The Master Of Hypnosis

This is a follow up to my post Cult of Personality. The best antidote to these techniques is to read and analyze the speeches. Bring your rational mind to bear. You might also be interested in this speech by another master of the technique that has themes similar to an Obama speech.

H/T the comments at AAPS News of the Day which are a must read if you want to understand more.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 10:14 PM | Comments (2)

Happy Halloween!

Ready or not, it's Halloween, so I wanted to wish a nightmarishly good time on all my readers. I'm not wearing a costume, but Coco managed to look a little ghoulish for the occasion.


And I did manage to carve my pumpkin before the sun completely set.


Lucky for me, and lucky for the pumpkin that there was a human to provide the necessary economic stimulus to bail it out and transform it into something useful before the deadline.


Just look what happens to pumpkins that wither and die without intervention!


Trick or treat!

posted by Eric at 07:21 PM | Comments (5)

Libertarians for Obama? Are you kidding?

In light of the previous post on free speech (and for innumerable other reasons), I find it tough to see how any libertarian could possibly justify voting for Barack Obama. I understand why McCain could be considered beyond the pale by libertarians, especially the purists of the Large L variety, and I have voiced my disagreements with him many times. But voting for Obama is something else. He's not merely a statist, but he may be the most statist candidate who ever ran for president.

Yesterday Glenn Reynolds linked Todd Zywicki's observations on this subject. He thinks it may have to do with the fact that libertarians simply find Obama personally likeable, and have not taken the time to think about his positions on the issues:

...I have slowly come to the conclusion that as bad as McCain is, Obama really is much, much worse than I realized for a long time. Maybe I'm just slower at this than others, but it really took a long for it to sink in to me exactly how far left Obama really is. On every single issue that I am aware of, he seems to be at the far left end of the Democratic Party spectrum. I mean really out there.

I think that my slowness to really pick up on this was due to several factors. First, Obama's demeanor is essentially moderate--he doesn't come across as a Howard Dean crazy type. I think this leads one to assume his policies are moderate. Second, my resistance to McCain was really quite strong--I've criticized him here before, especially for the way it seems that he approaches problems. Third, until recently McCain has really run a terrible campaign in terms of explaining the differences between himself and Obama in terms of illustrating exactly how far left Obama is. Fourth, because of media bias, the media has tended to reinforce the idea that Obama is a moderate and not to highlight the embarrassing parts of his message.

Perhaps most fundamentally, given the history of the world over the past 25 years I think I just had assumed that no serious politician or thinker would in this day and age hold the sorts of views that Obama seems to hold. Raising taxes in a recession, protectionism, abolition of the secret ballot for union elections, big spending increases, nationalized health care, and most appallingly (to my mind) the potential reimposition of the "Fairness Doctrine"--I mean this is pretty serious stuff. And when combined with a Democratic Congress, I think we may be talking about (to use Thomas Sowell's recent phrase) a "point of no return." I guess I just assumed that Obama would be sort of Bill Clintonish--"the era of big government is over" and all that stuff. That he would have absorbed the basic insights of recent decades on taxes, trade, regulation, etc.

(This morning Glenn linked David Bernstein, who has a lot more.)

I think most people who have studied Barack Obama's redistributionist views would agree that he is considerably to the left of Clinton, if not downright socialistic.

So what's up? Might libertarians for Obama be engaged in what Glenn Reynolds and Matt Welch characterized as wishful thinking?

In light of history, it would be hyperbole to argue that Obama is the antithesis of libertarianism. But consider this: there's already burgeoning movement of Americans (ranging from plumbers to economists) who are so appalled by Obama's incentive-stifling tax policies that they're threatening to go John Galt. (If that's not a clue for the apparently clueless, I don't know what would be. )

So, I understand why libertarians might want to vote for Bob Barr over John McCain.

But I find myself wondering whether those libertarians who are voting Obama are in effect voting to crush John Galt.

I hope it's ignorance and not cognitive dissonance.

posted by Eric at 01:29 PM | Comments (24)

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!

M. Simon's post about the hypnotic qualities of Barack Obama made me recall something which might be of interest, and which may or may not shed light on the human perceptions involved.

Basically, I found Barack Obama interesting at first, and the fact that he had a more pleasant voice than Hillary made me favor his dulcet tones over her shrill screechiness. Not that I ever contemplated voting for him in the general election, but if I have to endure socialism, I'd at least prefer not to have to listen to shrill voices all the time. I have a real problem listening to unpleasant sounds, especially grating ones, and it gets worse as I get older. (This is not sarcasm, but a true statement.)

Yet I don't think this means I am being lulled into a false sense of security by the pleasant tones, much less hypnotized. I am one of those people who cannot be hypnotized (yes, it has been tried), because my overwhelming sense of skepticism is aggravated by the fact that hypnosis is a form of manipulation, and when I perceive that people are trying to manipulate me, I do not go along with them, even when I agree with them. (Hell, I couldn't even meditate when I tried, for which I was gently chided by a meditation expert who was conducting an MCLE seminar.) My friends consist of people who do not and would not try to mess with me or manipulate me the way so many people have over the years -- especially those who claim to want to "help." (My favorite bumpersticker is "DEAR GOD, PLEASE DON'T LET THE GOVERNMENT HELP ME ANYMORE.") So, for me, Obama's words don't have any sort of hypnotic effect. He's easy to tune out, though.

The problem I have with him is that I have already grown sick to death of him, and he hasn't even been elected yet.

Funny, because I found Mikhail Gorbachev refreshing too. Put a nice, fresh, pleasant face on Communism, eh? My father (a retired officer who had served in World War II) warned me that he could end up being far worse than the mean-looking guys, and that we would be better off with a scowling ugly Russian -- especially ordinary people who need to clearly understand the nature of the enemy. I noticed that leftists felt the same way about Ronald Reagan. They hated his likeability for reasons similar to my father's. Republicans were supposed to be mean and ugly like Nixon. Not avuncular and happy like Reagan.

I don't know where the hell I'm going with this, because it is not my purpose to compare Obama to Reagan or Gorbachev, or any of the three to each other.

But as to hypnosis, fortunately the conventional wisdom holds that people cannot be hynotized to do things against their will or against their better judgment. The people who want to be hypnotized by Barack Obama can go ahead and be hypnotized.

For me, his curtain of change is soundproof.

MORE: Speaking of Ronald Reagan, here's David Bernstein:

The last thing the U.S. needs is a left-wing Ronald Reagan, but that might well be what we get.
(Via Glenn Reynolds.)

posted by Eric at 11:55 AM | Comments (3)

The price of vigilance

Tom Maguire asks some good questions about the recent news item involving Barack Obama's aunt:

Barack Obama has an aunt (OK, a half-aunt) living in Boston and we need a British newspaper to tell us this? What else are we going to learn about Obama after we elect him? And will we learn it from our own ever-vigilant press, or must we rely on the kindness of foreigners?
While "ever-vigilant" drips with sarcasm, the fact is that there are still certain segments of the press that have tendencies to occasionally ask other than softball questions of the Obama campaign.

But there's a penalty to be paid. When they do, they are dropped from the campaign, and good luck covering anything after that:

The Obama campaign has decided to heave out three newspapers from its plane for the final days of its blitz across battleground states -- and all three endorsed Sen. John McCain for president!

The NY POST, WASHINGTON TIMES and DALLAS MORNING NEWS have all been told to move out by Sunday to make room for network bigwigs -- and possibly for the inclusion of reporters from two black magazines, ESSENCE and JET, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.


After a week of quiet but desperate behind-the-scenes negotiations, the reporters of the three papers heard last night that they were definitely off for the final swing. They are already planning how to cover the final days by flying commercial or driving from event to event.

This is not to say that the above newspapers are in the "ever-vigilant" category, but I think they're at least occasionally vigilant. And we can't have incidents of occasional vigilance, can we?

Meanwhile, retired military officers who have offered analyses to the occasionally vigilant press are finding themselves investigated by the FCC:

A Federal Communications Commission investigation of on-air military analysts is providing a glimpse of what Democrats and an Obama administration will do to critics once they capture Washington.

The FCC has sent letters to some of the nation's most prominent military analysts -- some of them pro-President Bush and pro-war -- suggesting they may have broken the law when they appeared on television stations to comment on and explain the war on terrorism.

And if you think it will have a chilling effect, you're right! The military commentators are feeling the chill:
The probe is sending chills through the ranks of military commentators, some of them decorated war heroes who share their expertise with millions of lay viewers. They see it as one in a series of moves the Left is making to intimidate and shut up its critics.

"We are seeing the dawn of a new era of the current Democratic leadership trying to muzzle free speech and the First Amendment," retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney, a Fox News analyst, told HUMAN EVENTS. "It may be the most invasive intrusion that we have seen in our history. There will be more of these tactics to follow."

Said retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely, one of Fox's first defense analysts, "It's an affront to freedom of speech. As retired officers, we're private citizens and can say anything we want under the First Amendment. The whole thing was to explain to the American people what was going on in war and analyzing it."

If we move from the occasionally vigilant to those who might really have earned the title of ever-vigilant (i.e. critical), the author thinks there's a lot more to come. Like government censorship:
Democrats have more in store to try to muzzle conservatives. They talk of reactivating the so-called Fairness Doctrine in which federal government bureaucrats monitor radio and TV programs and rule on their fairness. Conservatives say the real goal is to kill right-leaning talk radio.
Kill talk radio? You mean, the people who want to listen to the commercially popular Rush Limbaugh might not like being forced to hear the commercially failed Al Franken delivering rebuttals? Imagine that!

Considering the multi-level government investigation of Joe the Plumber (an ordinary citizen who asked Obama a question prompting his "spread the wealth" reply), I'd say that if Obama is elected, all signs point in the direction of a major crackdown on vigilance.

This is the first time I've ever seen a presidential campaign which has repeatedly sought criminal prosecution of its critics.

We've all heard that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

But if the price of vigilance means a literal loss of freedom, what then?

posted by Eric at 10:40 AM | Comments (18)

Cult Of Personality

The last day or so I have been looking at the The Mass Psychology of Fascism and how to Escape from Freedom. Not the books. Stuff on the net. Let me start with Ali Sina's discussion of the cult of personality.

There are other disturbing similarities. Like Hitler and Khomeini, Obama also likes to create a cult of personality around himself. As stated above, when a large number of a population is discontent, a charismatic leader can seize the opportunity and present himself as the agent of change. He can create a cult of Personality by associating himself with the idea of change. He convinces everyone that things are terrible and a drastic change is needed. He then casts himself as the only person who can deliver this revolutionary transformation that everyone is waiting for. He portrays himself as a benevolent guide; the only one who cares about people and their needs and can pull them out of their alleged misery. In reality, they have no clue about how to address the problem - have no experience, no track record. But they are convincing because they are self assured.

These revolutionary leaders need foes. They exaggerate the problems. They make everything look gloomy. They lie, cheat and slander their opponents while casting themselves as the saviors of the nation. Hitler chose the Jews to blame for everything that was wrong in Germany. Khomeini made the Shah and his westernization plans his scapegoats. Obama has chosen President George W. Bush to smear. He can rally people around himself, as long as he can instill in them the dislike of Bush and equate his rival, McCain to him. Sigmund Freud wrote, "It is always possible to bind together a considerable number of people in love, so long as there are other people left over to receive the manifestations of their aggressiveness" (Civilization and Its Discontents).

A cult of personality is excessive adulation, admiration and exaltation of a charismatic leader, often with unproven merits or achievements. It is similar to hero worship except that it is created specifically for political leaders.

Hmmm. Does that sound like something you have seen lately? There is way more and it is all good. So read it.

And then we have Fouad Ajami discussing Obama and the Politics of Crowds.

There is something odd -- and dare I say novel -- in American politics about the crowds that have been greeting Barack Obama on his campaign trail. Hitherto, crowds have not been a prominent feature of American politics. We associate them with the temper of Third World societies. We think of places like Argentina and Egypt and Iran, of multitudes brought together by their zeal for a Peron or a Nasser or a Khomeini. In these kinds of societies, the crowd comes forth to affirm its faith in a redeemer: a man who would set the world right.

As the late Nobel laureate Elias Canetti observes in his great book, "Crowds and Power" (first published in 1960), the crowd is based on an illusion of equality: Its quest is for that moment when "distinctions are thrown off and all become equal. It is for the sake of this blessed moment, when no one is greater or better than another, that people become a crowd." These crowds, in the tens of thousands, who have been turning out for the Democratic standard-bearer in St. Louis and Denver and Portland, are a measure of American distress.

On the face of it, there is nothing overwhelmingly stirring about Sen. Obama. There is a cerebral quality to him, and an air of detachment. He has eloquence, but within bounds. After nearly two years on the trail, the audience can pretty much anticipate and recite his lines. The political genius of the man is that he is a blank slate. The devotees can project onto him what they wish. The coalition that has propelled his quest -- African-Americans and affluent white liberals -- has no economic coherence. But for the moment, there is the illusion of a common undertaking -- Canetti's feeling of equality within the crowd. The day after, the crowd will of course discover its own fissures. The affluent will have to pay for the programs promised the poor. The redistribution agenda that runs through Mr. Obama's vision is anathema to the Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and the hedge-fund managers now smitten with him. Their ethos is one of competition and the justice of the rewards that come with risk and effort. All this is shelved, as the devotees sustain the candidacy of a man whose public career has been a steady advocacy of reining in the market and organizing those who believe in entitlement and redistribution.

Yep. It is a pretty good con. And he is very close to pulling it off. Very close.

One of the big clues for me that a lot of people see through him is that many people only half in jest call him "Dear Leader".

There is a bit I came across a while back claiming his success with at least part of the crowd is due to hypnotic techniques.

THE EVIDENCE IS HERE: This document contains over 60 pages of evidence and analysis proving Barack Obama's use of a little-known and highly deceptive and manipulative form of "hack" hypnosis on millions of unaware Americans, and reveals what only a few psychologists and hypnosis/NLP experts know.

The entire paper is located here.

I found this on another forum, contributed by one of the more certified liberal loons. On first blush my sentiments were "yeah right." But because it was Sunday morning and a slow news day, I decided to indulge my curiosity and my funny bone and have a look see into this assertion of mass hypnosis by one Barack Obama.

Needless to say, what I found was not only intriguing, but captivating in both presentation and common sense reality. What this writer has to say and the way that he presents his argument, not only captivates the imagination? But also causes the reader to call forth the images of their own personal recollections, while the author utilizes his own observations and experience to make his points and his arguments for the assertions he is representing.

You know. That does indeed seem far fetched. But there is a method behind the madness. Deduction and reasoning.
And as I read th author's presentation the thought kept bouncing back at me that these are the very same techniques and principles (as being described) employed and deployed by all successful "preachers" and "charismatic speakers" historically. And that someone at some point had simply sat down and applied analytical thinking and deduction to the process of successfully leading people through manipulative speaking.

And where better to learn these techniques for a young Barack Obama, than at the feet of the professed and by observing and emulating the performances of charismatic preachers and others in his own life.

This is where Barack Obama had his "Eureka moment" in my estimation.

Now that does make sense. Preachers tend to come in styles. The styles tend to cluster. Obama's job is a tough one. He has to translate a preaching style that worked on the South Side Of Chicago into one that will work on all of America. That is a tough one.

I am in the process of reading the pdf and I would have to say that it is slow going at first. Here is an excerpt from the beginning that I think is key.

Dr. Erickson discovered while working as a therapist, that he could hide therapeutic hypnosis within the normal content of an inconspicuous conversation with the patient, and avoid much of the patient's conscious resistance that normally accompanied hypnotherapy.18 Dr. Erickson realized the subconscious mind was always listening, and understood better than anyone before how to access it, and implant suggestions into it. What Dr. Erickson did was figure out how to put people into trance and hypnotize them and implant suggestions with seemingly normal conversation. He discovered that people could achieve this heightened state of hyper-suggestibility without the traditional difficultly-induced coma-like state traditionally associated with hypnosis. Though his pioneering understanding, he was able to do the same and much more often with simple plays on words and embedded meanings in a single sentence. The entire field of "covert hypnosis", or "conversational hypnosis" is based on Dr. Erickson's techniques, and is now primarily used by hypnotists and psychiatrists.19 Conversational hypnosis is often referred to as Ericksonian hypnosis. The word "hypnosis" is never mentioned and there is nothing overt to give away that hypnosis is being used. It is impossible to detect unless you know precisely what to look for. Hack versions of these techniques are unfortunately taught to be used as persuasion tools for salespersons, and even more unfortunately also for men looking to enhance their success picking up and seducing with women.
The story really doesn't get going until pdf page 15 where the description of how Obama uses the techniques. It discusses his Denver 2008 Convention speech. So if the beginning bores you jump to page 14 or 15 and dig in.

NLP was mentioned previously, so what is this NLP stuff? It is Neuro-Linguistic Programming. Let's look at what the wiki has to say.

NLP was co-created by Richard Bandler and linguist John Grinder in the 1970s through observation and imitation of gestalt therapist Fritz Perls, family systems therapist Virginia Satir and psychiatrist Milton H. Erickson. The originators emphasized modeling of excellence as the core methodology, that is, the observational and information gathering methods they developed to define and produce the models of exceptional communicators. They also claimed that the basic assumptions of NLP draw from aspects of neurology ("neuro-"), transformational grammar ("linguistics") and cybernetics ("programming"). It has often been promoted as an art and science of effective communication and defined as 'the study of the structure of subjective experience'. Others put more emphasis on the tools, techniques and applications specific to contexts such as psychotherapy, business management and communications training, motivational seminars, personal development, and teaching.
Motivational seminars? That sounds a lot like a political rally. I'd be surprised if all candidates didn't use those techniques.

So can those techniques be taught? Neuro-Linguistic Programming for Dummies thinks so. I haven't read the book so I can't comment.

So what is the antidote to all this? Study the product before you buy. Be sure it is what you want and that the price is acceptable and know the techniques being used on you so you won't be bamboozled.

If you would like to listen to a perfect example of hypnotized Obama supporters just click on the link. Howard Stern does a fine job of ferreting out some people who do not know their product. At all.

Amazon has a set of videos explaining the techniques by Derren Brown. It looks interesting. Especially when he is seducing the girls. I'm sure such techniques could be used in the other direction by the ladies. If they knew how.

Here is a supposed example of street hypnosis by Derren Brown on YouTube. What do you think? I think that he does have some success but his failures are edited out. What makes me think that? I was never moved by Obama and now he grates on my nerves. If he grates on your nerves:

Don't give it to him. Make him steal it.

You know. It just came to me. It is all about Jeddi Mind Tricks. He is not the President we want. We can move along now and vote for McCain.

Watch Obama in action with appropriate music:

Update: 31 Oct 008 1357z

Commenter who, me? had this to say in the comments at Power and Control:

I was intensively trained in NLP in 1989, by some of the best and most ethical, with some overlap of Erickson methods. I've studied and used it professionally since then, in partnership with clients for the changes they explicitly want and need and agree to.

For the most part the article is accurate.

The difficulty with using it for argument is that NLP is derived from long-standing persuasive techniques, and thus BO can be regarded simply as good at giving pre-scripted persuasive speeches.

However, the elements are there as described. Notice particularly the Big Code Words -- nominalizations. The practitioner is taught to find the subject's favorite nominalizations, the ones resonant with life and promise for the listener --"criteria" words. The practitioner need have no hint of what the specifics are. Betsy Newmark refers to public education now operating on such "motivational" abstractions, thereby priming voters for this kind of packaged appeal.

I have avoided watching Obama's speeches. So I haven't directly calibrated his lulling pacing, tonal delivery, etc. But astonishing to me is, after 19 years of close attention to my own and others' thought patterns, I was finding a kind of "drag" toward Obama -- not the candidate but the voting target -- though I do not support him. As I anticipated going into the early-voting booth, I felt especially I needed to pay close attention, not to somehow go blank and vote for him. I've never ever felt that concern in any other election, as to any other candidate.

In short, both reading the article and noting with astonishment something in the air seemingly affecting me in spite of myself, there's a lot to this. But an a-logical demagogue-ready collective-mentality population really is key, otherwise the slick Package Nominalizations, gestures, and emotion-infused appeals to free-floating futile-program-based idealism wouldn't be so effective delivered wholesale.

That is VERY interesting.

Some MDs discussing the pdf paper. It is very interesting pro and con. Thanks to commenter Penny. Here is a very interesting comment from the "MDs discussing" link:

William D Horton, Psy. D. Says:
October 29th, 2008 at 5:52 pm

I am the co-author and technical advisor/expert for the article. My name is on it in several of the placements, but through an error, not all. I broke it down as a way to understand the Obama sudden rise to power. The co-author wants to remain behind the scene as he is fearful of negative feedback. I personally have respect for the skill Senator Obama uses these skills. I just wanted to point out the deep emotional response he elicits. I have talked about this on several radio shows and other outlets. If I had it to do over I would have removed partisan aspects, but I do stand by the techical aspects of the article.

William Horton Psy. D. CAC Master Hypnotist and NLP trainer

BTW the William Horton link goes to NFNLP - The National Federation of NLP.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 07:24 AM | Comments (1)

It Is October - Surprise!

Since we love rumors around here let me pass on another one. According to The Obama File a tape in which Michelle Obama is castigating racists for working for the defeat of her husband will air on FOX some time in the next few days (given the typical election calculations it will be out some time today - the Friday before elections). I discussed the tape a couple of weeks ago at Totally Unverified. Here is what the Obama File has to say:

A final agreement has been reached between African Press International (API) and Fox News Network (USA) on the dates to air the Michelle Obama tape arising from a discussion Mrs. Obama had with the API two weeks ago. The show will take place any day/time from now, with a 15 minutes alert on when it is to take place. Other programmes will be interrupted. This is a precaution taken to avoid interference from any quarter.

In the agreement, Fox News Network will broadcast 39 minutes of the 54 minutes long tape. The whole tape cannot be aired unedited due to security reasons and especially due to the explosive political temperature in the country because of the Presidential elections that is just around the corner, November 4th.

The tape will be aired in two portions by two separate units in the Network. API's representative will appear live in one of the shows.

So what do I think? The whole thing seems strange including the secrecy and all. Obviously Michelle knows who she talked to so the whole idea of needing security to protect any one - including FOX News - seems just a little nuts. But who knows? It might happen.

October surprises generally happen on the Friday before the election and to insure the maximum dissemination with minimum rebuttal the news usually breaks around noon Eastern Time. About 1600 GMT for those keeping Coordinated Universal Time.

Of course the Obama camp will have their October surprise ready too. So we may have competing October surprises for a change. It will be interesting and should provide a lot of blog fodder if any of this happens.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 03:15 AM | Comments (2)

Our news is not your news!

I was all set to write a post about the LA Times withholding the video of Rashid Khalidi's farewell party (which featured the Ayerses and the Obamas among other luminaries), when I saw that WorldNetDaily has stepped right up to the moral equivalency plate with a story about McCain giving Khalidi (or at least some previous political incarnation of Khalidi) some money.

That means, obviously, that I can't blog about the Khalidi video without looking like a hypocrite, right? Because, the thinking goes, if the Republicans gave money to Khalidi, then he becomes magically "respectable" and politically untouchable forever. Like Bill Ayers via Walter Annenberg.

The problem with that logic is that it shouldn't matter who gave him money or why. What matters here is that the tape is being withheld, in a manner which suggests they're playing the hide-and-seek game instead of reporting. (Which ties right in to what Jules Crittenden and Michael S. Malone said the other day.)

As to the "investigative journalists" who might get to the bottom of this and track down the Khalidi video, they're too busy going after Joe the Plumber and Sarah Palin, who unlike most politicians is not afraid to fight back.

What's interesting about the Ayers angle is that the LA Times (which is withholding the tape) didn't report that Ayers and Dohrn were there:

"But we should know about their relationship, including apparently information that is held by the Los Angeles Times concerning an event that Mr Ayers attended with a PLO spokesman."

McCain appeared to be referring to a Los Angeles Times article from April which said Obama knew and attended a farewell party for Rashid Khalidi, a former PLO spokesman, during his academic career in Chicago. The article makes no mention of Ayers's presence at the event.

"The Los Angeles Times refuses to make that videotape public. I'm not in the business of talking about media bias but what if there was a tape with John McCain with a neo-Nazi outfit being held by some media outlet?

"I think the treatment of the issue would be slightly different," he said, saying Ayers had a "long relationship" with Obama, who was eight years old when the Weathermen were waging their radical campaign.

Yes, not only did they keep Ayers out of the report, but they tried to keep a lid on it -- even to the point of making McCain look like a blithering gaffer for mentioning Ayers. This ABC story was originally titled "McCain Again Botches Khalidi Attack; Larry King Forced to Correct Him," until they realized that McCain damned well meant to mention Ayers. Why? Because Ayers was there. As if they didn't know.

At the risk of sounding like a wild conspiracy theorist, I'd be willing to bet that Ayers is at least part of the reason for withholding the tape. Maybe he and his wife were a little too chummy with people who didn't mind being chummy in 2003, but would find it immensely embarrassing right now.

Not being able to see it, no one will know.

There's more here, and had the New York Sun not reported on Ayers presence there, it's doubtful anyone would have known:

A spokeswoman for McCain said the senator based his allegation about Ayers on another newspaper article -- a New York Sun report in 2005 that Ayers had been at the same banquet.

The Sun article reported that Ayers had contributed to a commemorative testimonial book honoring Khalidi but did not specify whether that book was signed by dinner attendees or assembled beforehand. "A big farewell dinner was held in their honor by AAAN with a commemorative book filled with testimonials from their friends and political allies. These included the left wing anti-war group Not In My Name, the Electronic Intifada, and the ex-Weatherman domestic terrorists Bernadine Dohrn and Bill Ayers," authors Sol Stern and Fred Siegel reported.

McCain has spent weeks trying to make Obama's relationship with Ayers an issue in the campaign, saying that Obama had not been truthful with the American people about how close the two are.

The Los Angeles Times wrote in April about the banquet as part of a broader story examining Obama's relationship with the Palestinian community in Chicago. The paper issued a statement yesterday saying their source asked them not to release the video.

"The Los Angeles Times did not publish the videotape because it was provided to us by a confidential source who did so on the condition that we not release it," the paper quoted Russ Stanton, editor of the LA Times, saying. "The Times keeps its promises to sources."

Jamie Gold, the newspaper's readers' representative, said in a statement: "More than six months ago the Los Angeles Times published a detailed account of the events shown on the videotape. The Times is not suppressing anything. Just the opposite -- the L.A. Times brought the matter to light."

Brought the matter to light? The way the LA Times story was written, you wouldn't know who was there except that some angry Palestinian voices had "challenged [Obama's] thinking."

Who was there never would have been brought to light at all by the LA Times, and the only reason we know about it is because of the persistence of the 2005 New York Sun piece:

...when Columbia academic officials made this choice they knew they were getting a Palestinian political activist. From 1976 to 1982, Mr. Khalidi was a director in Beirut of the official Palestinian press agency, WAFA. Later he served on the PLO "guidance committee" at the Madrid peace conference.

In bringing professor Khalidi to Morningside Heights from the University of Chicago, Columbia also got itself a twofer of Palestinian activism and advocacy. Mr. Khalidi's wife, Mona, who also served in Beirut as chief editor of the English section of the WAFA press agency, was hired as dean of foreign students at Columbia's SIPA, working under Dean Anderson. In Chicago, the Khalidis founded the Arab American Action Network, and Mona Khalidi served as its president. A big farewell dinner was held in their honor by AAAN with a commemorative book filled with testimonials from their friends and political allies. These included the left wing anti-war group Not In My Name, the Electronic Intifada, and the ex-Weatherman domestic terrorists Bernadine Dohrn and Bill Ayers. (There were also testimonials from then-state Senator Barack Obama and the mayor of Chicago.)

Whoa, Daley too? He's the head of the movement to mainstream Bill Ayers, "Citizen of the Year."

I'll just bet they were chummy. I'd love to see the tape.

Precisely why they won't let me.

UPDATE: The LA Times' Khalidi tape coverup continues, and Ron Rosenbaum says that their latest response is "worthy of a Rumsfeld press conference."

Read it.

posted by Eric at 07:19 PM | Comments (6)

Fear and loathing.

Don't ask me why.

I heard this and had an intense feeling something terrible was about to happen, then a flock of crows flew low overhead, in avian anarchist formation.

No going home.

MORE: I liked dr kill's comment to the last post:

Human reality is universal only at the border of life and death. The further Americans live from death, the less they understand how to determine the relative importance of deeds and ideas. There is nothing like witnessing a little death to realign one's priorities more realistically.
Yeah, like don't I know it.

posted by Eric at 05:39 PM | Comments (3)

A time for truth change!

I don't know whether to call this the quote of the day, the quote of the month, or the quote of the year, but I think what Bill Quick says here is brilliant:

A free and healthy democracy cannot function when it has no way to determine reality.
This has been on my mind for a long time.

While Quick's focus is on the "corrupt, degenerate, dangerous mass media" which made it happen, I think that academia -- especially post-Modernist deconstructionism -- has played a large role with their decades-old war on reality. The idea that there is no reality, that instead there are only competing realities, means that whatever version of the truth works for you is true.

Now, some religious people will tend to see a phrase like "the truth" and think in religious terms. Social conservatives often define morality in terms of absolute truths, and many of them define those who disagree as "moral relativists." I think this distorts the process further, because history does show that different societies and cultures -- including those squarely within the Western tradition -- have defined morality differently. Morality has a way of changing over time. I worry that seeing morality as absolute truth makes it more difficult to focus on regular, factual truth -- such as what happened on, say, September 11, 2001.

That there are such people as 9/11 Truthers, and that there is a well organized movement of them, is something I find deeply disturbing. People like that see truth as driven by what they want to be true, and to them, facts play a subordinate role.

Bill Quick's post was about the polls (which was why Glenn linked it), and the polls of course are all over the map -- which means they cannot possibly all be right. What this means is that depending on your preferences, you can seize upon whatever poll you want, or claim quite credibly that because they're so sloppy, none of them can be relied on.

Still, there's an old political saying that "the only poll that counts is the one on Election Day."

Shouldn't that be reassuring? Won't there be, um, "closure" after the results are in, no matter who wins?

In view of the ferocious, conspiracy-driven relativism that seems poised to supersede traditional ways of determining reality, I'm worried that no matter who wins, his victory will not be seen as real by large numbers of highly partisan people. People on both sides who believe that even numerical truth is whatever they and the people they surround themselves with want it to be.

Bush did not win in 2000, nor did he win in 2004. McCain will not win in 2008. Obama will not win in 2008.

According to the new truth, whoever wins will not have won.

What was once a free and healthy democracy will have lost.

If this looks depressing, sorry. I really should be more cheerful. Maybe I should shift to satire mode.

I should always keep in mind that the people who disagree with me have their realities, and I have mine, and what I say here is just a result of my cultural bias. And since someone else's realities are just as valid as my own, then reality is like, you know, a democracy. It's not up to me to determine it. I have to bow to the reality of the majority.

I should acknowledge that if there is no way to determine reality or truth, I can hardly expect to stumble across it in a blog post, or know it if I see it. And certainly I can't be blamed for thinking what I think.

That's right! If I think something is true, it is a product of my cultural conditioning, and absolutely not my fault.

I probably just need to be reeducated.

(Oh hell, they can just buy me off with truth serum....)

MORE: Via an email from M. Simon, I just learned about an interesting ad campaign advising people to vote twice!

They even have a button to go with it:


If there are multiple realities, I see no problem with multiple voting. I mean it's like if I feel twice as strongly as you about something, then shouldn't my vote count twice as much?

To not allow me to vote according to the views of my conscience would be disenfranchisement!

posted by Eric at 11:33 AM | Comments (9)

Red meat for Ayn Rand

Economist George Newman tears into both candidates, although he offers some advice to McCain:

...Nothing reveals Mr. Obama's visceral hostility to business more than the constant urging of our best and brightest to desert the productive private sector ("greed") and go into public service like politics or community organizing (i.e., organizing people to press government for more handouts). Who in his ideal world would bake our bread, make our shoes and computers, and pilot our airplanes is not clear.

And if you think all this comes from an ardent John McCain fan, you couldn't be more wrong. The Arizona Senator has made some terrible mistakes, one of them trying to out-demagogue Mr. Obama to the economic illiterates. This kind of pandering never works. Such populists and other economic illiterates will always go for the genuine article.

Mr. McCain should have asked some simple questions -- pertinent, educational and easily understood by ordinary voters. Such as:

- If the rise in the price of oil from $70 to $140 was due to "greed" (the all-purpose explanation of the other side for every economic problem), was the fall from $140 to $70 due to a sudden outbreak of altruism?

- If a bank is guilty both for rejecting a mortgage ("redlining") and for approving it ("greed" -- see above), how might a bank president keep his business out of trouble with the law?

- If the financial turmoil of the last year or so was caused by inadequate regulation, which party has controlled both Houses of Congress and all of its financial committees and subcommittees (where such regulation would originate) in the last two years?

- If we bemoan the sending of $750 billion a year to our enemies for imported oil, which party has prevented domestic drilling for decades that would have made us more self-sufficient?

- You were unhappy with Congress, and in 2006 you cast your lot with those who, like Mr. Obama now, promised "change." Are you happy with the changes that have taken place in the last two years?

None of these questions have been asked loudly or often enough, while the other message -- everything is bad, it's all Bush's fault, and McCain=Bush -- has sunk in. So given his own penchant for business bashing, a McCain win would merely count as damage control.

All good points, and I especially liked the discussion of lower oil prices being due to a "sudden outbreak of altruism."

I'm sure it's just coincidental that the "altruism" outbreak occured not long after McCain threatened to drill.

posted by Eric at 09:24 AM | Comments (7)

It Will Not Be Approved

The Register UK is looking at how Greenpeace views fusion. Greenpeace is suspicious. Yes they are.

The (Joint European Torus) JET reactor in Culham, Oxfordshire was completed 25 years ago, and work is underway on ITER in Cadarache, France, a €10bn facility, backed by six countries (including China) plus the EU. The Czech Republic has a smaller-scale reactor, called Compass. All use magnets to force a fusion of two hydrogen isotopes, deuterium and tritium, releasing enormous amounts of energy. Eventually, it's hoped, more than goes in. ITER is designed to produce 500MW for 300 to 500 seconds with an input of 50MW.

"We'll certainly have it in fifty years," ITER's Neil Calder told the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation last week. But not if Greenpeace has its way.

Yes, the fuel for fusion is abundant, and far more productive than fossil fuel - one litre of seawater can produce as much as 30 litres of petrol. It's much safer than nuclear fission. And it doesn't release CO2. So what's the problem?

"Governments should not waste our money on a dangerous toy," Jan Van de Putte of Greenpeace International said when ITER was announced in 2005. Van de Putte predicted it will never be efficient - so why bother?

Spokesperson Bridget Woodman said: "Nuclear fusion has all the problems of nuclear power, including producing nuclear waste and the risks of a nuclear accident."

(Which must break the record for the number of false and contradictory assertions you can cram into a 17-word sentence. But that's par for the course these days. When you hear a phrase like "sustainable energy" the opposite is usually intended - the speaker is referring to an energy source that won't sustain anything for very long or very reliably.)

Actually fusion has very few of the problems of fission power. There is no radioactive debris left over from the splitting of atoms. The nuclear waste problem is tractable because you can choose the materials that will become radioactive from neutron bombardment by design. Short half lives and low probability of activation are the order of the day. And the risk of a serious nuclear accident? Pretty close to zero. Why? First if you turn the reactor off (with an electrical switch) it stops. If you break the vacuum, it stops. At most a few minutes worth of fuel are in inventory in the fusion reactor. For a fission plant there is at least two years of fuel in the reactor at first start-up. And there is almost no residual heat in a fusion plant unlike fission plants which must be cooled for days after a shut down due to the residual heat produced by fission products.

I think the following exemplifies the Greenpeace attitude.

Two of Greenpeace's co-founders, Patrick Moore and Paul Watson long since departed: Watson to run his own anti-whaling group and Moore criticising its anti-human, anti-development agenda. "By the mid-1980s, the environmental movement had abandoned science and logic in favor of emotion and sensationalism," Moore lamented.

Fusion seems to exemplify what Moore means: an anti-modernity superstition. Greenpeace doesn't understand what fusion is, but whatever it is it will be scary, it will be bad, and it must be stopped.

I do like some fusion reactor designs better than others. Here is my favorite: Easy Low Cost No Radiation Fusion. Actually the title is somewhat of a mistake. It should be "Low Radiation" as the reactor will have some neutron output. However, it will be greatly reduced from that of a fission plant or other fusion designs. You can read more about it at: World's Simplest Fusion Reactor Revisited. If you want to get in on the research, you can do it by Starting A Fusion Program In Your Home Town. It is not very expensive. With scrounged materials under $1,000. If You go first class and buy everything off the shelf about $100,000. And if you want to join the low cost fusion experiments community may I suggest IEC Fusion Technology blog. There are links to various source materials and discussion groups on the sidebar.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 04:28 AM | Comments (3)

New IEC Fusion Experiment Contract has a solicitation for a bid for more experiments by EMC2, Doc Bussard's company now being run (at least on the experimental side) by Rick Nebel.

The Naval Air Warfare Center, Weapons Division, China Lake, CA intends to procure on an other than full and open competition basis a service to provide: 1) Research of Electrostatic "Wiffle Ball" Fusion Device. The contractor is to specifically investigate the required instrumentation to achieve spatially resolved plasma densities and spatially resolved particle energies. This requirement is sole sourced to Energy Matter Conversion Corporation, 1202 Parkway Drive, Suite A, Santa Fe, NM 87501, as the only company in the world investigating and developing this type of device.
What does that mean in terms of progress with the Bussard Fusion Reactor? It means that the experiments delineated in the Fusion Report 29 August 2008 had at least enough success to warrant further work.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

Update: Dave Price has some thoughts and more details.

posted by Simon at 04:26 AM

Huge Democrat Turnout Advantage In Florida

Kim Priestap reports on early voting in Florida. Democrats seem to have a big advantage in turnout.

Democrats are beaming that their party is outperforming the Republicans in early voting, releasing numbers Wednesday that show registrants of their party ahead 54 percent to 30 percent among the 1.4 million voters who have gone to the polls early.

"We're thrilled at the record turnout so far," said Democratic Party of Florida spokesman Eric Jotkoff. "It's a clear indication that Democrats want to elect Barack Obama and Democrats up and down the ballot so that we can start creating good jobs, rebuilding our economy and getting our nation back on track."

But party breakdowns for turnout aren't the same as final tallies, and at least one poll offered a different view for the campaign of Republican John McCain.

A Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll gave McCain a 49-45 lead over Democrat Barack Obama among Floridians who have already voted.

And Republicans continued to show a traditional strength, leading 50 percent to the Democrats' 30 percent in the 1.2 million absentee ballots already returned.

I wonder if the PUMA vote is having an effect? I looked into that at The PUMA Question. My conclusion? The PUMAs are being very underrated.

OK. That is Florida which is looking pretty good right now. What about Maine and New Hampshire?

Tonight's been a busy night, in that we've talked to a half dozen people on three times as many subjects - including Team Hillary members in New Hampshire and Maine, who we know well from the primaries.

Here's the kicker: these people aren't McCain supporters. Several are working for Obama now in both states, because they have political jobs and thus must tow the party line. Others are voting Green and no longer campaigning for anyone, but are tuned into things in their states.

We know nothing about New Hampshire or Maine and have never pretended to. We won't start now. All we'll tell you is what these people told us tonight, and it's that they truly do expect John McCain to win both New Hampshire and Maine next week, for the reasons they gave below:

(1) In both states, they have never seen an enthusiasm deficit for Democrats like this. Hillary Democrats there say there are more "closet McCain supporters" than anyone can count. Despite what the media says, people are not enthused and fired up to go out and vote for Obama -- quite the contrary: people are scare of Obama's policies and will be voting McCain. The enthusiasm deficit in both New Hampshire and Maine is "as clear as day" according to those we spoke to tonight. They say they do not see anywhere near the level of Obama signs, stickers, buttons, etc. out this year, as they did Kerry, Gore, Clinton, and even Dukakis gear in years past.

Interesting. It seems that it is the Shrinking Media™ that is the most enthusiastic for Obama and the rest of America not so much.

It also looks like Joe The Plumber has had a big effect in Maine. And as Maine goes so goes the nation.

(2) We asked why people in these states are not voting for Obama and were told that in Maine, especially, a lot of it has to do with Joe the Plumber and redistributing the wealth. Much of Maine makes its living off the sea: fishermen pull in $200,000 or more a year in family businesses. Joe Biden's slip that Obama really intends to define "wealthy" as $150,000 a year or above sent terror through Maine's fishing community and other small business industries. We were told tonight that Maine and New Hampshire have more small family businesses that would be affected by Obama's redistribution of wealth than we could imagine. Joe the Plumber resonated with these people -- especially the fishermen.
And guess what? The Republicans have the wife of a fisherman on the ticket. Word is that Todd Palin is going to Maine to gather some votes. I think he just might get some.

It also looks like caucus fraud is also playing a part.

The other interesting tidbit that came out of the conversation tonight was that of the Hillary Clinton convention delegates who are openly supporting John McCain, the largest number of these people come from states that held caucuses.

We were told tonight that no one is yet picking up on the fact that Democrats in states that held caucuses, and who saw firsthand the fraud, voter intimidation, and other vile tricks Obama pulled in caucus states have NOT forgotten about any of this. These people are still LIVID that a Democrat dared to use Chicago fraud and intimidation to game the caucus system. The Clinton delegates from caucus states have been coordinating efforts amongst themselves for payback against Obama on November 4th, since no state will vote in a caucus then.

We're told this is the reason that Iowa is so much closer than we ever dreamed it would be. Remember, we have insisted McCain would lose Iowa because of his opposition to ethanol subsidies. So, we've been baffled by McCain and Palin's appearances throughout Iowa, or the fact internals we see show the state incredibly close. We never could figure out why -- and it was so obvious this whole time. THE CAUCUS FRAUD Obama committed back in January is coming back to bite him in a HUGE way. Because of the ethanol opposition, McCain should be losing Iowa by large numbers -- but the people we spoke to this evening says he'll end up winning the state, largely because of Democrats who are so disgusted by the behavior of Obama's followers during the caucuses.

This isn't just Hillary Democrats either. It's a large swath of Democrats who feel violated by the tactics Obama employed in their state -- bringing thugs from Chicago across the Illinois border to vote in Iowa's caucuses. People there remember the truth, and will have that in mind on November 4th.

It seems like Obama had a good strategy for winning the nomination (fraud and intimidation), but it is not playing well in the general election. So in terms of strategy Obama did well. In terms of grand strategy he is a failure. We have historical evidence of just such mistakes in warfare. The Austrian Corporal made the same mistake. Easy victories were not solidified by making friends with the populations of his new conquests. It turned out badly for him.

Obama did not cement his relationship with those he defeated by offering them a large consolation prize (Hillary as VP) to make up for all the rubbed raw emotions the caucuses created. When he picked Joe Biden he made the hill he had to climb much steeper. And then along comes Joe the Plumber in the last two weeks of the campaign to put a large hole in his campaign below the water line. And Obama keeps enlarging that hole by lowering the threshold for those who will see tax increases. First $250,000, then $200,000 and finally (so far) $150,000. Worrying people the most I believe is not the actual number, but the fact that it keeps going lower. Where will it stop? I think it will stop with a huge Obama loss on the night of 4 Nov.

Do we have any other anecdotes and fuzzy data points? Yes we do. The results so far in Nevada show that the Obama/pollsters turn out model is not near what has been hoped/projected (change we can believe in - heh).

Analysts have predicted that new voters, young voters and Hispanic voters will turn out in record numbers in this election. But as Nevadans continue to flock to the polls, turnout among those three groups is lagging, at least in the early going.

While turnout statewide was nearly 25 percent through Sunday, it was just 20 percent among Hispanic voters, 14 percent among voters under 30 and 15 percent among those who didn't vote in the last three elections, according to an analysis of state early voting records through Sunday prepared by America Votes, an organization that works to mobilize voters.

The data provide a glimpse into the composition of the more than 300,000 Nevadans who had taken advantage of early voting over the first nine days of the 14-day period. The information comes from proprietary databases that political action groups purchase from commercial vendors, cross-referenced with the public data the state releases showing who has voted.

Traditionally, older people, whites and people who vote consistently tend to turn out at the highest rates overall, said David Damore, a political scientist at UNLV. But this year, much has been made of the idea that the youth vote, the Hispanic vote and first-time voters would turn out at unprecedented rates, galvanized by a heightened political climate and the candidacy of Democratic nominee Barack Obama.

Hope springs eternal in the Democrat camp. No surprise there. It is part of their theme song this year.
"I would have expected those numbers to be a little higher," Damore said. "At the same time, the people who come out for early voting may tend to be the tried and true."

The idea that the electorate will be radically reshaped this year remains an open question, he said, and it's possible the Obama campaign faces a challenge turning out the untested voters it's relying on to win.

Recent polling shows Obama leading in the Silver State by varying margins. Democrats' hopes have been boosted by a tectonic shift in voter registration that has left them with more than 110,000 more registered voters than Republicans, but the GOP insists there's hope because the election will be decided by who votes and how.

"What Republicans have been saying is that registration is only half the game, and they have the tried and true model to get people out," Damore said.

U.S. Rep. Hilda Solis, D-Calif., was in Las Vegas on Tuesday working to rally Hispanic voters for Obama. She said she expects high Hispanic turnout this year.

Expects and happens are two different things though. One point I have brought up before is that there is huge antipathy in the Hispanic community for the Black community. It boils down to this: Hispanics see Blacks living on the dole while they toil away at jobs like gardening and construction to improve themselves. No one likes free riders. People who are not pulling their weight. And for good or ill that is the Hispanic community's impression of the Black community they come in contact with.

So let me do a short analysis of why I think Obama will lose.

1. Caucus fraud rubbed Democrat voters the wrong way.
2. Failure to select Hillary was a failure to mend fences
3. Sarah Palin gave the Republican base and disaffected Hillary voters something to cheer about.
4. Joe the Plumber (a gift from the Maker) sealed the deal

But it is not over until it is over. Don't let any analysis - positive or negative - keep you from doing what must be done. And what is that you ask? Well I'll tell you. Again.

Don't give it to him. Make him steal it.

Vote. Vote like your life and your country depended on it. It may. If we get a very strongly Democrat legislature it is critical that McCain/Palin have all the support we can show to keep the legislature in check. So even if you live in a state that is a foregone conclusion one way or another, your show of support will matter come 20 January 2009. Vote.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 01:43 AM | Comments (3)

No wonder they hate Joe the Plumber, Part 2

As Abe Greenwald makes clear, "Something Happened."

One week ago, the Zogby tracking poll had Barack Obama beating John McCain by almost 10 points among likely voters. Today, it's a four-point game. Yesterday, IBD reported, "After seesawing between 3.2 and 3.9 points over the weekend, Obama's lead slipped to 2.8[.]" Gallup's newest traditional poll has Obama leading by two points. Probing coverage of Sarah Palin's wardrobe didn't seem to do what the mainstream media had hoped. With the public losing interest in the crusade against Palin, a fresh news cycle has ushered in a serious challenge for Barack Obama. Americans are scared that the Democratic nominee is a socialist. And it's not attack ads or robocalls that have created this impression, but Obama's own words. Up until now, Obama has enjoyed a twenty-six-point lead among self-professed moderates, who make up roughly half the electorate. As there is nothing moderate about collectivism and wealth redistribution, the new charges could bury Obama.

Barack Obama's greatest advantage over John McCain has been his ability to convince Americans that he will take them someplace, transport them out of the War on Terror paradigm, off of the anti-American planet we currently inhabit and into a future in which America is somehow still the global leader without actually being better than any other nation, where somehow everyone is furnished with healthcare and education without this crippling the economy. Over the past few weeks, this last "somehow" has been defined. And if it points toward where Obama intends to take the U.S., Americans are rightfully fearful.

As they should be.

Even Obama himself admits that the "change" he promises won't be easy:

Obama's democratic socialist sympathies first came to light in when he told Joe Wurzelbacher of his plan to "spread the wealth." The worrisome sentiment was reinforced by an unearthed 2001 radio interview, during which Obama seemed saddened by the Supreme Court's inability redistribute wealth in accordance with need. On Sunday, Obama sounded a further collectivist note, when he told a Colorado crowd, "Now, make no mistake: the change we need won't come easy or without cost. We will all need to tighten our belts, we will all need to sacrifice and we will all need to pull our weight because now more than ever, we are all in this together."
Ayn Rand took a somewhat different view. And aside from a delusional few, so do most libertarians. So, argues Greenwald, do most Americans:
Americans don't take kindly to the government-knows-best kind school of problem solving. If wealth is to be spread around, it will be spread by those who earn it. Sacrifices may be made, but they will not be dictated. Even today's PC-damaged Americans suspect that the collective good is most effectively, and ethically, realized in pursuing individual achievement. Less than twenty years after the defeat of the Soviet Union, we're faced with a potential president who thinks it's his place to tell us what we must give up and how it will be apportioned to bring about the common good. This won't fly. Eighty-four percent of Americans oppose the government redistribution of wealth.
I hope it is eighty four percent of Americans, and I hope they are starting to wake up. If they wait till next Wednesday, it will be too late.

While there has been evidence of extreme ideology in the Obama camp (it has certainly been presented here), as I keep saying, ordinary voters are not activists, political junkies, or readers of libertarian blogs. So it took someone they could relate to -- Joe the Pumber -- to get ordinary voters' attention:

Before Joe the Plumber, Obama managed to sell indecision as moderation and detachment as self-possession. Evidence of extreme ideology was skillfully sidestepped as ancient happenstance (as in the case of his association with Bill Ayers), or partisan misinterpretation (as in the case of Obama's abortion record). But Obama's sympathies are both recently held and clear-as-day. And that's a serious problem.
It is a serious problem, but if not enough people pay attention right now, it will become ineradicably serious.

Joe the Plumber got their attention in ways that activists could not have and in ways that no amount of kvetching about Bill Ayers could have. I can condemn Bill Ayers' communist ideology and respectability from now till doomsday, and that has no effect on the electorate. The average person would say "Bill who"? But Joe the Plumber anyone can understand.

Many pundits have observed that negative attacks tend to turn off voters, and some newer commenters have told me repeatedly that my attacks on Bill Ayers are a losing "strategy." What they don't understand is that while I support McCain, this is my blog with my thoughts, not a McCain strategy. Furthermore, ordinary voters don't read this blog; when I last polled the readers, the number of undecideds was ridiculously small. (3 out of 176, to be exact.)

If attacking Bill Ayers is negative, so be it. At the risk of not persuading those three potential voters, I'll just say what I want.

Those who like Bill Ayers can keep attacking Joe the Plumber.

How much of any of these negative attacks will trickle down to the voters, I don't know.

But I suspect that if the voters were forced to decide, attacks on Joe the Plumber might poll worse than attacks on Bill Ayers.

posted by Eric at 06:55 PM | Comments (2)

Choose your pal in a poll!

I'm getting a bit tired of the fact that every time I write a post about Bill Ayers, I am told that the real issue is somehow G. Gordon Liddy. On the most recent occasion a commenter accused me of Nazism:

How is it that you support a neo-nazi fascist like G. Gordon Liddy, who happens to be a good friend of McCain?

Nazi murderous ideology, apparently is kosher to you.

While I have already devoted an entire post to what I think is a bogus moral equivalency argument (and as I explained in a comment here, Liddy is not a Nazi), that no more settled anything than would any other post.

Bear in mind that while I respect the fact that many people do not like Liddy and some think McCain should not have associated with him, I personally like Liddy, and came to know him over the years. I say this as someone who has disagreed with him on many occasions. In fact, disagreement was how I came to know him. While I had read and enjoyed his autobiography, Will, when it first came out, and I had seen him debate Timothy Leary in Berkeley, he had for me become a dim memory until the mid 90s when I learned that he had a talk radio show which was on the air in San Francisco. I listened, and I got ticked off hearing Liddy condemn Bill Clinton's plan to allow gays to serve in the military. Fully expecting to be ignored (if not ridiculed and insulted) I started calling in and sending faxes. To my astonishment, Liddy couldn't have been more polite to me -- notwithstanding a stubborn disagreement which remains to this day. I think the guy is a real gentleman of the old school, even though I disagree with a lot of what he has to say (yes, I know he has said many outrageous things), he is a lesson in the importance of civility even in the face of serious disagreement. This is why he has friends who are his polar opposites.

While I do not know Bill Ayers, I have been friends -- close friends -- with communists who share his ideological perspective. (I'm not running for president, so I get to pal around with anyone I damned well want without needing to explain myself.) For all I know, Ayers might be the kind of guy I'd enjoy having a beer with.

This does not mean I would agree with Ayers.

Nor does it mean that I think the two of them are the moral equivalent of each other in any way. In my view, Bill Ayers' ideology is far, far more heinous than G. Gordon Liddy's.

However, I think what's more important than who you pal around with is whether you share the ideology of your pals.

But since so many people seem to think the real issue is not Ayers but Liddy, and that palling around with Liddy is so much more egregious than palling around with Ayers, I thought a poll might be in order.

So here's a "palling around" poll:

Which man would you prefer to pall around with?
William Ayers
G. Gordon Liddy free polls
And as a followup, an ideological poll:
Whose ideology do you prefer?
William Ayers's
G. Gordon Liddy's free polls

MORE: Speaking of palling around, I nearly left out this picture of G. Gordon Liddy and Timothy Leary:


While I don't think this calls for another poll, I should probably disclose that I met them both, and found them both very likeable.

However, I prefer Leary's ideology on the drug issue, and Liddy's ideology on the gun issue.

posted by Eric at 12:45 PM | Comments (23)

Ideological heirs

During the discussion of Ayers' and the Weather Underground's genocidal plan to murder 25 million Americans, it occurred to me that focusing on tactics (like terrorism and murder) tends to sideline the murderous ideology that drives them.

In what I think is an attempt to frame the debate away from ideology, typical "fact check" discussions of Bill Ayers downplay his ideology, with words like "communism" not being mentioned.

From the Obama campaign "Fact Check" site:

"Is Barack Obama consorting with a radical? Hardly. Ayers is nothing more than an aging lefty with a foolish past who is doing good. And while, yes, Obama is friendly with Ayers, it appears to be only in the way of two community activists whose circles overlap."
Here's the WaPo's "Fact Checker"
The Facts

Bill Ayers has acknowledged that he was one of the leaders of a group known as the Weather Underground, which carried out a series of small-scale bombings at the Capitol and the Pentagon in 1970 and 1971 as a protest against the Vietnam War. He was charged with conspiracy to bomb, but the charges were dropped in 1974 because of prosecutorial misconduct. Over the last two decades, he has been better known in Chicago as an education expert, and it was in that role that he became acquainted with Obama in 1995. The two men served together on the board of an anti-poverty group, and Ayers contributed $200 to Obama's re-election campaign for the Illinois State Senate in 2001.

Other accounts are similar. What is being omitted (systematically, in my view) is that Ayers was -- and is -- a devout believer in to the most murderous ideology known to man. This was highlighted by the recent revelation that he and others sat around planning the murder of 25 million Americans - for the crime of disagreeing with that ideology! In the Communist ideological context, "reeducation" is simply a euphemism for making people agree under threat of death. Those who continue to disagree are simply murdered.

Yet Communism -- and Communists -- excuse such murders as being something other than murder. They are "liquidations" or the application of "revolutionary justice" to "enemies" of "the people."

Unfortunately, Ayers only stands out because of his involvement in terrorist acts. My concern is that the focus on terrorism misses this larger point, which is that his form of terrorism is incidental to and was always subordinate to the ideology of communism. Terrorism was but a tactic, and the fact that he does not currently engage in terrorist acts is tactical. His ideology has not changed in the least. So, the focus on Ayers' past terrorism (which must come as a relief to communists in general) avoids focusing on his past communism as well as his present communism, of which he is proud to this day.

Here's Ayers on the past:

Is one of those regrets that I took extreme measures against the United States at a time of tremendous crisis? No it is not. I don't regret that. The people of the world are being exploited and oppressed and militarized by the great imperialist powers, led by the United States. That is the situation today in my view.
And I'm not sorry about anything that I participated to try to end that war or against that government that was waging that war.
And Ayers on the present (from 2006):
Is one of those regrets that I took extreme measures against the United States at a time of tremendous crisis? No it is not. I don't regret that. The people of the world are being exploited and oppressed and militarized by the great imperialist powers, led by the United States. That is the situation today in my view.
And I'm not sorry about anything that I participated to try to end that war or against that government that was waging that war.
Terrorism is in Ayers' mind excused, just as murder is excused if committed in furtherance of communism. Hence the picture of mass murderer Che Guevara is proudly displayed for the world to see at Ayers' web site.

Bill Ayers Home.jpg

Personally, I think it's sickening. The only thing I can say in Ayers defense is that he's within his First Amendment rights in glorifying murderers.

Yet Ayers and his supporters would disagree with my viewpoint. To him and those who think like him, Guevara is not a murderer, because his murders were committed in furtherance of his ideology. It will never be (and can never be) admitted by Ayers or his supporters that their ideology itself is murderous, and that communism cannot be imposed on people without murder, which of course it never has been.

Ayers is now a teacher, and as he subordinated his terrorist acts to the greater picture of communism, he now sees his educational efforts the same way.

Notice the way he conflates his past terrorism into merely a teaching opportunity in this YouTube interview with Chavista comrades (in front of the murderer's icon, of course).


Via Ed Morrissey who excerpts some pertinent quotes:

3:20 - The particular crisis we faced with the Vietnam War was a crisis that called on us to escalate, to resist in more intense and, and, uh, uh, in more extreme ways. But one way of looking at it is that the Weather Underground was a great teaching moment. And, to the extent that we didn't fully realize what we were trying to do, we were bad teachers, and to the extent that we did good things, we were good teachers.
5:42 - I mean, to go from underground, when we really thought we were in a revolutionary crisis ... and there's no question that when we left the underground, we lost something valuable -- we lost our treasure.
Speaking of Guevara, if Investors Business Daily is right, his house was festooned with pictures of the murderer (I know it's getting tedious; perhaps I should switch to "dispenser of revolutionary justice") when Obama was there for his career-launching event:
Obama says he barely knows him, but in the years when he was meeting and serving together on the Annenberg Challenge and the Woods Fund, as well as launching his career with a fundraiser in Ayers' Che Guevara-festooned house, Ayers made at least four Marxist pilgrimages to Caracas to praise Chavez's dictatorial regime.

He sits on the board of a Venezuelan government think tank called Miranda International Center, focused on bringing Cuba-style education to Venezuelan school children.

Recent polls show this turning of schools toward Marxist indoctrination terrifies average Venezuelans. Venezuelan dissidents also accuse Miranda of rewriting constitutions in South America to grant leftist leaders absolute power, with some saying Ayers had a role in 2007's effort to give Chavez total power inside Venezuela.

So, what's up with that? Why would a man who is now running for president launch his career at an event where pictures of a Communist mass murderer were proudly displayed?

Again, except for mentions like that ,Ayers' murderous ideology -- Communism -- is largely overlooked, while the punditry focus on what was a tactic -- terrorism.

Either Communism doesn't matter or people are afraid to use the word.

What concerns me is that the focus on Ayers the terrorist turns inevitably turns into a debate over how old Obama was at the time of the bombings, how close his relationship was with Ayers, whether G. Gordon Liddy is comparable to Ayers, etc. and avoids any mention of communism, much less a serious discussion of whether it is appropriate for a president who (unless I am mistaken) sees nothing wrong with working with communists, and dispensing money to communists.

One of the lesser known communists who managed to receive nearly $2 million from Ayers and Obama is a guy named Mike Klonsky.

Andrew McCarthy (God bless him) has written a long, detailed piece about Klonsky, and he stresses what I have tried to stress in this post -- that the debate over terrorist tactics (and whether they are repented) avoids any focus on the murderous ideology behind the tactics:

With what little media oxygen there has been sucked out by the largely uninformative discussion of Ayers (and his wife and Weather Underground ally, Bernadine Dohrn) -- in which the mantra "unrepentant terrorist" has been a pale substitute for the critical matter of the Ayers's ideology that Obama plainly shares -- much has been missed. Significantly, that includes another key Obama contact, Mike Klonsky.

Here's what you need to know. Klonsky is an unabashed communist whose current mission is to spread Marxist ideology in the American classroom. Obama funded him to the tune of nearly $2 million. Obama, moreover, gave Klonsky a broad platform to broadcast his ideas: a "social justice" blog on the official Obama campaign website.

To be clear, as it seems always necessary to repeat when Obamaniacs, in their best Saul Alinsky tradition, shout down the opposition: This is not about guilt by association. The issue is not that Obama knows Klonsky ... or Ayers ... or Dohrn ... or Wright ... or Rashid Khalidi ...

The issue is that Obama promoted and collaborated with these anti-American radicals. The issue is that he shared their ideology.

Did he share their ideology? Does he?

Does anyone know?

As far as I can tell, the only hint of a discussion by Obama of whether he shares their ideology was the description of Ayers as "not somebody who I exchange ideas with on a regular basis."

Does that mean only irregularly?

posted by Eric at 10:58 AM | Comments (3)

Another Anecdote

From the comments at HillBuzz Sara P speaks

Ok, I want to clear my conscious a little. Hopefully you could make a blog post to help some fellow clinton supporters out.

I work for a campaign and can't wait for this week to be over.

I was doing it for a job. I was not a fan of any candidate but over time grew to love HRC.

The internal campaign idea is to twist, distort, humiliate and finally dispirit you.

We pay people and organize people to go to all the online sites and "play the part of a clinton or mccain supporter who just switched our support for obama"

We do this to stifle your motivation and to destroy your confidence.

We did this the whole primary and it worked.

Sprinkle in mass vote confusion and it becomes bewildering. Most people lose patience and just give up on their support of a candidate and decide to just block out tv, news, websites, etc.

This surprisingly has had a huge suppressing movement and vote turnout issues.

Next, we infiltrate all the blogs and all the youtube videos and overwhelm the voting, the comments, etc. All to continue this appearance of overwhelming world support.

People makes posts to the effect that the world has "gone mad"

Thats the intention. To make you feel stressed and crazy and feel like the world is ending.

We have also had quite a hand in skewing many many polls, some we couldn't control as much as we would have liked. But many we have spoiled over. Just enough to make real clear politics look scarey to a mccain supporter. Its worked, alough the goal was to appear 13-15 points ahead.

see, the results have been working. People tend to support a winner, go with the flow, become "sheeple"

The polls are roughly 3-5 points in favor of Barack. Thats due to our inflation of the polls and pulling in the sheeple.

Our donors, are the same people who finance the MSM. Their interests are tied, Barack then tends to come across as teflon. Nothing sticks. And trust, there were meetings with Fox news. The goal was to blunt them as much as possible. Watch Bill Oreilly he has become much more diplomatic and "fair and balanced" and soft. Its because he wants to retain the #1 spot on cable news and to do that he has to have access to the Obama campaign and we worked hard at stringing him a long and keeping him soft for an interview swap. It worked and now he is anticipating more access. So he is playing it still soft.

This is why nothing sticks.

The operation is massive, the goal is to paint a picture that is that of a winner, regardless of the results.

There is no true inauguration draft or true grant park construction going on. There will be a party, but we are boasting beyond the truth to make it seem like the election is wrapped up.

Our goal is to continue to make you lose your moral. We worked hard at persuasion and paying off and timing and playing the right political numbers to get key republican endorsements to make it seem even more like it was over and the world was coming to an end for you all.

There is a huge staff of people working around the clock, watching every site, blogs, etc. We flood these sites. We have had a goal to overwhelm.

The truth is here. I could go on and on, but you get the picture.

I am saying this because I know HRC was better for the country, and now realize this. I was too late by the time I connected to her. To me Barack was just a cool young dude that seemed like a star. I didn't know him or his policies, but now I understand more than I care to and I realize his interests are more for him, and the DNC and all working like puppets with dean. I always thought a president wanted the better good for the country. The end result I see is everyone dependent on the government, this means more and more people voting for the DNC. This means the future is forever altered. I don't see this as america, so I am now supporting John Mccain.

Sarah Palin is a huge threat, and our campaign has feared her like you can't imagine. If it seems unfair how she has been treated, well its because she has had a team working round the clock to make her look like a fool.

this is a big conspiracy and I am so shocked that its not realized.

We released a little blurb the other day that the Obama campaign was already working on reelection and now putting our efforts towards 2012. This was to make it seem like it was above us to continue caring about 2008. Trust me, its a lie. David is very smart, but its a sticky ugly not very truthful kind of intelligence.

Its not over yet, but I think the machine is working. And its a hill to climb.

I will be quitting my post on nov 5th and my vote will be for John Mccain. Fortunately, my position has been a marketing position and I don't feel I had any part of anything I would feel guilty for. But I look forward to getting out of this as the negativity and environment upsets me.

I wish you all well, and goodluck.

PS my name is not really sarah. but I am a female and I understand your plight.

There is only one answer to efforts like these:

Don't give it to him. Make him steal it.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 02:53 AM | Comments (24)

HillBuzz Needs Your Help

HillBuzz needs your help with their get out the vote effort for McCain/Palin.

We need to ask for your help. We're putting together a canvassing trip into Ohio this coming weekend to bring what we hope will be about 70 DeMcCrats for McCain and Young Republican supporters into Ohio to canvass for McCain/Palin in the Buckeye state. We're $1,500 short of what we need to rent buses for this trip, and cover the accommodations and costs for our volunteers while there. We're also buying as many DeMcCrats for McCain and other McCain/Palin buttons and stickers to hand out in Ohio as we can. This is a bipartisan effort here in Chicago -- and the biggest push we've ever made for canvassing. It's a long ride from Illinois to Ohio, and the bus is expensive. We've all scraped together what we can, but need help covering the rest.
So follow the link and go over there and donate if you can. Because:

Don't give it to him. Make him steal it.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 02:49 AM

McCain Has A Poll

The Wall Street Journal has a memo from the McCain Campaign. Let me just give one highlight that touches on something I wrote about yesterday: The PUMA Question.

* We are beginning to once again get over a 20% chunk of the vote among soft Democrats.
Importantly as well, our long identified target of "Walmart women" - those women without a college degree in households under $60,000 a year in income are also swinging back solidly in our direction.

Finally, in terms of critical improvement, even as this track shows more Republicans voting for us than Democrats supporting Obama, we are witnessing an impressive "pop" with Independent voters.

As I said during our Sunday briefing, we do substantially more interviews per day than any public poll, but, given the shift we were witnessing, it was my expectation that by Tuesday/Wednesday multiple public polls would show the race closing. A quick glance at Real Clear Politics would indicate this is happening by today, Tuesday, and that's good!

Which goes back to some of the points I made in The PUMA Question. Sometimes anecdotes can give you advance warning of changes not yet recognized by polls.

The memo writer also notes that there are no good models for voter behavior in this election season. So it is all seat of the pants for both campaigns and the people who do public polling.

H/T The StrataSphere and HillBuzz comments.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 01:34 AM

The PUMA Question

In the comments on my post A Funny Thing Happened In The Voting Booth commenter Dr. Nobel Dynamite made the following point.

"Not to mention the PUMA factor." [that was me - ed.]

You need to turn off the propaganda for a while, my friend. Just because Neil Cavuto trots out a cigarette hag that claims to speak for disgruntled Hillary supporters doesn't make PUMAs anything more than wishful thinking from Fox.

No Bell,

In science/engineering we look at unusual results and outliers for undiscovered phenomenon.

It is more than possible that I may have discovered some interesting effects.

BTW the reports on the PUMA effect started in the high 30s. Dipped to the low 20s and then started rising again to the mid 30s. (that would be % of Hillary voters going for McCain). Since the last reports of that rise there has been no news of the PUMA effect. Did it just disappear? Or was it a case of "did not fit the narrative"?

A defection rate as a % of the total vote of 3.75% (roughly 20% [defectioon rate] of 1/2 [Hillary voters] of 37%[Dems in the electorate]) can be overcome. It will be offset by a 13% or so R defection rate (about 5% of the vote). If the defection rate is 40% of Hillary voters that is a 7.5% loss. Killer.

The question is: is that defection rate being measured accurately? Since the announcements of the PUMA factor have stopped, I'd have to say no. If it had dropped it would have been announced. If it rose above 40% it would be buried.

How about what DJ Drummond has to say on the subject of polls.

Gallup has noted the strength of early voting this year. The most significant points from that article are these; early voting is stronger than expected this year, and so far republicans have been just as eager to vote early as democrats. The third point is the most important signal of all. Says Gallup; "Early voting ranges from 14% of voters 55 and older (in aggregated data from Friday through Wednesday) to 5% of those under age 35. Plus, another 22% of voters aged 55 and up say they plan to vote early, meaning that by Election Day, over a third of voters in this older age group may already have cast their ballots."

The last two statements are very good news for McCain and bad news for Obama. This is because it demonstrates that enthusiasm to actually vote by republicans is equal to enthusiasm to vote by democrats. This runs directly against claims made in polling up to now, demonstrating that participation in polls is not directly related to voting this year. Second, the higher participation by senior voters and weaker participation by younger voters is directly in line with historical norms, again running against the poll expectations that this year would see a wave of young people voting but seniors staying at home. Gallup's own data proves this is not happening as they predicted, and the polls are therefore invalid in those respects, in addition to obvious flaws in the party weighting. The reasonable expectation from these facts, would be for Gallup to back down and correct its weighting to match the observed behavior. As of yet, Gallup has not taken that step.

Then we have this wonderful explanation of polling by Charlie Colorado at Just One Minute.
What we're hoping for the polls to tell us is how people will vote in the future. In order to figure that out, we start by asking some number of people how they would vote today.

Obviously, we don't and can't know how people would really vote (Obama could be caught with a dead girl and a live boy and Fox News with a camera.) But it's everyone's best guess, and they have a chance to answer "O" or "McP" or "undecided".

Now, if we could ask every single person who will be voting this question, we'd get a fairly precise number --- not exact, but pretty close. Asking 130 million people their opinion is pretty intractable, so they ask a much smaller number. There are mathematical reasons to let us make an estimate of the amount of error we get by just asking that smaller number, and that's where this "margin of error" comes from. The wy it works is basically like this: say we have 130 million red and blue marbles, in proportions of 51 percent red and 49 percent blue. Since they're well mixed, we can be confident that most of the time, if we scoop out a bucket full of 1000 marbles and count the colors, there will be something close to 510 red and 490 blue. It's extremely unlikely --- although possible --- that we'd scoop out 1000 blue marbles. It's also very unlikely that every time we scoop up marbles, we'll get exactly 510/490. But let's say we try it 100 times. Roughly 95 times out of 100, we'll get a count between 495/505 and 525/475.

That's exactly what the "margin of error" is: we know, mathematically, that 95 times out of 100, our random scoop will deliver a number plus or minus 1.5 percent (or, total, 3 percent) of the "real" value we'd get if we counted all the marbles.

The problem is that when we talk about a real poll, our "marbles" aren't perfectly mixed. If we were to, say, call the first thousand people in the Cambridge Mass phone book, that wouldn't represent the country as a whole very well. So instead, polling companies call a lot of people, carefully selected, and try to work backwards to what a "perfectly mixed" sample would have been like.

Now, say we were talking about the marbles example again. We know, because they were our marbles to start with, that exactly 51 percent of them were red, 49 percent blue. So when we scoop out 1000 of them, we have an "ideal sample" in mind. A little algebra lets us then compute what the perfect sample would have looked like, and it is going to come up 51/49 every time.

But now let's say we don't know what the real number is; we just think we have roughly 51 percent red when we start. now we scoop out 1000 marbles and apply the same adjustment; we think it's 51/49, and we scoop them out, checking each scoop. If they're really 51/49, the numbers we get should cluster around 51/49. If not, then we can compute what the "real" proportion is.

But now, what if we start with the wrong assumption that they're really 55 percent red, 45 percent blue? When we compute our adjusted values, we're going to "slant" what we think the real value is toward the red ones. we may compute a guess that it's really 53/47.

And that's where the polls are right now. Each one starts with an assumption, or model, of the real electorate. That assumption causes the values to slant one direction or another; how good that initial guess is will determine how good the eventual result is when all the marbles are finally counted.

A lot of the polls have fairly radical assumptions, like that people identify themselves as 40 percent D, 25 percent R, 35 percent independent. Those polls also show Obama with a big leads. Other polls have closer assumptions, and get smaller ranges. That's why I said above that the way to read the polls is really "IF the mix is really like this THEN the election results would be roughly so".

There is an interesting addition to this question from Iowahawk who shows his math.
Works pretty well if you're interested in hypothetical colored balls in hypothetical giant urns, or growth of plants in a controlled experiment, or defects in a batch of factory products. It may even work well if you're interested in blind cola taste tests. But what if the thing you are studying doesn't quite fit the balls & urns template?

What if 40% of the balls have personally chosen to live in an urn that you legally can't stick your hand into?

What if 50% of the balls who live in the legal urn explicitly refuse to let you select them?

What if the balls inside the urn are constantly interacting and talking and arguing with each other, and can decide to change their color on a whim?

What if you have to rely on the balls to report their own color, and some unknown number are probably lying to you?

What if you've been hired to count balls by a company who has endorsed blue as their favorite color?

What if you have outsourced the urn-ball counting to part-time temp balls, most of whom happen to be blue?

What if the balls inside the urn are listening to you counting out there, and it affects whether they want to be counted, and/or which color they want to be?

If one or more of the above statements are true, then the formula for margin of error simplifies to

Margin of Error = Who the hell knows

Because, in this case, so-called scientific "sampling error" is meaningless, because it is utterly overwhelmed by non-sampling error. Under these circumstances "margin of error" is a numeric fiction masquerading as a pseudo-scientific fact, and if a poll reports it -- even if collected "scientifically" -- the pollster is guilty of aggravated bullshit in the first degree.

The moral of this midterm for all would-be pollsters: if you are really interested in how many of us red and blue balls there are in this great big urn, sit back and relax until Tuesday, and let us show our true colors.

Until then, fondle your own balls.

That can be fun. More fun is when you have the right kind of help. So today I want to ask for your help.

Don't give it to him. Make him steal it.

As to the fondling balls question. I'm looking for volunteers of the female persuasion. Urn fondling in return. Then maybe a cigarette afterwards.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 04:15 PM | Comments (12)

More on the respectable Mr. Ayers

In a riveting interview piece titled "Eyewitness to the Ayers Revolution,"Bob Owens has more on the incredible story of the plan (by Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn, and others) to kill 25 million Americans:

Pajamas Media: You stated in your interview in No Place to Hide that you wanted us to "imagine sitting in a room with 25 people, most of which have graduate degrees, from Columbia and other well-known educational centers, and hear them figuring out the logistics for the elimination of 25 million people." A lot of people have now had the opportunity to listen to you, and contemplate the horrors these people planned. Can you recall who these people are by name, and who the ringleaders of this plan were?

Larry Grathwohl: Conversations regarding this occurred in Cincinnati, Detroit, Flint, and Buffalo. Participants included Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn, Mark Rudd, Linda Evans, Jeff Jones, and many others.

Pajamas Media: Was this merely an academic matter to them, or were they serious about killing 25 million Americans that would not bend to their political will?

Larry Grathwohl: I suppose you could consider this a purely academic discussion in that the Weathermen never had the opportunity to implement their political ends. However, I can assure you that this was not the case. There was an absolute belief that they, along with the international revolutionary movement, would cause the collapse of the United States and that they would be in charge. Nixon was of great concern and how his end would be conducted. This may sound absurd in today's context, but the Weatherman believed they would succeed.

It may sound absurd, just I'm sure Hitler's murderous plans for the Jews would have sounded absurd in the early 1920s.

While the plan to murder 25 million Americans is so outrageous as to seem unbelievable, the fact is that monstrous people with monstrous plans have come and gone many times in human history. The ones who stand out in history are the ones who succeed. The Weather Underground are remembered because they had some success, although they of course came nowhere close to acheiving their despicable goals.

As despicable goals go, murdering 25 million is about as despicable as it gets.

I'm glad that Barack Obama has condemned Bill Ayers' actions as despicable, and while no one has seen fit to ask him about the plan to murder 25 million, I don't doubt that he would condemn that out of hand, and he'd probably point out that not only didn't he know Ayers or Dohrn at the time, but he was just a small boy. And he would have been only 15 or so when Ayers dedicated his book to Robert F. Kennedy's assassin, Sirhan Sirhan.

But by the time 9/11 rolled around and Ayers was stomping on the American flag and saying he hadn't done enough, Barack Obama was in his 40s. By that time, he had:

  • been the object of a career-launching fund raiser in Ayers and Dohrn's home
  • sung the praises of another book by Ayers, in which Obama was mentioned
  • attended many board meetings with Ayers
  • appeared on at least two panel symposia with Ayers and at least one with Dohrn
  • disbursed large sums of charitable money with Ayers, to the latter's favorite causes
  • worked in the same building as Ayers for years
  • When I point these things out, Ayers' defenders come here and leave endless comments to the effect that Obama's association with Ayers was minor, and that Ayers also associated with Republicans.

    I guess if that makes Ayers OK, then the fact that serial murderer John Wayne Gacy managed to pose with Rosalyn Carter should make him OK too. This is not to suggest that Ayers was like Gacy, because the latter didn't just plan mass murder; he actually did kill 33 people. And his murders were not ideologically driven, but committed for pleasure.

    However, I do think Ayers is comparable to Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, who no one would argue should ever be allowed to become respectable.

    For. The. Umpteenth. Time.

    Something is wrong with allowing a man who advocated the genocidal murder of 25 million of his fellow countrymen to become respectable.

    I realize Ayers has supporters, but I think it is a mistake to elect as president a guy who thinks such respectability is OK.

    Even if he hardly knew the guy in the neighborhood who helped launch his career in whose book he was mentioned and whose book he blurbed and with whom he shared a work address for a few years and with whom appeared on panels and boards and with whom he distributed millions, why can't he just say that Ayers should not be respectable?

    posted by Eric at 02:37 PM | Comments (8)

    It Is Not About Race

    Howard Stern goes to Harlem and asks some man on the street questions. You have to wonder why the Shrinking Media can't do stuff like this. Did I mention that the Christian Science Monitor is going weekly and the LA Times is laying off 75 more? And that there is a general circulation decline?

    H/T Drudge Report

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 02:09 PM | Comments (1)

    In chilling detail
    "Rain and snow this evening. A snow shower or two overnight"
    That's tonight's Yahoo weather forecast for Ann Arbor. And this is only October!

    Where's my global warming?

    I realize weather is not climate, but I'm not all that cheered up by this chart:


    Moreover, I see that Ann Arbor is not alone. In fact, tonight's weather is a result of an unseasonably cold "Noreaster" in combination with the "Lake Effect".

    This chilling chart explains:


    I just took a dog walk, and at 33 degrees, it's too cold for comfort. Coco agrees.

    Winter is still nearly two months away.

    I wish I could vote for warmer weather, but I'm afraid that's a fantasy. There's nothing that can be done.

    posted by Eric at 10:58 AM | Comments (4)

    "We are not amused!"

    How dare a local Philadelphia CBS affiliate ask Joe Biden anything but softball questions?

    How dare they?

    Naturally, the station has been put on the campaign blacklist.


    With all the talk about media bias, I think outlets like this should be singled out for praise.

    I'm also wondering whether pliant news outlets that inevitably kowtow to pressure (by avoiding tough questions) are displaying bias in the usual sense of the word.

    Is fear-based bias the real thing?

    Or is it insincere?

    posted by Eric at 09:52 AM

    Dean Barnett, R.I.P.

    I'm sorry to read (via Hugh Hewitt) that Dean Barnett has died. Hugh Hewitt remembers him, and his inspiring desire to live despite a battle with Cystic Fibrosis that shortened his life:

    Dean told me early in our friendship that his disease had forced him to deal with the possibility of living too short a life and that he thus threw himself into everything. This ferocious desire to live well and fully is what I will always tell people marked Dean Barnett. That and the love he had for his wonderful wife Kirstan and his family and friends. His extraordinary story is told in his short essay, The Smart Spunky Kid with the Fatal Disease, and his example will long be an example to others battling with Cystic Fibrosis. I hope we can report some day soon the news that a cure for CF is in hand, and on that day toast Dean for all he did to raise awareness of the disease. I will also toast him whenever I hear smart, persuasive arguments on behalf of common sense conservatism and fierce attachment to the opportunities liberty bestows.
    I never knew about his illness, but the high quality and intensity of his writing shows that he placed enormous value on the time he had, and put a piece of himself into everything he wrote.

    I've always believed that the old saying -- "live each day as if it is your last" -- is a good one to live by if you can.

    Dean Barnett did, and left the world a better place for it.

    MORE: Via Glenn Reynolds, William Kristol remembers Dean Barnett as "a remarkable man--principled, witty, and to all of us, a model of grace and courage."

    He will be missed.

    UPDATE: Roger L. Simon remembers Dean Barnett. Not just as a great blogger, but as someone he liked "just as much in person as I did online."

    posted by Eric at 10:21 PM

    A Funny Thing Happened In The Voting Booth

    Red State has an interesting anecdote about some Democrats who got together to vote early.

    Yesterday, I heard a great story from a friend who describes herself as a "Legacy Democrat" she says that everyone in her family has been a registered Democrat as far back as she can remember - parents, grandparents, great-grandparents... you get the picture. Well the other day, her and four of her friends, all proud Nevada Democrats piled into the car and together went to early vote for Obama.

    On the way to their polling place, she said they were all very excited but she kept having this funny feeling in her stomach. Upon entering the voting booth, she said, the anxiety worsened and standing there poised to cast her vote a little voice or call it instinct began gnawing away at this life long Democrat (life long - well she's only 35) She finally said "I can't do it... I can't vote for Obama, he's just not ready" and voted for McCain.

    She said she was shocked walking out of the polling place, she didn't think she would ever vote for a Republican... Ever!!!

    On the ride home with her four friends the mood was a bit somber I think she even called it sobering. About halfway home she let the cat out of the bag, so to speak, and told her friends she had voted for McCain and her reasons for doing so. Their reaction was shocking, even to her, all but one said they had done the same thing and for the same reasons.

    Steve Foley goes on to discuss what he calls The Readiness Effect. Read the whole thing and follow the links. Steve has been on this for a while.

    H/T The Infidel Bloggers Alliance

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 05:24 PM | Comments (18)

    "Thank God for guns!"

    In an email, I was sent a painfully funny video showing a character played by the buffoonish William Shatner who Newsbusters describes as,

    "helping" Barack Obama as he defends the Second Amendment.

    I've never seen the series it's from, but the episode is discussed here.

    posted by Eric at 04:30 PM | Comments (5)

    Noose. Mannequin. Some assembly required.

    A mannequin dressed up to look like Sarah Palin is hanging by a noose in front of a West Hollywood home.

    WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (AP) ― A Halloween decoration showing a mannequin dressed as vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin hanging by a noose from the roof of a West Hollywood home is drawing giggles from some passers-by and gasps of outrage from others.

    The mannequin is dressed in brunet wig, glasses and a red business suit. Another mannequin dressed as John McCain emerges from a flaming chimney.

    Chad Michael Morisette, who lives in the house, told CBS 2 News that drivers and bus passengers have been stopping to snap pictures of the macabre scene.

    Morisette says the effigy would be out of bounds at any other time of year, but it's within the spirit of Halloween.

    Here's a picture of what the man thinks is within the spirit of Halloween:


    Caption: A mannequin hanging from a home in West Hollywood has been outfitted to look like Governor Sarah Palin.
    One question: Does this mean it's OK to do the same thing with the Democratic candidates?

    posted by Eric at 04:15 PM | Comments (15)

    No explanation possible. No explanation needed.

    I love this explanation of the tax code which has been floating around for several years:

    Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

    The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
    The fifth would pay $1.
    The sixth would pay $3.
    The seventh would pay $7.
    The eighth would pay $12.
    The ninth would pay $18.
    The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

    So, that's what they decided to do.
    The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. 'Since you are all such good customers,' he said, 'I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20.' Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.
    The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free.
    But what about the other six men - the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his 'fair share?'
    They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer.
    So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

    And so:
    The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
    The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).
    The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).
    The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
    The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
    The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

    Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.
    'I only got a dollar out of the $20,'declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man,' but he got $10!'
    'Yeah, that's right,' exclaimed the fifth man. 'I only saved a dollar, too.
    It's unfair that he got ten times more than I got' 'That's true!!' shouted the seventh man. 'Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!'
    'Wait a minute,' yelled the first four men in unison. 'We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!'
    The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.
    The next night the tenth man didn't show up for drinks so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!
    And that, ladies and gentlemen, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

    The author is listed as a distinguished professor, and one of those typical concluding witticisms follows:

    David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D.
    Professor of Economics
    University of Georgia

    For those who understand, no explanation is needed.
    For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible.

    Now, I really enjoy the anecdote, and so do a lot of people. The problem is, it wasn't written by Economics professor David R. Kamerschen. Nor was it written by "T. Davies" (another professor whose name accompanies it in some of the email's variant versions). According to Snopes, not even the supposed "original author" can be verified.

    So does authorship matter?

    I think it does. And I say this at the risk of being overly concerned with truth and facts:

    Using stuff like truth and facts is so passe and reeks of a bourgeois attitude.
    So said favorite commenter Veeshir. (To which Assistant Village Idiot admitted he didn't have a good counterargument.)

    For the record, I plead guilty. I'm a hopeless bourgeois sentimentalizer who sympathies often, um, lie with the, um, truth.

    Yet if I didn't think truth and facts mattered, I might run afoul of one of my newer (and, I think, temporary) commenters, like this one who worries about the impact of honesty on the very "classical values" I'm supposed to be championing here!

    Does it bother any of you that Joe the Plumber lied about the whole thing, or is that not part of the equation? Moreover, all the info released is a matter of public record, so...
    You know, classical values don't include lying, just so you know.
    Egad! Leave it to a new commenter to discover my own values for me and throw them in my face! At this rate, I'll soon be accused of deviating from the "traditional" -- the very thing I thought I was satirizing years ago with a playful reference to the ancients in a blog title!

    So I better be very careful here lest my bourgeois classicism become as passe as the ancients!

    I still think the parable in question is helpful and amusing, and because of its nature, I don't think it especially matters who wrote it. Interestingly, the people who have attempted to beef it up with fake scholastic attributions only weakened its appeal, by allowing it to become tainted as "another Internet hoax."

    I like it the way it is.

    (But I'm thinking that right now I might like it more if it had been written by Joe the Plumber....)

    posted by Eric at 02:13 PM | Comments (11)

    No wonder they hate Joe the Plumber

    Speaking of outrages, don't miss the recording of an on air PBS interview from 2001 in which Barack Obama discusses how best to implement the redistribution of wealth. (M. Simon linked it earlier, and I don't want to be duplicative, so just scroll down to his post to listen.)

    Obama says that the courts might not be the best place, but he makes it clear that he's all for the concept.

    Via Newsbusters, a link to the transcript of the video (which I've posted below, for those who want to read it).

    Looks like the unlicensed plumber was onto something.

    MORE: Bill Whittle reacts to Obama's utterly damning statements:

    ...we have never, ever in our 232-year history, elected a president who so completely and openly opposed the idea of limited government, the absolute cornerstone of makes the United States of America unique and exceptional.

    If this does not frighten you -- regardless of your political affiliation -- then you deserve what this man will deliver with both houses of Congress, a filibuster-proof Senate, and, to quote Senator Obama again, "a righteous wind at our backs."

    That a man so clear in his understanding of the Constitution, and so opposed to the basic tenets it provides against tyranny and the abuse of power, can run for president of the United States is shameful enough.

    As Bill says, he's "just getting started."

    Read it all.

    Continue reading "No wonder they hate Joe the Plumber"

    posted by Eric at 12:23 PM

    Trolling for success, and the paradox of "outrage"

    I think I've figured out what may be going on with the Philadelphia Inquirer writer whose recent column argued that white people should not be allowed to vote, and because it touches on a longstanding paradox, I thought it merited a post.

    This is not about the merits of the deliberately inflammatory argument that white people should not be allowed to vote. (More on that in M. Simon's post and in this one from Newsbusters.) Rather, I think it touches on one of the paradoxes of the nature of success.

    I suspect that the author (Jonathan Valania) seeks success as a writer, and that he hopes that his inflammatory editorial will become an important stepping stone in his career. If this is any indication, the author may well realize that his music column is not doing well, so he's seeking to be fired for a sexy reason:

    "OUTTA THERE! Taking my shit to the Inquirer. More coming... standby," he said today in an email. Inky arts desk, we do not envy you today. And if we may address our prodigal son directly for a moment: Like we said before, Jonathan -- it?s not that we wanted you to get fired, it?s just that, well, you deserved to.
    As I speculated in a comment to M. Simon's post, he seems to have moved up from music reviews like this. Might the Inky staffers have been getting tired of him, so now he's seeking "martyrdom"?
    If they fire him now, he "wins." (Beats being a washed up music reviewer, eh?)

    Nice way to launch a blog? Two words come to mind.

    Professional troll.

    (I've been blogging long enough to know it when I see it.)

    Certainly, the author is smart enough to know that Inquirer publisher Brian Tierney won't be taking kindly to his editorial, which has drawn angry comments like these:
    Posted by fgomarty 11:18 AM, 10/26/2008
    That the Inquirer would give space to a column like this tells one all one needs to know. This column is absolute trash, the type of thing one would find on the internet, but not in a formerly respected newspaper. What substance was being ingested when the editorial board approved this? The writer is obviously seriously mentally deranged and I would recommend immediate professional help.
    Posted by Xi Jah 11:26 AM, 10/26/2008
    Great. PNI is now giving crazy people space in their failing papers. That should save them.
    Posted by BlairW 11:49 AM, 10/26/2008
    Mr. Tierney, seriously? I honestly thought this was an article from the Onion.
    Posted by Casca 09:43 AM, 10/27/2008
    And this from the same fishwrapper that a few weeks ago published an incredibly incendiary piece from some woman replete with threats of riots in the event of an Obama defeat. While it is unpleasant to see them inflict their pathologies on their subscribers it is useful as a window into the minds of the leftist wingnuts that are about to become our masters.
    It's quite predictable that people will be canceling their subscriptions and I think it's quite possible that Valania hopes he'll go out with a bang. On the other hand, his piece has probably brought a much larger share of traffic to the Inquirer web site, and it will be widely linked. (By discussing it, I am of course helping give the guy what he wants. Another paradox.)

    IMHO, the man is a troll. (I'd compare him to Ann Coulter, but the latter is a better writer.)

    This touches on a larger issue though. Why do trolls so often succeed? Is it because appeals to reason, logic, or common sense are seen as more boring than red meat?

    As someone who aspires to be a voice of reason, I have to say that what I just wrote is depressing to contemplate. The fact is, I've seen countless trolls succeed. Many of the big leftie blogs are written by them (although there are of course the Ann Coulters on the right.)

    And there is no arguing with success. It speaks for itself.

    Perhaps the concept of "troll" is a bit like "thief." On a small scale, being either is pathetic. But on a large scale, it represents something else. Caesar Augustus observed that the larger the theft, the more it tends to become legitimate -- a point which can be illustrated by comparing someone who steals a small amount of water to someone who manages to divert an entire river. Perhaps being a troll on a grand scale is similar.

    Does this mean that if I wanted to become a big time successful troll, I should endorse, say, the Ayers plan to murder 25 million Americans, then later claim it was "satire"?

    Nah. No one would believe for a moment that I meant it.


    I guess I'm stuck. I wouldn't even be taken seriously if I offered (as the ultimate form of "red meat") a proposal that all Communists be rounded up, tortured, and then executed, would I? Well, considering that a lot of leftists already think that's what's being done to them, a few people might think I was serious, but I doubt regular readers would be fooled. (Considering I can't even go along with the more conventional red meat conspiracy theories, I don't think I could do it and keep a straight face. As it is, I even get into trouble with commenters for simply trying to debunk such conspiracy theories -- or for that matter even trying to debunk Andrew Sullivan's assertions.)

    I'm so locked into this stupid "logical and reasonable" mode, I couldn't be outrageous if I tried.

    I don't think I could even start an outrageous and inflammatory anonymous blog. I'd be bored to death.

    What do you do if you find deliberate outrageousness boring?

    The answer in my case lies in the recognition that boredom is itself an emotional reaction. And because I dislike emotional reactions -- especially my own -- then the boredom that accompanies outrageousness must not be as boring as I think.

    An outrageous paradox, if you think about it. So why am I not more outraged?

    UPDATE: Sean Kinsell hails from the cultural background Valania sneers at, and in a post titled "Hold a chicken in the air / Stick a deck chair up your nose" he explains why Valania's hateful screed is a "masterwork of scintillating ninnyism."

    You've got to read it all!

    (My thanks to Sean for the link. Someone should hire him as a speechwriter...)

    posted by Eric at 11:42 AM | Comments (6)

    The Problem Is White People

    Yep. White people are messing up the election. But there is a fix for that. Don't allow them to vote.

    As a lifelong Caucasian, I am beginning to think the time has finally come to take the right to vote away from white people, at least until we come to our senses. Seriously, I just don't think we can be trusted to exercise it responsibly anymore.

    I give you Exhibit A: The last eight years.

    In 2000, Bush-Cheney stole the election, got us attacked, and then got us into two no-exit wars. Four years later, white people reelected them. Is not the repetition of the same behavior over and over again with the expectation of a different outcome the very definition of insanity? (It is, I looked it up.)

    Exhibit B is any given Sarah Palin rally.

    We are really lucky the white guy is no bigot. If he was some kind of racist bigot he would be saying things like "black people shouldn't be allowed to vote because of the color of their skin and because they are too stupid to make good choices". Which of course is not true. Except in the case of white people. So maybe I have this whole race thing in America wrong. I'm going to have to get with the program. Does the Aryan Nation accept Jews?

    H/T Newsbusters

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 05:52 AM | Comments (14)

    You Have Too Much Money

    This bit by Obama advocating wealth redistribution was up at Drudge but I got my hint from Hill Buzz. One point that Hill Buzz makes is that the Obots have not shown up to contest this bit of history. Here is their theory:
    Whenever Obama is in trouble, these people clam up.

    The worse something is for Obama, the quieter his followers get.

    It's how we gauge the impact of something around here.

    Not a single Obamabot comment in the last hour. We'd usually have 30 of them in our spam filter in that hour.


    Where did they all go?

    Back to the mothership for new instructions.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 03:24 AM | Comments (6)

    The New Aristocrats

    Sgt. Mom looks at the deep wounds Sarah Palin has opened in the guts of the American aristocracy. Sarah is not one of them. She is a mom with five children. Way above the 2.1 considered normal. She kills her own food. A job best left to the servants. All in all a backwoods rube not fit for polite society.

    Our career-serving political class, the education establishment, the traditional news media, the people responsible for (in a good and in a bad way) for our movies and television entertainment -- it seems of late that too many of them are singing with the same voice and the same song. Different words, perhaps, and out of some obscure motivation, but all to the same end, and now and again I detect some whisper of the same motivating contempt for the American public. Contempt for our tastes or lack of same, of our habits in shopping, amusing ourselves, our persistent attachment to religious beliefs, to habits of self-sufficiency, and our stubborn disinclination to do or believe as our self-nominated betters dictate -- it's all on very ugly display. The media gang-up on Joe the Plumber, for having the impertinence to ask a tough question of the favored candidate was just the most recent and most open, and the most unsettling display.

    Really, what do these new aristos expect of the masses, the proletariat, the common citizenry? More and more I have the feeling that we are seen as a kind of herd animal, to be periodically sheared like sheep, relieved of whatever fleece or funds that the new aristos feel they could make better use of, to do as we are told, to not really consider our property, our children, or our earnings as our own. If the aristos decide that they require such things to be given up... well, then, fall in line the loyal peasantry. And don't forget to smile.

    We are being put back in our place, after a two-hundred plus year experiment of being responsible and independent citizens - not so much by actual physical repression, but by words ... words and deeds wielded by the new aristos, to wreck our institutions from the inside, and water down those basic freedoms as established in the constitution, to shred free speech and condemn us to silence for fear of a mob - a mob directed by an unholy confabulation of the aristos. Not too late to go storm the Bastille though - on Voting Day. Don't give up. Ever.

    I'm down with that. Totally.

    Don't give it to him. Make him steal it.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 02:40 AM

    Steyn supports Obama!

    Apparently there's no end to defecting conservatives:

    I'm announcing my full support for Senator Obama because trillion-dollar-a-go-go entitlements, tax hikes, socialized health care, and federally-funded day care for three-year-olds are exactly what we small-government conservatives are looking for.
    So says Mark Steyn, in a real shocker which Glenn Reynolds linked earlier.

    Better read it all.

    It's late and people have been taking me seriously and my investments are losing their value.

    So I'm getting confused. But I don't want to go wobbly.

    posted by Eric at 11:48 PM | Comments (1)

    On bended knee

    A few choice quotes, as overheard at the United Nations:

    One American employee here seemed puzzled that he was being asked whether Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was even a consideration. "Obama was and is unstoppable," the official said. "Please, God, let him win," he added.


    "It would be hard to find anybody, I think, at the U.N. who would not believe that Obama would be a considerable improvement over any other alternative," said William H. Luers, executive director of the United Nations Association. "It's been a bad eight years, and there is a lot of bad feeling over it."


    "We do not consider him an African American," said Congo's U.N. ambassador, Atoki Ileka. "We consider him an African."


    "I have not heard a single person who will support McCain; if they do, they are in hiding..."

    Actually, the WaPo did find a couple of McCain supporters at or at least somwhat affiliated with the UN. One was former UN ambassador John Bolton:
    "The fact is that most conservatives, most Republicans don't worship at the altar in New York, and I think that aggravates them more than anything else," said John R. Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. "What they want is the bending of the knee, and they'll get it from an Obama administration."
    And there was also some pathetic unnamed American official I actually felt sorry for:
    For the small minority of U.N. officials who have stuck with McCain -- only two of 28 U.N. officials and diplomats questioned said they favored the Arizona senator -- life in Turtle Bay can seem lonely. "I keep my mouth shut," said one American official here who plans to vote for McCain. "Everyone is knocking on wood, counting the days to the elections. Some Americans here are planning to move to Washington," in search of jobs in an Obama administration.

    "It will be devastating if Obama loses," the official said. "There has been such an amount of faith placed on the outcome."

    I don't doubt that it would be very devastating to a lot of people if Obama were to lose.

    Considering the emotional devastation caused by Kerry's loss, I'm thinking it might make Bush Derangement Syndrome look like a walk in the park.

    Of course, they could always keep the sorry site going, and recycle pictures like this:


    While I should probably be more grateful that some of my fellow citizens are apparently willing to apologize on my behalf if McCain wins, I'm still not planning to apologize, no matter who wins.

    posted by Eric at 11:21 PM | Comments (2)

    Investors like me are being hit hard at the pump!

    Gas prices are falling so fast that I'm actually worried:

    CAMARILLO, Calif. (AP) - A national survey shows gas prices continue to decline, tumbling nearly 53 cents a gallon in the last two weeks.

    The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline at self-serve stations was $2.78 Friday. Mid-grade was at $2.93 and premium was at $3.05.

    That's according to the Lundberg Survey of 5,000 gas stations nationwide, released Sunday.

    Gas was cheapest in Wichita, Kan., at $2.26 for a gallon of regular. It was most expensive in Anchorage, Alaska, at $3.50.

    Here in Ann Arbor, it has taken a nosedive from over $3.00 just weeks ago to its present low of around $2.50.

    That's lower than I've seen in at least a year, and here's why I'm worried. I filled the nearly empty tank of my car at the going price a few weeks ago, and I hardly ever drive now, because nearly everything is within walking distance. So every day I'm watching my investment -- that full tank of gas -- plummet in value! With prices dropping the way they are, I have seen the value of my investment drop by over 15% -- just in the past two weeks!

    With no end in sight! By any definition, that's a crisis.

    I notice Glenn Reynolds is asking the obvious question

    So where are all the cheap-gas news stories?
    There are none, of course. Clearly, they're all in cahoots trying to keep this quiet in the hope of preventing a panic.

    So what do I do now? I can't enjoy cheaper driving, because I paid a lot of money for that gas, and if I do drive, I have no choice but to use it at the price I paid for it, which is totally unfair, because other people get to drive around with cheaper gas. Who will bail me out? Can't the government do something to stabilize the value of my investment?

    What I really want to know is, where are all of the gas pump price-gouging monopolists when we so badly need them?

    UPDATE: More bad news from Glenn Reynolds:

    GAS DROPS BELOW $2 A GALLON in Tennessee.
    Is it time to panic yet?

    Or will Peak Oil save us?

    posted by Eric at 08:49 PM | Comments (5)

    Computer Wars
    Obama's Computer

    McCain's Computer
    F-22 Cockpit

    posted by Simon at 01:19 PM

    Worth A Bucket

    The folks at Hillbuzz have managed to corner a Real Pollster™ to find out what is really going on in this election.

    I was having dinner a night ago with a friend of mine who is a statistician for a well-regarded private polling company. They do some work for Republicans in California, but most of the work they do is for Democrats or Democrat-leaning operations (Unions, etc.). Anyway, her shop was retained to do a few Presidential polls for targetted states on behalf of a union so the union could decide where to spend their ad dollars for the last week. They did Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and Missouri. After mocking the hell out of the voter id spreads used by Rassmussen, Zogby, etc. (and this is coming from a committed Dem who will be voting for Barry O) she said the results of their polling lead her to believe that McCain will definitely win FL, OH, NC, MO and NV. She says Obama definitely wins New Mexico. She said that Colorado and New Hampshire were absolute dead heats. She said she thinks there is a 55% chance Obama holds on in Pennsylvania and a 75% chance McCain wins Virginia. She absolutely laughed at the public polls showing Obama leading Virginia-and pointed out that all of those polls rely on Dem turnout being +4 and as much as +7, when in 2006, Republicans actually had the advantage by +3. She also pointed out that the numbers for Obama in SWVA look absolutely awful and that McCain is running 10 points better then Allen did in NoVa.
    And how about the public polls?
    She said she has very little doubt that the public polling is part of a "concerted voter suppression effort" by the MSM. She said IBD/TIPP was the only outfit doing public polling that was "worth a bucket of warm piss".
    And what do I have to say to that? Those of you who have been paying attention can see it coming.

    Don't give it to him. Make him steal it.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 12:31 PM | Comments (7)

    The case for gridlock

    It might be a bit late in the game for my liking, but I'm glad to see that McCain is finally raising what I think is the best argument in his favor:

    ALBUQUERQUE (Reuters) - Republican presidential nominee John McCain , trailing in the polls, raised the prospect on Saturday of a complete Democratic takeover of Washington as a reason to elect him over Democrat Barack Obama in 10 days.
    The American voters have a long tradition of not wanting either party to get too much power. The last time the Democrats held both the executive and congressional branches was when Bill Clinton was elected, and it didn't last long.

    Of course, once Bush was elected the Republicans held both branches, and it took until 2006 for the public to finally say they'd had enough. Whether that means they want to keep going, and get all the way into the fast lane to socialism, who knows?

    McCain is a centrist, though, and considering that he'd be up against a hostile Democratic congress, his election would hardly mean GOP control as it's being spun. Clearly, Republican dominance is over, and I think the American electorate want it that way.

    But how far do they want to go? Do they want the country under the total political control of the Democrats? It's a good question, a larger one than Barack Obama, and McCain should be hammering away at it -- if for no other reason than half the voters don't even know who Nancy Pelosi is. Political junkies tend to forget that what they take for granted as common knowledge is in fact uncommon. A lot of people simply don't know which party is running Congress. Considering the abysmally low approval ratings of the legislative branch, ordinary voters might need a reminder of who is in charge there, and that they actually have opportunity to proceed with caution. Maybe even apply the brakes.

    Of course, if the voters want socialism, voting for Obama is like taking your foot off the brakes and getting in the fast lane.

    Yes, the fast lane to socialism certainly is change. But is it the kind of change that American voters really want?

    I realize that America's "progress" towards full blown socialism may be inevitable. As it is, government nationalization of the economy is continuing full pace, and when the astronomically high cost of baby boomer Medicare "entitlements" kicks in, even many Republicans may welcome socialized medicine because the inevitable rationing would build in a cost containment mechanism. And once these things are in place, they become politically impossible to undo.

    With all that in mind, I prefer as much gridlock as possible along the way, and I see a vote for McCain as a vote in favor of maintaining at least some semblance of gridlock.

    Yes, I know that "balance of power" has a much more pleasant ring to it, but this is a blog post, not a speech. "Gridlock" sounds very unappealing. Backward, even. "Fast lane," "progress," and "change" all sound appealing, promising, even sexy.

    As unattractive, boring, and stultifying as "gridlock" may sound right now, once it's lost it will seem like a precious, time-honored American birthright.

    Because if it's change they want, it'll be change they'll get!

    (If only "they" didn't get to drag me into their "we.")

    posted by Eric at 10:53 AM | Comments (4)

    Putting on Ayers

    Reason links this very amusing YouTube video showing Bill Ayers calling the cops on reporters and Bill O'Reilly advising Obama to throw Ayers under the bus:

    (Via Glenn Reynolds who's having fun with O'Reilly putting on Ayers.)

    While I also love the delicious irony of seeing a man with a notoriously murderous attitude towards police go crying to the the brutal fascists about a reporter, an irony I find more delicious is to see culture warrior Bill O'Reilly (a guy I don't especially like) catching up with Classical Values.

    Here's O'Reilly:

    ...I actually think Barack Obama should apologize for hanging with the guy. He should throw him under the bus like he did with Reverend Wright. Everybody makes mistakes. You made one. This a bad guy. Just say you made a mistake in judgement.
    And here was Classical Values, on October 15:
    Mainstreaming Bill Ayers went too far, and for the good of the country, it should be stopped right now by Barack Obama. He should admit his mistake, and while I know it will sound hypocritical, I think that for the good of the country, he should throw Ayers under the proverbial bus.
    I'm sure it's pure coincidence (and I'm sure I'm not the first to advocate throwing Ayers under the bus), but I'm delighted to see Bill O'Reilly getting on the under-the-bus bandwagon!

    A more serious issue, of course, is why won't Obama throw Ayers under the bus?

    Considering that the people who he has thrown under the bus are tame by comparison, it seems like a no-brainer.

    No downside that I can see.

    (I for one would respect him a lot more if he did.)

    MORE: Another delicious irony, noted by Victor Davis Hanson:

    ...there was a strange scene when the Fox reporter caught up to Bill Ayers and stuck a microphone in his face as he went up the sidewalk of his rather impressive home: Ayers, with a bright red star on his T-shirt, shoos away the reporter with the apparent mumble "this is private property" before the police arrive. How strange that an advocate for communalism and an erstwhile attacker of police stations reverts to the notion of property rights and police to protect him from an intrusive reporter. Right out of Thucydides Book III and the strife on Corfu, when the historian warns that those who destroy the protocols of civilization may well one day wish to rely on them.
    (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

    I'm sure Ayers feels entitled to an impressive home, just as he would after the revolution.

    Stalin and his henchman also felt quite entitled to live in the rather impressive homes they had confiscated from the people they had murdered. True, they were now owned "in the name of the people."

    But imagine what would have happened to one of "the people" who ventured too close to what was now being held in his name....

    posted by Eric at 04:24 PM | Comments (9)

    Joe's tax dollars at work! (Against Joe.)

    You think you have First Amendment rights? Well, yes, you do. But try saying something that offends the ruling class, and you'll see what happens.

    In a previous post, I characterized the invasion of Joe the Plumber's privacy thusly:

    The way they have done a complete, invasive background check on this citizen is shocking. While few of us would withstand close scrutiny, what annoys me the most is that the dirt-digging has been done by the news media, and they have now essentially sicced the bureaucrats on this guy...
    When I wrote that, I thought the bureaucrats might have been merely reacting to information dug up by invasive reporters.

    Silly me.

    It now appears that there was government involvement in the dirt-digging itself:

    "State and local officials are investigating if state and law-enforcement computer systems were illegally accessed when they were tapped for personal information about "Joe the Plumber."

    Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher became part of the national political lexicon Oct. 15 when Republican presidential candidate John McCain mentioned him frequently during his final debate with Democrat Barack Obama.

    The 34-year-old from the Toledo suburb of Holland is held out by McCain as an example of an American who would be harmed by Obama's tax proposals.

    Public records requested by The Dispatch disclose that information on Wurzelbacher's driver's license or his sport-utility vehicle was pulled from the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles database three times shortly after the debate.

    Information on Wurzelbacher was accessed by accounts assigned to the office of Ohio Attorney General Nancy H. Rogers, the Cuyahoga County Child Support Enforcement Agency and the Toledo Police Department.

    It has not been determined who checked on Wurzelbacher, or why. Direct access to driver's license and vehicle registration information from BMV computers is restricted to legitimate law enforcement and government business.

    So, what that means is that rogue law enforcement officials invaded this man's confidential records, and conspired with either the Obama political machine or the biased news media (I'm assuming this is a distinction with a difference) to make them public.

    This is why we cannot trust the government. There is no such thing as confidentiality. Fill out one of those mandatory forms requiring personal information, and depending on the whims of reporters or political campaign operatives, it can later be used against you. The citizen has no real recourse, but to sue. (And even that is iffy because of the innumerable government immunities.) However, the damage is done.

    The McCain campaign points the finger at the Obama campaign, but naturally, the latter denies it had anything to do with the abuse of power (as we all know, only Sarah Palin would do that):

    Paul Lindsay, Ohio spokesman for the McCain campaign, attempted to portray the inquiries as politically motivated. "It's outrageous to see how quickly Barack Obama's allies would abuse government power in an attempt to smear a private citizen who dared to ask a legitimate question," he said.

    Isaac Baker, Obama's Ohio spokesman, denounced Lindsay's statement as charges of desperation from a campaign running out of time. "Invasions of privacy should not be tolerated. If these records were accessed inappropriately, it had nothing to do with our campaign and should be investigated fully," he said.

    The attorney general's office is investigating if the access of Wuzelbacher's BMV information through the office's Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway computer system was unauthorized, said spokeswoman Jennifer Brindisi.

    "We're trying to pinpoint where it came from," she said. The investigation could become "criminal in nature," she said. Brindisi would not identify the account that pulled the information on Oct. 16.

    Records show it was a "test account" assigned to the information technology section of the attorney general's office, said Department of Public Safety spokesman Thomas Hunter.

    Brindisi later said investigators have confirmed that Wurzelbacher's information was not accessed within the attorney general's office. She declined to provide details. The office's test accounts are shared with and used by other law enforcement-related agencies, she said.

    On Oct. 17, BMV information on Wurzelbacher was obtained through an account used by the Cuyahoga County Child Support Enforcement Agency in Cleveland, records show.

    Child Support Enforcement Agency? I can't think of an outfit more likely to be infested with leftie bureaucrats. Common sense suggests that an Obama supporter with access to government computers broke the law. Political skullduggery like this is always accomplished by means of plausible deniability. ("If you get caught, we had nothing to do with this!")

    They probably tried to take care to leave no telltale traces, but I'd love to know how the information was released, and to whom.

    What's fascinating to me is that multiple government entities appear to have been involved:

    Mary Denihan, spokeswoman for the county agency, said the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services contacted the agency today and requested an investigation of the access to Wurzelbacher's information. Cuyahoga County court records do not show any child-support cases involving Wurzelbacher.

    The State Highway Patrol, which administers the Law Enforcement Automated Data System in Ohio, asked Toledo police to explain why it pulled BMV information on Wurzelbacher within 48 hours of the debate, Hunter said.

    The LEADS system also can be used to check for warrants and criminal histories, but such checks would not be reflected on the records obtained by The Dispatch.

    Sgt. Tim Campbell, a Toledo police spokesman, said he could not provide any information because the department only had learned of the State Highway Patrol inquiry today.

    The larger issue is that no one is safe. Not even a lowly blogger. (Anyone who doubts for one moment that a mere phone call could trigger the release of every damned "confidential" government record on any citizen simply does not understand how the real world works.)

    The lesson here is a very ugly one. Many people will be intimidated by seeing what happened to Joe, and that's no accident. I think that's part of the plan.

    Chilling effect on free speech? Precisely.

    Intimidation works. It keeps people -- especially ordinary people -- fearful and in line.

    That's because they -- yes, the dreaded they -- know everything there is to know about you!

    But as usual, the innocent have nothing to fear!

    As long as you behave yourself, everything in your files will remain "confidential."

    posted by Eric at 10:00 AM | Comments (7)

    Discounting the theory

    I love the logic at work here.

    Nervousness about Barack Obama hurts the market.

    Yet the more the market hurts, the higher Obama goes in the polls.

    This would seem to be correlated in this chart:


    This reminds me of the way people who are afraid of getting bitten by a dog will often end up getting bitten by the dog, who is of course responding to their fear of getting bitten by the dog.

    But which fear is more rational?

    posted by Eric at 03:09 PM | Comments (13)

    Respectable dedication?

    Yesterday's post about Ayers became so long with updates that it's looking cluttered. When I started it, I had not seen the video about Ayers and his buddies' plans to murder 25 million Americans, nor had I had a chance to examine his book Prairie Fire in much detail, although I did note that Ayers still lists it proudly on his curriculum vitae (as if further proof was needed that he's unrepentant).

    What I missed was a small item. Just a guy on the dedication page:

    Interestingly, the book lists Sirhan Sirhan, Robert F. Kennedy's assassin, on the dedication page.
    Interestingly is a kind way of putting it. Horrifyingly might be better. But in any event, I thought this deserved something more than another update to a post that grew too long.

    The problem with Ayers is his respectability, and that is a larger issue than his connection with Obama.

    The argument that dedicating a book to Sirhan is no big deal because Ayers managed to hang out with Republicans is specious. This man should be considered totally beyond the pale. That he became respectable is, I think, a terrible mistake.

    We have a candidate for president who has the opportunity to take issue with the propriety of that respectability, but who instead is helping to perpetuate it.

    posted by Eric at 12:23 PM | Comments (22)

    The Wrong Parties

    It should probably be the "wronged parties", but then we would be talking about citizens. Which will come up eventually but not quite in that context. And what is the context? Obviously some one is getting it. What the heck am I gibbering about? The inevitable political season wheeze that "we need to punish a given political party by seeing it defeated" in order to make it live up to its principles. Radley Balko is the latest purveyor of this trash.

    Which brings me back to why the Republicans need to get throttled: A humiliated, decimated GOP that rejuvenates and rebuilds around the principles of limited government, free markets, and rugged individualism is really the only chance for voters to possibly get a real choice in federal elections down the road.
    What Radley fails to take into account is that it is the voters who choose the candidates. If you are trying to win in a conservative district you had better be running conservative candidates. (See Democrats, Blue Dog) So Radley, we don't have a government of the Parties. We have a government of the people. Want better candidates (according to your lights)? Get better people.

    Radley: for good or ill we get the government we deserve. And for the Radleys of the world the answer is always the same: we need a better party. The Libertarians have been improving their party for 30+ years. So far the results are minimal. I propose a different tack. A long march through the institutions. Work to get a libertarian people. The libertarian government will follow shortly thereafter.

    OH, yeah. Palin has more libertarian tendencies than I have seen in any other politician currently on the national scene. I'm voting McCain/Palin to give her a chance to show her stuff.

    I ♥ Sarah'cudda and Johnny Mac

    And for those of you who are a little short of love for the Republican ticket may I suggest:

    Don't give it to him. Make him steal it.

    I think people who try to steal elections (ahem, ACORN, hem) ought to be denied a victory on principle. It sets a bad precedent.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 10:21 AM | Comments (2)

    the singularity of the narrative

    In the early days of the Obama phenomenon, I harbored hopes that Barack Obama's viable candidacy might cause a sea change in the way America sees itself in terms of race, as it does appear to be genuine evidence -- in the broadest possible sense -- of the final demise of American racism as we once knew it. (And I'm old enough to remember it in its primeval ugliness.)

    Little did I know that even if his campaign turned out to be successful (which it was when he won the nomination), that would not be seen as evidence of the demise of racism, but as occasion to turn up the accusatory, even inquisitory, volume.

    Stuart Taylor Jr. looks at the racial grievance crowd's narrative, and sees it as expanding rather than contracting:

    An African-American candidate with left-of-center views and less than four years in the Senate appears poised to win the presidential election over a seasoned white war hero who was until lately a media darling.

    And Barack Obama's favorability rating (53 percent favorable to 33 percent unfavorable) in a recent CBS News/New York Times poll was "the highest for a presidential candidate running for a first term in the last 28 years" of that poll.

    There is much to celebrate in this, even for supporters of John McCain. Win or lose, Obama has proved (if more proof were needed) that although many blacks are still mired in poverty -- a legacy of our racist history -- contemporary white racism has been driven to the fringes and is no longer a serious impediment to black advancement.

    So, is the racial-grievance crowd celebrating? Hardly. Instead, the obsessive search for ever-more-elusive evidence of widespread white racism and sneaky appeals to it goes on.

    Yes, and the obsessive "search" (inquisition is more like it) has reached truly absurd proportions.

    The race boils down to racism.

    Discussing the poverty of Obama's Kenyan brother "implies" that Barack Obama is black.

    Bill Ayers is the new Willie Horton. (This was an improvement on the earlier narrative that discussing Ayers was "tinged" with racism.)

    Socialism is code language for black.

    Of course, if Obama loses, the country won't be seen by the grievance machine as a place where a black, left-wing, first term senator can become president, but as an evil racist place which will never allow a black man to get ahead. And we will all be in for the biggest collective scolding in American history.

    What should the lesson be if Obama loses? "Racism is the only reason McCain might beat him," Weisberg asserted in August. "If Obama loses, our children will grow up thinking of equal opportunity as a myth. His defeat would say that when handed a perfect opportunity to put the worst part of our history behind us, we chose not to. In this event, the world's judgment will be severe and inescapable: The United States had its day but, in the end, couldn't put its own self-interest ahead of its crazy irrationality over race."

    This is nonsense, and dangerous nonsense at that. A chorus of such commentary after an Obama defeat would reinforce in the minds of black children the pernicious myth that there's no point studying or working hard, because the white man will hold them down no matter how good they are.

    And if he wins, any criticism of his adminstration will be taken as another attempt to keep the black man down.

    If that's the narrative, then the narrative sucks. And I mean literally. The racial grievance narrative sucks so bad that it will engulf and devour anything in or near the periphery of its path.

    Why, its sucking power is almost astronomical.

    And while an astronomical term might be in order, don't expect me to use a racist term to describe it, OK?

    Certain things can't be tinged with humor.

    What's satire for me is someone else's deadly serious grievance.

    Onward and downward!

    posted by Eric at 09:34 AM | Comments (2)

    A. Hitler Big Obama Fan

    What? You think this is some kind of Godwin joke? No my friends, it is not. It is for real. A. Hitler has made a Credit Card (CC) donation of $19.45 to the Obama Campaign. Obama has all the safeties turned off on his credit card (CC) verification system.

    Frankly, its easier than I'd believe to do this. Courtesy of my (real) CC number and expiration date, the Obama campaign has just received a $19.45 donation from mister Adolf Hitler, whose occupation is "Dictator" at the company "National Socialist Party of Ger" (I got cut off). I captured screenshots to prove this.

    No verification required. The listed address wasn't even close to my real address.

    While I hate to think I'm giving any money at all to these bastards, its worth it to prove once and for all that they are engaged in fraud. I will verify whether my card gets charged and report back.


    Which is how he got all those contributions from people like Good Will who works at "Loving" and whose profession is "You". It might explain how some people from the Gaza Strip were able to donate $33,000 to the Obama campaign.

    And yet it seems like our Shrinking Media is shrinking from this story. I suppose we could get their interest up if we reminded them that it was Republicans who were pretending to be A. Hitler. True Progressives™ would have pretended to be Hugo Chavez.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 03:56 PM | Comments (4)

    Is California In Play?

    Is California in play? You might think so given this report from Yreka, California in The Siskiyou Daily News.

    Last week, Louise Gliatto, a volunteer at the Republican campaign office, handed out the last McCain-Palin yard sign. The last campaign button went a few days earlier. There is a good supply of McCain-Palin bumper stickers, however, and local Republicans have been visiting the campaign office to get them. At both offices, voters have been interested in information on the state ballot initiatives.

    "A lot of Mount Shasta people have been coming in," Democratic office volunteer Mike Cassady said of the Yreka office.

    The Democrats are staffing a single office in Yreka, while the Republicans have opened offices in Yreka and Mount Shasta.

    Before Monday's deadline to register to vote, both offices were busy helping residents fill out registration cards. The Democrats also spent four days registering voters in front of Raley's in Yreka. Cassady said several dozen voters from both parties were registered.

    That is all very odd for a state that is not supposed to be in play. And the Republicans opening two offices to the Democrat's one? And how about those polls? Whatever they mean. Here is my motto from now until 0600z 5 Nov. 2008.

    Don't give it to him. Make him steal it.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 11:44 AM | Comments (7)

    Ayers didn't do enough

    I've written a number of posts about Bill Ayers, and I was especially horrified by his organization's plot to blow up American soldiers at the Fort Dix NCO club. And while I know that terrorists are generally unconcerned with civilian casualties, still, I had not read about Ayers' role in an attempted Detroit police station bombing which could easily have killed black patrons of a business next door.

    Nor had Bob Owens known about it, and he was as horrified to find out as I am to read about it:

    What I did not know at the time that I wrote that article was that this was not the first attempt by the Weathermen to commit mass murder.

    A month prior, in February 1970, Barack Obama's political mentor Bill Ayers plotted multiple attacks against the officers of the Detroit Police Department. He didn't care that one of the bombs he was planning to use would be placed in such a way that it "could easily kill" the patrons of a nearby restaurant that catered to an African-American clientele.

    Such sentimentality was "unrevolutionary." The 44 sticks of dynamite would be used despite the fears of a military "expert" within the group (FBI informant Larry Grathwohl) that collateral damage from the massive blasts could kill the innocent diners nearby.

    According to the FBI informant, here's what happened:
    Recruited into the Weathermen, who valued his limited military experience, the Cincinnati resident worked with Ayers. Grathwohl found Ayers hard to love; he seemed self-important, a controller of subordinates, the type who loved to give orders. Ayers was a key leader. Grathwohl, a government informant, wrote that Ayers had helped direct a pair of attempted police building bombings in Detroit in February 1970. After doing his assigned job in reconnaissance, Grathwohl disagreed with Mr. Ayers over the placement of one bomb, which could easily kill black patrons who favored an adjacent restaurant, but that Ayers dismissed such sentimentality as unrevolutionary. The informant was glad to be dismissed from the operation by Ayers. Forty-four sticks of dynamite were then formed into two bombs and put into place, before Grathwohl's information allowed police to dismantle both. Ayers' memoir -- which freely admits to incompleteness -- says nothing of this episode, or Detroit, or the month of February 1970.
    Fortunately, there were problems with the fuse, so the bomb didn't go off.

    Reminding readers of the racist bombings in Alabama, Owens has an excellent question for those who consider criticism of Bill Ayers to be a form of "racism":

    I wonder if John Lewis and other veterans of the civil rights movement would be so quick to rally around Barack Obama today if they knew his political mentor considered the lives of black patrons in Detroit to be merely "unrevolutionary" collateral damage.
    Unrepentant to the core, Ayers and his wife nonetheless became respectable. And they threw a party to launch Obama's earliest political campaign:
    Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn -- the host and hostess of Obama's political coming-out party and close associates of 21 years -- tried to kill hundreds of Americans. They plotted against military and police targets in particular, and Ayers was more than willing to kill innocent black families in Detriot if it served his hateful purposes. Is he any better than the Klansmen in Birmingham? Would his victims have been any less dead, or their families' lives less empty?
    As I keep saying, there's a bigger issue than how well Obama knew these people or how old he was at the time of their terrorist acts, and that is their respectability, and his ongoing promotion of it.

    Why can't he say that they are not mainstream, and should not be considered respectable?

    The only reasonable conclusion that can be drawn is that it's because he really thinks they are respectable.

    I think that says a lot more about him than how well he knew them.

    By the way, Larry Grathwohl (the informant quoted above) seems quite credible and checks out as a source. He has inside knowledge about the terrorist training provided to the Weathermen, and wrote a book about his experiences. (He was also interviewed in Time magazine.)

    Chillingly, though, any "collateral damage" of the sort type described above would have been a drop in the bucket for the Weathermen.

    As Grathwohl details in this interview, the Ayers/Dohrn gang had plans to kill approximately 25 million Americans:


    Makes me want to ask another campaign question.

    Should people who wanted to kill 25 million Americans ever be considered respectable?

    NOTE: Sorry if I sounded overly sarcastic in this post. I do realize this is quite serious. But dammit, these questions are not being asked by those who should be asking them.

    (I think the problem may be that there's tension between trying to adequately communicate the horror, and the fact that this is after all just another blog post.)

    UPDATE: Anyone who doubts that the Weather Underground patterned itself according to the usual Communist plan (and its murderous ideology) should read "Prairie Fire" which is reprinted here by ZombieTime.

    It's of course standard Communist rhetoric about the destruction of imperialism and the seizure of power:

    Our final goal is the destruction of imperialism, the seizure of power, and the creation of socialism. Our strategy for this stage of the struggle is to organize the oppressed people of the imperial nation itself to join with the colonies in the attack on imperialism. This process of attacking and weakening imperialism involves the defeat of all kinds of national chauvinism and arrogance; this is a precondition to our fight for socialism.
    Revolution is a fight by the people for power. It is a changing of power in which existing social and economic relationships are turned upside down. It is a fight for who runs things, in particular, for control by the people of what we communists call the means of production...
    It doesn't take much imagination or knowledge of history to understand that these goals can be implemented only through mass murder. That is what Communists do when they gain power.

    Zombietime observes that Ayers has said nothing to change his thesis:

    There's no getting around it: William Ayers was a violent communist revolutionary bent on overthrowing the government and "seizing power" in the United States. The proof is on this page. And the only difference between the 1970s William Ayers and the William Ayers whom Barack Obama associated with is a change in rhetorical style; a re-wording of his radical philosophy to make it seem more mainstream. But the underlying political thesis (i.e. communism) remains the same.


    All of this is, of course, just the tip of the iceberg. To this day, nearly every word that Ayers utters and every sentence that he writes hews to the exact same communist line. You can easily find hundreds more examples yourself just by browsing through his blog or simply by Googling his name and searching for his writings and speeches, almost all of which still revolve around notions promulgated in Prairie Fire.

    William Ayers is a communist. By his own description. He was a communist then, he is a communist now, and he was a communist for the entire time that Barack Obama worked with him and was associated with him.

    (Via Joy McCann)

    Read it all.

    And of course, not only has Ayers said nothing to change his thesis he articulated in Prairie Fire, but the book is listed proudly (under "SELECTED PUBLICATIONS") in his faculty profile, and in his Curriculum Vitae:

    Dohrn, B., Ayers, W.C., Jones, J. and Sanchez, C. (1976). Prairie fire. New York: Red Dragon Press.
    Again, the question is not whether a man who espouses a violent Communist ideology is respectable, but whether Barack Obama believes he should be.

    Sorry, but as long as his answer appears to be "yes," I will continue to maintain that he is unfit to be president.

    MORE: Just so there be no mistake, I thought I should quote the exact words from the video above:

    "they estimated that they would have to eliminate 25 million people, in these reeducation centers. And when I say eliminate I mean kill. 25 million people."
    That would have been about 10% of the United States population of the time.

    While it might seem like an incredible figure, it's not surprising.

    In terms of history, killing ten percent of the population is standard Communist fare.

    It's unspeakably awful, but it's no more suprising than the fact that Nazis killed millions of Jews.

    But at least Nazis aren't considered respectable.

    MORE: Bob Owens links the Larry Grathwohl video and Zombietime's post of the Prairie Fire book, and concludes,

    You'll be stunned at the depth of the seething hatred of the United States and our way of life contained in these pages, and wonder how the protégé of these traitors, people who formally declared war against our nation and plotted murders on scale four times greater than the Holocaust, ever became the Democratic nominee for President of the nation they so loathe that they went to war against it.
    Via Glenn Reynolds, who adds,
    APPARENTLY, Pol Pot wasn't the only one with that line of thinking. Good reason to own a gun or ten.
    This is an extremely serious issue and I'm glad it is not being neglected.

    That there are people like Ayers is one thing. That his defenders would come here to quibble and call me a wingnut and a kook in the comments is to be expected.

    I still think the most shocking aspect of Ayers is his respectability, and I don't care how many Republican asses he might have kissed to get it.

    My question for Obama remains:

    Should people who wanted to kill 25 million Americans ever be considered respectable?

    MORE: Here's Jeff Goldstein:

    We are only a few weeks away from potentially electing the chosen candidate of Bill Ayers, Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, and the remainder of the moldering radicals whose last political efforts will be in the service of the glorious cause -- the handpicked protege of a man who at one point plotted, along with his fellow WU members, the elimination of 25 million stubborn capitalists who refused their proper re-education.

    Bill Ayers was not just some idealistic young kid who was against the war in VietNam. Instead, he agitated for a communist victory, and has spent the years since working on weakening bourgeois institutions from within.

    Barack Obama has helped him in that regard.

    That's the whole problem.

    posted by Eric at 10:32 AM | Comments (11)

    Turning cardboard into dough?

    In today's Detroit Free Press, I read about an interesting promotional idea -- free pizzas in exchange for McCain campaign signs:

    A Warren pizzeria owner received threatening phone calls Wednesday after a political pizza deal went awry.

    "They've been actually calling here and threatening my life," said Salvatore's Pizzeria owner Diana Franzoni, who previously offered free, small pizzas to anyone who turned in a McCain-Palin yard sign after the Republican senator closed his Michigan offices. "It's just ridiculous. People have blown something completely innocent completely out of proportion."

    That's what she says happened after the business "offer" received national attention. People noticed their McCain signs being stolen (and at least one instance of vandalism), and complained to the police:
    Approximately 300 signs were turned in by young and old customers, but the promotion ended Tuesday when police visited the business after receiving complaints that some of the submitted signs were stolen.

    "I'm really hopping mad about this," McCain campaign volunteer Ruthann Dawley of Rochester Hills said. "To me, it's like rewarding vandalism."

    Dawley said political sign thieves have hit her home. Her McCain-Palin sign was snatched from her front yard and her car, which has a similar bumper sticker and window sign, was pummeled with mud balls in the last week.

    But Franzoni said she didn't fathom that any of the signs brought into the pizzeria were obtained illegally.

    "We would never advocate theft nor would we ever put a promotion up for such a thing," she said.

    Warren police say no charges will be filed against Salvatore's Pizzeria for the incident.

    "There was no criminal intent on their part," Dwyer said.

    But a different sign inside the business at Ryan and 13 Mile is riling up McCain supporters for poking fun at his running mate.

    It reads: "Want to hear a joke? Sarah Palin."

    Well, I'm glad they didn't advocate theft. But when I read the story, I wondered just how many McCain supporters would actually be willing to trade in their yard signs for a pizza. It just doesn't make sense. I also had a feeling that if a McCain-supporting pizzeria offered free pizzas in exchange for Obama signs, there'd be even more of an uproar. Either way, it's not the sort of thing I would do if I were in the pizza business, because once the word got out, you'd be alienating about half of your potential customer base, without any corresponding guarantee that the other side would become loyal patrons.

    Worse yet, the signs for pizza offer could backfire in a fascinating manner I hadn't considered, and which I doubt very much the business owner in this case ever anticipated.

    The owner intended that Republicans bring in the signs, right? OK, let's take her word for it, and assume they did. According to blogger "Republican Ranting," that could very well bankrupt the business:

    Alright, so you have Salvatore's Pizzeria (Warren, Michigan) who's offering free pizza to people who bring in yard signs. Diana Franzoni, the owner claims that she just wants people to turn in their signs since McCain left the state. OK, people aren't going to do that. Honestly though, if I worked for the Republican party, I'd be doing that as a means to get food for my campaign headquarters. The state party would save so much money doing that that they could've cut down rent for the McCain stuff that's still in Michigan. If I were in the McCain campaign - I'd give my volunteers a set of 1,000 signs, which would be $1,000-$2,000, but it'd absolutely kill Salvatore's.
    Yes, it might, because an offer like that is a contract. And if the signs cost the campaign only a dollar or two, exchanging them for pizzas is actually a sweet deal.

    Seen this way, the offer might constitute feeding the opposition!

    The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of feeding the McCain campaign this way.

    I mean, who'd have ever thought Republicans could print more food?

    Not merely ingenious, it borders on the miraculous!

    Via Republican Ranting, here's the video:

    posted by Eric at 09:11 AM | Comments (1)

    McCain 37, Obama 24

    Have you heard that McCain voted with Bush 90%-95% of the time? I've heard it so many times my eardrums are ready to burst. Of all the talking points in the Obama campaign, I think it is probably Point Number One.

    I hadn't really given much thought to looking into the details, although it did occur to me that some of the votes had to have been of an either bipartisan or non-controversial nature, or on matters arrived at after compromise which represented some sort of consensus. But it never occurred to me that the figure itself was wrong, and I figured the McCain people would jump all over them if it was.

    So I was genuinely surprised by the title of this post by Jim Geraghty -- In 2007, McCain Voted With Bush More Than Obama... By an Entire 13.45 Percent Geraghty looked at the percentage of times the two were in attendance, and found that because "McCain was only in attendance for 39 percent of them," "he actually voted the president's way 37 percent of the time."

    Amazingly, Barack Obama voted with the president 40% of the time, but because of his 59% attendance record, his total vote percentage with the President is cut down to 23.6%.

    37 versus 23.6

    Concludes Geraghty,

    last year, the difference between the two men in terms of how they actually stood in the Senate and voted was all of 13.45 percent.
    So I thought I'd rework Obama's statement:
    In the debate this week, my opponent felt the need to inform me that he's not President Bush. And in fairness, I don't blame Senator McCain for all of President Bush's mistakes. After all, he's only voted with George Bush 37 percent of the time.

    I, on the other hand, voted with the president only 23.6 percent of the time!

    Very persuasive.

    The voters would be scratching their heads all the way to the polls.

    (Yes, the number in the title is rounded off. Obama's actual number is 23.6. Rounding off numbers is a scorekeeper's sacrosanct prerogative!)

    posted by Eric at 07:30 PM | Comments (6)

    Ripping Them A New One

    Orson Scott Card is a Democrat. He is also a fierce critic of the press. The in the tank for Obama press.

    An open letter to the local daily paper -- almost every local daily paper in America:

    I remember reading All the President's Men and thinking: That's journalism. You do what it takes to get the truth and you lay it before the public, because the public has a right to know.

    This housing crisis didn't come out of nowhere. It was not a vague emanation of the evil Bush administration.

    It was a direct result of the political decision, back in the late 1990s, to loosen the rules of lending so that home loans would be more accessible to poor people. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were authorized to approve risky loans.

    What is a risky loan? It's a loan that the recipient is likely not to be able to repay.

    The goal of this rule change was to help the poor -- which especially would help members of minority groups. But how does it help these people to give them a loan that they can't repay? They get into a house, yes, but when they can't make the payments, they lose the house -- along with their credit rating.

    They end up worse off than before.

    This was completely foreseeable and in fact many people did foresee it. One political party, in Congress and in the executive branch, tried repeatedly to tighten up the rules. The other party blocked every such attempt and tried to loosen them.

    And then he goes on to name names. You know. The usual suspects. Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Barack Obama, Franklin Raines (referred to as Freddie Raines). And then he says that the media today has no honor because it is helping to blame the crisis on Republicans when the Democrats were in fact the main drivers. That by not treating both parties at least somewhat equally they have lost their way.
    If you want to redeem your honor, you will swallow hard and make a list of all the stories you would print if it were McCain who had been getting money from Fannie Mae, McCain whose campaign had consulted with its discredited former CEO, McCain who had voted against tightening its lending practices.

    Then you will print them, even though every one of those true stories will point the finger of blame at the reckless Democratic Party, which put our nation's prosperity at risk so they could feel good about helping the poor, and lay a fair share of the blame at Obama's door.

    You will also tell the truth about John McCain: that he tried, as a Senator, to do what it took to prevent this crisis. You will tell the truth about President Bush: that his administration tried more than once to get Congress to regulate lending in a responsible way.

    This was a Congress-caused crisis, beginning during the Clinton administration, with Democrats leading the way into the crisis and blocking every effort to get out of it in a timely fashion.

    If you at our local daily newspaper continue to let Americans believe -- and vote as if -- President Bush and the Republicans caused the crisis, then you are joining in that lie.

    If you do not tell the truth about the Democrats -- including Barack Obama -- and do so with the same energy you would use if the miscreants were Republicans -- then you are not journalists by any standard.

    You're just the public relations machine of the Democratic Party, and it's time you were all fired and real journalists brought in, so that we can actually have a news paper in our city.

    Sorry to say Mr. Card, but the internet is taking over the function of your local daily paper. Just a bunch of ordinary Joes with an interest in having their point of view heard. However, as is already obvious to you, there is a place for you on the internet. Keep up the good work. Oh yeah. Read the whole thing. En Fuego.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 02:20 PM | Comments (17)

    "Above politics"
    (the apolitical nature of non-partisan political endorsements)

    In my long discussion of the Michael Smerconish endorsement yesterday, I should have made it more clear that in terms of the big picture, Michael Smerconish is what film gangster Hyman Roth would call "small potatoes."

    Most ordinary middle class people -- especially the undecideds who don't read newspaper pundits (much less blogs) -- have no idea who Michael Smerconish or Chistopher Buckley are is, nor do they care one bit about whether these to-them obscure figures are "betraying their conservative principles." And even if by chance they happened upon a discussion of them somewhere, they wouldn't be persuaded of anything one way or another. The antics of the partisan political punditry mean very little to that 51% of the country who don't know that Nancy Pelosi is the Speaker of the House.

    This is not to say that the undecideds and the uninformed are necessarily members of the same class; only that the defections of people like Buckley and Smerconish can't be expected to change many minds in a way that will have much effect on the election.

    However, the last minute endorsements of Barack Obama by Colin Powell and Ben Bernanke might. The timing resembles a one-two punch, and while I can't prove that this was deliberately orchestrated, these men share a reputation of being "above politics."

    That Powell's endorsement appears to be a crassly political, finger-to-the-wind move on close analysis is beside the point. So is the fact that the Federal Reserve is supposed to be non-political.

    As a move, the Powell-Bernanke one-two combination is brilliant. It fits perfectly with David Axelrod's strategy (characterized by TNR's Jason Zengerle) of "third-party authentication." Moreover, there's no hard evidence that this was deliberately orchestrated, and it might not have been. After all, the poll numbers are there, and the election is so close that the victory of Obama appears to be a certainty. So endorsing him is seen as a relatively safe no-brainer.

    Above all, the endorsements of Powell and Bernanke are likely to be seen as reassuring. Because these men are respected. And above politics.

    Call me a cynical contrarian, but life has taught me to be suspicious about anything that's supposed to be reassuring. It smacks of salesmanship, and I'm always suspicious of salesmen. Especially when they seem anxious to close a deal.

    The problem with this particular "close" is that the reassuring message is rooted in the ethos of these two guys as being "above politics." Yet the fact of their last minute political endorsement demonstrates just the opposite.

    If these guys were really above politics, they'd stay above politics.

    Isn't partisanship bad enough? Must we be subjected to non-partisan partisanship?

    posted by Eric at 10:08 AM | Comments (4)

    Something Strange Coming Your Way

    Real Clear Politics has Obama up by 11 in Pennsylvania as of 22 Oct 008 0300z. And yet Governor Rendell is nervous about Pennsylvania and is asking Obama to return.

    Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell has sent two separate memos to the Obama campaign in the past five days requesting that the Democratic Presidential candidate--as well as Hillary and Bill Clinton--return to campaign in Pennsylvania, Rendell told CNN's Gloria Borger.

    Rendell said the McCain campaign is clearly making a push to win Pennsylvania, given the recent visits by the Arizona senator, his wife and his running mate. As a result, he wants Obama to appear in western Pennsylvania, Harrisburg and one more "large rally" in Philadelphia. Democrats generally worry that the race is significantly closer than what recent polls have suggested. According to Rendell, there is also worry among Democrats the McCain campaign has successfully raised the enthusiasm level among Republicans in the state.

    "I don't want to be selfish," Rendell said. "But I'm still a little nervous, so I have asked Obama to come back. We understand he's got demands from 20 different states, but we'd like to see him here."

    Obama's support appears to be weakest in the western part of the state, a region Pennsylvania Rep. Jack Murtha recently called 'racist,' and one where he badly lost to Sen. Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary.

    Yeah. The Democrats have done a real good job in PA what with Obama's "bitter clingers" remark and others. Still the polls have Obama up by 11, well outside the margin of error, so that PA should be a waste of time in ordinary circumstances. So maybe the circumstances are not ordinary.

    It also looks like the Obama campaign is having money troubles in Philadelphia. Specifically street money troubles.

    When the Philadelphia Democratic Party's faithful gathered for their pre-election fundraiser last night, conversation among many anxious ward leaders kept coming back to the same question: Would Barack Obama come up with street money?

    In the April primary, the presidential candidate spurned the Philadelphia tradition of distributing cash to ward leaders for Election Day operations, saying his campaign doesn't "pay for votes or pay for turnout."

    Street money, typically between $100 and $300 per voting division, is used to pay expenses such as meals and transportation and sometimes pay election workers for their day's work.

    Many thought Obama had changed his mind and would provide street money for the general election, but ward leaders said last night that they still hadn't heard of a commitment from the campaign.

    "Honestly, they'd be crazy not to do it," said Lou Agre, leader of the 21st Ward in Roxborough and Manayunk. "We're the ones who can get those last five, six hundred people [in a ward] who haven't voted, and that's a big difference for the campaign."

    City Democratic chairman U.S. Rep. Bob Brady said he's confident the Obama campaign will come up with the money.

    But several ward leaders said Brady had told them he'd gotten no commitment from the Obama campaign, and Gov. Rendell said he didn't know what to expect.

    "Who knows?" Rendell said when asked by a reporter. "I've recommended and Bob's recommended it, but we have no word, no word."

    You know, the Obama campaign does not sound like a campaign that is flush with votes or money. Despite what the press is telling you.

    Maybe Obama was thinking that with his ACORNs in a row he didn't need the regular party machine. No money, no votes. One way or the other. Of course this could just be a negotiating tactic by Obama to drive the price down. And Rendell's moves could just be his way of driving the price up. This lack of honor among the thieves could be a serious problem for an Obama administration.

    And one other point I want you to keep in mind:

    Don't give it to him. Make him steal it.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 11:23 PM | Comments (4)

    Socialism. It's not what you think!

    I just learned something new, and I am horrified.

    While I often condemn socialists and socialism, until today I had not realized that the word "socialist" is code language for "black":

    The "socialist" label that Sen. John McCain and his GOP presidential running mate Sarah Palin are trying to attach to Sen. Barack Obama actually has long and very ugly historical roots.

    J. Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI from 1924 to 1972, used the term liberally to describe African Americans who spent their lives fighting for equality.

    Those freedom fighters included the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who led the Civil Rights Movement; W.E.B. Du Bois, who in 1909 helped found the NAACP which is still the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization; Paul Robeson, a famous singer, actor and political activist who in the 1930s became involved in national and international movements for better labor relations, peace and racial justice; and A. Philip Randolph, who founded and was the longtime head of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and a leading advocate for civil rights for African Americans.

    McCain and Palin have simply reached back in history to use an old code word for black. It set whites apart from those deemed unAmerican and those who could not be trusted during the communism scare.

    Shame on McCain and Palin.

    Via Jules Crittenden who opines that "it's tragic that, at this late date, we cannot judge a man by the content of his political utterances without being accused of talking about the color of his skin."

    I think it may be too late for tragedy, so I'll just take my lumps and throw myself on the mercy of the court of political correctness.

    So if it's shame on McCain and Palin, I should say shame on me too! After all, I've been condemning socialism in this blog for nearly six years, and for many years before that in my pre-blogging life. And not once did anyone tell me.

    I'm stunned. Flabbergasted.

    But if socialist means black, what are the implications for National Socialism? I mean, we all knew how sneaky Hitler and those Nazis were, but this!

    To think that after all this time it turns out they were secretly running a black nationalist front.

    Who knew?

    (Looking back, maybe I should have suspected something was up when Louis Farrakhan said "Hitler was a very great man.")

    posted by Eric at 10:08 PM

    How Bill Ayers became respectable

    If there's one thing that's worse than Bill Ayers, it's his respectability. How did it happen that a guy like that came to be respectable?

    The same way bad people always become respectable, of course. Nice respectable people fail to speak up. By "nice" I mean the very people I referred to in this post; the country club people. Nice, respectable upper middle class people who don't want to be embarrassed. Such people are often the product of generations of "refinement." They descend from nice pedigrees, and are raised by parents who themselves were raised by people who believe it is "rude" to disagree. Their children, when they reach adolescence, might at first glance appear to be less civilized (and therefore more "rude") and it might appear that they are, at least to their unsuspecting parents. But the latter need not worry, for their kids' early lessons in never speaking up even when they might think others are wrong will manifest themselves in another form of submission to the Tyranny of The Other. This is sometimes called "being cool," and sometimes being "politically correct," but it's really a variation on a very old theme.

    In a nice, civilized society where gentlemen deal only with gentlemen and follow long-established rules, handshake deals, and gentlemen's agreements* it might be OK to avoid speaking up and endeavoring to never disagree.

    But when evil people like Bill Ayers (who is himself a member of the "nice" class) come along, the system fails, and evil becomes respectable.


    Interestingly, the aristocratic Winifred Wagner (pictured above) was said to have been privately disgusted by Hitler's persecution of the Jews.

    Better not to bring something like that up, though. Might cause some unpleasantness at the club....

    * I remember in the long distant past when there was a thing called noblesse oblige, which included strange ideas about privileged kids providing military leadership. Why, the elite even had ROTC!

    MORE: Mickey Kaus is not afraid to condemn Ayers' respectability:

    I still think it's creepy the way Ayers and Dohrn are accepted in Chicago, and Obama's acceptance is part of that creepiness.
    (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

    As I keep saying, Ayers' respectability is a bigger problem than his friendship with Obama. The problem with Obama is that he goes along with it, and (as I said after the last debate) perpetuates it:

    What annoys me the most about Obama's performance last night is his attempt to continue the mainstreaming of a murderous radical who should never have been mainstreamed in the first place.

    Yes, I think Ayers, a murderous, admitted enemy of the United States, was lucky to avoid prison, and should never have been given tenure and respectability. Even now he should be fired, and removed from all semblance of respectability. I know this is not going to happen, and I realize there is no way to hold the people who hired, coddled and promoted Ayers accountable, but I think that if Obama can't at least denounce him as outside the mainstream, he is unfit to be president.

    Instead of denouncing him, Obama promotes the meme that Ayers is an "educational reformer" (as he did last night). This is not much different from promoting the meme that Mao was an "agrarian reformer."

    I'm not saying this is all the fault of Barack Obama, but I think it's a predictable result of a simple inability of the respectable classes to speak up.

    posted by Eric at 07:26 PM | Comments (3)

    Dishonest polls, dishonest victory?

    Like a lot of people, I've been wondering about those polls.

    If McCain were to pull ahead of Obama (as he has four or five times before), wouldn't the Obama campaign be so scared that they would want the results either changed, statistically skewed, or somehow not reported?

    I realize they don't have the kind of influence to skew the polls, but I was thinking about what Jim Geraghty's mentor said earlier:

    "Believe me, there is someone in the Obama campaign who is deathly afraid of the 'McCain pulls even or goes ahead' poll." (And in Gallup, it was within 2 percent.) "That Obama strategist knows how much depends on the whole Chuck Schumer and Rahm Emanuel approach with the media to demoralize conservatives, and keep the perception of a juggernaut going. But a day or two of a few bad polls, and that strategy backfires. The conservatives know they've still got a shot at this."
    (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

    Well I for one am glad these are all reputable pollsters who would never skew their results in the juggernaut's favor.

    Because if they were skewing the results to make it look as if Obama was ahead when actually McCain was ahead, then a McCain victory would come as a huge and terrible shock -- a gut-wrenching one that would be bad for the country, because people would think that either McCain "stole the election" or else the voters were a bunch of dishonest "racists" who "lied" to pollsters (the so-called "Bradley effect" -- which actually involves not hiding racism, but fear of being accused of racism.)

    That wouldn't be fair at all. Because the more dishonest the polls were, the more they'd help convince voters that an Obama victory was inevitable (thus helping Obama), and more dishonest any McCain victory would appear to be (thus inflicting maximum damage on McCain if he managed to win).

    I'm glad they're not doing that.

    UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for linking this post, and a warm welcome to all. Comments always appreciated, whether you agree or disagree.

    I notice that some commenters are interpreting this post as an insinuation that the polls are dishonest. Actually, I wrote it as a "what if" because I really don't know. However, the post Glenn links by D.J. Drummond does more than speculate about a "what if" scenario. People who think I'm being mealy-mouthed should by all means check it out.

    Also, check out this from Mickey Kaus:

    while Zogby's national telephone tracking poll shows Obama opening up an 8 point lead, his online state by state polls are not following suit. They have McCain moving ahead in Nevada 51.5% to 44%, behind in Colorado by only three-tenths of a percent, close in Virginia, New Hampshire, and Florida. I assume this is more a commentary on the accuracy of online polls than on the state of the race. Interesting either way!
    I'm not insinuating; just linking.

    UPDATE: The polls keep coming in.

    WASHINGTON (AP) - The presidential race tightened after the final debate, with John McCain gaining among whites and people earning less than $50,000, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll that shows McCain and Barack Obama essentially running even among likely voters in the election homestretch.

    The poll, which found Obama at 44 percent and McCain at 43 percent, supports what some Republicans and Democrats privately have said in recent days: that the race narrowed after the third debate as GOP-leaning voters drifted home to their party and McCain's "Joe the plumber" analogy struck a chord.

    Three weeks ago, an AP-GfK survey found that Obama had surged to a seven-point lead over McCain, lifted by voters who thought the Democrat was better suited to lead the nation through its sudden economic crisis.

    The contest is still volatile, and the split among voters is apparent less than two weeks before Election Day.

    So is the split among pollsters, it appears....

    posted by Eric at 03:36 PM | Comments (42)

    Haven't I seen you somewhere before?
    "He did not write a blurb for his book," Burton said. "He did not."
    So said Obama spokesman Bill Burton, specifically denying what Zombieboy had to go out and specifically track down.

    Here's the picture.

    Of what Barack Obama absolutely Did Not Write.


    While I'm at it, I figured I might as well scan page 82 of the book I so cherish owning:


    ("Hey, Barack! Since our paths have crossed, how about if I mention you in my book, and and you can write a glowing blurb!")

    Noting that Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs also denied that Obama had written the blurb, Ed Morrissey opined that lying about a revelation like this is worse than revelation itself.

    this wouldn't be an issue if the Obama campaign would stop lying about the nature of his relationship with Ayers. They've continually fibbed about it when the public record is pretty clear that they formed a political alliance meant to boost Obama's electoral career. Their inability to be honest about this relationship is what makes these lesser revelations more significant than they should be. A modest blurb on an obscure book would have no meaning at all absent the fact that Team Obama lied about it on two separate occasions.
    Via Dave Price, who asks a good question:
    Does anyone think they'd be ignoring this if McCain had given a glowing blurb to a book by Eric Rudolph or Timothy McVeigh?
    Hell, they be going ape if McCain had written even a tepidly warm blurb to a book by G. Gordon Liddy!

    I'm wondering about another overlooked detail also noted by Dave Price. It appears that Obama and Ayers worked in the same building for years. Not just any building, but a small architectural charmer. The kind of place where there'd have been no way for the two of them not to bump into each other on a daily basis.

    Geez. People might not be taking this seriously, but at least Ayers is evolving. From "a guy in the neighborhood" to "a guy in the neighborhood in whose book I was mentioned and whose book I blurbed and with whom I shared a work address for a few years...."

    "Crossed paths"?

    Um, maybe just a little....

    UPDATE: Incredibly, an anonymous commenter is quibbling over the definition of "blurb" -- arguing that in order for a blurb to be a blurb, it must appear somewhere on the book being blurbed. Nonsense. Blurbs are merely words of praise accompanying the release of a book, which can be placed anywhere -- the idea being to encourage readership and sales.

    The word "blurb," while colloquial in nature, is rather old and the definition is well established: Unabridged (v 1.1)
    1. a brief advertisement or announcement, esp. a laudatory one: She wrote a good blurb for her friend's novel.
    -verb (used with object)
    2. to advertise or praise in the manner of a blurb.
    [Origin: 1910-15, Americanism; allegedly coined by F. G. Burgess]
    Websters New International Dictionary (Second Edition -- which is considered sufficiently authoritative to be used in court) defines it pretty much the same way:


    I'm wondering why there is such resistance to a very simple concept

    What is quoted underneath Obama's picture is a brief, extravagant, commendatory notice.

    A blurb.

    If I were defending Obama, I too, might try to argue that he didn't write the blurb. One way to do this would be to point out that the news copy only states that Obama was reading the book, and that the blurb might well have been a standard blurb already written for the book's release by persons unknown. This might be seen by Obama supporters as rhetorically shifting the burden of proof to those claiming Obama actually wrote the blurb. (Then again, it might be seen as legalistic quibbling.)

    But to say it is not a blurb is, I think, unreasonable.

    posted by Eric at 01:22 PM | Comments (8)

    Facing the music?

    Now that Philadelphia conservative radio talk show host and columnist Michael Smerconish has "decided" (for Obama), M. Simon is disgusted.

    So am I. In fact, I am so disgusted that I don't know what to do. I realize that everybody's mind is made up so what could I say that chould make much of a difference?

    Well, in Smerconish's case, I guess I can say something. I'll say that he has struggled for years to be an independent moderate conservative, and he has been relentlessly subjected to outrageous personal attacks -- against which I defended him repeatedly.

    Considering that Smerconish works in Philadelphia where Obamamania has reached fever pitch, he's probably thinking about things like his future employment and getting along with people he works with. Who knows, considering that the attacks on him in the past have bordered on outright advocacy of violence, he might even be concerned about physical safety. If so, many of the red meat conservatives would call him a coward. (An easy charge to level for those who either don't have children or live in safely conservative communities.)

    But that's just my speculation, and it's only one side of the equation. On the other side is a lingering, mutual grudge held between many traditional Republicans in the Northeast and the red meat, WorldNetDaily style right wing. I don't fit into either camp, but I do know that these people hate each other with the kind of bitter personal hatred that arises more from lifestyle issues than from actual political differences.

    When I moved from the west coast to Philadelphia shortly before the 2000 election, I was a bit surprised to learn that people I have known since I was a kid and always considered hard core Republican loyalists (of the country club variety, but always dependably Republican in every election), were suddenly griping over the perception that the party had been taken over by religious nuts. While these people could handle even the hated Dick Cheney, the religious conservatives push them over the edge.

    I think that years of systematized hatred directed towards them by the left has softened them up -- to the point that many of them are about to "go wobbly," and I worry that once they see Obama ready to win and the GOP collapsing like the House of Usher, they might be ready to bolt. I understand the desire to bash them, but I wish people doing that would remember that most of these people are not political ideologues or activists; all they want is to keep their money and be left alone to enjoy their damned country clubs and not be preached at by religious zealots who obsess over abortion and the "gay homosexual agenda."

    Hey, well, at least I hate golf, OK? In that regard I'm an anti-country club bigot, am I not? Is that good enough, or do I have to be more, um, ideological in my anti, um, "traditional" Northeast Republican wrath? (Yeah, the quotes are for irony; it seems that some folks have tried with some success to replace "traditional" with "traditional" and everyone's confused, because everyone thinks everyone else's "values" suck or something.)

    Like them or not, these country club Republicans have been in the GOP for many years, and this urge to chase them out of the tent reminds me of what happened to Joe Lieberman. If they don't feel welcome in their own party, and the other side beckons nicely, common sense suggests what might happen. I only hope that people like Chris Buckley and Michael Smerconish are rare exceptions and not a trend.

    On a personal level, as usual I find myself personally annoyed by social conservatives. Nothing new there. But you'd think they'd have the sense not to engage in culture war baiting right before an election.

    Last night, I clicked on Glenn Reynolds' link to a piece by the widely read and respected social conservative Roger Kimball and because I'm also against Obama and socialism, I assumed I would agree with Kimball wholeheartedly. And even though I did agree with 90% of what Kimball said and found his central point well taken, I found myself upset by his final conclusion which tried (at least, so I thought) to blame the Obama phenomenon on the deleterious effects of rock music. So I did something very rare for me; I left a comment:

    Electric guitar?Woodstock? Values, habits, tastes, and pleasures?

    Degraded pop culture?

    I agree with your central premise about Barack Obama, but I don't see what my tastes in music or culture (which I'm assuming differ from yours) have to do with an abhorrence for socialism.

    (But then, I've never understood the left's rule that if you are a homosexual you have to be a socialist, either.)

    I probably shouldn't have said that (I was, after all, raised in that country club culture that considers disagreement to be disagreeable), but I was a little hot under the collar. Communitarian culture war arguments have a way of getting me down sometimes, and I don't think musical tastes should be politicized. Besides, classical musicians tend to heavily support Obama. Does that mean classical music is linked to advocacy of socialism? I probably should have been more indirect and sarcastically blamed Stravinsky's Rites of Spring for the culture rot that these people so detest. But see? There I go with a bigoted phrase -- "these people" -- as if I'm reduced to doing what I condemn. I should just shut the hell up, and write about pit bulls or some safer cultural issue.

    This was a minor disagreement, and it wouldn't have merited a post had I not learned about Michael Smerconish.

    As it happens, I have defended Sarah Palin in more posts than I can possibly count, and I tried to stress that an alliance between libertarians and social conservatives is what the would-be rulers most fear.

    I realize that I am writing from a libertarian perspective, but I don't think things like musical or sexual tastes should matter. What ought to matter is whether people want to use the power of the state to enforce these things.

    But that falls on deaf ears when people think they are under personal attack. Frankly, blaming my tastes for the fall of the West is the sort of thing which many years ago might have inclined me to make an emotional mistake and vote for Barack Obama.

    What makes this all the more painful is that McCain is a centrist who is trying to unite the party, and heal the deep divisions. I admire him for doing that, and find it quite ironic that he's alienating traditional (ugh! that word!) country club Republicans in the process. This does not bode well for attracting independents and disgruntled Democrats, which he needs if he is to win.

    So, despite my differences for a lot of reasons with a lot of the people in the "tent," I can only say that I will vote against socialism. I wish the country club Republicans who are bolting in anger or fear would think again.

    Smerconish, by the way, has been in the unenviable position of getting it from both sides for years.

    Believe it or not, he has been subjected to vicious leftist attacks for liking the wrong kind of music:

    I'm not saying there's a definitive link between a taste for shit hippie music and a penchant for sadly reactionary politics (although one should note that fellow right-wing opinionist Ann Coulter is a wicked keen Deadhead), but check out the intro page, and you're greeted with the hairy cocaine-stutter of the intro to Van Halen's "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love."
    Hey, I'm a Deadhead too. Is that why I like McCain?

    Who knew?

    After pausing to bash Smerconish's bald head, the author continues with more music-bashing observations:

    And that's why I love the choice of mock-rebellious poodle-metal as the theme music for the Smerconish site. It steals the clothes of rebellion. It has all the poses and postures of radicalism down pat, but ultimately it's the most conservative of music forms. It comes on like the love child of Emma Goldman and Che Guevara, all the while choking on cheesy corporate cock like the forelock-tugging lickspittle it really is.

    And speaking of heavy metal faux-rebels, here comes Smerconish's friend--the wizened old ax-spanking-turkey-cock-dressed-as-spring-chicken Ted Nugent. Nugent--who once defended the apartheid regime in South Africa on the grounds that Africans "still put bones in their noses, they still walk around naked, they wipe their butts with their hands [and if] you give 'em toothpaste, they fucking eat it"--is a huge fan of Smerconish.

    When I was in high school the kids used to just say that the other kids' favorite musician "sucks." No one thought to defend the wisdom of his repugnance.

    In retrospect, such innocent repugnance seems wise beyond its years.

    BOTTOM LINE: I wrote this post because like it or not, a number of Republicans are in danger of bolting their party and voting for Obama (something that is being encouraged by the Obama campaign).

    I don't think this is a good time to engage in pre-emptive recriminations.

    There will be plenty of time after the election.

    posted by Eric at 11:25 AM | Comments (12)

    Smerconish For Obama

    A certain person named Smerconish who claims to be a Republican has come out for Obama. A giveaway is that this missive was published in the HuffPo among other places.

    Mr. S lists five concerns where he thinks Mr. Obama has better ideas than John McCain. The five are Terrorism, where he thinks Iraq is was a mistake. Of course by those lights the landings in Libya in 1942 were a mistake when the fight was with the Germans. The Economy, where McCain's statement that the fundamentals of the economy are strong is the killer. And yet despite the melt down year over year housing sales in California are up 68%. That is not a sign of fundamental weakness. Mr. Smerconish must not be paying attention. And now we come to the Woman Thing. The VP pick. Despite Palin's having way more successful executive experience as Governor of Alaska than Obama has had his whole life, the S says it is not enough for VP. Now here we come to the real mush. Opportunity. Mr. Obama can be a role model to all the missing black fathers and elevate the black community because he is an articulate black guy. And it is true. With the help of Mr. Rezko, Mr. Obama may soon become one of the most articulate black men in the American prison system. Just the sort of role model missing in the Black Community. Mostly what we get is inarticulate criminals and the occasional Republican. And now, let me give you the final bit of mush in full.

    Hope. Wednesday morning will come and an Obama presidency holds the greatest chance for unifying us here at home and restoring our prestige around the globe. The campaigns have foretold the kind of presidency we can expect from each candidate. Last Friday in Lakeville, Minn., McCain himself had to explain to a supporter who was "scared" of an Obama presidency that those fears were unfounded. Another told McCain that Obama was untrustworthy because he is an "Arab." Those exchanges were a predictable byproduct of ads against Obama featuring tag lines such as "Too Risky for America" and "Dangerous," and a failure to rein in individuals at McCain events who highlighted Obama's middle name, all against a background of Internet lore.
    I will tell you what though. A full on socialist as President of the US who has lots of more radical Marxist friends does not give me hope.

    Perhaps Mr. Smerconish didn't get the latest Joe Biden memo.

    "Mark my words," the Democratic vice presidential nominee warned at the second of his two Seattle fundraisers Sunday. "It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We're about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America. Remember I said it standing here if you don't remember anything else I said. Watch, we're gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy."
    So much for "restoring our prestige around the globe". I guess Joe knows why Obama is "Too Risky For America". My hope is that enough of the electorate who haven't already figured it out will get the message by the time they vote in two weeks.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 08:49 AM | Comments (23)

    We have to do something! Fast!

    It's getting colder!

    That's what Lorne Gunter says in a piece headlined "Thirty years of warmer temperatures go poof":

    In early September, I began noticing a string of news stories about scientists rejecting the orthodoxy on global warming. Actually, it was more like a string of guest columns and long letters to the editor since it is hard for skeptical scientists to get published in the cabal of climate journals now controlled by the Great Sanhedrin of the environmental movement.

    Still, the number of climate change skeptics is growing rapidly. Because a funny thing is happening to global temperatures -- they're going down, not up.

    On the same day (Sept. 5) that areas of southern Brazil were recording one of their latest winter snowfalls ever and entering what turned out to be their coldest September in a century, Brazilian meteorologist Eugenio Hackbart explained that extreme cold or snowfall events in his country have always been tied to "a negative PDO" or Pacific Decadal Oscillation. Positive PDOs -- El Ninos -- produce above-average temperatures in South America while negative ones -- La Ninas -- produce below average ones.

    Dr. Hackbart also pointed out that periods of solar inactivity known as "solar minimums" magnify cold spells on his continent. So, given that August was the first month since 1913 in which no sunspot activity was recorded -- none -- and during which solar winds were at a 50-year low, he was not surprised that Brazilians were suffering (for them) a brutal cold snap. "This is no coincidence," he said as he scoffed at the notion that manmade carbon emissions had more impact than the sun and oceans on global climate.

    Also in September, American Craig Loehle, a scientist who conducts computer modelling on global climate change, confirmed his earlier findings that the so-called Medieval Warm Period (MWP) of about 1,000 years ago did in fact exist and was even warmer than 20th-century temperatures.

    Prior to the past decade of climate hysteria and Kyoto hype, the MWP was a given in the scientific community. Several hundred studies of tree rings, lake and ocean floor sediment, ice cores and early written records of weather -- even harvest totals and censuses --confirmed that the period from 800 AD to 1300 AD was unusually warm, particularly in Northern Europe.

    But in order to prove the climate scaremongers' claim that 20th-century warming had been dangerous and unprecedented -- a result of human, not natural factors -- the MWP had to be made to disappear. So studies such as Michael Mann's "hockey stick," in which there is no MWP and global temperatures rise gradually until they jump up in the industrial age, have been adopted by the UN as proof that recent climate change necessitates a reordering of human economies and societies.

    Dr. Loehle's work helps end this deception.

    Don Easterbrook, a geologist at Western Washington University, says, "It's practically a slam dunk that we are in for about 30 years of global cooling," as the sun enters a particularly inactive phase. His examination of warming and cooling trends over the past four centuries shows an "almost exact correlation" between climate fluctuations and solar energy received on Earth, while showing almost "no correlation at all with CO2."

    An analytical chemist who works in spectroscopy and atmospheric sensing, Michael J. Myers of Hilton Head, S. C., declared, "Man-made global warming is junk science," explaining that worldwide manmade CO2 emission each year "equals about 0.0168% of the atmosphere's CO2 concentration ... This results in a 0.00064% increase in the absorption of the sun's radiation. This is an insignificantly small number."

    Other international scientists have called the manmade warming theory a "hoax," a "fraud" and simply "not credible."

    No wonder they were in such a hurry to implement Kyoto protocols, the carbon caps and the rest of it.

    Just think! If they'd gotten the restrictions they wanted when they wanted them, and the planet had cooled as it is now, they'd already be claiming credit!

    This all begs the question, though....

    What are we going to do about Global Cooling?

    posted by Eric at 12:21 AM | Comments (9)

    Fusion Report 20 October 2008

    Alan Boyle brings us up to date on the latest news from the world of fusion. Of course I'm especially interested in what he has to say about Bussard Fusion and their progress to net power. I'll give you the short version:

    "We've been pretty busy, but it's the same situation," Nebel told me today. "We're kind of in a holding pattern."

    He's been able to keep the five-person team together and "doing a few things" during this holding pattern. There have been some rumblings to the effect that EMC2's results have been encouraging enough to justify pressing forward, but Nebel has declined to make a prediction about the project's future.

    Nebel worries about the same kind of budget limbo that the U.S. ITER team is worrying about, even though his budget is an order of magnitude lower. Among the factors on his mind are the change in the White House and the changes in economic circumstances.

    "The thing that usually gets hit the hardest is what they call discretionary funding," Nebel said, "and that's what we're looking at here. That'd be the biggest fear everywhere."

    So the news is the same as it was at the end of August. No news. Alan Boyle has more on fusion power in general and Bussard Fusion in particular. You can also read my previous Fusion Reports by following the links in: Fusion Report 29 August 2008.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 10:46 PM | Comments (3)

    You Can't Say That

    Evidently in Britain there are fewer restrictions on polite conversation that there are in America. So Melanie Phillips says it:

    You have to pinch yourself - a Marxisant radical who all his life has been mentored by, sat at the feet of, worshipped with, befriended, endorsed the philosophy of, funded and been in turn funded, politically promoted and supported by a nexus comprising black power anti-white racists, Jew-haters, revolutionary Marxists, unrepentant former terrorists and Chicago mobsters, is on the verge of becoming President of the United States. And apparently it's considered impolite to say so.
    Well. More like racist. But that is a minor quibble.

    H/T Gateway Pundit

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 04:31 PM | Comments (3)

    A Racism Surge In America

    You remember when Obama was way up in the polls? (Wasn't that like a week ago? - Yes it was [ed.]) Now that he is falling back in the polls Joe Biden knows why it is happening. Racism. It is like a disease. Once other people get infected it is only a matter of (not much) time until you get it too. And then the polls go down. Really. That is how it works. Vast swaths of America are just waking up and saying, "You know I just noticed Obama is black and I could never bring myself to vote for a black man, now that I have noticed."

    ABC News' Matthew Jaffe Reports: As Election Day looms just over two weeks away, Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., said Saturday that with Republicans firing "vicious" and "dangerous" attacks at Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., voters are "having a difficult time" opting for the man who would become the nation's first African American president.

    "Undecided people are having a difficult time just culturally making the change, making the move for the first African American president in the history of the United States of America," the Democratic vice-presidential nominee said at a San Francisco fundraiser Saturday evening. "So we need to respond. We need to respond at the moment, immediately, not wait, not hang around, not assume any of this won't stick."

    I think what they fear most is attacks by the plumbers brigades. And they are vicious and totally unfair. One of the most vicious attacks is repeating what Obama said in response to Joe The Plumber:

    When you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody.

    Mr. Biden - it is not the racism you need to worry about it is

    the socialism

    H/T Gateway Pundit

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 03:58 PM | Comments (12)

    Serious about fighting the biggest enemy?

    Barack Obama likes to talk about cynicism, and in a very critical way. In the following speech before AIPAC in March, he expresses gratitude for having so many young people in his campaign, and describes "cynicism" as the biggest enemy we're going to have to fight. Presumably, he thinks young people are less "cynical" than old people, and those who are skeptical about his central message that the world can be changed are the ones who are being "cynical":

    OK, I'm cynical. I freely admit it.

    Some of that is because I'm not young enough. I've lived long enough to be skeptical. (Something I see not as cynicism, but as a form of wisdom.) Seeing a complete absence of skepticism among young people who are taught that believing in socialism constitutes "critical thinking" makes me very cynical about their false claim of skepticism. Many of them will eventually learn that they've been had, but by then it may be too late.

    Anyway, right now I'm more cynical about Barack Obama than ever before. Mostly because he's riding into the White House as a result of an extremely racialized campaign, in which his opponent and his opponent's supporters find themselves falsely demonized as racists. My response has been to have a lot of fun in this blog ridiculing nonsensical accusations of racism -- yesterday's "mammoth racist waves" post being the most recent example.

    The irony is that while we are poised to elect the nation's first black president, I'm more cynical about race relations than ever before.

    However, as I said in an email to Glenn Reynolds, I didn't start that way. I once liked Obama, because I thought he meant it:

    "Oddly enough, Obama started out as a nice guy, and I remember liking him. It was refreshing the way he tried to de-racialize things, but I think he's so wedded to the left and they're so wedded to these things that he's hamstrung. "
    To which Glenn adds,
    Yes, if the Obama running now were the Obama I saw when he started his campaign, I wouldn't be terribly interested in the outcome of this election. I'm most troubled by the thuggish attacks on critics.
    I think the thuggish attacks on critics include the now numbingly routine charge that any criticism of Obama is either racist, or "tinged" with racism. This is not to say that the Obama campaign is behind the "vote for Obama or you're a racist" meme (after all, his campaign can no more control liberal pundits than McCain campaign can control conservative ones), but has he denounced it?

    Has he gone on record as saying that if he does lose (a very unlikely prospect), it will not necessarily be because of racism?

    Maybe he has, but I have not seen the denunciations.

    This is not to say that he'd win my vote by denouncing the meme, but I'd be less cynical about his attacks on "cynicism," and more comfortable with him as president.

    I realize he might not win any votes by doing this, but he has the pulpit right now.

    As things stand, I can think of few ways to engender cynicism than to falsely charge people with racism. For whatever reason. But when false charges of racism are made in order to advance a political campaign, the cynicism is heightened, because of the sheer opportunism and demagoguery involved. When the candidate involved does not denounce it, the cynicism is heightened further.

    That's why I'd feel a lot less cynical had Barack Obama not described cynicism as the "biggest enemy."

    And a lot more comfortable if he denounced the phony racist meme.

    posted by Eric at 12:36 PM | Comments (6)

    Fight waste! By wasting more!

    I love government coverups, especially when the purpose of the coverup is to keep government bureaucrats from being embarrassed. This time, British government bureaucrats are so embarrassed that they've gone on the "diaper defensive":

    A government report that found old-fashioned reusable nappies damage the environment more than disposables has been hushed up because ministers are embarrassed by its findings.

    The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has instructed civil servants not to publicise the conclusions of the £50,000 nappy research project and to adopt a "defensive" stance towards its conclusions.

    The report found that using washable nappies, hailed by councils throughout Britain as a key way of saving the planet, have a higher carbon footprint than their disposable equivalents unless parents adopt an extreme approach to laundering them.

    To reduce the impact of cloth nappies on climate change parents would have to hang wet nappies out to dry all year round, keep them for years for use on younger children, and make sure the water in their washing machines does not exceed 60C.

    The conclusions will upset proponents of real nappies who have claimed they can help save the planet.

    Yes, and another shocking coverup involves killing the embarrassing notion that the paper bags kill more trees than the plastic ones.

    I'm not surprised in the least. The environmentalists' relentless crusade against anything "disposable" has always struck me as more emotional and moralistic than rational or logical. There's this idea that anything made of or resembling plastic is evil, and old fashioned things are more "natural" and therefore better for "the environment" (whatever that is). It's like, cultivating and harvesting plants, then extracting their fibers and weaving them into cloth for diapers, or chopping up sapling trees for pulp then making them into brown paper bags, is somehow morally superior to making plastic from petroleum. Never mind that all of these raw materials come from "the environment." The former is "natural," while the latter is "artificial." Logic has very little to do with it.

    I also suspect there's a ferocious streak of neo-Puritan work ethic involved. Something about making ordinary people wash diapers -- by hand if possible, followed by hanging them up to dry -- appeals to those who manufacture morality.

    Little wonder the British government is embarrassed. If there's one thing lefties can't stand, it's being laughed at:

    Restricted Whitehall documents, seen by The Sunday Times, show that the government is so concerned by the "negative laundry options" outlined in the report, it has told its media managers not to give its conclusions any publicity.

    The report found that while disposable nappies used over 2½ years would have a global warming , impact of 550kg of CO2 reusable nappies produced 570kg of CO2 on average. But if parents used tumble dryers and washed the reusable nappies at 90C, the impact could spiral to . 993kg of CO2 A Defra spokesman said the government was shelving plans for future research on nappies.

    Morality can be expensive.

    Take the recycling fad. (Please.) It costs cities more money to recycle than it would simply to haul everything to a landfill:

    Recycling costs about twice as much as dumping the material at a landfill, says Bucknell University environmental economist Thomas Kinnaman.

    He says recycling doesn't make much economic or environmental sense, but it's so popular with some consumers that it's understandable why cities do it.

    "Recycling is more like entertainment," says Kinnaman, who recycles. "People enjoy it because it makes them feel less guilty about their effect on the environment."

    Notice that the guy is an economist. Maybe we should keep all economists out of the environmentalism business lest they keep looking at things like actual costs and create more embarrassment. (Also see "Recycing ... is Garbage" by John Tierney.)

    In politically correct places like San Francisco where there are battles between activists with competing or contradictory goals, things can go from being merely embarrassing to utterly ridiculous. As if it's not enough that the city loses money on recycling, they had to implement severe legal sanctions against scofflaws who don't recycle, now the City of San Francisco is talking about tough new laws to crack down on independent recyclers!

    That's because there's a "recycling war." On the streets of San Francisco:

    A recycling war is breaking out on the Bay Area's curbsides.

    Those ubiquitous, colorful recycling bins people set out each week for pickup stand squarely on a battle line between growing numbers of organized crews who snag cans and bottles and the official waste haulers who say "poachers" are increasingly hostile and dangerous.

    Ah, but many of San Francisco's bleeding heart lefties have a softer spot for the homeless "poachers" than the city bureaucrats:
    It seems organized crews have been going out into the pre-dawn light to raid San Francisco residents' recycling bins. They then sell the glass, plastic and aluminum to recycling centers. The regular garbage collectors say the crews can be hostile and dangerous. Residents have filed thousands of complaints.

    I see people picking through my recycling bins all the time. I never thought it was a problem. Little did I know that recycling theft is illegal, and that the city is losing lots of money to these scavengers.

    But, if I have to choose, I'll side with the scavengers. It's obvious the people picking through the garbage need that money. Badly.

    Here in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the situation is compounded by the fact that bottles and cans are all redeemable for ten cents each, which means fewer and fewer bottles and cans to go into the city-provided recycling bins, and more and more competition between the city recyclers and the freelance pickers. (Coco hates all clanking sounds -- whether by city recyclers or the "poachers" -- so she's an equal opportunity hater.)

    Are we putting profit before people, or are we putting the environment before people?

    It's very confusing.

    As I keep saying, newly manufactured "morality" can get incredibly complicated.

    posted by Eric at 10:13 AM | Comments (3)

    The unexplained rise and the mysterious fall of mammoth waves

    According to Frank Rich, there are only three ways McCain can win, and two of them involve race:

    The election isn't over, but there remain only three discernible, if highly unlikely, paths to a McCain victory. A theoretically mammoth wave of racism, incessantly anticipated by the press, could materialize in voting booths on Nov. 4. Or newly registered young and black voters could fail to show up. Or McCain could at long last make good on his most persistent promise: follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell and, once there, strangle him with his own bare hands on "Hannity & Colmes."
    I realize that according to Rich's thinking, it is not possible to dislike anything about Barack Obama without being racist, which would mean that to the extent voters vote against him, they are inherently racist. However, even if racism is defined that way, does that necessarily mean that any movement in the polls against Obama can only be explained by racism? What about people who decide that they like John McCain? I realize he's supposed to be a terrible guy with a bad temper and everything, but isn't it theoretically possible that some people like him? So what about those who like McCain? Are they racists for liking him? Or is it to Frank's way of thinking theoretically impossible for anyone to like McCain without being a racist? As to newly registered young and black voters not showing up, what's the assumption there? That young voters favor the younger candidate and black voters should favor the black candidate? Rich thinks that is a good thing, right? And they can't be racists, because none of them are voting for a black man because he is black, nor are they voting against a white man for being white. Unlike McCain's supporters, who are all voting for McCain because he is white, and against Barack Obama because he is black. It is by definition impossible for racism to be a reason for anyone to vote for Obama. And it is by definition impossible for racism not to be a factor in the thinking for anyone to vote for McCain.

    Perhaps this explains why the dying Republicans racists are "bailing on a McCain resuscitation" and resorting to Stalinism, fatwas, and storm trooper tactics:

    Even Republicans are rapidly bailing on a McCain resuscitation. It's a metaphor for the party's collapse that on the day of the final debate both Nancy Reagan and Dick Cheney checked into hospitals. Conservatives have already moved past denial to anger on the Kubler-Ross scale of grief. They are not waiting for votes to be counted before carrying out their first round of Stalinist purges. William F. Buckley's son Christopher was banished from National Review for endorsing Obama. Next thing you know, there will be a fatwa on that McCain-bashing lefty, George Will.

    As the G.O.P.'s long night of the long knives begins, myths are already setting in among the right's storm troops and the punditocracy alike as to what went wrong. And chief among them are the twin curses of Bush and the "headwinds" of the economy. No Republican can win if the party's incumbent president is less popular than dirt, we keep being told, or if a looming Great Depression 2 is Issue No. 1.

    This is an excuse, not an explanation. It absolves McCain of much of the blame and denies Obama much of the credit for their campaigns. It arouses pity for McCain when he deserves none. It rewrites history.

    Well, let's look at history, especially recent history. I'm tired of Stalinist Republican storm trooper fatwas anyway. As things stand right now, McCain has a statistical pattern of pulling ahead of Obama occasionally, then falling behind again. Take a look at this graph, showing McCain's and Obama's relative positions in the polls over the past year.


    You'll notice that I've supplemented the chart to reflect the additional insight from Frank Rich about "mammoth waves of racism."

    Yes, waves, Frank, waves! Note the plural! There have so far been at least four (maybe five) times in which McCain has pulled ahead of Obama, during each of which McCain would presumably have won had the election then been held. As Rich defines a win by McCain as occasioned by a mammoth wave of racism, then simple logic dictates that there have been recurrent periods of these mammoth racist waves. Who knows what causes them? Certainly not the economy, as that wasn't the leading issue during these earlier periods. Nor could they have been caused by people "bailing on a McCain resuscitation," as things were too early in the death game for the Kubler-Ross team to arrive. As to the "newly registered young and black voters" who "fail to show up," that wasn't a factor either, for the simple reason that no one has to show up in those kinds of polls.

    Notice that the mammoth waves came and went without regard to Republican fatwas, Stalinist purges, or even (unless there was a repeat of Kristallnacht of which I'm unaware) the antics of Republican storm troopers.

    What could be going on?

    I'm stumped.

    The mammoth waves must be some primal force of nature that only Frank Rich can explain.

    posted by Eric at 10:09 PM | Comments (10)

    "In what kind of nation do the media investigate critics more than candidates?"
    "He didn't ask for Senator Obama to come to his house. He wasn't recruited or prompted by our campaign. He just asked a question. And Americans ought to be able to ask Senator Obama tough questions without being smeared and targeted with political attacks."
    So said John McCain, and I couldn't agree more.

    I've lost count of the number of privacy-invading personal attacks that have been launched on Joe the Plumber. Glenn Reynolds had a roundup yesterday (I especially loved Iowa Hawk), and the bottom line question is this:

    "In what kind of nation, do the media investigate critics more than candidates?"

    But parenthetically, in what kind of anti-virus company does a blog that asks questions like that get blocked with a message like this?

    "Trend Micro Internet Security has identified this Web page as undesirable."

    Address: [etc.]

    Credibility: Dangerous

    Not the first time this has happened. (As an admittedly paranoid aside, are there independent standards? Or might there be such a thing as politically motivated "undesirable page" tagging? Or should I just forget about the whole thing until my anti-virus blocks this blog?)

    Anyway, the attacks have gotten so frenzied that Michelle Malkin has called this "Joe The Plumber Derangement Syndrome. JTPDS." And there's a logo to go with it:


    Because he asked Barack Obama a simple question, Joe has been subjected to the kind of scrutiny never visited on Barack Obama, much less Joe Biden. Today's Detroit Free Press is no exception. In today's Detroit Free Press, Mitch Albom devotes an entire column -- "Average Joe can't fix America's pipes" -- to this now-trendy litany of attacks:

    It turns out Joe has no plumber's license.

    Joe isn't in the plumbers union.

    Joe never did a plumbers apprenticeship.

    Joe's business likely would not be taxed under Obama's proposal.

    Joe might even get a tax cut under Obama's proposal.

    Joe doesn't believe in Social Security.

    Joe's first name isn't Joe, it's Samuel.

    And Samuel hasn't paid his taxes.

    And that's just as we go to press. By the time you read this, Joe may be a member of the Weathermen. None of this surprises me. It is what you get in a country that seems to think everything is a form of "American Idol."

    Well that's a nice way of dodging what you just did. Blame "American Idol." (And try to sneak in a moral equivalency with the despicable Bill Ayers, if possible.)

    But let's stick with the reality TV standard for a second. If in fact the country considers everything to be a form of "American Idol," then why is private life of an aspiring small business owner of more interest than Barack Obama's drug dealer?

    "It is worth noting that you have not employed your investigative assets looking into Michelle Obama. You have not tried to find Barack Obama's drug dealer that he wrote about in his book, Dreams of My Father. Nor have you interviewed his poor relatives in Kenya and determined why Barack Obama has not rescued them. Thus, there is a terrific lack of balance here."
    Beats me why.

    I guess the rule is that a small time plumber with dreams of a better future is more worthy of press scrutiny than the guy who talks of dreams but implements dream-crushing policies. Via Glenn Reynolds, I see that the exact amount of money that Joe owed for his past traffic tickets is a bigger MSM concern than the future president's former drug dealer.

    But I digress from from Mitch Albom. Maybe I'm complaining too much. At least Albom was nice enough to leave out the traffic tickets. And he said nothing about the now-discredited claim that Joe isn't registered to vote.

    Instead, he kvetches about Joe's use of his middle name. Since when has it become a dishonest offense against liberalism to use your middle name as an appellation? Plenty of people -- liberal icons among them -- prefer their middle names (or nicknames) to their first names, and in Hollywood, many people don't use any of their given names. So Joe's using his middle name. If that's dishonest, then let's start calling Paul McCartney "James."

    This is an argument? I can't think of anything more ridiculous.


    After running through the indictment, Albom says this:

    ...when you dig in, you see his circumstance might be the exact opposite of that for which he's being touted.
    Touted? I thought he was being touted as an entrepreneur. McCain praised him as the kind of guy who might provide jobs for others. After all, he said he wanted to buy a plumbing business. To the extent that licensing or union membership matter to people who own plumbing businesses, they get in the way. They're just more of the same bureaucractic statist regulation that keeps guys like Joe from getting ahead, and a lot of people resent the hell out of it.

    The way they have done a complete, invasive background check on this citizen is shocking. While few of us would withstand close scrutiny, what annoys me the most is that the dirt-digging has been done by the news media, and they have now essentially sicced the bureaucrats on this guy:

    The plumber's union and the city of Toledo are on Wurzelbacher's tail after he acknowledged that he did not have a plumber's license.

    "Joe the plumber really isn't a plumber," said Thomas Joseph, business manager of UA Local 50 of the Plumbers, Steamfitters and Service Mechanics Union, whose national membership has endorsed Obama. (Joseph said Wurzelbacher applied for an apprentice program in 2003 but never completed the work.)

    Wurzelbacher said he did not need a plumber's license to do residential work with Newell Heating & Plumbing, but David Golis, a Toledo building-inspections official, disputed that. "We were just discussing that we will send a letter to the owner of Newell reminding him" of the city's requirement that all who do plumbing work be licensed or in apprentice or journeyman programs, Golis said.

    Nice work! Never mind that when you have a clogged sewer line and call for a rooter, you get a guy in a truck with a snake who's unlicensed, and no one (including, I'm sure, the City of Toledo) gives a rat's ass. They just don't want their fecal material all over the living room floor.

    But dare that unlicensed rooter guy ask an impertinent question of a media god, and all hell will break loose.

    Now, while most people could care less about Joe's alleged tax liens, I actually do care. In fact, it makes me love the guy. Seriously, I'm on his side 100 per cent! And while I'm sorry for him, I think this particular attack may be illustrative of a real lesson going to the heart of what's wrong with this country (at least, where we're headed). Taxation is crushing ordinary people, and small potential entrepreneurs like Joe are hit the hardest. Yet rich snobs like Obama and Biden want to tax people more, while pontificating about how "patriotic" it is to pay taxes.

    Few will say it, but I think it's more a badge of traditional patriotism to have a tax lien than to boast about how patriotic it is to pay taxes.

    From the Declaration of Independence:

    He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our People, and eat out their substance.
    By "He," they meant the king of England. But I don't think the founders would mind if in the spirit of their text I changed "He" to "They." (I've written a lot of posts about them, and yes, they and their swarms are running about hither and thither, harassing our people and eating out their substance. Beginning with Joe's.

    As to whether Joe's business would be taxed more heavily under Obama's proposal, the Christian Science Monitor said it likely would be. Others are quibbling, and I don't doubt that a room full of economists could hold a debate on the subject. Do any of these people recall what started the debate? When the Obama entourage landed in front of his house, Joe just happened to be lucky enough to be able to ask Barack Obama a pointed question about whether he would pay more in taxes. At that point, Obama the candidate could easily have said this:

    "I doubt you'd pay more, Joe. In fact, you might pay less in taxes. I'd have to know more about your total income, your potential expenses, and your overhead."
    Instead, he opted for a moralistic "SHARE THE WEALTH" lecture, which revealed for the world precisely the socialistic mindset Joe and other entrepreneurs like him are worried about.

    Another major crime is that "Joe does not believe in Social Security." Hey, many of the nation's top economists don't believe in it either. It is widely considered to be no longer viable and on the verge of collapse. Anyone with a lick of sense should be thinking in terms of providing for old age independently. Believing in that demagogic illusion we call Social Security might not be as silly as believing in the Easter Bunny, but once again, Joe merely demonstrates that he has more sense than his critics (whose moralistic clucking reminds me of the way a fundamentalist Christian might solemnly intone "he does not believe in God.")

    Mitch Albom's conclusion comes dangerously close to what would have been my conclusion:

    ...McCain is now getting criticized. And how many people will want to hire an unlicensed plumber who owes money on his taxes?

    And we haven't even mentioned a butt crack.

    Har har har. Funny he'd get so, um, anatomical. Because I was going to say that the next thing they'd do would be to investigate everything else about Joe's personal life, including his medical records and his sex life.

    I guess I'm slow on the uptake. I have this deeply ingrained belief that Americans ought to be allowed a little privacy. Especially, you know, from those who champion the right to privacy in places like the bedroom.

    (Perhaps they think the right to privacy only applies to people who agree with them.)

    MORE: If Team Obama happened to drive down my street, I probably wouldn't want to get caught asking Barack Obama any tough questions because of the consequences.

    Well then, suppose I were to ask a question about my inability to ask a question? Something like this:

    Senator Obama, if I were to ask you a tough question, why would my personal lifestyle be considered more worthy of investigation than yours?
    Nah, I'd better not ask.

    Wouldn't want to be subject to an investigation.

    posted by Eric at 12:36 PM | Comments (15)

    All work and no play makes Coco a dull girl!

    It's hard work being my muse, but Coco tries. Here she is perusing the newspaper in search of interesting tidbits for me to blog about.


    But eventually, Coco tires of this, and she can become awfully annoyed at the endless (to her, very boring) tappy-tappy game I seem to be playing with the keyboard. When this happens she asks me -- no, I'm afraid she tells me -- to let her go outside to play with her toys -- her latest being a Cheng Shin model 53-559 mountain bike tire, which someone so helpfully discarded in a local park.

    I could almost swear she suspects it's a giant snake which managed to get itself twisted into a stubborn infinity position, and that only she can shake it loose.

    Considering that the tire was free, it's not only cheaper than her poor bedraggled Otis and Claude Bettie fetch throwing toy, but it's easier for me, because I only have to throw it once or twice, and Coco does the rest.

    It's perfect for a psychotic game of tug-of-war too, but the shrieks and growls Coco makes when I pull and she won't let go sound a bit blood-curdling, and I have to think of the neighbors.

    posted by Eric at 05:20 PM | Comments (5)

    Restoring the vanished?

    There are few things more irritating in blogging than having to reconstruct a vanished post. Fortunately, it doesn't happen too often, and usually, it's a result of carelessness or a software glitch. This time, it was because the cord to the power strip that feeds my computer was coming loose from the wall receptacle, and I spotted it just in time! At least, so I thought. Thinking I was being careful (and without pausing to save what I'd spent an hour writing), I pushed the cord all the way in. Unfortunately my act of pushing it in was just enough to somehow break the current flow for a millisecond, and everything went dead. Sure, I turned it right back on, but the post was now but an unsaved memory.

    So I decided to set up my VCR (an easily postponed task involving technology I use maybe four times a year), and combined long walks with lunch.

    After all that, the post still matters enough that I thought I'd make a stab at reconstructing it. That's because no matter how many times I complain about them, some things still matter. And no matter how many blog posts have been written by others on this subject (probably a lot), it's damned important.

    In brief, what happened was that by uttering a single word on a taboo subject John McCain renewed my faith. He has an uncanny way of doing that, and it's one of the reasons I think he would be not merely a good, but possibly a great president. I don't care whether you like him or not, or agree with him or not, but the man is fearless in a way few politicians are, and what he did that was so special this time was to use the forbidden "S" word:

    CONCORD, N.C. - Republican presidential candidate John McCain on Saturday accused Democratic rival Barack Obama of favoring a socialistic economic approach by supporting tax cuts and tax credits McCain says would merely shuffle wealth rather than creating it.

    "At least in Europe, the Socialist leaders who so admire my opponent are upfront about their objectives," McCain said in a radio address. "They use real numbers and honest language. And we should demand equal candor from Sen. Obama. Raising taxes on some in order to give checks to others is not a tax cut; it's just another government giveaway."

    To most people, this might not seem like much, but it means a great deal to me. Certainly enough to reconstruct a lost post -- on a subject I've written more posts about than I could ever hope to count.

    Yes, socialism is a pet peeve. I'm a crank that way. And what I'm even more peeved about -- one of the peevest pets of my pettest peeves (whichever is more wrongless) -- is that most Republicans are too damned cowardly to even use the "S" word, much less condemn socialism.

    I worry that there might be a point of no return:

    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.

    And as most people who are right-of-left realize, the Republicans offer slower movement towards the same goal:
    I know I'm a RINO and all that stuff, but my biggest worry involves creeping socialism, which seems to be galloping lately. A few socialistic programs here, a few socialistic programs there, and pretty soon you're talking about having the full-blown real thing. And while I know that by voting for the Republicans I'm supposed to be slowing the rate of socialism, if both horses are galloping towards the finish line, how enthusiastic am I supposed to be about voting simply for the slower horse? The semantic issue of whether Barack Obama is a "socialist" or is merely "socialistic" does not concern me at this point, because he is the faster horse, so I must vote against him in order to prolong the race.
    Obviously, I am damned cynical. Almost beyond cynical. I never expected to hear the "S" word coming from John McCain's mouth, because after all, he is to the left of many of the same Republicans who would never dare utter it.

    Especially coming as it does on the heels of Joe the Plumber, this is all very heartening.

    There's a slogan I used to see and hear all over the place when I lived in Berkeley -- "TAX THE RICH TILL THERE ARE NO MORE RICH!" Barack Obama has a slightly more sophisticated spin on it (which he'll deny, of course):


    You don't have to be an economist, a sophisticated pundit, or even a caffeinated political junkie to understand where this leads. Here's "PanhandleWilly," commenting on an article about Joe the Unlicensed Plumber:

    ....Sen Obama is a socialist...because that's what national health care, 'spread the wealth around,' really means. Tax the rich till there aren't any more rich. Thus democrats aspire to be Cuba without the corny looking fatigues (for now anyway). Conservatives...and though the GOP needs some radical fixing, they still have conservative beliefs at their core...want as many people as possible to be rich and believe if minimally bothered by intrusive government they'll figure it out themselves because they have the requisite 'wanna' to get there. Yeah some fall through the cracks but there are social programs that cushion the fall so you can get up off the floor start up the ladder again. Democrats want to turn the floor into a nice low rent living room...YGBSM! That's what 'spread the wealth around' means. That's what Joe the plumber knows. That's what main street understands and because that was his message Sen McCain, in his less eloquent that Sen Obama diction, won the night and Sen Obama's conversation with Joe the plumber was a self inflicted wound because America finally understands that Sen Obama is going to rustle the fruits of their labors and give it to people who didn't earn it. That's not being Robin Hood...that's horse stealing. Wake up America! If you want to remain a free people with all the fruits of liberty that you are guaranteed in the Declaration of Independence and codified in the US Constitution, then you can't vote for Sen Obama. He is a great guy. He's smart, he's a great family man, and he speaks well...but he has wasted his fine mind in pursuing the wrong path of socialism. It doesn't work. The Declaration says we were all created equal. However equality is not an inalienable right...liberty is. Equality and liberty are not the same thing. Who arbitrates equality? What personal price to you pay to get it and who defines it? It's a slippery slope...just like Joe the P says. Forget the fact that he doesn't have a plumbers license. His point is irrefutable. Wake up America!
    He is absolutely right.

    There is a problem, though, with the argument that socialism does not work, and this touches on another of my pet peeves.

    They (the proponents of socialism) don't care. In fact, they don't want it to work. That is not a bug; it's a feature. The more it fails, the more "fixes" it will need, and the more people will be needed to "fix" it. Socialism requires massive social engineering by definition, and when it fails, the failures generate the need for even more massive engineering. It is a self-perpetuating, endlessly growing machine. Those who say that it doesn't work are right, but they miss the whole idea that it's not supposed to work, and then they get drawn into these red-herring debates with socialists who claim that yes it does work, or yes it can be made to work, when all of that is really irrelevant.

    More ominously, once socialistic programs are in place, they become entrenched forms of property "rights" (dishonestly called "entitlements"). These are more impossible than bridge tolls to get rid of, because special interest groups spring up to defend their turf, and because the people who are getting something organize themselves to lobby, and to vote. This is why not even conservative Republicans can touch certain issues, such as the "Third Rail" of social security entitlements. And the reason I used the word "ominous" is because once they're entrenched, even talking about getting rid of them is seen as something akin to advocating civil war. Even if both sides are willing to agree that socialism does not work, once something becomes a vested property "right" whether the system "works" or not becomes a secondary issue.

    In the era leading up to the Civil War, did anyone really stop to think about whether slavery worked as an economic system? Would it have mattered? Maybe in theory, but few are willing to go to war to win a theoretical debate. What made people willing to go to war was people who were going to lose their property. That slaves shouldn't have been property made about as much practical difference to the slaveholders as whether there should be an entitlement to a government stipend at age 65.

    Similarly, people who own real estate would be more likely to be concerned over whether the government confiscates it than over some theory of the immorality of land ownership. People who hold FCC licenses would still fight like hell for their "turf" even if the government's original basis for regulating bandwidth became superfluous.

    So, much as I agree that socialism does not work, I completely understand what an absolute quagmire it is to even mention it, much less actually discuss these things.

    That's why I say McCain has restored my faith.

    Whether he'll be able to restore our vanishing economic freedom is another matter. But hey, one step at a time.

    (At least he's not dedicated himself to making wealth disappear in the name of spreading it.)

    posted by Eric at 02:54 PM | Comments (2)

    The pros and cons of local attractions

    There are a lot of things I have not yet done in the area. I still haven't been to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, nor have I been to the Detroit Institute of Arts, which is now featuring "Monet to Dali." There's a ton of stuff in Ann Arbor I have not explored; for example there's the Gerald Ford Library (although the Internet has revolutionized such places -- see this collection of declassified Vietnam War documents, for example.)

    Then there are less well known venues. I have not been to the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit (aka CAID), and even though I'm turned off by much of what passes for "contemporary art," events like their upcoming Halloween Funk Night Event on Friday the 31st look exciting!

    FUNK NIGHT - Friday, October 31, 2008

    We are happy to announce that all charges against the CAID's members have been dropped regarding the incident which took place on May 31, 2008 -during Funk Night. To celebrate we would like to invite YOU to come out and dance on Halloween at our Funk Night Revival party from 12AM-5AM. Door prizes for all who dress as a police officer for Halloween.

    We will be showing the entire video from all surveillance cameras recorded during the illegal police raid on the CAID on May 31.

    Yes, apparently the powers that be do not like this museum's rather flippant attitude towards rules, and they take it out on the museum's customers, by using SWAT teams on them, and by making parking prohibitively expensive. I kid you not:
    The understaffed and overworked Detroit Police Department raised eyebrows in May when its officers conducted a SWAT-like raid on young hipsters at a small west-side art gallery.

    Cops issued 116 tickets for "loitering in a place of illegal occupation" and confiscated 44 cars. Police said the gallery sold beer and wine illegally.

    Last month, the city agreed to drop all charges after American Civil Liberties Union attorneys argued that the Detroit nuisance ordinance is unconstitutionally vague and the cops had no probable cause.

    The office of Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, though, has taken a hard line on the impounded cars. Patrons who paid the standard $900 fee to retrieve their vehicles are out of luck. Their money won't be refunded, and the several people whose cars remain impounded still must pay the $900, plus towing and daily storage costs.

    If that sounds harsh, consider the case of Jerome Price, a family therapist from Ferndale. After he paid the prosecutor $900 to get back the car his 19-year-old son drove to the gallery that night, someone stole the car while it sat in the impound lot at Boulevard & Trumbull Towing in Detroit.

    "I've called the prosecutor's office numerous times," Price said. "They never called me back."

    Price won't be getting his money back either, said Worthy spokeswoman Maria Miller. She said the vehicle seizure -- called forfeiture -- is a civil action that is separate from the criminal case and has a different standard of proof.

    "Also," Miller said, "the purpose of the nuisance ordinance is remedial in nature and designed to discourage continuing nuisance behavior."

    The ACLU is challenging the seizure of the cars on behalf of nine patrons whose cars remain impounded.

    Michael Steinberg, the ACLU's Michigan legal director, called the car seizures "a comedy of errors" and "the ultimate Motor City shakedown."

    He added: "It's mystifying why they insist on proceeding with these cases."

    Yeah, this is mystifying to me, and it makes me wonder whether a Halloween event there might be more expensive than it would to stay at home and hand out Godiva chocolates to trick or treaters.

    $900.00 for towing?

    Bear in mind that most of the patrons were students:

    The raid took place after 2 a.m. May 31 at the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit on Rosa Parks Boulevard during a popular monthly dance party for members only called Funk Night. Heavily armed police dressed in black uniforms and masks stormed the small space. Witnesses reported police forcing people to the floor at gunpoint. Some patrons described officers as abusive.

    Most of the patrons were college students or recent graduates. Police found no weapons, drugs or fugitives with outstanding warrants.

    As to the kid whose car was stolen out of the impound lot, the authorities are being utterly inflexible. (Never mind that the kid had a shotgun pointed at his head.)
    The raid took place after 2 a.m. May 31 at the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit on Rosa Parks Boulevard during a popular monthly dance party for members only called Funk Night. Heavily armed police dressed in black uniforms and masks stormed the small space. Witnesses reported police forcing people to the floor at gunpoint. Some patrons described officers as abusive.

    Most of the patrons were college students or recent graduates. Police found no weapons, drugs or fugitives with outstanding warrants.

    Price said officials at Boulevard & Trumbull told him his car, a 1996 Chevy Corsica with 130,000 miles, was driven through a fence. June Lee, B & T's chief operating officer, confirmed Price's story.

    Miller said Price's remedy is to sue B & T for the value of the car, which Price has done. Lee said the company is trying to work out a settlement.

    Said Price: "My biggest problem is my kid was put facedown with a shotgun pointed at him" during the raid.

    I suspect that the Detroit cops are used to doing whatever they want. Because there was something going on which was illegal (alcohol being illegally supplied to patrons -- a license violation), they went in with the same kind of routine SWAT team-style force they're accustomed to deploying in -- surprise -- the "Drug War":
    It is common to seize vehicles actually used in prostitution and drug cases. But several attorneys questioned how the prosecutor can forfeit cars belonging to people who simply used them to get to what many thought was a private party.

    "Using the nuisance statute appears to be quite a stretch considering the cars were just driven to the gallery," said Jorin Rubin, a defense attorney and expert on forfeiture law.

    Said the ACLU's Steinberg: "It just illustrates the purpose behind raids is to make money."

    I think that's part of it, but I think there might be a more ominous subtext. The police are probably used to having their way with people who don't have wealthy parents to bail them out, or the resources to raise hell with the ACLU.

    If I go to a damned museum for an event and they sell me a beer, it isn't my problem if they didn't get the proper license, any more than it's my problem whether the guy who cuts my hair has a frigging barber's license. Perhaps this makes me an anarchist, but the idea of being raided by a SWAT team, having a gun pointed at my head and losing my car to a bunch of theives after paying a $900 "civil forfeiture" fee to get it out is just outrageous. By any standard.

    Trick or treat, anyone?


    Maybe I should just stay home and send a Halloween check to the ACLU.

    posted by Eric at 09:43 AM | Comments (4)

    Bill Ayers Is Personna Non Grata

    The renowned educationalist Bill Ayers will not be speaking at the University of Nebraska. The Omaha World Herald had this to say:

    Just 11 days after next month's election, the University of Illinois-Chicago professor, William Ayers, is scheduled to speak at a student research conference held by the UNL College of Education and Human Science.

    Gov. Dave Heineman released a statement saying that UNL leaders should not allow Ayers, a 1960s radical-turned-professor at the University of Illinois, to talk during a campus event on Nov. 15.

    "Chairman of the Board of Regents Chuck Hassebrook and President of the University J.B. Milliken should immediately rescind the invitation extended to Bill Ayers to speak at the University," the governor said. "This is an embarrassment to the University of Nebraska and the State of Nebraska. Bill Ayers is a well known radical who should never have been invited to the University of Nebraska."

    Meanwhile, Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Nebraska, today said in a statement that he is disappointed that UNL invited William Ayers to speak on campus Nov. 15.

    "His past involvement in a violent protest group and incendiary comments are not consistent with the agenda of unity that we need in America today," Nelson said. "I encourage the university to reconsider this decision."

    Evidently the visit by the world renowned Ayers has been canceled due to "safety concerns" - translation: some politicians are concerned with the safety of their jobs.

    What is striking is that Ayers is an important deal politically in Nebraska. That says that the word is out on this mope and it isn't doing Obama any good in the rest of America either.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 08:02 AM | Comments (3)

    The terrorist and the "plumber"

    In the ongoing campaign to minimize Bill Ayers (discussed previously in this post and others), the latest meme is an attempted moral equivalency comparison between Obama's friend Bill Ayers the terrorist, and McCain's friend G. Gordon Liddy the Watergate burglar. While others have made this comparison before, it's getting attention now because David Letterman brought it up in an interview with John McCain.

    While I think the comparison is laughable in the extreme, I'm assuming David Letterman sees it as a serious moral equivalency argument, and not comedy, so I'll treat it as if it's serious. From the transcript of his interview with McCain:

    JM: How long we interact with them and how we interact with them...But the point in this campaign is the economy, the economy and the economy.

    DL: But did you not have a relationship with Gordon Liddy?

    JM: I met him, you know, I mean...

    DL: Didn't you attend a fund raiser at his house?

    JM: Gordon Liddy's?

    *** commercial break ***

    Let me interrupt here at the commercial break, to question the timing of it. Why not let him answer the question? And why come back with a completely new question about Tina Fey? Unless the transcript is wrong, that's what directly follows. But McCain (given an apparent opportunity for dodging) stayed with the subject Letterman had raised:
    DL: How about that Tina Fey?

    JM: I know Gordon Liddy. He paid his debt. He went to prison, he paid his debt, as people do. I'm not in any way embarrassed to know Gordon Liddy. And his son, who is also a good friend and supporter of mine.

    DL: But you understand that the same case could be made of your relationship with him as being made with William Ayers.

    JM: Everything about any relationship that I've had I will make completely open and give a complete accounting of. Senator Obama said that he was a guy who lived in the neighborhood. OK, it was more than that.

    DL: They served on a committee at one point.

    JM: Yes, that gave $230,000 to ACORN which is now involved in what may be one of the great voter frauds in history. It could be. We need to know.

    OK, Letterman and the people who subscribe to this nonsensical comparison are forgetting something very, very important.

    Ayers was a wartime enemy of the United States, whose organization was 100% on the side of the enemy, had declared war on America, and either murdered or tried to murder police, public officials, and (worst of all) American soldiers. While Ayers believed in killing our troops; Liddy believed in raising them.

    For all of G. Gordon Liddy's faults (and I should pause here to disclose my unconventional view of his role in Watergate, as well as my admiration of him) it has to be remembered that Liddy -- working for a wartime president during a period in which domestic terrorists like Ayers were literally waging war against the United States -- was indisputably on the side of his country. He was never anything even close to being a terrorist.

    Ayers was not only on the side of the Communist enemy, he considered himself to be waging a declared domestic war on their behalf. Liddy considered himself to be on the opposite side -- waging war against the domestic terrorists like (and no doubt including) Ayers. While both used and advocated illegal methods against enemies, to Ayers the enemy was America, and to Liddy the enemy was those waging war on America.

    Yes, they probably would have killed each other. This does not make them moral equivalents of each other.

    Ayers the Weatherman was a terrorist. Liddy the "Plumber" was a zealous anti-terrorist.

    Ayers was and is fiercely anti-American, while Liddy was and is fiercely pro-American.

    Or don't distinctions like that mean anything anymore?

    If they don't, we might as well compare Julius Rosenberg to J. Edgar Hoover or Joe McCarthy. Or Jane Fonda to Bob Hope.

    MORE: The video of McCain's Letterman appearance is here.

    I thought he handled himself quite well.

    (That last link is from CBS, so I can't embed it. The other ones I've seen keep getting flagged and taken down.)

    posted by Eric at 01:19 PM | Comments (9)

    The Scarlet Letter, from A to P

    This story about the 7th grade girl being called a "racist" for wearing a Sarah Palin t-shirt is so predictable that initially I thought it hardly merited a blog post:

    VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35, Orlando) -- She's only 12 years old but Ashleigh Jones is feeling the heat of this election year.

    That's because the seventh grader at New Smyrna Beach Middle School was called a racist by classmates for wearing a pro-Sarah Palin t-shirt.

    Jones is volunteering at the Republican Headquarters in New Smyrna Beach. The Palin t-shirt was a gift from her fellow volunteers.

    "Some of the students were calling me racist because I was Caucasian," she said. "I wanted the Caucasian man to win. And I told them that's not true. It's my freedom of speech, it's my opinion."

    Jones' parents say they aren't mad at the school they just want everyone including their daughter to voice their opinion constructively.

    That hardly surprises me. (Naturally an Obama t-shirt would have been just fine.) Students are fed such a steady diet of identity politics-based PC Newspeak that wearing a t-shirt supporting Sarah Palin almost invites "Scarlet Letter" style ostracism.

    Actually, I think it was in the 7th grade when that book was assigned as reading material; remarkably, I see that it still is. For all I know today's students are probably taught that it's about sex and the evolution of women's "reproductive rights" or something. Or intolerance by religious conservatives, as this reviewer claims:

    The one thing in Scarlet Letter's favor is that it is politically correct. It's satisfying that the intolerant religious fanatics are the bad guys.
    I wonder how many kids are taught that intolerance means intolerance, that it is a profoundly human condition, and that not only is there no religious requirement, but that irreligious people can be just as intolerant as (and of) religious people.

    Such intolerance can even extend to extramarital pregnancy (an ostensible theme of the Scarlet Letter.)

    In fact, the way some of the irreligious people treat the pregnancy of Bristol Palin can hardly be called tolerant. True, they're not labeling her an adulteress or fornicator, but I think the pregnancy carries a stigma nonetheless. A new and very ironic stigma, as if there's a new post-shame shame associated with pregnancy -- especially when that pregnancy can somehow be associated with the right wing. (Almost reminds me of the way conservatives are not allowed to be gay, and gays are not allowed to be conservative.)

    Even though the "baby bump" is considered totally acceptable in Hollywood circles, Bristol Palin should be ashamed of her "baby bump" -- not so much for being a pregnant teen, but for being a teen who is "pregnant while Republican." Nice girls, "normal" girls (meaning affluent girls, especially affluent Democratic girls, i.e. "civilized" girls) are supposed to do the right thing, and have abortions.

    At least, that's the "subtext" as I see it -- especially considering that there's actually a web site named "Saving Bristol" for the express purpose of raising "money and support for Bristol Palin to have an abortion and move out of her abusive household." They're asking for donations to Planned Parenthood and the "Lilith Fund" (whatever that is) in Bristol's name.

    Moral lesson? Some teen pregnancies are tolerated. But the teens in the wrong category should be stigmatized for not having abortions, and they might as well be wearing the letter "P."

    Hardly what I would call tolerance.

    (I admire the 7th grader for her courage.)

    posted by Eric at 10:58 AM | Comments (4)

    A Job For Joe The Plumber
    A Job For Joe The Plumber

    Cribbed From

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 08:32 AM | Comments (1)

    Barack The Plumber
    Barack The Plumber

    For more information visit

    H/T Eric of Classical Values by e-mail.

    posted by Simon at 08:23 AM

    So Weak They Have To Cheat

    I have been thinking some about what all this voter fraud business means in the larger scheme of things.

    It means that the left is on the wane in a very serious way. They can't win without cheating.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 07:09 AM | Comments (6)

    Mainstreaming the despicable

    As I have been saying, there's a bigger problem than Bill Ayers' unrepentant terrorism and his present day radicalism, and that is his mainstream respectability.

    For. The. Umpteenth. Time.

    Bill Ayers should not be respectable or mainstream.

    For some reason, that issue is seen as irrelevant or nonexistent, and the Ayers issue is spun alternately as:

  • No one cares what Ayers did and it was a long time ago so it doesn't matter
  • Barack Obama was a child when the bombs went off so it doesn't matter
  • Obama's contacts with him involved working for "educational reform"
  • The economy is more important, so HOW DARE McCain even mention Ayers?
  • Finally McCain mentioned Ayers. Barely.

    When he did last night (after Bob Schieffer brought up Sarah Palin's "palled around with terrorists" remark), here were Obama's words in response:

    In fact, Mr. Ayers has become the centerpiece of Senator McCain's campaign over the last two or three weeks. This has been their primary focus. So let's get the record straight. Bill Ayers is a professor of education in Chicago.
    Let's stop right there. No one ever said he wasn't a professor of education in Chicago except Barack Obama, who called the guy he worked with for years "an English teacher." Why make it look like he's correcting others if he's correcting himself?
    Forty years ago, when I was 8 years old, he engaged in despicable acts with a radical domestic group. I have roundly condemned those acts. Ten years ago he served and I served on a school reform board that was funded by one of Ronald Reagan's former ambassadors and close friends, Mr. Annenberg.
    While I haven't researched the condemnation, I'll take him at his word that he condemned "those acts" specifically. But I'm wondering... Why don't the despicable acts include trampling on the American flag during the time period in which Ayers was working with Obama? As to the then-86 year old Annenberg (who was Nixon's ambassador to England, not Reagan's), he never knew Ayers, and probably never knew his terrorist background when he funded the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (one of a number of projects). He was presented the CAC paperwork along with that of other Annenberg challenge groups by Brown University President Vartan Gregorian, who served to coordinate the National Annenberg Challenge.

    That Obama would invoke Annenberg's name shows a clear intent to continue -- not denounce -- the ongoing mainstreaming of the unrepentant Ayers.

    So does Obama's invoking the names of other members of the board:

    Other members on that board were the presidents of the University of Illinois, the president of Northwestern University, who happens to be a Republican, the president of The Chicago Tribune, a Republican-leaning newspaper.

    Mr. Ayers is not involved in my campaign. He has never been involved in this campaign. And he will not advise me in the White House. So that's Mr. Ayers.

    Did anyone say Ayers was involved in the campaign? Well, why say that?

    McCain came back with this:

    MCCAIN: Well, again, while you were on the board of the Woods Foundation, you and Mr. Ayers, together, you sent $230,000 to ACORN. So -- and you launched your political campaign in Mr. Ayers' living room.

    OBAMA: That's absolutely not true.

    MCCAIN: And the facts are facts and records are records.

    OBAMA: And that's not the facts.

    There's an accurate collection of facts here, and it's quite well settled that Obama's political career was in fact launched in the Ayers Dohrn living room.

    As to Ayers and Obama funding ACORN, it is true:

    Obama's tenure with the Woods Fund is perhaps most noteworthy for his association with former terrorist Bill Ayers. Ayers served on the Woods board for three years of Obama's tenure and remained on the board after Obama departed. Hillary Clinton raised this issue earlier this year at the Philadelphia debate when Obama, as he has done throughout the campaign, tried to minimize his relationship with Ayers.


    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.

    I'd note that the total there is $190,000, and McCain gave a figure of $230,000. Whether there's another $40,000 or whether McCain was off a bit, I don't know. But to say it's "absolutely not true" is a pretty strong statement. What did Obama mean? "You're off by 40 grand; we only gave ACORN $190,000?"

    But I'll say this for Obama: he's come a long way since he described Ayers as someone he barely knew who was "a guy who lived in the neighborhood."

    What annoys me the most about Obama's performance last night is his attempt to continue the mainstreaming of a murderous radical who should never have been mainstreamed in the first place.

    Yes, I think Ayers, a murderous, admitted enemy of the United States, was lucky to avoid prison, and should never have been given tenure and respectability. Even now he should be fired, and removed from all semblance of respectability. I know this is not going to happen, and I realize there is no way to hold the people who hired, coddled and promoted Ayers accountable, but I think that if Obama can't at least denounce him as outside the mainstream, he is unfit to be president.

    Instead of denouncing him, Obama promotes the meme that Ayers is an "educational reformer" (as he did last night). This is not much different from promoting the meme that Mao was an "agrarian reformer."

    In today's Wall Street Journal, Sol Stern (who has studied Ayers in detail) takes issue with that meme in a piece titled "Ayers Is No Education 'Reformer' -- The new media spin is worse than Obama's original evasion."

    ...[A]s one of the leaders of a movement for bringing radical social-justice teaching into our public school classrooms, Mr. Ayers is not a school reformer. He is a school destroyer.

    He still hopes for a revolutionary upheaval that will finally bring down American capitalism and imperialism, but this time around Mr. Ayers sows the seeds of resistance and rebellion in America's future teachers. Thus, education students signing up for a course Mr. Ayers teaches at UIC, "On Urban Education," can read these exhortations from the course description: "Homelessness, crime, racism, oppression -- we have the resources and knowledge to fight and overcome these things. We need to look beyond our isolated situations, to define our problems globally. We cannot be child advocates . . . in Chicago or New York and ignore the web that links us with the children of India or Palestine."

    The readings Mr. Ayers assigns to his university students are as intellectually diverse as a political commissar's indoctrination session in one of his favorite communist tyrannies. The list for his urban education course includes the bible of the critical pedagogy movement, Brazilian Marxist Paolo Freire's "Pedagogy of the Oppressed"; two books by Mr. Ayers himself; and "Teaching to Transgress" by bell hooks (lower case), the radical black feminist writer.

    Two years ago Mr. Ayers shared with his students a letter he wrote to a young radical friend: "I've been told to grow up from the time I was ten until this morning. Bullshit. Anyone who salutes your 'youthful idealism' is a patronizing reactionary. Resist! Don't grow up! I went to Camp Casey [Cindy Sheehan's vigil at the Bush ranch in Crawford, Texas] in August precisely because I'm an agnostic about how and where the rebellion will break out, but I know I want to be there and I know it will break out." (The letter is on his Web site,

    America's ideal of public schooling as a means of assimilating all children (and particularly the children of new immigrants) into a common civic and democratic culture is already under assault from the multiculturalists and their race- and gender-centered pedagogy. Mr. Ayers has tried to give the civic culture ideal a coup de grace, contemptuously dismissing it as nothing more than what the critical pedagogy theorists commonly refer to as "capitalist hegemony."

    In the world of the Ed schools, Mr. Ayers's movement has established a sizeable beachhead -- witness his election earlier this year as vice president for curriculum of the American Education Research Association, the nation's largest organization of education professors and researchers.

    I realize that ordinary voters don't understand these things, but I want to make something as clear as I can.

    Bill Ayers epitomizes what has gone wrong in this country.

    This is bad, bad, stuff. I don't know how many blog posts I've written over the years on the systematic destruction of the schools, the indoctrination of children, and the steady infiltration of radical leftists in the educational system. (A lot, I'm sure.) But here's a guy who, despite the fact that he is proud of his murderous, treasonous past, has been given enormous power to do all of these things, and a guy who helped him and worked with him closely is running for president. This would speak poorly of Obama, even if Ayers was not a famous Weather Underground terrorist.

    But what happened last night really gave me the creeps. Not only has Barack Obama assisted in the deliberate mainstreaming of a dangerous radical, but he did it right there on national television for the world to see.

    Let me repeat what I said yesterday before the debate:

    Regardless of how Ayers came to be respectable and mainstream, though, the people who made him respectable are not running for president. Obama is, and so the issue of Ayers -- and his respectability -- is fair game. It is not enough for Obama to say Ayer's "past" is despicable if Ayers does not repent it. Nor does hiding behind the "everyone else did it" claim of Ayers' respectability.

    The question is not whether Ayers' past actions were despicable, but whether Obama thinks being unrepentant about terrorism is despicable.

    Similarly, the question is not whether Ayers is respectable, but whether Obama thinks he should be respectable.

    I think we now know the answer to that question.

    So I have another.

    Does Obama truly believe that Ayers' acts were despicable?

    I wonder.

    McCain almost touched on the problem when he said this last night:

    ...Senator Obama chooses to associate with a guy who in 2001 said that he wished he had have bombed more, and he had a long association with him.
    Yes, Ayers has no regrets and wishes he did more, and Obama had a long association with him yet says his acts were despicable.

    Anyone who thinks Ayers is repentant in the least, watch this (from 1998):

    Does Barack Obama think that such people -- who he admits committed "despicable acts" but who don't regret those acts -- should nonetheless be welcomed into and become part of the respectable mainstream?

    Apparently yes.

    Why? Might it be that he doesn't think what they did was all that despicable?

    Should someone who thinks that way be president?

    posted by Eric at 11:21 PM | Comments (4)

    A corporate firewall of incompetence

    Have you ever wondered why big giant corporations and utilities have so many brainless morons working in things like "customer service" and "billing"?

    I think I've figured it out.

    Since my move from Pennsylvania to Michigan, I have spent untold hours on hold trying to have my utilities and services at the old address disconnected. I was assured that they were, and provided them with my new address for final bills. Yet to my astonishment, they went right on billing me!

    Now, you could argue that the people who were supposed to close the accounts were incompetent. They probably were. Each time I got through to a person, I heard inordinate amounts of typing -- as if the person was writing a long essay instead of just the words "CLOSE ACCOUNT." I figured that they must have been doing whatever they're supposed to do to close my account, but I was wrong.

    I had moved out in early August, and went through all of this, so naturally when the September electric and gas bills came, I was furious. So I called and told them I no longer lived there, and demanded that they close my account. To this they said that they could not close the account because they could not turn off service unless someone was there! I went around and around with them, saying I was in Michigan, and that it was up to whoever did or didn't move in to take care of any new service, but they disagreed, saying it was my responsibility. Amazing. (And absolute nonsense; I'm pretty sure thus was a cover for the fact that they just don't want to do their job and close the account, because they simply don't know how.)

    Now, I have read many reports about people getting turned off for non-payment, so it occurred to me that this might be a legal loophole I could cleverly exploit to my advantage. So I told the insistent idiot to listen very carefully, and go tell her supervisor that I simply would not pay the bill, and that I was demanding that they disconnect me for non-payment! This did get her attention, so she put me on hold for around forty five minutes. (Fortunately, I have a speakerphone so I can do other things while on hold.)

    Amazingly, her supervisor talked to a "field supervisor" and sure enough, the message was relayed back to me that I did not have to pay for the period after which I told them I was no longer there!

    One thing that works to my advantage in dealing with customer service people is that I'm a veteran phone holder, and I'm onto the "long hold" game. I know that they realize most people will simply hang up, and let them "win."

    Yes, many times when I have been in a hurry, I have given up and let them win, much as it kills me. But as Barack Obama would say, "Not this time."

    If it had just been the gas and electric bill that this happened with, I probably wouldn't have bothered with a blog post. But I have seen similar behavior so many times and in so many companies that I have learned that stupidity and delay work to the advantage of companies that want your money, and once they have what's called an "account," the inextricably intertwined nature of incredibly incompetent people and deliberate understaffing can transform closing an account from a simple phone call into a major time commitment (but, if your persistence pays off, a real achievement is possible).

    And just now, I had another major achievement! I got my water service finally turned off! Yes, I had called before (back in August), and went through the usual interminable hold which is called "billing," talked to the slow-witted people I know can neither count nor spell, and was told I would get a final bill at the new address. Two months later, I got a new bill today, for October!

    Another call, another interminably long hold, while listening to the tappy tappy noises far in excess of the amount of tapping which should be required. Finally I was told that "someone probably made a mistake" but that "an email has been sent."

    Whether I'll get a bill next month remains to be seen. But at least I didn't let them win by hanging up.

    The magic of this, this corporate firewall of incompetence, is that it doesn't have to be created deliberately, and it might not have been originally.

    Simply hire the most idiotic possible human beings to talk to any account holder who wants to close an account, and hire as few of them as possible. The result is that fewer accounts will be closed. For every determined asshole like me, there are inevitably other busy people who just give up and pay. Factor in the type of accounts that automatically debit people's credit cards, and the result is a lot of people paying for things they don't want, but can't get rid of because they don't have time.

    (And if anyone thought this was bad, you should hear about the time I tried to close my satellite radio account. It took days. Only a crazy person should try it.)

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

    The personal experiences related in the comments are fascinating.

    (Obviously, I'm not alone in my suspicions.)

    posted by Eric at 03:01 PM | Comments (43)

    A Pawn

    The Republican Party is a pawn of Joe the Plumber

    posted by Simon at 02:31 PM | Comments (3)

    All the fictional news that readers want to believe!

    When I wrote an earlier post about the phony "race card" McCain is alleged to have "played" because unknown voices screamed things, I was assuming that the "Kill him!" allegation was at least factually correct. Surely (so I thought) no reporter would make up such a story.

    Wrong! It was either made up, or a figment of reporter Davis Singleton's no doubt overstimulated leftist imagination:

    SCRANTON - The agent in charge of the Secret Service field office in Scranton said allegations that someone yelled "kill him" when presidential hopeful Barack Obama's name was mentioned during Tuesday's Sarah Palin rally are unfounded.

    The Scranton Times-Tribune first reported the alleged incident on its Web site Tuesday and then again in its print edition Wednesday. The first story, written by reporter David Singleton, appeared with allegations that while congressional candidate Chris Hackett was addressing the crowd and mentioned Obama's name a man in the audience shouted "kill him."

    News organizations including ABC, The Associated Press, The Washington Monthly and MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann reported the claim, with most attributing the allegations to the Times-Tribune story.

    Agent Bill Slavoski said he was in the audience, along with an undisclosed number of additional secret service agents and other law enforcement officers and not one heard the comment.

    "I was baffled," he said after reading the report in Wednesday's Times-Tribune.

    He said the agency conducted an investigation Wednesday, after seeing the story, and could not find one person to corroborate the allegation other than Singleton.


    Hey, maybe Singleton could team up with Philip Berg, and report the "news" no one can confirm!

    MORE: Noticing that they're still belaboring the false report, Glenn Reynolds calls this "Keeping up the narrative, regardless of the facts!"

    posted by Eric at 01:32 PM

    Friend of the working class?

    America's great friend of the working man Joe Biden has attacked Joe the Plumber for -- guess what? -- making too much money!

    To anyone who understands the way Biden's sleazy little mind works, this should surprise no one.

    Yes, I think it is "sleazy" and "little" (with all respect to short people *) to smear a deceased truck driver by saying he was drunk when he wasn't.

    This working man's "friend" has no shame. I hope he never becomes president.

    * While height is irrelevant, it is interesting to note the height contrasts in the candidates:

    Most estimates put the height of Barack Obama, the nominee of the Democratic Party in the United States presidential election, 2008, between 6 ft 1 in and 6 ft 2 in (approximately 1.87 meters).[1][2]

    According to his medical records, John McCain, the nominee of the United States Republican Party is 5 ft 6 in (1.68 meters).[3] Were McCain elected to the presidency, he would be the shortest president in over 120 years.

    The height difference between them is around six inches (15 centimeters) with McCain being approximately three inches (or 7.5 centimeters) shorter than the average height of all U.S. Presidents at 5 ft 10 in (178 cm): a number that has been rising along with the height of the general United States population.

    Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Joseph Biden is 6 ft (1.83 meters) tall.[4] Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin is 5 ft 5 in (1.65 meters) tall.

    Joe Biden might be tall, but his mind is small.

    MORE: We've all heard the phrase "Working Class Hero."

    I think Joe the Plumber is the real deal.

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

    Careful what you ask for....

    We are all against child pornography, right? Society deems people who send or receive [or possess] kiddie porn to be so evil and beneath contempt that we have laws punishing them with long prison terms, regardless of circumstances. The statutory scheme imposes (here in Michigan and in many other places) strict criminal liability for possession of any depiction of "sexually explicit conduct" involving a child (defined as a person under 18).

    Ditto, federal law.

    What is "sexually explicit conduct"?

    Obviously, it includes all those things suggested by common sense. But additionally, the federal and state child pornography laws inject an element of nonsense, by defining "sexually explicit conduct" as including including:

    graphic or simulated lascivious exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of any person;
    So, if a girl takes a picture of herself in the nude on her cell phone and sends it to her boyfriend (obviously, in the hope that he'll like it), why, both she and the boyfriend -- along with anyone else they might forward the message to -- are state and federal felons, looking at big prison terms.

    You think I'm kidding, right?

    Unfortunately, I'm not. The only reason I wrote this blog post was that the issue was staring at me this morning as I tried to drink my morning coffee, and I couldn't ignore it:

    It started as a summertime joke by a Pinckney Community High School freshman, a push on the "send" button of a camera cell phone delivering a nude photo of herself to a couple of her girlfriends.

    But once school started, the picture apparently was circulated to a couple of hundred other students in the school and to some in neighboring schools. Livingston County sheriff's investigators and the county prosecutor's office say they are reviewing whether to file pornography charges against those who disseminated the image or still may have it.

    Investigators say they believe the girl intended for only two or three friends to see the picture, which shows explicit nudity and includes her face.

    "I have no comment!" the 14-year-old's mother sobbed into the phone when contacted by the Free Press on Wednesday.

    The girl didn't think through the repercussions, said Jeanne Reck of Hamburg Township, the mother of one of the girl's good friends.

    "Kids do stupid things," Reck said. "But for it to go through the entire school like these girls let it out, they really wanted to do damage to her. It's a tough situation."

    Principal Jim Darga found an anonymous note and a copy of the picture on his desk Oct. 7. Pinckney Community Schools Superintendent Dan Danosky said the Sheriff's Department was contacted and officials turned over phones confiscated during a school investigation.

    Detective Lt. Todd Luzod said the department's investigation actually began in September after a teacher mentioned the photo to an officer who was visiting the school. The county Sheriff's Department has just under a dozen cell phones and is asking students who received the photo to turn over their cell phones or, at least, delete it.

    "They could just erase it," Livingston County Prosecutor David Morse said Wednesday, comparing the photo to unsolicited junk mail. "You can't prohibit something from coming to you in the mail. But it's what you do with it once you receive it."

    Those who keep the photo or send it along to others are committing a crime, Morse said.

    The Sheriff's Department has a deputy trained in computer forensics gathering evidence from the confiscated phones for Morse's review.

    He said cell phones that were confiscated with the picture will not be returned unless the owner pays for a computer forensics expert to verify the photo has been erased from the phone's memory permanently.

    "They're out a phone, yes. We won't and can't give them back because it contains illegal material," Morse said, acknowledging the prohibitive cost of having an expert clear the phone. "It would be cheaper to buy a new phone."

    Frankly, I'm aghast. Obviously, sending a nude photo on a cell phone is not a wise thing for a 14 year old to do. But is this the kind of thing ordinary people think of as kiddie porn? I don't think so.

    But if the laws say it is, the laws need to be changed.

    "Sexually explicit acts" should be defined as acts, not as nudity.

    It's not as if there weren't warnings about the consequences of criminalizing child nudity. Back in 2000, piece (titled "Is this child pornography? -- American photo labs are arresting parents as child pornographers for taking pictures of their kids in the bath") analyzed a number of these cases, and concluded:

    there is no way to differentiate -- legally -- between a family snapshot of a naked child and child pornography.
    At times like this, I'm glad I don't have a child. However, I do feel sorry for those who have to live in fear of the state simply because they had kids they can't police 24 hours a day, and I'd hate to think that laws like this might discourage parenting. Perhaps that's why the Free Press, in its infinite wisdom, refrained from using the phrase "child pornography" or "kiddie porn." But that hasn't stopped the commenters, some of whom are demanding the girl be prosecuted!

    Sounds like this girl was involved with the creation and distribution of child porn...that is a crime the last time I checked. It is not just some "joke" or "mistake."
    She even attended the Homecoming Dance? Hello - parents? Ever hear of grounding your kid? Make her accountable for her actions - which are causing trouble for a couple hundred others? And I agree with NYPD15thSquad - charges should be filed against the girl. I bet if a male student had taken a pic of his penis charges would have been filed by now.
    Hear hear! Predictably, another reader makes a "fairness" argument:
    Since a bunch of boys will most likely become registered sex offenders over this, will the girl who originally sent the picture of herself be charged with manufacturing and distributing child pornography? Or will she be portrayed as the poor "victim"? Any bets?
    The law is the law is an ass. I feel sorry for parents, and for the children.

    Fortunately, the government has not criminalized either the nude pictures -- or the sexually explicit pictures -- I have taken of Coco. (Although I was accused of dog pornography, charges were never filed. Coco is over 18 in dog years.)

    Actually I'm not sure my attempt at "doggie porn" humor works (even though a dog is a rat is a pig is a boy), because while I can laugh derisively at the idiocy of zero tolerance puritan zeal, there are real victims involved here.

    Parents and child victims. Not of the "kiddie porn," but of the law.

    I said "the law is an ass" in imitation of Dickens, but now I'm realizing that might be taken as suggestive or immoral.

    So I'll just say the law is sick.

    NOTICE TO COMMENTERS: Anyone who might want to leave a comment, be careful with the word "porn" because the anti-spam feature will not allow comments with that word. However, if you substitute a zero -- "0" for the letter "O" -- it should go through.

    (I say this because I've gotten emails before about the problem, and there's not much I can do about it.)

    posted by Eric at 09:39 AM | Comments (9)

    200,000 Fraudulent Registrations In Ohio?

    If I didn't know better I'd say some one was trying to steal an election in Ohio. Jennifer Brunner is the Secretary of State of Ohio. She is a Democrat. She is not interested in finding out if every one registered is actually eligible to vote.

    The court's 9-6 opinion, written by Judge Jeffrey Sutton, suggested that voters whose driver's license number or Social Security number does not exactly match those found on databases maintained by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles or Social Security Administration could be required to use provisional ballots instead of conventional ones.

    "The thing that concerns me is that Judge Sutton indicated that these mismatched names could be subjected to provisional voting and nowhere in [Help America Vote Act] is that the case. The Help America Vote Act is really not meant to be used to disenfranchise or to help determine voter eligibility," Brunner said in an interview today.

    "Essentially that provision of HAVA is basically supposed to maintain voter registration databases," she said. "It is not for determining voter eligibility. The interpretation that seems to be coming from at least that particular judge takes HAVA and uses it as a means to exclude voters from a regular ballot. That is a concern."

    The full 6th Circuit's opinion overturned the decision of a three-judge panel at the federal court last week and restored the ruling announced last week by U.S. District Court Judge George C. Smith.

    Since Jan. 1, Ohio has 666,000 newly registered or updated voters -- all of whom fall under scrutiny by this latest court ruling. Brunner said an initial review found that at least 200,000 of them might have mismatched information. Once the office identifies all of the mismatched voters, Brunner will send the list to the county boards of election where the individuals have registered.

    But state Republican Party Chairman Bob Bennett said Brunner's decision to not implement the verification system sooner without the court forcing her to do so has cost county boards of election valuable time reining in examples of fraud.

    Well things of one sort and another have been going on in Ohio lately. For instance take the project called Vote From Home.
    Something smells at 2885 Brownlee Avenue in Columbus, Ohio.

    I strongly recommend that the Ohio Republican Party get on the case before it's too late. Today's the last day to challenge voters who registered early in Ohio before the run up to Election Day.

    Here's the stench: An entire houseful of young, non-Ohioan Democrat activists have used the Brownlee Avenue address to register themselves to vote in the Buckeye State and secure absentee ballots under extremely shady circumstances -- all while mobilizing a large effort to register thousands of others for absentee and early voting. The activists are leaders of a group called "Vote From Home '08." The group is self-identified as having "extensive experience with political organizing, election administration, and Democratic politics." They were hailed as the "Justice League" by a Daily Kos blogger. Their Facebook page brags: "Want to turn the Presidential election blue in a key swing state? Vote from Home is a political organization that was founded by a team of young people for the purpose of assisting, aiding, and tracking voters to elect progressive candidates to the White House. Encouraged by the excitement of the 2008 elections and the movement around the Democratic candidates, Vote From Home will be in Ohio seeking to deliver 10,000 votes to Democratic candidates statewide."

    The Obama team has learned its Chicago politics well. Vote real early and quite often. Click the link if you want to get deep into the subject with way more details, videos, and links.

    Some one is paying these people. It would be interesting to find out who.

    H/T Ace Of Spades HQ who has way more on the 200,000 suspect registrations.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 01:24 AM

    Plumber Joe

    The above video shows the encounter of Plumber Joe Wurzelbacher with Senator Obama on the campaign trail. Joe is not a happy camper. He wants to buy a business. The business makes too much money, over $250,000, and Joe knows his taxes are going up under Obama.

    Now here is where it gets tricky:

    Obama said, "My attitude is that if the economy's good for folks from the bottom up, it's gonna be good for everybody. If you've got a plumbing business, you're gonna be better off if you're gonna be better off if you've got a whole bunch of customers who can afford to hire you, and right now everybody's so pinched that business is bad for everybody and I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."
    Nice attitude you got Senator. Is it supported by the University of Chicago Economics Department? I don't think so.

    Now how do economies actually get better off? Not by spreading the wealth. They get better off by more production. Passing out money may be OK as an emergency measure but making it a permanent feature has the bad effect of reducing incentive. Which reduces output.

    So the Senator wants to reduce economic output with higher taxes and reduce government income with higher taxes in the name of fairness. What is fair about an under producing economy?

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    Commenter Andrew has suggested this unedited YouTube version for those of who would want to see more. I also have another post up Joe The Plumber.

    posted by Simon at 11:26 PM | Comments (2)

    Youth and idealism versus age and experience

    I didn't live-blogging tonight's debate, but I noticed the 25 year age gap as never before.

    I'm worried that current economic problems favor youth, for reasons that are neither fully understood, nor rational.

    The conventional wisdom is that it hurts McCain:

    Many see the 25-year age gap as McCain's greatest vulnerability. It's what Obama is not so subtly reminding you of when he calls this election a choice between "the past and the future."
    While it's true that McCain is easily old enough to be Obama's father, is it a bad thing? I don't know.

    Obama is younger, but he's also greener in terms of experience. McCain is old, but he's incredibly energetic and vibrant. Almost crackling with energy. To see a younger man on the ropes (as Ann Athouse said, "I think McCain is getting to him") against a much older man says a lot about the stamina of the older man.

    While McCain is the oldest so far, Republicans candidate are almost always older than the Democratic candidates. With the exception of Hubert Humphrey in 1968, they have been older than Democrats in every race since 1952 1948 (when the older Harry Truman defeated the younger Tom Dewey).

    This is not to say that it's about age, but I don't think the age factor hurts McCain as much as some people think.

    Glenn Reynolds noticed that "McCain looked like he was having a better time than Obama" and "Obama's smirking was unattractive." Considering a 25 year age gap, I like the fact that McCain has a more attractive smirk.

    Anyway, I thought McCain won, although I wish he'd pushed back harder on Ayers. While but should'ves are easy, I think he should have spelled out why it was important, without getting emotional. (Obama accused him of making Ayers the central issue of the campaign, which indicated defensiveness on Obama's part and gave McCain a great opportunity.)

    So I think McCain won, and Obama held his own as best he could. But I agree with Glenn that Joe the Plumber stole the show.

    MORE: FWIW, I like the way McCain slammed big government. I'm very nervous about the country's slide towards socialism, which is tempting, but a terrible mistake. I'm glad McCain has the maturity to recognize the problem.

    MORE: As I was reminded below, Truman defeated Dewey in 1948, not 1952.

    Correction noted.

    UPDATE: Jennifer Rubin has an excellent debate recap, and so does Glenn Reynolds.

    Finally, even though I like him, at the risk of sounding wildly partisan, I must refuse to endorse Joe the Plumber.

    MORE: England is talking about the star of the debate!

    in the end, the real star of the third and final presidential debate was neither John McCain nor Barack Obama but a small town plumber called Joe.

    Joe Wurzelbacher from Toledo, Ohio, has become an unlikely media star after finding himself the focus of the debate between the two White House rivals.

    He is a tradesman who has worked 12-hour shifts for years and now plans to buy his own small plumbing business. The trouble for Joe the plumber is that this would take his earnings to more than $250,000 - making him a target of Obama's plan to tax the wealthy.

    MORE: Here's Dick Morris:

    Finally, John McCain came out swinging. In his feisty, aggressive style, he scored key points on spending and taxes. Coherent in a way that he has not been in previous debates, McCain repeatedly turned Obama's spending plans against the Democratic candidate. The continued invocation of Joe the Plumber brought a populist edge to the tax issue that it has lacked since Ronald Reagan.


    McCain has now established the tax issue in a way he has not been able to do so far in the contest. Now he can widen the gap between the campaigns on this key issue. If the Republicans concentrate their campaign on the key issue of taxes and abandon the other lines of attack, they can use the lines developed in this debate to do better and better as Election Day nears.

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

    Joe The Plumber

    Watch the above video if you want to learn a little about Joe the Plumber who was a feature of tonight's debate. I think he is going to be a cult figure. I wonder if he is going to come out with a line of pants and male undergarments?

    And if you want to refresh your memory on how Obama got his start in Socialist Politics here are a couple of refreshers:

    Socialists Win
    The Senator Is A Socialist

    H/T Gateway Pundit.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 10:57 PM | Comments (1)

    Vicious McCain threat undermines the price of oil!

    In an earlier email discussing McCain's prospects, M. Simon said, "Maybe lower gasoline prices will have some effect."

    I replied with a quote that I attributed to Frank J. at IMAO:

    McCain only needs to threaten to drill -- and prices go down!
    I can't find the exact link (Frank might as well have said it, though), but I did find a picture to go along with the quote.


    posted by Eric at 08:15 PM

    "ex" bombers and double standards

    Jeff Jacoby takes issue with the claim that calling attention to Barack Obama's close working relationship with Bill Ayers constitutes unfair guilt by association:

    ...Obama's defenders have been insisting that to call attention to these deplorable associations is to engage in ridiculous and unfair "guilt by association."

    But it isn't ridiculous to question the values of a candidate whose political career got its start in the Chicago living room of violent traitors like Ayers and his wife, Bernardine Dohrn, who have never expressed remorse for the brutal crimes they committed in the Weather Underground. There is nothing unfair about wondering how Obama could have worshipped for 20 years in Wright's church, yet never objected to the fanatic pastor's virulent messages: that AIDS was created by the US government as an instrument of genocide, that America is the "US of KKKA," that the 9/11 slaughter was "America's chickens coming home to roost."

    Guilt by association? Not when the associations have such deep roots or raise such troubling questions about Obama's character and judgment. It was only in the heat of a presidential campaign that Obama finally repudiated his alliances with Ayers, Wright, and Rezko. It isn't irresponsible to ask what those associations tell us about a man poised to be the next president of the United States. It would be irresponsible not to.

    With Ayers, it's more than an association. It's collaboration. And repeated attempts at covering up by the Obama campaign.

    I do see a problem with pointing the finger at Obama alone, though. After all, he wasn't the one who made Ayers a respectable mainstream figure, and it isn't fair to stick him with the blame for Ayers' respectability, which Obama used as a stepping stone to advance his political career as would many an aspiring young leftist politician in a similar position.

    What is being missed by nearly everyone is that morally speaking, the only difference between Ayers and Ted Kaczysinski is that the latter accomplished more of what he set out to accomplish. While both are "ex" bombers in the sense that they don't bomb people now, the idea of either one of them ever becoming respectable ought to be unthinkable.

    But the buck has to stop somewhere. Mainstreaming Bill Ayers went too far, and for the good of the country, it should be stopped right now by Barack Obama. He should admit his mistake, and while I know it will sound hypocritical, I think that for the good of the country, he should throw Ayers under the proverbial bus.

    However he has not. Who cares how old Obama was when the Weather Underground bombs went off? Does anyone care how old anyone was when the Unabomber's bombs went off?

    The point that matters that Ayers is and remains unrepentant.

    Why won't Obama simply denounce Ayers not as the moral reprobate that he was but as the moral reprobate he still is? Can anyone imagine Barack Obama describing Ted Kaczynski as just "a respected mathematician" (which he was) or as "a guy in the neighborhood"? Even if he were released and worked in a Chicago community for ten years?

    No, and I submit that the difference is only because the latter is not considered respectable. Ayers' respectability is the main reason Obama gets a pass.

    Regardless of how Ayers came to be respectable and mainstream, though, the people who made him respectable are not running for president. Obama is, and so the issue of Ayers -- and his respectability -- is fair game. It is not enough for Obama to say Ayer's "past" is despicable if Ayers does not repent it. Nor does hiding behind the "everyone else did it" claim of Ayers' respectability.

    The question is not whether Ayers' past actions were despicable, but whether Obama thinks being unrepentant about terrorism is despicable.

    Similarly, the question is not whether Ayers is respectable, but whether Obama thinks he should be respectable.

    I think these are not only legitimate questions, but important ones.

    MORE: Glenn Reynolds links progressive voter Katie Granju, who thinks Barack Obama's association with Ayersis minor, but who also says this:

    Much more disturbing than Obama's minor association with these people is the way Chicago's well-heeled progressive social-political elite have, over time, completely absolved the pair of their crimes and elevated them to radical chic status. Given the couple's standing within Chicago's high-status Democratic political hierarchy, it's not surprising at all that their paths would have crossed with Obama's repeatedly. Considering Ayers' and Dohrn's positions in Chicago's lefty academic scene,the fact that Obama has had some casual association with them due to overlapping political/social circles is pretty much to be expected. But it's still something that I, a progressive voter, find completely distasteful.
    OK, so let's put aside for a moment whether things like a party launching career, the distribution of tens of millions of dollars together for pet causes, and appearances on panels are more than a minor association.

    So, what about "Chicago's well-heeled progressive social-political elite" having "completely absolved the pair of their crimes and elevated them to radical chic status"?

    Isn't it fair to ask Obama whether he embraces that?

    He's running for president of the United States, not Mayor of Berkeley.

    posted by Eric at 02:03 PM | Comments (3)

    It took balls to write this book....

    And although I realize that on matters of taste there can be no dispute, I'm not sure I have the stomach for recipes that challenge the wisdom of my repugnance.

    posted by Eric at 12:21 PM | Comments (2)

    A lingering worry I hope is groundless...

    While it still worries me, the Republican intraparty civil war I discussed in the last post isn't the civil war I'm most worried about.

    Because of some of the heated rhetoric (as well as the heated rhetoric over heated rhetoric) lately, I sometimes worry about the possibility of things getting ugly after the election. Which is why (like Rick Moran and Glenn Reynolds) I'm going to accept the results of the election -- hopefully with as few recriminations as possible, bearing in mind that I do have a blog, and can't be expected not to offer my opinions. (And may they be as polite as possible.)

    Seriously, the prospect of a real civil war is and must remain unimaginable. While philosophically I agree with Dave Winer about very little, I would agree with him that "this is not going to end well if we can't agree that whoever wins this election is our leader for the next four years, at a time when we desperately need leadership."

    However, I would note that shrill and threatening rhetoric does not emanate solely from angry anonymous shouts in Republican crowds, but can be found even at the Obama campaign web site:

    I will claim Obama as my president in November. If the McCain machine manages to officially "WIN" I will call for Obama to be the People's President. I mean this: I will not follow McCain through hell. I will start a movement of people who gather in Washington DC around Barack Obama and proclaim him THEIR PRESIDENT. If we have to fight a civil war over this, SO BE IT. If the "United" States splits into two countries, FINE BY ME. I'm not gonna support another administration full of CRIMINALS.
    While views like that are hardly mainstream ones, I suspect there'd be many more people on the left talking that way if McCain were ten points ahead. In fact, when the race was much closer, a respected Philadelphia columnist said this:
    If McCain wins, look for a full-fledged race and class war, fueled by a deflated and depressed country, soaring crime, homelessness - and hopelessness!
    But if McCain loses? Frankly, despite my concerns about hogwash conspiracy theories, I'm hard pressed to find (aside from an occasional anonymous crank) anything resembling a conservative movement calling for riots, much less civil war. Most of the talk (like this) about conservative violence if Obama wins is coming from the left.

    Nevertheless, I want to add my voice to those who would condemn even the thought of such a thing. I like to think that if a real civil war ever started, I'd do what Connie du Toit said she'd do:

    I cannot imagine a situation reoccurring of that magnitude, or that fundamental a difference of opinion, that would be decided by war, not the voting booth.

    So what WOULD be the causes for a "reset"?

    The dissatisfaction with the outcome of an election? What would the war determine, in that case? That the outcome of a legal election was someone not liked enough by the minority of voters that they'd start shooting at their neighbors?

    That's a breakdown of the Constitution, in the extreme, and a decision among a minority of people to not abide by the outcome of our democratic process. I don't care who the winner was, if a minority of people started shooting at others because they're sore losers, I'd start shooting at THEM, even if that made my bedfellows doctrinaire communists.

    Last week the Congress essentially set aside the entirety of the Constitution and turned us into socialists. Not a single shot was fired, and that's a good thing. What SHOULD happen is that every Senator and Representative who voted "yes" should be booted from office, by The People of their respective states. But that won't happen, because the majority of people needed to do such a thing don't care, agree with the extra-Constitutional bailout bill, or don't seem to know how to vote in elections to get rid of the scoundrels.

    Dean Esmay also put it quite well:
    I will pull the lever for McCain/Palin in November. I will do so without the slightest hesitation or regret.

    But if that evening, or the next morning, we learn that Barack Obama has won the Presidency, I will not lose not a wink of sleep. I will feel quite secure in the knowledge that the American people and the American system of government-which have always been flawed and imperfect and always will be-will continue to survive and thrive in the long run, even if we have tough times ahead. Because we always have tough times ahead, but this is the greatest country the world has ever known, and despite its many flaws our system of government works the way it's supposed to, and in general works very well indeed.

    I agree, even though I can't say I will not lose a wink of sleep. We have a system, and in works in spite of -- and because of -- its flaws.

    It's important to remember something that Assistant Village Idiot said yesterday:

    None of us is virtuous enough to wield power, so the checks and balances, and especially our competing needs, prevents any of us from having too much authority over his fellows.
    Yes, regardless of what we might think about either candidate, it's not as if we're electing a dictator. Notwithstanding the fact that many angry people believe we've been living under a "Bush dictatorship" for the past eight years, I predict that whoever wins the election will eventually do what Bush will do on January 20.

    MORE: Weetabix comments below:

    I know we're not electing a dictator. We're electing someone who feels comfortable ignoring the constitution and original intent.

    I just figure Obama would ignore it faster and with more wholehearted cooperation from a socialist congress.

    Excellent point, and a similar view was expressed in an email to Glenn Reynolds:
    ...we are on the verge of a total Democrat landslide and wipeout with all houses of Congress dominated by Democrats, big city governments dominated by Democrats, the President a Democrat, most State governors Democrats, most Washington DC bureaucrats faithful Democrats, and our news media and universities fully staffed with Democrats.

    Why no alarm from you? Why not the type of messages urging the American populace to think twice about giving all the power? In your overall posts you have always been far more comfortable with Democrats than Republicans. Your preferences are seemingly well betrayed to be the opposite. However, your general tone of your website is much quicker to point to Republican power. And now it's clear Republicans won't have ANY power. None.

    To this, Glenn answered,
    Sorry if I come across as an Obama shill. He brings hope and change! But it's true that divided government is generally better, and that it's looking unlikely that we'll have that, unless McCain gets a sudden surge.

    Domestically, I think we're best off with a Democratic President and a Republican Congress. On foreign affairs, maybe the reverse? I hope the GOP at least keeps enough of a margin in the Senate to sustain a filibuster now and then.

    I agree, although I think the question "Why no alarm from you?" is perhaps being asked of the wrong person.

    Glenn Reynolds is unfortunately not running for president and unless there's a last minute surprise being planned, he won't be pinch-hitting for McCain at tonight's debate.

    The question should be, "Why no alarm from McCain?"

    And, yes, "Why not the type of messages urging the American populace to think twice about giving all the power?"

    Considering the electorate's historical penchant for divided government, it might be the best issue McCain has right now.

    posted by Eric at 11:18 AM | Comments (9)

    Can the recriminations wait? How about just a couple of weeks?

    Another civil war?

    Must we? I don't know, but I couldn't resist clicking the above to read Patrick Ruffini's analysis (in a post tiled "Hands Off Palin") of Ross Douthat's warning to certain conservatives. Noting the negative reactions of the latter to the negative reactions to Sarah Palin by certain Big Media conservative intellectuals, Douthat said,

    ...if I were Hanson or Levin or Steyn I'd be devoting a little less time to ritual denunciations of heretics and RINOs and at least a little more time to figuring out how to build the sort of ship that will make the rats of the DC/NY corridor want to scramble back on board, however much it makes you sick to have them back.
    I'd agree immediately with that, regardless of who is right (although I'm a regular reader of Hanson and I don't recall such recent ritual denunciations; FWIW I can remember him being denounced for supporting McCain, as if that matters with the election weeks away.)

    Here's Ruffini:

    I'm with Ross on the fact that we have bigger fish to fry than pundit-on-pundit action right now. But once the post-election recriminations begin, and when someone starts to bury Palin with blind NYT quotes, I'll stand firmly in the Palin camp. And here's why.

    Ross underestimates the deep way in which movement conservatives have felt betrayed by their own establishment -- with which the likes of Brooks, Kristol, Will et al are aligned -- and never more so than in the last four weeks.

    We have seen a situation yesterday in which the Republican Secretary of the Treasury acted as a handmaiden to socialism. I am not given to hyperbolic language, and I use the phrase not to pass judgment on the necessity of what happened, but the forced nationalization of banks is socialism by any grade school definition.

    OK, I see his point. And before I get to the civil war, I'm glad at least one issue is out of the way. If the Republican Party leadership has become socialist, then surely the people calling Barack Obama a socialist can't be the bigoted bunch of illiterate morons they're supposed to be, can they? Thank God for that. Seriously, I know I'm a RINO and all that stuff, but my biggest worry involves creeping socialism, which seems to be galloping lately. A few socialistic programs here, a few socialistic programs there, and pretty soon you're talking about having the full-blown real thing. And while I know that by voting for the Republicans I'm supposed to be slowing the rate of socialism, if both horses are galloping towards the finish line, how enthusiastic am I supposed to be about voting simply for the slower horse? The semantic issue of whether Barack Obama is a "socialist" or is merely "socialistic" does not concern me at this point, because he is the faster horse, so I must vote against him in order to prolong the race. (Don't ask me why this matters so much to me; I might get depressed.)

    Anyway, I very much understand Ruffini's point about Sarah Palin. By attacking Sarah Palin, the conservative cocktail party country club clique is seen as attacking the only good thing McCain has done for the "movement conservatives."

    Yet that dichotomy doesn't quite make sense to me personally. Because, while I grew up in elite country club clique circles and like to think I understand them, I oppose them, yet I'm anything but a "movement conservative."

    I'm not even sure "movement conservatives" is the right word but whatever. If there is a civil war, how the hell am I supposed to fit in? I'm not a conservative, and I've defended Sarah Palin in more posts than I can possibly count. Yet to the people who are mad at the Republican defectors, I'm still a heretic and a RINO, simply because I don't go along with social communitarian Culture War stuff. I guess both "sides" (meaning the elite country clubbers and the read meat movement people) can agree to purge me and those who think like me.

    (If they'd just kick me out in the streets and not tell me I "belong" in the Democratic Party, though, my brain would feel less insulted.)

    Yes, I know. These endless ruptures, fractures, and schisms are hopeless. The Big Tent is so tattered that it might as well not be called a tent.

    But do they have to have the intraparty civil war now? Is it too much to ask that it be postponed until after the election?

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

    Who's playing the race card here?

    Intrigued by an editorial titled "McCain plays the race card," I read the piece looking for details.

    The evidence for the "race card" consists not of anything McCain said or did, but of comments allegedly yelled by unknown individuals in crowds:

    At a Florida rally this week, according to The Washington Post, the crowd got so worked up by Palin's attacks on Obama's patriotism and the media that one supporter shouted "Kill him!" Another supporter shouted a racial epithet at an African-American sound man and added for emphasis, "Sit down, boy."
    For starters, where's the evidence it even happened? Despite the omnipresent cameras in the hands of countless reporters and spectators, I have not been able to find YouTube videos which clearly confirm either of these incidents. As to the "Sit down boy" remark, I found nothing at all, and as to the "Kill Him" remark, I found one titled "McCain's dangerous game backfires as nutjobs scream 'Kill Him'", but I've watched it several times and can't make out what is being said:

    After McCain asks "Who is the real Barack Obama?" somebody yells something, and McCain appears to grimace, but it's not clear (to me, anyway) what the voice actually said. Can it truly be said McCain heard it clearly?

    There's no way anyone can control voices in crowds. This is profoundly illogical, and even worse than the asinine attempts I've seen over the years to blame bloggers for something a commenter might say.

    But a disgusting comment can at least be deleted by the blogger. What is McCain supposed to do? Hire goon squads to grab people who make ugly remarks? Hire professional provocateurs to say bad things so that he can pretend to single them out and condemn them?

    Activist hecklers are well known to infiltrate crowds in order to scream anti-war slogans or unveil banners, are they not? Yet no one would claim that McCain endorsed the views of a heckler. What's the difference? He has no control over either a heckler or a crackpot yelling "Kill him" or for that matter, someone using any of the numerous ugly epithets in the human vocabulary.

    Furthermore, just as anyone could heckle McCain or Palin, any would-be heckler could pretend to be one of their supporters, and yell things that would make them look bad. There's no control over any of it.

    It's not as if there haven't been fake "right wing bigots" before. Anyone remember this?

    It turned out the "IRON MY SHIRT!" guys were professional pranksters pretending to be sexist bigots. (They ended up making Hillary look good for the crowd, for obvious reasons.)

    So, if fake right wing bigots can help Hillary by harassing her, is there any reason why fake right wing bigots couldn't hurt McCain by pretending to support him?

    This is not to say that McCain doesn't have loony tune supporters; only that he has no control over people in crowds. Charging him with "playing the race card" because an unidentified voice in the crowd allegedly said something is nothing more than a transparent political smear.

    posted by Eric at 07:17 PM | Comments (1)

    "the depravity and cursedness of Western civilization"

    Sound familiar? It does to me, and I don't think there's any escape from it.

    Not from "the depravity and cursedness of Western civilization," mind you, but from the scoldings heaped upon those of us who'd prefer to be allowed to enjoy Western civilization in peace.

    The above came from a 2005 Columbus Day retrospective post in which Glenn Reynolds looked at Samuel Eliot Morison's Admiral of the Ocean Sea : A Life of Christopher Columbus.

    The full quote (from James C. Bennett) can be found here:

    Columbus Day is under attack as a holiday in the United States by the forces of political correctness. This is primarily an effect of the Calvinist Puritan roots of American progressivism. Just as Calvinists believed in the centrality of the depravity of man, with the exception of a miniscule contingent of the Elect of God, their secularized descendants believe in the depravity and cursedness of Western civilization, with their own enlightened selves in the role of the Elect.
    Unfortunately, some of the unsecularized descendants believe just as vehemently in the "depravity and cursedness of Western civilization" as do the secularized ones.

    It's one of those memes which appeals not only to certain elements on the left, but also certain elements on the right -- even if the two "sides" define depravity and cursedness differently. (Both "sides" would seem to agree that depravity on the Internet led to abu Ghraib, though.)

    The bottom line is that to many of the activists on both the left and the right, we are all absolutely depraved. Ask the activists on the left or on the right who think that Playboy is depraved. Or those who think eating meat is depraved. Or those who think that America is "A depraved nation."

    Hey, I shouldn't complain. I'm just as depraved as the next guy. Maybe even more so. After all, who killed the Kennedys? It was you and me!

    So once again, it's time to confess!

    I killed the kids at Columbine, and my collective guns regularly murder hundreds of children in Philadelphia. I have murdered millions of unborn babies. I tortured Iraqis at Abu Ghraib! I pulled the tube from Terri Schiavo! I also clubbed the baby seals, and probably helped Richard Speck murder all those nurses in Chicago in 1966.

    (Oh, yeah, I also owned and transported lots of slaves. Lots and lots of genocide was committed by the "we." I am therefore guilty as charged!*)

    That footnote was a reminder that I'm also a Little Eichmann. And I'm sorry again for being an Eichmann, and for all those other things too. I should add that this year I'm also really sorry that I'll be voting in shameful secrecy for that awful warmonger McCain. Honest; I'll try to make it up to the world by being more ashamed of my depravity than ever before.

    I didn't want to confess these things again, but I had to make up for the fact that yesterday was Columbus Day and I forgot to atone.

    UPDATE: Excellent reminder in the comments from Assistant Village Idiot:

    None of us is virtuous enough to wield power, so the checks and balances, and especially our competing needs, prevents any of us from having too much authority over his fellows.

    posted by Eric at 04:56 PM | Comments (7)

    Happy Birthday, M. Simon!

    In such an eliptical manner that I amost missed it, M. Simon has announced his 64th birthday!

    It's not every day I feel like a kid.

    My congratulations!

    posted by Eric at 12:56 PM | Comments (10)

    Thank you for spitting!

    In a comment to yesterday's post about Chris Buckley's "defection" (if it is that), Sissy Willis quoted in part from a comment left by Gerard van der Leun at Roger Kimball's PJM post on the subject:

    "Friends such as Roger will criticize him 'more in sorrow than in anger,' but he will still be welcome at dinner parties and other festivities. He will still be welcome in most meaningful conservative circles. He will not be thrust out into the howling winds as he would be if he had been long on the left and declared for McCain."
    To which Sissy responded:
    "I don't know nothin' 'bout 'meaningful conservative circles,' but I, for one, won't be soon forgiving or forgetting the cravenness of young Buck and his fellow 'Northeast Corridor Conservatives.'
    I agree with Gerard that young Buckley will always be welcome at conservative parties. As I explained in the reply to Sissy, I think that perhaps this is not a bad thing. Civility is lacking in politics, and one of the reasons for that is that the left tends to excuse its own rudeness by pointing to the rudeness of the other side. In my muddled meanderings back and forth across what passes for the political spectrum, I learned that in general (sorry to be general; I know there are exceptions), people on the left are far less tolerant of people on the right. But where it comes to defectors (former leftists who became libertarian or conservative), they can expect to be ridiculed, shamed, scorned and shunned, in a way that Chris Buckley never will be by the right. If you don't believe me, try going to a leftie cocktail party and let it slip in conversation (as I have) that you are a member of the NRA. If you're lucky, they'll stop talking to you. At the trendy Philadelphia party when I told a young radio producer for NPR that I was an NRA Life Member (and also an ACLU member), her immediate reaction was a combination of disgust and shock -- as if I told her I was with NAMBLA. She walked away as if I simply did not belong there and would give her the cooties.

    But when I have disclosed my ACLU membership at conservative events, yes, I have gotten a look that suggests "Ah! A liberal!", but yet what I said is seen as an opportunity for polite debate.

    This is not a new observation. The right generally hopes to convert people, while the left looks for heretics to condemn. A conservative will regard me as "half right" for saying I belong to the NRA and the ACLU, while a liberal will regard me as completely evil simply for belonging to the NRA.

    Anyway, if Buckley is welcomed anyway at conservative parties (which I suspect he would be), it would be another illustration of how the right wing is in general a lot more tolerant and even forgiving than is commonly believed. I've attended a number of conservative events, and I've noticed that even bona fide flaming liberals are welcome. (Assuming they've gone there to be polite and not to engage in Code Pink-style disruptions.) Not that most liberals would ever attend such events, but conservatives are remarkably tolerant in that regard. They are more likely to have liberal friends than liberals are to have conservative friends, and I suspect that polling would bear this out.

    As to the Northwest Corridor Conservatives, while I don't know what to say about the shoes, I think Sissy's point is well taken. There is a certain elitist clubbishness that goes beyond the normal liberal versus conservative dichotomy, and which definitely looks down on the little people, even as it patronizes them.

    I wrote about this phenomenon in "Oh my God! A real Joe Sixpack in our midst!," and I was shocked to see this morning that syndicated liberal columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr. (writing in the Detroit Free Press, but not at the web site) is quite threatened by the Joe Six-Pack barbarians at the gate:

    Every politician wants to be seen as Everyman or woman. That's why every primary season brings the curious sight of millionaires in plaid shirts wandering through county fairs eating fried things on sticks. It's why Hillary Clinton hit that bar and Barack Obama went bowling, badly.

    In that sense, Sarah Six-Pack is nothing new. The ''g''-droppin', moose-shootin', eye-winkin' hockey mom has plenty of antecedents. But there's a difference. Those antecedents were smart, wonkish people pretending to be one of us. Sarah Palin ''is'' one of us.

    And by ''us,'' I don't mean you, necessarily, or me. I mean the lowest common denominator us, the us of myth and narrative, the us of simple mind, the reactionary, ill-informed, impatient with complexity, utterly shallow us.

    You think that's mean? Go back and look at the Katie Couric interviews again. Or the Charlie Gibson interview. I don't know about you, but I want a vice president who can identify Supreme Court rulings she disagrees with. Or define the Bush Doctrine. Or name a newspaper. Or - heck, I'm not picky - construct an intelligible English-language sentence.

    Even many of her most ardent admirers no longer dispute that Sarah Six-Pack is, shall we say, incurious. What's striking is how little that seems to matter. A McCain spokeswoman suggested before the vice presidential debate that it would be unfair to question Palin, ''a woman who could be president,'' too closely on foreign policy. And when thinking conservatives (remember when the adjective was not necessary?) like Kathleen Parker and David Brooks declared Palin unfit for office, they were shouted down by their ideological brethren. Parker got e-mail she called ''vicious and threatening.'' Brooks was dismissed by another pundit as a ''conservative intellectual.''

    You're left to wonder when intellectuals - thinking people, for goodness sake! - became the enemy. Are we to regard unthinking conservatives (will that adjective soon be superfluous?) as the only true conservatives? Indeed, the only true Americans?

    Bottom line: she is not of our culture!

    She is a real Joe Sixpack!

    That the media elites (and all pretenders thereto) fear a Joe Sixpack in their midst was precisely the point of my post, and I am amazed (even flattered) to see it openly admitted by a self-styled member of the intellectual classes.

    But this is not new either. Back when Andrew Jackson was elected president, elitists worried about the coonskin cap crowd spitting tobacco juice on White House carpets.

    I'd love to see Sarah Palin spit some juice in the right direction.

    AFTERTHOUGHT: Before anyone jumps on me, let me say that I realize that Sarah Palin probably doesn't chew tobacco, nor would she spit on the White House carpets.

    (But even if she or one of her less couth supporters did miss hitting one of Andrew Jackson's official White House spittoons, surely the stains wouldn't be any worse than those left behind by certain previous occupants....)

    MORE: If the comments here are any indication, liberals are already having fits about spit.

    posted by Eric at 11:27 AM | Comments (10)

    "Someone is lying" (And I don't think it's Granny)

    Meet Sarah Obama, Barack Obama's step-grandmother.

    She lives in a rural Kenyan village, and in this video she says nothing about being present at the birth of her step-grandson in Kenya, even though she's very proud of the fact that he's running for president


    In a longer interview broadcast on Al Jazeera television, she also said absolutely nothing about Obama's birth in Kenya, even though she said he made three visits there:

    This strikes me as very odd, because right now there's a mini blogswarm occasioned over Sarah Obama's "claim" that not only was Obama born in Kenya, but that she was right there in the delivery room:

    Someone is lying. According to Obama's Kenyan (paternal) grandmother, as well as his half-brother and half-sister, Barack Hussein Obama was born in Kenya, not in Hawaii as the Democratic candidate for president claims. His grandmother bragged that her grandson is about to be President of the United States and is so proud because she was present DURING HIS BIRTH IN KENYA, in the delivery room. -This, according to several news sites and Pennsylvania attorney Philip J. Berg (see video below) who is, surprisingly, a life long democrat himself. Berg is the former Deputy Attorney General of Pennsylvania, and he has an impressive background in his activities as a democrat, but his support for the party seemingly stops when it comes to his trust in Barack Hussein Obama.
    The problem is, it's not "according to Obama's grandmother." Nor is it according to his half-brother and half-sister. Nor is it reported in "several news sites."

    By "grandmother," Berg means Obama's step-grandmother, because in the widely linked video by "Molotov Mitchell," he shows Sarah Obama's picture, and then he (Berg) claims that she and the half-brother and half-sister were there:

    His paternal grandmother, who still lives in Kenya, has gone around telling everyone that my grandson is going to become president of the United States and she's so proud because she was in the delivery room in Kenya with Barack Obama's brother and sister, I guess half brother and half sister, when he was born in 1961.
    OK, that's Berg's claim.

    Other than Berg (and the sites quoting him) I can't find any source anywhere which reports it was ever said to anyone by Sarah Obama.

    If she's "gone around telling people" that, where? Where's the document? Where's a single link pointing to one actual news report?

    The only stuff I can find points back to Berg, and his allegation:

    17. Obama claims he was born in Honolulu, Hawaii on August 4, 1961; however, has never given the name of the hospital he was born in; whereas Obama's grandmother on his father's side, half brother and half sister claim Obama was born in Kenya. Reports reflect Obama's mother went to Kenya during her pregnancy; however, she was prevented from boarding a flight from Kenya to Hawaii at her late stage of pregnancy, which apparently was a normal restriction to avoid births during a flight. Stanley Ann Dunham (Obama) gave birth to Obama in Kenya, after which she flew to Hawaii and registered Obama's birth. There are records of a "registry of birth" for Obama, on or about August 8, 1961 in the public records office in Hawaii.
    That's Berg's allegation, to which he never swore to the truth under penalty of perjury, nor is it supported anywhere by declarations, exhibits, or evidence that I can find.

    This site has spent a lot of time researching Berg's claims, and concluded that there is no evidence of the following:

    Analysis of "Evidence" Available on the Internet

    "Obama's grandmother on his father's side, half brother and half sister claim Obama was born in Kenya."


    Conclusion: We have found no evidence of this alleged report.

    Through a variety of Google searches, we have found dozens (and dozens) of references to this alleged report, but have not located the actual report(s). Therefore, we conclude at this time that the allegation must be false. As noted above, we are actively soliciting additional evidence and, if such information is submitted to us, we will update this post accordingly.

    So, unless there's a missing "report" out there that no one has seen, what this boils down to is a credibility dispute:

    Philip Berg's allegations on one side, versus the State of Hawaii's official document.

    In the past I've used the phrase "Birth Certificate Truthers," but I think that is not strictly accurate, because no longer is this a question of whether an official birth certificate exists. It does. Too many investigators have seen it. Not only is satisfied, but so are WorldNetDaily and David Freddoso (author, The Case Against Barack Obama).

    What's going on now is that they're making the claim that the birth certificate was procured by fraud even if it was valid. So, even though "Official Hawaiian Vital Statistics Truthers" is a mouthful, it might be a better name.

    Frankly, it would not surprise me if Berg himself accepts that there is an officially issued Hawaiian birth certificate. That would not matter to him, though, because his claim does not depend on it being a forgery. Rather, his argument is that it should not have been issued, because (claims Berg) Obama's mother lied to obtain the Hawaiian birth certificate, as her son was born in Kenya. Berg offers no proof for this other than his own allegations.

    Remember, the birth certificate is simply a certification by the State of Hawaii of the baby's birth there. There is a legal presumption that government records such as vital statistics are accurate records, and Berg has not overcome it. (I'm not sure he's even in the right court; perhaps he needs to sue the Secretary of State of Hawaii. With his total lack of evidence, good luck with that!)

    Another claim Berg made in the video was this: is owned by Annenberg of Chicago. Annenberg of Chicago is an organization that Obama sat on the board for for a number of years, disbursing up to 60 million a year, so there's a little bit of a conflict there.
    Dead wrong:
    The Annenberg Political Fact Check is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. The APPC was established by publisher and philanthropist Walter Annenberg in 1994 to create a community of scholars within the University of Pennsylvania that would address public policy issues at the local, state and federal levels.

    The APPC accepts NO funding from business corporations, labor unions, political parties, lobbying organizations or individuals. It is funded primarily by the Annenberg Foundation.

    Obama ran the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, and the only thing that had in common with is that both received money from the Annenberg Foundation. (More here.)

    Berg also claims that even if Obama was born in Hawaii, he lost his citizenship because his mother married an Indonesian and took up residence in Indonesia. Nonsense. Even if his mother expatriated herself (and there's no showing that she did), she could not legally have expatriated Obama. In order to be valid, acts of expatriation have to be performed by the citizen himself, knowingly and voluntarily, when he is over 18.

    A more minor error (repeated in the video and in Berg's pleadings) is that Obama is constitutionally ineligible to run for president.

    Here's Article II, Section 1:

    No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty-five years, and been fourteen years a resident within the United States.
    It may sound crazy, but (state election laws aside) there doesn't seem to be anything in the Constitution to stop ineligible candidates from running; only from being sworn in and serving as president. If an ineligible candidate were to campaign for president, that might pose problems, but I don't think it would be constitutionally permissible either to prevent an ineligible person from campaigning for president or to prevent ordinary voters from voting for him. (For starters, there would seem to be a free speech right to vote for anyone.) Whether votes for an ineligible candidate are valid is another matter. They might be a nullity.

    Whether the Electors could vote for an ineligible candidate is also another matter, for it is their Constitutional duty Under Article II, Section 1 (as amended) to elect the president, and they might be violating their duty if they cast their votes for someone ineligible to serve. To my mind, this means that a non-citizen or someone under 35 can run for president, but the Electors are not allowed to vote for him, no matter how many votes he gets.

    So I don't think a federal court has the power to stop Obama from running. If he were ineligible, that might screw up the election results and it might violate certain election laws, but I don't see a constitutional problem with running. If Obama ran and won, and was declared ineligible, he would be elected but unable to serve, and under those circumstances I suspect Biden would become president.

    Has anyone verified Berg's claim that he is a former Deputy Attorney General of Pennsylvania? People seem to be accepting it on faith, and although I've confirmed that he is a licensed Pennsylvania attorney, I can't find confirmation (other than recitals) of his former Deputy Attorney General status anywhere.

    Bear in mind that this is a man who said that "Bush should be jailed for slaughter and high treason," and he operates a well known 9/11 Truther website, where he carries on at length about his representation of famed 9/11 Truther William Rodriguez. (Google "William Rodriguez" and Berg together, and you won't be disappointed.)

    Plenty of Truthers are mad at Berg, and while I haven't spent a lot of time researching the issue, Berg and his famous client Rodriguez seem to have had a falling out. (At least, according to this video.)

    Berg is a famous 9/11 Truther, and I think that stuff like this speaks volumes about him.

    And of course, there's the famous Truther Alex Jones. What he sees in Berg's latest antics I'm not sure, but there's video here:

    By any reasonable standard, Philip Berg's credibility is open to question.

    Yet the claim that the birth certificate was obtained by Obama's mother's fraud hinges entirely on Berg's credibility.

    The more I look, the more skeptical I am about anything the man says. I do not say this in defense of Obama, but I can find not one iota of evidence to support the words Berg has put in the mouth of Barack Obama's grandmother.


    These people did a better job of putting words in the mouth of their pit bull!

    Unless Berg can come up with some proof, I'd say that Sarah Obama is one grandmother who Barack Obama doesn't need to throw under the bus.

    UPDATE: Regarding Berg's claim that he is a "former Deputy Attorney General," the title is not as impressive as it might seem to outsiders. At the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office website, I found six job categories bearing the name "Deputy Attorney General" and the first level is barely above law clerk:

    The following is a summary of class levels and the minimum qualifications required:

    Law Clerk

    This is legal work performed by employees who, although having graduated from an accredited school of law, have not yet been admitted to the Bar of Pennsylvania. The incumbent of a Law Clerk position is considered for a Deputy Attorney General class upon receipt of proof of admission by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania to the Pennsylvania Bar. Assignments involve conducting legal research and participating in the preparation of cases for trial.

    Deputy Attorney General I

    This is entry level professional work providing legal services of a varied nature. Primary assignments involve assisting attorneys of higher rank by researching, interpreting and applying laws, court decisions, and other legal authorities in the preparation of briefs, pleadings, complaints, presentments and other legal papers in connection with suits, trials, and other proceedings. The difficulty of legal problems encountered ranges from simple to moderately complex. Attorneys in this class seldom appear in court without attorneys of higher rank.

    The minimum qualifications for this class are graduation from an accredited law school and admission to the Bar of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

    There are five more categories of positions. It's entirely possible that Berg was a "Deputy Attorney General," but if it was at the entry level, it's hardly evidence that he was a mover and shaker.

    posted by Eric at 09:46 PM | Comments (9)

    Funny for me, serious for thee?

    In a discussion of the bizarre new rules of engagement (that all criticism of Obama is racist) Ruth Ann Dailey sees little hope for racial absolution:

    When Republicans finally started paying serious attention to the man who was poised to pluck the crown right out of Hillary Clinton's hands, Mr. Obama had already been running for a year, and the non-vetting he'd received from an entranced media passed for the real thing. The national gatekeepers of all-the-news-that-fits-our-squint deemed these Republican latecomers with their suspicious questions to be racists.

    The Democrats' perversion of the race issue has gotten so brazen that someone who merely points out the undeniably true -- like Mr. Obama's controversial ties to radicals or felons of any race or nationality -- is accused of racism. Left-wing politicos have opined that racism motivates even Democratic voters who don't support Mr. Obama (as if ideas don't matter), while James Carville, the Dems' talking head from the House of Slytherin, fears rioting if Mr. Obama loses.

    And the Republican Party elders, to the chagrin of us younger conservatives, have accepted the Democrats' rules of engagement. Apparently, racial absolution will have to wait another decade.

    I'm always intrigued when satire becomes reality, and I've often marveled over the fact that what's satire and political comedy to me can be someone else's deadly serious opinion.

    I have to say, though, that back in August when I linked a couple of Dorhn/Ayers videos, and titled the post "Racist Videos -- watch at your own risk!", I meant it only as satire. Just trying, you know, to be funny, in the hope of entertaining readers in need of a mild lift.

    I really didn't expect that what was humor to me could become a serious political argument to others.

    But it happened. It came crashing down on my addled head that what was satire for me had become a deadly serious argument when the Associated Press decided that condemning Bill Ayers (once McCain campaign finally did that) was a form of racism. Because, you know, even though Ayers is white, some terrorists are other than white, and so bringing up Ayers is a "racially tinged" argument.

    As if Ayers criticism being "racially tinged" wasn't bad enough, yesterday I discovered that Bill Ayers has become the new Willie Horton.

    That's no fair! What used to be satire has become so tinged with serious political reality that I can't recognize either anymore.

    I do have a lingering question, though. If I think it's funny, should I care whether others think it's serious?

    Or is that not funny?

    I wish this all didn't remind me of a lesbian feminist lighbulb joke, but it does, so once again, I'll close with that funny-to-one-side-only, paradoxical classic:

    Q. How many feminist lesbians does it take to screw in a light bulb?

    A. That's not funny!

    But as a lesbian in Berkeley told me years ago when I told her this joke, it really isn't funny!

    So don't just sit there laughing.

    No, don't!

    Some things are too serious to ever be tinged with humor.

    posted by Eric at 12:45 PM | Comments (7)

    Conservative, not!

    When I read last week that Christopher Buckley had decided to support Barack Obama, my reaction was a relatively minor shrug. Not even worth a passing mention here, much less a blog post.

    I realize the man is the son of William F. Buckley, the late, great, titan of conservatism, but so what? It isn't as if politics is genetically inherited. (Something conservatives should have learned long ago when the "Son of Reagan" disappointed them in that regard.) Besides, the son of Buckley is more writer than conservative ideologue, and from what I've read, he's enchanted with Barack Obama's writing. (Whether "writing" should be placed in quotes I'll leave to the literary investigators.)

    Besides, not only do I like Buckley from his writing, but I have a lot of friends who are voting for Obama. If I'm not worked up about them, why would I get my knickers in a twist over the son of a famous conservative ideologue? It doesn't make sense. I don't feel personally betrayed in the least.

    The bottom line is that this is a country which operates under a two party system, and the Republicans have been failing for so long, and so badly, that any Democrat on the ticket would be favored to win. If Hillary had been the candidate, I could easily imagine an unshakeable 15 point lead, and possibly a huge national landslide in her favor. The reason it's close is because many people are uneasy about Obama. I'm so uneasy about him that I like to think that any sane person who opposes socialism would oppose Obama automatically, as do I, and as does Roger Kimball. But the fact that an occasional conservative might find Obama attractive should surprise no one, and I don't think it's the biggest deal in the world.

    Besides, it's still one man one vote. As I see it, my vote cancels out Chris Buckley's. So does Roger Kimball's, and Victor Davis Hanson's, and Andrew McCarthy's. All of these people are more conservative than I am. What I share in common them right now that's of any importance is that I oppose Barack Obama.

    That's the thing here. I'm not even a conservative. I'm just opposed to socialism, and I think Obama is the closest thing we've had to a socialist on a major ticket in the history of this country. (To the extent that there should be a "big tent" right now, it is not conservative, nor Republican, so much as it is anti-Obama.)

    What is conservatism? Does anyone know? I've been unable to define it for a long time, so I look to individuals who are called conservatives as reference points. If Andrew Sullivan is a "conservative," I know I'm not. If Michael Savage is a conservative, I know I'm not. If Ann Coulter is a conservative, I know I'm not. If Laura Ingraham and Rush Limbaugh are conservatives, I know I'm not. If Pat Buchanan is a conservative, I know I'm not. If Mike Huckabee is a conservative, I know I'm not. If CPAC is conservative, I know I'm not. If WorldNetDaily is conservative, I know I'm not. If the "Drug War" is conservative, I know I'm not.

    Geez, this is getting tedious. How many reasons do I need not to be a conservative? With all respect to the many on that long list who would call me a relativist, I think what we call "conservatism" is all relative.

    Anyway, so now I have one more to add to my list of what I know I'm not.

    Whether Chris Buckley is in good company, who knows.

    I still like him. It's not as if we're going to start a civil war over this stuff.

    MORE: Sissy Willis quotes from a comment left by Vanderleun at Roger Kimball's PJM post:

    "Friends such as Roger will criticize him 'more in sorrow than in anger,' but he will still be welcome at dinner parties and other festivities. He will still be welcome in most meaningful conservative circles. He will not be thrust out into the howling winds as he would be if he had been long on the left and declared for McCain."
    To which Sissy responded:
    "I don't know nothin' 'bout 'meaningful conservative circles,' but I, for one, won't be soon forgiving or forgetting the cravenness of young Buck and his fellow 'Northeast Corridor Conservatives.'
    I agree that young Buckley will always be welcome at conservative parties. Perhaps this is not a bad thing, as it demonstrates that the right wing is a lot more tolerant and even forgiving than is commonly believed. I've attended a number of conservative events, and I've noticed that even bona fide flaming liberals are welcome. (Assuming they've gone there to be polite and not to engage in Code Pink-style disruptions.) Not that most liberals would ever attend such events, but conservatives are remarkably tolerant in that regard.

    As to the Northwest Corridor Conservatives, Sissy's point is well taken.

    (See "Oh my God! A real Joe Sixpack in our midst!.")

    posted by Eric at 10:19 AM | Comments (14)

    Will You Still Need Me?

    posted by Simon at 07:25 AM | Comments (4)

    Weigh the mobs, then vote!

    We've all been hearing about mobs lately. Especially the brutal McCain mobs.

    First, here's a YouTube video titled "The McCain-Palin Mob in Strongsville, Ohio":

    (Views: 154,518)

    I'm not sure the above is really a "mob," but that's what it's being called, and I'm trying to be fair to both sides.

    So let's assume the above is a "mob." Is there anything similar on the other side?

    With all due respect to the gentle pacifists who love everyone, I think there just might be.

    Here's another YouTube video, titled "Liberal Outrage: A Pro-McCain March In Manhattan":

    (Views: 49,207)

    I can't help notice that the Obama supporter who made the video at the McCain event was treated more kindly by the crowd into whose faces he thrust his camera than were the McCain supporters who simply walked through the Upper West side.

    While no one enjoys negative attention, I thought this might call for a poll along the lines of where would you rather be if you had to walk around holding a sign supporting the "wrong" side?

    Don't be shy.

    You can answer this in the privacy of your own home.

    Which sign would you feel safer waving on a public street?
    A McCain sign?
    An Obama sign?
  free polls

    At times like this, I'm glad we still have secret voting.

    NOTE: To maintain as much neutrality as possible, I simplified the poll, so instead of asking about where people would rather be" I just stuck to holding signs in public.

    (My guess is that most people would feel safer to waving Obama signs in McCain neighborhoods than McCain signs in Obama neighborhoods, though. It has something to do with what we call tolerance. McCain voters are more tolerant -- for the paradoxical reason that they're more accustomed to being called "intolerant." Explaining why would take a lengthy blog post, and I'm too damned tired.)

    posted by Eric at 10:17 PM | Comments (1)

    No film review yet....
    (So how about a distribution pattern review?)

    While I have not yet seen An American Carol, reading this post by Little Miss Attila makes me want to run right out and see it while I can:

  • People are unable to buy tickets online for this movie, and have to get them at the cineplex itself;
  • When one goes to the theater, the name of the movie frequently isn't on the marquee, giving one a sort of "am I at the right place?" moment;
  • There are no posters up for the movie at the theater, reinforcing that "wait; was this supposed to be that place across town?" feeling;
  • on the sign inside the ticket booth, the movie isn't even listed. This actually happened to me, and I was about to suggest to my husband that we leave, when I saw another couple ask for tickets to the movie--they seemed to be getting them, so I thought, "well, I guess it has to be playing here . . ."
  • The second theater in town where the movie was supposedly was playing didn't allow one to pre-purchase tickets, so I called to check on the time. This particular movie house was a four-plex, and I listened to the long outgoing message twice. It gave me all kinds of information I didn't need to know, like how to get to the theater. And it gave me showtimes for three movies--but not An American Carol.
  • I'm getting email and comments about people who are being sold the wrong movie tickets. They ask to see An American Carol, and are handed a ticket that they don't look at very closely (how many of us actually read these things when we're trying to figure out whether there's time to get popcorn before we get our seats?). Later on, though, they look at the ticket and see the title of a completely different film.
  • I haven't been going to the movies since I moved to Ann Arbor, because I have been too busy and have not had time to familiarize myself with the theaters. And much as I would like to see An American Carol, I figured I could always rent it.

    But hell! If they're actually conspiring to keep people from seeing it (more on that claim here) and keeping the ratings down, then seeing it is the least I can do!

    With any luck, the film will actually be showing in Ann Arbor as imdb says.

    Considering what Hollywood regularly cranks out, it's a surprise this film was released at all. If you don't like Hollywood's normal offerings, that last link is guaranteed to irritate you. (Via Glenn Reynolds, who's hoping to see them make Total Eclipse.)

    The film's Wiki entry contrasts its performance to that of Religulous:

    An American Carol made $3.8 million in its opening weekend, placing it ninth among movies that week. Since it was shown in 1,639 theaters, it had a per-screen average of $2,325 ($3.8 million divided by 1,639). By comparison, the film's diametrically opposite competitor released around the same time, Religulous,[10] was the tenth-ranked movie, grossing $3.5 million in just 502 theaters, an average of $6,972 per screen.[11] However, the Religulous receipts were collected over a five-day period (the first two days in New York City and Los Angeles only), while those for An American Carol were collected over a three-day period.

    While both of these films can be seen in Ann Arbor, I can't help notice that An American Carol shows at two theaters on the outskirts, while Religulous is playing at the State Theater right next to campus. (I could walk to the latter but I'd have to drive to see the former. Yeah, make those conservatives drive their SUVs and waste gas!)

    And in Philadelphia (yes, I'm homesick enough to check), I see that An American Carol is only showing at a theater way on Columbus Boulevard in Southeast Philly -- a place not easily accessible for the center city crowds who could be expected to run up the ticket numbers.

    Bill Maher's Religulous, on the other hand, is playing at the Ritz at the Bourse, right by Independence Hall -- a trendy, popular, and much more easily accessible neighborhood.

    Were I living or working in center city Philadelphia, I'd probably save the gas and wait for the DVD.

    In New York, An American Carol is showing at three theaters in contrast to eight theaters for Religulous.

    Hmmm... What to do.

    Being that it's Sunday, I should probably waste sacrifice a little gas and see An American Carol for Religulous reasons.

    MORE: Geez, the San Francisco distribution pattern is even more lopsided! (Five theaters for Religulous, versus one for Carol.)

    I'd hate to think the pattern might have a disparate impact on ticket sales...

    posted by Eric at 02:30 PM | Comments (7)

    "note the plural noun"

    So snarks Frank Rich triumphantly, in what he obviously feels is a summary "refutation" of Sarah Palin's remark about Barack Obama "palling around with terrorists." (Also characterized by Rich as a "violent escalation in rhetoric.")

    While I can understand why some people might dispute the tense and meaning of "palling around," what's the problem with the plural?

    Again, why neglect Bernardine Dohrn?

    Surely Frank Rich knows that Obama wasn't just cozy with Bill Ayers, and surely he must know that Ayers' wife, Bernardine Dohrn, was more prominent in the Weather Underground group than he. She was the group's spokesperson who declared war on America, and she was for many years was on the FBI Most Wanted list. Dohrn and Ayers threw the party that launched Obama's political career, and all three -- Dohrn, Ayers, and Obama -- participated in the same conference about public intellectuals, so what gives?

    Sneering at Sarah Palin's grammar when she is wrong is to be expected from people like Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd. But making a big deal out of a mistake which was no mistake only highlights the accuracy of the original, and draws attention to it.

    It is my hope that Frank Rich's mistake helps awaken people to the scope of Barack Obama's friendship with terrorists in the true, plural sense of the word.

    So thank you Frank! You have let the world know that it is not just about Ayers in a way that McCain campaign never could have. May the sibilant hissing sound of that final "s" (which few had noticed before you "caught" the "error") help awaken America and cause much well-deserved attention to be focused on the dreadful, despicable Bernardine Dohrn.

    Why, I doubt even Barack Obama himself would have brought this one up.

    Yes, Frank, the plural is duly noted.

    UPDATE: Commenter "lbphilly" links this article by John Kass, and notes:

    Add to your list of "terrorists" Marilyn Katz, fundraiser and PR expert for the Obama campaign according to John Kass of the Chicago Tribune. Back in the day, she was security chief for the SDS and advocated throwing nails in the path of police cars, according to Kass
    From the article:
    One friend of Obama and Ayers is former '60s radical Marilyn Katz, now an Obama fundraiser, strategist and public relations maven. She's often a go-to quote for reporters to knock down the Ayers-Obama story.
    As Glenn Reynolds said when he linked the Kass piece earlier,
    Read the whole thing. And note where the PR money has gone.
    And be sure to stress the "s" in terrorists!

    (I'd say "terroristsssssssssssssss" but I don't want to hurt my readers' ears. Fortunately I'm not on TV.)

    MORE: Are the terrorists sorrry? Not on your life!

    posted by Eric at 09:45 AM | Comments (6)

    Socialists Win
    Marxists Win
    Click To Enlarge
    According to Gateway Pundit Obama had some interesting friends when he was learning the political ropes in Chicago.
    Obama actively sought the New Party's endorsement and urged the Marxist members to join his campaigns. The New Party went so far as to claim Obama as an official member of their organization. The New Party socialists were affiliated with the Democratic Socialists of America.

    Of course, Obama has a long history of relationships with Marxists. His first mentor in high school was noted Communist Frank Marshall Davis. He admitted he attended socialist conferences during his college years in his first book, "Dreams From My Father", page 122:

    Not only do socialists win. They have plans.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 04:55 AM

    Economy bad! Change good!

    I'm absolutely fascinated by the conflation that is going on.

    Now that McCain (who has barely mentioned Bill Ayers until very recently) has decided to finally say something about Obama's unrepentant terrorist buddy, he's being accused of not only ignoring the economy, but going negative about a trivial subject.

    For his part, Obama has been going negative too -- accusing McCain of close ties to lobbyists, in particular a man named Bill Timmons:

    I'm a little confused about why McCain's ad condemning Ayers constitutes ignoring the economy, while Obama's attack on Timmons does not.

    Might the rule be that connections to unrepentant lobbyists are more blameworthy than connections to unrepentant terrorists?


    Timmons is of course a DC insider who has worked for every Republican administration since Nixon. And he'd head McCain's transition team.

    On the other hand, Obama's transition team would be headed by former Clinton Chief of Staff John Podesta, a registered lobbyist.

    How repentant either of these men are of their lobbyist pasts, I don't know. It strikes me that whether lobbyists are good or bad might depend on whether you agree with what they're lobbying for.

    When I made calls about Second Amendment issues, I was accused of being a lobbyist myself, so I don't think the term necessarily denotes evil. Certainly not on the same level as "terrorist."

    But for the sake of argument, let's assume an absolute moral equivalency between lobbyists and terrorists. I'm still having trouble understanding why an attack ad against a candidate's coziness with either one would constitute an abandonment of the economic issues.

    I don't need to remind regular readers that I think Obama's coziness with Ayers is the worst aspect of his candidacy. This does not mean the economy is not the most serious issue facing the country right now, but there's something dishonest about the argument that talking about Ayers means McCain doesn't care about the economy.

    Nonsense. Would anyone maintain that McCain should limit himself to talking only about the economy? He has talked about countless other things, and only since he has mentioned Ayers has the opposition been screaming that he's avoiding the issue of the economy. By this same logic, McCain could claim that Obama's attack on Bill Timmons is his way of avoiding the economy -- especially his role in Fannie Mae and ACORN.

    Which brings me to my point about conflation. If we assume that the economy is the number one issue, and more important than either Bill Ayers or Bill Timmons, from where derives the underlying idea that Barack Obama is the salvation of the economy? It strikes me that this is the unstated premise behind the claim that McCain is ignoring the economy. The idea is that he ignores it because he knows it's all his fault, and Obama is our only hope.


    Excuse me, but I've been watching the twists and turns in this race for well over a year. Barack Obama's main issue was never the economy until last month. As recently as June, McCain was far more trusted on the economy than Obama. But the market tanked, so since last month, Obama has been seen as more trusted.

    As to the reasons, I'm not sure why. Neither McCain nor Obama is in charge of the economy.

    Might it be that people don't really understand economic issues, but they are capable of understanding Obama's endlessly repeated mantra which consists mainly of the word "change"? Is it possible that now that they're hurting (and being constantly inundated with the meme that they're actually "desperate"), the magic word just resonates with them as never before?

    I don't know, but it's an intriguing possibility, even if there's not a lick of logic or rationality behind it.

    In this regard, Glenn Reynolds linked a post by Steve Sturm:

    In this election, voters are leaning towards Obama because:

    (1) they have convinced themselves their lives will be so much improved with 'Change',

    (2) they have convinced themselves they can afford the purchase (it helps that Obama is selling 'Change' as being cost-free to 95% of America),

    (3) they have convinced themselves that Obama can deliver this 'Change' (remember, it doesn't matter whether we believe he can (or will), what matters is whether the voters think so, and it is pretty apparent that they do), and

    (4) there's nothing about Obama (family, past activities, friends) that so sours them that they're willing to do without this 'Change'.

    They're not concerned with his past, and, despite GOP thinking, it isn't because they don't know of his past associations. They're not concerned with Obama's past because they have feel it is irrelevant to Obama delivering the 'change' they so desperately want (a desperate want is, by definition, a need). Put another way, they don't care if he did X or Y when he was younger, they just want this 'change' he's offering.

    Now, I realize that Sturm thinks McCain is wasting time with Ayers, but his argument actually convinced me of the opposite. If people have in fact been sold so mindlessly on the "change" meme, I think that's all the more reason to pursue the Ayers connection, if for no other reason as a cautionary -- along the lines of "careful what you wish for."

    Change? What kind of change?

    Is radicalism not one form of change?

    As Barack Obama himself warned, change is hard:

    Change for its own sake has a bad track record.

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

    Who Is Barack Obama?

    About 11 minutes

    I have looked into Obama's birth certificate issues at:
    The Birth Certificate
    Democrats Against Some Entitlements
    Obama Birth Certificate Issue Heats Up
    Not A Citizen?
    Juhah Benjamin On Obama's Birth Certificate

    You can also find out more by searching Philip Berg Obama.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 02:50 PM | Comments (4)

    Ohio Voter Registers Multiple Times - For My Country

    Rumors Abound

    A post yesterday on pro-Hillary HillBuzz claims that a contributer spoke with someone in the Chicago court system that a team of FBI investigators in ten states are putting together a RICO case for U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. They are claiming that alleged undocumented contributions to the Obama campaign could potentially ensnare ACORN and, well, just about every Democrat they don't like.
    Another rumor: Two Big Stories About ACORN Fraud in Ohio About to Hit.
    10,000 duplicate/fraudulent registrations in Hamilton County (Cincinnati) and around 8000 bad registrations in Cuyahoga County (Cleveland). Cincinnati story should be out tomorrow, Cleveland one Sunday or Monday.
    And yes the spirit of enterprise is alive and well in Ohio.
    CLEVELAND - A man at the center of a voter-registration scandal told The Post yesterday he was given cash and cigarettes by aggressive ACORN activists in exchange for registering an astonishing 72 times, in apparent violation of Ohio laws.

    "Sometimes, they come up and bribe me with a cigarette, or they'll give me a dollar to sign up," said Freddie Johnson, 19, who filled out 72 separate voter-registration cards over an 18-month period at the behest of the left-leaning Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.

    "The ACORN people are everywhere, looking to sign people up. I tell them I am already registered. The girl said, 'You are?' I say, 'Yup,' and then they say, 'Can you just sign up again?' " he said.

    H/T Hot Air via No Quarter which has lots of links.

    I have some links too:

    Dark Ambition
    Lawyers Without Licenses
    Stealing The ACORNs
    Barack Has Some Friends

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 11:25 AM

    Would anyone cheer the defeat of capitalism?

    In a great piece about coping with stress -- especially the stress of financial difficultues -- psychiatrist Pat Santy, M.D. makes a passing observation about how unlikely it would be for anyone to take heart in the current problems:

    Unless you are some kind of environmental lunatic -- or Al Gore -- it is rather hard to take heart in the current economic woes and their global impact.
    Perhaps that's why we're not being preached at much right now about the massive expenditure (some £5,000 billion) which would be required to achieve -- in theory -- a lowering of the earth's temperature by 1/3000th of a degree. Little wonder the envronmental lunatics are being very careful not to be caught taking heart right now.

    It never looks good to be cheering when things aren't going well for your country. That's why those in the liberal mainstream (except an occasional Jimmy Carter) are usually smart enough to shy away from the Michael Moore types who scream that the enemy would and should win. It's unseemly to be caught cheering for defeat of (or losses by) your country's side -- especially if you want to win an election. (It also gives opportunities to guys like John McCain.)

    That's why nearly everybody in politics right now wants the United States to achieve peace with honor in Iraq, or else just shuts the hell up about it.

    Are there economic Michael Moores? Americans who wish and pray for the economic collapse of the United States just as they wished and prayed for the country's defeat in Iraq?

    Is there anyone who would actually "take heart in the current economic woes"? I don't know, and frankly, I hope not.

    I'd like to think that if the market reversed course and bounded back next week, everyone would be cheering.

    Everyone would, wouldn't they?

    posted by Eric at 11:07 AM | Comments (3)

    Failure of empathy

    Until yesterday, I didn't know that it was "unethical" to fire someone you don't like if you have the power to do that. (At least, not in Alaska with an election pending.)

    I guess that means Sarah Palin is unethical. The downside of this is that if she is elected, and is given the power to do it, she might in the future fire even more people she doesn't like.

    So why am I not worried?

    I guess the reason I'm not more worried is that if this case typifies Palin's "abuse," her "victims" are likely to be government careerists -- tax eaters who themselves have power over other people (in this case, lethal power), and who have themselves abused their power.

    Call me an anarchistic anti-government sociopath, but I'm finding myself unable to empathize with such victims -- especially when they're "making threats and behaving erratically ... you know, tasering children." Via Glenn Reynolds, who also links a more detailed description of the "victim":

    a proven child abuser (Tasered his own 10-year-old stepson on a lark) who's been conclusively determined by his own department to have also engaged in drinking and driving in his squad car, and to have used a deadly firearm to violate the very fish-and-game laws he himself was specifically assigned to enforce.
    To tell the truth, I wouldn't wanna get pulled over by a guy like that.

    But guess what? After all this fuss, he hasn't even been fired!

    "It is nearly certain," wrote Col. Julia Grimes, then then Director of the Alaska State Troopers Division of the Alaska Department of Public Safety, "that a civilian investigated under similar circumstances would have received criminal sanctions." The only real question in Tasergate remains why Trooper Mike Wooten is still not only uncharged for his confessed crimes, but carrying a badge and gun -- to the continuing shame of the good and decent people of Alaska.
    I used to sit on the Police Review Commission in Berkeley, and I think I can fairly state that what would happen there to an officer who behaved in a similar manner would make Sarah Palin look like a limp-wristed liberal.

    Oh well.

    It's just not my day to empathize with victims.

    posted by Eric at 09:58 AM | Comments (3)

    Radically different values

    McCain campaign has been getting a lot of gratuitous advice from the left lately. A lot of his enemies are saying that the reason he is losing is because his focus on Bill Ayers while the economy collapses makes him look ridiculous. Or desperate. So (they helpfully suggest), John McCain should focus on the economy, and ignore Ayers.

    Putting aside an issue of whether offers of "help" from political enemies ought to be treated with skepticism (something I've addressed before), I noticed that Victor Davis Hanson -- no political enemy of McCain -- takes a different view:

    The Ayers controversy is cited by the in-the-tank media as signs of McCain's desperation. Perhaps. But amid the tsk-tsking, there are also certain deer-in-the-headlights moments among Obama's handlers.

    Why? There are simply too many ACORNs, Ayers, Khalidis, Pflegers, Wrights, et al. not to suggest a pattern unbecoming of a future President of the United States. Obama's past statements about his relationship with Ayers (and others) simply cannot be reconciled with the factual circumstances of their long association. McCain must focus on Ayers between 2001-2005. Then in the climate of national worry following 9/11, Ayers was on recent record as lamenting that he had not set off enough bombs, and yet until 2005 still in contact with Obama -- about what and why, voters might wish to know.

    As to the economy, while I hate to be the bearer of bad news, it might not be the disaster the Democrats want it to be.

    No, really. Here's University of Chicago Economics professor Casey Mulligan writing in today's New York Times:

    It's important to keep in mind, too, that the financial sector has had a long history of fluctuating without any correlated fluctuations in the rest of the economy. The stock market crashed in 1987 -- in 1929 proportions -- but there was no decade-long Depression that followed. Economic research has repeatedly demonstrated that financial-sector gyrations like these are hardly connected to non-financial sector performance. Studies have shown that economic growth cannot be forecast by the expected rates of return on government bonds, stocks or savings deposits.

    It turns out that John McCain, who was widely mocked for saying that "the fundamentals of our economy are strong," was actually right. We're in a financial crisis, not an economic crisis. We're not entering a second Great Depression.

    How do we know? Well, the economy outside the financial sector is healthier than it seems.

    One important indicator is the profitability of non-financial capital, what economists call the marginal product of capital. It's a measure of how much profit that each dollar of capital invested in the economy is producing during, say, a year. Some investments earn more than others, of course, but the marginal product of capital is a composite of all of them -- a macroeconomic version of the price-to-earnings ratio followed in the financial markets.

    When the profit per dollar of capital invested in the economy is higher than average, future rates of economic growth also tend to be above average. The same cannot be said about rates of return on the S.& P. 500, or any another measurement that commands attention on Wall Street. (Emphasis added.)

    Read it all.

    Stock prices go up, and they go down. I'm fascinated by the idea that because they've gone down, that this is a reason to vote for Obama.

    However, if we follow that theory out, it would have to mean if stock prices were to go back up, that would be a reason to vote for McCain. (I wish there were some way to test this theory.)

    I guess the rule is that low stock prices are worse than Bill Ayers.

    MORE: Via Glenn Reynolds, it's "Oh No! Gas Prices Are Falling!"

    Oh No! Who do we vote for now?

    posted by Eric at 04:21 PM | Comments (11)

    Dark Ambition

    So what is Mr. Obama's dark ambition? I'll give it to you in his own words from his book Dreams From My Father.
    To avoid being mistaken for a sellout,I chose my friends carefully.The more politically active black students.The foreign students.The Chicanos.The Marxist Professors and the structural feminists and punk-rock performance poets.We smoked cigarettes and wore leather jackets.At night,in the dorms,we discussed neocolonialism,Franz Fanon,Eurocentrism,and patriarchy.
    Sounds like he was a Marxist at heart. And not very friendly to Western Culture. Not ready to lead - sure. My question is this: is he even ready to be an American with those kinds of attitudes?

    H/T Gateway Pundit which has some nice links that are worth a look. Gateway also traces his ties to ACORN at least back to '92.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    Update: 11 Oct 008 0453z

    Evidently some one thinks there are copyright issues with the ad so it is no longer available on YouTube. You can still watch it here.

    posted by Simon at 04:03 PM | Comments (4)

    the proper functioning of a republic

    What if Barack Obama adopted John McCain's policies?

    As the following interviews (all broadcast on the Howard Stern Show) suggest, he'd still be supported by many of his followers.

    The few McCain voters who were interviewed also seemed to feel the same way.

    As Thomas Jefferson said,

    "An enlightened citizenry is indispensable for the proper functioning of a republic."
    I'm hoping the sample was not truly representative of the enlightened citizenry, because I'd hate for the proper functioning of the republic to be affected.

    In other news, the Reverend Louis Farrakhan stated that the youth are listening to Barack Obama, who is the Messiah:

    "When the Messiah speaks, the youth will hear! And the Messiah is absolutely speaking!"

    And I am absolutely voting. Against the Messiahcrats!

    (I still cling to that separation of church and state meme that Jefferson and those guys started.)

    UPDATE: More examples of enlightened citizenry from a YouTube video titled "Should Some People Not Vote":

    From a 20/20 segment with Bryan Caplan (author,
    The Myth of the Rational Voter) who adds,

    "When you watch the presidential debates, you may think that the candidates are pandering to the Lowest Common Denominator. If everyone voted, though, they'd be pandering to a much lower Lowest Common Denominator."

    posted by Eric at 01:31 PM | Comments (2)

    If you don't like the cameras, stay at home!

    A good friend told me that while traveling in England, he was horrified by the number of surveillance cameras (apparently 1 camera per 15 people), and he sent me a link to a piece titled "Orwellian U.K. Angers People With Tree Cameras, Snooping Kids":

    Oct. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Hidden in foliage next to a path in the southeast England seaside town of Hastings are digital cameras. Their target: litterbugs and dog walkers.

    The electronic eyes feed images to a monitoring unit, where they're scanned and stored as evidence to prosecute people who discard garbage or fail to clean up after pets, a spokeswoman for the town council said.

    ``It's becoming a bit Big Brother-like,'' said Sandra Roberts, 50, a Hastings kiosk manager, invoking George Orwell's 1949 book ``Nineteen Eighty-Four,'' about a Britain where authorities pry into all aspects of citizens' lives.

    Local authorities are adopting phone-record logging, e-mail taps and camera surveillance to police such offenses as welfare fraud, unlawful dumping of waste and sick-day fakery. Telecommunications companies are about to join the list of crime monitors. Already, 4.5 million closed-circuit cameras watch public places across Britain, or about 1 camera for every 15 people, the highest ratio in the world.

    ``There's too much of it now, all this spying,'' said Ivor Quittention, 80, a retired owner of three hardware stores who lives in Hastings. The town's spokeswoman, who declined to be identified, said spying is the most effective way of dealing with something residents complain about most.

    The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, dubbed ``the snoopers charter'' by London-based civil-rights group Liberty, was passed by the ruling Labour Party in 2000 to legislate methods of surveillance and information gathering. The purpose of the law, known also as Ripa, was to help prevent crime, including terrorism, according to the Home Office.

    This was why I opposed the Patriot Act. While in theory most fair-minded citizens do not mind giving the government more power to go after terrorists, in practice when they are given power for one thing, they'll use it for anything they want. The foot in the door always involves emotional things that only a monster would not have strong feelings about. Like children or animals. (Drugs soon follow.) The Patriot has been used for all of these things, and more; the list includes gambling, cockfighting, dogfighting, copyright infringement, cigarette smuggling, sudafed purchases, and (but of course) "anything out of the ordinary." (As to deadbeat dads, I don't know, but I'm sure someone is working on it.)

    To begin with, there's always a broad catchall category called "emergencies." But because almost everything is an emergency or a crisis to one activist group or another, eventually "emergency" means anything and everything. After all, a child or an animal might die!

    "What kind of cruel and heartless country are we, that we routinely use this technology to hand out speeding tickets, but not to save a child from a predator?"

    No politician wants to be in a position of not saving the children, much less being on record as "against" saving children. So these things expand.

    But I digress from enlightened England, where citizens are more "protected" than we who still lag behind: Back to the Bloomberg piece:

    Initially, only security and intelligence services could invoke the Act's provisions. In 2003, Parliament extended powers to the 474 local councils in England, Scotland and Wales, as well as to 318 other state bodies, including 11 Royal Parks, the Post Office and Chief Inspector of Schools.
    Yes, I do mean save the children!

    From cigarettes! And alcohol!

    East Hampshire, in south England, applied the law to catch vandals defacing tombstones. Derby, in northern England, invoked it to send children with recording gear into shops to see if they'd unlawfully be sold cigarettes and alcohol.

    "It's unreal,'' said Dean Price, 24, a graphic designer in London. ``We've been sleep-walking into this. Everyone talks about Orwell and 1984 but no one ever does anything about it.''

    Well, at least in this country citizens are still allowed to own guns which might take out the cameras (although I could easily envision new laws transforming such freedom-fighters from misdemeanor vandals into major felons facing lengthy prison terms, if there aren't already). Perhaps even advocacy of shooting government cameras is a crime, so kids, don't do this, OK?

    The Association of Local Government, which represents councils, said through a statement by outgoing Chairman Simon Milton that the "crime-busting powers'' are an essential tool in gathering evidence needed to stop criminal activity.

    At the same time, Milton said he wrote to all councils in June asking them not to invoke the law for petty offenses.

    Hear hear!

    But by "petty offenses," surely he didn't mean crimes against the bureaucracy itself! Nothing could be more serious!

    In April, council workers spent two weeks tailing a couple in Poole, southeast England, they wrongly suspected were planning to send their daughter to a school outside their designated area. Tim Joyce and Jenny Paton called the intrusion into their lives "hugely disproportionate.''
    Disproportionate? Doesn't sending your children to a school outside their designated area defraud the government and hurt all of us? And it is so unfair to the good citizens who obey the law!

    (The law abiding classes are of course the ones who clamor for action against the recalcitrant scofflaws, and for reasons I explained here, they can be depended upon to be the chief enablers of totalitarian tendencies. It's simple human psychology, along the lines of "I obeyed the law, so who do you think you are to violate it?")

    And while we haven't yet made all dogs illegal (first it's banning certain breeds and all sexually intact dogs, then banning dog breeding, then all pure bred-dogs, and eventually all dogs, plus horses), the point for now is that no decent law abiding person would allow his dog to foul the grass!

    In August, Paul Griffiths was taken to court and fined 1,000 pounds for allowing his dog to foul grass outside his home in Bristol. Griffiths said he's innocent and his pet had only been urinating when she was spotted on camera.

    Brian Clements, a 79-year-old retired teacher from Clacton- on-Sea, south England, said the measures are "like using a sledge hammer to crack a nut.''

    "Wouldn't the Gestapo have loved all those little cameras,'' he said.

    Imagine, comparing loving and caring government bureaucrats to the Gestapo!

    The decent law-abiding citizens who want these cameras have nothing to fear!

    As to everyone else, what are you hiding? Only an anti-social misfit would fear law-abiding citizens!

    Those who don't like the cameras should simply stay inside their homes.

    ("Camera 655321 in Sector R has determined a suspicious lack of activity from a home with previously normal patterns. Recommend dispatching an officer for a standard health and welfare search.")

    If you think things are bad here now, be patient.

    posted by Eric at 11:56 AM | Comments (4)

    the road to serfdom is paved with "rights"

    In a remarkable statement (especially for a former constitutional law professor), Barack Obama said that health care is a right. Not ought to be a right. Is a right.

    For the reasons I explained in this post, health care is not a right. Certainly not a right in the way our country has always defined rights, for if there is an obligation for other people to pay for it, it becomes not a right but a duty, to the government, by other people -- duties to the government being the antithesis of rights.

    Bill Whittle wrote an excellent post explaining why there is no more "right" to health care than there is to wide screen televisions:

    [Barack Obama] said he thought it [health care] was a right. Well, if you accept that premise, I think you can ask some logical follow-up questions: Food is more important than health care. You die pretty quickly without food. Do we have a "right" to food in America? What about shelter? Do we have a "right" to housing? And if we do have a right to housing, what standard of housing do we have a right to? And if it is a right, due to all Americans, wouldn't that mean that no one should have to accept any housing, or health care, which is inferior to anyone else's... since it's a right?

    Do we have a right to be safe? Do we have a right to be comfortable? Do we have a right to wide-screen televisions? Where does this end?

    Ultimately, Whittle argues, it ends with our being slaves:
    But these new so-called "rights" are about the government -- who the Founders saw as the enemy -- giving us things: food, health care, education... And when we have a right to be given stuff that previously we had to work for, then there is no reason -- none -- to go and work for them. The goody bag has no bottom, except bankruptcy and ruin.

    Does that ring a little familiar these days? Because isn't the danger here that if you're offered something for nothing... you'll take it?

    Only it's not something for nothing. "Free" health-care costs us something precious, and no less precious for being invisible. Because there's a word for someone who has their food, housing and care provided for them... for people who owe their existence to someone else.

    And that word is "slaves."

    Whittle's conclusion seems to have touched a nerve, as he explains in this discussion of a post attacking him:
    ...the coward that wrote the Kos entry uses a pseudonym, because like all Marxists he hasn't the courage to put his name to what he believes. The Founding Fathers, on the other hand, put their names to documents that would have cost them their lives, had they lost. That is a fundamental issue of integrity, which both he and I understand very well, although from different sides.
    I read the Kos entry, and sure enough, the post insulting Bill Whittle is written by an anonymous leftie calling himself "AgnosticPrognosticator." He objects to the use of the word "slaves," because Barack Obama is African-American, so it's incendiary, and Bill Whittle is a dumb, despicable bigot:
    Barack Obama is the first African-American presidential candidate of a major American political party in the history of the United States. Bill Whittle knows this, unless he really is as dumb as he sounds. To indirectly call him a defender of slavery is despicable. For National Review Online to publish this incendiary garbage is, well, not surprising.
    It's typical for something like that to be anonymous. There's no accountability that way. When authorship of something is not acknowledged, it's as if there's really no one behind it. Shrill and vituperative anonymous posts then draw a chorus of even shriller and more vituperative anonymous comments, with no one really saying anything. Just pointless venting.

    People who stand behind what they say tend to be more careful as well as polite.

    UPDATE: My thanks to Sean Kinsell for linking this post in his discussion of health care -- which Sean has seen firsthand from the socialized medicine side:

    Having lived in Japan for twelve years and had several friends who (unlike me) work in health care, I had a lot of lively discussions about the relative merits of socialized medicine. What always drove me crazy was when people talked as if the money for health care weren't going to have to come from somewhere.
    Read it all.

    I will never understand where people get the idea that "the government" is a giant pot capable of bestowing unlimited funds. It reminds me of the way a college student might imagine that all expenses are magically covered by a blank check from mommy and daddy.

    What happens if the check bounces?

    posted by Eric at 11:27 PM | Comments (18)

    No rules for those who make them!

    As I've said before, I have never had a security clearance. Considering the problems in my life and some of the people I've known, it is highly doubtful that I could ever get one.

    Naturally, this inclines me to be somewhat unsympathetic to the security clearance mindset. Frankly, I have always found the security clearance people annoying. That's why I have tended to be dismissive of the argument advanced by people in those circles that were he an ordinary person instead of a candidate for president, Barack Obama could never get a security clearance:

    Ironically, Community Organizer Barack Obama would probably NOT qualify for a security clearance BASED ON THE CHOICES HE MADE THROUGHOUT HIS LIFE if he were a lowly STAFFER.

    His history of drug use would disqualify him. His association with domestic terrorists would disqualify him. Hell, even the community organizer's much discussed "difficulty" in paying back his student loans could conceivably justify denying a security clearance if they were so onerous as to constitute a severe financial hardship.

    This merits of this "two-tiered" system are debatable. Obviously, some of Congress' chief functions include oversight hearings and the review of judicial and executive branch appointments. Often, classified documents are reviewed by those with the appropriate clearances in the routine course of fulfilling these responsibilities. Having some Community Organizers receive info while other Community Organizers did not would could hamper these responsibilities.

    Then again, I doubt that when these rules were first developed anyone thought a terrorist-simp Community Organizer who belonged to a racist "nationalist" church and had a history of drug binges and taking on more debt than he could manage would ever have access to these documents anyway.

    OK, I don't have to bore the readers and list my possible disqualifications, because not only am I not running for president, I'm not even seeking a job as a congressional aide.

    Nor can I vouch for the accuracy of the claim that Obama could never get a clearance were he in a subordinate capacity, as I don't know anything about the security clearance field.

    But this highlights a double standard I find more annoying than the security clearance system: the people at the top are exempt.

    Few things could be more unfair. Little wonder the guys who've had to go through the process complain:

    We are witnessing an incredibly strange situation in which Obama can avoid a background check and get access to national security information, but the people he appoints to high-level government positions - if he becomes president - may be subject to an FBI probe. And the process of turning over this information to Obama, despite the lingering questions about his mysterious and controversial background, has already begun.

    If he becomes president, Obama will have instant access to all of our nation's most highly classified intelligence information. And the FBI won't dare tap Obama's phones to find out if the information is being shared with hostile foreign interests. Indeed, Obama will be picking the head of the FBI.
    Of course, their complaints can always be countered with the axiom that "life is unfair." I agree that it is, and the only thing I'd add to the saying is "and then you die." What could be more unfair than living a squeaky clean life and refraining from doing all those naughty things everyone else does and you've always wanted to do -- just so you get your frigging Security Clearance, only to croak? It's not merely unfair; it's an outrage.

    So while my contempt for such a system is unchanged, now that I've thought it over I have to sympathize with the people who point out that Obama couldn't get a security clearance if he tried to get one as a regular person in real life. (Honestly, I never put myself in their position before.)

    And after all, if he is elected, Barack Obama will be the one in charge of making the rules!

    Hmmm... Does that mean an end to the security clearance mentality? Shouldn't I be glad? No, because I think they'd just replace the old moralistic code with a new and worse one, most likely with new litmus tests based on politically correct forms of morality.

    But hey, I'd still be able complain about the unfairness, couldn't I? And while I'm complaining about unfair rules, I will never forget a lesson in life which was imparted to me by a ferocious authoritarian who believed in applying rules to me that he broke himself.

    Once when I caught him breaking his own rule, and I thought I had him dead to rights, so I pointed out his "rule." And what do you think he said?

    "Eric, who do think makes the rules?"

    Sometimes the truth itself is unfair.

    posted by Eric at 02:51 PM | Comments (8)

    Barack Obama could easily clear this up!

    Might Bill Ayers have ghost-written Barack Obama's "Dreams from My Father"?

    It's an intriguing question, and Jack Cashill offers a fascinating analysis. It's long, but here's an excerpt:

    To add a little science to the analysis, I identified two similar "nature" passages in Obama's and Ayers' respective memoirs, the first from Fugitive Days:
    "I picture the street coming alive, awakening from the fury of winter, stirred from the chilly spring night by cold glimmers of sunlight angling through the city."
    The second from Dreams:
    "Night now fell in midafternoon, especially when the snowstorms rolled in, boundless prairie storms that set the sky close to the ground, the city lights reflected against the clouds."

    These two sentences are alike in more than their poetic sense, their length and their gracefully layered structure. They tabulate nearly identically on the Flesch Reading Ease Score (FRES), something of a standard in the field.

    The "Fugitive Days" excerpt scores a 54 on reading ease and a 12th grade reading level. The "Dreams'" excerpt scores a 54.8 on reading ease and a 12th grade reading level. Scores can range from 0 to 121, so hitting a nearly exact score matters.

    A more reliable data-driven way to prove authorship goes under the rubric "cusum analysis" or QSUM. This analysis begins with the measurement of sentence length, a significant and telling variable. To compare the two books, I selected thirty-sentence sequences from Dreams and Fugitive Days, each of which relates the author's entry into the world of "community organizing."

    "Fugitive Days" averaged 23.13 words a sentence. "Dreams" averaged 23.36 words a sentence. By contrast, the memoir section of "Sucker Punch" averaged 15 words a sentence.

    Interestingly, the 30-sentence sequence that I pulled from Obama's conventional political tract, Audacity of Hope, averages more than 29 words a sentence and clocks in with a 9th grade reading level, three levels below the earlier cited passages from "Dreams" and "Fugitive Days." The differential in the Audacity numbers should not surprise. By the time it was published in 2006, Obama was a public figure of some wealth, one who could afford editors and ghost writers.

    (Via Roger L. Simon, a writer himself, who finds the Cashill analysis "jaw-dropping.")

    While the possibility of Ayers ghost-writing Obama's book certainly is astounding, there is nothing illegal (or even unethical) in using or hiring ghostwriters. Busy and successful people do it all the time, and if Obama had help from Ayers, there's no crime in that. But it would be tough to continue to paint him as just "a guy in the neighborhood."

    But speaking of the guy in the neighborhood, why would Ayers refer to Obama (a state legislator) as "a writer" in his book?

    In his 1997 book, A Kind and Just Parent, Bill Ayers walks the reader through his Hyde Park neighborhood and identifies the notable residents therein. Among them are Muhammad Ali, "Minister" Louis Farrakhan (of whom he writes fondly), "former mayor" Eugene Sawyer, "poets" Gwendolyn Brooks and Elizabeth Alexander, and "writer" Barack Obama.

    In 1997, Obama was an obscure state senator, a lawyer, and a law school instructor with one book under his belt that had debuted two years earlier to little acclaim and lesser sales. In terms of identity, he had more in common with mayor Sawyer than poet Brooks. The "writer" identification seems forced and purposefully so, a signal perhaps to those in the know of a persona in the making that Ayers had himself helped forge.

    It certainly does seem forced. Downright peculiar, I'd say. (Read the page in question here.) And especially if they barely knew each other, wouldn't Ayers have known Obama more as a state legislator -- whose career-launching event was held in his home -- than as a "writer"? Something does not make sense about that. (At the very least, it begs the question of whether Ayers and Obama knew each other well before 1995.)

    And something else does not make sense.

    In the New York Times account of the Obama book's background,

    Mr. Obama's story first surfaced publicly in February 1990, when he was elected as the first black president of The Harvard Law Review. An initial wire service report described him simply as a 28-year-old, second-year student from Hawaii who had "not ruled out a future in politics"; but in the days that followed, newspaper reporters grew interested and produced long, detailed profiles of Mr. Obama.

    The coverage prompted a call to him from Jane Dystel, a gravelly-voiced literary agent described by Peter Osnos, then the publisher of Times Books, as "a good journeyman with a hard edge." The home page of her firm's Web site currently features clients' best sellers including "Lies at the Altar: The Truth About Great Marriages." Ms. Dystel suggested Mr. Obama write a book proposal. Then she got him a contract with Poseidon Press, a now-defunct imprint of Simon & Schuster. When he missed his deadline, she got him another contract and a $40,000 advance from Times Books.

    Mr. Obama's original plan was to write a book about race relations. But, sitting down to write, he found his mind "pulled toward rockier shores." So the book became more personal -- the record of an interior journey, as he put it in the introduction, "a boy's search for his father, and through that a search for a workable meaning for his life as a black American."

    Mr. Obama was given an office to write in at the University of Chicago through a surprising connection. Douglas G. Baird, a professor who was head of the law school's appointments committee, had learned of Mr. Obama from Michael W. McConnell, a conservative constitutional scholar then at Chicago whom President Bush would later make a federal judge.

    Professor McConnell encountered Mr. Obama during the editing of an article he wrote for The Harvard Law Review, Professor Baird said recently. "He sent a note saying this person is really brilliant, we should have him on our radar screen," Professor Baird said. Professor Baird called Mr. Obama at Harvard and asked if he was interested in teaching.

    "I don't remember his exact words, but it was something to the effect that, 'Well, in fact, I want to write this book.' What he really wanted was the Virginia Woolf equivalent of a clean, well lighted room." So Professor Baird got him one, a small office near the law library, along with a law school fellowship that Professor Baird hoped might later lead to his full-time teaching.

    By the time Mr. Obama landed at Times Books, he had a partial manuscript. He required minimal editing, said Henry Ferris, his editor, who is now a vice president and executive editor at William Morrow. He simply needed guidance in paring and shaping the sections already written and keeping the rest from becoming too long. The writing, Mr. Ferris said, "is very much his own."

    The two worked mostly by telephone and by manuscripts sent by Federal Express between New York and Chicago. Mr. Obama, an inveterate journal writer who had published poems in a college literary magazine but had never attempted a book, struggled to finish. His half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, said he eventually retreated to Bali for several months with his wife, Michelle, "to find a peaceful sanctuary where there were no phones." He showed drafts to a few close relatives including his grandmother, of whom Ms. Soetoro-Ng said, "It probably made her a little nervous, having the family written about, just because you don't do that in Kansas."

    In the introduction, Mr. Obama acknowledged his use of pseudonyms, composite characters, approximated dialogue and events out of chronological order. He was writing at a time well before a recent series of publishing scandals involving fabrication in memoirs. "He was trying to be careful of people's feelings," said Deborah Baker, the editor on the first paperback edition of the book. "The fact is, it all had a sort of larger truth going on that you couldn't make up."

    That a literary agent would contact an unknown young law student with a book proposal struck Robert Stacy McCain as peculiar:
    A 28-year-old law student gets written up in the newspapers, then gets a call from a literary agent? She calls him?

    The agent then signs this 28-year-old nobody -- whose only credential as an author is student law journal stuff -- with Simon & Schuster. Hello? In what alternative universe does this happen?

    He misses his deadline, but that's OK, because he then gets another big contract with a $40,000 advance. At this point, Obama's story is reminding me of another popular book, The Peter Principle.

    But the real killer is how, having gotten a contract based on a proposal for a book about race relations, Obama pulls a bait-and-switch, and instead delivers ... a memoir.

    How did he do it? Beats me. For whatever reason, he had help in high places, and I think it's quite possible that he had help in the neighborhood. (Ayers was then a professor, editor and author with a number of published books.)

    Cashill concludes with a call for transparency:

    The Obama camp could put all such speculation to rest by producing some intermediary sign of impending greatness -- a school paper, an article, a notebook, his Columbia thesis, his LSAT scores -- but Obama guards these more zealously than Saddam did his nuclear secrets. And I suspect, at the end of the day, we will pay an equally high price for Obama's concealment as Saddam's.
    I believe in being fair, so once again, I say let's invoke the Sullivan standard of DNA testing.

    Barack Obama could easily clear this up.

    All he needs to do if provide access to the original manuscript, which can be checked for signs of Ayers DNA.

    posted by Eric at 01:15 PM | Comments (3)

    "Get control of their money and use it against them."

    In a CNN Commentary piece titled "Why Ayers case is risky for McCain-Palin," Roland Martin asks a rhetorical question about the late philanthropist who funded the Annenberg Challenge:

    ...never mind the fact that Ayers and Obama were involved in a multimillion-dollar education grant that was funded by a right-wing Republican, media magnate Walter Annenberg. Do you hear any of them castigating this late Republican pillar?
    It sounds like a good question, and I'm sure it will be asked mockingly by many on the left, but on closer examination, Walter Annenberg hardly appears to be an Ayers associate, on any level at all.

    Stanley Kurtz looked more closely at the actual role of Annenberg, and saw a familiar pattern:

    The Obama camp denies CAC's radicalism by pointing to the fact that this foundation was funded by Nixon Ambassador and Reagan friend, Walter Annenberg. Moderates and Republicans often support Annenberg activities, it's true. Yet the story of modern philanthropy is largely the story of moderate and conservative donors finding their funds "captured" by far more liberal, often radical, beneficiaries. CAC's story is a classic of the genre. Ayers and Obama guided CAC money to community organizers, like ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) and the Developing Communities Project (Part of the Gamaliel Foundation network), groups self-consciously working in the radical tradition of Saul Alinsky. Walter Annenberg's personal politics don't change that one iota.
    (Via Newsbusters.)

    Moreover, it appears that Walter Annenberg (by then an elderly billionaire who devoted the rest of his life to distributing huge sums to innumerable charities) had no dealings with Ayers; the proposal was presented to him by Brown University President Vartan Gregorian bundled with many others. Considering Annenberg's age (86) and his busy charitable agenda at the time, I hardly think he's worthy of castigation. The documents make clear that (assuming he approved the proposal personally), he was relying on Vartan Gregorian, and if he saw Ayers' name at all, it would have been on University of Illinois at Chicago letterhead as a professor of education. Sure, he was a conservative Republican (and Nixon's ambassador to England), but unless someone flagged Ayers' name and told him "That's the former Weather Underground guy!" I doubt very much that he ever had the slightest idea what was going on.

    If Walter Annenberg is worthy of "castigation," then so is the conservative Pew family whose charitable foundation has supported many a left wing group, including Tides and ACORN.

    Whether Ayers name has appeared on any Pew applications, who knows? But if it did, I hardly think it would turn its founder J. Howard Pew (who was, amazingly, a John Birch Society supporter) into some kind of pinko.

    The same reasoning would apply to the Woods Fund. In a PJM piece by Jennifer Rubin (which noted that "Ayers served on the Woods board for three years of Obama's tenure and remained on the board after Obama departed"), a commenter named Jack MacKenzie drew a parallel between Woods and Pew and cited a book on the subject of corrupted donor intent:

    The Woods Fund history reads exactly like the tragedy which befell J. Howard Pew.

    When you see or hear anything with Pew attached to it, now you know ... just as Frank and Nelle Woods had their vision corrupted and turned to the very opposite purposes they intended ...

    excerpted from Legacy and Betrayal, The Problem of Donor Intent, by Martin Morse Wooster. (Capital Research Center, 1998, 198 pages) ...

    ... Martin Morse Wooster points out in The Great Philanthropists & the Problem of "Donor Intent," from the creation of the first large charitable foundations early in this century, something very strange occurred: professional bureaucrats gradually took over the foundations and perverted their purposes. Thus the Rockefeller Foundation, set up by the billionaire Baptist businessman, soon became a major source of funds for "progressive" (i.e., anti-business, anti-religious) causes.

    This happened even in many cases where the person who created and funded the foundation went to great lengths to see that it focused on promoting free enterprise. Consider the case of J. Howard Pew of Sun Oil. During his lifetime, he was a tireless champion of free markets and individualism. In 1957, he created the J. Howard Pew Freedom Trust, with instructions that it use its funds to "acquaint the American people" with "the evils of bureaucracy," "the values of the free market," and "the paralyzing effects of government controls on lives and activities of people," to "inform our people of the struggle, persecution, hardship, sacrifice and death by which freedom of the individual was won" and to educate them about how "Socialism, Welfare statism [and] Fascism . . . are but devices by which government seizes the ownership or control of the tools of production." In accordance with those wishes, the Freedom Trust funded mostly libertarian and conservative activities, as long as its board consisted of Pew family members and friends.

    .... end quote.

    NOTE: While the quote is accurate, the commenter made a mistake in his source. The above quote comes from R.W. Bradford's review of Wooster's The Great Philanthropists & the Problem of "Donor Intent".

    The PJM commenter goes on to speculate that this is part of a radical strategy to get the enemy's money:

    The number of trusts and charitable funds established with goodwill and bedrock American values that later were found to be inhabited by their very opposites, indeed, their enemies ... is neither a natural entropy nor curious social drifting. It was a targeted, specific, planned silent takeover of "other people's money" in order to aid, abet and further the Marxist assault on America's foundations. It was asymetric guerilla war.

    Guerilla warfare strategizes using an enemy's strengths against him. Use the target's resources, use his ideas, and most especially turn his institutions against him. It's all very quiet, very social, and very hard to guard against. And our enemy has been supremely successful in getting control of billions and billions of dollars in 501(c)3 wealth with different rules and different oversight in disclosure, transparency, and right intent. Of note, not just that anytime you see Pew mentioned you know now that you're watching the output of a corrupt organization that purloined J Howard Pews fortune to viciously assault the very thing his money was supposed to defend ... you can also see the context now of how effective Lyndon Johnson was in one master stroke eliminating America's churches from the political battlefield by establishing those clauses in Title 26, the IRS Code, which threaten a church if they speak out politically. Silence the pulpit, steal all the money. Very effective.

    None of this is by accident.

    Silence your critics.

    Get control of their money and use it against them.

    It didn't "just happen". It was strategic, and tactical and Americans just couldn't believe there were people amongst us so vile they could do such things. Yet, here we are. And I'm sure it tickles Obama to know he rode Frank Woods' hard earned money to the prominence he enjoys now, not having earned one nickel of any of the wealth that brought him glory and fame.

    J Howard Pew is spinning in his grave.

    Whether he's spinning in his grave (or whether Walter Annenberg is spinning in his), I don't think it's fair to castigate elderly or deceased billionaires for the fact that clever activists were able to glom onto some of their wealth.

    Might as well castigate the taxpayers (including yours truly) for funding ACORN.

    There's a reason guys like Ayers are able to get the once-conservative money that enables Hugo Chavez-style educational projects in the United States. They are more willing than anyone else to write these endless grant applications and then sit on the boards. Activists are tireless, and the rest of us are tired. I know I am. (It's all I can do to find a couple of hours to write an occasional post on the subject; if I had to stay up all night at leftist board meetings, I'd need meds.)

    Looking at the overall picture, it strikes me that blaming Walter Annenberg is a form of blaming the victim.

    posted by Eric at 11:10 AM | Comments (19)

    Too Risque - Needs A Coverup

    It seems that Mr. Obama is not proud of his friends. It also looks like McCain is going after this with everything he has got.
    I suspect this is not the end of this subject, either. I'd expect at least one more ad featuring John Murtaugh, the son of the judge whose home got bombed by the Weather Underground. Murtaugh, who is running for the New York state legislature, has already released a statement through the McCain campaign attacking Obama for associating with an unrepentant leader of the terrorist organization that tried to kill him as a boy. I'm certain he will happily participate in an ad to put a human face on Ayers' terrorism.
    Want to learn more about Obama's relationship with Ayres? I have links:

    Axelrod Makes An Offering
    Ayers And Obama Care About Children
    Barney Frank Frankly Not Frank
    Corruption Eruption
    On The Verge
    Where There Is Truth There Is Fire
    So Many Choices
    A Little Exchange

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 08:03 AM | Comments (9)

    A New Sigma

    My friend Tom Ligon has just been inducted into the Sigma Society. Here is what Sigma does:

    Many SIGMA members are Ph.D.-level scientists and engineers; all are science fiction writers who have spent careers applying their technical and literary talents in exploring the future of science, technology, society and cultures. SIGMA provides a significant pool of talent for volunteer pro bono consultation with the Federal government and other organizations which need the imagination that only speculative writers can provide.

    SIGMA members have each committed to consult with Federal authorities for taskings on vital national issues for several days, for travel and lodging expenses only. For extended effort or research, compensation may be based on individual contracts, as appropriate. Current Federal employees may be available on detailee status.

    All SIGMA activities are strictly voluntary, and any member can decline any proposed tasking or meeting for any reason, with no further explanation.

    Tom was instrumental in starting the fusor movement (home made experimental fusion reactors) due to the encouragement of Dr. Robert Bussard. He also worked with Dr. Bussard on the Polywell Fusion power reactor (no net power though at the size of current experiments). You can read about that effort at: World's Simplest Fusion Reactor Revisited. There are links on the sidebar to the Fusor Consortium and lots of other good stuff.

    You can also read a science fiction story Tom wrote on fusion which had its world premiere here in July of 2007. Getting Tuned Up.

    Congrats Tom! And with any kind of luck you can help us to deserve the best future we can get, because if we don't deserve it the getting will be much harder.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 01:34 AM

    What Makes Him Qualified?

    I have just come across a comment on Obama's questionable associates that explains why Mr. Obama is the most qualified to be President.

    All of these questionable associates are what makes Obama qualified. If you can stay clean and still get the goals of your constituency met then you are headed for leadership.
    I guess McCain does not have enough questionable associates in his background to become President.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 01:20 AM | Comments (2)

    Time to replay a golden oldie

    This campaign has gone on so long I'm already getting nostalgic.

    No, seriously, I was just thinking back. Only six months back, but it seems like an eternity.

    Anyway it occurred to me that if Hillary Clinton could bring up Ayers like this in April, then why not John McCain in October?

    I mean, it's not as if there's a sexist double standard or anything.

    For that matter, why not run it as a campaign ad? They could always beef it up a bit by adding a few of Sarah Palin's remarks.

    UPDATE: Yes, folks, back in April, Ayers was in the air! While we're still walking down memory lane, here's Andrew McCarthy:


    With this as background, is it really all that startling that Sen. Obama enjoys a friendly relationship with Bill Ayers and his wife, Bernadine Dohrn, a pair of terrorists?

    I want to be clear here: Not terrorist sympathizers. Terrorists.

    The mainstream media, in their zeal to elect a Democrat, are assiduously airbrushing Ayers: "an aging lefty with a foolish past," as the Chicago Sun-Times has so delicately put it. In fact, it is the press that is rife with foolish, aging lefties. Ayers, by contrast, is an unapologetic terrorist with a savage past -- one who beat the system he so reviles when, after his years of fugitivity, terrorism charges were dropped due to government surveillance violations. He's "guilty as sin," by his own concession, but "free as a bird."

    Ayers didn't just carry a sign outside the Pentagon on May 19, 1972. He bombed it. As his memoir gleefully recalled, "Everything was absolutely ideal on the day I bombed the Pentagon. The sky was blue. The birds were singing. And the bastards were finally going to get what was coming to them."

    Whether Pentagon bombing day was more or less ideal than other days, when he, Dohrn and their Weathermen comrades bombed the U.S. Capitol, the State Department, and sundry banks, police stations and courthouses, Ayers does not say. But on each occasion, there was surely optimism that the bastards were finally going to get what was coming to them.

    There were lots of bombs. There is no remorse. "I don't regret setting bombs," he told the New York Times in 2001, sorry only that he and the others "didn't do enough." Like what? We can't be sure, though National Review Online's Jonah Goldberg recounts Ayers's sentiments back in the day: "Kill all the rich people. Break up their cars and apartments. Bring the revolution home, kill your parents, that's where it's really at."

    Ayers and Dohrn have done the actual dirty work of terror, while Jeremiah Wright draws the line at waving pom-poms. But the prism through which they assay the dirty work is precisely the same: America has it coming.

    And here we are six months later, and America still has it coming!

    (At least we were warned.)

    posted by Eric at 06:45 PM | Comments (6)

    Save Michigan

    Our Country Deserves Better PAC is trying to raise $500K in 48 hours to try to win Michigan for McCain. Click on the link to contribute. Or click on this link to watch their videos. It also has a button for contributions. They are about 1/2 way through and have already raised $257,116.42 so they say.

    I have no information about these folks, but getting a win in Michigan seems like a good idea.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 03:23 PM | Comments (1)

    "If you want the economy to recover, vote for Obama."

    Psychologist Dr. Helen Smith has written two posts about the psychological aspects of the economic crisis, and her thoughts about how they might be manipulated by Democrats who hope to win the election. Her first post is here (see my similar thoughts on the subject), and in her most recent post, she has cited Steve Sturm, who "advises" voting for Obama:

    ...once Obama takes office, having pushed Obama on us, the MSM needs to 'prove' to us that Obama was the right choice, and what better way to kick start the economy than by running lots of stories about how the economy has started to turn around since his inauguration? We'll start to hear stories about pockets of recovery, how this sector or this area is doing better than they were just a few months ago. And these stories will lead to more stories and more consumer and business optimism, all of which will lead to stock prices (a leading indicator of economic health) starting to rise, businesses starting to add employees and consumers starting to venture out and start spending again.... and presto, our economy will be humming again and all will be right in America.... because, and only because, we were smart enough to have voted for Obama.

    Of course, if we go and elect McCain, boy oh boy, will we be in for a world of hurt. We will have proven that we're a bunch of racist stupid pond scum (as ipso facto evidenced by our not for Obama). We'll need to be shown that we made a terrible, terrible mistake. The MSM will make us pay. There is nothing worse than a woman scorned or a liberal whose candidate has just been denied the office and power they feel they were born to hold. They will make us pay. There is no way they will let the economy recover with a McCain in office. They will double their efforts to drive the economy down.

    So America, the choice is simple. If you want the economy to recover, vote for Obama. If you want four more years of misery and layoffs and falling home prices, vote for McCain.

    I think that's just drippingly brilliant. (Of course, darkly paradoxical sarcasm and irony turn me on, so I'm biased.)

    Dr. Helen concludes with some words of caution, though:

    ...Hopefully, after that it will be resolved with the media switch to world peace, economic prosperity and happiness for all (except Republicans) after Obama gets in. But there is also a chance that once started, people's economic fears may take a while to die down and the problems that were exacerbated by the media will take some time to resolve, or there is always the chance that the doom and gloom stories will backfire and those who would have invested and spent will still be wary to do so.
    Whether I should feel optimistic or pessimistic is beyond the call of duty, above my pay grade, and just plain not my job.

    posted by Eric at 12:49 PM | Comments (5)

    "Oh my God! A real Joe Sixpack in our midst!"

    I am probably not what most people would consider "Joe Six-pack." Nor, I suspect, are most of the readers of this blog. The term usually denotes the kind of guy who's unlikely to be reading blogs.

    According to the effete Wikipedia, "Joe Sixpack" is a sub-category of "John Q. Public," and a lower one at that:

    Roughly equivalent, but more pejorative, are the names Joe Six-pack, Joe Blow, and Joe Schmoe, implying a lower-class citizen (from the Yiddish schmo: simpleton, or possibly Hebrew sh'mo: (what's)-his-name).
    This is not to suggest I have anything against the Joe Sixpacks of this world; because of my fiercely anti-elitist streak I probably have more Joe Sixpack tendencies than the average person with my education and background. Instead of looking down on what should properly be called "the common man," I'm more likely to look down on the people who look down on him.

    To put it more succinctly, I'm not a Joe Sixpack, but I can't stand Joe Sixpack bashers. One of the reasons I opposed John Kerry was that I perceived him as looking down on the common man:

    By behaving like an arrogant snot, Kerry shows that he is out of touch with ordinary people, lacks the common touch, and may in fact be a genuinely mean-spirited man. When this is added to his response to the question about his foreign endorsements ("None of your business!"), I think it is fair to ask whether he has the temperament that should be expected of any public servant, especially a president.

    My father has been dead for many years, but I'll never forget what he told me about evaluating powerful people. Watch how they treat the little people, he said; like the ordinary workers, servants, waiters, secretaries, etc. The kind of guy who's rude to a waiter or who yells at his secretary is the same sort who'll stab you in the back, welch on a deal, and treat you like shit if he ever has power over you.

    The same applies to Barack Obama. I do not refer solely to his condescending remark about bitter people who cling to guns and religion; well before that I had heard that he had been rude and imperious to waiters in a Chicago restaurant -- something the bitter gun clingers remark tended to confirm.

    Anyway, "Joe Sixpack" is not an exact term. Neither restaurant waiters nor (in Kerry's case) Secret Service men would be considered to fall into the category, but what they do have in common is that they have a duty to serve people who are above them, and in that sense they occupy a lower niche than those who are our "rulers." This is not to say that all of the people in government are like that; some of them don't think they are or should be "rulers." Americans are not subjects, and are supposed to be a "ruled" people. This may be why there's considerable distrust of elitists (whom I'm defining here as a large group of people who believe they have a right to rule, but who conceal what amounts to a fervent belief in the idea that some people have a right to rule, and that it should be them.) To these elitists, Joe Sixpack is seen as embodiment of why they should rule.

    So in what has become a tediously familiar game, the John Kerrys, Joe Bidens, and Barack Obamas of this world do their best to put on a Joe Sixpack act.

    While this is considered normal, Sarah Palin may have carried things too far by introducing an additional element: authenticity. This may be why Joe Biden appeared so undone at the debate. It wasn't so much his debating skills that were at risk, so much as it was his carefully contrived "Joe Sixpack" ethos. (Never mind the fact that he smeared a real Joe Sixpack by falsely accusing him of drunken driving; he thinks he has a right to be Joe Sixpack, and who the hell is this Alaskan female upstart?)

    While he tried not to take sides on Sixpack authenticity issues, a Forbes writer actually called the Biden-Palin debate "Joe Six-Pack Biden vs. Sarah Six-Pack Palin":

    In the first thirty minutes of the debate, Palin and Biden each made efforts to connect with everyday voters. Biden referred to his roots in a small town in Pennsylvania (he grew up in Scranton) and to the connections he has made among neighbors and constituents in Delaware. Palin went a step further, talking about friends and family in Alaska, regularly looking directly into the camera, and at one point talking about "the middle class of America, which is where Todd and I have been all our lives."

    Palin spoke with disdain about "East-coast politicians" and was more likely to use every-day language, saying, "I will tell America straight up." In speaking about tax cuts that would help the private sector, Palin talked about the benefits to "our families."

    Biden veered more often to discussion of Senate legislative procedures, but redeemed himself in talking about the slowing economy when he named a friend in Delaware he met in line at the gas station. Biden said his friend can't afford to fill his tank anymore so has no idea what a full tank might cost.

    What worries the non Six-Packs who pretend who pretend to be Six-Packs is the creepy feeling along the lines of "Oh my God! A real Joe Sixpack in our midst!"

    To their mind, a woman like Sarah Palin is supposed to be someone in the audience. Someone to look down to and talk down to. Someone who can be quickly ignored or erased by the spin machine if she raises troublesome questions, but who should never be allowed a place at their table, much less in a debate. For her to have held her own against one of their own must have been intolerable.

    In fact, it was so intolerable that one member of Congress has declared war on "Joe Six-Pack" himself, retaliating with the heaviest artillery in politics today -- the shrill battle cry of "RACISM!":

    "Some may say their true colors are showing," said Representative Yvette Clarke of New York. "Others may say they're just not being thoughtful. But certainly a lot of the language I've heard I consider to be incendiary. I believe it is meant to generate a certain sentiment within their base that engenders fear and certainly appeals to a group of people within our society who would pursue this along racial lines.

    "It's very clear," she said.

    Ms. Clarke also found a racial subtext in Ms. Palin's repeated appeals to "Joe Six-Pack" and "hockey moms."

    "Who exactly is Joe Six-Pack and who are these hockey moms? That's what I'd like to know," she said. "Is that supposed to be terminology that is of common ground to all Americans? I don't find that. It leaves a lot of people out."

    Wow. While I'm utterly stunned by the sheer gall of that statement by a public official (especially what it reveals about the insincerity of the Democratic Party's claim to represent the common man), the identity politics implications are even more fascinating.

    The whole idea of Joe Sixpack (or "Six Pack" or "Six-pack," whatever) is that he's the little guy. The forgotten man. By very definition, a member of the excluded class. Yet with one fell rhetorical swoop, the excluded from the elite has become a member of the elite, and an excluder! A racist! Someone whose vote we do not need or want.

    So remarkable it's breathtaking.

    Except, because of the way identity politics works, it really shouldn't be surprising. The ruling classes who are steeped in the tyranny of identity politics can be expected to see Joe Six-Pack the same way they see any other identifiable group. Not as thinking citizens, but as subjects to be ruled. And if they get out of line, they must be excoriated in identity politics terms. The way this works in practice is that if Joe Six Pack knows his place and agrees with the Democratic Party, he still gets to remain in his niche as the forgotten little guy that they pretend to love.

    But God pity him and his guns if he displays the slightest sign of deviation. Then his rulers will let it be known what they really think of the little guy they pretend to love.


    I realize that's old and from the "Barack Six-Pack versus Hillary Six-Pack" days, but I thought I'd use it again.

    The dirty little secret (more properly, I should say, the "hidden subtext") is that they hate Joe Sixpack.

    MORE: In the comments, Larry Sheldon asks:

    " they hate Joe Sixpack."

    Who is "they"?

    I've written at least four posts on the subject in an attempt to define the "they."

    In her latest column, I think Camille Paglia touched on the same subject:

    Yes, both Todd and Sarah Palin, whom most people in the U.S. and abroad had never even heard of until six weeks ago, have emerged as powerful new symbols of a revived contemporary feminism. That the macho Todd, with his champion athleticism and working-class cred, can so amiably cradle babies and care for children is a huge step forward in American sexual symbolism.

    Although nothing will sway my vote for Obama, I continue to enjoy Sarah Palin's performance on the national stage. During her vice-presidential debate last week with Joe Biden (whose conspiratorial smiles with moderator Gwen Ifill were outrageous and condescending toward his opponent), I laughed heartily at Palin's digs and slams and marveled at the way she slowly took over the entire event. I was sorry when it ended! But Biden wasn't -- judging by his Gore-like sighs and his slow sinking like a punctured blimp. Of course Biden won on points, but TV (a visual medium) never cares about that.

    The mountain of rubbish poured out about Palin over the past month would rival Everest. What a disgrace for our jabbering army of liberal journalists and commentators, too many of whom behaved like snippy jackasses. The bourgeois conventionalism and rank snobbery of these alleged humanitarians stank up the place. As for Palin's brutally edited interviews with Charlie Gibson and that viper, Katie Couric, don't we all know that the best bits ended up on the cutting-room floor? Something has gone seriously wrong with Democratic ideology, which seems to have become a candied set of holier-than-thou bromides attached like tutti-frutti to a quivering green Jell-O mold of adolescent sentimentality.

    At the risk of oversimplifying, if Joe Sixpack can be a conservative macho feminist househusband, little wonder the activist ideologues are worried.

    I'd be worried too!

    posted by Eric at 10:03 AM | Comments (12)

    The Senator Is a Socialist

    No Quarter has a fascinating article on Obama's past. It runs down in detail Senator Obama's socialist past.

    Did you know that Barack Obama was affiliated with a leading national socialist party? Barack Obama didn't include in his 2008 resume that he entered politics in the mid-1990s endorsed by Chicago's leading socialists. This just keeps getting better and better. Barack Obama was an active participant in the 1990s, and a direct political beneficiary, of the Chicago New Party and, importantly, the Chicago DSA, a group of socialists affiliated with the Democratic Socialists of America.
    The Democratic Socialists of America are the U.S. affiliates of the Socialist International. So what did the Socialists have to say about Mr. Obama in his race against Bobby Rush?
    Barak Obama is serving only his second term in the Illinois State Senate so he might be fairly charged with ambition, but the same might have be said of Bobby Rush when he ran against Congressman Charles Hayes. Obama also has put in time at the grass roots, working for five years as a community organizer in Harlem and in Chicago. When Obama participated in a 1996 UofC YDS Townhall Meeting on Economic Insecurity, much of what he had to say was well within the mainstream of European social democracy.
    The UofC in question is the University of Chicago. And "well within the mainstream of European social democracy"? No wonder he is so popular in Europe.

    So what is the conclusion to the No Quarter piece?

    Barack Obama has a long-term and sustained relationship with the Chicago DSA, an affiliate of the Democratic Socialists of America, and with the Chicago New Party. He participated in multiple membership meetings and in DSA-sponsored events, repeatedly sought their endorsement. This does not answer all questions about Barack Obama's past relationships with multiple socialist groups. What the media need to find out is this: Has Barack Obama broken his ties with them. If so, when and why?
    The No Quarter piece has tons more details and lots of links. You should read the whole thing.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 08:25 AM | Comments (2)

    I'm not sure I'm live blogging (and I'm not sure this is a debate)

    While this really can't be called live-blogging the debate (or the Town Hall meeting), I thought I'd weigh in with a few thoughts while watching it.

    I have been watching Barack Obama mischaracterize the economic problem as being caused by deregulation, and I wish McCain would come back at him harder. Unfortunately, he's limited by the style

    As Stephen Green (who's drunk blogging) put it:

    6:37PM Before I get too looped for real analysis, let's talk about bondage. Sort of. McCain's in a box tonight. He has to attack, but the town hall format isn't very friendly to that sort of thing. That's a problem for him.
    Yes, I can already see that it is.

    He needs to come out swinging as he did last time, but he can't.

    Ann Althouse thinks the "2 men seem mainly to be recycling their old talking points," and that seems right.

    Like it or not, though, these debates are not really about issues. They just pretend to be about issues. But they're really performances, somewhat like boxing fights -- the idea being that the best debater wins.

    Anyone who votes based on a debate might as well be voting on who can do more pushups.

    9:35 Hey! Just as I said that, I heard McCain characterize trying to discern Obama's position as being like nailing jello to the wall!


    9:37 McCain's quip got Obama rattled, but the format wouldn't let him come back to the tax issue. Now he is, and I'm getting really sick of hearing him repeat his misleading claims.

    I don't like CNN's little Ohio undecided meter which always goes way up for Obama and way down for McCain, so I switched to FOx, which has a split screen, and no meter.

    9:55 Stephen Green also noticed that McCain seems to be getting to Obama.

    They're haggling over health care, and I've heard it all before.

    9:59 Obama stated that McCain thinks deregulation is the answer for everything!

    Well, I'm already voting for McCain, thanks. But where's his proof of that?

    10:01 McCain just slammed Obama as not understanding national security.

    (I wish he'd say something about befriending those who wanted to murder American NCOs...)

    Here's The Corner's Michael Graham:

    I don't think pit bulls, with or without lipstick, can save this slow-moving chat show.

    I thought I'd check in with Coco, who's sitting in front of the television

    Whether she can save things or not, I don't know, but here's how she looks:


    10:17 McCain just got in a real zinger about how his hero Theodore Roosevelt said "Speak softly and carry w abig stick," while Obama talks loudly.

    This led to an angry retort by Obama about McCain singing "Bomb Bomb Iran!"

    In a followup, McCain pointed out he was joking with a veteran, but he knows what to do and understands the issues, doesn't want to broadcast them. Says (quite credibly) that he will get bid Laden but won't talk about how.

    McCain says Obama will not admit he's wrong about Iraq.

    10:20 If you want fast fingers than mine, Glenn Reynolds has a list of live bloggers.

    10:27 Iranian nukes. McCain says we can't allow it, and slams Obama again for advocating unconditional talks. Obama says we have to try talks anyway, but this time he doesn't mention Kissinger.

    10:31 Obama concludes by talking about his modest background, his great education, praises the American dream, but says it's diminishing, so we need "fundamental change."

    McCain concludes by talking about his lifetime of service to the country, what it's like to be down, and have others pick you up, which is the American way.

    "Times are tough, we need a steady hand at the tiller."

    MORE: Drudge reacts, with this link:


    MORE: McCain is winning Glenn Reynolds poll by a huge margin.

    Glenn also observed that Obama appeared to be "having fun," while "McCain looks like he's already bored with the whole thing." They both took turns looking annoyed, too.

    Perhaps it was the format. Glenn had to rub in in with "Hey, McCain, you asked for ten of these!" But surely that was just campaign hyperbole.

    Or is "campaign hyperbole" an oxymoron?

    MORE: There's a lot of post-debate talk that McCain did better on the economy than expected, and Obama did better on defense and foreign policy than expected. If that's true, then McCain should have the overall advantage, as economic issues normally favor Democrats.

    Overall, while the debate was boring (especially because of the format), I think McCain did especially well on the close, and I think he won on the economy and on foreign policy.

    Obama's prattle about stopping Rwanda genocide was so typical of what irritates me about the man's glib, meaningless platitudes. From CNN's transcript:

    If we could've stopped Rwanda, surely, if we had the ability, that would be something that we would have to strongly consider and act.
    We could have, we had the ability and we did nothing. I wonder what he was saying at the time Clinton and the UN did nothing.

    MORE: I realize that Rwanda is old history, but it just so happens that Susan Rice and Anthony Lake are both key Obama foreign policy advisors.

    During the Clinton years, both were leading advocates of doing nothing in Rwanda.

    posted by Eric at 09:19 PM | Comments (10)

    Some things are worse than terrorism

    If this doesn't make Barack Obama lose the endorsement of the Humane Society of the United States, I don't know what will:

    Senator Barack Obama, recently taking more criticism for his associations with unrepentant terrorist William Ayers and racist preacher Jeremiah Wright, has now been found to have yet another questionable associate: Blogger and brutal killer of puppies Glenn Reynolds.

    [NOTE: Gruesome photo omitted in the interest of decency and decorum.]

    Reynolds is a blogger, a type of writer who slanders others on the internet while wearing sleeping garments. Even more disturbingly, it's well documented that to keep up the energy to "blog" all day long, Glenn Reynolds puts live puppies into blenders and consumes the results. This has earned him the name "puppy blender" from fellow bloggers.

    (Via the unrepentant puppy blender himself, who not only doesn't deny it, but who no doubt wishes he'd blended more!)

    Naturally, the Obama campaign is trying to minimize or deny what Reynolds freely admits:

    The exact association between Glenn Reynolds and Barack Obama is unclear, but when Reynolds was asked whether the two had associated in past, he answered, "Indeed." The Obama campaign was less forthcoming, finally claiming that Obama barely knows Reynolds and has simply had drinks with him on a few occasions. When asked what those drinks were, his campaign said, "It is not reasonable to expect Barack Obama to know the ingredients of everything he imbibes." They also denied that Obama knew Reynolds puts puppies in blenders, even though this is a well known fact on the internet.

    Governor Sarah Palin was quick to seize on this controversy, saying at a campaign stop, "Glenn Reynolds is a horrible man....

    Little wonder she said that. Saran Palin happens to be founding member of the Wasilla chapter of PeTA.

    The animal rights people better re-think this one -- especially the Humane Society of the United States.

    So far, PETA has had the good sense not to endorse an admitted, unabashed chicken eater. I think this bloody blender business clinches it.

    As the saying goes, a chicken is a puppy is a fetus is a blogger!

    MORE: I don't know whether the McCain team is doing this as a way of striking back, but GayPatriot is puppy-blogging the debate! (Via Stephen Green, who's drinking plain old alcohol.)

    posted by Eric at 09:03 PM

    Axelrod Makes An Offering

    David Axelrod is having a hard time explaining when Mr. Obama first found out William "Bomber Bill" Ayers was a domestic terrorist.

    So when did Obama find out that Ayers had been a member of an organization the FBI called a "domestic terrorist" group, and had been for years a fugitive from the law?

    "I don't know," Axelrod said. "I mean it was sometime after their first meetings. And you know, he became aware of it. I don't know the exact moment."

    He wasn't aware of who "Ayers" was?

    "Yeah," Axelrod said, "I mean, the fact is that like a lot of people who, you know, didn't live through that era -- particularly those who didn't live though that era in Chicago -- It just wasn't. I mean, when he came to Chicago, Ayers was advising Mayor Daley on school reform issues and that was his profile, was that he was an expert on education. "

    So did he know who Ayers was when he went to his home in 1995?

    "My understanding is that when he went there he did not," Axelrod said.

    Reporters noticed that clause -- "my understanding is" -- and pressed further. Did Axelrod ask Obama if he knew Ayers' history when he first met with him?

    "Yes," Axelrod said.

    And he did not know?

    "Yes," Axelrod said. "That's what I've said - I answered the question when I was asked the other day. But no one's suggesting that he never knew. I mean that's not - we weren't offering that.

    To paraphrase Groucho Marx "Those are my answers, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." But they are going to be a hard sell. Because about four to eight months before Obama's political debut Ayers was working with Obama on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge.
    It can't be the meet-and-greet fundraiser where they were "introduced" (As if - per The Politico, the fundraiser was in the second half of 1995; Obama was already chair of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, which was kicked off in January 1995).
    So Obama is rather incurious about the backgrounds of his associates. I suppose he is not the Bill Ayers he once knew after he found out who he really was.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 04:47 PM | Comments (2)

    Take a real bite out of crime -- the Piranha way!

    I probably complain too much about runaway federal regulations, but this time, I'm going to do more than complain. I'm going to offer praise for a solution.

    We are now so regulated that nearly every one of us has become a federal criminal of one sort or another. While most Americans won't wind up in the the federal penitentiary, it is not for lack of laws (which are cranked out by Congress on a daily basis like shit through a goose), but only because most of us manage to keep a low enough profile to avoid scrutiny by some eager-beaver federal prosecutor, a vengeful bureaucrat, or an activist group with an axe to grind.

    Anyone who doubts the metastasizing nature of the federal regulation should read these statistics (in a discussion of how what used to be ordinary negligence has in many instances become a federal crime):

    ...Congress has exercised precious little self-restraint in expanding the reach of federal criminal laws to new regulatory areas.

    Estimates of the current size of the body of federal criminal law vary. It has been reported that the Congressional Research Service cannot even count the current number of federal crimes.3 The American Bar Association reported in 1998 that there were in excess of 3,300 separate criminal offenses.4 More than 40 percent of these laws have been enacted in just the past 30 years, as part of the growth of the regulatory state.5 And these laws are scattered in over 50 titles of the United States Code, encompassing roughly 27,000 pages.6 Worse yet, the statutory code sections often incorporate, by reference, the provisions and sanctions of administrative regulations promulgated by various regulatory agencies under congressional authorization. Estimates of how many such regulations exist are even less well settled, but the ABA thinks there are "[n]early 10,000."7 The appetite for more federal criminal laws is driven principally by political consideration,8 and not by any consideration of whether particular laws are intrinsically federal in nature.9 The growth of "public welfare" offenses will, therefore, be restrained (if at all) only by a public or a court system educated as to the need for restraint.

    That was in 2003, and since then I can only imagine how many laws have been added.

    Naturally, the more offenses there are, the more criminals there will be. For some reason, it never occurs to legislators that by passing more laws making more and more things illegal, they are by definition increasing crime.

    Anyway, that's the problem, and but for something I saw earlier on PJTV, this post would have just been another one of my pointless rants.

    But in today's Bill Whittle Report at PJTV, I was stunned to see a discussion of an idea that's similar to one I've had for years: why not run for office on a platform not to create more legislation, but to do precisely the opposite?

    Whittle proposes a new party called the Piranha Party, with the following simple platform:


    Instead, they'll work to undo the kind of crap listed above.
    No reelection, no endless campaigning, no fundraising. After serving for a single term, candidates will return to the real world from whence they came.
    Each Piranha candidate will provide a presskit showing the candidate's history of voluntary cannibalism and slow poisoning of orphans, thus freeing up candidates from the hassle of worrying about the usual gotcha games over whether they've ever consumed unapproved substances, improperly filled out a government form, thrown away batteries, etc.

    I kid you not!


    It's hard not to be cheered up by this. It's wonderful idea whose time has come.

    posted by Eric at 03:34 PM | Comments (2)

    Bill Ayers Was Just A Guy In The Hood

    About 6 1/2 minutes.

    posted by Simon at 01:41 PM

    So why bother with the debate?

    The election is over, says Howard Wolfson. It's over because the economy is more important than Bill Ayers, and therefore, what Wolfson calls "swiftboat tactics" won't work.

    While I often wish the election were over so I could blog about other things, Wolfson's simplistic dichotomy rests on two major assumptions:

  • 1. that the current economic mess was caused by (as Wolfson argues) "the Republican mania for deregulation and slavish devotion to totally unfettered markets."
  • 2. That raising legitimate questions about Obama's connections to an unrepentent terrorist (I should say "terrorists" in the plural, because Bernardine Dorhn is being systematically overlooked) constitute "swiftboating."
  • First, the idea that "Republican deregulation" caused the current problem is so wrong it's mind-boggling.

    For those who want to think about these things, economist Greg Mankiw links former Washington Post and Economist editor Sebastian Mallaby who debunks the "deregulation" meme:

    The key financiers in this game were not the mortgage lenders, the ratings agencies or the investment banks that created those now infamous mortgage securities. In different ways, these players were all peddling financial snake oil, but as Columbia University's Charles Calomiris observes, there will always be snake-oil salesmen. Rather, the key financiers were the ones who bought the toxic mortgage products. If they hadn't been willing to buy snake oil, nobody would have been peddling it.

    Who were the purchasers? They were by no means unregulated. U.S. investment banks, regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission, bought piles of toxic waste. U.S. commercial banks, regulated by several agencies, including the Fed, also devoured large quantities. European banks, which faced a different and supposedly more up-to-date supervisory scheme, turn out to have been just as rash. By contrast, lightly regulated hedge funds resisted buying toxic waste for the most part -- though they are now vulnerable to the broader credit crunch because they operate with borrowed money.

    If that doesn't convince you that deregulation is the wrong scapegoat, consider this: The appetite for toxic mortgages was fueled by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the super-regulated housing finance companies. Calomiris calculates that Fannie and Freddie bought more than a third of the $3 trillion in junk mortgages created during the bubble and that they did so because heavy government oversight obliged them to push money toward marginal home purchasers. There's a vigorous argument about whether Calomiris's number is too high. But everyone concedes that Fannie and Freddie poured fuel on the fire to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars.

    So blaming deregulation for the financial mess is misguided. But it is dangerous, too, because one of the big challenges for the next president will be to defend markets against the inevitable backlash that follows this crisis.

    Read it all.

    I don't know which is more absurd: the argument that "deregulation" caused this mess or the argument that McCain of all people suffers from deregulation "mania." Ironically, to the extent McCain shares blame for what went wrong, it would be for something quite the opposite, for he was no enemy to government regulation, then or now. The other issue, of course, is regulating what? Fannie Mae? (On that account, if we compare McCain to Obama, Frank, and Dodd, McCain comes out looking like a choir boy.)

    What worries me is that ordinary voters don't have time to study these things. It's been somewhat of a crash course for me, but for most people, the only crash course they'll get are media sound bytes.

    As to Ayers, the idea that a presidential candidate worked closely with an unrepentant terrorist who wishes he did more -- and whose group sought to brutally murder American NCOs -- is a completely legitimate subject of inquiry.

    As an issue, it is far more heinous, and not logically comparable in form or content to the numerous "swiftboat" allegations, which were raised by Kerry's former colleagues. Even though many of them were found to be true, the word has became code language for partisan political smears.

    While discussions of Obama's Ayers connection would be a smear if the allegations were untrue, there's more and more coming out all the time -- to the point where even the New York Times was forced to admit that Obama had underplayed the connections.

    Which issue will ordinary American voters think is more important?

    -- A spurious charge of "deregulation mania"?


    -- A legitimate inquiry into whether a presidential candidate worked closely with former terrorists who never should have been mainstreamed by the Democratic Party?

    I don't know, but I don't think it's quite time to be gloating over victory.

    posted by Eric at 01:27 PM | Comments (3)

    Some Interesting Friends You Have Senator

    Part 2
    Part 3
    Part 4
    Part 5
    Part 6

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 01:04 AM | Comments (3)

    "The Obama Youth"????

    Is this some kind of prank?

    Please tell me it is.

    I can't stand much more of this nonsense.

    You'd almost think they were inviting people to violate Godwin's Law.

    Seriously, I want it to be comedy.

    posted by Eric at 06:59 PM | Comments (8)

    Money Following The Money Followers

    Spengler explains why America with all its problems is still a safe haven for the world's capital. He blames it on hockey moms.

    Why do Asian investors depend on American capital markets? Given the near breakdown of key sectors of the American market, one might expect Asians to bring their money home. Quite the opposite has happened: Asian currencies have fallen sharply against the American dollar.
    Spengler says Asian markets can't absorb Asian savings. Which is rather odd. Given the low state of economic development and high returns on capital it would seem Asia would be an ideal place for Asian money. Yet it is not.
    What does America have that Asia doesn't have? The answer is, Sarah Palin - not Sarah Palin the vice presidential candidate, but Sarah Palin the "hockey mom" turned small-town mayor and reforming Alaska governor. All the PhDs and MBAs in the world can't make a capital market work, but ordinary people like Sarah Palin can. Laws depend on the will of the people to enforce them. It is the initiative of ordinary people that makes America's political system the world's most reliable.

    America is the heir to a long tradition of Anglo-Saxon law that began with jury trial and the Magna Carta and continued through the English Revolution of the 17th century and the American Revolution of the 18th. Ordinary people like Palin are the bearers of this tradition.

    It is the basic honesty of ordinary people that make America work. When dishonesty rears its ugly head ordinary people go to work to clean out the pigsty. They wipe the lipstick off the pig and take it to the abattoir to eliminate the problem.
    The fact that ordinary people safeguard their rights and have the means to challenge established interests does not exclude the possibility of fraud on a grand scale.

    Asian investors were cheated by a conspiracy of the financial industry and the ratings agencies, which sold them ostensibly low-risk securities that turned out to be toxic. The just-approved US$700 billion support package for American banks sets America back to a regime of oligarchy, according to New York Times columnist David Brooks. Despite this fraud and its attendant humiliation, and despite the deterioration of governance in American markets, Asian investors are putting more rather than less money into America, judging from the decline of Asian currencies against the dollar in the course of the crisis.

    One doesn't see demonstrations by wronged peasants in the small towns of America. There never were peasants - American farmers always were entrepreneurs - and the locals avenge injury by taking over their local governments, which have sufficient authority to make a difference. At the capillary level, school boards, the Parent Teachers' Association, self-administered religious organizations and volunteer organizations incubate a political class entirely different from anything to be found in Asia. There are tens of thousands of Sarah Palins lurking in the minor leagues of American politics, and they are the guarantors of market probity.

    Rights. That is the key. In most of the world the people are servants of the government. In America they have this peculiar notion that government is the servant of the people. And where did that peculiar idea originate? In Anglo Saxon Culture. From the Magna Carta to the Constitution of the US of A. In Anglo Saxon Culture there is not just a belief in honest government but also a demand for it.
    It is true that Asian economies depend on American consumers and an American recession is bad for Asian currencies. But why don't Asians consume what they produce at home? The trouble is that rich Asians don't lend to poor Asians in their own countries. Capital markets don't work in the developing world because it is too easy to steal money. Subprime mortgages in the US have suffered from poor documentation. What kind of documentation does one encounter in countries where everyone from the clerk at the records office to the secretary who hands you a form requires a small bribe? America is litigious to a fault, but its courts are fair and hard to corrupt.

    Asians are reluctant to lend money to each other under the circumstances; they would rather lend money in places where a hockey mom can get involved in local politics and, on encountering graft and corruption, run a successful campaign to turn the scoundrels out. You do not need PhDs and MBAs for that. You need ordinary people who care sufficiently about the places in which they live to take control of their own towns and states when required. And, yes, it doesn't hurt if they own guns. Popular gun ownership places a limit on the abuse of state power.

    You know maybe that old f**ker Mao was on to something when he said political power comes from the barrel of a gun. His problem was that he did not trust his own people with guns or political power. Uprisings of the people against their presumed masters can be so inconvenient. And that in a nutshell is the weakness of the rest of the world and the strength of America. Americans are jealous of their rights and will defend them with the barrels of their guns if push comes to shove.

    The Battle of Athens, Tennessee should be a lesson to all American politicians. Let us hope the politicians learn their lesson before they wind up on the wrong side of the guns.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 02:04 PM | Comments (9)

    Frank-N-Fannie (a furtive subtext)

    It occurs to me that I may have missed a latent homophobia-tinged subtext somewhere in the last post (about the sexist and racist aspects of Photoshopping candidates into the "Rosie" World War II icon now claimed by feminists).

    Any such omission was inadvertent -- whether there was any homophobic subext to be found or not. Considering that there are homophobic subtexts everywhere, even in discussions of conflicts of interest in the Barney Frank Fannie Mae affair, maybe I should insert one.

    A subtext, I mean.

    posted by Eric at 11:32 AM

    riveting imageism tinged by double standards

    When I saw a picture of this button in today's Detroit Free Press, I was, well, riveted!


    But I immediately realized I was falling behind the times. I'm late to the "Rosie" game, because I see that Sarah Palin's face on the iconic image has already drawn feminist criticism:

    Today a colleague of mine showed me an article in the Washington Times from a rally in Lancaster, PA, where people held signs of the iconic Rosie the Riveter with Palin's face photoshopped in. In the background is a sign with PTA, spelling out Palin Takes America - even though Obama's policies are stronger on education than McCain's. In my hunt for the article online , I discovered a lot of people are using the Rosie the Riveter sign to show their support of McCain/Palin. There are t-shirts, posters, buttons, etc. I am astonished at how people who likely know & care zip about women's history or women's rights and could care less when Clinton or Pelosi are treated sexistly by the media or who don't think calling Palin "hot" and "sexy" is sexist, are repositioning a traditionally feminist icon like Rosie for themselves!! And I would be thrilled that they were embracing women's history if they were also embracing policies that benefited women which many famous women's history figures fought for!
    A feminist historian I am not. However, the original image is not Rosie the Riveter per se, but is based on an image produced more for wartime propaganda purposes than to promote modern feminism. (Feminists may like it, but that doesn't mean they "own" it.)

    Not to pick nits, but "sexistly" a word? (Yes.) If so, how about "racistly"? (Yes.) Christianistly? (No.) Fascistly? (Yes.) Communistly? (Yes.) Capitalistly. (Almost.) Feudalistly? (No.) Economistly? (Well, almost!)

    Enough with the istlyisms, OK. (Typistly speaking, my fingers are tired of linking them.)

    Concludes the author,

    I think it's INSULTING for his supporters to be using Rosie like that.
    Well, as insultingisms go, it's not the most insultinglyist thing I've seen.

    The "Rosie" image traveled from coast to coast, being picked up by the New York Times, and the LA Times, it even generated a copyright debate, with one irate activist writing to the president of the Rosie the Riveter Trust (I had no idea there was such a thing), and demanding that something be done:

    Today, September 10, 2008, a photo on the front page of the Los Angeles Times, revealed that the McCain campaign is using placards with a picture of Rosie the Riveter with the face of Gov Sarah Palin superimposed on the picture and using the same slogan "We Can Do It" as in the original picture.

    I assume your organization has copy rights to Rosie the Riveter material, photos etc. Based on the fact that she was nominated for Vice President, one week ago today, it is unlikely the McCain campaign had authorization from your organization to use the picture? As you are aware, the Rosie the Riveter Trust is the official non-profit partner of the National Park Service for Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park. You are also affiliated with the City of Richmond, CA. In my opinion, I do not believe that it is appropriate and possibly an enfringement of copy rights for the McCain campaign to use your picture for partisan politics?

    What a shame to use the historical contributions of women during WWII for political gain by the McCain campaign. Your prompt and timely response to this complaint is appreciated.

    Lorenzo Mota

    The president of the Rosie the Riveter Trust wrote back, gently breaking the news that the image is in the public domain:
    This graphic has been in the public domain for many years. Thousands of people have used it (or misused it) for every conceivable purpose. Rosie the Riveter Trust has no control whatsoever over its use.
    There's a lot of misinformation floating around about the image, which many people think is the original Rosie the Riveter, which technically it is not.
    The image most iconically associated with Rosie is J. Howard Miller's famous poster for Westinghouse, entitled We Can Do It!, which was modeled on Michigan factory worker Geraldine Doyle in 1942.[11][12]

    However, the picture was not meant to represent a character called Rosie the Riveter at all.[2] Penny Colman writes that "Since the 1970s, this poster has been mistakenly labeled Rosie the Riveter and has been reprinted on posters, magazine covers, and many other items."

    As to Geraldine Doyle, she was a 17 year old girl who pressed metal for Westinghouse for a week, and over time her image was claimed as "Rosie":
    In 1942, the 17 year-old Geraldine spent a week working in a Michigan factory pressing metal as an early replacement worker for men who had gone off to war. During her brief tenure, a wire photographer took a picture of her she soon forgot. That image - re-imagined by J. Howard Miller while working for the Westinghouse War Production Co-Ordinating Committee - would soon become iconic both for the war effort and for the forever changed society it fostered.

    Geraldine Doyle didn't know she was the model for Rosie until 1984, when she came across the 1942 photograph in Modern Maturity Magazine. By 1944, a lot of women were working in factories and plants, instead of homes. Rosie the Riveter appeared on a postage stamp, part of a World War II series produced by the U.S. Postal Service, in 1992.

    I cannot find the original photograph anywhere. If it was in fact in Modern Maturity magazine (now AARP), someone ought to be able to find it easily, and considering the history, I'm surprised someone hasn't. (Skepticism over whether it exists might be merited, but I don't have time to do more than raise the issue.)

    According to Ellen Goodman, angry women have exploded in rage over the Palin Photoshop:

    What finally sent her over the top was the poster. There was Sarah Palin as Rosie the Riveter, flexing her biceps under the motto: "We Can Do It!" The image was the same on the T-shirt my friend had left over from the primaries. But with a crucial difference.

    "They've Photoshopped Sarah over Hillary. And women are falling for this!" she bellowed into my voice mail, closing with an epithet that would never have been permitted by her feminist spell check.


    While the political junkie in me can comprehend that there would be feminist anger over who has "owns" the image in the moral sense, it's not accurate to say they've Photoshopped Sarah over Hillary. That's because Hillary was photoshopped over the artist's iconic depiction of someone else. There's this T-shirt, and other examples like this magnet, also shown here:


    So, the contention by the man concerned with copyright infringement that "it is a shame to use the historical contributions of women during WWII for political gain by the McCain campaign" is a bit disingenuous.

    Everybody has glommed onto "Rosie" for one reason or another. There's a sexist version of a woman holding a coffee pot, a "sock monkey" version, and while I'm not sure why, the Ron Paul campaign even got into the act -- although I do think "Ronnie the Riveter" is a bit of a stretch.

    Most egregious of all, there's a racist version of the image here. I say "racist" because Barack Obama has been Photoshopped in, and because all criticism of Obama is racist, then all humorous Photoshopping must be too.

    Frankly, I think they were going easy on Barack the Riveter.

    Because all the women -- including Sarah Palin, Hillary Clinton, and Nancy Pelosi -- were depicted wearing the same headgear as the original worker, while Obama was not!

    See? Here's Nancy!


    Why no one is calling such a double standard "sexist," I don't know.

    I guess I should be glad no one has suggested that ridiculing women's headgear is "tinged" with Islamophobia.

    posted by Eric at 11:00 AM | Comments (6)

    Ayers And Obama Care About Children

    B. Obama and unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers were on a panel together in 1997 sponsored by the University of Chicago discussing Bill's book A Kind and Just Parent: The Children of Juvenile Court. Bill thinks the government can be a good parent to children as opposed to the bad parents who allow kids into a life of crime. Bill is also of the opinion that gun control will keep guns out of the hands of children. So how is that working in Chicago Bill? They have some pretty stringent gun control laws there.

    Ayers, who spent a year observing the Cook County Temporary Juvenile Detention Center in Chicago, is one of four panelists who will speak on juvenile justice at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 20, in the C-Shop. The panel, which marks the 100th anniversary of the juvenile justice system in the United States, is part of the Community Service Center's monthly discussion series on issues affecting the city of Chicago. The event is free and open to the public.

    Ayers will be joined by Sen. Barack Obama, Senior Lecturer in the Law School, who is working to combat legislation that would put more juvenile offenders into the adult system; Randolph Stone, Director of the Mandel Legal Aid Clinic; Alex Correa, a reformed juvenile offender who spent seven years in Cook County Temporary Detention Center; Frank Tobin, a former priest and teacher at the Detention Center who helped Correa; and Willy Baldwin, who grew up in public housing and is currently a teacher at the Detention Center.

    The juvenile justice system was founded by Chicago reformer Jane Addams, who advocated the establishment of a separate court system for children which would act like a "kind and just parent" for children in crisis.

    One hundred years later, the system is "overcrowded, under-funded, over-centralized and racist," Ayers said.

    Michelle Obama, Associate Dean of Student Services and Director of the University Community Service Center, hopes bringing issues like this to campus will open a dialogue between members of the University community and the broader community.

    Ah yes. Michelle. Our lady of the perpetual scowl. I can't wait until she gets her hands on the children of America. Not just the ones going to the University of Chicago.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 09:50 AM | Comments (3)


    Sarah Palin made a surprise visit to the town I grew up in. Omaha.
    Sarah Palin's fans could give Obamaphiles a run in the devotion department if the more than 5,000 people who listened Sunday to her Omaha speech are any indication.

    Palin's supporters hailed the folksy Alaska governor as a "real person" who could be one of their neighbors.

    A "down-to-earth" person who has been maligned by Washington insiders and the mainstream media.

    "She talks to us. She's one of us. She doesn't talk down to us like an Ivy League, Harvard person," said Craig Johansen, an Omaha sales representative who was referring to Harvard graduate and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

    Palin thrilled her Nebraska and western Iowa fans on Sunday with a 24-minute speech at the Civic Auditorium Music Hall. She led a familiar "Drill, Baby, Drill!" chant, took a few shots at Obama and tried to portray her running mate, Republican presidential candidate John McCain, as the real candidate for change.

    The crowd roared when Palin - who is the nation's most famous hockey mom - accepted a sweatshirt and a jersey from the University of Nebraska at Omaha's hockey team. "I love that cheer - Go Mavericks," said Palin, who insists that she and McCain are the real mavericks in the presidential race.

    Looks like Obama has been maved again.
    "The pundits were saying, 'Check out where she's going. She's going to Nebraska.' The pundits were saying, 'The only reason she would be going there is because they're scared. They have to shore up votes,' " Palin said.

    "I so wanted to reach into that TV and say 'no.' I'm going to Nebraska because I want to go to Nebraska," Palin said.

    Palin's visit to Omaha was quick and it came with about 27 hours' notice. The Nebraska Republican Party didn't learn of the visit until Saturday afternoon. They quickly scrambled to find a venue, and sent out a request for help that was answered by more than 150 volunteers.

    The volunteers made posters and did logistical work on the ground.

    The short notice didn't have a big impact on attendance. On Sunday, people began lining up outside the Civic Auditorium at about 1 p.m. State GOP officials said they would have had several thousand more if they would have had a few days to prepare, but no one was complaining.

    Before Palin reached the main crowd at the packed 2,453-seat Music Hall inside the Civic, she addressed the overflow crowd in Mancuso Convention Hall. Capacity at Mancuso is listed as 2,500 on the venue's Web site.

    State Republicans had fervently hoped for a Palin visit.

    "It was worth it," said Trey Ashby, 19, a Republican from Papillion who waited for six hours to see Palin with his sister Rebecca Albano, 23.

    "She's a woman. She has kids. She has a career. She just seems like someone you could have a conversation with," said Albano, of Papillion.

    Cheryl Martinez of Omaha called Palin "down to earth."

    "She believes in things that basic Americans - normal Americans - believe in," said Martinez, 41, a marketing manager and a Republican.

    The state's leading Democrat, U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson, welcomed Palin to Nebraska, but took issue with her criticism of Obama for having associated at one time with a former member of a domestic terrorist group.

    My guess is that she is going around working to nail the down ticket races in the hopes of getting a Republican House of Representatives when the McCain Palin ticket wins by an electoral landslide on 4 Nov.

    My mom still lives in Omaha and is a die hard Democrat/Obama supporter. I'm going to give her a call a little later today to see if she has any reaction to the Palin visit other than "I don't like the sound of her voice".

    There is a sort of live blog of the event at this link.

    One other thing. No matter what the polls say:

    Vote Dammit

    There is no point in giving Obama the election. Make him work for it. Besides the polls could be wrong. It happens.

    H/T Gateway Pundit.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 07:33 AM | Comments (1)

    Selections from the haystack
    "blogging is about living freely in writing, in real time, in front of the world."

    -- Althouse

    "I do this to entertain me, not you."

    -- SayUncle

    "finding a needle in a haystack is easy when the straws are all computerized"

    -- Dexter

    I like to think that I live freely in my writing, that I blog for me, that I try to put a little bit of myself into every post, that I enjoy sifting through straw looking for needles in haystacks, and that sometimes I just plain enjoy focusing on individual straws.

    And yesterday, I found a single straw I thought I'd share, in the form of this story about Joe Biden:

    The New York Times reported the 2007 crowd at the University of Iowa grew silent as Biden gave his version of what happened that day.

    "Let me tell you a little story," The newspaper quoted Biden as saying. "I got elected when I was 29, and I got elected November the 7th. And on Dec. 18 of that year, my wife and three kids were Christmas shopping for a Christmas tree. A tractor-trailer, a guy who allegedly -- and I never pursued it -- drank his lunch instead of eating his lunch, broadsided my family and killed my wife instantly, and killed my daughter instantly, and hospitalized my two sons, with what were thought to be at the time permanent, fundamental injuries."

    Biden told a similar story when addressing an audience at the Bob Carpenter Center at the University of Delaware a few days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

    "It was an errant driver who stopped to drink instead of drive and hit a tractor-trailer, hit my children and my wife and killed them," Biden said, according to a transcript archived on his Senate Web site.

    Except there's a problem with that. Biden was lying. The case was thoroughly investigated, and it was determined that alcohol was not involved.
    Alcohol didn't play a role in the 1972 crash, investigators found. But as recently as last week, the syndicated TV show Inside Edition aired a clip from 2001 of Biden describing the accident to an audience at the University of Delaware and saying the truck driver "stopped to drink instead of drive."

    The senator's statements don't jibe with news and law enforcement reports from the time, which cleared driver Curtis C. Dunn, who died in 1999, of wrongdoing.

    "To see it coming from [Biden's] mouth, I just burst into tears," Dunn's daughter, Glasgow resident Pamela Hamill, 44, said Wednesday. "My dad was always there for us. Now we feel like we should be there for him because he's not here to defend himself."

    Biden spokesman David Wade said Wednesday that the senator "fully accepts the Dunn family's word that these rumors were false."

    It's unclear who first suggested alcohol was a factor in the crash, but since Barack Obama tapped Biden to be his running mate on Aug. 23, The New York Times, National Public Radio and The Economist have run stories that characterized Dunn as a drunken driver.

    "The rumor about alcohol being involved by either party, especially the truck driver, is incorrect," said Jerome O. Herlihy, a Delaware Superior Court judge who was chief deputy attorney general and worked with crash investigators in 1972.

    "If it were some part of a cause of the accident, there would have been a charge, simply because if you're driving under the influence and kill someone in the process -- whether it's the wife of a U.S. senator or anybody else -- there's going to be a charge," he said.

    Herlihy said investigators discussed several possible causes for the crash, including that Biden's first wife, Neilia, turned her head and didn't see the oncoming truck as she exited the intersection of Limestone and Valley roads on Dec. 18, 1972.

    I'd say shame on Joe Biden, except the man is shameless. This champion of the working man waited until the truck driver died (in 1999) to begin his self-promoting smear campaign. I'd call Biden's lies a "slander campaign" except that legally, it is impossible to slander a dead man. (Something Biden, a lawyer, surely knows.)

    While there's nothing illegal about it, I have to say, it's about the most despicable thing I have read about any candidate doing in this campaign.

    But it's just another news item among the millions floating around online, and it will probably never be widely reported. Certainly, it's not the sort of thing ordinary voters will ever hear about. So the fact that the guy who wants to be Vice President smeared a dead truck driver is just one straw in the haystack.

    For me it's the last.

    I don't need to know any more about Biden.

    posted by Eric at 09:45 PM | Comments (8)

    The Numbers Game

    More than one person has asked me why the polls are so out of whack with what they see as their reality. So what is that reality? I think a few anecdotes are in order. First from commenter Daddy at Just One Minute.

    Arriving in Indy about midnight I asked the 2 female bus drivers how did the ballgame come out and they both replied they weren't listening to any ballgame they had been listening to the debate. Both were enthusiastic and pumped, and extremely complementary of Sarah's performance, especially since they had been led to believe she was going to do so poorly. The female Cab driver was very jazzed as well and said exactly the same thing. Ditto for the check-in lady in the hotel. Later at The Redeye Cafe in downtown Indy for a 2 AM Guiness and Spanish Omelette (Yumm!), the bartender girls were also oblivious of ESPN and SportsCenter on the overhead TV's behind, and both were still complementing Sarah on her performance. All these girls were Colts fans, and they were acting exactly like they do when their Colts win a playoff game. I have no idea what any of their politics were, but it seemed that Sarah's performance was somehow something they took personally, and they were proud of how she did. I never did get any opinions from any guys what they thought about the debate since apparantly women do all the work after midnight in Indianapolis, but my unscientific survey of the working girls of middle America is that Sarah made a very big and a very positive impression. Whether or not it'll turn into votes for her, who knows.
    Here is one from commenter Sharen at No Quarter.
    Comment by Sharen 2008-10-04 23:19:36

    Yesterday I was going to The Grove in Los Angeles, I don't know where your at but if your not familiar with the area, its basically West Hollywood, and I was SHOCKED, SHOCKED by how many McCain/Palin signs I saw, I told my Mom to stop the car and I was like OMG LOOK AT ALL THESE SIGNS, I saw 1 Obama sign and the rest was a sea of McCain/Palin signs, around here in liberal Los Angeles county seeing McCain signs is very unusual, it must have gone on for two blocks, in total, 3 Obama signs, and the rest were McCain/Palin, TWO BLOCKS, I was like damn, am I in Orange County LOL. I swear if California goes Red I will eat my shoe, I don't see it happening but ya never know

    And finally one from Porchlight at Just One Minute.

    Thanks for the Indy update. I am trying to figure it out. Wildly enthusiastic audiences for Palin, RNC fundraising for September 1/3 higher than their previous record, VP debate viewership 1/3 higher than previous VP debate, etc. Why isn't this showing in the polls?

    So why isn't all this showing up in the polls? There are reasons. Some good. Some not so good. And some there is no way to account for.

    So how about the good? Registrations for Democrats is way up. Rush Limbaugh with his Operation Chaos plan to derail Hillary got a bunch of Republicans to register as Democrats to defeat Hillary. So the pollsters believe the Republican party has lost support.

    How about the bad? The newspapers and most TV networks are so obviously in the tank for Obama this year that they aren't even making a pretense of a pretense of objectivity. So they get the polls with numbers they are happy to report and that helps their candidate by depressing the other side.

    And how about the no way to account problems with polls? People lie to pollsters. Unsourced anecdote: a nice sounding black lady calls and asks who you are voting for? Are some people going to be nice and say Obama when in reality it is going to be McCain? It happens.

    Now how about some analysis by people smarter even than me. Let me start with A.J. Strata's view on cooking the polls.

    Voter models are the essence of political polls. You take a sample of a few hundred or a few thousand people and predict how that sample can reflect 10s-100s of millions of people. If you are off by even a small fraction in your assumptions the bottom line could be off by 5, 10 or 20% (despite an MoE claim of a few points).

    We have a perfect example of this in two Colorado Polls out recently. The first poll was commented on by our Reader MerlinOS2:

    PPP just released a poll in Colorado which puts Obama up +7

    Now what the issue is here is that the party split was

    Dem 40
    Rep 36
    Ind 24

    However August voter registration number per the spreadsheet available from the Secretary of State show the registration breakdown is

    Dem 30.6
    Rep 34.8
    Ind 34.5

    Details on the poll in question can be found here. Just this week American Research Group (ARG) also released a poll for Colorado (which is not used in the RCP poll of polls strangely). Its voter model was Dem 32%, Rep 35% and Ind 33%, very close to the ACTUAL voter registration levels noted by MerlinOS2. The result: McCain 48%, Obama 45% - a McCain lead of +3%. (Note: this polls also shows McCain tied with women)

    These polls were taken at basically the same time in the same state. But we can see how the voter model can really change the bottom line (a 10% difference).

    Go to A.J.'s for the links. And A.J. has more so if you want details give him a read.

    Newsbusters looks at the fabrication side of polling. You know. They just make shit up. Again it is all about party weightings.

    In the kitchens of the Associated Press, it's almost as if the wire service asked its chief cook -- er, pollster -- GfK Roper Public Affairs and Media, to do the following:
    * Whip up a tasty, representative poll after the Republican Convention.
    * Three weeks later, make the same dish, but this time adjust the mix of ingredients by radically oversampling Democrats and undersampling Republicans, thereby creating a false illusion of momentum in the campaign of Barack Obama, and of decline in John McCain's.
    * Hope people don't notice the changes in the recipe.
    Of course we don't know if the differences between AP-CfK's Sept. 5-10 and Sept. 27-30 results were created deliberately, but the results sure look suspicious (both polls are available at PDF links found at AP-GfK's home page).
    Read the article if you want to check out the links. Me I want to look at some numbers and we do in fact have a few.
    "Somehow," the sample make-up changed from 33-31 Democrat to 40-29 Democrat from the earlier to the latter poll -- a shift of nine points.

    "Somehow," the Strong-Dem vs. Strong-GOP difference went from nothing to eight points.

    "Somehow," the Strong-GOP vs. Moderate-GOP mix went from +3 to -3, a swing of six points.

    Well Newsbusters has charts full of numbers and more text so for the numbers obsessed (hey there may be a key to winning the lottery in there) have a look. There is always more to learn.

    I'd like to finish up with analyst DJ Drummond of Stolen Thunder whose motto is: A man must be accountable, else everything he does counts for nothing. Yep. Any way DJ looks at the Secret Poll

    I have been working through the poll numbers for quite a while now, sorting out valid patterns from the fakes. I held off posting the true state of things for a long time, for a number of reasons, but I notice that some on the Right have begun to lose hope and make sounds of giving up. So I will tell you plainly, that

    We Are Winning

    and can only fall in this election if you give up. It's been a long road and the enemy has been his usual foul self, with lies and smears and everything we have learned to expect from people who put power above any moral or honorable precepts. It's close, but here's where we have been, and where we are:

    August 31: McCain 41.77%, Obama 41.06%

    September 7: McCain 42.45%, Obama 42.04%

    September 14: McCain 45.71%, Obama 39.62%

    September 21: McCain 44.48%, Obama 42.06%

    September 28: McCain 42.73%, Obama 41.62%

    And based on the demographic responses, once the undecideds shake out if we work as hard as we can and continue to keep faith, the final popular vote will be

    McCain 51.59%

    Obama 48.41%

    Keys to remember:

    This is not a football game or a baseball game, it's politics. Support is built up gradually and won bits at a time. Also, some of the best gains are not obvious at first, because some significant actions take time to develop. McCain and Obama both fell back a bit the last week of September, McCain because Republican support fell off a bit, Obama lost independents' support. This is a salient factor in where the candidates' opportunities and weaknesses lay.

    Now I have cribbed everything DJ posted. Which is kind of like stealing. In fact it is stealing. In my defense it wasn't a long post and DJ answers some interesting questions in the comments. So do the right thing and give him a click. Plus his advice is critical: keep the faith. Do not give up. Make sure you and all your friends show up on election day.

    I'm going to double down on the above comments. Here is what I say about all this. Again: Let us not give Obama the election by staying home depressed on election day. If he is going to win make him earn it. Get out and vote and make sure everyone you know gets out and votes. Make him know he was in a fight.

    In other words fight the trolls on the blogs. And come election day get out the vote like your life and your country depended on it. Because it does. Even in a state like Illinois where I reside, every vote counts because it adds to the popular vote totals even if your state is going for Obama in the electoral college.

    Vote Dammit

    And if you want to do something about vote fraud read this, because polls aren't the only way the numbers are being cooked this year.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 07:56 PM | Comments (9)

    The definition of "racism" changes to fit the Times

    Sarah Palin commented on the New York Times story I discussed yesterday, and here's what she said:

    "Turns out one of Barack's earliest supporters is a man who, according to The New York Times, and they are hardly ever wrong, was a domestic terrorist and part of a group that, quote, launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol. Wow. These are the same guys who think patriotism is paying higher taxes."
    Yes, but Palin's discussion of the Obama Ayers connection is considered a form of racism.

    Forgive me for not understanding, but am I allowed to ask why it's racist for Palin to comment on a story she read in the New York Times about Obama's connections with an unrepentant white terrorist?

    I mean how if she's guilty, what does that suggest about the Times?

    posted by Eric at 05:30 PM | Comments (5)

    Twiddling with winks

    One of Andrew Sullivan's ever-at-the-ready readers is upset by the fact that Sarah Palin winked, and compares her unfavorably to other women:

    I just want to ask: can anyone, anyone, imagine Condoleeza Rice or Margaret Thatcher or even Hillary Clinton for God's sake, winking at the nation and/or being coquettish in any national format?

    Yeah. Just checking.

    Andrew then chimes in himself to the chiming in by his reader. Echoing the view that Palin has "damaged feminism," he sees Palin's "cocktail waitress act" in stark contrast to the great dignity of Hillary Clinton:
    ...Palin has actually forced me to realize that, however much I despise Hillary Clinton, I have never doubted her professionalism and capacity to fight and win on her own terms in a male-dominated world by meeting and exceeding the standards of any male counterpart. (It was not her fault she ran against the political genius of his generation.) I cannot even imagine her winking and flirting on stage, although the New Hampshire tears were a bit of a stunt.
    OK, for starters, unless there is some especially horrendous context involved (say, an unrepentant serial killer in court), I have zero problems with winking.

    If there is any sexism here, it's the double standard in condemning a woman politician for doing something male politicians do all the time.

    Yes, I did see the photo of Sarah Palin winking that Drudge linked the other day:


    Forgive me, but that hardly looks like a "cocktail waitress act" (whatever that may be). She looks very self confident, and every inch the powerful woman that she is.

    As to the "I cannot even imagine [Hillary] winking" business, well, I can!

    But I'll do better than imagine.

    How's this?



    Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., winks to the crowd as she makes a campaign stop at Millersville University's Pucillo Gymnasium in Millersville, Pa., Tuesday, March 18, 2008.

    Imagine, brother, imagine.

    MORE: It's not just Andrew Sullivan who's upset by the winking; similar outrage was expressed at Daily Kos a couple of days ago.)

    posted by Eric at 12:10 PM | Comments (10)

    Lawyers Without Licenses

    It seems like the Obamas paid a lot of money for law degrees and yet they no longer have licenses. That is kind of strange. Let us start with Barack and see if we can trace the demise of his law career.

    Obama relinquished his Illinois law license in early 2007. Why would Obama give up something that provided his primary source of income and something he spent so much time and energy obtaining? Andy Martin filed a complaint in IL on March 13, 2007 stating that Obama had lied on his IL bar application. Obama had 17 outstanding traffic violations that he had failed to take care of. Mr. Martin discovered that Obama would not be prosecuted because he no longer had his law license. I contacted Andy Martin and this was his response:

    "Nothing. Obama had already resigned as a lawyer and so they had no jurisdiction over him."

    "Not if they have lost jurisdiction over the individual. They can't punish someone who has resigned, which is why so many corrupt lawyers in Illinois resign before they are disbarred."

    Well of course that isn't proof of anything except maybe law wasn't really what he wanted to do. Excepting for the time he represented ACORN in a voting access suit. Maybe now that he has those votes sewed up he is no longer interested in the law. Well, it is a theory.

    So how about his esteemed wife Michelle. Our lady of the perpetual snarl. What ever happened to her career in the law?

    A check of the State of Illinois Bar Association website shows no bar license for "Michelle Robinson" or "Michelle Obama". It has been reported that Michelle Obama "voluntarily" gave up her law license in 1993, just five years after she got the license.

    Why would a black woman who worked at a prestigious law firm in Chicago, who had graduated from one of the most prestigious law schools in the country, and who had endured the grueling task of sitting for the bar exam TWICE, then voluntarily give up her law license?

    Many who have been admitted to the Bar go on to pursue other careers, but because of the process to get the law license, they usually maintain it in good standing. Barack Obama has placed his law license into "inactive" status since his campaign began.

    While it has no bearing on Barack Obama, per se, it makes one very curious as to why this educated woman "voluntarily" gave up her law license!!

    I'll bet that she couldn't keep up on the payments with her meager $300,000 a year salary from the University of Chicago Hospital. And Barry? Who needs to practice law when you are making them? No matter what happens to him next, he will never need a real job for the rest of his life. Especially if he gets that deal with free room and board Tony Rezko is apparently signed up for.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 06:05 AM | Comments (3)

    Obama: Disciple Of Satan

    Let us see if we can follow how the descent into hell all began for Obama. Let us start with Community organizer Saul Alinsky and his friend the Devil and as in all evil, work backwards from there.

    Alinsky's paragon of radicalism was Satan, to whom he dedicated the first edition of "Rules": "Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom -- Lucifer."
    Yes. And what a kingdom it was where men and women are eternally tormented. So I guess if the Community Organizer wins we have something to look forward to.

    Did you know there is a letter going around praising the virtues of Camp Obama?

    While the letter neglects to identify the source of that "experience," a slide on a camp blog linked to the Obama Web site offers a clue. Underneath a "Welcome to Camp Obama" banner, a trainer at Obama headquarters in Chicago is seen speaking next to a wipe board with the words "Saul Alinsky" scrawled across it.

    Alinsky is the late Chicago socialist and street agitator who is considered the father of community organizing.

    Another slide of a camp trainer identified as Mike Kruglik is equally telling. Kruglik happens to be the Alinsky disciple who first taught Obama hardball organizing tactics on the South Side. He was Obama's boss in the '80s. Kruglik now works for the Chicago-based Gamaliel Foundation, which trains and deploys radicals across the country.

    Kruglik once declared Obama "the undisputed master of agitation," according to David Freddoso, author of the best-seller "The Case Against Barack Obama."

    So what does Obama have to say about his Alinsky experience?
    Obama calls his Alinskyite experience "the best education I ever had."
    Just the kind of guy most people want to see elected President of the United States. Make sure all your friends see this. So they can vote for the right guy.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

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

    Lovely Friends You Have Senator

    posted by Simon at 09:54 PM | Comments (1)

    Above and beyond the crossed paths

    Considering the number of posts I have written about Barack Obama's friendship and collaboration with unrepentant former Weather Underground leader Bill Ayers, I guess I should acknowledge -- however grudgingly -- that the New York Times has (on a Saturday, as Glenn noted) finally reported that the connections between these men are deeper than previously acknowledged.

    In a piece titled "Nothing to see here. Move along.," Ed Morrissey does a great job of showing what a piss-poor job the Times did. His conclusion?

    If John McCain had spent ten years on charitable boards with someone less egregious than abortion bombers -- say, with Randall Terry of Operation Rescue -- the New York Times would have Page One, in-depth reporting, complete with teams of reporters combing through the minutes of the board meetings. Hell, the New York Times infamously smeared McCain with allegations of a sexual affair based on nothing but gossip from two disgruntled ex-staffers last February, and spent days rolling that out, using four reporters on the story. For the Obama/Ayers connection, they have Scott Shane telling us that there's nothing to see here.
    Great reporting. Thanks for nothing.
    The Times piece reduces years of meetings, years of work on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, wears of work on the board of the Woods Foundation, joint seminars in which they were panelists together, and even the launching of Obama's state assembly race, as instances of "crossed paths." (The title of the piece -- "Obama and '60s Bomber: A Look Into Crossed Paths" is itself a giveaway.)

    What the presence of this story in the Times means, I'm not sure. It could be that the story has gotten too big to ignore. Then again, it could be a sort of CYA, as if the Times doesn't want it said that they failed to report the story at all.

    I think it's quite obvious that Obama and Ayers had to have known each other before 1995, as the Times asserts. But as Tom Maguire points out, they're resolutely holding the line at 1995.

    Fausta has more, and concludes that the Times article is a joke.

    Stephen Green notes that the the countless meetings in one year alone contradict the "crossed paths" meme, and sees through the Times' attempt to spin this as a bunch of right wingers claiming Obama is a far-left terrorist wannabe:

    The only problem is, I don't know of anyone with a substantive worry that deep in his heart, Obama wants to blow up the Pentagon or even just stick it to the man, baby. Instead, the worry is that Obama has had some kind of relationship with an unrepentant domestic terrorist, which even Shane must admit Obama has downplayed. And that Obama has promised, and continues to promise, to meet with would-be genocidal killers like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "without preconditions." And that Obama has the most liberal voting record in the Senate.

    In short, we question his values and his honesty and his judgement -- especially his judgement.

    And pieces like today's New York Times whitewash do nothing to help put those questions aside.

    Whitewash is exactly what it is. They're not just covering up Obama's coverup, they're covering up their coverup of the coverup!

    Fascinatingly, Stanley Kurtz (whose investigation into the CAC led to the story breaking) even sees a coverup at work inside the Times story itself:

    How could a responsible article on the topic of Obama, Ayers, and the Chicago Annenberg Challenge ignore the story of the blocked library access and the results of the two FOIA requests? How could a responsible paper fail to aggressively follow up on the questions raised by those requests, and by the documents and analysis presented by Steve Diamond?

    Most remarkably of all, Shane seems to paper over the results of his own questioning. On the one hand, toward the end of the piece we read: "Since 2002, there is little public evidence of their relationship." And it's no wonder, says Shane, since Ayers was caught expressing no regret for his own past terrorism in an article published on September 11, 2001. Yet earlier in Shane's article we learn that, according to Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt, Obama and Ayers "have not spoken by phone or exchanged e-mail messages since Mr. Obama began serving in the United States Senate in January 2005." Very interesting. Obama's own spokesman has just left open the possibility that there has indeed been phone and e-mail contact between the two men between 2002 and 2004, well after Ayers' infamous conduct on 9/11. Yet instead of pursuing this opening, Shane ignores the findings of his own investigation and covers for Obama.

    Wow. Imagine ignoring the results of your own investigation!

    Those guys at the Times take being above and beyond the call of duty quite literally.

    posted by Eric at 06:04 PM | Comments (10)

    Obama's Real Father?

    Could Obama's real father be Frank Marshall Davis?

    That would explain why his grandparents encouraged him to spend so much time with Frank.

    It would also explain why Andrew Sullivan is so interested in the Palin family genealogy chart. It is all part of an orchestrated distraction from the real questions in this campaign.

    It would also explain why Obama will not produce his birth certificate in court.

    The other possibility is that I'm making this up out of whole cloth. My advice? Pass it on and see if it gets any traction. Maybe we can get some one in the Obama camp to deny it.

    Update: It has come to my attention that some people are not clear on the concept. So here is some help. Search - Frank Marshall Davis Obama father.

    posted by Simon at 05:20 PM | Comments (7)

    Whose Sock Puppet Is Obama?

    A number of people have noted that Obama was looking off to the left a lot in the first debate with McCain. One of them is A. J. Strata and he has a theory.
    We seem to go round and round again these days on whether candidates have ear pieces (and these days they can be impossible to detect since some can simply be a patch or something near the ear). I think many pols are wired to a back room of puppeteers.
    What is the evidence? Look at the above video in light of what A. J. has to say:
    Watch it a couple of times as be pauses after his mangled line. He looks left for a split second, indicating which ear he is talking to. He is not talking to the audience, he is not looking at anyone in front of him. And he is totally 'off the stage' mentally when he is talking. So either he has a line to God, or he has an ear piece.
    I don't think that is proof positive. It sure is interesting though and that is what I say.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 04:29 PM | Comments (2)

    What's the problem here? Why is this so hard?

    Yesterday I revealed that because both of the two major candidates are disqualified from being president, the election is a nullity, because no matter who "wins," the result will be the final triumph of Bush fascism:

    What has Bush always wanted more than anything else?

    Why, the cancellation of elections and the permanent implementation of Bush fascism, that's what. Yes, I've been blogging about it for years, because Bush has been at it for years.

    Only this time, it's for real!

    So, as I see it, even if the court does the right thing, and declares that both Obama and McCain are ineligible to serve, the only way to do that will be to cancel the election -- precisely what Bush has wanted all along.

    I stuck my neck out and wrote the above because, well, like Philip Berg and Paul Andrew Mitchell, I care.

    I'd even go so far as to say -- if I may quote Andrew Sullivan -- that it's my job to care!

    "I haven't let the basic issue of accountability and transparency go. Never. It's my job."
    And you know what? Andrew Sullivan cares about deeper, more important questions than the eligibility of the two leading candidates. He even cares about the real parentage of the vice presidential candidate's babies:
    Now, when are we going to get some record of Trig's birth and parentage from the hospital or the doctor? It's been over a month now and still nada. Some basic record confirming Palin's eight-month special needs pregnancy, amiocentesis, labor and birth would be immensely easy to find and release - even off the record - to news organizations. And yet the McCainiacs refuse to even go near it and demonize anyone who dares ask for something that must be extremely well documented and easily found. They have stated on the record that Sarah Palin is Trig's biological mother. But they refuse to provide one iota of confirming evidence.

    I mean: what's the problem here? Why is this so hard?

    You know, he's absolutely right! And as a blogger who cares deeply about accountability, I see no reason why our duty to inquire should stop with Sarah Palin.

    I mean, even if they have "stated on the record that Sarah Palin is Trig's biological mother," has the Obama-Biden campaign stated on the record that Michelle Obama is the biological mother of Malia Ann and Sasha? Is Barack Obama the biological father?

    How do we know?

    Where is a single iota of confirming evidence? Why won't the Obamas release the DNA test results? Perhaps because they haven't had these simple tests done? Why not?

    What's the problem here? Why is this so hard?

    Likewise, what about, Joseph Biden III, Robert Hunter Biden, Naomi Christina Biden, and Ashley Blazer Biden? Has anyone provided one iota of confirming evidence of the identities of their biological parents?

    What's the problem here? Why is this so hard?

    Don't laugh. I'm just doing my job!

    URGENT UPDATE: In light of the growing debate over who is the real father of Barack Obama (damning pictures here), I think it might be time to apply the "Sullivan standard" to that too.

    As I said in an email earlier,

    It's in my nature to be skeptical, but I'm watching Andrew Sullivan closely to see when he calls for DNA testing!

    I think the Sullivan fairness standard should be rigorously applied to all candidates, and I'm waiting to see leadership from Andrew!

    Well, guess what? Andrew has specifically called for such testing to determine Trig's paternity, saying,
    The answers to those questions can easily be provided. . .
    Bear in mind that Trig Palin is far, far from being a candidate.

    Considering that we're talking about the president here, I think the situation cries out for the most rigorous possible application of the Sullivan standard.

    What's the problem here? Why is this so hard?

    Surely the Sullvan standard is not a double standard?

    posted by Eric at 03:51 PM | Comments (6)

    bonified rednex is real kyewl!

    I get jokes emailed to me regularly, and while I'm not averse to redneck jokes, I have a slight, er, language problem with this one.

    Here's the text (which is identical to what I received):

    A Tennessee couple, both bonified rednecks, had 9 children. They went to the doctor to see about getting the husband "fixed". The doctor gladly started the required procedure and asked them what finally made them make the decision--why after nine children, would they choose to do this.

    The husband replied that they had read in a recent article that one out of every ten children being born in the United States was Mexican, and they didn't want to take a chance on having a Mexican baby because neither of them could speak Spanish.

    Perhaps I should say I have a "bone to pick," but it seems to me that if you're going to ridicule stupid and illiterate rednecks, the rules of ridicule and simple fairness would dictate that you get the spelling right.

    And of course we all know that there is no such word as "bonified." It's "bona fide." Unless the idea is to imply that rednecks would use the word "bonified" (which I doubt), it's a clear mistake by the joke's author. And surely (so I thought), no educated person would use the word "bonified," so people who don't know how to spell "bona fide" are merely revealing that they belong to the uneducated classes, and are not in any position to be ridiculing rednecks.

    At least, that was my first reaction until I found the word in the Urban Dictionary, and read the definition:

    1. bonified

    A word used by people who don't know the proper spelling of "bona fide", like Sheila Marikar of ABC News.

    "The movie made $31 million in its opening weekend and transforming "Grey's Anatomy's" Katherine Heigl into a bonified movie star"

    That a professional, paid writer would say that in a film review surprised me, but I confirmed it; ABC's Marikar did say "bonified."

    So maybe I'm the one who's being unsophisticated here. Writers for ABC -- especially film reviewers -- are the height of cool, right?

    My concern is, if it's cool to use the word "bonified," then what is the basis for ridiculing the ignorant?

    By the way, there was a picture which accompanied the joke:


    I couldn't help notice that Ann Coulter is sitting on the porch next door while aiming a rifle.

    A little research revealed that it's a photoshop of this widely circulated picture of Coulter (which is attributed to Coulter's site):


    The picture of the rednecks with Morlock teeth has been superimposed onto the Coulter picture, so someone must have gone to a little bit of trouble to....

    Hey wait!

    Ann Coulter?


    Might the word "bonified" possibly be a pun at Coulter's expense? Am I a dumbass redneck for not getting it?

    Maybe I am (because I do cling to my guns and everything), but please, dear God, don't make me get bonified by Ann Coulter!

    See what happens when you start out with a small bone to pick?


    Why does everything have to be such a pain in the ass?

    (Or maybe I should say, "why should bonified deconstruction end up being a pain in the ass?")

    posted by Eric at 12:22 PM | Comments (3)

    Who reports? Who decides? And who is undecided?

    "They deserve to lose."

    So says Thomas Sowell about the unexplained Republican failure (so far) to present the facts.

    His piece is titled "Do facts matter?" and he's talking about these facts:

    Fact Number One: It was liberal Democrats, led by Senator Christopher Dodd and Congressman Barney Frank, who for years-- including the present year-- denied that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were taking big risks that could lead to a financial crisis.

    It was Senator Dodd, Congressman Frank and other liberal Democrats who for years refused requests from the Bush administration to set up an agency to regulate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

    It was liberal Democrats, again led by Dodd and Frank, who for years pushed for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to go even further in promoting subprime mortgage loans, which are at the heart of today's financial crisis.

    Alan Greenspan warned them four years ago. So did the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers to the President. So did Bush's Secretary of the Treasury, five years ago.

    Yet, today, what are we hearing? That it was the Bush administration "right-wing ideology" of "de-regulation" that set the stage for the financial crisis. Do facts matter?

    Now, here is where I confess to a serious disadvantage -- one grounded in a major disconnect between mainstream media reality and blog reality. All of the above facts have been discussed in post after post at this blog, and in post after post at countless other blogs. So many times that I feel like a redundant bore repeating them. I repeat, for the umpteenth time, I hate being repetitive! How many times do I have to say that I cannot stand having to repeat myself? It is unoriginal and crass. Once I write about something, unless I have something new to say, repeating it feels like a degrading and meaningless chore.

    I say "meaningless" because I think readers of this blog already know what they think one way or another, and they are not going to be persuaded in the least by my repeating anything I have said. I suspect that most readers already know who they're voting for. But maybe I shouldn't be making such assumptions.


    This is as good a time as any for a reader poll. Not to find out who people are voting for, but simply to determine how many undecideds read this blog.

    So, if you could kindly take just a second and let me know how many of you are undecided, I'd appreciate it.

    Have you firmly decided on a candidate for president?
    Yes, I know who I'm voting for and I won't change my mind.
    No. I'm either undecided or I might change my mind.
  free polls

    I tried to create as broad a category as possible for the undecideds, so I am including people who might change their mind. I realize that this poll is not scientific, but it might at least give me some idea how many readers here are likely to be moved one way or the other by opinions, arguments, or facts.

    Sowell argues that facts only matter if people know about them, and that many people just plain don't.

    Facts don't matter much politically if they are not reported.

    The media alone are not alone in keeping the facts from the public. Republicans, for reasons unknown, don't seem to know what it is to counter-attack. They deserve to lose.

    But the country does not deserve to be put in the hands of a glib and cocky know-it-all, who has accomplished absolutely nothing beyond the advancement of his own career with rhetoric, and who has for years allied himself with a succession of people who have openly expressed their hatred of America.

    He's got that right, because in the larger picture, it should not matter whether the Republicans deserve to lose. In that respect I think I'm both selfish and unselfish. Selfish because I think I will personally lose more freedom, and unselfish because I truly believe in my heart that if Obama wins, the country loses.

    I don't want to bias the above poll, but I don't think it will surprise any readers to hear that I'm not undecided.

    What I'm undecided about is whether that matters to anyone.

    posted by Eric at 10:48 AM | Comments (5)

    Houston We Have a Logistics Problem

    If you are interested in developing wind power on a large scale, tens to hundreds of megawatts, you have a problem. A logistics problem.

    In what has to be one of the biggest ironies surrounding alternative energy, many of the objections to wind energy focus on its effect on nature. Yet while the critics fret about the birds, the views and the noise, there's a much bigger barrier to wind on the horizon, one that many of its biggest proponents haven't yet taken into account. Wind energy, it seems, is starting to become a victim of its own success.

    "The worldwide demand for wind energy equipment is outstripping supply," says John Dunlop, senior technical services engineer for the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). The manufacturing base that produces the huge structural components, blades, generators and gearboxes that make up today's high-tech windmills simply can't keep up with the number of planned and ongoing installations. Dunlop points out wind turbines purchased today won't likely be delivered until 2011 or 2012. "That's the lead time right now," he says.

    Those lead times are confirmed by key components suppliers too. "It's more like 2012 in most cases," says Parthiv Amin, president of Winergy Drive Systems, a subsidiary of Siemens Energy & Automation and maker of the gearboxes and power transmission components used in wind machines.

    So how long does it take to build a factory that can take steel forgings and turn them into suitable gears and gear boxes? About three or four years. The tolerances are tight and the weight limits are similar to those found in aerospace. How about the generators? The same. So for the next four years or so wind installations are going to be limited to those already contracted for. Some one should tell Boone Pickens before he gets carried away with delusions of grandeur. Ramping up wind is not something that will get done in a few years. Not even in the decade Mr. Obama promises. It will take five or ten decades and any politician who promises you different is lying to you.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 06:00 AM | Comments (3)

    "objectivity and fairness and truth"
    I would ask also, then, that the media tries a little bit harder also. And that this is a two-way street, that there is fairness, just objectivity and fairness and truth. That's all Americans ask for.

    -- Sarah Palin

    Huh? I'm so cynical that I was stunned for a moment by that. I almost forgot that these were reasons I started blogging.

    But Sarah Palin is a politician, right? Surely, she can't really mean these things as anything more than campaign rhetoric.

    Can she?

    Considering what she has tried to do in contrast to what the media have been systematically doing to her, I think it's possible that she just might.

    To those who want to at least entertain the idea, I seriously suggest setting aside a few minutes and reading this post by Baseball Crank as a starting point. It is a long, close, and careful look at Sarah Palin -- especially her political history in Alaska. If you want to know why they hate her, it's a must read. I'd go so far as to say that if you want to know why she's more qualified than her accusers, it's a must read. A real eye opener. (Via Glenn Reynolds, who puts it mildly as "AN INTEGRITY GAP.")

    And I say this as someone who is not easily impressed and has been reading blog posts for a long time. It's meticulous work. Everything is linked, and after reading it I found myself agreeing with Baseball Crank's conclusion:

    As we look back over the last four years in national politics, this much is certain: we needed more people like Sarah Palin in Washington.
    Reading it will give you an explanation in detail of why there has been such a hatchet job.

    They. Fear. Her.

    I'm worried that they (yes, they) will try harder, but not in the way they should.

    posted by Eric at 01:30 AM | Comments (1)

    A Little Classical Music To Accompany Classical Values

    posted by Simon at 04:31 PM | Comments (1)

    Naming Names

    Thanks to Eric I have this bit of news about the housing crisis.
    Of all the characteristics of a successful politician, none is more essential than bare-faced cheek. Never has this been more evident than in the past fortnight, as senior Democrat members of the US legislature have sought to lay all the blame for the country's financial crisis on the executive arm of Government and Wall Street.

    Neither of these two institutions is blameless - far from it. Yet when I see such senior Democrats as Barney Frank, Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, and Christopher Dodd, Chairman of the Senate's Banking Committee, play the part of avenging angels - well, I can only stand in silent awe at the sheer tight-bottomed nerve of it. These are men with sphincters of steel.

    What is the proximate cause of the collapse of confidence in the world's banks? Millions of improvident loans to American housebuyers. Which organisations were on their own responsible for guaranteeing half of this $12 trillion market? Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the so-called Government Sponsored Enterprises which last month were formally nationalised to prevent their immediate and catastrophic collapse. Now, who do you think were among the leading figures blocking all the earlier attempts by President Bush - and other Republicans - to bring these lending behemoths under greater regulatory control? Step forward, Barney Frank and Chris Dodd.

    I think the video clip above has given us a truly fine example of Barney Frank's a**hole of steel. I wonder if he can still get a date with out paying for it? You know what is really sad? He is probably going to get re-elected. And you know what is sadder? The Community Reinvestment Act has not been rescinded. So we will get to do this all over again in a few years.

    Update: It seems Barney had a Fannie Buddy.

    Now that Fannie Mae is at the epicenter of a financial meltdown that threatens the U.S. economy, some are raising new questions about Frank's relationship with Herb Moses, who was Fannie's assistant director for product initiatives. Moses worked at the government-sponsored enterprise from 1991 to 1998, while Frank was on the House Banking Committee, which had jurisdiction over Fannie.

    Both Frank and Moses assured the Wall Street Journal in 1992 that they took pains to avoid any conflicts of interest. Critics, however, remain skeptical.

    "It's absolutely a conflict," said Dan Gainor, vice president of the Business & Media Institute. "He was voting on Fannie Mae at a time when he was involved with a Fannie Mae executive. How is that not germane?

    How is it that these mopes keep getting elected and reelected to Congress? And how is it that a Democrat from one of the most Corrupt cities in America looks like he is in line to become the next President of the United States? Isn't flushing a trillion dollars down the drain enough? H/T for this update is Save Liberty in the comments at Classical Values.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 02:29 PM | Comments (6)

    This time, it's really and truly the final triumph of fascism!

    A man named Paul Andrew Mitchell (who happens also to be a "Private Attorney General") has intervened in Berg v. Obama. While the latter lawsuit had only sought to declare Barack Obama ineligible to serve as president, the latest complaint maintains that John McCain is not a citizen either. Therefore Private Attorney General Mitchell seeks the following relief:

    a prompt Writ in the nature of a Prohibition, forever barring both Messrs. Barack Hussein Obama and John Sidney McCain III from ever serving in the Office of President of the United States of America, for reasons summarized succinctly above.
    While at least one impudent judge appears to have declared Mitchell a "vexatious litigant," I am not so easily fooled.

    And don't anyone laugh, because I am going to connect the dots.

    As I will make clear, this is a two-pronged win-win strategy orchestrated at the highest levels by Generalissimo Bush.

    First, it is a diabolical way of implementing his notorious secret North American Union plan to de-sovereignitize the United States. Think about it this way: no matter who wins, either way we are guaranteed to lose America! With a non-citizen in charge, the Constitution will have been abrogated, and all borders will disappear, as agreed upon in Bush's secret Master Plan.

    But wait! The plot is thicker than you might think. Because, having a non-citizen in charge of a non-country which will then issue worthless Ameros in the name of the NAU while Bush pulls all the strings from his Crawford Camelot -- that's merely one alternative. Bush has had a long time to plan, and this time, he's got it all figured out so that no matter what happens, he'll still be in charge.

    What has Bush always wanted more than anything else?

    Why, the cancellation of elections and the permanent implementation of Bush fascism, that's what. Yes, I've been blogging about it for years, because Bush has been at it for years.

    Only this time, it's for real!

    So, as I see it, even if the court does the right thing, and declares that both Obama and McCain are ineligible to serve, the only way to do that will be to cancel the election -- precisely what Bush has wanted all along.

    Let's face it. No matter what happens with the Berg lawsuit, we are doubly doomed. And doubly secretly screwed!

    While liberals are fond of arguing that McCain is just like Bush, not much attention is paid to the fact that Barack Obama has pledged "a continuation of Bush administration militarism that destabilizes the U.S. economy."

    Little wonder why. It's all going according to Plan.

    Don't say you weren't warned!

    MORE: Lest anyone doubt the seriousness of this matter, more research revealed a very damning headline -- Bush, McCain & Obama To Visit Bohemian Grove?

    The Bohemian Grove, of course, is where Bilderbergers, Trilateral Commissioners, and Council on Foreign Relations meet and have wild orgies while plotting their final takeovers of what's left of our pillaged world:

    Bohemian Grove is a 136-year-old all-male encampment complete with restaurants, bars, stages and lodges, which caters to around 2,000 members of the global elite along with Californian hoi polloi on a yearly basis in July. The camp is set within a 2,700 acre secluded forest replete with giant redwood trees.

    Former attendees include Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon, who both went on to become President, as well as regulars like Henry Kissinger, Alan Greenspan, David Rockefeller, Colin Powell, as well as George W. Bush and his father.
    In 2000 radio host and film maker Alex Jones infiltrated the gathering and caught exclusive video footage of a bizarre mock human sacrifice ritual, known as "the cremation of care", under a 40 foot stone owl that the members refer to as Molech.

    Attendees dress up like Klan members in hooded robes and perform druidic pagan ceremonies to mark the spectacular finale of the event.

    Why, there's even a video to prove it!

    And if that didn't convince you, read "Barack O'Bilderberg: Picking the President":

    Recently, there has been much discussion about Barack Obama having possibly attended the recent Bilderberg conference in Virginia. This speculation arose when Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton sneaked off for a secretive meeting while in Virginia. As the AP reported, "Reporters traveling with Obama sensed something might be happening between the pair when they arrived at Dulles International Airport after an event in Northern Virginia and Obama was not aboard the airplane. Asked at the time about the Illinois senator's whereabouts, [Obama spokesman Robert] Gibbs smiled and declined to comment."7

    The press that had been traveling with Obama were not made aware of the secretive meeting until the plane that they assumed Obama would be present on was moving down the runway, prompting many angry questions from the press towards Obama's spokesman, Robert Gibbs. One reported asked Gibbs, "Why were we not told about this meeting until we were on the plane, the doors were shut and the plane was about to taxi to take off?" to which he responded, "Senator Obama had a desire to do some meetings, others had a desire to meet with him tonight in a private way and that is what we are doing." This preceded another question, "Is there more than one meeting, is there more than one person with whom he is meeting?" Gibbs simply replied, "I am not going to get into all the details of the meeting." He again later repeated that, "There was a desire to do some meetings tonight, he was interested in doing them, others were interested in doing them, and to do them in a way that was private."8

    On Friday, June 6, it was reported that Bilderberg tracker, Jim Tucker, "called Obama's office today to ask if he had attended Bilderberg. A campaign spokeswoman refused to discuss the matter but would not deny that Obama had attended Bilderberg."9

    Has any of this made it into the mainstream media? Of course not! Obviously, there has been a news blackout at the highest levels. And even if asked, the forces of Obamccainanbush would simply deny it!


    The situation is so hopeless that I might as well be the first one to say it....

    "I for one welcome our new alien overlords!"

    MORE: As if that wasn't bad enough, it turns out that Yuri Nosenko died on August 23, 2008. An event which few noticed.

    And what happened four days later, on August 27? Barack Obama was officially nominated.

    Golitsyn lives.

    posted by Eric at 01:20 PM | Comments (3)

    Why "Yipping Yorkie Biden" is cute, but "Pit Bull Palin" is evil

    Funny that I'd just write a post complaining about politics, with another light-hearted reference to Coco and the Sarah Palin/pit bull comparison.

    To me, it was an attempt to be funny. But to others, this is a deadly serious matter, and the pit bull reference shows how truly awful Republicans are, to the core.

    To accomplish this rhetorical task, it is necessary to reframe the analogy by means of very strained attacks on pit bulls (to better compare them to evil Republicans, of course).

    This dishonest tirade vilifies Republicans by vilifying pit bulls with the following claims:

    # A pit bull is a programmed fighter. Its handlers throw it into the ring, and it attacks.
    # A pit bull fights indiscriminately. A pit bull mauls small children, innocent neighbors. It even bites the hand that feeds it.
    # A pit bull is dangerous.
    # A pit bull can't be trusted.
    # A pit bull is mean.
    # A pit bull is tenacious. It never lets go.
    While Coco's feelings were hurt by that, fortunately I don't need to bother debunking it.

    Xrlq has, point by point:

    Just think about it. What images and feelings do the words "pit bull" conjure up? (... with apologies to all sweet-spirited canines)

    Here you see Democrat thinking at its worst: forget verifiable facts: "images and feelings" are all that matters. If you have bad thoughts about Republicans and pit bulls, well, that must mean that they are bad, right?

    * A pit bull is a programmed fighter. Its handlers throw it into the ring, and it attacks.

    The other pit bull, sure. That's what Vice Presidential candidates are supposed to do in an election season. So far, Sarah the Pit Bull seems to have done a pretty good job of that, certainly better than the Yorkshire terrier they've got yipping for the other side.

    * A pit bull fights indiscriminately. A pit bull mauls small children, innocent neighbors. It even bites the hand that feeds it.

    This picture immediately follows:


    Yes, just like the vicious pit bulls to whom she compares herself, Sarah Palin loves to maul small children.

    Excellent post. Read it all.

    Another reminder that much as I'd like to ignore politics, ignoring things in the hope that they will go away is a poor strategy.

    But hey, it's not as if I really expected yipping yorkies to have the good sense to leave pit bulls alone....

    posted by Eric at 11:00 AM | Comments (2)

    tug till you ugh!

    What do you do if you hate politics but that's all there is right now?

    I realize that politics isn't all there is, but it's just tough to ignore at election time. Everything is partisan. I can't open the front door without seeing Barack Obama signs on the lawns of neighbors (who no doubt wonder about me), and every time I pick up the daily newspaper I am reminded that it is little more than a shrill mouthpiece for the Obama campaign.

    Then I look at my blog, and I see that I'm steeped in political overdrive mode, as if I think something I say here will cause anyone to vote differently than he or she would have anyway. (Fat chance; blogs do not "win" debates. Readers read things they like to read, duh.)

    Anyway, Glenn linked something this morning which cheered me up by reminding me that I am not alone:

    This year's presidential election campaigning has brought out the worst in just about everyone. We've resorted to calling each other names, personally attacking people, and then crying foul -- and exposing our hypocrisy -- when we complain that the other side is doing the same exact thing to us. If you're a Democrat/liberal, you're a mindless, bleeding heart baby killer who doesn't support our military forces. If you're a Republican/conservative, you're judgmental, against women's reproductive rights, and a warmonger.
    Yeah, well unfortunately for me, I'm not comfortable with either "side," and I never have been. Sure, I hate socialism, and I make no secret of that, but how many people want to read my umpteenth post about how Obama is a socialist?

    Still, Coco and I enjoy occasional snippets like this:

    The pit bull is back, and she can still bite.
    Hey wait a minute!

    Now Coco's complaining that she's being unfairly dragged into politics, and unfairly stereotyped.


    Does everything have to be a tug of war?

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

    Bailing On The Bailout

    My Congressman Don Manzullo had this to say:

    "Everything we're doing to reach out to members is predicated on the fact that failure is not an option," said Blunt spokeswoman Antonia Ferrier.

    But not all of those efforts were fruitful. Blunt's visit to the meeting of the Republican Study Committee (RSC) was met with criticism that leadership was asking them to vote for a bill that members now considered "impure" because of alleged pork projects.

    Two sources said that Rep. Don Manzullo (R-Ill.) raised his voice to Blunt at the RSC meeting, telling him, "We elect you to represent us, and you aren't doing it."

    Tell it like it is Don.

    This turkey will not pass.

    Without a clean bill it will not get enough Republican votes. Without a dirty bill it will not get enough Democrat votes. Do the math.

    Update: It passed. So much for my powers of prediction.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 07:12 AM | Comments (3)

    Helping Voters In Ohio

    Such earnest helpful people. I wonder how many will be touring Ohio for Obama? When Obama said he wasn't going to lose this election he wasn't kidding.

    posted by Simon at 05:29 AM | Comments (3)

    Not bad so far

    The debate started, and Sarah Palin is holding her own.

    I'm not liveblogging, although I might weigh in later.

    9:20 -- After Biden slammed McCain's health care plan as "the ultimate bridge to nowhere," it didn't faze her. She came right back smiling, and said that McCain didn't promise one thing in one place and another in another.

    9:26 -- Palin keeps coming back to McCain having been right to sound the alarm about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

    Stephen Green says "Biden has an easy command of the facts, even when his facts are BS."

    Now Palin is asked about climate change. "There are real changes." Says she does not want to argue about why; only what to do. Stresses energy independence, alternative fuel, conservation.

    Very condescendingly, Biden says it's man made.

    "If you don't understand the cause...."


    9:34 -- "Drill baby drill!" Unfazed by Biden, Palin says Democrats have said no to every possible form of oil exploration and development.

    9:37 -- Same sex couples. Biden says they have the same rights as straight couples. Palin says she is tolerant and that visitation and contractual arrangements should be allowed. Biden says "Barack Obama and I do not" support same sex marriage. They agree that they do not support gay marriage.


    9:41 -- they're now talking about Iraq. Biden is a better debater, but again, she is holding firm and is not rattled. Comes back with "You said you'd be willing to run him on the ticket, and thta Barack Obama was not ready to be commander in chief."


    Biden repeats that McCain voted to cut off funding for the troops.

    Now it's Iran and Pakistan and nukes. Both recognize the danger.

    But wait! I missed something important, and Ann Althouse caught it:

    8:34: Palin said "Senator O'Biden."
    But I said it first!

    Biden knows how to work the facts, but where it comes to theater (which is what these debates are; lets not kid oursleves) I think Palin is winning.

    9:54 -- Palin gently lets Biden have it with his endless finger pointing over Bush Bush Bush being wrong wrong wrong. Smiles, reminds him of McCain's differences, and says "Change is coming!"

    9:58 -- Palin is winning Drudge's poll.

    "FACTS MATTER," says Biden. Blahh Blah blah. His voice is grating on me. I have to say, I find Palin's self confidence invigorating.

    10:03 -- It's amazing how rattled Biden is starting to get. He sighed, as if he doesn't think it's fair or something. Keeps talking about how Afghanistan is more important than Iraq, and McCain ignored it.

    She says "it's obvious that I'm not a Washington insider" and mentions being for something before you were against it. I'm sure he'e even more annoyed. Agrees with him on the need to stop genocide in Darfur.

    10:06 -- Palin is winning Ann Althouse's poll, by nearly 10 to 1.

    10:09 -- Biden says this is the most important election since 1932. Says he supports everything Obama says. Palin says McCain never asked her to check her opinions at the door.

    10:11 -- "Joe there you go again pointing backwards!" (at Bush.) Talks about schools. Says education is lax. Emphasis should be on teaching. Ramp it up and put more emphasis on education.

    10:20 -- In what I think was Palin's strongest moment so far, she endorsed American exceptionalism, the "shining city on the hill," and invoked Reagan.

    Now Biden is saying how McCain is not a maverick, and ticks off endless points on a long list.

    10:26 -- Sarah Palin talks credibly about bipartisanship in Alaska and working with the other side, and she really seems to mean it. She does not come across as a right wing nut. Biden says he never questions people's motivations.

    10:29 -- Closing statements. Biden had the advantage of going last, but they were both good.

    I'd say Palin won the visual, although Biden may have won if you read the transcript. (However, Biden's statements should be checked for accuracy, especially his claims about what McCain did and did not vote for.)

    Bottom line: going into this debate, Palin had been spun as an inexperienced fool.

    I think she may have changed the game.

    MORE: Here's Stephen Green:

    Here's my mini-wrap. If you were looking for a veep who wants, needs, to be President, then Joe Biden is your man. But Sarah Palin was the one who really manned up tonight, for unfailingly selling America on her candidate rather than on herself.
    What's being forgotten in Washington and by the MSM is that ordinary people can relate to her.

    It's as if she's one of them, and maybe she is.

    MORE: From the transcript, here's where I thought she did quite well:

    But even more important is that world view that I share with John McCain. That world view that says that America is a nation of exceptionalism. And we are to be that shining city on a hill, as President Reagan so beautifully said, that we are a beacon of hope and that we are unapologetic here. We are not perfect as a nation. But together, we represent a perfect ideal. And that is democracy and tolerance and freedom and equal rights. Those things that we stand for that can be put to good use as a force for good in this world.

    John McCain and I share that. You combine all that with being a team with the only track record of making a really, a difference in where we've been and reforming, that's a good team, it's a good ticket.

    MORE: According to Peggy Noonan (who ought to know, and who repeats it twice),

    "She killed."

    Via Ace.

    Maybe I should change the rather tepid title of this post.

    Nah, there's still a month to go.

    More killing please!

    UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds has roundups with reactions -- including a poll which Palin is winning overwhelmingly.

    I especially liked this: seemed to me that both did well, and that this was a bigger deal for Palin than for Biden since the press was portraying her as some sort of airhead before. I agree with the Daily News that it was a better debate than last week's, and I was struck by how cordial Biden and Palin seemed afterward. Frankly, I think the country would be better off if both tickets were flipped. . . .
    Is it technically too late to do that?

    MORE: Roger L. Simon (who has a Hollywood background) has an interesting take on the body language:

    He was an aging fellow (like me) forced to debate a young and much more charismatic woman who was easily his equal. You could see in his body language that he knew it.
    (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

    I saw it too. Because the debate was on live television, clever editing could not save him.

    posted by Eric at 09:14 PM | Comments (6)

    Who chose choice, and whose choice is chosen?

    While I'm waiting for the Palin-Biden debate to start, I figured I might as well address the urgent issue of Sarah Palin's gay friend. Normally, this wouldn't be such a big deal, but as Governor Palin is being spun as a major homo-hatin', bible-totin' bigot, I guess it comes as a surprise to some that she would have a gay friend. Not just as any old gay friend, but someone who according to Palin is "one of my best friends."

    "Funny that she and John McCain get so little credit from the gay community for what have actually been quite progressive attitudes," remarked Glenn Reynolds when he linked the above.

    Added Gay Patriot,

    While I disagree with the Alaska Governor's contention that her friend "made a choice" to be gay, I'm pleased that we have yet another piece of video showing Palin saying that she doesn't judge people because they are gay. She has remained friends with a woman even after learning of her lesbianism.
    I don't mean to quibble here, but I watched the video of the interview carefully, and I don't think Sarah Palin said her friend made the choice to be gay. What she said was that her friend ("one of my best friends") "made a choice that isn't a choice I would have made."

    I think it's fair to infer from the context that she refers to her friend's lifestyle choice, but does that necessarily mean her sexuality itself? These are not synonymous. As even the most committed ideologically driven activists will admit, human sexuality - regardless of whether it is innate, learned, or predetermined at birth - does not always dictate or guarantee that a person will live a certain way. There are celibate heterosexuals, celibate homosexuals, celibate bisexuals, just as there are varying levels of active sexual behavior. Not all people express their sexuality, much less in the manner that they might ultimately prefer in their heart of hearts. There are people who would prefer homosexual relations to heterosexual relations but engage in heterosexual relations, usually because they don't want to face the social stigma associated with homosexuality. Typically, these people are called "closeted." I'm sure there are people who prefer children to adults (or animals to people) but settle for sex with adult humans because they don't want to face the consequences of doing what they'd really prefer. (Much as I disapprove of sex with children or animals, this is not intended as a moral judgment; only an observation about human nature.)

    As to whether a person's sexuality is a choice, it gets a bit more complicated. I have never been able to understand how anyone can be certain about the exact nature of mechanism inside that most personal area of another human being's mind - the area responsible for what we call human sexuality.

    But what tends to happen in the political debate is that a large number of activists on one side insist that "homosexuality" is a choice, while a large number of activists on the other insist that "it" is not.

    Aren't they being a bit presumptuous about individuals who are, after all, total strangers? How can anyone know for sure whether a person "chose" his sexuality other than that particular individual?

    In this respect, I think President Bush's answer to Bob Schieffer during the 2004 debate was a lot smarter than he was given credit for:

    SCHIEFFER: Mr. President, let's get back to economic issues. But let's shift to some other questions here.

    Both of you are opposed to gay marriage. But to understand how you have come to that conclusion, I want to ask you a more basic question.

    Do you believe homosexuality is a choice?

    BUSH: You know, Bob, I don't know.

    If we return to the example of the closeted homosexual, few would argue that being in the closet is not a choice. And if being celibate or being in the closet is a choice, then deciding to have sex or come out is also a choice. But as to a person's innermost sexual orientation and desires, how anyone can know whether that is a choice except the individual?

    Yet people on both "sides" claim to know what is going on in the minds of total strangers, and of course the arguments go in circles.

    I'm not sure why this matters so much to so many people, but it does.

    I mean, there's still a right to choice, isn't there?

    posted by Eric at 08:54 PM | Comments (1)

    Bidin' my time

    Right now, I'm waiting for Sarah Palin and Joe O'Biden to do their thing.

    I see that longtime commenter Portia is also waiting. And she has emailed Sean Kinsell with her thoughts:

    Right now I'm waiting for the debate to see how she performs. NOT to make up my mind. As I said, it's pretty much get drunk and vote for McCain and I'd have done it even if he picked Romney. (If he picked Huckabee I had plans to find a lone island and hide out to wait for the end of the world.) I don't like McCain, but I'm back in the familiar situation of the seventies, where I have to pick between those who will get me and my family killed and those who MIGHT allow us to live another four years.


    There are other reasons to vote for McCain, including that the press wants us to vote for Obama and I don't like being told what to do.

    But I hope and pray I'm right and that there is a "there" there when it comes to Palin. Because if McCain wins, and croaks, I don't want her playing sweet little girl to Putin, heaven help us all. Perhaps not as bad as Obama would be, but six of one, half a dozen of the other.

    On experience -- not too fussed, provided McCain doesn't die first day in office -- PROVIDED SHE KICKS OFF "good little girl" mode. I'm hoping it happens sometime. Can't promise, because it depends on McCain's attitude, too.

    I predict that she'll do better than a lot of her critics expect. Whether she'll "beat" O'Biden, I don't know. I thought McCain beat Obama, but a huge media chorus declared that because Obama won simply because he wasn't knocked out.

    I'm glad the voters will eventually be allowed to express their own opinion.

    posted by Eric at 08:26 PM

    What's Wrong With This Picture?

    H/T Hot Air

    posted by Simon at 05:03 PM

    Lawyer For Terrorists Defends Obama

    This is rather curious. Obama is supposed to produce his birth certificate to prove he is an American citizen. Instead of producing the paper, he is fighting the suit. From Atlas Shrugs.

    Rather than just product the birth certificate (is he trying to hide something?) Obama's legal team filed a motion to dismiss. One of the Lawyers filing the motion was Joe Sandler ( of the Washington law firm Sandler, Reiff, and Young (see the document below).

    If Mr. Sandler's name sounds familiar it Should. He is the Leagal Hit Man for the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). CAIR is an organization with terrorist ties, and has been as an un-indicted co-conspiritor in the Holyland Foundation Hamas Funding trial.

    Sandler's role for CAIR has been to stifle people from telling the truth about Islam. For example, last year he tried to get Jihad Expert Robert Spencer banned from speaking to the Young American Foundation by using a threatening letter. Sandler followed up by threatening columnist Mike Adams for writing about the Spencer incident.

    Curious choice of lawyers. And producing the paper work should be pro forma. No big deal. Why fight it? Unless there is something to hide. Go to the Atlas Shrugged link above to get more details on the story and links. Verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry interrresting.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

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

    Obama Money Needs Investigation

    Yep. Obama seems to be getting money from a lot of strange places.

    An auditor for the Federal Election Commission is attempting to have his bosses seek a formal investigation into the collection by the Obama for President campaign of more than $200 million in potentially illegal political donations, including millions of dollars of illegal, foreign donations, and has sought a request for assistance from the Department of Justice or Federal Bureau of Investigation. But the analyst's requests have largely been ignored. "I can't get anyone to move. I believe we are looking at a hijacking of our political system that makes the Clinton and Gore fundraising scandals pale in comparison. And no one here wants to touch it."

    One reasons cited by his superiors, says the analyst, is that involvement by the Justice Department or FBI would be indicative of a criminal investigation, something the FEC would prefer not take place a month before the presidential election. Such actions, though, have been used to scuttle Republican campaigns in the past, the most famous being the Weinberger case in the days leading up to the 1992 re-election bid of President George H.W. Bush.

    The analyst, who declines to be identified for fear of retribution, says that on four different occasions in the past three months, he sought to open formal investigations into the Obama campaign's fundraising techniques, but those investigations have been discouraged. "Without formal approval, I can't get the resources I need, manpower, that kind of thing. This is a huge undertaking." And the analyst says that he believes that campaign finance violations have occurred.

    The Obama campaign seems to be getting huge amounts of money.
    More than half of the whopping $426.9 million Barack Obama has raised has come from small donors whose names the Obama campaign won't disclose.

    And questions have arisen about millions more in foreign donations the Obama campaign has received that apparently have not been vetted as legitimate.

    Obama has raised nearly twice that of John McCain's campaign, according to new campaign finance report.

    But because of Obama's high expenses during the hotly contested Democratic primary season and an early decision to forgo public campaign money and the spending limits it imposes, all that cash has not translated into a financial advantage -- at least, not yet.

    We do have some of the names and they seem like some very nice people.
    When FEC auditors have questions about contributions, they send letters to the campaign's finance committee requesting additional information, such as the complete address or employment status of the donor.

    Many of the FEC letters that Newsmax reviewed instructed the Obama campaign to "redesignate" contributions in excess of the finance limits.

    Under campaign finance laws, an individual can donate $2,300 to a candidate for federal office in both the primary and general election, for a total of $4,600. If a donor has topped the limit in the primary, the campaign can "redesignate" the contribution to the general election on its books.

    In a letter dated June 25, 2008, the FEC asked the Obama campaign to verify a series of $25 donations from a contributor identified as "Will, Good" from Austin, Texas.

    Mr. Good Will listed his employer as "Loving" and his profession as "You."

    A Newsmax analysis of the 1.4 million individual contributions in the latest master file for the Obama campaign discovered 1,000 separate entries for Mr. Good Will, most of them for $25.

    In total, Mr. Good Will gave $17,375.

    Following this and subsequent FEC requests, campaign records show that 330 contributions from Mr. Good Will were credited back to a credit card. But the most recent report, filed on Sept. 20, showed a net cumulative balance of $8,950 -- still well over the $4,600 limit.

    There can be no doubt that the Obama campaign noticed these contributions, since Obama's Sept. 20 report specified that Good Will's cumulative contributions since the beginning of the campaign were $9,375.

    In an e-mailed response to a query from Newsmax, Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt pledged that the campaign would return the donations. But given the slowness with which the campaign has responded to earlier FEC queries, there's no guarantee that the money will be returned before the Nov. 4 election.

    Similarly, a donor identified as "Pro, Doodad," from "Nando, NY," gave $19,500 in 786 separate donations, most of them for $25. For most of these donations, Mr. Doodad Pro listed his employer as "Loving" and his profession as "You," just as Good Will had done.

    The Obama campaign has also received contributions from some people who are not very nice.
    US Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama was apparently the recipient of nearly $30,000 in campaign contributions from a pair of Palestinian Arabs in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

    While recently investigating online campaign contribution logs, Pamela Geller of the blog Atlas Shrugs discovered a curious set of entries from mid-2007 showing a series of contributions from two Arab men who listed their place of residence as "Rafah, GA."

    Skeptical about the existence of a town in Georgia called Rafah, Geller did some digging and discovered that the contributions had in fact come from the Gaza Strip border town of Rafah.

    It is illegal for a US presidential candidate to receive contributions from non-US citizens, or to receive in excess of $2,300 from a single individual.

    Curious for more information, WorldNetDaily correspondent Aaron Klein tracked down the two Gaza Arabs, brothers Monir and Hosam Edwan.

    The Edwan brothers said that they and many other Palestinians love Obama, and are confident he will be the US president to force Israel to surrender land for the birth of a Palestinian Arab state.

    When pressed about their illegal contribution, the brothers altered their story and insisted that they had not made an online donation, but had rather purchased $30,000 worth of t-shirts from the Obama campaign website.

    WorldNetDaily also learned that while Monir and Hosam are themselves believed to be non-religious, their clan is known for supporting Hamas.

    That Obama has some very interesting supporters. If he wins the election I sure hope it works out well for all of us, but what I'm thinking is are all his supporters going to get their money's worth? I hope not.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 03:39 PM | Comments (4)

    High Praise For Biden

    Sen. Claire McCaskill has high praise for Senator Joe Biden. Joe she said,

    "has a tendency to talk forever and sometimes say things that are kind of stupid."
    Thank the Maker he is not a heartbeat away from the Presidency.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 02:35 PM

    How enlightening!
    "An enlightened citizenry is indispensable for the proper functioning of a republic."

    -- Thomas Jefferson

    I'm sorry, but at the risk of sounding cynical, I'm glad the Green Party exists, and that Cynthia McKinney is running as its candidate for president. Because, while I find it disturbing that people who believe in conspiracy theories like the one advanced here by Cynthia McKinney are allowed to vote, I'm glad they at least have a candidate as loony as they are, for otherwise they might vote for Barack Obama.

    With apparent seriousness, McKinney advances the claim that the government (via the U.S. military, of course) actually carried out 5,000 secret executions of prisoners during the Hurricane Katrina crisis, then dumped them in the swamp!

    Via Ed Morrissey, who notes that Alex Jones believes it. Presumably, so do his listeners. I don't know how many people that is, but they're an argument against unlimited suffrage. There is a fine line between what we call "opinion" and that sort of irrationality bordering on outright mental illness, and IMO, these people cross it.

    While this nonsense doesn't require too much debunking, Ed Morrissey was generous enough to debunk it anyway:

    The conspiracy theorists on the Left and the Right tend to embrace each other at a certain point, just south of rationality. For these people, little points like evidence and common sense provide no obstacles at all to paranoia and fantasy.

    For instance, let's skip past the extremely weak sourcing McKinney uses to make her charges and go right to some obvious points. Wouldn't the families of these 5,000 prisoners wonder what happened to them? And which prisoners, specifically, have not been accounted for? At least a few names of people who were in Louisiana state custody before Katrina and then not in custody afterwards would provide a starting point for any investigation. And it's possible to lose a few bodies in the Louisiana swamps, but not even that legendary territory could hide 5,000 of them at once without a few of the locals taking notice.

    I'm sure the conspiracy theorists can come up with the usual convoluted "rebuttals" to each of those points (probably that they were fed to alligators which were in turn eaten by military pythons, and the government is killing all witnesses and all families who ask questions), but it's too tiring.

    I'm just glad they have a candidate. And it's important to note that she's a Pisces with Moon in Sagittarius!

    So why isn't the McKinney candidacy better known?

    posted by Eric at 01:22 PM | Comments (3)

    Remember, experience counts!

    During a discussion last February involving the FHA, Senator Byrd reminded his fellow senators of... of... of.... well, of something.

    "...senators should address one other ... how?... not.... in the second person..... but.. rather... in the third person

    is the senator... from Timbuktu aware of that ....rule?

    is the senator from West Virginia aware of the rule? Yes.

    The senator from West Virginia Mr. President will take his seat.'

    That's only a partial transcript of his, um... well, I guess they were remarks. I'm still trying to interpret them.

    Imagine the Republicans trying to sneak someone as inexperienced as Sarah Palin past a guy like Senator Byrd!

    That was last February. Here's how he looked in May ("before we begin consideration of this important spending bill"):

    Remember, if Governor Palin is elected Vice President, she will have to preside over Senator Byrd.

    I guess that sort of work does take experience of a certain kind.

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

    I not only question the timing, I resent the timing!

    Remember the 1987 crash?

    It began on a day known as Black Monday:

    The crash began in Hong Kong, spread west through international time zones to Europe, hitting the United States after other markets had already declined by a significant margin. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) dropped by 508 points to 1739 (22.6%).[1] By the end of October, stock markets in Hong Kong had fallen 45.8%, Australia 41.8%, Spain 31%, the United Kingdom 26.4%, the United States 22.68%, and Canada 22.5%.
    Unlike the 1929 crash, though, the market recovered:
    Despite fears of a repeat of the 1930s Depression, the market rallied immediately after the crash, posting a record one-day gain of 102.27 the very next day and 186.64 points on Thursday October 22. It took only two years for the Dow to recover completely; by September 1989, the market had regained all of the value it had lost in the 1987 crash. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained six-tenths of a percent during the calendar year 1987.

    Not so 1929:

    October 24 (known as Black Thursday) was the first in a number of increasingly shocking market drops. This was followed swiftly by Black Monday on October 28 and Black Tuesday on October 29.

    On Black Tuesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 38 points to 260, a drop of 12.8%. The deluge of selling overwhelmed the ticker tape system that normally gave investors the current prices of their shares. Telephone lines and telegraphs were clogged and were unable to cope. This information vacuum only led to more fear and panic. The technology of the New Era, much celebrated by investors previously, now served to deepen their suffering.

    Black Tuesday was a day of chaos. Forced to liquidate their stocks because of margin calls, overextended investors flooded the exchange with sell orders. The glamour stocks of the age saw their values plummet. Across the two days, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 23%.

    By the end of the week of November 11, the index stood at 228, a cumulative drop of 40 percent from the September high. The markets rallied in succeeding months but it would be a false recovery that led unsuspecting investors into the worst economic crisis of modern times. The Dow Jones Industrial Average would lose 89% of its value before finally bottoming out in July 1932.

    Was there any relation between 1987 and 1929 which might have lessons for today?

    The reason I'm asking is because September 29 was widely described as the "blackest day since 1987":

    The Dow Jones industrial average tumbled nearly 778 points, or almost 7 percent, its biggest single-day points fall ever, easily beating the 684 points it lost on the first day of trading after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. By the end of the day, the broader stock indicators also plummeted. The Standard & Poor's 500 index declined 106.62, or nearly 9 percent, its largest-ever point drop and its biggest percentage loss since the week after the October 1987 crash.
    Here's the accompanying chart:


    Because the market did not drop nearly as much (and it has bounced back, if erratically), what has happened has not been a repeat of 1987 or 1929. However, we are barely into the magical month of October.

    And while I'm not into analysis by superstition, it's tough to ignore the fact that people get weird this time of year. And this is hardly a normal year.

    Anyway, back in 2003, an analyst named "Lope" looked closely at the 1987 crash in the context of psychology, and began his argument by citing a paper by Edinburgh economist Donald Mackenzie. (The latter argued that "financial markets of high modernity are designed entities, and "the question of their design is always a political question, even if it is seldom recognized as such.")

    In his fascinating argument, "Lope" maintains that the main cause of the 1987 crash was along the lines of copycat psychology -- a self-fulfilling prophecy:

    1) why the 1987 crash occurred on Monday, October 19.
    in the historical model investors had adopted, the crash had occurred on a Monday in October, 1929. The overlap in Mondays resulted in a self-fulfilling prophecy to emerge in 1987.

    2) why the move was so extreme in price.
    1987 fell 23% because participants noted that 1929 had fallen 24%. Their willingness to sell using 1929 as an example resulted in replication.

    3) why it fell so quickly.
    1929's 24% decline had only taken 2 days to occur. By analogy, market participants felt equities could fall as fast in 1987

    4) why 1987 was an international phenomenon.
    the 1929 crash set a precedent by affecting markets from Paris to London to New York. Thus investors the world over were influenced by the memory of the crash and Great Depression, not just those in the U.S., and were willing to sell in 1987 using the 1929 memory as justification

    5) how a lack of major news or important events prior to the decline could justify a 22% change.
    the cause was psychological, caused by an old memory. Thus it needed no events or important news to emerge.

    In other words (at least, so argued Lope), people are irrational and superstitious.

    A hell of a way to run a market.

    Or an election.

    I hope people are not as stupid or suggestible as some might think.

    Or hope.

    MORE: Speaking of psychology, Dr. Helen (who is a professional psychologist) asks "How much of the financial crisis is psychological?":

    ...I sometimes wonder how much of the financial picture is accurate and how much is manufactured in order to get a Democrat elected. One has to ponder about the timing of all of this bad news.

    Why the crescendo of economic collapse right before the election? Why didn't the media and congress act just as concerned some time ago or wait until sometime after the election to go into crisis mode? The timing of the current financial crisis seems too planned and calculating to be just a coincidence.

    She concludes with a grim prediction:
    ...In the coming months and years after the election, we will be told how Obama has managed this crisis and overcome it, despite the fact that he and other Democrats had their hands in the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac fiasco and caused some of it, but that's another story. But by then, it will be too late. Those who voted for Obama based on economic fear may realize too late that they may have buyer's remorse.
    I think she is right (although I hope people are able to see past their traditional fears).

    Unfortunately, the inability of Republicans to agree on economic issues (or at least the perception of it) may steer the public's economic fears in precisely the wrong direction.

    posted by Eric at 09:55 AM

    Barack Has Some Friends

    And you can find out who they are by visiting Here are some typical entries:

    Barack is watching the new BarackBook Web Video Here


    Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Governor Rod Blagojevich and Antoin "Tony" Rezko are now friends with Joseph Cari


    Barack Obama and ACORN are now friends with Madeline Talbott

    The list of B. Obama's friends goes on for a ways. All people you will need to know if Barry O. gets elected. So check 'em out.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 06:40 AM

    Physics Gets A Bad Rap

    CERN Rap from Will Barras on Vimeo

    H/T The Pale Scot

    posted by Simon at 12:31 AM

    Add A Tax

    posted by Simon at 09:22 PM | Comments (2)

    Oh the humanity!

    In other earthbreaking campaign "news," I see that John McCain stands accused of being sarcastic.


    And consider the timing! This blatant sarcasm comes right after children were lovingly made to sing tender and loving paens to Obama.

    How mean and vicious and cruel can McCain get?

    MORE: You think I'm kidding?

    Watch this.

    If that doesn't move you to tears and make you see the light, then there's no hope of change for you!

    posted by Eric at 03:57 PM | Comments (6)

    Stop making women look bad!

    Rochelle Riley of the Detroit Free Press does not like Sarah Palin very much. She not only disagrees with her, but she thinks she is stupid, and above all is making women look bad:

    As our economy teeters on the brink of disaster, Gov. Sarah Palin has spent the past two days cramming for a debate she cannot win and complaining that divulging her position on Pakistan, which mirrors Sen. Barack Obama's -- and is in direct conflict with that of her running mate, Sen. John McCain -- was in response to a "gotcha" question from a voter.

    She was asked a question Saturday about sending troops into Pakistan. Instead of following the strategy that McCain explained during Friday's debate about not expressing such sentiments aloud, she said: "If that's what we have to do to stop the terrorists from coming any further in, absolutely, we should."

    Her subsequent reaction makes four things clear:

    1) She doesn't understand politics.

    2) She doesn't understand her running mate (or didn't watch the debate).

    3) That voter, the one who asked the question, DID get her.

    4) She should drop out of the race (no explanation would be needed) and stop making women look bad.

    Fascinating. By saying something which the pro-Obama columnist interprets as agreement with Barack Obama, and apparently, by not following McCain to the letter as she's supposed to, she's a political ignoramus who makes women look bad?

    Attention GOP women: if you disobey or fail to understand McCain and if you appear to agree with Obama on anything, you make women look bad!

    Palin is setting the gender back by decades.
    I'm not sure I follow the logic, but hey, OK....

    I'm wondering about something, though. Is there anything Joe Biden could do to make men look bad?

    How about if we use the same logic. If he appears to utter a slight policy difference from Obama, and it happens to be similar to something John McCain said, would columnists be saying Biden was setting his gender back by decades? Surely they wouldn't say he makes his race look bad, would they? (Hey I don't know; I'm only trying to make sense of the column.)

    Conclusion? America is hated all over the world and in financial trouble, so Palin should go home.

    This isn't a beauty pageant, or a mayoral run, or even a gubernatorial campaign among the moose.

    This election comes at a time when our country is globally hated and financially imploding. What person in their right mind still thinks that this is politics as usual?

    Sarah Palin, go home.

    What person in their right mind still thinks that this is politics as usual?

    After eight years of Bushitler Cheney Halliburton Rechimplican bashing, the Palin smears are supposed to seem unusual?

    The only thing I can see that's different is that they've changed the target.

    posted by Eric at 03:30 PM | Comments (7)

    Hard core gore!

    Keeping up with Britain?

    When I saw this story which Drudge earlier, I thought it involved the United States.

    Smokers buying cigarettes will from Wednesday be confronted with a series of gruesome images printed on the packets showing how tobacco damages health.

    The pictures, which show cancerous lungs and throats as well as rotting teeth, replace written warnings such as "Smoking clogs the arteries and causes heart attacks and strokes" or "Smoking can cause a slow and painful death" which currently greet going to light up.

    The picture warnings will start appearing on cigarette packs from October 1 and will be compulsory from October next year. They will be printed on all tobacco products from October 2010.

    But for now it's apparently only in the UK:
    One in six people in Britain smoke out of population of more than 60 million and the government has been stepping up measures to reduce that figure.


    Smoking in enclosed public places was banned across the country from July 2007.

    "These new stark picture warnings emphasise the harsh health realities of continuing to smoke," Chief Medical Officer Liam Donaldson said.

    "I hope they will make many more (people) think hard about giving up and get the help they need to stop smoking for good."

    I guess the idea is that forcing advertisers to display gruesome imagery will deter cigarette smoking.

    Whether the US will follow suit remains to be seen. There's no First Amendment in England, but I like to think the tobacco companies would have something to say in court about being forced to put an image like this on their product:


    Sheesh. I don't even know whether it's appropriate to display in a nice clean blog!

    They keep this up, my nerves will be so shattered that I might have to take up tobacco again!

    UPDATE: The picture drew complaints, so I altered it.

    Plus, an interesting comment below from Heather

    ...but you can't show a woman about to purchase an abortion a picture of an aborted fetus (or even an image of a living fetus at three months' gestation), because that might influence her behavior. I find these contradictions curious.
    I do too, but I think I'll hold off on the bloody fetuses pictures.

    posted by Eric at 10:53 AM | Comments (8)

    Palin/Biden Debate Moderator Author Of Pro-Obama Book

    I know you can't make this stuff up because you don't have to.

    In an imaginary world where liberal journalists are held to the same standards as everyone else, Ifill would be required to make a full disclosure at the start of the debate.

    She would be required to turn to the cameras and tell the national audience that she has a book coming out on Jan. 20, 2009 -- a date that just happens to coincide with the inauguration of the next president of the United States. The title of Ifill's book? "The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama."

    Nonpartisan my foot.

    Random House, her publisher, is already busy hyping the book with YouTube clips of Ifill heaping praise on her subjects, including Obama and Obama-endorsing Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick. The official promo for the book gushes:

    "In 'The Breakthrough,' veteran journalist Gwen Ifill surveys the American political landscape, shedding new light on the impact of Barack Obama's stunning presidential campaign and introducing the emerging young African-American politicians forging a bold new path to political power.

    "Drawing on interviews with power brokers like Sen. Obama, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Vernon Jordan, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and many others, as well as her own razor-sharp observations and analysis of such issues as generational conflict and the 'black enough' conundrum, Ifill shows why this is a pivotal moment in American history."

    Ifill and her publisher are banking on an Obama-Biden win to buoy her book sales. The moderator expected to treat both sides fairly has grandiosely declared this the "Age of Obama."

    This is so fricken unbelievable. What the hell is going on here. What the hell?

    From Michelle Malkin:

    Ask the Commission on Presidential Debates if she will acknowledge her conflict of interest: 202-872-1020.

    And here's the e-mail address of Janet H. Brown, Executive Director of the Debates Commission:

    Couldn't they get some one who could at least pretend to be neutral? No.

    H/T Gateway Pundit

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 05:32 AM | Comments (27)

    Another Democrat For McCain

    Another Clinton backer endorses McCain.

    As Barack Obama and John McCain battle for the Hispanic vote, a leading Latino backer of Hillary Clinton is crossing party lines to support the Republican presidential nominee.

    In an interview Thursday, Miguel D. Lausell, a Puerto Rican businessman and longtime Democratic activist and fund-raiser, came out for Sen. McCain. While he said he doesn't agree with all the policy positions of the Republican candidate and his running mate, Sarah Palin, Mr. Lausell added: "I find McCain to be a sound person and a man with a track record. I know where he is coming from." Mr. Lausell had been a major backer of Bill Clinton and served as a senior political adviser to Sen. Clinton's unsuccessful bid this year for the Democratic presidential nomination.

    Mr. Lausell said he feels Sen. Obama "doesn't really regard the Hispanic community as important." Sen. Clinton won a large majority of the Hispanic vote in most primaries, and Latino voters are an important bloc in swing states such as Florida, Nevada and New Mexico. Most polls show Sen. Obama leads Sen. McCain among Latinos.

    That may swing more than a few votes.

    Let me add that there is a lot of bad blood between Latinos and blacks. The way the Latinos see it, fair or not, is this: Latinos mow lawns, blacks collect welfare. If the shift becomes major it could see a further cracking of the Democrat coalition.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 02:07 AM

    Obama Tied To ACORN

    What a community organizer does. Or in the words of Stanley Kurtz: A community organizer helps get high risk loans for low credit customers. What ACORN does. What is ACORN then? An organization full of community organizers committed to mortgage fraud and vote fraud. Some real nice friends that Obama has.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 01:54 AM

    Nationalizing Banks

    In Europe. And you thought we had it bad in America.

    The Dutch-Belgian bank Fortis, Britain's Bradford and Bingley, and Iceland's Glitnir, were all partially or fully nationalized after failing to roll-over debts in the short-term money markets, while the French state pledged support for the Franco-Belgian lender Dexia after the share price collapsed on reports of a capital shortage.

    "The European financial sector is on trial: we have to support our banks." said French President Nicolas Sarkozy. He has reportedly ordered the state investment arm Caisse Des Depots to shore up Dexia, even though the bank is based in Belgium.

    Germany's Hypo Real Estate, a commercial property lender, was rescued with a €35bn lifeline from a consortium of local banks. The lender has $560bn in liabilities, almost as much as Lehman Brothers.

    Not only that money from Europe is rolling into America. Why? Look at some of the other problems in Britain alone.
    Mortgage lenders were warned by the City watchdog on Tuesday to batten down the hatches and brace for "very difficult" market conditions next year as at least 1.4m homeowners face a sharp jump in loan repayments.

    The Financial Services Authority said that there was "a very real prospect that conditions will worsen further into next year, in terms of both liquidity and credit risks".

    The bleak warning from the FSA comes as pressure builds on the Bank of England to cut interest rates as it prepares to meets for its monthly meeting.

    Fresh evidence from Halifax, the country's biggest mortgage lender, showed that the rate of the slowdown in the housing market is quickening. Last month prices fell by 1.1 per cent twice the rate of the previous month. The annual rate of growth fell to 6.3 per cent.

    Halifax said the drop was the biggest monthly fall since last December and the first time it had recorded three months of consecutive falls since 1995.

    So lets have a look at the Dollar vs the Euro.
    The dollar mounted an explosive rally in the third quarter, persuading some investors that its long decline had finally touched bottom.

    By late September, however, as markets grappled with the immensity of the U.S. financial crisis, the buck was back under pressure. It managed to finish the quarter on a high note, surging 2.6% against the euro Tuesday from a day earlier amid signs of turmoil in European banks.

    Over the course of the quarter, the dollar strengthened 11.8% versus the euro, rallied 12% against the British pound and was little changed versus the Japanese yen. It was the dollar's best quarter against the euro since the European currency's inception in 1999 and the best against the pound in at least a decade.

    Measured against a broad range of currencies in a Federal Reserve index, the dollar gained about 5% from the end of June through Monday, putting it back at levels that prevailed a year ago.

    Still, problems may lie ahead. The size of the U.S. government's proposed bailout package and the numerous interventions by the U.S. Federal Reserve could hurt the dollar in the months and years to come.

    A 2.6% rise in one day is pretty spectacular and indicates just how bad Europe's problems are.

    So how bad is the mortgage crisis in Europe? Pretty bad.

    The weekend's events have highlighted European fragility in the financial crisis, note Citigroup analysts. In the UK, the eighth biggest mortgage lender (in terms of mortgage lending in 2007) has been nationalised. In all, four of the top 10 mortgage lenders have now been nationalised or required an emergency rescue since mid-07.
    A major Benelux bank has required a public sector bailout, with the governments of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg jointly taking a 49% stake.
    In Germany, the German government and a consortium of banks provided EUR35 bln to a large German Bank that is specialized on real estate and government funding.
    In Denmark, trading in the shares of a small bank was stopped on Friday after the failure of one of the bank's large customers, a property speculator, and the bank was sold over the weekend. In total, six minor Danish banks have now been sold/merged or bailed out by the state so far in recent months.

    European house value erosion
    Although each of these cases has particular features, they are not isolated events. Rather, they are symptoms of Europe's major vulnerabilities to the credit crunch, note Citigroup analysts. These vulnerabilities stem from the large rise in corporate and household debt in recent years, international linkages, and the banking sector's relatively low overall cushion of capital and underlying profitability.

    Although the overall European housing boom has been smaller than that in the US, the surges in house prices in some countries - notably the UK, Spain, Ireland and France - have all exceeded the US so far this decade. In turn, house prices are now flat or falling across most European countries, with adverse economic and financial effects. The drop in house prices is causing weakness in housebuilding (especially in Ireland, France and Spain), adverse wealth effects on consumers (especially in the UK, Spain and Ireland) and widespread erosion of the value of mortgage collateral on lenders' balance sheets. But, whereas the US housing adjustment has been underway for over two years, the European housing adjustment has only started last year. Most of the decline in European house prices probably still lies ahead.

    Uh oh. What does that mean? While the US is coming out of the problem Europe is still in the middle.

    So where am I on this? I have instructed my Congressman, Don Manzullo, to vote no on the bail out unless the Community Reinvestment Act which is at the core of the American mess gets fixed.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 01:47 AM | Comments (1)

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