but that's what I think.

    It's 3 a.m. You're the burglar. You decide.

    MORE: Error corrected with thanks to Stewart's comment below.

    posted by Eric at 11:12 AM | Comments (3)

    Libertarians, conservatives, and open-minded liberals only!
    (All others stop reading now!)

    Via a link from Darleen Click, I was drawn to a discussion of copyright law at Rolling Stone. The lefties are pissed that the Republicans played the song "Barracuda" -- because it turns out that the copyright holders don't like Republicans:

    Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin has the nickname "Barracuda," which inspired the use of the Heart song of the same name during Palin's speech at the RNC on Wednesday night. Heart sent out a statement Thursday afternoon announcing they had sent a cease-and-desist letter asking the campaign to stop using the song. "The Republican campaign did not ask for permission to use the song, nor would they have been granted that permission. We have asked the Republican campaign publicly not to use our music. We hope our wishes will be honored." Their wishes were not honored, as after John McCain's RNC-ending speech last night, Palin joined him onstage to the sound of "Barracuda." This set off Nancy Wilson, who told "I think it's completely unfair to be so misrepresented. I feel completely fucked over."
    While many of the commenters display predictable ignorance, you'd think an outfit like Rolling Stone would know the basics of copyright law as it pertains to playing music at public venues, as this is not a new issue. Once artists sign on to have ASCAP represent their copyright interests, it is not up to them who gets to play or not play their music.

    Here's the way it's supposed to work:

    ....organizations don't have to go directly to the copyright holder to get permission to use their work. They can get a license from ASCAP, the American Society for Composers, Authors and Publishers. (Someone should tell the London Guardian editorial writers this inconvenient truth.)

    According to The London Telegraph (and the Guardian), that's exactly what the the Republican National Convention did. A spokesman says that the RNC "paid for and obtained all necessary licenses" from ASCAP for all the music used at the event.

    Assuming that the RNC did indeed get an ASCAP license (and why wouldn't they?), then they could legally use the song, assuming it's in the ASCAP database. (It is.)

    ASCAP "licenses the right to perform songs and musical works created and owned by the songwriters, composers, lyricists and music publishers who are ASCAP members..." It's not clear to me which agreement would be used by a political organization... but in their brochure, "ASCAP Keeps You In Tune With Copyright Law" (pdf available here), ASCAP writes:

    All public performances, even most non-profit ones, must be licensed... Although you can obtain permission directly from the copyright owner, it is generally less expensive and more convenient to obtain it through ASCAP.
    While I'm no fan of the copyright system, it's easy to imagine the chaos which could be created if individual artists had the right to decide (on an after-the-fact ad hoc basis) who got to play their music and who didn't. I suppose if they wanted to be able to do that, they could refuse to sign an agreement with ASCAP, but I doubt very much their music would get much play over the air or that many companies would be willing to market their CDs.

    Naturally, if the Democrats had played this song at their convention, it would have been fine with Heart. But by their way of thinking, suppose they decided they didn't like Joe Biden at the last minute. They seem to think it's just fine to withdraw permission after the fact, by claiming that they "never gave permission."

    This is about as ridiculous as an author claiming that even though you paid for it, you had no right to read his book!

    Maybe I should announce a new rule that if I don't agree with you, you have no right to read this blog!

    OTOH, none of you have the right to hear or watch this:

    steve's 5ft cuda 8.jpg

    High time we put some teeth into the copyright laws!

    posted by Eric at 09:53 AM | Comments (4)

    Sarah Palin In Carson City, Nev.

    posted by Simon at 09:30 AM | Comments (5)

    On The Verge

    It seems things are not going well for The One we have been waiting for. In fact it seems like fewer and fewer people are waiting for him.

    The Democratic presidential candidate's slump in the polls has sparked pointed private criticism that he is squandering a once-in-a-generation chance to win back the White House.

    Party elders also believe the Obama camp is in denial about warnings from Democratic pollsters that his true standing is four to six points lower than that in published polls because of hidden racism from voters - something that would put him a long way behind Mr McCain.

    The Sunday Telegraph has learned that senators, governors and union leaders who have experience of winning hard-fought races in swing states have been bombarding Obamas campaign headquarters with telephone calls offering advice. But many of those calls have not been returned.

    He got off on the wrong foot with the "bitter clingers" and has not managed to get back on their right side. Now with Sarah Palin attracting the "bitter clinger" vote because she is one of them he has his work cut out for him. How does he win them back? There is already evidence he doesn't have a clue. Here is some more:
    A senior Democratic strategist, who has played a prominent role in two presidential campaigns, told The Sunday Telegraph: "These guys are on the verge of blowing the greatest gimme in the history of American politics. They're the most arrogant bunch Ive ever seen. They won't accept that they are losing and they won't listen."

    After leading throughout the year, Mr Obama now trails Mr McCain by two to three points in national polls.

    Party leaders and commentators say that the Democrat candidate spent too much of the summer enjoying his own popularity and not enough defining his positions on the economy - the number one issue for voters - or reaching out to those blue collar workers whose votes he needs if he is to beat Mr McCain.

    Others concede that his trip to Europe was a distraction that enhanced his celebrity status rather than his electability on Main Street, USA.

    Yep. That "Celebrity" commercial that McCain ran and that went viral on the Internet punctured that bubble. ∅bama has come off as weak. And as I pointed out in Midway For Obama, Americans do not elect weaklings to office.
    Since Sarah Palin was unveiled as Mr McCain's running mate, the Obama camp has faced accusations that it has been pushed off message and has been limp in responding to attacks.

    A Democratic National Committee official told The Sunday Telegraph: "I really find it offensive when Democrats ask the Republicans not to be nasty to us, which is effectively what Obama keeps doing. They know thats how the game is played."

    Dem mean ole Republicans are being mean to us. Waaaaaaaah. Mommy make them stop. It hoits. Not a winning message.
    Mr Obama's campaign manager, David Plouffe, called it the first day of the rest of the campaign.

    But that was the fourth time in the last nine months that Mr Obamas team have been forced to declare that the gloves are coming off. And Mr Plouffe's dismissal of Democratic doubts as hand-wringing and bed-wetting only served to reinforce the growing doubts about what some see as a bunker mentality among Obamas inner circle - where outside advice, even from highly experienced people, is not welcomed.

    The Democratic strategist told The Sunday Telegraph: "They think they know best. They don't return calls. There are governors and senators calling them up with ideas. They don't get back to them.

    "These are senior people from the border states and the South who know how to beat Republicans, and they're being ignored. They ignored everyone during the primaries and they came through it, so they think they can do the same again."

    Damn. The ∅ campaign has more pairs of gloves than OJ. What ∅ needs to do with some of his campaign money (which is not flowing the way it used to be) is to buy a glove factory so he can spend his days putting on and taking off the gloves. Better yet, I think he needs to buy a clue factory. Fortunately he is too proud to do something like that.

    Obama's big mistake is in thinking that a campaign that worked in the Democrat primary caucuses can work in a general election. Thugs like ACORN can take you far in a caucus state. However, there are no caucus states in general elections. Vote fraud and voter intimidation only carry you so far in a general election. It works in big cities, especially in Democrat Machine Cities. In the suburbs and rural areas its effect is slight to non-existent.

    Mark Cunningham of the New York Post summed up the private views of many: "If it suddenly seems like the Obama campaign doesn't have any idea what it's doing, maybe that's because it doesn't."

    Party elders are also studying internal polling material which warns the Obama camp that his true standing is worse than it appears in polls because voters lie to polling companies about their reluctance to vote for a black candidate. The phenomenon is known in the US as the Bradley effect, after Tom Bradley, a black candidate for governor of California who lost after leading comfortably in polls.

    The strategist said: "I've seen memos where they've been told to factor in four to six points for the Bradley effect, but they're in denial about it.

    They hope to make it up with the youth vote. That may have worked except for two things. The youth factor exceeds in enthusiasm that is for sure, but it has a bad record of showing up for elections. Second, since the announcement of Palin as VP the youth vote is now evenly split between Obama and McCain. Besides, youth thrives on novelty and Obama is so yesterday. He was last year's celebrity. And now there is a new fresh face on the block.

    And what has been the McCain Campaign's best line of attack?

    A senior aide to one of the most powerful Democrats in the House of Representatives voiced the fears of many: "Palin doesn't just play to the Republican base. She has much broader appeal."

    The aide said that her repeated mockery of Mr Obama's boasts about his time as a community organiser in Chicago are "the most effective criticisms of Barack Obama we have yet seen." He said: "Americans in small and medium size towns dont know what the hell a community organiser is. Real Americans graduate from high school or college and get a job that pays a wage. Campus radicals go off and organise a community."

    That is right. Obama has been tarred with the campus radical label in two words. However, considering his Communist mentor Frank Marshall Davis, his seeking out Marxist professors, and his associations with Bill Ayers, it fits pretty well. On top of that he admits he was a failure at community organizing. Evidently Marxism doesn't even sell well to its target population: the poor.

    Another Brit paper, The Times Online tells a similar tale of woe about the ∅ campaign.

    THE high-heeled, moose-hunting governor of Alaska has sent Barack Obama's campaign into a state of panic as support for the Democratic presidential candidate haemorrhages in the battleground states he must win to reach the White House.

    Sarah Palin, 44, continued to scythe through Obama's support among women by taunting the first potential black president for declining to choose Hillary Clinton as his running mate and by declaring that questions about juggling work and family were "kind of irrelevant" in the modern age.

    The mother of five, who has been called Xena, the warrior princess, said in a television interview: "I think he's regretting not picking [Clinton] now, I do. What determination and grit and even grace through some tough shots that were fired her way - she handled those well," Palin said.

    I saw that. It should help the McCain/Palin ticket pick off a few more Hillary voters.
    In the face of Palin's onslaught, Obama has continued to base his campaign on the outdated claim that John McCain and his running mate represent four more years of a failed Bush administration.

    A senior Obama adviser said candidly that claim did not work. "I don't think it's sticking. The McCain campaign has stolen our message of 'change' - the very thing we've been campaigning on for 20 months. Well, who's the change? It's McCain." Palin's astounding rise has left the Obama camp floundering for a new narrative that will capture the imagination of voters in the run-up to the November 4 election. "There is overreaction and panic," the official admitted. "The hard part for Barack is she's stolen his thunder a bit. It has knocked us off our game."

    Actually, as far as I can tell, they have no game at this point except mud slinging. Change has been stolen from them and they are left without Hope.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 08:11 PM | Comments (5)

    A New Front Opens In The Culture Wars

    The singer is Gretchen Wilson.

    H/T Vanderleun

    posted by Simon at 03:44 PM | Comments (3)

    They can't help it

    Democratic political strategist Mark Penn pointed out in a recent CBS interview that the media's targeting of Sarah Palin is hurting the media more than it's hurting Palin: Your former colleague Howard Wolfson argued that you all unintentionally paved the way for Palin by exposing some of the unfair media coverage that Hillary Clinton received. And, therefore, a lot of the media may now be treating Sarah Palin with kid gloves. Do you agree with that?

    Mark Penn: Well, no, I think the people themselves saw unfair media coverage of Senator Clinton. I think if you go back, the polls reflected very clearly what "Saturday Night Live" crystallized in one of their mock debates about what was happening with the press.

    I think here the media is on very dangerous ground. I think that when you see them going through every single expense report that Governor Palin ever filed, if they don't do that for all four of the candidates, they're on very dangerous ground. I think the media so far has been the biggest loser in this race. And they continue to have growing credibility problems.

    And I think that that's a real problem growing out of this election. The media now, all of the media -- not just Fox News, that was perceived as highly partisan -- but all of the media is now being viewed as partisan in one way or another. And that is an unfortunate development. So you think the media is being uniquely tough on Palin now?

    Mark Penn: Well, I think that the media is doing the kinds of stories on Palin that they're not doing on the other candidates. And that's going to subject them to people concluding that they're giving her a tougher time. Now, the media defense would be, "Yeah, we looked at these other candidates who have been in public life at an earlier time."

    What happened here very clearly is that the controversy over Palin led to 37 million Americans tuning into a vice-presidential speech, something that is unprecedented, because they wanted to see for themselves. This is an election in which the voters are going to decide for themselves. The media has lost credibility with them.

    Two points stand out here.

    One is that regardless of what anyone thinks of Mark Penn, for prominent Democrats to be blaming each other for having "paved the way for Palin" reveals genuine desperation.

    Two is that the media feeding frenzy results from the fact that they find Palin irresistible for a variety of reasons. She's new, she's a woman (which in their twisted way of thinking makes her a traitor), she didn't go to Harvard (or Princeton, like Charlie Gibson), and she belongs to the wrong church. As Andrew Sullivan says, the mere fact that she belongs to the Assembly of God justifies the use of the Dowdification method of quotation falsification:

    She is a long-time member of the Assemblies Of God. That's all you need to know.
    Imagine the reaction if someone said that about membership in the Catholic Church.

    So, they just cannot help themselves. That libertarians like David Harsanyi, Vin Suprynowicz, and Radley Balko (link via Glenn Reynolds) have praised her only makes them angrier. I suspect that the media intuitively fear the alliance I discussed earlier:

    I have long believed that what "they" most fear is an alliance between libertarians and social conservatives. I'm not saying this will necessarily happen, but if it ever did, the fallout would be very bad.

    Why, such a thing might even jeopardize the very future of socialism!

    And of course, the more reasonable Palin sounds, the more they hate her, and the more they accuse her of "dishonesty."

    In a way, the latter accusation makes sense. Because if you set someone up to be a fulminating, right wing "Christianist" maniac, any reasonable utterance out of that person cannot be considered reassuring, but instead becomes an outrageous lie. (I can't blame them, because after all, they are only interested in winning, and such closed systems are completely self-insulating against all arguments.)

    The nice thing about the feeding frenzy is that it has produced a backlash.

    I know I complain, but the altruist in me hopes they keep it up.

    posted by Eric at 12:29 PM | Comments (8)

    Community organizing has a proud record of success

    Jennifer Rubin has a carefully researched piece titled Obama and the Woods Fund ("Woods Hole" ought to be the outfit's name, but I guess that name's already taken). The whole piece is a must-read, I want to focus on a seemingly innocuous (and largely obscure) outfit with the gently nutty name of ACORN:

    Another recipient of the Woods Fund largesse was the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), an organization infamous for its left wing agenda. Stanley Kurtz who has researched ACORN's far-left agenda described its "in your face tactics":
    Just think of Code Pink's well-known operations (threatening to occupy congressional offices, interrupting the testimony of General David Petraeus) and you'll get the idea. Acorn protesters have disrupted Federal Reserve hearings, but mostly deploy their aggressive tactics locally. Chicago is home to one of its strongest chapters, and Acorn has burst into a closed city council meeting there. Acorn protestors in Baltimore disrupted a bankers' dinner and sent four busloads of profanity-screaming protestors against the mayor's home, terrifying his wife and kids. Even a Baltimore city council member who generally supports Acorn said their intimidation tactics had crossed the line.
    During Obama's time on the Woods Funds ACORN received grants of $45,000 (2000), $30,000 (2001), $45,000 (2001), $30,000 (2002), and $40,000 (2002) from the Woods Fund. (Obama in the early 1990's helped train ACORN organizers and later served as counsel in 1995 for ACORN in a "motor voter" registration lawsuit.) And ACORN certainly appreciated whatever assistance Obama afforded the radical organization over the years.
    No doubt Obama is very proud of his role as a "community activist" for ACORN.

    If ACORN were merely another whiny left-wing group that never did anything, it might be something we could all laugh off as cute. But alas, ACORN is neither cute nor laughable; it is a very determined, very powerful outfit which believes in implementing socialism, and works hard to create the right conditions to make socialism inevitable, and ineradicable.

    I've complained that the people who want socialism know the dirty little secret that socialism does not work. That this is a feature and not a bug. That problems created by socialism create a demand for socialist solutions, and so on.

    ACORN, as it happens, spent many years working tirelessly to create the conditions that led to the current mortgage crisis. From "Thank ACORN (And Co) For Mortgage Crisis":

    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.

    In the 1980s, groups such as the activists at ACORN began pushing charges of "redlining" - claims that banks discriminated against minorities in mortgage lending. In 1989, sympathetic members of Congress got the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act amended to force banks to collect racial data on mortgage applicants; this allowed various studies to be ginned up that seemed to validate the original accusation.

    In fact, minority mortgage applications were rejected more frequently than other applications - but the overwhelming reason wasn't racial discrimination, but simply that minorities tend to have weaker finances.

    Yet a "landmark" 1992 study from the Boston Fed concluded that mortgage-lending discrimination was systemic.

    That study was tremendously flawed - a colleague and I later showed that the data it had used contained thousands of egregious typos, such as loans with negative interest rates. Our study found no evidence of discrimination.

    Yet the political agenda triumphed - with the president of the Boston Fed saying no new studies were needed, and the US comptroller of the currency seconding the motion.

    No sooner had the ink dried on its discrimination study than the Boston Fed, clearly speaking for the entire Fed, produced a manual for mortgage lenders stating that: "discrimination may be observed when a lender's underwriting policies contain arbitrary or outdated criteria that effectively disqualify many urban or lower-income minority applicants."

    Some of these "outdated" criteria included the size of the mortgage payment relative to income, credit history, savings history and income verification. Instead, the Boston Fed ruled that participation in a credit-counseling program should be taken as evidence of an applicant's ability to manage debt.

    Sound crazy? You bet. Those "outdated" standards existed to limit defaults.

    Etc. Sorry for the long quote, but I think this is important, and it's been (and is being) swept under the rug.

    In light of my background as a Berkeley Police Review Commisioner, it's not difficult for me why they caved so quickly to the community activists. FEAR.

    It's a very simple concept. People do not like being intimidated. Nor do they want their work and lives disrupted. If demonstrators show up where they work, they usually cave. And if that doesn't work, there's always the tried-and-true tactic of invading their personal spaces, or even threatening their homes and families. (Something which caused Berkeley's rather decent City Manager to flee to the relative safety of New Mexico.)

    I cannot overstress the effectiveness of these methods. Read Stanley Kurtz again:

    Acorn protesters have disrupted Federal Reserve hearings, but mostly deploy their aggressive tactics locally. Chicago is home to one of its strongest chapters, and Acorn has burst into a closed city council meeting there. Acorn protestors in Baltimore disrupted a bankers' dinner and sent four busloads of profanity-screaming protestors against the mayor's home, terrifying his wife and kids. Even a Baltimore city council member who generally supports Acorn said their intimidation tactics had crossed the line.
    Don't think the executives on the Fed board weren't thinking about their homes and families.

    Noting Obama's ties to ACORN are so deep that he calls him the "Senator from ACORN," Kurtz recites numbing detail after numbing detail:

    Important as these questions of funding and partisanship are, the larger point is that Obama's ties to Acorn -- arguably the most politically radical large-scale activist group in the country -- are wide, deep, and longstanding. If Acorn is adept at creating a non-partisan, inside-game veneer for what is in fact an intensely radical, leftist, and politically partisan reality, so is Obama himself. This is hardly a coincidence: Obama helped train Acorn's leaders in how to play this game. For the most part, Obama seems to have favored the political-insider strategy, yet it's clear that he knew how to play the in-your-face "direct action" game as well. And surely during his many years of close association with Acorn, Obama had to know what the group was all about.
    Of course he knew. Read all about the tireless devotion of Obama to ACORN, and ACORN's tireless devotion to destroying the market economy. They've been successful because they have a wide spectrum of tactics, and they know that when they fail to win by playing fair, intimidation works:
    Do Atlas and Dreier dismiss Stern's catalogue of Acorn's disruptive and intentionally intimidating tactics as a set of regrettable exceptions to Acorn's rule of civility? Not a chance. Atlas and Dreier are at pains to point out that intimidation works. They proudly reel off the increased memberships that follow in the wake of high-profile disruptions, and clearly imply that the same public officials who object most vociferously to intimidation are the ones most likely to cave as a result. What really upsets Atlas and Dreier is that Stern misses the subtle national hand directing Acorn's various local campaigns. This is radicalism unashamed.

    But don't let the disruptive tactics fool you. Acorn is a savvy and exceedingly effective political player. Stern says that Acorn's key post-New Left innovation is its determination to take over the system from within, rather than futilely try to overthrow it from without. Stern calls this strategy a political version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Take Atlas and Dreier at their word: Acorn has an openly aggressive and intimidating side, but a sophisticated inside game, as well. Chicago's Acorn leader, for example, won a seat on the Board of Aldermen as the candidate of a leftist "New Party."

    Read it all. And weep that someone who's been so tight for so long with such people may well become what Kurtz calls the "President from ACORN."

    (In light of that damning piece alone, little wonder that Team Obama went after Kurtz with both barrels when he dared to look into the Chicago Annenberg Challenge records.)

    While it is right to focus on Obama's close association for years with Bill Ayers (and I have, in a number of posts), the ACORN connection is more than enough reason not to vote for the man. For that reason alone, I would never, ever even consider voting for him. He might be likeable and articulate, but his background indicates that he's a dyed-in-the-wool socialist who has not just talked the talk, he's walked the walk. (If he had just talked the talk, I wouldn't be as worried.)

    There's also this crucial difference between ACORN and Ayers: if the Ayers matter ever heats up, Obama can always through the guy under the bus, per his usual pattern. But there's no way he can or would disavow or repudiate ACORN. It's part of his resume, his political heritage -- his living, breathing legacy. His political family tree (if you will) has strong roots in ACORN. Uprooting or cutting down that kind of heritage would be political suicide.

    He'll have to live with it.

    The rest of us will have to live with the mortgage mess.

    (If only so many people didn't see it as a failure of capitalism....)

    posted by Eric at 10:55 AM | Comments (2)

    In Her Own Words Part 2

    You can watch part one of the interview at In Her Own Words. One interesting aspect of this exercise is the fact that when Charlie Gibson interviewed Obama he gave him a bunch of softball questions. Palin was hit hard on all kinds of policy questions. ∅bama? Not so much.

    Here is the first question asked ∅bama.

    How does it feel to break a glass ceiling?

    Here is the first question asked Palin.
    Do you have enough qualifications for the job you're seeking? Specifically have you visited foreign countries and met foreign leaders?

    Follow the link to read the rest. So who do you think Charlie's candidate is?

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 06:35 AM | Comments (0)

    Out Of Touch

    The ∅ campaign is mocking McCain for being a computer illiterate in their latest ad.
    NEW YORK (AP) -- John McCain is mocked as an out-of-touch, out-of-date computer illiterate in a television commercial out Friday from Barack Obama as the Democrat begins his sharpest barrage yet on McCain's long Washington career.

    The new fighting spirit comes as McCain has been gaining in the polls and some Democrats have been expressing concern the Obama campaign has not been aggressive enough. Obama's campaign says the escalation will involve advertising and pushes made by the candidate, running mate Joe Biden and other surrogates across the country.

    "Today is the first day of the rest of the campaign," Obama campaign manager David Plouffe says in a campaign strategy memo. "We will respond with speed and ferocity to John McCain's attacks and we will take the fight to him, but we will do it on the big issues that matter to the American people."

    The newest ad showcasing their hard line includes unflattering footage of McCain at a hearing in the early '80s, wearing giant glasses and an out-of-style suit, interspersed with shots of a disco ball, a clunky phone, an outdated computer and a Rubik's Cube.

    "1982, John McCain goes to Washington," an announcer says over chirpy elevator music. "Things have changed in the last 26 years, but McCain hasn't.

    "He admits he still doesn't know how to use a computer, can't send an e-mail, still doesn't understand the economy, and favors two hundred billion in new tax cuts for corporations, but almost nothing for the middle class," it says.

    Well that is certainly going to hurt McCain with all the folks who are up to date with the latest computers, cell phones, and iPods. What an old out of touch guy. At least so it would seem.

    Until you know the rest of the story.

    McCain's severe war injuries prevent him from combing his hair, typing on a keyboard, or tying his shoes.
    Well that sure is taking the fight to McCain. I hope they choke on it. In fact I'm sure they will. That should add another two or three points to McCain's totals.

    ∅bama is swine. And no amount of lipstick on that pig is going to change it.

    H/T Just One Minute

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

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

    Not Safe For Work

    For those of you who want to help this go viral it is also available on YouTube

    posted by Simon at 02:18 PM | Comments (9)

    Everybody loves a winner?

    I'm not sure the old saying "everbody loves a winner" always applies to political winners. I think it might have more to do with the fact that in politics people love underdogs, and distrust "winners" when they display too much arrogance. (Nobody likes sore losers, but sore winners are unbearable.)

    In an earlier post, M. Simon observed that the Democrats are setting themselves up for defeat, and noted that "when people get panicked they often do the wrong thing." That is absolutely right.

    An observation by a commenter, though -- "I'm still waiting for the Republican Party to screw this up" -- reminded me of another principle.

    When people get overconfident they often do the wrong thing.

    That's because human nature being what it is, overconfidence leads to a feeling of unaccountability. The anticipation of victory leads to a similar feeling to that produced by actual victory. Once a battle or struggle is over, it is natural to relax your guard.

    The Democrats have gone from the overconfident state to a state of incipient panic, while the Republicans have been the underdogs until very recently. The election is still six weeks away (I typed "sex weeks"; did my Freudian slip show?), and my worry is that if the public starts to perceive signs of GOP triumphalism -- if Republicans are perceived as relishing their incipient victory (or, worse, gloating) it won't go over well.

    But that's just my paranoia. Charles Krauthammer also thinks the Democrats are in a panic state, and he thinks that the stardom timing cycle is favoring the Republicans:

    One star fades, another is born. The very next morning McCain picks Sarah Palin and a new celebrity is launched. And in the celebrity game, novelty is trump. With her narrative, her persona, her charisma carrying the McCain campaign to places it has never been and by all logic has no right to be, she's pulling an Obama.

    But her job is easier. She only has to remain airborne for seven more weeks. Obama maintained altitude for an astonishing four years. In politics, as in all games, however, it's the finish that counts.

    That's true, but in my darker moments I'm inclined to think that the finish is only on the veneer.

    posted by Eric at 11:16 AM | Comments (2)

    People who can't communicate can't lie. Or can they?

    Today's Detroit Free Press has a real horror story about a family which was torn apart by zealous bureaucrats acting in the name of a cruel superstition called "facilitated communication." According to the educrats who believe in this discredited nonsense, autistic children "communicate" by having their hands placed on computer keyboards, while the "facilitator" types the answers to the facilitator's questions.

    No, seriously:

    The couple, who had no criminal history, suddenly faced decades in prison. He was charged with repeatedly raping their 15-year-old, severely autistic daughter, and she was charged with child abuse for failure to stop it.

    Thus began a four-month ordeal, a prosecution based solely on statements their mute child reportedly made while using a widely discredited method called "facilitated communication," in which messages are typed on a keyboard with the help of an aide called a facilitator.

    Thursday, the Wendrows, who saw all charges against them dropped in March, filed a lawsuit in Oakland County Circuit Court, alleging 38 counts of wrongful imprisonment, invasion of privacy, violation of their due-process rights, malicious prosecution and other misdeeds. Lawsuits on behalf of their daughter and her 13-year-old brother, who was repeatedly interrogated by police, are expected to be filed today.

    I'm glad they're suing, and I hope they end up owning the school district.

    Of course, that's an emotional reaction on my part; the problem is that it's the taxpayers who end up having to pay settlements and judgments in these cases. The problem is that there is no accountability, and it is becoming an all-pervasive disease. The individual wrongdoers are immune -- even though the "facilitor" in this case had only two hours of "training":

    "My dad gets me up, bangs me and then we eat breakfast," typed messages the school provided to the police said. "He puts his hands on my private parts mom knows and doesn't say anything." Other messages said her father had assaulted her in the shower and that her younger brother had fondled her breasts and genitals.

    Prosecutors may also have been perplexed by the spectacle of the teenager typing responses to their questions as her paraprofessional facilitator, Cindi Scarsella, supported her typing arm.

    Scarsella, a teacher's aide who had accompanied the autistic student to classes since the beginning of the school year after just two hours of training as a facilitator, told police the girl had spontaneously typed the allegations, while Scarsella supported her forearm, during a Learning Skills class in late November.

    Prosecutors said the girl repeated the allegations -- again with Scarsella facilitating her typewritten answers -- in an interview at Care House, a facility that specializes in interviewing suspected victims of abuse.

    Care House interviews are confidential, but Dr. James Todd, an Eastern Michigan University psychology expert who reviewed a video record of the girl's interview at the request of her parents' defense attorneys, testified that he detected signs that Scarsella was subtly directing the autistic girl's typing.

    Scarsella, who did not respond to voice mails left at her home, has said under oath that she did not consciously or unconsciously influence the girl's responses.

    "No one in our office had ever heard of facilitated communication," Oakland County Assistant Prosecutor Paul Walton said.

    Yeah, well maybe it would have been a good idea to brush up on this widely debunked form of junk science before jailing the parents, and placing the boy in juvie. As this earlier piece pointed out, the bogus nature of the case could have been determined simply by using Google:
    But the girl's parents believed the controversial method, whose proponents called it FC, had unlocked their speechless daughter's inner voice. Ironically, it was the parents' faith in FC that convinced investigators the girl's facilitated accusations were authentic.

    But if police and prosecutors had Googled the phrase "facilitated communication" as my Free Press colleague L.L. Brasier did when she first heard about the case, they would have learned that most educators and autism experts had long ago lost faith in FC, and that researchers had repeatedly failed to establish its legitimacy in controlled experiments.

    I'll say. Facilitated communication has few defenders, there's a whole string of cases involving fictitious charges of sexual abuse by parents, and it is rejected as scientifically unfounded by the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. (See also the Wiki entry on Facilitated Communication.) It's been debunked on Frontline, on Penn and Teller, and most skeptics consider it old history -- little more than a long defeated superstition.

    So settled is the evidence (and case law) against it that a New York Civil Rights Lawyer (quoted in an earlier piece) expressed amazement that a school would even use the method:

    Spurred by a flurry of cases in which autistic children using FC accused seemingly trustworthy adults of sexually molesting them, researchers began conducting double-blind experiments. In trial after trial, experimenters demonstrated that typed messages were actually being directed -- albeit unconsciously -- by the facilitators themselves.

    Alan Zwiebel is a New York civil rights lawyer whose legal crusade against FC culminated in a celebrated 1997 case in which a federal jury awarded $750,000 to a New York couple who'd lost custody of their retarded daughter. Jurors concluded officials knew or should have known the girl's facilitated allegations of abuse were bogus.

    Zwiebel professed astonishment when I told him that Oakland County prosecutors had relied on FC evidence to bring criminal charges against the West Bloomfield girl's parents.

    "Facilitated communication? My God -- I though we stuck a stake through its heart in 1997," he said.

    Since his 11-year-old federal case, Zwiebel said, "there's been a bright-line rule that facilitated communication is unreliable, period."

    What fascinates me is how to assign blame here. Clearly, the parents were desperate (as would be expected of parents of severely autistic kids), so they would go along with anything, including this electronic voodoo. While the actual "facilitator" with two hours training is worthy of blame, what about the school officials who hired her to do this? The prosecutors who filed the charges, jailed the father, and even put the boy in juvenile detention would seem to be the most guilty parties, because they didn't do their homework. But their asses may be covered if they can come up with an expert who can claim "facilitated communication" has validity. The Facilitated Communication Institute at Syracuse University takes the position that facilitated communication is a civil right, and even a free speech issue:
    Where people lack an adequate communication system, they deserve to have others try with them to discover and secure an appropriate system. No person should have this right denied because they have been diagnosed as having a particular disability. Access to effective means of communication is a free speech issue. (TASH, Resolution on the Right to Communicate, November, 1992)
    I don't doubt there are people in the Autism Lobby, and an assortment of teachers aides, other "paraprofessionals," and others in the educational bureaucracy who would champion this discredited method. (As I've argued before, bureaucrats tend to love things that don't work, because bureaucratic failure generates more bureaucratic jobs.)

    While nothing that the educrats might do would surprise me, this is more of a disgrace to the legal system than anything else, because the legal system is supposed to be based on accountability. When accountability fails there, where are people to go?

    What shocked me even more as I dug into this was the appalling nature of the police interrogation of the innocent boy they sent to juvenile detention:

    For nearly an hour, Detective Joseph Brousseau had grilled the boy about accusations that he and his autistic sister had been sexually molested by their father. No, the boy insisted, he'd seen nothing to support the detective's lurid suspicions. Three times, he offered to take a lie detector test. But Brousseau hammered away, challenging the boy's honesty, his manliness, his loyalty to his disabled sister.

    Again and again, the detective told the boy his body language betrayed the burden of a terrible secret. "What if I told you that one of those videotapes confiscated from your parents' house had you in it?" the detective asked suddenly. The 13-year-old straightened. "Was it me doing something sexually?" "I don't think I'd be bringing it up if it wasn't," Brousseau answered. "That's what I'm trying to tell you -- it's going to come out."

    If it were merely what it purported to be -- the disclosure of a deviant father's treachery -- the videotaped exchange would be excruciating enough to watch. But the truth is a good deal uglier than that.

    Charges have been dropped. In fact, prosecutors now concede, much of what Brousseau told the boy during his Dec. 4 interrogation was a fabrication. There were no videotapes depicting the boy in sexual situations with his father or sister. There was no new crime lab evidence confirming his sister's allegations, despite Brousseau's repeated assertions to the contrary.

    Legal experts who have reviewed the videotaped interrogation, which was obtained by the Free Press, say it reveals multiple violations of the rules Michigan law prescribes for questioning juveniles who may have witnessed sexual abuse."I would not hesitate to use the word 'reprehensible,' " David Moran, associate dean of the Wayne State University School of Law, told me after watching the interrogation at the Free Press' request.

    Brousseau didn't respond to voice-mail messages I left at his office and home. His supervisor, West Bloomfield Police Lt. Carl Fuhs, said he hadn't seen the videotape but defended Brousseau's motives. "He didn't mean to harm anyone," Fuhs said. "The bottom line here is that the detective was trying to get to the truth. I don't know whether he went over the line or not."

    The details are fiendish. If the prosecutors filed charges based on an interrogation like that, I'd say Mike Nifong didn't have anything on these people.

    Perhaps even Cotton Mather didn't either. (He was only trying to do his job...)

    But if we look at the broader issue (in the spirit of dark humor), imagine what a facilitative communicator could do with Alzheimer's patients. Stroke victims. The legally brain dead.


    I better keep them away from Coco, because you never know what she might say.


    Especially if she had "help."

    MORE: I'm wondering about something. Is there any reason why facilitative communication would not work with dead people? I would think that if used combination with a good medium, the results might be spectacular.

    At the very least, it might be a great way to preserve the right of the deceased to vote.

    posted by Eric at 10:21 AM | Comments (6)

    Goddess Of Democracy
    Goddess Of Democracy

    H/T Vanderleun

    posted by Simon at 07:07 AM | Comments (11)

    Worried - Not Yet Panicked

    The Democrat chances in November appear to be declining at a very rapid pace. Their numbers are falling off a cliff.

    Democratic jitters about the US presidential race have spread to Capitol Hill, where some members of Congress are worried that Barack Obama's faltering campaign could hurt their chances of re-election.

    Party leaders have been hoping to strengthen Democratic control of the House and Senate in November, but John McCain's jump in the polls has stoked fears of a Republican resurgence.

    A Democratic fundraiser for Congressional candidates said some planned to distance themselves from Mr Obama and not attack Mr McCain.

    "If people are voting for McCain it could help Republicans all the way down the ticket, even in a year when the Democrats should be sweeping all before us," said the fundraiser, a former Hillary Clinton supporter.

    "There is a growing sense of doom among Democrats I have spoken to . . . . People are going crazy, telling the campaign 'you've got to do something'."

    The problem with that attitude is that when people get panicked they often do the wrong thing.

    Let's take a look at what Bill Whittle has to say about that in his piece Forty Second Boyd. He is discussing an engagement between two fighter pilots

    Red and Blue are closing at 1000 miles an hour. Fight's on!

    Blue breaks left. Red does too. Both pilots observe, orient, decide, act. But Blue is faster. While Red is still orienting himself, building the situational awareness he needs to decide and plan his action, Blue has already chosen a maneuver and executed it. This renders Red's previous orientation useless: Blue is no longer where he was a moment before.

    Red must re-orient so he can make a new decision. Blue sees the confusion and delay. He's already oriented. He decides and acts again. His advantage increases.

    Now Red is confused and at 500kts he is flying pretty God-damned quickly into full-on fear. This confusion and fear cause him more hesitation. Out of rising panic he commits to an action that may have been appropriate two Blue cycles ago, but which is now - no other word for it - obsolete. Blue is now cycling so fast that he maneuvers for a position where any course of action Red may take will result in his fiery demise. He's below and behind him - out of sight - not anywhere near where Red expected him because he has been observing, orienting, deciding and acting at a much faster pace.

    And that is what is happening to the whole Democrat party. The fight is now so lopsided that they are no longer co-ordinating their efforts. They no longer have the power of unified action. They set themselves up for defeat in detail.

    I expect big gains for the Republicans in the House and Senate despite the fact that the conventional wisdom in June was that the Democrats would be making gains.

    And lets not forget that the fight over energy resources hasn't even begun. Their bad situation has come from skirmishes without the weight of unified action which has yet to come.

    ∅ has lost two or three days fighting over pigs and lipstick. He is off message. How does he get back on track? His only hope is to break contact and then come back with a new message. He has to stop his attacks on Palin and focus his attentions on his opponent, John McCain. Can he do that? I doubt it. It takes the ∅bama campaign days to respond to Republican attacks. Where he needs to be agile he is cumbersome. Because of that, even if he can retool he will be addressing a situation that no longer exists.

    ∅bama's position on the Russia/Georgia dust up is instructive. McCain came out with a position in hours. ∅bama came out with a position that did not help him electorally. Over a period of three days he modified his position and modified it again until at the end his position was the same as McCain's. Look at that again. Hours vs. days. As Bill Whittle would say: He is out of altitude, out of airspeed, out of ideas. Eject! Eject! Eject!

    I think ∅bama and the Democrats are going to be ejected by the voters come November 4th. I don't think I have ever witnessed an election campaign where a candidate and a party has come from so far behind to whip the opposition so badly. Only 54 more days to go. This has got to be an eternity for the Democrats. From caviar to ashes. It will no doubt leave a bad taste in their mouths for a long time to come.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 06:52 AM | Comments (7)

    In Her Own Words

    posted by Simon at 05:23 AM | Comments (1)

    Not fit for public discussion

    Speaking of crime, a recent psychopathic hammer attack in Philadelphia has been getting national attention. The lead story is titled "Psycho hammers subway passenger":

    As the SEPTA subway train rocked forward, a thirty-something guy leaned over near the doorway and gently planted a kiss on the little boy at his side.

    When the train neared the Fairmount Avenue stop shortly after midnight on Thursday, the man reached out like an adoring parent and directed the 3- or 4-year-old tyke to an open seat.

    Then he flew into a monstrous rage.

    Without uttering a word, police said, the unidentified man whipped out a double-claw hammer and began bludgeoning a 20-year-old man who was dozing off in his seat.

    For five long minutes, SEPTA surveillance cameras captured the deranged attacker - who was still on the loose late last night- digging his hammer into the man's head and neck.

    Through it all, disgusted investigators said, at least 10 passengers stood by and did nothing as the random attack moved from the train to the platform, when the hammer-wielding maniac tried to push his victim down onto the train tracks.

    When the beating was finished and the suspect fled with the little boy, the victim staggered back onto the train, bloodied, confused and alone, said Detective Kenneth Roach, of Central Detectives.

    And even then, no one tried to help him.

    "Somebody should have helped this guy," Roach said. "I understand the [other] guy had a hammer, but they outnumbered him at least 10 to one."
    Miraculously, the victim took the subway up to Temple University Hospital, received several staples and sutures and was discharged, Roach said.
    The motive remains a mystery.

    The incident was captured on video, which shows, chillingly, that there were a number of able bodied men present, and not only did no one try to help, one of then opportunistically pitched in and stole the victim's cell phone:
    The video shows Taylor, a lab technician at the University of Pennsylvania, dozing after a long day at work on a seat of a subway car, headed home to East Germantown.

    The man identified as Scantling stands with his son in front of the subway car doors. He says something into his son's ear, kisses him on the cheek and directs the boy to an open seat.

    Then he reaches into a backpack, pulls out a hammer and bashes a sleeping Taylor on the head. Over and over.

    Taylor tried to fend him off.

    At least 10 other passengers watched but did not make any attempt to help or intervene. In fact, one bystander apparently chose to take advantage of the horror. The passenger stole Taylor's cell phone that fell to the floor during the attack, and sold it to a teen on the street for $150.

    Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey criticized passengers for not helping the man. "They better pray they're never a victim, because if someone was attacking them that way they would certainly hope someone would step forward and help, and it starts with stepping forward and doing something yourself," he said.

    By the time I read that, I was irritated, and even though I didn't have time for a post this morning beyond the 9/11 anniversary post, I spent a little time looking into this.

    I discovered that something is being omitted in the Inquirer. A little detail about the psycho -- as he carried out the unprovoked attack, he was chanting in Arabic:

    The attack was unprovoked. Taylor had dozed off while listening to his iPod. He was on his way home from work as a lab animal technician at the University of Pennsylvania. It happened at 12:15 a.m. last Thursday. Taylor tells Action News he remembers the attacker chanting in Arabic.
    Well I wonder why that didn't get into the papers that most Philadelphians read.

    In another ABC story, it is reported that the man kept repeating "Allah":

    Taylor told Action News last week that all throughout the attack, the man kept chanting something, and he distinctly recalled the word "Allah."
    But there's nothing about that in the papers.

    Instead, readers are treated to the usual litany of excuses from the family of the psychotic thug:

    Five months ago, and again four weeks ago, she said, she had him committed to a mental-health facility for treatment of paranoid schizophrenia. But he refused to take the prescribed medicine, saying doctors were trying to poison him, and was then released because of problems with health insurance.

    She said that lately her son had been carrying the hammer in his backpack because he thought some people were after him.

    "He said there were people in his shoes, the house was bugged," Frazier said. "I didn't raise him to be like that. I was scared to death for him. I was scared to death for others. I could not reach him."

    Frazier said when her son came home last Thursday night, he told her only that "the guy on the subway was after him, wanted to kill him, and that he had a tear-drop tattoo on his face."

    Scantling never mentioned the attack.

    Released because of problems with health insurance? That sounds fishy to me. Does anyone check these stories? This man had a long criminal record, and it seems that if he was in fact committed and he was dangerous, it wouldn't be an insurance issue.

    Call me skeptical.

    The story has been picked up by a number of bloggers, including Baron Bodissey:

    Yes, it's likely that this guy is simply a deranged psychopath who should have been on medication.

    But why is it that so many mentally disturbed ultra-violent psychopathic loners take on the ideology of jihad to fuel their murderous rampages?

    Just a coincidence, I suppose.

    And Robert Spencer:
    Is this guy a Muslim? A jihadist? I have no idea, and I am not saying he is. But the possibility cannot be dismissed out of hand when he chants "Allah" and mutters in Arabic while attacking a man he does not know with a hammer. In a sane society, government, media, and law enforcement would be calling upon American Muslim groups to do something about this -- to face up to the capacity of Islamic texts and teachings to incite violence, and to institute comprehensive, honest, inspectable programs teaching against jihad violence and Islamic supremacism. But this is hardly at this point a sane society.
    Whether society is sane or not, this hammer man clearly wasn't. By all accounts, he had a long history of mental illness and criminal charges, including rape. One after another, they seem to have been dropped. If you're a real loon, they don't want you cluttering up the courts or the prisons, which are designed for sane criminals.

    Which brings me to the topic that the press always wants to avoid in cases like this: Islam. The reason the chanting in Arabic and the "Allah" stuff is not being reported is that "responsible" journalists believe ordinary people can't handle it, and that some might engage in acts of bigotry against Muslims. Accordingly, they scrub such details, even though by doing so they are abrogating their clear duty to report what happened, and rationalizing it with the arrogant claim that they cannot trust their readers. (This is a major reason for the growth of the blogosphere, but that's another rant and you've all heard it.)

    My problem is not with regular Islam, but with the psychotic, jihadist form. This won't be easy to explain, but I think that psychotic Islam attracts psychotic people, and as never before in history.

    For the record, let me pause and admit my bias. I believe it is psychotic to engage in suicide bombing of innocent civilians based on the delusion you will be rewarded by Allah in heaven. Calling it "religion" does nothing to change its inherently psychotic nature.

    I think that 9/11 can be called a psychotic triggering event, because I have noticed that American psychos have gravitated towards Islam as they never did before 9/11. I think it is psychotic to wear a bag covering your entire body, your head, and leaving only slits for your eyes in a free country, OK? A lot of Americans do this now. You can see them walking around in any big city, and I'm sorry, but I think they are the kind of people who are deeply anti-social, the kind of people who are doing it for attention, because they get a big kick out of freaking people out, and because it's a way to advertise their psychotic hatred. This is not dictated by Islam, but they don't care.

    The bottom line: they simply did not behave that way in such numbers before America was attacked on 9/11 by Islamic psychotics.

    The scandal that no one will discuss is that radical, psychotic Islam is a draw for mentally ill Americans. It is not allowed to be discussed, because those who discuss it are called "Islamophobic." "Bigoted." Or of course "racist."

    Nonsense. Ordinary Muslims are citizens like anyone else. This has nothing to do with ordinary Islam. What I want to know is why Americans with mental problems are gravitating towards the psychotic manifestations of Islam, and why this isn't being discussed as it should be. Calling them "terrorists" is mistaken and misses the point, as does calling Islam an inherently terrorist religion. (As does calling people bigots for discussing the problem.)

    MORE: In a post titled "What would you do?" Dr. Helen notes how methodical the psycho was:

    One thing that struck me is just how methodical the perpetrator was, just sort of like he was at another day at work. He puts his bag down, takes out the hammer and starts wailing away.
    Calmly wailing away while chanting.

    The whole thing gives me the creeps.

    posted by Eric at 11:06 PM | Comments (9)

    Variety is the spice of life

    It's not every day that I see a headline reading "Man rubbed with spices, other beaten with sausage," but that's what's in the news:

    FRESNO, Calif. -- A stranger broke into a home east of Fresno, rubbed spices on the body of one of two men as they slept and used an 8-inch sausage to whack the other man in the face and head before he fled, Fresno County sheriff's deputies said Saturday.

    Lt. Ian Burrimond said a suspect was found in a nearby field and taken into custody. Deputies, he said, had no problem linking a suspect to the crime: "It seems the guy ran out of the house wearing only a T-shirt, boxer shorts and socks, leaving behind his wallet with his ID."

    Arrested was a 22-year-old Fresno resident.

    The spices and the sausage, Burrimond said, were taken from the victims' kitchen.

    He said money that had been taken was recovered, but the sausage was discarded and eaten by a dog. "That's right, the dog ate the weapon," Burrimond said.

    It's hard to imagine a stranger behaving this way.

    So I looked further. The arrested man, 21 year old Antonio Vasquez, has been freed. Lack of evidence:

    SANGER, Calif. (Map, News) - A Sanger man suspected of breaking into a home, rubbing spices into the face of one man and hitting another with an 8-inch sausage has been set free.

    Prosecutors say they do not have enough evidence to file criminal charges against 21-year-old Antonio Vasquez, who was released from Fresno County Jail on Tuesday.

    Not enough evidence? Two men rubbed with spice as they slept? Man arrested nearby wearing nothing but his underwear? Wallet found? Money "recovered"? Charges dropped?

    Something about this case does not make sense, unless we consider the possibility that Vasquez was not exactly a "stranger."

    posted by Eric at 10:01 PM | Comments (1)

    Charlie Interviews Sarah

    Here is the Charlie Gibson Sarah Palin Interview. Let me start you out with a question or two and then go read the whole thing.

    GIBSON: Governor, let me start by asking you a question that I asked John McCain about you, and it is really the central question. Can you look the country in the eye and say "I have the experience and I have the ability to be not just vice president, but perhaps president of the United States of America?"

    PALIN: I do, Charlie, and on January 20, when John McCain and I are sworn in, if we are so privileged to be elected to serve this country, will be ready. I'm ready.

    GIBSON: And you didn't say to yourself, "Am I experienced enough? Am I ready? Do I know enough about international affairs? Do I -- will I feel comfortable enough on the national stage to do this?"

    PALIN: I didn't hesitate, no.

    H/T Just One Minute

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 07:21 PM | Comments (0)

    It's A Nightmare

    The Democrats appear to be in a lot of pain. Their hopes and dreams appear to be fading away. Normally they don't start getting desperate until October. This is an early crash. Even by Kerry standards.

    "They were set up to run 'experience versus change,' what they had run [against Hillary] Clinton," Trippi said. "And I think Palin clearly moved that to be change [and] reform, versus change. They are adjusting to that and that threw them off balance a little bit."

    A major Democratic fundraiser described it a good bit more starkly after digesting the polls of recent days: "I'm so depressed. It's happening again. It's a nightmare."

    Adding to Democratic restlessness, McCain has largely neutralized some issue advantages that have long favored Democrats.

    This week's USA Today/Gallup poll reported a split on which candidate "can better handle the economy"; 48 percent chose Obama while 45 percent said McCain. In late August, Obama had a 16-point edge on the issue.

    Also this week, an ABC News/Washington Post poll reported that when voters are asked "who can bring about needed change to Washington," McCain still trails Obama by 12 points. But in June, McCain trailed by 32 points.

    That shift in the public's perception of the issues, in Democratic pollster Celinda Lake's words, "tremendously concerns me."

    Some Democrats aer saying that they didn't define McCain. That they left him alone to control his image. Hmmm. I thought they spent a LOT of time working the McSame bit. You don't even hear that much any more. And how did ∅ get tied with the ∅ label? And he was so proud of being a community organizer in a Democrat town. Now he is running from that. School reform? He has the perfect solution. For his children. Send them to a private school at a cost of $15K a year. If it is good enough for him why wasn't it good enough for the communities he was organizing?

    Obama's problem is that McCain has a better resume. Which is to say he has more to work with. Successes and failures. What does Barry have? ∅. And don't forget those 130 Present votes in the Illinois Legislature. McCain has good ideas and bad ideas. Barry has ∅ ideas. Or at least none that the American people as a whole are buying. His party controlled Congress for the last two years. In that time oil prices have doubled. How does that compare to their promise to lower oil prices?

    Their problem isn't definitions. Their problem is that they are our of altitude, out of air speed, and out of ideas. I discussed this a number of years ago in Socialism has died - it has not gone to heaven v2.0. Now I must admit I thought the crash would come a lot sooner than it has. I chalk that up to my eternal optimism. However, the analysis still rings true. The fundamentals are correct. Without Socialism as a guiding principle they have nothing.

    Oh, they rant a lot about civil liberties. So let me ask you, are they fighting Drug Prohibition or promoting it? George Bush has quietly reigned in Drug Task Forces. More than any liberal has done on the issue. What did Clinton do? Redoubled the war on Pot smokers. And you know what? More people die of aspirin overdoses every year than have ever died in all history from Pot overdoses. So are they trumpeting this fact? Of course not. Why? Well they depend on money from the Prison Guard Unions to run their political campaigns. The Drug War is not about stopping drugs. It is about funding their brand of politics. And that is true about almost every program they champion.

    Nightmare? It has only started and will get worse. Why? Because Alaska has some of the most liberal pot laws in the nation. And their situation is no worse with respect to pot than the places with the most draconian laws. Why is that? Pretty simple. According to the NIDA Addiction Is A Genetic Disease. I defy you to explain to me how laws can affect a genetic disease. So why are the Democrats silent? Follow the money. Follow the money. They are not about helping people. They are about using them.

    It is only going to get worse for them. Much worse. The curtain has been opened and we are about to see who the man behind the curtain really is.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 02:01 PM | Comments (3)

    Forgetting leads to denial


    Seven years into the war that officially started with the 9/11 attack, and even though Al Qaeda is serving up yet another boastful video, a large part of the world still claims not to know who was responsible for 9/11.

    The survey of 16,063 people in 17 nations found majorities in only nine countries believe al Qaeda was behind the attacks on New York and Washington that killed about 3,000 people in 2001.
    I'm wondering whether Al Qaeda is feeling slighted, because it's not as if they've kept their responsibility a secret. Perhaps this video is intended as an educational effort so that they can keep their place in the history books.

    I mean really. I can understand why people in the Mideast might be in denial. But what's with the Germans? And the Mexicans?

    The U.S. government was to blame, according to 23 percent of Germans and 15 percent of Italians.

    Respondents in the Middle East were especially likely to name a perpetrator other than al Qaeda, the poll found.

    Israel was behind the attacks, said 43 percent of people in Egypt, 31 percent in Jordan and 19 percent in the Palestinian Territories. The U.S. government was blamed by 36 percent of Turks and 27 percent of Palestinians.

    In Mexico, 30 percent cited the U.S. government and 33 percent named al Qaeda.

    Yes, more education is needed.

    In many ways, the war on terror is and remains at least as much a propaganda war as it is a series of military operations. We seem to do a better job with the latter than with the former.

    I mean, take the fact that a major American writer for Salon compares Sarah Palin to Osama bin Laden. (Via Glenn Reynolds, who has more.) The reality of such preposterousness makes my derisive snorting about German or the Mexican denial almost seem like a form of denial. This war brings out the worst in people as well as the best.

    Which is why I think it's important on this day to say Never Forget.

    I can hardly do those two words justice in a short post like this, but Michele Catalano can and does:

    Never forget? That phrase always made me cringe. Who could forget such a thing? Who could forget the pain, the loss, the rage, the image of smoke, fire, and buildings collapsing while people ran for safety? Who could forget such a powerful, staggering loss?

    Not me.

    It was a perfect day. Blue skies, fluffy clouds, September warmth. I sat at my desk, the day's work put aside briefly for my morning blog entry, something mundane about not getting the timestamps right on the blog. Normal, ordinary day. I still lived in a state of mind where I felt the world was a mostly decent place, that people were mostly good, that life would hold no big surprises that I couldn't handle. And then it happened.

    The perfection, the absolute banality of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, was shattered.

    Read it all.

    We have not forgotten Pearl Harbor, nor should we, and the same applies to 9/11.

    Glenn Reynolds links this memorial and a great piece by James Lileks, who says, "I am resigned, in advance, to the loss of an American city by a nuclear weapon." So am I, and it's a been a real life adjustment to have been thinking that for seven years.

    Glenn recalls his own thoughts on the day it happened. I wasn't blogging then, but four years ago I recounted my thoughts of that day:

    As an admirer of Ayn Rand for most of my life, I share her view of the American skyscraper as more than just a building. Each one is a monument to individuality, to the American "can-do" spirit, and, most of all, to freedom. The Twin Towers stood as gigantically strong, seemingly indestructible, twin pillars of freedom. I will never be able to shake that awful memory of how, in the instant these giants came crashing down, they were suddenly not strong at all, and certainly not to be taken for granted. Instead, they appeared very frail and delicate.
    I came to see their strength and fragility as symbolic of the strength and fragility of freedom ("seemingly strong and indestructible, but at the same time frail and delicate -- and quite mortal in the face of an evil threat.")

    Quite significantly, (as the Examiner noted this morning), not much has happened on US soil:

    Exactly seven years after 9/11, the war against jihadist terrorists has been an unappreciated success. Nobody should take that success for granted. In those seven years, despite numerous plans and several attempts by terrorists to replicate or even surpass that horrendous day, they have not succeeded a single time on U.S. soil. No body count of innocents. No successful biological or chemical attacks. No airports, bridges, buildings, or trains blown up. Nothing. President Bush's strategy has succeeded far beyond what the experts predicted would be the case in the weeks following the horrors at the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and the rural field where Flight 93 crashed near Shanksville, Pa.
    The fact that there is so much denial and so much disagreement about Iraq and even 9/11 (I see that Congressman Kucinich is calling for "Truth" hearings, and of course prosecutions) shows that in the propaganda war, we have become a victim of our success in the real war.

    All the more reason to remember.


    MORE: Abe Greenwald fears we are squandered the chance to remember ane relearn:

    The truth is something vital has been squandered in the years since we were attacked. It's not the world's sympathy or money or American lives. I fear we've squandered the chance to remember and relearn what it means to be a part of the longest-running and most honorable revolution in world history. To appreciate not just the fruits of American democracy, but the frustrations and sacrifices that were endured in creating and defending it. Instead of excoriating our president for his blunders and setbacks, we should have been rallying, as a nation, recalling in our history the many times we triumphed in the face of determined and evil adversaries. We're told we've forgotten about the principles of our Constitution, but as Americans sit around and freely describe our elected leaders as fascists and our soldiers as indiscriminate killers, it's clear we've forgotten what it takes to keep those principles alive.
    Via Michelle Malkin's "Seven years later: Remembrance and resolve."

    Don't miss Ace's tour de force account of that day, and a very articulate explanation of what he thinks happened since. Excerpt:

    It's not that the "lessons of 9/11" have been forgotten by some; it's that they never truly believed them to be lessons, or at least did not see the same lessons most of us did. What 9/11 taught most of us was that our respective political philosophies were not simply correct but more demonstrably correct than ever; what may have been incongruous or discomforting to liberals about 9/11 has since been recontextualized, retrofitted, and retconned so that for liberals too 9/11 proves they were right all along.
    Great post, and so were many more I found in LawHawk's great post and roundup which Glenn linked.

    From The Anchoress, a prayer:

    In the tragedy and terror of 9/11 we saw the best and the worst of humanity. I pray never have to again.
    AJ Strata remembers in a way few others would this close to an election -- by saluting the left's favorite villain -- the much maligned George W. Bush.
    George Bush leaves office with al-Qaeda now the enemy of Islam in much of the Muslim Street. Just as there are Nazis running around still today, one day soon al-Qaeda will just be the sign of a sick and deranged mind, hopefully trapped by the laws of lands barely tolerant of them due to the basic respects to the individual of democracy. We are well on the path to reaching that day - thanks to George W Bush.

    Thank you sir, for working to keep us safe all these years. Many of us realize it will be decades, probably well after I have left this world, before the true stories of what we faced come out from behind the security classifications. Until then, your results - the changes you achieved - will have to speak for your efforts.

    Jules Crittenden quotes from a prior remembrance:
    Logic is irrelevant in combating these fears, as it is with children who fear monsters under the bed. This is not to disparage these fears. The threat is real. And while statistically remote, there is a factor that elevates terrorism beyond the many mundane fates we all dodge daily. It is the malice.

    There are men out there who want us dead. This is undeniable. They want to see us all dead. Each and every one of us. They don't know our names, they don't know what our thoughts are about their grievances. They don't know what our actions are and how we've lived our lives. They don't care. They just want us dead.

    Don Surber
    For most Americans, 9/11 is just another day. Stuff happens.

    I remember 9/11 being a terrible day.

    It ended with a group of congressmen singing "God Bless America" on the Capitol steps.

    The late Peter Jennings, anchoring coverage by ABC News, said that their song was nice, but in a few weeks, everything would return to normal and Democrats and Republicans would be at one another's throats again.

    Jennings was admonished for saying that.

    Time proved Jennings right.

    And this:
    The presidential candidates were to speak in a joint appearance in New York City today. It was billed as bipartisan.

    I want better. I want nonpartisan.

    This is not a day for normalcy. This is not a day for politics. This is a day for the president to remind everyone of what happened, of how we reacted, and what still needs to be done.

    Great posts all.

    MORE: I think it was very decent of both John McCain and Barack Obama to put aside their differences in order to remember 9/11:

    SHANKSVILLE, Pa. (AP) - Recalling the nation's unity in a time of peril seven years ago, presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama placed their partisan contest on hold Thursday and spoke as one in honoring of the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

    Obama and McCain were making ground zero in New York their common ground, joining in homage to the dead from the fallen Twin Towers and the hijacked planes flown into them.

    Beforehand, McCain spoke briefly at a simple ceremony in remote, rural western Pennsylvania, held on a large hilly field close to where United Airlines Flight 93, the third of four airliners commandeered by terrorists, crashed. Investigators believe some of the 40 passengers and crew rushed the cockpit and thwarted terrorists' plans to use that plane as a weapon like the ones that hit the World Trade Center and Pentagon. All aboard all planes died.

    The Arizona senator said those on the flight might have saved his own life, as some believe the terrorists wanted to slam that plane into the U.S. Capitol. He said the only way to thank those who died on the flight is to "be as good an American as they were."

    "We might fall well short of their standard, but there's honor in the effort," McCain said.

    Obama, in a statement, said that on Sept. 11, 2001, "Americans across our great country came together to stand with the families of the victims, to donate blood, to give to charity, and to say a prayer for our country. Let us renew that."

    Glad to see it.

    posted by Eric at 09:46 AM | Comments (5)

    The Victim

    Barack is in trouble. So says Mind Ray Magician Karl Rove.

    If Mr. Obama keeps attacking Mrs. Palin, he could suffer the fate of his Democratic predecessors. These assaults highlight his own tissue-thin résumé, waste precious time better spent reassuring voters he is up for the job, and diminish him -- not her.

    Consider Mr. Obama's response to CNN's Anderson Cooper, who asked him about Republican claims that Mrs. Palin beats him on executive experience. Mr. Obama responded by comparing Wasilla's 50 city workers with his campaign's 2,500 employees and dismissed its budget of about $12 million a year by saying "we have a budget of about three times that just for the month." He claimed his campaign "made clear" his "ability to manage large systems and to execute."

    Good argument Barry. But it only works if you are up in the polls. Once you start free falling it works against you.
    A debate between Mr. Obama and Mrs. Palin over executive experience also isn't smart politics for Democrats. As Mr. Obama talks down Mrs. Palin's record, voters may start comparing backgrounds. He won't come off well.

    Then there was Mr. Obama's blast Saturday about Mrs. Palin's record on earmarks. He went at her personally, saying, "you been taking all these earmarks when it is convenient and then suddenly you are the champion anti-earmark person."

    It's true. Mrs. Palin did seek earmarks as Wasilla's mayor. But as governor, she ratcheted down the state's requests for federal dollars, telling the legislature last year Alaska "cannot and must not rely so heavily on federal government earmarks." Her budget chief directed state agencies to reduce earmark requests to only "the most compelling needs" with "a strong national purpose," explaining to reporters "we really want to skinny it down."

    Mr. Obama has again started a debate he can't win. As senator, he has requested nearly $936 million in earmarks, ratcheting up his requests each year he's been in the Senate. If voters dislike earmarks -- and they do -- they may conclude Mrs. Palin cut them, while Mr. Obama grabs for more each year.

    Yeah Barry. That is not going to look so good.

    Well Karl is on a roll so far. And then he makes a huge mistake in analysis.

    In Denver two weeks ago, Mr. Obama said, "If you don't have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from." That's what he's trying to do, only the object of his painting is Sarah Palin, not John McCain.
    Actually, Barry is painting himself as low class. A gutter snipe. Normally it is the VPs roll to be the attack dog in the campaign. It allows the top dog to be above the fray and look "Presidential". So why has Barry reversed the rolls? First Biden is not up to the task and second Barry ∅ is only qualified for the VP slot. Under Hillary. That would have been a tough ticket to beat. However, given his performance so far I think it is safe to say that strong women scare him. I think that gives a big insight into his personal weakness.

    In my post Midway For Obama I quoted Spengler of Asia Times on why Palin was an inspired choice. I think it is worth repeating:

    McCain's selection was a statement of strength. America's voters will forgive many things in a politician, including sexual misconduct, but they will not forgive weakness.

    That is why McCain will win in November, and by a landslide, barring some unforeseen event. Obama is the most talented and persuasive politician of his generation, the intellectual superior of all his competitors, but a fatally insecure personality. American voters are not intellectual, but they are shrewd, like animals. They can smell insecurity, and the convention stank of it.

    The longer the campaign goes on the more evidence we find of Obama's insecurity when dealing with strong women. Obama's shtick works with people who see themselves as victims. It was little noticed but I did a review of McCain's acceptance speech which I called The Sermon. I didn't mention it then but I will say it now. That speech was the opening shot in the war on "The Victim Culture". Why did John McCain survive as a prisoner of war? Because with the help of other prisoners he refused to be a victim. Even when he failed he did not fall into self pity.

    And who is going to be the first major casualty of that war? Barry ∅. The champion of the victim. He is going to be a victim of his identification with the victims of the world. Every day he looks more and more like a master of self pity. A master of weakness. America is not interested in pity parties. It is not very attractive. At least not attractive enough to win Presidential Elections.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 04:35 AM | Comments (4)

    Why do they hate pigs?

    Why, because the great Porky Pig defeated a suicide bomber, that's why.

    And here's the video to prove it. Watch for yourself.

    So now you know.

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

    For those who have trouble with the above, the YouTube link is here, and an alternative link is here. And another one here.

    For the record, the video is titled "Ali Baba Bound," and it was made in 1940.

    I've watched it a couple of times, and while I don't want to sound like a conspiracy theorist, I have to ask something. Is it my imagination, or does that odd device the suicide bomber has strapped on his head bear a suspicious resemblance to a tube of lipstick?

    MORE: Here's what I mean.


    (From this link.)

    posted by Eric at 04:17 PM | Comments (17)

    Code language which cannot be decoded

    In a fairly major news story today, I see that "community organizer" is now code language for race.

    [New York Governor] Paterson referred to McCain's running mate Sarah Palin who compared her work experience to Obama's.

    "So I suppose a small town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except with real responsibilities," she said at the convention.

    Paterson sees the repeated use of the words "community organizer" as Republican code for "black".

    "I think where there are overtones is when there are uses of language that are designed to inhibit other people's progress with a subtle reference to their race," he said.

    Except I'm just not getting the reference to race, subtle or otherwise.

    Unless all references to Obama are references to race, I'm stumped.

    MORE: M. Simon comments below,

    Saul Alinsky the original Community Organizer was white and Jewish. The Guys who sent Obama to Chicago were Jewish and white.

    So maybe Community organizer is code for Jewish white guy.

    He is right. The term is an Alinskyism:
    Saul Alinsky, based in Chicago, is credited with originating the term "community organizer" during this time period. Alinksy wrote two books: Reveille for Radicals, published in 1946; and Rules for Radicals, published in 1971, which was adopted as a "bible" by many radical activists.
    Some important community organizers are listed:
    Many of the most notable leaders in community organizing today emerged from the National Welfare Rights Organization.[citation needed] John Calkins of DART, Ernesto Cortes of the Industrial Areas Foundation, Wade Rathke of ACORN, John Dodds of Philadelphia Unemployment Project and Mark Splain of the AFL-CIO, among others.[citation needed]

    Other famous community organizers include: Jane Addams, César Chávez, Samuel Gompers, Martin Luther King, Jr., John L. Lewis, Ralph Nader, Barack Obama, Pat Robertson, and Paul Wellstone.

    Pat Robertson is black?

    Who knew?

    MORE: If you're wondering about the definition of "community organizer," it's complicated and important . Read Frank J.'s FAQ.

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

    If only the accusers had read Frank J.'s diligent FAQ in the first place....

    We could have all gotten along!

    posted by Eric at 02:44 PM | Comments (21)

    My outrage is more legitimate than yours!
    "These are serious times and they call for a serious debate...spare me all the phony outrage. Spare me all the phony talk about change."
    I'd name the politician who said that, but it would spoil the suspense.

    I have to say, though, that I enjoy phony outrage, and I don't understand why people are so upset about it. Are they actually, legitimately, outraged by phony outrage? I suppose they might be, but that's only one possibility.

    I may be missing something, but right now I'm seeing four possibilities:

  • phony outrage over phony outrage
  • phony outrage over legitimate outrage
  • legitimate outrage over phony outrage; and
  • legitimate outrage over legitimate outrage.
  • It's easy for anyone to say "My outrage is legitimate, but yours is phony."

    But how are we to determine whether the outrage in question is phony or legitimate?

    I'd call for an outrageous litmus test, but that would be outrageous. And phony.


    Maybe I should issue a real call for phony change.

    posted by Eric at 11:50 AM | Comments (4)

    Genetic cherry picking

    Barbara Oakley (author of Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother's Boyfriend) is puzzled by the fact that psychologists (and many "social scientists") continue to oppose growing evidence that psychopathology has a strong biological and genetic component.

    Noting that "the DSM in its current incarnation hasn't incorporated the seminal recent findings from neuroscience and personality genetics," she asks what I think is an excellent question:

    ...why have researchers for so long been certain that environment was the one and only explanation, and why have they been so extraordinarily antagonistic towards simple and obvious scientific findings involving genetics?
    (Via Dr. Helen.)

    Oakley points out the historical downside to this approach, noting that parents once blamed themselves for things like schizophrenia and autism in children, and that many people suffered in the process. It's becoming more and more clear that the earlier these things can be identified, the better the ultimate result. The evidence is accumulating that some people are born with a genetic propensity towards evil. (Yeah, I'm thinking of some kids who recently burned a pit bull to death in Philadelphia. It would not surprise me if they were undiagnosed sadists at age three.)

    But as Oakley points out, this threatens the entire field of (gulp) social science!

    Sociology, unfortunately, is in an even worse situation--you don't want to even get me started on about a profession whose very livelihood seems to depend on denying the effects of genetics.Frankly, I have a more enjoyable time talking with my fundamentalist friends who deny evolution.
    Yeah, fundamentalists are more reasonable in that regard. It's not so much that they're less doctrinaire, but perhaps it comes from the fact that they're accustomed to living in a world where their religious views are routinely questioned. Sociologists live in a confused state in which their essentially moralistic worldview is seen not as the belief system it is, but as scientific fact. Anyone who questions them is therefore likely to be seen as either ignorant or evil. Additionally, they're not used to being questioned. (Personally, I try to be gentle in my discussions with such people, because they also interpret these disagreements as a negative judgment of their entire purpose in life -- something not easy for anyone to accept.)

    However, the inconsistencies never cease to intrigue me. It completely escapes me how it can be that sexual preference is genetic (and homosexuals are said to be "born that way"), but yet there are absolutely no differences between the male and the female brain. That physical size and strength can be inherited, but not mental ability. The idea that IQ might be inherited is almost a heresy in the same circles which would fight like tigers to defend the idea that homosexuality is. It makes no sense unless you consider the possibility that they're more concerned with the consequences of the particular application of the theory than the theory itself.

    What they're doing amounts to cherry picking. If they like the result, they allow for the genetic theory. If they don't, why, genetics must be ignored, and it's all to be blamed on the environment. This is often grounded in political considerations, and it is not limited to the left. It has long baffled me how many social conservatives will maintain that pedophilia is innate and cannot be cured, but homosexuality is a choice which can be. They might selectively cite scientific studies in support of their arguments, but there is nothing scientific about agendas driven by politics.

    What's interesting to me is how this might interact with human free will. Genetic propensities do not dictate behavior so much as they motivate it. Free will is not negated, but strengthened. Someone with evil genes who can find a legitimate outlet could end up being a great credit to himself and society. In fact, if he knows that he has a genetic propensity towards evil, the awareness of it might inspire him in a way that being told society made him that way might not. In fact, psychopaths delight in telling society that "you made me this way." your hearts and your own souls, you are as much responsible for the Vietnam war as I am for killing these people. . . .

    I can't judge any of you. I have no malice against you and no ribbons for you. But I think that it is high time that you all start looking at yourselves, and judging the lie that you live in.

    I can't dislike you, but I will say this to you: you haven't got long before you are all going to kill yourselves, because you are all crazy. And you can project it back at me . . . but I am only what lives inside each and everyone of you.

    My father is the jailhouse. My father is your system. . . I am only what you made me. I am only a reflection of you.

    So says Charles Manson.

    I suspect many sociologists agree, and I think that buttresses Manson's psychopathic claims into a sort of justification for his life. It's as if he's fulfilling society's prophecies. Bad societies make bad people, who are not born bad, but are instead the fault of bad societies. The individual is never defective, never at fault. This seems to remove free will and hope (if I can use that tired word) from the equation. What would have been the harm in telling Manson during his first juvenile incarceration that he had a genetic propensity for evil, which he might be able to overcome? Could it have made him any worse? I'm sure that sociologists would argue that telling a bad kid he has evil genes would harm his self esteem, but would it? Might it instead make him more capable of making informed choices than the current approach of blaming an evil society? Or would such people only seek each other out on the Internet and form "evil gene support groups"?

    Unfortunately, I don't know the answers, but it strikes me that the current politically selective approach to dealing with scientific evidence is foolish.

    posted by Eric at 10:07 AM | Comments (7)

    You Can Have It Both Ways

    ∅bama has made a statement about pigs in lipstick that seems to insult Sarah Palin. In fact it seems to have insulted a lot of women.

    If it was unintentional - ∅bama is a stupid politician.

    If it was intentional - ∅bama is a stupid politician.

    Proof positive you can have it both ways.

    Which leads to the inescapable conclusion that ∅bama doesn't need the women's vote to win. You can see the McCain video response at Smeared Lipstick.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 09:14 AM | Comments (7)

    Smeared Lipstick

    Evidently followers of ∅ don't want you to see the YouTube version of the video. So I have changed services.

    It is also available here.

    posted by Simon at 08:01 AM | Comments (4)

    A New Dance: The Brush Off

    posted by Simon at 07:06 AM | Comments (1)

    Acting Like Swine

    There is a whole lot of smoke about Obama's latest insult of the McCain/Palin Campaign. Instapundit has a good roundup. It appears that Obama is resorting to something called the dozens. An art form popular in the ghetto where males hurl insults at each other to prove their manhood.

    "The Dozens", also known as "Yo Momma Fights", is an element of the African American oral tradition in which two competitors, usually males, go head to head in a competition of often good-natured, ribald "trash talk". They take turns insulting--"cracking", "west coast dissin'," or "ranking" on--one another, their adversary's mother or other family member until one of them has no comeback. This is called playing the Dozens or doin' the Dozens, and sometimes dirty Dozens, The Dozens is a contest of personal power--of wit, self-control, verbal ability, mental agility and mental toughness. Each putdown, each "snap," ups the ante. Defeat can be humiliating; but a skilled contender, win or lose, may gain respect. The Dozens is one of the contributing elements in the development of hip hop, especially the practice of battling.
    So what is my advice to the McCain/Palin campaign? Keep it classy. Let the other side de-moralize themselves. As the Drill Sgt says: "Campaign's be they political or military are all about morale. Him that has it wins, him that don't becomes worm food."

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 04:39 AM | Comments (0)

    holier than a pig?

    Proving I guess that he has an intuitive instinct for insinuation, Barack Obama (always one to stay above "that kind of politics") made fun of Sarah Palin with a very clever pig reference:

    Obama poked fun of McCain and Palin's new "change" mantra.

    "You can put lipstick on a pig," he said as the crowd cheered. "It's still a pig."

    Yes, and I suppose you can put lipstick on a donkey, and it will still be an ass.

    But I guess he thinks some asses are holy -- too holy to be smeared with lipstick, at least.


    The way this lipstick business is going, pretty soon we'll need toilet paper for wiping.

    posted by Eric at 08:09 PM | Comments (8)

    How many divisions?

    To a suggestion that the Soviet Union encourage Catholicism in order to mollify the Pope during World War II, Joseph Stalin famously replied,

    The Pope? How many divisions has he got?
    Cold-blooded and amoral, perhaps, but calculating political realities works pretty much the same way.

    It may sound coldly calculating, but in politics, it's votes that matter. There are a number of people (myself included) who think that the Republican Party ought to drop the anti-gay song-and-dance once and for all.

    Glenn Reynolds linked James Kirchick's discussion of it in the Wall Street Journal, and repeated a line which has become famous,

    Happily married gay couples with closets full of assault weapons. That's my vision for America, and it's a good one.
    The Stalinist Republican answer, of course, would be "How many voters have the happily married gay couples with closets full of assault weapons got?"

    By the way, I said "Stalinist Republican" not merely to be facetious, but to make clear that the real Stalinist fear would be more along the lines of "How many guns have the happily married gay couples with closets full of assault weapons got?" (Yes, tiresome as the GOP gay debate has become, it is beyond dispute that gay couples with assault weapons are far more compatible with Republicans than Stalin.)

    But "how many" is a fair question. In an earlier post, I estimated that the gay conservative vote is about 25% of 3%. In numbers, this translates into fewer than a million votes. (25% times 3% = 0.75% of 121,480,019 million votes = 911,110.) In a close election, that's certainly enough to make a difference, but in terms of political numbers, I have to ask what I'm sure many a strategist has asked:

    Are gay conservatives outnumbered by anti-gay conservatives?

    Has anyone objectively counted the anti-gay conservatives? I suspect that they have, but I also suspect that whoever does such counting would consider the number too politically sensitive to be released to the general public. By "anti-gay conservatives," I'm not talking about people who oppose gay marriage; I mean people and organizations I won't name but with whom we're all familiar who are paranoically single-minded about this issue. People who clung to (if I may say that) sodomy laws, who fret about the existence of gays in the GOP, and who spend their time organizing boycotts of "gay friendly" companies while denouncing gay-friendly Republicans as "anti-family." Quite frankly, I have no idea how many of them they are. But I suspect the number is a small fraction of the number who oppose gay marriage.

    The problem with my hard and cold Stalinist analysis is it isn't just a question of tallying up gay conservatives and anti-gay conservatives to see who has the most. Suppose each group has 911,000. There is a much larger group of Republicans who are not gay, and who may not go out of their way to be "gay friendly" but who are most decidedly not anti-gay. They might not like the gay left (something they share with most gay conservatives), and they might disagree with same sex marriage, but that does not mean they agree with the anti-gay right. So the question becomes, how many of them are there, and how might they vote?

    Another underlying consideration is the independent voters, who could go either way. I don't know how many of them are gay or gay-friendly, but common sense suggests to me that not very many of them are dyed in the wool anti-gay activists.

    If the Republican Party is seen as more anti-gay friendly than gay-friendly, I think it is doubtful that this will draw many independents in; the question becomes how many independents would be driven away.

    Thus, the problem with analyzing the numbers is that a pure head count of the gays versus the anti-gays alone cannot reveal the effect this dispute has on people who are not single-issue-minded in their orientation. As divisive issues go, this one's pretty bad, because (as I've said many times), there really isn't much chance of compromise. (Unless, of course, a "bigoted and immoral alliance" can be acheived. I can dream, can't I?)

    Oh, and speaking of numbers, there's also this survey:

    A recent survey conducted by Harris Interactive found that among adults online, gays and lesbians read more blogs than heterosexuals.
    Yes, but how many divisions does the blogosphere have?

    (An infinite number, I'm afraid....)

    posted by Eric at 06:36 PM | Comments (16)

    Nationalization in all but name

    "Nationalization" is a word normally associated with socialist dictators and petty Third World tyrants. In this country, the government is not supposed to nationalize companies, much less entire industries. Instead, it bails them out or buys them up when they run into trouble.

    The end result? The government runs them just as if they had been seized with military force. I'm not an economist, but I'm having trouble seeing this as anything other than de facto nationalization.

    In a piece titled "Risk for thee but not for me," David Harsanyi looks at the disgraceful (IMO) bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac not as a singular event, but as part of a trend:

    The bailout allegedly will cost taxpayers approximately $200 billion. And, as you know, federal projections are always on target.

    And where will it end? Airlines already have benefited from the largesse. Detroit's auto industry, it has been reported, hopes to secure $50 billion in additional federal loans to, you know, help out.

    Well, since the Big Three built cars no one wanted, failed to embrace new technologies, offered sweetheart deals to executives and surrendered to predatory union demands . . . naturally, they deserve a cushy government loan. (I only hope newspapers are afforded such compassionate treatment. We're a national treasure, after all.)

    Harsanyi does not spare Republicans:
    Now, not only has a Republican administration boosted an incontrovertibly unfree market, but Democrats are selling Americans on the idea that similar centralization and regulation will benefit us in the areas of health care and energy.

    We know that when any industry is insulated from risk, it makes reckless decisions. Economists call this "moral hazard."

    Federal government is moral hazard central.

    Like when grousing about his subsidizes that were being held up in Congress, one wind energy executive recently -- and probably unintentionally -- let slip: "We don't want to build a giant factory that the market doesn't need or want."

    If there is no market, perhaps we have to be more realistic about the product's viability, whether we are talking about energy, health care and mortgages.

    Harsanyi goes on to make the case for privatization, and while I agree, the powers that be seem to be in near-unanimous agreement that privatization is a dirty word. That privatization is what caused the problem. Common sense would suggest it's the government guarantees; that when these large private sector entities know that the taxpayers will bail them out, they have no incentive to be responsible. Yet the only people who seem to be able to grasp this common sense notion are the ordinary middle class taxpayers who have to balance a checkbook and pay their bills -- precisely the ones whose money supplies the guarantee. In what adds insult to injury, the tax-eaters don't even seem to understand that the money they are eating comes from the tax payers. It's as if they think "the government" is another gigantic unaccountable entity with an unlimited supply of money.

    In the Third World countries that practice nationalization at gunpoint, they can always print more. And if that fails, they can engage in things like outright confiscation of wealth, or not allowing people to move their money.

    Hope we don't go that route.

    Not as funny as it sounds; in California there's a ballot initiative which would confiscate wealth, and impose a 55% "Exit Tax." Fortunately, California remains a state in which taxpayers still constitute a voting majority, so I doubt it will pass.

    But what would happen if tax eaters ever became the majority? If de facto nationalization of the private sector continues as a growth "industry" the way it has, pretty soon most people will be transformed into de facto tax eaters, because they'll be working for the government.

    And when we're all working for the government, who will pay the taxes?

    I'm glad I'm not an economist.

    posted by Eric at 09:32 AM | Comments (3)

    Obama Piggybank Broke

    A few days ago American Thinker did a post on how the ∅bama money machine was breaking down.

    We have heard quite a lot over the past year about Barack Obama's fund raising prowess. But the good times may be over.

    Now it suddenly appears that John McCain and his campaign are no slouches in this area. The announcement of Sarah Palin as his running mate has changed things.

    Ah yes. Finally. Change we can believe in.

    The American Thinker links to a Wall Street Journal article.

    During the primary campaign, Sen. Obama set fund-raising records while Sen. McCain struggled to meet monthly budgets. Now it appears Sen. Obama's money advantage is far smaller than it was assumed to be early on.

    Sen. McCain's fund-raising operation has rebounded since he emerged as the presumptive Republican nominee. One reason is due to a fund-raising account that allows Republicans to solicit individual donations of as much as about $70,000, far above the normal limit of $2,300 per individual per election.

    How can they do it? They take the money given and divvy it up into smaller chunks to stay within the law. ∅bama has a similar operation but it is not working as well as the McCain fund raising efforts.
    Sen. Obama turned down the government funds, opting instead to raise money from the public. When he secured the Democratic nomination in early June, Sen. Obama's campaign said it hoped to raise a total of $480 million for his campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

    Fund-raising reports through July show that the DNC and Sen. Obama have raised about $150 million but spent much of it already; going into August, the campaign reported having $68.5 million on hand. The reports also showed that in July, the campaign was spending at a rate that was faster than donations were coming in.

    The Obama campaign declined to comment on its fund raising or spending in August. One major donor said it is likely the campaign has only a small cash cushion at the moment.

    The Journal goes on to describe how the money being raised will go to support Republicans in House and Senate races. Of course all the money coming from the McCain campaign will go to unify the message of the Republicans across the board.

    It looks like the ∅ campaign is having trouble raising money according to their plan.

    After months of record-breaking fund raising, a new sense of urgency in Sen. Barack Obama's fund raising team is palpable as the full weight of the campaign's decision to bypass public financing for the general election is upon them.

    Pushing a fund raiser later this month, a finance staff member sent a sharply worded note last week to Illinois members of Obama's national finance committee, calling their recent efforts "extremely anemic."

    The signs of concern have become evident in recent weeks as early fund raising totals have suggested Obama's decision to bypass public financing may not necessarily afford him the commanding financing advantage over Sen. John McCain that many had originally predicted.

    Extremely anemic. Which means that instead of campaigning ∅ will have to take time out to raise money. It becomes a vicious cycle. The more time he spends fund raising the less time he has to garner free media making him look weaker, lowering his fund raising ability.
    The Obama campaign is struggling to meet the goals it set in mid-June of raising $300 million for the campaign and more than $150 million for the party, fund raisers said. As of the end of July, the Obama campaign was well short of the $100 million a month pace it had set, taking in about $77 million between the campaign and the party that month.

    Moreover, McCain will have the luxury of concentrating almost entirely on campaigning instead of raising money, as Obama must do.

    I think we can start a death watch for the Obama campaign. One sign is that they begin thrashing around striking in every direction and going off message. What was their message? Let me see if I can remember. Oh yeah. Hope and Change. And what have they been doing lately? Well it seems like Sarah Palin has become a burr under their saddle. And they are lashing out hard. This has two effects. It leaves McCain untouched and draws sympathy for Palin. Every blow they strike comes back at them doubled. What is the best thing to do in that case? Nothing. Get back on message and sell your plan. I believe it is something they are incapable of. They can't hold their fire and regroup. Why? They don't have the strength to appear weak.

    The New York Times has an interesting report from California.

    A California fund-raiser familiar with the party's August performance estimated that it raised roughly $17 million last month, a drop-off from the previous month, and finished with just $13 million in the bank.

    Still, the Obama campaign said last Thursday that it had raised $10 million over the Internet in the 24 hours after the speech by Mr. McCain's running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin, at the Republican convention on Wednesday, a one-day record for the campaign.

    Hmmm. I find that suspicious. Of course they can announce anything they want and it will be a while until the facts can be checked.
    The Republican Party can spend unlimited amounts of its money independent of the McCain campaign. It can also split the costs of so-called hybrid advertisements with the campaign, commercials that must promote not only Mr. McCain but also other Republicans down the ticket, something media strategists said could be ineffective when trying to create a cohesive message. Nevertheless, McCain fund-raisers pointed out the pressure is now on the Obama campaign to raise far more than it ever has before.
    Well yes it could be ineffective if there is no unified message. So what might a unified message look like? How about Energy security = economic security = national security. Gee. That was tough. How did I outsmart the media strategists? Just lucky I guess. We will see if the Republicans follow my advice.

    So how is fund raising in the black community coming along? For that we have to depend on the BBC for our news.

    Nigerian anti-graft investigators have seized money raised by the head of the Nigerian Stock Exchange to support US presidential candidate Barack Obama.

    The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission said it would give the money back to those who attended a gala dinner in Lagos last month.

    The EFCC said it had seized 74m naira ($630,000, £314,000), but said no Nigerian laws had been broken.

    US political parties are not allowed to receive contributions from abroad.

    Stock exchange chairwoman Ndi Okereke-Onyuike is also the head of Africans for Obama, a Nigeria-based support group.

    She was interviewed by the EFCC after media reports that the Obama campaign had disassociated itself from the group.

    Well, well, well. ∅bama was once associated with the group but now that the fraud is out in the open they are under the bus. What an embarrassment. I wonder if ∅bama has any other friends in the world who would like to see him become President?

    How about a Saudi Billionaire?

    New evidence has emerged that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama was closely associated as early as age 25 to a key adviser to a Saudi billionaire who had mentored the founding members of the Black Panthers.

    In a videotaped interview this year on New York's all news cable channel NY1, a prominent African-American businessman and political figure made the curious disclosures about Obama.

    Percy Sutton, the former borough president of Manhattan, off-handedly revealed the unusual circumstances about his first encounter with the young Obama.

    "I was introduced to (Obama) by a friend who was raising money for him," Sutton told NY1 city hall reporter Dominic Carter.

    "The friend's name is Dr. Khalid al-Mansour, from Texas," Sutton said. "He is the principal adviser to one of the world's richest men. He told me about Obama."

    Sutton, the founder of Inner City Broadcasting, said al-Mansour contacted him to ask a favor: Would Sutton write a letter in support of Obama's application to Harvard Law School?

    Well there is enough there that you can start looking deeper into the connection. I want to go forward with another of ∅bama's overseas friends. Nadhmi Auchi.
    A British-Iraqi billionaire lent millions of dollars to Barack Obama's fundraiser just weeks before an imprudent land deal that has returned to haunt the presidential contender, an investigation by The Times discloses.

    The money transfer raises the question of whether funds from Nadhmi Auchi, one of Britain's wealthiest men, helped Mr Obama buy his mock Georgian mansion in Chicago.

    A company related to Mr Auchi, who has a conviction for corruption in France, registered the loan to Mr Obama's bagman Antoin "Tony" Rezko on May 23 2005. Mr Auchi says the loan, through the Panamanian company Fintrade Services SA, was for $3.5 million.

    Three weeks later, Mr Obama bought a house on the city's South Side while Mr Rezko's wife bought the garden plot next door from the same seller on the same day, June 15.

    Mr Obama says he never used Mrs Rezko's still-empty lot, which could only be accessed through his property. But he admits he paid his gardener to mow the lawn.

    Well that is right neighborly of him.

    You know if Obama's overseas pals don't come through for him and Americans won't pøny up for the phøny he could very well lose the election. I hope so.

    And to finish this off how about a little anecdotal evidence from No Quarter

    Comment by sayitisntso 2008-09-09 00:43:42

    "Every advantage it seemed that Obama has had is evaporating. Obama was supposed to have so much more money. Perhaps he does but he certainly isn't spending it on ads in Michigan where McCain seems to be running 3 ads to every one for Obama. I wouldn't be surpised to see McCain taking the lead in Michigan with the next poll."


    Well that is good news indeed. Without Michigan it will be nearly impossible for ∅bama to win the election.

    Let me just add that there is so much I have left out of this report. Read all the supporting material and remember Google is your friend.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 07:01 AM | Comments (2)

    A Trainwreck Waiting To Happen

    H/T No Quarter

    posted by Simon at 04:48 AM | Comments (0)

    Tha Man Behind Rumor Control


    For those of you who frequent Just One Minute you would know the guy being interviewed better as commenter Charlie(Colorado). You can find more details on his rumor control pages with links at Palin Rumor Control.

    posted by Simon at 02:00 AM | Comments (0)

    The Alaskan Hick Bitch

    It seems like I have a commenter who doesn't like hick bitches. Especially if they are from Alaska.

    I would personally like to thank the commenter for driving the bitch vote, the hick vote, and the hick bitch vote to MCain/Palin. I'm sure they will welcome with open arms all the votes ∅ doesn't need.

    Thank you from a supporter of the McCain/Palin Team. And please keep it up.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 01:46 AM | Comments (1)


    In an editorial titled "Can You Say 'Sexist'?", Newsweek's Anna Quindlen brings up an incident from November of last year in an attempt to prove that McCain endorses calling women "bitches."

    John McCain has been no advocate for women; when asked during the primaries, on the subject of Senator Clinton, "How do we beat the bitch?" he responded, "Excellent question." (Note to the GOP: that IS sexist.)
    OK, it is certainly rude to call any woman a bitch, just as it is rude to call a man a bastard or an asshole or a prick. (There are worse terms for both sexes, but I'll try to avoid George Carlin's seven words, not because I'm a priggish moralist, but because I try to be polite and I try to avoid agitating the Net Nannies when I can.) But these terms are not necessarily sexist unless they are used specifically to denigrate a person because of that person's sex. If a man calls a man a bastard, is that any different from a woman calling a woman a bitch? So, if a woman call a man a bastard, why would that be less sexist than a man calling a woman a bitch? (Likewise, if there are sexist bastards, why not sexist bitches?)

    As it happens, the entire incident was caught on video, which shows that the question to McCain was posed by a woman, and McCain, while laughing it off, did try to be as polite as possible under the circumstances.

    I think he was being every inch a gentleman, under slightly awkward circumstances. Hardly a sexist.

    But what do I know? Watch it for yourself.

    Perhaps I'm insensitive. The thing is, in some of the circles I've lived and worked in, men call each other bitches with some regularity. (Just try analyzing the sexist nuances of the phrase "you bitch" when you're the "bitch" sometime...)

    At the risk of sounding like an asshole, I think it's fair to say that "sexism" can be a real bitch to pin down.

    Anna Quindlen may be in need of sensitivity training.

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

    Sarah Is A Bitter Clinger

    ∅bama said today:

    Obama told the crowd that McCain and Palin spent most of the convention talking about their biographies.

    Palin's bio is "compelling," Obama said.

    The crowd booed. "No, it's an interesting story." More boos. "No, no, it is. I mean that sincerely. Mother, governor, moose shooter."

    I thought ∅bama needed the votes of the "bitter clingers" to win the election. I guess he must be way up in the polls. Øøps. Maybe not.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 11:05 PM | Comments (2)

    Sarah Smile

    posted by Simon at 10:09 PM | Comments (3)

    A grave issue?

    Dick Polman has a list of questions he believes should be asked of Sarah Palin, and one of them compares AIP founder Joe Vogler to Jeremiah Wright, without (IMO) laying a proper foundation that the two even knew each other, much less saw each other weekly for decades.

    ...why do you continue to associate with a group whose founder, Joe Vogler, declared that "the fires of hell are glaciers compared to my hate for the American government" and declared that "I've got no use for America or her damned institutions"? Governor, why haven't you renounced this man, the way that Senator Obama has renounced Jeremiah Wright?
    I don't know how chummy Palin is with the AIP, but I don't think she's very chummy with Vogler.

    How could she be? The man died in 1993.

    How does one go about renouncing a corpse?

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

    Obey Google

    By now everyone realizes that Google seeks world domination, and their new browser, Chrome, gives us the reason why we should make the switch.

    Apparently because Simon says:


    posted by Dennis at 05:11 PM | Comments (0)

    Religion in schools

    The more perspicacious among our readers may have gathered that I am a public school teacher. I may just be among the smallest minorities in the profession: atheist, libertarian, Republican, skeptic.

    The last of these in me was amused by an e-mail with which one colleague plagued the district today: an effort to sell a Salt Crystal Lamp:

    I have new - in the box - never used - Himalayan Salt Crystal Lamp. These lamps release healthy negative ions to keep the air you breathe pollution free. They are also pretty.

    Boy, am I glad she hasn't wasted any of those negative ions yet. I can use all the negative ions I can get, and as everyone knows, there's nothing more healthful than HIMALAYAN salt crystals. They are formed from the tears of dying sherpas, weeping with joy at thoughts of nirvana.

    And did I mention that they are also pretty?

    Knowing this about a colleague gives me all the more reason to oppose the intrusion of the personal and the ideological (in this case the idiotical?) in the classroom.

    posted by Dennis at 02:11 PM | Comments (4)

    vengeful fashionistas in floral shorts

    From the looks of this outfit, it really and truly appears that the men's fashion industry is involved in a conspiracy to upset Ann Althouse.


    (Via Glenn Reynolds, who properly calls the above "A MEN'S FASHION EEEEW!")

    My conspiracy theory doesn't take much imagination if we consider that Ann Althouse is the most outspokenly anti-shorts-on-men blogger (she even has a category of posts on the subject), and if we consider that above outfit constitutes the most absolutely, unspeakably, unbearably dreadful example of shorts on men in the history of modern fashion. (Seriously, I dare not show the above picture to Coco, my lipstick-wearing pit bull, lest it frighten the bejeezus out of her.)

    Why, it's the most absolutely unspeakably dreadful example since Brooks Brothers's last dreadful example, in the form of a similar (if slightly more masculine) look. At the time, I took issue with Brooks Brothers, suggested that they find a more appropriate model, and proposed John Edwards as the ideal candidate:


    Instead of following my advice, the fashion industry has now upped the ante, with silly floral Little Lord Fauntleroy outfits that no self-respecting boy man (no, not even John Edwards) would ever wear. Why, the latest outfit is so silly and frivolous that Sarah Palin wouldn't be caught dead in it, and she's a woman.

    As I say, unless the goal is simply to upset Ann Althouse, I can think of no other explanation.

    Yeah, I realize that such reactionary behavior by the fashion industry demonstrates the ultimate power of the blogosphere, but consider the effect it might have on innocent fashion victims (who might go out and buy such an outfit, only to be murdered later by angry mobs). How low can the fashionist titans stoop?

    Alternate conspiracy theories are welcome.

    posted by Eric at 01:01 PM | Comments (8)

    I Think He Is Stupid

    In this video ∅bama talks about the earmarks Governor Palin accepted. That has got to be a dumb move. From a guy who is smart enough to graduate from Harvard and teach at the University of Chicago. Because the next McCain ad is going to deal with all the earmarks ∅bama voted for. Including one that helped the son of his good friend Joe Biden. Can you say "culture of corruption"? I knew you could.

    I was absolutely sure after the 2004 election that the Democrats couldn't possibly run a worse candidate than Kerry this year. How wrong I was. Just another of my many errors in judgment. My sincere apologies to all concerned. Just consider it part of my never ending entertainment value.

    So could the Ds do worse in 2012? At this point I think I have to give credit where credit is due. I'd say there is a strong possibility.

    Interesting point: The video is captioned on YouTube Obama punches back. Except the blow is a strong upper cut to his own chin. Any one know how you score that in boxing?

    posted by Simon at 11:30 AM | Comments (7)

    Accept No Substitutes

    H/T Hot Air

    posted by Simon at 11:02 AM | Comments (2)

    Why are they desperate?

    Speaking of libertarians and Sarah Palin, I can think of no fiercer libertarian pundit than Vin Suprynowicz. (He's long been one of my favorites.) I have to say, it came as a surprise to me to see that he's endorsing the McCain-Palin ticket. Not that he considers McCain a libertarian. But then, McCain is not claiming to be a libertarian. Bob Barr is, however, and Suprynowicz just isn't buying:

    ...This year, [] the Libertarian Party has nominated Fearless Drug Warrior Bob Barr, a man who has opposed medical marijuana initiatives, opposed needle exchanges, a man who zealously locked up for years those seeking to peacefully medicate themselves or help others to do so, shoving them into small cages where they're subject to anal rape by guys named "Bubba."

    It's tempting to stay home on Nov. 4....

    Like me, Suprynowicz harbors no delusions that McCain is a closeted libertarian trapped in a centrist Republican's body. Still, he recognizes that the man has integrity and character:
    Wishing won't make John McCain a small-government libertarian. But think back to how the defeatist fellow-travelers in the media ridiculed him when he said The Surge could defeat al-Qaida in Iraq.

    Think back to when the genius political analysts told you McCain's campaign was dead, that this guy was so clueless he had no remaining plan but to spend the entire autumn in New Hampshire, hanging out and gabbing with the locals at Dunkin' Donuts.

    And then last week my former senator, John McCain, threw the entire race into a maelstrom, confounding all expectations and common wisdom by choosing Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska as his running mate.

    If Democrats believed what they say -- that Gov. Palin is such a poor choice that John McCain might as well fold his tent and go home -- they should be condescendingly patting the little lady on the head right now, saying, "Oh, how cute."

    So how are we to explain the way the Democratic Party is now going after Sarah Palin and her perfectly lovely pregnant daughter, for all the world like the frenzied final holdouts on some Japanese-occupied Pacific atoll, shrieking "Banzai!" as they level their bayonets and charge the machine guns in their loincloths?

    I've already lost count of the ways the ululating harridans have attacked this anti-corruption reformer....

    There's something about the frantic attacks coupled with transparent "helpful advice" to McCain that he avoid "another Eagleton" that evinces pure desperation. Suprynowicz looks closely at this, and offers a disturbing explanation.
    Why the desperation?

    Because Vice President Sarah Palin would mean Americans could actually end up electing a woman president without tapping a manipulative, soulless, stay-married-just-to-stay-in-power socialist.

    How dare the Republicans threaten to do that? Only the "progressive" party is supposed to be allowed to put the first articulate woman in line for the White House! Why, it's just like when the Republicans dared to put a conservative black man on the Supreme Court. It's so wrong!

    Sarah Palin is a gun owner and Westerner who seems to still understand the core American notions of Freedom and the Frontier, a woman who vetoed a half billion dollars in proposed state spending and "put the government of our state back on the side of the people."

    Yes, it bothers me that she might outlaw other women's abortion choices if she could. But she can't.

    What these screeching attacks on Sarah Palin are really all about is not a pregnant daughter or a 20-year-old DUI. And the "no foreign policy experience" red herring would have barred Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton as well as Barack Obama.

    What this is really all about is that she is the first everyday American in a generation, the first person who is not an Ivy League attorney, not a career Washington insider, not vetted by the Brookings Institution and the Council on Foreign Relations and the CIA and Ellen Goodman, a person who works her husband's fishing boat and drives her own car to work and buys her own groceries, to be given a shot at leading this nation.

    And that appears to have a certain element of the political power structure terrified.

    Why do you suppose that is?

    Gov. Sarah Palin can't save America all by herself. That's the underlying absurdity of this near-religious frenzy to pick a new Guy On A White Horse every eight years.

    But an America that could elect Sarah Palin might still save itself.

    Save itself from whom?

    Why, from them, of course!

    (Readers know who they are, so I don't want to repeat myself. But I've written a number of posts trying to define them.)

    The only thing I'd add is that I have long believed that what "they" most fear is an alliance between libertarians and social conservatives. I'm not saying this will necessarily happen, but if it ever did, the fallout would be very bad.

    Why, such a thing might even jeopardize the very future of socialism!

    posted by Eric at 10:43 AM | Comments (3)

    Getting up to speed with the eyelashes and backlashes

    Abe Greenwald has a post titled "Oprah Windbag" -- the gist of which is that Oprah Winfrey is (surprise) putting politics ahead of her purported tear-driven concerns about children with Down's Syndrome.

    Apparently, her concerns are so tear-soaked that her false eyelashes are affected:

    The web of "spiritual" gobbledygook around the Oprah Winfrey phenomenon is as thick and tacky as the fake eye-lashes she cried off her face during Barack Obama's speech last Thursday. But if you do decide to "Live Your Best Life" and venture into the misty realms of Oprah's "Angel Network," you'll find on her web page a dropdown menu under "Spirit," and the last option there-after "Know Yourself," "Inspiration," "Emotional Health," and "Body Image"-is "Martha Beck." Beck is one of the luminaries in Oprah's pantheon of guru saints, and if I were her I'd be severing all ties with Oprah today.
    I can't sever my ties with Oprah, because in all the years she's been on I have never watched an entire episode of the show. The snippets I did see on occasion (when flipping through the channels) struck me as emotional, manipulative, and insincere. So I just wasn't a fan, and I can't sever my ties. Nor do I wear false eyelashes which might detach if I started bawling.

    But I guess millions of people are influenced by Oprah's falling eyelashes. And something called a "kindness chain":

    ...if she believes in a fraction of what she celebrates about Beck's story and really wants to "start a kindness chain" as she professes on her website then she should explain to Beck, and her own audience, why she's refusing to have Sarah Palin on her show. What greater living exemplar of all the sentiments expressed above than Sarah Palin - a woman whose unconditional love for her Down's Syndrome child could serve as a the most effective public object lesson imaginable. Oprah should explain to Beck, and her trusting audience, why on Dec 4, 2007, she put out a casting call for "10 to 11 year olds with DS [Down Syndrome] and good speaking skills" to "say a line for [her] Martin Luther King episode," but after crying her eyelashes off on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream Speech," she is refusing to have on her show a mother who embodies the spirit of love and acceptance professed by Dr. King. She needs to tell Martha Beck: "Yeah, I know about your son, and I know about my whole pledge to change lives for the better and all that, but you see, the thing is I signed on to support Barack Obama, and I have to stay true to his message of hope, change, and the American promise."
    I don't know how the show works, but maybe Oprah needs more tears and more detachable eyelashes to deal with the inevitable backlashes.

    Millions care.


    posted by Eric at 09:37 AM | Comments (3)

    Election Fraud Control

    I did a couple of posts earlier in this election season on election fraud. You can read them at What Counts? and at Black Box Voting. So what is to be done to prevent this election from being stolen? Here is what a commenter at No Quarter suggests.

    I was advised to be very alerted to this by taking a camara or a photo mobile phone with me when I go to the poll station in November. If you see anyting suspecious or fraudulent, photograph it and report to Republican Lawers on the following websites:
    Republican National Lawyers Association

    Find A Republican Lawyer

    Now who might you want to be on the look out for? A group called ACORN.

    Late last month six people hired by ACORN were indicted for their role in filing false voter registration forms involving a 2006 drive to increase Missouri's minimum wage.
    Here is something else interesting I'll bet you didn't know about ACORN:
    ACORN is a former legal client of Senator Obama's, as the Sun-Times reported in 2006:
    In 1995, former Republican Gov. Jim Edgar refused to implement the federal "Motor Voter" law, which Republicans argued could invite fraud and which some Republicans feared could swell the ranks of Democratic voters.

    The law mandated people be allowed to register to vote in government offices such as driver's license renewal centers.

    Obama sued on behalf of ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. The League of Women Voters and other public-interest groups joined in.

    "He and his client were the ones who filed the original case -- they blazed the trail," said Paul Mollica, who represented the League.

    Voter fraud? From a Chicago Machine politician? I'm shocked. Actually I think the Chicago Machine needs to be praised. Jesus brought a few people back from the dead. Jesus himself is reported to have come back from the dead. But the Chicago Machine is special. They bring tens of thousands back from the dead. No wonder they hail bama as The One.

    It seems the Obama campaign has rather close ties to ACORN.

    JAFFA, Israel - Did Sen. Barack Obama's campaign attempt to hide a paid working relationship with a radical leftist organization that has admitted to major financial improprieties and has been convicted in numerous major voter fraud scandals?

    That question is being openly asked by the Republican National Committee after it was disclosed Obama's campaign paid more than $800,000 in services to Citizen Services Inc. (CSI), a nonprofit organization that is an offshoot of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN.
    That bama. He has such an honest face.

    Here is an interesting case of Name That Party.

    Milwaukee has discovered some more voter fraud with 10 more voter registration workers are being investigated by Wisconsin authorities. Fittingly, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel covered the story in its paper on August 29. Unfittingly, the Journal Sentinel forgot one, tiny aspect of the story... that the voter fraud was perpetrated by Democrats. In fact, one of the organizations, ACORN, is intimately linked with Barack Obama.
    Milwaukee's top election official said Thursday she plans to seek criminal investigations of 10 more voter registration workers, including two accused of offering gifts to sign up voters.
    So, what we have here is an Old Media story about voter fraud where the salient fact that the fraud is being committed by Democrats and Democrat organizations is somehow absent from the story. What a surprise, eh?
    Yes it is a surprise. Why would an honest Party like the Democrats do such a thing? I blame it on a few bad apples. bama, that proud community organizer, has been duped. No way he could be involved in such shenanigans.

    I think this year's election advice has to be the same as the election advice in 2004: if it isn't close they can't cheat. Well at least not enough to win.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 07:40 AM | Comments (2)

    Michael Moore Gets It

    No seriously. He gets it.

    But before everyone gets all smug and self-righteous about the Palin selection, remember where you live. You live in a nation of gun owners and hunters. You live in a country where one out of three girls get pregnant before they are 20. You live in a nation of C students. Knocking Bush for being a C student only endeared him to the nation of C students. Knock Palin for having kids, for having a kid who's having a baby, for anything that is part of her normalness -- a normalness that looks very familiar to so many millions of Americans -- well, you do this at your own peril. Assuming she's still on the ticket two weeks from now, she will be a much tougher opponent than anyone expects.
    Now I have read the rest of the piece so you don't have to. And I really don't recommend it. It is his usual load of crap.

    But in that one paragraph he shows that he at least knows the American scene. He may not like it. But he does know it.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 06:10 AM | Comments (2)

    An Interview There Will Be

    Talk Left is discussing the pressure on Sarah Palin to do an interview. They basically have covered the bases so I'm just going to let them have their say. Pretty smart for a bunch of lefties. If you want to stop reading this post now let me just give you the short version. Those clamoring for an interview by a major Shrinking Media outlet have been pwned.

    Here is a person who thinks that all the "she is afraid to be interviewed" stuff in numerous comments on the 'net have worked in Palin's favor.

    Lowered the bar again. by Chisoxy on Sun Sep 07, 2008 at 05:35:31 PM EST

    And we played right into it. Let's say she passes this test and comes off as competent on matters, where are we then

    I know the answer, ask me ask me. A little farther behind. Of course it does help ∅bama, it takes the spotlight off Biden.

    Now here is a commenter who understands PR. Give kredwyn a cigar.

    Isn't it a rule of PR... by kredwyn on Sun Sep 07, 2008 at 05:40:49 PM EST

    that you make the thing that everyone wants unavailable until the calls hit a point...and then you pump it up a bit more by offering a few of that item?

    Hollywood PR by dailygrind on Sun Sep 07, 2008 at 06:21:47 PM EST

    You not only limit access you control who gets to talk to you. You control what gets to be asked. Liberals are so dumb. I say that as one. The same things we know in other context, we go brain dead in the political setting. The Republicans long ago mastered the art of media management. Meanwhile, we are happy just to get them to stop blocking us. It's quite sad.

    Well yes it is. For Democrats. For Republicans - not so much.
    The McCain campaign is playing this by tootired on Sun Sep 07, 2008 at 05:47:18 PM EST

    like a violin. And it's a Stradivarius. Underestimate them at your own peril.

    What digby Said by kaleidescope on Sun Sep 07, 2008 at 06:00:03 PM EST

    Here's what she said:

    They are going to work themselves into a frenzy over this. And the right will hold Palin off just long enough for the outcry to become deafening. And then Palin will appear in front of a gargantuan television audience (again) on something like 60 Minutes --- and do quite well. They are already working the media hard to make sure they don't go for the jugular -- and they won't.
    As usual, digby makes depressing sense. All the clamor for Palin to be interviewed succeeds in setting the bar so low that when she performs relatively well on a toothless interview, she'll be spun as the second coming. Who's going to be interviewing her? Mr. capital gains tax cut, Charlie Gibson. Remember how he performed during the Democratic debates? Wanna take any bets on whether he gives Palin a serious grilling, showing clips of her telling Congress, "thanks but no thanks" about the bridge and then pulling up all her statements in favor of it? Gibson will be eating out of Palin's hand.
    Since in politics as in warfare moral forces prevail, getting the opposition in a bad psychological state is the first step to a win. And if you can get them in a bad enough state, an easy win.

    In StrategyBHL Hart suggests that the best tactic is to hold off your offense until the defense is frothing:

    It was Lenin who enunciated the axiom that 'the soundest strategy in war is to postpone operations until the moral disintegration of the enemy renders the delivery of the mortal blow both possible and easy.'
    I think press access to Sarah will be rationed. This gives the campaign the leverage to choose the interviewer and makes the rest of the press start behaving better in the hopes of an interview. Sound tactics. As one of the commenters alluded to above: these guys are no ordinary fiddlers.

    Now here is a commenter that notices something important.

    This is why the GOP by Salo on Sun Sep 07, 2008 at 06:07:01 PM EST

    do not select lawyers as their Chief. They select professional actors instead. The main legacy of Reagan if you like

    Even if he's done the research to grill her she'll do what she needs to do. The expectations are so much lower than Bush in '99--she's the No2 and she's a former beauty queen and she's a novice and she's only just popped onto the radar--and fatally for Obama chances in November, the media piddled on Hillary Clinton in a completely disgusting and unfair way. The GOP clearly have teh momentum and if she's just professional, demure and cleverly echo's a few of Clinton's rhetorical tricks she'll crush any attempt to ambush her.

    So how about the Dem ticket. Well if you want to score it that would be 2 lawyers to 0 lawyers. Which clearly puts the Democrats behind. Which reminds me of a joke I read in a comment today in reference to Sarah Palin being a pit bull with lipstick. The commenter said "They put the lipstick on the wrong end of the pit bull". OK. Back to serious stuff.
    The downside? by Donald from Hawaii on Sun Sep 07, 2008 at 05:31:03 PM EST

    That would clearly be if said interview is conducted by Charles Gibson.

    Charles Gibson is the one that... by Maria Garcia on Sun Sep 07, 2008 at 05:34:14 PM EST

    ...George Bush favors when he wants to do an interview.

    Welcome to the downside. by Donald from Hawaii on Sun Sep 07, 2008 at 05:37:56 PM EST

    The New York Times September 7, 2008

    Palin Interview Goes to ABC News - "ABC's Charlie Gibson is scheduled to interview Ms. Palin in Alaska sometime later this week. The McCain camp did not say why it chose Mr. Gibson, but it had selected him last week as the only major journalist to interview Mr. McCain himself during the Republican convention in St. Paul. After his interview with Mr. McCain had aired, Mr. Gibson posted on his blog that he had 'fretted' about how to approach the many personal issues that had come up about Ms. Palin and decided to ignore them."

    Ruh, Roh.

    Now here is some really bad news for Democrats

    Historically, by tootired on Sun Sep 07, 2008 at 06:45:10 PM EST

    after both conventions are over, and we move into the general election, Republicans gain in the polls, and Democrats go down. Obama has no margin. The full bounce for McCain has probably not been reached yet. It doesn't mean that Obama will lose the election, but it does say that he not yet on a roll.

    Well as of today the candidates are tied, even steven, although some polls give McCain/Palin a slight but statistically insignificant margin.

    Now I have a theory as to why the polls tend to go in the Republican direction as it gets closer to election time. Pollsters cheat. When the election is at hand they want to be as close as possible because it makes them look good. But in the early stages of the election season they want to demoralize the Republicans. The bad thing though is that it gives the Democrats over confidence and they can't figure out why they lose elections. You know, it is the old "but we were way ahead in the polls" refrain.

    Baring some catastrophe it looks to me like the Democrats have lost the election. I expect the ∅bama campaign to get more frantic as time goes on.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 06:07 AM | Comments (2)

    Palin Rumor Control

    I'm sure by now you have heard many rumors about Sarah Palin. I think the latest is that she censors books. Well no. Here is a site and its blogspot mirror that can be used to check out rumors. It has links to sources.

    Palin Rumors

    Sarah Palin Rumors

    If you hear a rumor that is not on the list leave a link in the comments at either site and Charlie will check it out.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 06:03 AM | Comments (2)

    Half Baked

    A commenter named baked at Just One Minute was trying to explain ∅bama's position on Iraq and the surge vs McCain's position on Iraq and the surge. He wasn't doing a very good job so Charlie(Colorado) cleared it up for him.

    So, baked, you're saying you prefer someone who got it wrong once and changed his mind to someone who got it wrong, changed his mind, changed his mind again, said he didn't change his mind, said claiming he'd changed his mind was a distraction, changed his mind again, said he didn't mean what he'd said, changed his mind again, and finally changed his mind and said that even though he was wrong before he was right to be wrong because being wrong wasn't right.
    The next clarifying statement I expect from ∅bama on the subject is "I've said all along..."

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 05:57 AM | Comments (2)

    Scared in San Francisco

    Former San Francisco Mayor and California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown is a veteran politician who ought to know trouble when he sees it. And in today's San Francisco Chronicle, he sees trouble -- big trouble, for the Democrats -- in the form of Sarah Palin:

    The Democrats are in trouble. Sarah Palin has totally changed the dynamics of this campaign.


    Palin's speech to the GOP National Convention on Wednesday has set it up so that the Republicans are now on offense and Democrats are on defense. And we don't do well on defense.

    Suddenly, Palin and John McCain are the mavericks and Barack Obama and Joe Biden are the status quo, in a year when you don't want to be seen as defending the status quo.

    From taxes to oil drilling, Democrats are now going to have to start explaining their positions.

    Whenever you start having to explain things, you're on defense.

    I actually went back and watched Palin's speech a second time. I didn't go to sleep until 1:30 a.m. I had to make sure I got the lines right.

    Her timing was exquisite. She didn't linger with applause, but instead launched into line after line of attack, slipping the knives in with every smile and joke.

    And she delivered it like she was just BS-ing on the street with the meter maid.

    She didn't have to prove she was "of the people." She really is the people.

    Talk like that is enough to send chills up the spine of every liberal in San Francisco and beyond.

    (Via Jonah Goldberg, who doesn't seem frightened.)

    posted by Eric at 06:37 PM | Comments (3)

    Proud to be a traitor

    Phyllis Chesler has written one of the most depressing posts I've read in a long time. ("The Coming Civil War in America.") Chesler paints an America I would hate to live in, of two hopelessly irreconcilable "cultures" -- each of which is basically at war with the other:

    Each of the Presidential candidates and those who support them are fighting for the soul of America. Each has a radically different world view; each inhabits a radically different culture. They listen to different music, watch different movies, read different media. Each mainly socializes only with others who are like themselves. They do not talk to those with whom they disagree and when they do, it is often with anger and contempt.

    I have lived in both worlds. I still do. There are good people on both sides of the great divide. Nevertheless, their values and tastes are different. One world is a glittering and violent urban metropolis where one can lead an anonymous life-or reach for the stars. The other world is a Small Town where everyone knows everybody's "business," prays together, helps out in emergencies, joins the civilian fire department, and usually joins the Army.

    And here's a newsflash for you: Some people can live in a large city psychologically even if they live in a small town and vice versa.

    If I thought America really was about two hopelessly different cultures, I'd leave.

    Let me admit my bias: as I have said numerous times, I am an admitted traitor to the damnable, despicable "Culture War." There should not be any "war" at all based on tastes and values. These things are personal. This is supposed to be a free country based on the Constitution and respect for individuality, not identity groups filled with like-minded conformist assholes who can't wait to grab power so they can impose their competing value systems on the other side.

    I think that most Americans (regardless of their individual tastes) reject such tribalist nonsense, and if I didn't think so, it would be time for me to consider moving to another country. Otherwise, if I stay here, I can look forward to being a traitor, and if a war starts over this nonsense, I will do my best to betray both sides, as I have nothing but contempt for people who would go to war over tastes and (gag) values. (A weasel word I hate so much I grabbed it as a satirical blog name six years ago -- my reasons remaining as misunderstood now as then, much to my delight.)

    So, much as I'd like to be dismissive, thoughts like this worry me:

    If McCain wins-I predict that the cultural wars will not only intensify but will turn into the beginnings of the next Civil War in America.
    I sincerely hope McCain wins, and I certainly hope Phyllis Chesler is wrong.

    What kind of culture war are we talking about? A war over what, exactly? Conservative SWAT teams breaking down liberal doors in search of forbidden values? Or vice versa?

    Before we start shooting each other, I think we all ought to take a deep breath.

    For God's sake, even the dreaded Sarah Palin smoked pot.

    (Something to remember before we exhale.)

    MORE: "The tedious Dr. Laura" disapproves of Sarah Palin's pregnancies, which Roger L. Simon sees as "another reason to like Palin." (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

    What's up with that? Can't they even agree on the "values" they're supposed to be imposing on everyone else?

    A hell of a way to run a civil war, I'd say....

    NEWSFLASH: The civil war may have suffered another setback.

    In the latest shocking link from Glenn Reynolds, it seems that Sarah Palin is apparently soft on condoms. So soft, in fact, that she makes McCain look like a hardliner:

    Palin's running mate, John McCain, and the GOP platform say children should be taught that abstinence until marriage is the only safe way to avoid pregnancy and disease. Palin's position is less clear.

    In a widely quoted 2006 survey she answered during her gubernatorial campaign, Palin said she supported abstinence-until-marriage programs. But weeks later, she proclaimed herself "pro-contraception" and said condoms ought to be discussed in schools alongside abstinence.

    "I'm pro-contraception, and I think kids who may not hear about it at home should hear about it in other avenues," she said during a debate in Juneau.

    Such statements could raise concerns among social conservatives who have been some of Palin's most enthusiastic supporters since she was tapped for the No. 2 spot on the GOP ticket last week.

    I'll say. What I'm unable to discern is whether she's always been condom friendly, or whether she's gone wobbly since she became governor.

    Needless to say, this could have serious repercussions on the war against condoms on bananas.

    posted by Eric at 04:10 PM | Comments (11)

    The bird who cried wolf?

    While I never like to read news reports about police kicking in the doors of people's houses, at least this one was different:

    TRENTON, N.J. - Cries for help inside a Trenton, N.J., home turned out to be for the birds. Neighbors called police Wednesday morning after hearing a woman's persistent cry of "Help me! Help me!" coming from a house. Officers arrived and when no one answered the door, they kicked it in to make a rescue.

    But instead of a damsel in distress, officers found a caged cockatoo with a convincing call.

    Hey, at least they didn't use a SWAT team.

    This is the sort of story which could be spun into an interesting question on a law school exam. Suppose the occupants had been home when the police entered, that the bird stopped yelling, but the owners were having a loud and animated time in bed -- with which the bird had been vocally interacting (as psittacines are wont to do). The clueless officers then go upstairs to "help" the woman in distress, and are greeted by her husband -- just interrupted from sex -- who, thinking there's a burglary in progress, grabs a gun. Who gets shot? Who's fault is it? Who is chargeable with what? Suppose it turns out that the neighbor knew they had a noisy bird that often shrieked "HELP ME!", that she wanted the police to do something about the noise, and figured that reporting the cries without adding the details about the bird would get a more effective police response. Would she be liable too? Or would she be immunized from suit because this was a report to a government agency? (Remember, she did not lie; she just didn't tell them the whole story...) What about the dispatcher, who did not ask the neighbor whether she was certain the cries were coming from a human being?

    Add a SWAT team, and it could get even more interesting....

    posted by Eric at 10:26 AM | Comments (0)

    Pioneering Spirit

    H/T Pal2Pal

    posted by Simon at 08:22 AM | Comments (0)

    HTML Lesson: Zero

    To help you improve your html skills today we are going to cover characters with slashes through them.

    First is the capital letter "O" the code for it looks like this: Ø When rendered it looks like this: Ø

    Second is the small letter "o" the code for it looks like this: ø When rendered it looks like this: ø

    Third is one of my favorites, the symbol for the empty set. The code for it looks like this: ∅ When rendered it looks like this:

    Typical usage:
    Øbama - Øbama
    øbama - øbama
    ∅bama  - ∅bama

    If you want to teach some one how to make a ∅bama you can use this code: &empty&#59;bama

    For a whole table of special character codes visit here.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 07:28 AM | Comments (5)

    I Have A Friend

    posted by Simon at 04:26 AM | Comments (6)

    Capture The Flag

    You can read more about this story at Used Flags.

    posted by Simon at 03:51 AM | Comments (0)

    Used Flags
    Used Flags
    There seems to be a controversy about the disposal of used flags after the Democrat Convention. Pal2Pal has the Story with more pictures. GRTWT.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 06:01 PM | Comments (7)

    God Bless The USA

    posted by Simon at 04:30 PM | Comments (0)

    childish lesson

    The last post (about religious proselytization) reminded me of a lesson I learned in childhood, which seems timely.

    An older Catholic woman in the neighborhood used to threaten non-Catholic children with damnation in no uncertain terms.

    "If you aren't a Catholic, you will go to hell!"

    Needless to say, this is a frightening thought to a child -- especially a non-Catholic child (which I was). That's because children are taught to believe adults, especially when they talk in an authoritative manner, and if an adult stranger says something like that, the only recourse is to go to a trusted familiar authority, which in this case was my father. When I asked him whether I'd go to hell for not being Catholic, he said that he didn't believe in the Catholic doctrines, but that some people did, and that this was a free country where people were allowed to believe in whatever they wanted. In other countries, they weren't. So I came to see this misguided woman as a lesson in freedom as opposed to a threat to my freedom. It's hard to forget something like that. She was free to threaten me with hell, and I was free to ignore her.

    I wish more people could see religious disagreements that way, but they don't. Instead, they get incredibly exercised. This is not to say that I appreciate someone telling me I'll go to hell, but because of the nature of religion in a free country, that is an inevitable byproduct. Millions of people believe passionately that millions of others will go to hell, and if this is played out mathematically, it means that almost everyone is going to hell by someone else's definition. Not something to lose sleep over, and it shouldn't even frighten children.

    Take away that freedom to tell people they're going to hell, and you're imposing a religious restriction on them. The other night, I watched the movie Becket, starring Peter O'Toole as King Henry II and Richard Burton as his once-beloved, eventually martyred archbishop. What pushed Henry over the top was Becket's habit of telling people to go to hell -- quite literally in those days, for he was vested with authority to send them there, via a process called excommunication. The power struggle between Henry and Saint Thomas played itself out in different forms many times over the centuries. Should the state run the church? Or should the church run the state? Many people died in that unending power struggle, which was historically much fresher in the minds of the founders of this country than it is in people's minds today. The founders did the best they could to keep both entities at arm's length, so that the state could not run the church and the church (or churches) could not run the state.

    As the founders knew, Henry VIII had not ended the debate by taking over the church, executing religious leaders, sacking monasteries, and desecrating the shrine and relics of Saint Thomas. The battle between church and state continued (with England committing regicide in the process), and it was very much alive at the time of America's founding.

    I think this very old debate between church and state is still very much alive, and is currently manifesting itself as a debate between religious zealots and atheist zealots. The former militate against separation of church and state, while the latter want the state to encroach on the right to free exercise of religion by prohibiting the acknowledgement of God by public officials or even individuals in schools. (In practice, the former seem to want to make people pray, while the latter want to prevent people from praying.)

    Perhaps it was good for me to be told I was going to hell, because it deepened my understanding of why it's better for people to be told they're going to hell than for the government to make it a "hate crime" to tell them they're going to hell.

    Religion should not have the power to control government. Nor should government have the power to control religion.

    So simple a child could understand it, until you try putting it in practice.

    posted by Eric at 12:59 PM | Comments (6)

    Proselytizers who won't leave people alone

    I can't stand proselytization. I'm one of those people who wants to be left alone in matters of personal conscience. My beliefs about the unknown are as much by business as is my sexuality, and I don't like it when people try to tell me what I should be doing with my body or my soul. Both are my business and not theirs.

    So I don't like groups like Exodus (which tries to recruit gays into turning straight) any more than I would like the idea of gays trying to turn straight people gay. (Also, the phenomenon of "outing" is something I find deeply disturbing, because it violates the personal, private lives of people in order to advance the political agenda of others.)

    Something I consider even worse is the organized attempt to convert Jews to Christianity. The reason I think it's worse is because of the long, horrendous history of anti-Semitism (which I don't think requires elaboration here). I find organizations like Jews for Jesus more repellant than Exodus. Yet at the same time, I recognize the First Amendment rights of both.

    While I didn't say anything at the time, it really bothered the hell out of me a few years ago to go to a church of a good friend and see pamphlets in their common area from both "Exodus" and "Jews for Jesus." I didn't say anything because it would have been rude and I'm not the argumentative sort, but I never forgot it. While I don't belong to any organized religion (as a fuzzy Pagan-Christian Deist who'd have me?), I would never have anything to do with a church like that.

    However, in all fairness to the church which offended me, I'm the first to recognize that the pamphlets might very well have been put there by professional activists. (Regular readers know how I feel about activists; there are religious activists as well as political activists, and these proselytizing outfits are religious/political hybrids.)

    While I haven't been keeping up with the rantings of the left as I perhaps should, this morning I awoke with a start with memory of my friend's church looming large in my mind, and the thought "What about Sarah Palin's church?" would not go away.

    Sure enough, her church shares some of the same conversion issues which bothered me. Nothing new or surprising about converting the gays. The unfortunate reality is that many fundamentalists embrace the busybody idea; it fuels mutual animosity, but just goes with the turf, and most conservative gays are able to separate a candidate's religious views from his or her political or personal philosophy. (In Palin's case, she not only was able to veto a bill denying health care benefits to same sex partners, but she seems to have gay friends, who probably wouldn't hang out with someone who waved the Bible at them and threatened them with Hell on a regular basis.)

    However, with gay conservatives, in terms of actual voters we're talking about maybe 25% of 3% of a population which is predominantly invisible. That's the political reality.

    Whether she personally wants to save the homos from themselves or not, Palin would never win in leftist strongholds like San Francisco anyway, but converting the Jews is the sort of thing that might -- and I stress might -- not play well in Florida. (While Andrew Sullivan is gloating over the "loss" of Florida because a Jews for Jesus spokesman recently delivered a sermon at Palin's church, the ADL doesn't seem to mind, and Sullivan is annoyed with the ADL for not minding as much as he does.)

    Again, I don't like proselytization, but I think if the ADL isn't especially bothered, this might not be a huge issue.

    The bottom line is that I won't join Palin's church, and I wish these places weren't so friendly to annoying activist groups like Jews for Jesus. Or Exodus.

    But that won't affect my vote.

    I mean, it's not as if there aren't annoying activists on the other side. And many of them are proselytizing against guns, against the free market, and in favor of Marxism... Now, I complain a lot about being left alone. There is a huge difference between left wing activist proselytizers and the mostly conservative religious variety in that only won't the former leave you alone, they want their activist views enforced by the government. They don't merely ask you to give up your guns or your money, they want to take away both -- with government force.

    (All things considered, I'd rather be threatened with hell by distasteful crackpots.)

    MORE: Some commenters seem to be misunderstanding my point of view. For the record, I think it's rude to threaten people with hell, but the right to do that is the essence of freedom, and as I explain here, I consider myself very fortunate to have been threatened with hell at an early age.

    posted by Eric at 10:42 AM | Comments (14)

    More Of The Same

    posted by Simon at 07:11 AM | Comments (0)


    The McCain campaign has been criticized in various quarters for pandering or condescending to women and insulting their intelligence with the pick of Sarah Palin. So what do you make of this?

    Senator Barack Obama will increasingly lean on prominent Democratic women to undercut Governor Sarah Palin and Senator John McCain, dispatching Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to Florida on Monday and creating a rapid-response team to deploy female surrogates to battleground states, Obama advisers said on Thursday.

    Rabble rabble! How dare the Republicans insult women with this pick! Ah, how courageous of Barry to create a rapid-response team! He'll silence this bullying once and for all. (Lipsticked pit bullying?)

    posted by Dennis at 06:44 AM | Comments (1)

    She Is A Mother
    She Is A Mother

    H/T Patriot Room

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 06:17 AM | Comments (3)

    You want her to talk to you?

    This is the start of the death watch for for the Shrinking Media.

    H/T Hot Air

    posted by Simon at 03:56 PM | Comments (1)

    The Sermon

    I believe McCain gave the best sermon I've ever heard last night and let me tell you why. Nothing says it better than giving the core of the sermon and then I'll touch on some other excerpts.

    Long ago, something unusual happened to me that taught me the most valuable lesson of my life. I was blessed by misfortune. I mean that sincerely. I was blessed because I served in the company of heroes and I witnessed a thousand acts of courage, and compassion, and love.

    On an October morning, in the Gulf of Tonkin, I prepared for my 23rd mission over North Vietnam. I hadn't any worry I wouldn't come back safe and sound. I thought I was tougher than anyone. I was pretty independent then, too.

    I liked to bend a few rules and pick a few fights for the fun of it. But I did it for my own pleasure, my own pride. I didn't think there was a cause that was more important than me.

    Then I found myself falling toward the middle of a small lake in the city of Hanoi, with two broken arms, a broken leg, and an angry crowd waiting to greet me.

    I was dumped in a dark cell and left to die. I didn't feel so tough anymore. When they discovered my father was an admiral, they took me to a hospital. They couldn't set my bones properly, so they just slapped a cast on me. And when I didn't get better and was down to about a hundred pounds, they put me in a cell with two other Americans.

    I couldn't do anything. I couldn't even feed myself. They did it for me. I was beginning to learn the limits of my selfish independence.

    Those men saved my life.

    I was in solitary confinement when my captors offered to release me. I knew why. If I went home, they would use it as propaganda to demoralize my fellow prisoners. Our code said we could only go home in the order of our capture, and there were men who had been shot down long before me. I thought about it, though. I wasn't in great shape, and I missed everything about America, but I turned it down.

    A lot of prisoners had it much worse...

    A lot of -- a lot of prisoners had it a lot worse than I did. I'd been mistreated before, but not as badly as many others. I always liked to strut a little after I'd been roughed up to show the other guys I was tough enough to take it. But after I turned down their offer, they worked me over harder than they ever had before, for a long time, and they broke me.

    When they brought me back to my cell, I was hurt and ashamed, and I didn't know how I could face my fellow prisoners. The good man in the cell next door to me, my friend, Bob Craner, saved me.

    Through taps on a wall, he told me I had fought as hard as I could. No man can always stand alone. And then he told me to get back up and fight again for my country and for the men I had the honor to serve with, because every day they fought for me.

    That I thought was the most powerful and moving part of the speech. Blessed by misfortune. I think that is one of the very best lessons of life. To find out how to take misfortune and turn it into a blessing.

    Now how about some other good bits?

    On cultural modification of Washington:

    And let me just offer an advance warning to the old, big- spending, do-nothing, me-first, country-second crowd: Change is coming.
    Going after the enemies of the people:
    I've fought the big spenders in both parties, who waste your money on things you neither need nor want, and the first big-spending pork-barrel earmark bill that comes across my desk, I will veto it. I will make them famous, and you will know their names.
    On foreign policy:
    We're going to stop sending $700 billion a year to countries that don't like us very much...
    Economic plan:
    Cutting the second-highest business tax rate in the world will help American companies compete and keep jobs from going overseas.
    That is probably enough. You can read the whole thing at the above link or watch the video here.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 03:27 PM | Comments (4)

    Some things are worse than regular pork

    Here's some pork we can do without:

    Barack Obama was a founding member of the board of Public Allies in 1992, resigning before his wife became executive director of the Chicago chapter of Public Allies in 1993. Obama plans to use the nonprofit group, which he features on his campaign Web site, as the model for a national service corps. He calls his Orwellian program, "Universal Voluntary Public Service."

    Big Brother had nothing on the Obamas. They plan to herd American youth into government-funded reeducation camps where they'll be brainwashed into thinking America is a racist, oppressive place in need of "social change."

    The pitch Public Allies makes on its Web site doesn't seem all that radical....

    Naturally. That's because Marxism and socialism are now as mainstream as Bill Ayers.

    And while Public Allies might deny it, there's plenty of indoctrination -- which the Obamas seem to support wholeheartedly:

    Public Allies brags that more than 80% of graduates have continued working in nonprofit or government jobs. It's training the "next generation of nonprofit leaders" -- future "social entrepreneurs."

    The Obamas discourage work in the private sector. "Don't go into corporate America," Michelle has exhorted youth. "Work for the community. Be social workers." Shun the "money culture," Barack added. "Individual salvation depends on collective salvation."

    "If you commit to serving your community," he pledged in his Denver acceptance speech, "we will make sure you can afford a college education." So, go through government to go to college, and then go back into government.

    Many of today's youth find the pitch attractive. "I may spend the rest of my life trying to create social movement," said Brian Coovert of the Cincinnati chapter. "There is always going to be work to do. Until we have a perfect country, I'll have a job."

    Amazingly, some of the idealistic young people who've signed up don't seem to appreciate ideological indoctrination seminars:
    Not all the recruits appreciate the PC indoctrination. "It was too touchy-feely," said Nelly Nieblas, 29, of the 2005 Los Angeles class. "It's a lot of talk about race, a lot of talk about sexism, a lot of talk about homophobia, talk about -isms and phobias."

    One of those -isms is "heterosexism," which a Public Allies training seminar in Chicago describes as a negative byproduct of "capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy and male-dominated privilege."

    The government now funds about half of Public Allies' expenses through Clinton's AmeriCorps. Obama wants to fully fund it and expand it into a national program that some see costing $500 billion. "We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded" as the military, he said.

    The gall of it: The Obamas want to create a boot camp for radicals who hate the military -- and stick American taxpayers with the bill.

    This is still a free country, and every citizen has a right to be a "community organizer." Or even a "paid activist." Much as I think the ideas promulgated by these people are wrong, there is a right to be wrong. (And I think "Public Allies" is a misnomer.)

    However, is there a right to engage in Marxist, anti-military activism and force people who don't agree with that to pay for it -- just because some people think such activism is right?

    The idea that my money is funding something like "Public Allies" violates my conscience.

    Thomas Jefferson had a very pertinent thought on this subject which I've quoted before, and I'll quote him again: compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical.
    I think if lefties were being made to pay for conservative youth indoctrination camps, we might hear a little more about it.

    This is not just pork; it's noxious ideological pork.

    Aren't ordinary pork projects bad enough?

    MORE: Regarding the contention that "heterosexism" is a byproduct of capitalism, Dave Kopel asks some good questions: VC readers know of any serious research about a link between heterosexism and capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy and male-dominated privilege? My initial impression is the cause and effect theory of heterosexism is quite wrong. Communist dictatorships, for example, are often quite hostile to homosexuals; yet Communist states are not capitalist, generally have legal equality of men and women, and (outside Europe) are run by non-whites. Conversely, ancient Greece was relatively tolerant of some forms of homosexuality, and yet was patriarchal, dominated by whites, and had a primitive free market.

    So, is there a serious intellectual argument for the Public Allies theory of the causes of heterosexism?

    Via Glenn Reynolds, who frames the question as, simply, "DOES CAPITALISM CAUSE HOMOPHOBIA?" and observes that the most tolerant societies tend to be capitalist.

    Considering that the Communists were calling homosexuality a product of "bourgeois decadence" for many years (this was standard Marxist doctrine; even the Socialist Workers Party refused membership to gays), isn't it more likely that capitalism is actually the root cause of homosexuality?

    Or have the Marxists revised their thinking in order to harness for their own ends the power of the "bourgeois decadence" they condemn?

    (This might explain why only left-wing homosexuals tolerated.)

    posted by Eric at 01:09 PM | Comments (4)

    Time to play "Name that Christianist"!

    I've been in Ann Arbor for a month now, and I have been subscribing to the Detroit Free Press, mainly because I believe in the importance not only of reading a daily newspaper, but I think a major city should have one. I don't mean to sound like a East Coast snot, but I think it's fair to say that the Free Press is not as good as the Philadelphia Inquirer. That may reflect a difference between the cities. Detroit is in worse shape than Philadelphia, and that's an understatement.

    As for regional news, I have been treated to huge front page headlines every day about Kwame Kilpatrick's sordid scandal and coverup. My immediate reaction was that they were beating around the bush by dwelling at length on every squalid detail, and that the man should have simply resigned, or been forced to resign. Nearly everyone wanted him to resign (even the political allies who put him in), but he was just too pigheaded or egotistical, and he clung to power.

    In a word, I thought it was all pathetic, and I refrained from writing about it here, mainly because it seemed almost boring, and I would have sounded like a condescending newcomer putting down my new greater metropolitan area when it is in dire need of help from somewhere. Plus, what could I -- a small l non-conforming libertarian Republican registered as a Democrat -- possibly add which would be of any help? They don't need my help; they need a miracle, and I'm no miracle worker, but an often pessimistic worry wart who often resorts to comedy as an antidote to gloom. Making fun of Kilpatrick strikes me as a bit like shooting fish in a barrel.

    In addition to all that, I've been extremely busy, and have not had time for blogging in the style to which I became accustomed over the years. (Plus, it's not as if there aren't more important things to blog about....)

    Now that he's officially out, though, I thought it might be a good time for a post-mortem comment.

    I won't recite the details of the drama; today's Free Press covers most of it in a piece titled "Kilpatrick's rise and fall: Detroit's mayor an example of the best -- and worst -- of city" -- a story which appears on page 7A of today's paper.

    The front page of today's Free Press looks like this:


    (Just ignore Coco's appearance, OK? I apologize for the fact that she hasn't had time to put on her lipstick.)

    The entire front section is devoted to article after article (with numbing detail after numbing detail) about the mess. The front page lead story begins with this:

    Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick -- who once said God chose him to lead his hometown and pledged to Detroiters "I would never quit on you" -- resigned Thursday, bringing an ignominious end to what once seemed like a career without limits.

    In a standing-room-only Detroit courtroom, Kilpatrick pleaded guilty to felony charges in his perjury case and no contest in his assault case, ending his steadfast refusal to resign amid a scandal that only grew in intensity over the past eight months.

    "I lied under oath," Kilpatrick told Wayne County Circuit Judge David Groner, almost echoing the Free Press headline in January that sparked the mayor's text message scandal.

    Under the terms of his deal, Kilpatrick will spend four months in jail, forfeit his law license and his pension from the state Legislature, pay up to $1 million in restitution and serve 5 years of probation. He will leave office Sept. 18 and has promised not to run for office while on probation.

    Until he leaves, Detroit will be run by an admitted felon.

    God chose him? I thought only the "Christianists" talked that way! And aren't "Christianists" supposed to be Republicans? If you were from out of town and didn't know any better, you'd have to slog through the paper to page A7 to discover that the crook was in fact a Democrat.

    But whoa! I see that I'm not the only one to be playing "Name that Party."

    And because I so hate to bore readers, I thought I'd try a new name.

    UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link, and a warm welcome to all -- especially "name that Christianist" game players.

    Not to dwell on Coco's lipstick issue, but I was going to consult a leading expert about the right shade, and I just never got around to it....

    posted by Eric at 09:24 AM | Comments (26)


    Change is coming.

    posted by Simon at 01:16 AM | Comments (1)

    It's Late

    Well it is...

    posted by Eric at 12:25 AM | Comments (0)

    A moving speech (even if it's hard to be moved at this point)

    I hate liveblogging speeches because my fingers don't walk fast enough to keep up with the words. Plus, it seems a little pointless, not only because machines do a better job, but because the candidates release prepared texts which are available for analysis later.

    So I didn't liveblog McCain's speech. Instead, I watched it, and I have to say I was moved. Contrary to popular belief, McCain doesn't talk about his captivity in North Vietnam all that much. Tonight he not only talked about it, but in a coherent explanation of why he's running. The man's sincerity is obvious.

    I agree with Glenn Reynolds that it was a good speech but "like Obama, he was overshadowed -- Obama by Bill Clinton, McCain by Sarah Palin." I think he knew he was being overshadowed -- quite possibly by everybody including the damned hecklers who disrupted him repeatedly -- but didn't especially mind.

    As he said,

    Again and again, I've worked with members of both parties to fix problems that need to be fixed. That's how I will govern as President. I will reach out my hand to anyone to help me get this country moving again. I have that record and the scars to prove it. Senator Obama does not.

    Instead of rejecting good ideas because we didn't think of them first, let's use the best ideas from both sides. Instead of fighting over who gets the credit, let's try sharing it. This amazing country can do anything we put our minds to. I will ask Democrats and Independents to serve with me. And my administration will set a new standard for transparency and accountability.

    We're going to finally start getting things done for the people who are counting on us, and I won't care who gets the credit.

    That's strong stuff (and inspiring to me), whether you think his delivery was slick or not. The people who are ecstatic over Sarah Palin would do well to remember just who put her there.

    Some of the pundits (like CNN's Jeffrey Toobin, Fox's Karl Rove, and others) are carrying on about what a lackluster speech it was in contrast to Sarah Palin's, so yes, I just thought I should say that I found McCain inspiring tonight. Yeah, he was a bit slow to get warmed up. I'll be glad if I'm warm enough to speak at all at 72.

    The man's stamina amazes me. But that's not what's important.

    What is important is that the man is living proof that character still matters.

    Even in the era of sound bytes.

    MORE: Despite some problems he perceived with the speech, Powerline's Paul Mirengoff thinks McCain connected:

    I think McCain may well have connected better with the American people on an emotional level than Obama did. And nothing matters more than that.
    I think that increasing numbers of Americans understand the difference between reality and a "reality" show.

    posted by Eric at 11:35 PM | Comments (2)


    Did Sarah Palin close the earlier eight point gap?

    (CBS) The presidential race between Barack Obama and John McCain is now even at 42 percent, according to a new CBS News poll conducted Monday-Wednesday of this week. Twelve percent are undecided according to the poll, and one percent said they wouldn't vote.

    This is in contrast to a poll conducted last weekend, where the Obama-Biden ticket led McCain-Palin by eight points, 48 percent to 40 percent.

    McCain has also closed the enthusiasm gap some with Obama, but it still exists. Fifty-five percent of Obama's supporters are enthusiastic about their choice, and now so are 35% of McCain's. Last weekend, just 25 percent of McCain's supporters were enthusiastic about him, compared to 67 of Obama's supporters.

    This week's polling continues to show voters waiting to decide about Sarah Palin (see yesterday's poll on Palin). But in interviewing done yesterday, 83 percent of registered voters said that spouse and family of a candidate will not affect their votes.


    I suspect that Palin's bravura performance last night might have dovetailed with the backlash I've been predicting, but it's too early to tell.*

    (Via Mark R. Levin, who notes that this happened "before McCain speaks.")

    * It might also be that the closure of the "enthusiasm gap" was caused by the realization that Obama's speech had been written by a speechwriter.....

    posted by Eric at 06:25 PM | Comments (0)

    How to attack her

    I hate to say this (and maybe I shouldn't be writing this post), but I think the best way to attack Sarah Palin is to make her out to be a far-right ideologue.

    If I am correct, that might mean that Gloria Steinem (ugh!) has done a better job of attacking Palin than anyone else:

    Palin's value to those patriarchs is clear: She opposes just about every issue that women support by a majority or plurality. She believes that creationism should be taught in public schools but disbelieves global warming; she opposes gun control but supports government control of women's wombs; she opposes stem cell research but approves "abstinence-only" programs, which increase unwanted births, sexually transmitted diseases and abortions; she tried to use taxpayers' millions for a state program to shoot wolves from the air but didn't spend enough money to fix a state school system with the lowest high-school graduation rate in the nation; she runs with a candidate who opposes the Fair Pay Act but supports $500 million in subsidies for a natural gas pipeline across Alaska; she supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, though even McCain has opted for the lesser evil of offshore drilling. She is Phyllis Schlafly, only younger.
    True or not, that's a much savvier line of attack than ridiculing her hair and her shoes (or belaboring away at the "inexperienced" meme)..

    But is it true?

    I don't know, and as a small l libertarian who believes in the possibility of an alliance between libertarians and social conservatives, I want to go there right now. But if I did, I'd have to ask, if she's such a crazed right-wing extremist, why is she so popular with the voters of Alaska, where a substantial majority believe in abortion rights?

    So, my question right now is this: will Barack Obama's abortion ad campaign work?

    Time will tell.

    MORE: Noting the problems Democrats will have attacking Palin (who she calls "polityically brilliant" and "a hard act for McCain to follow," Megan McArdle quotes Clive Crook, who reached a similar conclusion to mine:

    ..the Democrats have a problem. They had a few days of calling her a clueless redneck, a stewardess, a nonentity, and she has hurled that back in their bleeding gums. (If I were Joe Biden, I'd start practising for October 2nd right now.) Even before tonight's speech, they had backed off the "no experience" strategy, because (as the Republicans intended) that was sending shrapnel in Obama's direction. Their line right now is their default mode, that McCain-Palin is four more years of George Bush. But this too is a completely untenable strategy, since the Republican ticket now looks stunningly fresh to voters, as fresh in fact as Obama-Biden. Where they will have to end up is obvious: McCain-Palin is an extreme right-wing ticket. It is a team that will prosecute the culture war against all that is decent and civilized in the United States: that must be the line.

    Via Glenn Reynolds, who also links Phyllis Chesler's post about the dillema posed by the abortion issue vis-a-vis the terrorist issue, and says this:

    I'd worry about that, except that we're certain to have a two-house Democratic majority anyway, insuring that the legislative stasis on this subject that has prevailed for decades will continue.
    I have to agree with Glenn. I'd also note that a constitutional amendment (crudely characterized by Obama as "John McCain will make abortion illegal") is a political impossibility.

    Still, the left has no choice but to spin Sarah Palin as being as far to the right as possible.

    I think she's too smart to cooperate.

    posted by Eric at 12:29 PM | Comments (10)

    Experience is an important issue!

    The better Sarah Palin looks, the more ridiculous the attacks on her sound.

    Hmmm... Should I have said "looks"? We'll see.

    Right on the heels of McCain's announcement, the attacks started. First came the "inexperienced" meme. I've been listening and reading in search of a sound explanation why being a governor constitutes less experience than being a senator, because I think it's just the reverse. I try to understand, but I can't.

    So for several days I have not been getting it. After seeing the meme flogged yet again in today's Detroit Free Press this morning it began to dawn on me that maybe I am not defining "experience" the same way as the people who believe it is their job to tell me what to think. I think there are three possibilities:

  • 1. They're repeating and parroting "inexperienced" as a mantra simply because they've been told to repeat it (which means the definitions are irrelevant);
  • 2. There is a different (and lower) standard for men running for president than for women running for vice president (which also means the definitions are irrelevant); or
  • 3. They really define experience in a different manner than I do.
  • To be fair, I think that they might really think that "experience" means knowing the right people, and living in and knowing the ways of Washington. But that can't be right. Because, by that standard, a longtime journalist at the Washington Post or a policy wonk who's worked for years in a DC think tank has more "experience" than Sarah Palin -- something no reasonable person would contend.

    It might be unreasonable, but it does seem to be the standard. Governor Palin referred to it this way in last night's speech:

    I'm not a member of the permanent political establishment.

    And I've learned quickly, these past few days, that if you're not a member in good standing of the Washington elite, then some in the media consider a candidate unqualified for that reason alone.

    But here's a little news flash for all those reporters and commentators: I'm not going to Washington to seek their good opinion - I'm going to Washington to serve the people of this country. Americans expect us to go to Washington for the right reasons, and not just to mingle with the right people.

    I think she's right. A major reason she's being called inexperienced is that the people calling her that don't know her. They're in their own world, and they get to define who is one of them and who isn't. You're either in or you're not, and if you're not, why, you're "inexperienced." This is traditional, of course. (Especially for those in the 7th grade.)

    Which means some of her critics really think that when they call her inexperienced, they mean it sincerely. It's as if she's trying to join their club. Seen this way, the fact that Barack Obama went to Harvard (a major entry portal to the club, and where many club members come from) automatically makes him more experienced than Sarah Palin -- for the simple reason that she went to the University of Idaho.

    This all may feed into another criticism -- that her personal "style" is wrong. If "experienced" means belonging to the club, then if you want to be experienced, you have to at least look like the members of the club. If you didn't attend Harvard, you must at least kowtow to the standards of their Kulture Klub -- which means you cannot wear your hair like this:

    Yes, Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin has a lot on her plate: a pregnant teen daughter, a son on his way to Iraq, an infant with Down syndrome and a looming national election.

    But must her hair suffer? With her long, straight, often pinned-up locks, Palin looks one humid day away from fronting a Kiss cover band.

    "It's about 20 years out of date," said Boston stylist Mario Russo of the Alaska governor's 'do. "Which goes to show how off she might be on current events."

    Not only does it go to show how "off" she is on current events, it goes to show how "on" Mr. Russo is! I'll just bet Russo does a lot of the Harvard doos....

    Oh yes.

    Mario Russo is located on lower Newbury Street and was voted 2008's "Best of Boston" hair salon. Mario opened his doors 20 years ago and has consistently maintained his reputation of being a trend setter for Boston's power crowd. Since then he and his highly trained staff have catered to Boston's sopisticated crowd by giving top of the line cuts, colors, skin treatments, skin care, manicures/pedicures, waxing, and bridal parties. The atmosphere is comfortable, high energy, and features modern art displayed throughout. Talk about the latest trends with friendly and professional staff while overlooking the most prestigious part of Newbury St.
    Now that's experience! (But "sopisticated"? Isn't the correct spelling "sopissticated"?)

    Glad we're talking about important issues and taking them seriously.

    I'll have to contact Mr. Russo about the right shade of lipstick for Coco. She needs to get some "experience" as a hockey mom.

    posted by Eric at 10:24 AM | Comments (7)

    Orange Revolution

    Did anyone notice all the orange in the crowd at the Republican Convention? Some Democrats did.

    Comment by Zeke 2008-09-04 00:12:23

    Any one know what the Orange cloths were? A number of women were waving Orange polyester fabric around and unless they were from the "Sovereign State of Tennessee" I would like to buy a vowel...

    Comment by WMCB | 2008-09-04 00:23:54

    Orange is the color of PUMA. Hillary wore it for her speech last week. The entire Alaskan delegation decided to wave Orange as a shout out to PUMAs.

    And John McCain wore an orange tie.

    And what is PUMA? Here is an explanation. The very short version: Hillary supporters. Disaffected Democrats.

    Here is what Zeke thought when it was explained to him:

    Comment by Zeke 2008-09-04 00:59:56

    I had hoped that was what I saw...

    If that isn't laying out the welcome mat, I've never seen it!
    How cool is that? PUMA's at the Republican Convention. Did you see all the Country First signs?

    This could be the start of real cooperation. The sort of thing that turns nations around. Knowing there is a higher calling than party, and that it is called Country First.

    My hope has truly been revived.

    This election has all the makings of a landslide. For the Republicans. Not only are Republicans fired up for the McCain/Palin ticket. So are a lot of Democrats. The Republicans are in touch with the pulse of the voters this year.

    Of course when I first learned Sara was the pick I was fired up. It only took the rest of the Nation five more days to catch on. Wooo Hooo.

    I ♥ Sarah'cudda and Johnny Mac

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 08:22 AM | Comments (1)

    A Wiff Of Panic

    I thought this interrogation of Rudi Guilliani by some MSNBC commentators (Morning Joe) was very telling. Of course we know that the Shrinking Media is for the most part in the tank for Obama, but especially telling is sneering look Mika Brzezinski continually gives Rudi for his estimation of Sara Palin's qualifications.

    It will be interesting to see the polls over the next week to see what effect Sara has had on the electorate, but I do smell a whiff of panic in the air.

    posted by Simon at 03:16 AM | Comments (7)


    New Energy for America

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


    Obama hasn't lead anything.

    posted by Simon at 01:12 AM | Comments (2)

    Sarah Palin's speech

    I'm not liveblogging this, but Sarah Palin just asked,

    "You know the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull?


    With that unexpected line, she has just won Coco's vote.

    (She already had mine.)

    So far, she's doing very well. The crowd loves her.

    11:21 -- I've watched a lot of speeches during this endless race, and my considered opinion is that Sara Palin delivered a virtuoso performance tonight. On the issues, she seemed very up to speed (especially on energy) and her delivery and timing were perfect. She is likable, poised, perceptive, and has a good sense of humor -- all of the qualities that will make her a very tough opponent. It's obvious why she's such a popular governor, and it's also obvious why her opponents keep trying to spin her as a political neophyte. I think she showed them all tonight that she has what it takes, and that she's loyal to and deeply respects John McCain.

    Above all, she showed that the vicious and outgrageous personal attacks on her and her family have not fazed her at all.

    Were I working for the opposition, I'd be wetting my pants in fear.

    MORE: I am delighted to see that Coco is helping persuadeSean Kinsell.

    I think it's worth noting that the pit bull remark does not appear in the prepared text of Governor Palin's speech, which means it might have been spontaneous.

    posted by Eric at 10:40 PM | Comments (13)

    Republicans cling to white power identity!

    In a Washington Post Op-Ed purporting to be about economics, Harold Meyerson displays what I think is a near-total misunderstanding of identity politics:

    ...the GOP's last best hope remains identity politics. In a year when the Democrats have an African American presidential nominee, the Republicans now more than ever are the white folks' party, the party that delays the advent of our multicultural future, the party of the American past. Republican conventions have long been bastions of de facto Caucasian exclusivity, but coming right after the diversity of Denver, this year's GOP convention is almost shockingly -- un-Americanly -- white. Long term, this whiteness is a huge problem. This year, however, whiteness is the only way Republicans cling to power. If the election is about the economy, they're cooked -- and their silence this week on nearly all things economic means that they know it.
    Wow. The GOP has all the right elements! Whiteness! Power! Identity!

    OK, I'll admit my ignorance here. I have not been doing head counts or skin color counts, and I lack access to official convention statistics, so I really don't know what percentage of the GOP convention delegates are white. Obviously, Mr. Meyerson is very upset about whiteness, which is his right. But what does he mean by "shockingly -- un-Americanly -- white"? How many whites are required in order to constitute a "shocking" degree of whiteness. Assuming that whites are over-represented at the convention, how is that "un-American"? Would he say that if a mostly black or mostly Asian crowd showed up at a political gathering?

    If his argument is that more members of minority groups should show up at Republican conventions, he should say so. But I don't think that's what he wants. I think he wants a white-only Republican Party so he can castigate them as "un-American (and bigoted).

    FWIW, I would like to see more minorities at these conventions, and I doubt I'm alone in that. But identity politics? In the context of whiteness? The idea that the people at that Convention believe in white identity politics is outrageous on its face, and a genuine smear.

    Meyerson, though, probably doesn't think it's a smear at all. He's lived so long in the leftie echo chambers and heard so much of their hateful propaganda that for all I know, he actually believes that most Republicans align themselves with Christian Identity or something.

    If he were talking about anyone other than Republicans, Meyerson's attitude would be called bigotry, because it is.

    But such bigotry is so commonplace that it barely raises an eyebrow.

    (I almost didn't think it was interesting enough for a blog post...)

    posted by Eric at 05:54 PM | Comments (1)

    McCain's enemies really wanted him to make a good choice!

    I've lost count of the number of posts, articles, and opinion pieces arguing that McCain made a mistake in picking Sarah Palin. That he's really blown it. That his choice was a sign of dementia, etc.

    Dick Morris has an interesting take on these arguments:

    Some claim [McCain] made a mistake in choosing the Alaska governor. My bet is the reverse -- that she'll turn out to be a big win.

    Even if I'm wrong, dropping her now would doom him in November. If McCain lets baseless, sexist smears set his course, he'd turn all the good Palin has already done for him, and should do in the weeks ahead, into a negative, demoralizing the GOP base and losing independents.

    Understand: Palin is under attack because she was such a good choice.

    Makes sense. She wouldn't be under this kind of attack if she was a bad choice, would she?

    Certainly not by the left.

    MORE: Ann Althouse is thinking along similar lines:

    ...if you want McCain to lose and you think she's so terrible, you should be happy to see Palin as the VP nominee. It will help defeat McCain.
    Via Glenn Reynolds.

    Rarely have I seen so many people want to "help" the campaign of a man they want to lose.

    posted by Eric at 02:25 PM | Comments (3)

    possibility versus reality

    Speaking of cool, regular readers know that I don't think censorship is. Needless to say, I was upset to read this New York Times account supposedly documenting attempted censorship in the local library by Sarah Palin when she was newly elected Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska.

    Shortly after becoming mayor, former city officials and Wasilla residents said, Ms. Palin approached the town librarian about the possibility of banning some books, though she never followed through and it was unclear which books or passages were in question.

    Ann Kilkenny, a Democrat who said she attended every City Council meeting in Ms. Palin's first year in office, said Ms. Palin brought up the idea of banning some books at one meeting. "They were somehow morally or socially objectionable to her," Ms. Kilkenny said.

    The librarian, Mary Ellen Emmons, pledged to "resist all efforts at censorship," Ms. Kilkenny recalled. Ms. Palin fired Ms. Emmons shortly after taking office but changed course after residents made a strong show of support. Ms. Emmons, who left her job and Wasilla a couple of years later, declined to comment for this article.

    In 1996, Ms. Palin suggested to the local paper, The Frontiersman, that the conversations about banning books were "rhetorical."

    If there were allegations of real attempted censorship, it would be damning. But I'd like to see some confirmation from the librarian who ended up keeping her job. As to Ann Kilkenny, I'd like to see some confirmation that she's not the urban legend (of email virus fame) some say she is. The email she allegedly wrote has circulated so widely that I'm wondering why the New York Times would misspell her name "Ann" when she repeatedly signed the email "Anne." Simple mistake? Or an attempt to frustrate casual researchers?

    I'm puzzled over the fact that in this 1997 news account, there is no mention of library "censorship." Rather the issue at the base of the quarrel seems to have involved merging the library and the museum:

    City librarian Mary Ellen Emmons will stay, but Police Chief Irl Stambaugh is on his own, Wasilla Mayor Sarah Palin announced Friday. The decision came one day after letters signed by Palin were dropped on Stambaugh's and Emmon's desks, telling them their jobs were over as of Feb. 13.

    The mayor told them she appreciated their service but felt it was time for a change. ''I do not feel I have your full support in my efforts to govern the city of Wasilla. Therefore I intend to terminate your employment ...'' the letter said.
    Palin said Friday she now feels Emmons supports her but does not feel the same about Stambaugh. As to what prompted the change, Palin said she now has Emmons' assurance that she is behind her. She refused to give details about how Stambaugh has not supported her, saying only that ''You know in your heart when someone is supportive of you.''

    The three met briefly at Wasilla City Hall Friday afternoon, and Palin called them twice at Stambaugh's home before making the decision.

    Palin said she asked Emmons if she would support efforts to merge the library and museum operations. Emmons said she would, according to Palin.
    The actions have caused a stir in Wasilla, a town of about 4,600. City Councilman Nick Carney, who has been an outspoken critic of Palin, said he received several calls at his home Thursday night and Friday from outraged citizens.

    The sudden personnel shift is part of bigger problem of mismanagement in the city, he said, and may prompt a recall petition.

    It is understandable that people who lost an election or their jobs might have an interest in exaggerating what happened. Was censorship really the issue?

    And why isn't Emmons available for comment? Before I put any trust in the story I'd like to hear something from Emmons, and not hearsay from a third party who hasn't been verified but who's described in an email as having attended meetings.

    From the looks of this news account, it's quite possible that the "censorship" claim involved a theoretical discussion which never was the basis for firing anyone, was never implemented, and was exaggerated.

    * Palin Asked City Librarian About Censoring Books, Insisted It Was 'Rhetorical.' In 1996, according to the Frontiersman, Wasilla's library director Mary Ellen Emmons said Palin asked her outright if she could live with censorship of library books. Emmons said, "This is different than a normal book-selection procedure or a book-challenge policy. ... She was asking me how I would deal with her saying a book can't be in the library." Palin said in response, "Many issues were discussed, both rhetorical and realistic in nature." [Frontiersman, 12/18/96]
    So, no one is or was saying there was actual censorship. The librarian who can't be reached for comment never seems to have said she was fired over it.

    I don't like censorship of any sort, and I'm very quick to condemn it. (Hence this post.) But as even the Times admits, this does not involve censorship, but a discussion over the possibility of censorship. An elaborate insinuation based on a discussion, supplemented by an unverified quote apparently taken from a viral email. Surely the Times can come up with a better hit piece than that.

    This does not mean that the possibility of censorship does not concern me. In fact, there's a lot more going on than the mere possibility. There's the reality.


    What about the fact politicians and parents all over the country are constantly and routinely censoring the Internet, and few complain?

    "Electronic book burning" is what it's being called. Nothing theoretical or rhetorical about it. Personally, I consider it an abomination that 95% of public libraries use such technology.

    But hey, at least it's not 100%... I do want to be fair to everyone.

    My suggestion is that we let all those whose children's libraries have never installed electronic book burning Internet filters cast the first stone at Sarah Palin.

    posted by Eric at 10:58 AM | Comments (5)

    Being cool is not allowed

    Ann Althouse asks a question a lot of people are asking:

    ...why are we even thinking of evaluating candidates based on the chastity of their offspring? Even if we could ascertain whether a candidate has this qualification -- and, given birth control and abortion, we can't -- it's a patently absurd and offensive idea for a qualification.
    It is a patently absurd and offensive idea for a "qualification," and the reason they're getting away with it is that they only apply it to the offspring of Republicans. No one has any idea what Senator Biden's kids do with their genitalia, because such things are considered off-limits.

    Why should the sex lives of Biden's kids be off-limits? The only reason I can think of is that Biden is a Democrat.

    Let me admit my bias here. I don't even care about the candidates' sex lives (perhaps I should), so why on earth would I care about the sex lives of their kids? As I said before, I hope this line of attack backfires. I think it represents panic, and a deeply ingrained leftist habit of politicizing the personal. Above all, personal muckraking is a diversion from discussing substantive issues they'd rather not discuss.

    However, I have another theory as to why Sarah Palin scares the crap out of the left, and it's not just political, but psychological. I think that she and her family represent that lingering (but ever-cool) American pioneer spirit the emasculated left wants so badly to stamp out. For starters, it just kills them that Palin is more of a man than any of them are. As to the kids, it must absolutely gall Hollywood and New York liberals to see pictures of cool young teenagers unabashedly holding guns. True, they're Alaskans, but Alaskans are Americans, aren't they? And (gasp!) they look like American teenagers! Liberals fear that their own kids might see pictures like that and get ideas. Whether targeting sex lives is the best way to counter the underlying threat posed by America's lingering pioneer spirit is debatable, though.

    It might just exacerbate the problem.

    I hope it does.

    MORE: Thomas Lifson thinks the MSM fears Sarah Palin's authenticity:

    A desperate race is underway, with the liberal media scampering to define Sarah Palin to the public as a dangerous religious fanatic and naïve hick, some kind of back woods primitive incapable of effectively discharging the awesome job of president, soon to be thrust upon her as John McCain expires right after his inauguration. Tonight, Governor Palin will have her opportunity to speak directly to the American people, and thanks to the blizzard of critical coverage, she will be no doubt attract an enormous audience.

    She has the rarest of qualities: authenticity. Media and Beltway types can't fathom what that is. It goes right over their heads....

    Authenticity is cool.

    MORE: In an exciting Op Ed I've been awaiting, Peggy Noonan says that Sarah Palin is such a threat that she could become transformative.Therefore, they have to kill her quick:

    She could become a transformative political presence.

    So they are going to have to kill her, and kill her quick.

    And it's going to be brutal. It's already getting there.

    There are only two questions.

    1. Can she take it?

    Will she be rattled? Can she sail through high seas? Can she roll with most punches and deliver some jabs herself?

    2. And while she's taking it, rolling with it and sailing through, can she put herself forward convincingly as serious enough, grounded enough, weighty enough that the American people can imagine her as vice president of the United States?

    I suppose every candidate for vice president faces these questions to some degree, but because Palin is new, unknown, and a woman, it's all much more so.

    Transformative. I like that. It's at least as cool as authenticy.

    Who knows? It might even be cooler than "change."

    posted by Eric at 09:05 AM | Comments (3)


    posted by Simon at 06:48 AM | Comments (0)

    Midway For Obama
    Asia Times commentator Spengler was at the Democrat's Convention and thinks that Obama is going down to a crushing defeat.
    The Democrats were watching the brightest and most articulate presidential candidate they have fielded since John F Kennedy snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. And this was before John McCain, in a maneuver worthy of Admiral Chester Nimitz at the Battle of Midway, turned tables on the Democrats' strategy with the choice of Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his running mate.
    Spengler thinks that Obama is at his core a weak man. He works so hard to please because he can't make the hard choices. We have already seen that with his reply at the Saddleback interview when he was asked about abortion. "It is above my pay grade", he said.
    Obama will spend the rest of his life wondering why he rejected the obvious road to victory, that is, choosing Hillary Clinton as his vice presidential nominee. However reluctantly, Clinton would have had to accept. McCain's choice of vice presidential candidate made obvious after the fact what the party professionals felt in their fingertips at the stadium extravaganza yesterday: rejecting Clinton in favor of the colorless, unpopular, tangle-tongued Washington perennial Joe Biden was a statement of weakness. McCain's selection was a statement of strength. America's voters will forgive many things in a politician, including sexual misconduct, but they will not forgive weakness.

    That is why McCain will win in November, and by a landslide, barring some unforeseen event. Obama is the most talented and persuasive politician of his generation, the intellectual superior of all his competitors, but a fatally insecure personality. American voters are not intellectual, but they are shrewd, like animals. They can smell insecurity, and the convention stank of it. Obama's prospective defeat is entirely of its own making. No one is more surprised than Republican strategists, who were convinced just weeks ago that a weakening economy ensured a Democratic victory.

    And what about that old war horse McCain? The ancient mariner?
    McCain doesn't have a tenth of Obama's synaptic fire-power, but he is a nasty old sailor who knows when to come about for a broadside. Given Obama's defensive, even wimpy selection of a running-mate, McCain's choice was obvious. He picked the available candidate most like himself: a maverick with impeccable reform credentials, a risk-seeking commercial fisherwoman and huntress married to a marathon snowmobile racer who carries a steelworkers union card. The Democratic order of battle was to tie McCain to the Bush administration and attack McCain by attacking Bush. With Palin on the ticket, McCain has re-emerged as the maverick he really is.

    The young Alaskan governor, to be sure, hasn't any business running for vice president of the United States with her thin resume. McCain and his people know this perfectly well, and that is precisely why they put her on the ticket. If Palin is unqualified to be vice president, all the less so is Obama qualified to be president.

    McCain has certified his authenticity for the voters. He's now the outsider, the reformer, the maverick, the war hero running next to the Alaskan amazon with a union steelworker spouse. Obama, who styled himself an agent of change, took his image for granted, and attempted to ensure himself victory by doing the cautious thing. He is trapped in a losing position, and there is nothing he can do to get out of it.

    It is interesting that the Democrats keep nominating successively weaker candidates. First Gore. Then Kerry. And now Obama. I think it is becoming obvious for all to see that the Democrat Party has no soul. As such it has no direction except the will to power. In fact the behavior of his base since Palin was nominated is an expression of that weakness. It would appear from their behavior that strong women frighten them. And they should be frightened.

    There is more detail to Spengler's analysis which deals with his psychological profile of Obama. He also refers back to a column he wrote in February that I highly recommend. You should definitely read them both.

    I think it is telling in many ways that the left's caricature of evangelical relations with women is really a projection of their own weakness. In fact Moloch is the god of the weak. You have to be strong to raise children. Not just for a day or a week but for 18 or 20 years. In fact for a whole lifetime. Which is exactly why what the left is going through now with the abortion issue and Sarah Palin and her daughter is so telling. They are attacking the mother and daughter because they are strong. And such strength only illuminates that which they would prefer to remain in darkness. Their weakness.

    Does this mean I want abortion made illegal? Don't be silly. Such a law would serve no useful purpose. Botched abortions kill. They can also prevent future births when the woman and man involved find their strength. But that does not mean that we should avoid looking at it square on and seeing it for what it is. The fact that the Democrats and especially Obama have to a great degree fetishized abortion is very telling. Very telling indeed.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 05:57 AM | Comments (3)


    Country Matters More Than Party

    posted by Simon at 02:22 AM | Comments (0)


    Palin Is A Breath Of Fresh Air

    posted by Simon at 02:00 AM | Comments (0)

    And where were you in 1986?

    A friend emailed me a link to a typical gossip column, um, "analysis":

    While Levi Johnston (pictured below) admits he's "in a relationship" on his personal MySpace page, the teen hockey player made the candid statement that he does not exactly wanna be a parent, proclaiming, "I don't want kids."

    Way to set the record straight, Levi!

    And of course, muck-raking about Todd Palin's 1986 arrest for DUI:
    It's been quite the week for the Palin family, with the nomination, then rumors that Bristol Palin was the real mother of Sarah's son Trig Palin, then Todd Palin's old DUI arrest, then the revelation that Levi Johnston knocked up Bristol.

    All we can do is wonder: What's next?!

    What's next may be the realization that Republicans are people too.

    I don't think any of this will prove especially fruitful. The father of the future baby of the daughter of the vice presidential nominee said he didn't want kids? Todd Palin was arrested for DUI in 1986?

    Will anyone care?

    Neither the baby's father nor Todd Palin are on the November ballot. Obama's mother was pregnant at 17. McCain's wife had a drug problem at some point, and so did Obama (at some point).

    And so what?

    Whoever was first to be stoned, let him cast away.

    MORE: Andrea Tantaros thinks the bizarre attacks on Palin's family are evidence of panic:

    Liberals like to pretend they are tolerant and accepting of those who are different but when it comes to anyone not ensconced in their progressive, elitist dogma they mock and attack their lifestyle to inspire hate. But because governor Palin is endearing, authentic-and with this latest revelation-easy to identify with, she invokes panic in the left. Why else would they assail a very popular, promising lady and her children?

    The key question here is: what is the extreme left trying to prove? How does this make Sarah Palin unfit to serve? And how exactly will this story look bad to voters? A mother stands behind her child. I can think of worse stories than "Palins Come Together to Support Teen Daughter." This is America. This is life. And this is private.

    posted by Eric at 10:47 PM | Comments (4)

    Putting the Constitution ahead of Culture War

    Whether you're a card-carrying Libertarian, a small-l libertarian, a libertarianish political non-conformist, or I suppose even if you're from the other side and hate libertarians, you don't want to miss David Harsanyi's The Libertarian Case for Palin.

    The potential political consequences of Sarah Palin have been chewed over from every imaginable angle.

    Though there is plenty to ponder, one thing is certain: libertarian-inclined voters should be encouraged. No, I'm not suggesting that your little Molly will be bringing home "The Road to Serfdom" from her (distinctly non-public) elementary school. But in contrast to any national candidate in recent memory, Palin is the one that exudes the economic and cultural sensibilities of a geniune Western-style libertarian.

    I think he's right. (And I suspect M. Simon would agree; see his related post.)

    Not that Palin will please all in the libertarian camp. Her social conservatism gives pause to many, although Harsanyi recognizes (as I did in another post) that she places the Constitution ahead of her personal beliefs. And of course, her Second Amendment position ought to delight any libertarian:

    ....unlike Obama, Palin seems to believe that the Second Amendment means the exact same thing in rural Alaska as it does in the streets of Chicago.

    Yes, Palin is without argument a staunch social conservative. She is fervently opposed to abortion - even in cases of rape and incest, which will raise eyebrows, but is certainly more philosophically consistent than the namby pambyism of your average politician. The choice issue, after all, is complicated, even for many libertarians. And, as I was recently reminded, Ron Paul, the Libertarian champion of the 21st century, also opposes abortion.

    Even when advocating for "moral" issues, Palin's approach is a soft sell. Palin does not support gay marriage (neither does Obama, it should be noted). Yet, in 2006, Palin's first veto as Governor was a bill that sought to block state employee benefits and health insurance for same-sex couples.

    We cannot bore into Palin's soul to see her true feelings about gay couples, but, at the time, she noted that signing "this bill would be in direct violation of my oath of office" because it was unconstitutional. For most libertarians, the thought of politician following any constitution, rather than their own predilections, morality or the "common good," is a nice change of pace.

    Yes, it is.

    And this was music to my ears:

    On the counterproductive War on Drugs, Palin is no warrior.
    Whatever her personal beliefs are, Sarah Palin strikes me as a principled person who departs from the decades-old Culture War script that "the personal is political." I have long harbored the hope that someone might come along who'd be able to make a stab at uniting libertarians and religious conservatives....


    Maybe "unite" is the wrong word, because they don't really need to be united. Brought together in a rational way, maybe. Because, the Culture War arises from instinctive, gut-level personal dislikes more than from a desire to have the government enact these dislikes into law. Religious conservatives and libertarians both know that any unconstitutional scheme that might allow, say, fundamentalists to take charge of "the culture" could be used against them, as it would also allow Islamists or Communists to do the same. And both libertarians and religious conservatives have now been holding their noses for a long time -- not just at each other, but at the Republican Party. Perhaps learning to hold your nose is a good thing if you learn that something you don't like (homosexuality or creationism, say) is not going to break your legs or pick your pocket. I have long thought that religious conservatives and libertarians have more in common than they realize, but are driven apart simply by constitutionally irrelevant feelings of mutual repugnance. Larger forces want them battling, though.

    Anyway, I liked Harsanyi's piece so much that if I keep quoting it my enthusiasm will violate the DMCA, so just go read it all.

    posted by Eric at 08:15 AM | Comments (2)

    Chicken Thief
    Chicken Thief
    It seems that when Obama made a refreshment stop on the campaign trail he didn't have time to wait for the restaurant to prepare his food and Biden couldn't wait to get to the bar.
    Obama then joined Joe Biden, who had made directly for the bar when the two candidates arrived, at a table celebrating another birthday.

    "He's eating our appetizers," said Luanne Gearhart, who had stepped away from the table for a few minutes only to find Obama in her seat. "But God's made it this way."

    Luanne was most gracious. Good on her.

    H/T No Quarter

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 05:49 AM | Comments (10)

    Sarah Palin Debates Health Care

    This video lasts about an hour and a half. It deals with health care issues in her 2006 run for Governor.

    posted by Simon at 05:43 AM | Comments (0)

    MoveOn.Org Has Taken Over Democrats

    Newsweek reports that John Coale, a major Hillary fund raiser, has gone over to John McCain. There is a video from the Republican Convention at the link showing a five minute interview with Mr. Coale.

    John Coale, a prominent Washington lawyer, husband of Fox TV host Greta Van Susteren and a supporter of Sen. Hillary Clinton, announced today that he was supporting John McCain for president. Coale, who traveled with Sen. Clinton, President Clinton and her family through out the primary season, complained of sexism, and said the Democratic Party is "being taken over by the types" in an exclusive interview with's Tammy Haddad. He said he tried to prevent Clinton's brother, Tony Rodham, from attending an August 18th meeting in Scranton, Pa. with McCain campaign surrogate Carly Fiorina. "I urged him not to go and told him it would embarrass his sister, but he has a mind of his own."
    And what do you know, Clinton's own brother has been meeting with the McCain campaign. Huge.

    In terms of voters, what happens in a deal like this? At first the defections are a trickle. A few come over and test the waters. When they see they are treated with decency and respect a few more come over. The trickle becomes a stream. Then a river. Then a torrent and then (you will pardon the expression) a flood. People tell their friends. Those people tell their friends and pretty soon it is a respectable position. Once it is respectable any one who has misgivings about the Democrats can change position without becoming a social outcast.

    I think you can mark August 29th as the official beginning of the end of the Obama campaign.

    Let me add that I think it is Hillary's intention to destroy the Democrat Party. Why? Because George Soros has bought the party. It is no good to her any more. Here is a report on it from 2004.

    In a December 9th e-mail signed by "Eli Pariser, Justin Ruben, and the whole MoveOn PAC team," the Soros front group stated: "In the last year, grassroots contributors like us gave more than $300 million to the Kerry campaign and the DNC, and proved that the Party doesn't need corporate cash to be competitive. Now it's our Party: we bought it, we own it, and we're going to take it back."
    Who is behind the MoveOn PAC? George Soros. Another is the Tides Foundation which is funded by John Kerry's wife, Teresa Simões-Ferreira Heinz Kerry.

    There is one saving grace. Despite the $300 million that supported the Kerry Campaign, he lost. He was defeated by the lightly funded Swift Boat Veterans For Truth and John Kerry's Christmas in Cambodia.

    H/T No Quarter

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 04:01 AM | Comments (3)

    A good question from a leading Democrat

    This was asked by Democratic political consultant Joe Trippi, who couched it by way of futuristic attribution to John McCain:

    ...if you think a first term Governor isn't ready for the number 2 slot, are your really sure that a first term Senator is ready for the number 1 spot?
    Actually, I don't think I ever spent much time arguing that Obama wasn't ready, although I do remember that it was a centerpiece of Hillary Clinton's campaign.

    However, I think the "inexperienced" argument presents a problem for Democrats. If they attack Palin as inexperienced, they're basically raising an issue they now claim McCain can't raise.

    So perhaps we won't hear much more complaining about "inexperience."

    What a relief that would be. I don't think McCain really needed to talk about it anyway.

    MORE: Frank J. thinks the Democrats have a point:

    We like to dismiss everything the left says, but if you really are honest about it, don't they maybe have a point about how Sarah Palin and Barack Obama may be unqualified to be Vice President?

    posted by Eric at 05:39 PM | Comments (13)

    Buchanan smears Palin?

    I don't know whether Palin ever supported Buchanan, but what about this?

    A meme is developing out there among liberals that Gov. Sarah Palin was a supporter of Pat Buchanan in the 1990s, a charge that the McCain-Palin campaign strongly denies.
    Palin denies having been a Buchanan brigadista, as does the McCain campaign. Buchanan, however, claims otherwise to Chris Matthews:
    Buchanan told Chris Matthews yesterday that Palin "was a brigader in 1996 as was her husband, Chris, they were at a fundraiser for me, she's a terrific gal, she's a rebel reformer."
    They were "at a fundraiser"? Even Code Pink members have managed to show up at GOP fundraisers, so I'm not sure that constitutes proof. Nor does the McCain campaign:
    McCain-Palin campaign spokesman Michael Goldfarb writes: "Governor Palin has never worked for any effort to elect Pat Buchanan -- that assertion is completely false. As Mayor of Wasilla, Sarah Palin did attend an event with Mr. Buchanan in her home town where reports described her wearing a Buchanan for President button. She wore the button as a courtesy to Mr. Buchanan and in an effort to make him feel welcome during his visit, but immediately sent a letter to the editor of her local paper clarifying that the button should not have been interpreted as an endorsement of any kind."

    Buchanan of course has a long history of quite questionable comments, particularly about Jews.

    I have to say that of all the arguments that have come up against Palin, this one would make me the most nervous, if it were true.

    Is it?

    The JTA has looked into the claim and come up dry. There's no evidence that she supported Buchanan in any material way, other than sporting the button, which she says she did out of courtesy:

    Wexler's comments appear based on a 1999 report that Palin wore a Buchanan button during Buchanan's visit to Wasilla, the town she then led as mayor. At that time, however, Palin had written a letter to the local paper explaining that she wore campaign buttons as a matter of courtesy when candidates came to visit the town.

    Palin was an official of the campaign of Steve Forbes, who like Buchanan was contending for the Republican presidential nomination.

    Buchanan said he recalls meeting Palin at a 1996 fund-raiser in Alaska, but no record of her donating or supporting Buchanan at that time has surfaced.

    (Buchanan did win the 1996 GOP primary in Alaska, so wearing the button in '99 may also have been a smart political move on her part, even though she appears to have been a Forbes supporter.)

    Palin's Wiki entry makes no mention of Buchanan, and I'm coming up dry where it comes to hard proof.

    From what I can see so far, what we have is Buchanan's word against hers, and the left takes Buchanan at his word. Certainly, he's not helping her by claiming she was a brigader, so the question becomes why would he do that?

    Certainly not to help McCain.

    Not if this piece reflects his current views.

    Or this:

    Pretty unfriendly stuff.

    Frankly, unless there was a showing of genuine repentance, I doubt McCain would pick a Buchanan brigader to be his running mate.

    posted by Eric at 01:40 PM | Comments (5)

    Berkeley nostalgia

    Not in Berkeley, but in Denver, where Zombie documents a scene numbingly reminiscent of what I used to sit through when I was a Berkeley Police Review Commissioner:

    I personally witnessed the entire incident, from the beginning to the end, and can say without reservation that the Rocky Mountain News video is intentionally deceptive, and crafted to make the protester (Alicia Forrest) appear to be a victim of needless police brutality. I have photographic and video proof, shown below, that Alicia Forrest "asked for it" in the sense that she disobeyed police commands to stay back and also taunted the police; and that she was not seriously injured by Officer Stewart; and that the Rocky Mountain News in particular committed an act of media malfeasance by purposely posting on their site a deceptive video that left out all the context surrounding the incident. Furthermore, many blogs jumped on the story and trumpeted it as evidence of police misbehavior, when in fact there was no misbehavior at all.
    Read it all, and look at the pictures.

    All I can say is that these protesters are professional people, and they have been carefully trained. They excel at doing everything they can to provoke the police into overreacting, but of course the police are well trained not to overreact. What this means is that even when the police merely do their job (and make an arrest, as they did in this case), the demonstrators are ready to pounce. They will claim police brutality, and they will pursue unfounded claims against the police. It is all part and parcel of their strategy, and as I learned when I sat on the Police Review Commission, at the core of the strategy is to intimidate the people charged (as I was) with reviewing the conduct of the police. (Hence my creepy feeling of nostalgia when I read Zombie's account.)

    The Denver incident reminded me of what I described in this post:

    According to this mindset, the very idea behind Berkeley's Police Review Commission -- citizen review, a remedy against police abuse, etc. -- was bogus, and we were (and were seen as) stooges legitimizing violent state power and private property.

    No one warned me in advance, so it was quite a shock to encounter these people on a regular basis. I was called a "traitor" and a murderer, and my home address (along with those of other commissioners) was printed and distributed on leaflets telling people to "take whatever action" was necessary.

    As to the two opposing "sides" (the Marxists and the McGovern Democrats), we were all on the same side when the crowds grew violent, because we were all "the enemy."

    I think an example is needed here, lest crucial irony of this situation be lost. Bear in mind that our primary function was to sit in judgment on the conduct of the police. The Chief of Police, the officer who headed Internal Affairs, and their legal representatives were normally present at out meetings, and of course the individual officers who were the subject of complaints had to attend individual board hearings with their legal reps. On several of these riotous occasions (where the demonstrators were out in force because the BPD had dared to arrest some of the activists for violent activities), things grew so dangerous that the Chief had to order all officers to leave (along with himself) -- "for reasons of officer safety."

    One such evening wasn't long after a "demonstrator" had thrown a brick which broke the jaw of an officer who was in the hospital. I vividly remember one of the professional activists (a leader of an anarchist group called "Copwatch") coming up to the Chief, and saying (in a tone affecting much sincerity), "I am sorry about the officer whose jaw was broken." A bit surprised, the Chief began to thank him sincerely, but was immediately interrupted by the activist screaming, "SORRY HE DIDN'T DIE!"

    There's a lot more, but my point is simply that these activists are professionals, and they know exactly what they are doing.

    Read Zombie's whole post and look at the photographs to learn more.

    I don't recommend sitting on a citizen's police review commission, though. It really did a number on me, and in all honesty, it was one of those life-changing situations. I realized that most people think life is too short, so they go along with the intimidation. The problem with that approach is that it can lead to a life spent being afraid to ever speak up, and if we all did that, we would cease to be a free people.

    Precisely what the professional activists want.

    This touches on a major reason I blog. My thanks to Zombie for the reminder.

    MORE: Anyone who doubts that Alicia Forrest is a professional (who is well-versed in deceptive techniques) should read Medea Benjamin's bragging account about how she disrupted a McCain event in disguise:

    Three CODEPINKers, dressed like businesspeople (no pink!) and sporting McCain campaign buttons, got inside the ballroom in time for a lovely breakfast. When McCain starting speaking to the business association, Gael Murphy cried out, "War is bad for small business! Attacking Iran will only make things worse! We are spending 5,000 dollars per second, 12 billion dollars per month! Imagine the investments in small business we could make with that money instead of killing people and illegally occupying other countries."

    Soon after Murphy was "escorted" out of the room, it was Alicia Forrest's turn. McCain insisted he was going to help grow the economy, so Alicia yelled out, "Mr. McCain, how do you expect to do that with 100 years of war?" She hung on tight to the doors as they pulled her out, shouting "No War! No McCain!" This was covered in boos from the McCain supporters, but still the point was made.

    Oh yes. I'm sure countless McCain supporters were persuaded.

    posted by Eric at 11:36 AM | Comments (0)

    One standard for Palin, another for Stalin?

    It's tough to know where to begin with something like this, it's so outrageous.

    But in light of my earlier post about the vicious attacks on Governor Palin's daughter ("Trutherism is becoming a contagious disease"), I'm thinking that I need to revisit the question of what constitutes "trutherism."

    At the core of the Truther belief system is not necessarily the assertion that a rumor or a conspiracy theory is true. Rather, it is the idea that such unfounded rumors require an "explanation" and have to be addressed, in the interest of "The Truth."

    Politically, this is a great loophole for mischief-making and vicious slander-mongering, for it allows the accusers to hide behind the meme that they are actually engaged in a Search For Truth.

    Thus, the people who attack Sarah Palin and her daughter can say that they really aren't attacking them. That this could all be cleared up! If only they'd offer proof!

    Here's how Andrew Sullivan put it yesterday:

    There must be plenty of medical records and obstetricians and medical eye-witnesses prepared to testify to Sarah Palin's giving birth to Trig. There must be a record of Bristol's high school attendance for the past year. And surely, surely, the McCain camp did due diligence on this. But the noise around this story is now deafening, and the weirdness of the chronology sufficient to rise to the level of good faith questions. So please give us these answers - and provide medical records for Sarah Palin's pregnancy - and put this to rest.
    And in an update, Sullivan comes close to admitting how wrong the speculation was, but he still hides behind the "search for truth" meme:
    Here's a photo that looks like it confirms Palin's pregnancy, uploaded today, on what was the last day of the Alaska Legislature's Session, on April 13, 2008, five days before Trig Palin was born. More here. This seems to put the kibbosh on this, although it would still be good to have official confirmation from the McCain campaign, which should be easy enough to do. Just a simple confirmation from the doctor who was present at the birth. Here's a Times of London story on the affair. As for all the hyper-ventilation about how despicable and vile and evil it is to ask some easily verifiable questions about a central argument of the McCain-Palin campaign, read my original post a few hours ago.
    Yeah, I did read it. Standard, garden-variety Trutherism, much like the way the Obama Birth Certificate Truthers repeat the "It would be very easy for the Obama campaign to clear this up!" mantra.

    Meanwhile, DailyKos is now having an Emily Litella moment:

    Unless someone has counter evidence, we can drop this crap now. Yes, there are still some interesting questions, such as why she flew to Dallas and back when she was this pregnant, and why the Alaska Airlines crewmembers insisted that she was not visibly pregnant on the flight. Nevertheless, until this photo is debunked, we look stupid pushing this rumor.
    Really? I think they looked more than stupid. Accusing Governor Palin's 16 year old daughter (who had never done anything to any of her accusers) of being the mother of her brother was (to my mind, at least) downright evil.

    They might drop the crap now, but the damage was done. To a young girl, who was -- and still is -- cruelly mocked in what may be the most outrageous (and sexist) displays of political viciousness in recent American history.

    Bear in mind that this started with no evidence at all, other than someone repeating third-hand unsubstantiated information that Governor Palin never looked pregnant, and her daughter missed school because of mono:

    ;...the oldest girl is rumored to have actually been the one who had the last baby, the one with Down's Syndrome. She was taken out of school the last 4 or 5 months of her mother's pregnancy.

    On March 5th, 2008 Alaska's Republican Governor, Sarah Palin, announced to the media that she was 7 months pregnant with her 5th child. She is currently 44.

    Palin's daughter Bristol is 16 and attends an Anchorage high school. Students who have attended class with her report that she has been out of school for months, claiming a prolonged case of mono.

    Did anyone anywhere verify the "mono" story?

    Ah, but that's part of the magic of Trutherism. There is no need for anyone to verify anything, any more than a troll commenter has to verify anything.

    Under Trutherism, the onus is placed on the person accused to disprove -- in the name of The Truth!

    How do we know, for example, that Todd Palin is in fact the father of any of "his" alleged biological children? And how do we know that John McCain, Barack Obama, or Joe Biden are the biological fathers of the children they claim to be theirs?

    Americans need to know these things, because after all, the candidates claim to be in favor of family values, and by the Andrew Sullivan standard it shouldn't be asking too much for them to clear up these questions by performing easily available DNA testing, and "put this to rest."

    The above may sound ridiculous, but it's an example of how Trutherism works. Once a rumor gets started and larger web sites with "credibility" get in on the action, even a baseless and otherwise ridiculous rumor can begin to take on the appearance of something that has to be denied. WorldNetDaily spread rumors that McCain was a Communist turncoat who lived in a Hanoi apartment with prostitutes during his phony captivity, and WND also helped spread an equally ridiculous rumor that Barack Obama was a sort of tour guide who had sex with his male client and plied him with drugs -- while in the state legislature! I took the claim seriously enough to carefully listen to the pack of made-up lies, which only reminded me how easy it is to promulgate them:

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

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

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

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

    Another nonsensical claim I've blogged about before is the "idea" (recently revived during the primary campaign) that Senator Chris Dodd is actually the secret son of Joseph Stalin:
    Joseph Stalin, the Soviet dictator, had had an "illegitimate" son who became a U.S. Senator. Furthermore, according to Skolnick, highly respected by those who knew him, the son of that U.S. Senator is Christopher J. Dodd, now running for U.S. president!

    Glancing at photos of Stalin and Dodd, one is struck by the resemblance. How far did Soviet Comintern (Cominform) penetration of the West get during the 1930s and 1940s? This question has been raised previously by Conspiracy Nation. ("Recent Exposes Of Reds," The superficially informed will not be aware of the "sleeper agent" concept. The patience of the Russian Bear is infinite, compared with our own "hurry-up" society.

    In my earlier post, after carefully (and sarcastically) examining the "evidence," I concluded that more proof is needed!
    I know my opinion doesn't count for much, but for what it's worth, I'm going to stick my neck out here and say that more proof is needed before we declare Lincoln was shot by his wife in a Rothschild conspiracy, or that Senator Dodd is Stalin's grandson.
    Looking back, I think I was kinder to Senator Dodd (and to Stalin) than Andrew Sullivan was to the Palins yesterday.

    I demanded no DNA testing, no medical records, even though they are all easily available and Senator Dodd could put this all to rest.

    While the groundless Stalin/Dodd paternity rumor hasn't been taken seriously enough to have become a major industry, it's still floating around. Here's the original claim (by a well-known conspiracy theorist named Sherman Skolnick):

    Soviet dictator Josef Stalin reportedly had an illegitimate son. The offspring, Stalin's illegitimate grandson reportedly is U.S. Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut. His father was also a U.S. Senator who was censured by the U.S. Senate as a result of a scandal. A close associate of Chris Dodd in the past often visited Moscow and Siberia reportedly as part of the "U.S. State Department". More Great Secrets of the 20th Century to follow.
    I'll just bet there were more to follow.

    Anyone can say anything about anyone. I'm not seeing much difference between the Palin Truther standard and the Stalin Truther standard. Both "cases" involve ungrounded assertions of parentage (bolstered by asserted photographic similarities) affecting important public figures. Yet there's no chorus of rumor-mongers hiding behind the claim that "the truth" about Senator Dodd matters, and that he could easily "put this to rest."

    But even if the rumor ever were to morph and grow until it reached the "Truther" stage of development, the Stalin analogy is very different in its dynamics. Senator Dodd is a grown man, a United States Senator, a seasoned political hardball veteran fully capable of defending himself against silly allegations.

    Contrast that with the cruel attacks on a 16 year old girl and there really is no comparison.

    I'm hoping this Palin Trutherism will backfire big time.

    MORE: It turns out that a key photograph cited as "proof" (and used in the disgraceful smear campaign against Bristol Palin) was not even taken within the period in question:

    Not only is the DailyKos disgustingly inspecting Bristol's midriff with all the fervor of LA paparazzi examining J-Lo's or Jennifer Aniston's washboard stomachs for evidence of a "bump," the DailyKos is wrong on when the photo was taken. It was taken, and published, by the Anchorage Daily News in 2006. Baby Trig, a child with Down's Syndrome, was born on April 18, 2008. That's a long time for a teen girl to be carrying a "bump" which looks nothing more than the curve of a tight sweater.
    The people who did this ought to be ashamed. But instead they'll claim they were only interested in "the Truth."

    Being a Truther means never having to check the details of what you're citing.

    MORE: The Palin family released a statement saying that Bristol Palin is five months pregnant now, and that she plans to marry the father.

    While this pregnancy is utterly irrelevant to the malicious claim that she gave birth to her brother in April (or that her mother was not pregnant), I'd be willing to bet that some of the Truthers will claim they were "vindicated." (Probably under the theory that iIf she wasn't pregnant with her brother, she might as well have been. And pregnancy is hypocrisy. Or something....)

    I'm sorry this was forced on them.

    The family shouldn't have had to say a damned thing about what should be a private family matter.

    MORE: Michele Catalano looks at the smear-Palin machine:

    The fact is, the left is all about privacy in the matters of the womb. Were they to stay true to their colors, this mantra of theirs would seem to preclude them from judging Bristol's pregnancy and her choice to keep her child, right? It will be interesting to see how this plays out. The Kos kids and their blog followers have already made one attempt to ruin this girl's life. Now that they have a story with actual truth behind it, we'll have to sit back and see how far they run with a teenager's identity.

    Let me make it clear: there are many things I don't like about Sarah Palin. We are ideologically opposed on numerous issues. Her stance on creationism and her pro-life zealousness are just two examples. Two big ones. There's the fact that McCain chose Palin for VP after meeting her only once; I'd like to think that more thought goes into the process than the need to find a conservative woman for your ticket. I'm naive like that. But the last two days of mudslinging against Palin have been so extreme, they have transformed her into an almost sympathetic figure in my eyes. More important, the barbs thrown at her have made me look upon liberals with a level of contempt I have not felt since, well, 2004.

    I think this will backfire with ordinary voters too.

    posted by Eric at 10:34 AM | Comments (4)

    Petrol Dictators Unpopular

    Canadian Liberal Senator Jerry Grafstein has a few words about polls in America.

    "The polling demonstrates that energy independence is looming as a bigger issue than the economy," said Sen. Grafstein. "It's good, but it's not directing that venom at us, but to the petrol dictators.
    He goes on to say that Canada wants to help. I for one want them to.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 09:21 AM | Comments (0)

    Democrats Worry Canadians

    It looks like the Democrat vow to regain respect for America on the international scene has hit a snag.

    DENVER, Colo.--Canadian Parliamentarians in Denver last week tried to seek assurances that Democratic Party presidential candidate Barack Obama isn't singling out Canada as he vows to wean the U.S. off foreign oil and protect domestic jobs.

    The Democratic National Convention was a chance for the party to tout its messages of energy independence and renewing the livelihoods of middle-income workers, leaving Canadian politicians guessing as to whether it was all made for primetime or if more concrete policy positions are on their way--provided that the Democrats win the White House.

    As the U.S.'s largest supplier of oil and its biggest free trade partner, Canada is a prime target for Sen. Obama's campaign against high gas prices and outsourced jobs, about which the Liberal Party, for one, expressed concern.

    "They're very protectionist on trade. They're very aggressive on energy policy and much more open about climate change and global warming than what we've seen before. I've been impressed by some things, but the protectionism thing is a challenge for us because the rhetoric is all about exporting jobs to China, and then they talk about bad trade deals. Well, generally they mean NAFTA. That's a tough issue for us," Liberal foreign affairs critic Bob Rae (Toronto Centre, Ont.), who last week attended his fourth Democratic convention, said in an interview.

    Great job Barry. You are not even in office and already you have one of our largest trading partners worried.

    Fortunately I don't think that Obama and his ship of fools will be doing well in November.

    In fact Sarah Palin who had to work with Canada to get a natural gas pipeline built will be much more reassuring to them. They will know her. Now about that no foreign policy experience meme the Democrats are pushing. I'm betting that it is a wet noodle.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 08:32 AM | Comments (2)

    Most Convention Activities Suspended

    Republicans will be running an abbreviated convention due to hurricane Gustav.

    Republican presidential candidate John McCain announced most of first day's activities at the Republican National Convention would be cancelled due to incoming hurricane storms in the South.

    "We are going to suspend most of our activities tomorrow except for those absolutely necessary," McCain told reporters in St. Paul via satellite from St. Louis Sunday afternoon.

    As he spoke Hurricane Gustav, predicted to reach Category 5 status, was approaching New Orleans, the site where deadly Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005. McCain said,"It's time to take off our Republican hats and put on our American hats and say 'American we are with you and America, we are going to care about people in their times of need.'"

    A Cat 5 hurricane would be just huge. The hurricane that flattened New Orleans was a Cat 3.

    I think it is fortunate that we had Katrina as a warm up. Also that Blanko is out as Governor of Louisiana and Jindal is in. Unfortunately Ray "Buses Underwater" Nagin is still Mayor of New Orleans.

    Republican National Committee Chairman Robert "Mike" Duncan said "essential" activities such as the election of officers, rules adoption and a vote for they party's platform would be performed Monday.

    "We will proceed with business tomorrow, it will be abbreviated," Duncan said. Campaign Manager Davis described these functions as "requisite duties that are constitute" the convention and the convention would resume "as soon as is practical." Convention rules require that GOP delegates do meet and formally nominate McCain as their official presidential nominee.

    Davis also said the GOP would refrain from any "political rhetoric" for the day as well.

    Let us hope things turn out as well as possible for the people of the Gulf Coast. If you are the praying kind, say one.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 07:38 AM | Comments (1)

    If Sarah Palin is anti-gay, isn't Barack Obama?

    An entertaining video from J. Son of Naked Boy News, with some good questions for gay activists.

    posted by Eric at 12:13 AM | Comments (7)

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