Saturday, April 12, 2008

Skyy vodka vs. Absolut vodka

Bartender, give me a patriotic vodka!
In 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo officially ended the Mexican-America War (1846-1848). With the signing of this treaty, the United States gained control of what was to become the Golden West, including California, Arizona, Utah, Nevada and parts of Colorado and New Mexico. Today, SKYY Vodka, the number-one vodka produced in the United States, spoke out against suggestions by Absolut Vodka to disregard that treaty, as well as the joining of Texas to the Union in 1845, as depicted in Absolut’s recent advertising.
“Like SKYY Vodka, the residents of states like California, Texas and Arizona are exceptionally proud of the fact that they are from the United States of America,” said Dave Karraker, SKYY Vodka. “To imply that they might be interested in changing their mailing addresses, as our competitor seems to be suggesting in their advertising, is a bit presumptuous.”
In the ad, an “Absolut World” is depicted where the map of North America is re-drawn with Mexico claiming much of the Western United States, negating the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, as well as the Gadsden Purchase (1853), and the independence of Texas (1836).
“Don’t get me started on the Gadsden Purchase,” continues Karraker. “I think the folks in Tucson and Yuma would be rubbed the wrong way if they hear this landmark deal was somehow nullified as suggested by Absolut, a Swedish-owned brand.”
My suggestion: Avoid vodka altogether. But if you're going to drink the stuff, stay away from that Swedish crap.

Tarheel Barr

I'm traveling today to Burlington, N.C., to cover the North Carolina Libertarian Party state convention, where Bob Barr will be among the speakers. This will be his first major East Coast appearance since Barr announced last weekend in Kansas City that he was forming a presidential exploratory committee.

Barr got dissed this week by his former Georgia congressional colleague, Newt Gingrich, who said Barr will not have an impact like Ross Perot did in the '90s:
"Ross Perot ran at a particular moment in time when people were really fed up with Washington, but really did not want a liberal Democrat," said Gingrich. "And so he attracted an unusual amount of support. I don't see any evidence that Bob Barr has that kind of following."
Huh? Nobody's "really fed up with Washington" anymore?

Perot's former campaign manager, Russ Verney, is an advisor to the Barr 2008 campaign. He responded to Gingrich:
The attraction of Ross Perot’s candidacy in 1992 was that he was not a part of the Washington establishment. Public sentiment was strong for a 'change from politics as usual.' In the 2008 presidential campaign the buzz word from each candidate is 'change.' But, the eventual Republican and Democratic nominees are not credible aents to change the Washington establishment each candidate has benefited from. . . .
I urge Bob Barr to run for President and give the voters a real choice between ‘politics as usual’ and real 'change.'
Nice of Newt to generate some news that I can use as a "hook" for my story.

Keep digging, Barack

Obama entrenches his position:
At a campaign stop last night in Terre Haute, Ind., Mr. Obama addressed the San Francisco remarks, but repeated their essence and tried to turn the furor into a basis for criticizing the other two candidates' stances on economic issues.
"Look, they're frustrated. And for good reason. Because for the last 25 years, they've seen jobs shipped overseas, they've seen their economies collapse," Mr. Obama said.
"Of course they're bitter and of course they're frustrated. You would be too ... the same thing is happening all across the country," he said, noting that people then don't vote on economic issues because they don't expect anybody is going to help them. And so they end up voting on issues like guns ... on issues like gay marriage and they take refuge in their faith."
Translation: "I've got a Harvard Law degree. I can talk my way out of anything."

The Clinton campaign's not buying it:

Spokesman Phil Singer criticized Mr. Obama over the Indiana speech because "instead of apologizing for offending small-town America, Senator Obama chose to repeat and embrace the comments he made earlier this week."

BTW, notice that Obama says that all this economic woe took place during "the last 25 years" -- i.e., during the Reagan administration. In fact, the de-industrialization of the Rust Belt began during the recession-plagued 1970s. But as a Democrat, Obama doesn't want to remind anyone about Jimmy Carter.

UPDATE: Ed Morrisey:

When Barack Obama started his run for the presidency in January 2007 . . . I warned Democrats not to take the risk of placing their bets on a candidate that had not had to fight a national campaign against a real opponent. . . .

What makes this so breathtaking is the mindless, casual way in which Obama reveals his snobbishness and elitism. . . .

At times, we have remarked that Obama only really performs well with a script. Once he has to speak extemporaneously, not only does he fare worse as an orator, but he tends to get lost and make unforced errors. It’s hard to imagine one worse than this. It’s all the worse because it’s not a gaffe in the normal sense, but a revealing moment that shows how Obama really views Americans.

Instapundit says:

"Let's have a national dialogue about egghead condescension!" It's got to work better for Obama than the dialogue about race has . . .

Insty also links that firebrand populist from the Heartland, John Podhoretz:

Barack Obama has done what Democratic candidates for president invariably do -- he has revealed the profound sense of unearned superiority that is the sad and persistent hallmark of contemporary liberalism. . . .

It drips with an attitude so important to the spiritual well-being of the American liberal — the paternalistic attitude that says, “Oh, well, people only do thing differently from me because they are ignorant and superstitious and backward” — that it has survived and thrived despite the suicidal impact it has had on the achievement of liberal political goals and aims.

If any Obama supporter thinks this story is going to disappear harmlessly, think again. The fact that the story broke Friday afternoon guarantees it will continue to generate coverage in Sunday's newspapers, and will be talked about on "Meet the Press" and other Sunday-morning shows. Then it will be discussed Monday on morning drive-time radio, then Rush Limbaugh and other talk-radio hosts get their turn. That means it's at least a three- or four-day story.

Whatever Obama had planned to be his "message" for the weekend just got trashed, and next week's campaign themes will also be buried beneath the media noise caused by this gaffe. Hillary's got to be loving this.

PREVIOUSLY:

4/11: Obama busted by blogs

4/11: Obama trashes small-town America

Patriarchal oppression?

Dr. Helen discusses a key myth of masculinity -- namely that merely being male makes every man a wealthy, powerful oppressor:
The majority of men are not Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, or even Bill Moyers. The majority are just your average Joe trying to make it through the day like everyone else.
It's a very thoughtful discussion, involving such topics as affirmative action and child custody. Read the whole thing.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Obama busted by blogs

The uproar continues over Obama's remarks dissing the God-fearing, gun-loving people of small-town Pennsylvania.

About 7 p.m. Friday, I was getting dressed to go to our church, which was hosting a gospel choir festival (yes, a gospel choir festival). While I was putting on my shoes, the TV was on Fox News and Shep Smith did a segment on the Obama uproar, quoting the reactions of the McCain and Clinton campaigns. "Wow, this is getting to be a pretty big deal," I said.

Remember that this uproar started with a Huffington Post report, so it's an Internet-generated phenomenon -- and online interest is high. A single link from Michelle Malkin generated over 600 visits here in five hours. For a Friday night, that's huge.

Michelle has up a new post depicting Obama as an elitist snob, and Marc Armbinder observes:
We're dealing tonight with a classic Kinseyian "gaffe," where a candidate says what he means and then is forced to account for it.
It's a beautiful thing, especially when it's generating Web traffic on a weekend. Ace of Spades breaks out the flaming skull and gives the story this classic AOSHQ headline:
Obama To Rural Pennsylvanians: Vote For Me, You Corncob-Smokin', Banjo-Strokin' Chicken-Chokin' Cousin-Pokin' Inbred Hillbilly Racist Morons
Hot Air has video of CNN's Jeffrey Toobin saying that Obama's remarks were "factually accurate." Meanwhile, Allahpundit notes "the crude quasi-Marxist reductionism of his analysis" and asks: "Why not just go the whole nine yards and call [religion] the opiate of the masses?"

Allah also notes this remark from his liberal love-object Kirsten Powers:
"They are things that I think in a liberal world sound totally normal, and outside of that world I don’t know that he appreciates how it sounds. And it just sounds very elitist, and it sounds like he's looking down on people."
Translation: This is how liberals always talk about small-town people, at least when no reporters are around.

More blog reaction at Memeorandum.

UPDATE: Via Sundries Shack, and courtesy of AOSHQ, the new Obama campaign theme song:

Being of Appalachian-American heritage myself, there's nothing I love better than some fine bluegrass pickin' -- unless maybe it's moonshine whiskey. Or my cousin.

UPDATE II: Andrew Sullivan:
You can see the point he is trying to make -- it's the Thomas Frank argument -- and you can argue about its merits, back and forth. I don't think it's meant pejoratively about the blue collar workers Obama is trying to engage.
Somehow I think Sullivan would think Obama's remarks to be perjorative if Obama had spoken so condescendingly about, say, homosexuals. But the condescension is toward others -- "blue collar workers" who are so far beneath Sullivan's notice that he can't imagine why they'd feel insulted.

Sullivan then suggests that Obama's insulting rhetoric is only of interest to Republicans: "You will hear these words on Fox News for a very, very long time." As if NBC, CBS, ABC and CNN are going to ignore a controversy that could hurt Obama worse than did the Jeremiah Wright controversy.

Texas teen sex cult update

With not much news to report, the Associated Press goes for the feature angle:
All their lives, the girls in the polygamist sect in the West Texas desert were told that the outside world was hostile and immoral, and that venturing beyond the brilliant white limestone walls of their compound would
consign them to eternal damnation. . . .
Child welfare officials seized more than 400 children, most of them girls, in the raid on the compound of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, saying the youngsters were in danger of physical, emotional and sexual abuse.
The renegade Mormon splinter group requires girls at puberty to enter into polygamous marriages with much older men and produce children, authorities say. . . .
In 2003 and 2004, Jeffs, the spiritual leader of an estimated 6,000 followers in two adjoining towns along the Utah-Arizona line, plucked children under the age of 6 to bring to Texas without their parents, former sect member Isaac Wyler said.
"Over age 6 they were too contaminated for the world to be of use to God," said Wyler, who still lives in Colorado City, Ariz., and has 39 siblings. "He picked the ones that would be the most obedient, the ones that would be qualified to go to Zion."
Speaking of the "sensationalist view," there's this from LAist:
Authorities who raided the polygamist compound in Texas are now releasing the salacious details of which full-grown man had sex with which underage girl, and it is being lecherously reported -- pretty soon we should have the exact hows, whens, how oftens, and in what positions. Of course, this is all being released out of the public’s genuine concern over those poor, na├»ve, oversexed, underaged, supple young girls…um…right?
In Hell's Angels, Hunter S. Thompson observed that no editor can resist a good rape story. Add in polygamy, teenagers and religion -- man, if that's not a Newsweek cover and a "Dateline NBC" feature, I don't know what is.

Obama trashes small-town America

Jaw-droppingly stupid:
“You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them,” Obama said. “And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”
He said this at a fundraiser in Pennsylvania, according to the Huffington Post. Michelle Malkin says:
Instead of hard-working, patriotic, faithful Americans, he sees “bitter,” “frustrated,” resentful scary people whom he’ll diss while sipping Chardonay in Baghdad by the Bay.
If you haven't studied Marxism, you may not understand that what Obama was doing was viewing Pennsylvania politics through the lens of "historical materialism." His opinions very much reflect the analysis of Theodor Adorno and the Frankfurt School.

Who was it that said that Obama's Marxist background was irrelevant?

UPDATE: Let's get into the Marxist angle on this thing, because I think it's important to understand, especially for readers too young to remember the Evil Empire, the Cold War, etc.

OK, when I say that Obama was viewing the situation in small-town Pennsylvania through the lens of historical materialism, I refer to the fundamental doctrine of Marxism, which can be summed up thus:

  • (a) there is no God nor any other supernatural cause in human affairs; therefore
  • (b) material causes -- especially including economics and technological changes -- are the only causes for historical, social and political developments; therefore
  • (c) when we see some development (e.g., religious warfare) that appears to be rooted in non-material causes, we should look for the underlying material reality -- the economic or technological factors that are the real causes.
This is where the old communist propaganda phrase "false consciousness" comes from: The oppressed poor fail to have true (class) consciousness because they are blinded by religion, national identity, etc. To the Marxist, these are "prejudices" or "sentimental myths," promoted by the ruling classes in order to justify or defend their own rule.

As Obama applies the doctrine of historical materialism to small-town Pennsylvanians, they have succumbed to the "false consciousness" of Second Amendment rights, religious belief, etc., as an escape from the reality of their own economic oppression.

UPDATE II: Welcome Malkin readers. Unable to remember who had been scoffing at the relevance of Obama's Marxist background, I Googled and ... oops, it was Allahpundit.

Greg Ransom had noted that Obama's father was a socialist scholar, and Allah suggested this was a guilt-by-association trip, a witchhunt against "congenital bolshevism." I joined the facetious mockery.

But then Ace of Spades called our attention to the fact that Obama's mentor, Frank Marshall Davis, was a genuine CPUSA member. Hmmmm.

And now, Obama gets up in front of a friendly audience of San Francisco leftists and sounds like Lenin at the Finland Station. Hmmmm.

Ace got this poster from Slublog:


The Russian slogan is, "Yes, we can!" Perhaps someone needs to come up with a new Obama slogan:

Democrats of the world unite!

You have nothing to lose . . .

but the election!

Speaking of elections -- the "false consciousness" of politics? -- John McCain's campaign has jumped on this Obama gaffe:

Asked to respond, McCain adviser Steve Schmidt called it a "remarkable statement and extremely revealing." "It shows an elitism and condescension towards hardworking Americans that is nothing short of breathtaking," Schmidt said. "It is hard to imagine someone running for president who is more out of touch with average Americans."

Team Hillary also jumped in:

"Pennsylvania doesn't need a president who looks down on them," she said at a rally in Philadelphia. "They need a president who stands up for them, who fights for them, who works hard for your futures, your jobs, your families."

BTW, what was up with Obama and that "anti-trade" remark? Both Obama and Hillary have been using protectionist rhetoric for weeks.

MORE BLOG REACTION HERE.

Fixin' to be upset

Michelle Malkin enjoys some schadenfreude at the expense of former Sen. Trent Lott -- and I have no problem with that. I still haven't forgiven Lott for the 1997 budget deal, which was the death knell of the "reform" agenda that elected a Republican majority in 1994.

But there is something in the Washington Post blog post by Mary Ann Akers that Michelle overlooks, namely subtle bigotry against Southerners:
“I took the Metro for the first time,” Lott told the Sleuth Thursday afternoon in the makeup room of MSNBC, where he and his new lobbying partner, former Sen. John Breaux (D-La.), were fixin (as Lott says) to do a TV segment.
“He’s been standing in front of his house waiting for his car and driver,” laughed Breaux from the makeup chair, adding with a tinge of a low-country twang, “He’s learning how to hail a cab.” (Read: HAY-ul a cab.)
Did you catch that? First, Miss Akers calls attention to Lott's use of the Southernism "fixing" and then she mocks Breaux's drawling pronunciation of "hail."

I will first make the point that "fixing" is good English. My Thorndike-Barhnart Dictionary (1967 edition) lists "to prepare" as one meaning of "fix" (as in, "to fix dinner") and also notes the construction "fix up" ("to make oneself neat and well-groomed").

While the phrase "fixing to" -- a statement of intent, the grammatical equivalent of "about to" -- is distinctly Southern, it clearly derives from both of those dictionary-validated definitions. If Senator Lott says he is "fixing to" appear on TV, he means that he is preparing to do so. Obviously, one would wish to "fix up" for such an appearance. (One might play linguistic anthropologist and surmise that "fixing to" probably began with people talking about preparing ready to travel -- "I'm fixing to go to town" -- and was then generalized as an expression of intent.)

Why, however, does Miss Akers drop the "g"? Dropping the final "g" from "-ing" suffixes is extremely common in informal spoken English. For a journalist to call attention to a dropped "g" is rather rare. Bill Clinton routinely drops his "g's" when speaking -- excuse me, speakin' -- and journalists almost never note it.

Now, as to the Breaux pronouncing "hail" as "HAY-ul" -- all Southerners do this. Extended vowels are what gives Southern speech its distinctive drawling quality. (Virginia native Dagen McDowell of Fox Business News has the most beautiful drawl in TV news.) In general, Southern speech gives more value to vowels than to consonants. But, just as with the dropped "g," reporters almost never call attention to this. You could never imagine a reporter doing such a thing to Jimmy Carter.

Something else you could never imagine a reporter doing: Making fun of the speech of any other ethnic group in America.

We await the blog post in which Mary Ann Akers mocks the elocution of Jesse Jackson. And I reckon we're fixin' to wait a long time for that.

MRC Gala report

The Media Research Center's Dishonor Awards Gala was fabulous, but this won't be a full report. I didn't get home until after 3 a.m., then spent over an hour uploading and tagging photos for Facebook. I have notes, but am too tired to go through them right now.

Video of Ann Coulter:



Other notes from the event:

1. Chris Matthews won the "Quote of the Year" dishonor for an incredibly gushy appraisal of Obama.
2. Tom Tancredo and Jim Gilchrist were cheered lustily.
3. Arriving 15 minutes early, I was walking across the ballroom lobby when who should come running out of the ballroom but Ann Coulter, who recognized me and hugged me. Very cool. Later, after crashing the VIP reception, I introduced Ann to "Gettysburg" filmmaker Ron Maxwell, and they seemed to hit it off wonderfully.
4. Georgia talk-radio empress Martha Zoller was there with her lovely daughter and her lovely intern -- who is also her daughter's classmate. Martha also knows my buddy Tommy (pictured). It's always good to see Georgia folks, especially the lovely ones.

5. My hosts were the Intercollegiate Study Institute, and my tablemates included ISI's Douglas Schneider, the Collegiate Network's Joe Lindsley, James Dickson from the American Spectator, and Peter Redpath of the Federalist Society.

6. Ran into my longtime blog buddy Dan Riehl after the dinner. Dan was eager to meet his e-mail buddy, talk-radio supernova Mark Levin, but couldn't find him in the crowded ballroom. I helped locate The Great One and took a photo of Dan and Mark. (Mark is much taller than he sounds on the radio.)

7. At the after-party, Lene Johansen of the Competitive Enteprise Institute was talking to John Fund of the Wall Street Journal, trying to explain to him the origins of the Facebook group, "John Fund Stole My Beer." (A long, long story . . .)


Will attempt to update and expand later. But I must have sleep first. There's video of the gala at Eyeblast TV.

UPDATE: Thanks to Dan Riehl for the link, and for the praise, "The guy has to be the hardest working dude in DC. I've yet to meet someone here he doesn't know." Whether meeting people at banquets, receptions and conferences can be considered "work" is an interesting question, but I'll simply quote Greg "Otter" Stratton from "Animal House": "Don't think of it as work. The whole point is just to enjoy yourself."

Dan also links to Ken Shepherd's Newsbusters account of Thursday night's proceedings, and to this video about Medal of Honor recipient Lt. Michael Murphy, USN:

The story of Murphy and the other members of Seal Team 10 are told by Petty Officer Marcus Luttrell in his book, Lone Survivor.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Blogging will be light

I'll be attending the Media Research Center's "Dishonor Awards" gala tonight at the Grand Hyatt, celebrating my 22-year Pulitzer losing streak.

Therefore, expect no further blogging until after the after-party. And the after-after-party. And the post-after-after-party, et cetera. When the VRWC celebrates, they celebrate.

Cult's sick sex Temple

Offficials say the "fundamentalist" LDS cult in Eldorado, Texas, used its temple as a place where teen virgins were raped to initiate their "spiritual marriages" to older men. The Smoking Gun has the documents, and the Associated Press reports:
Teenage girls at a polygamist compound in Texas were forced to have sex in a temple after sect-recognised marriages, a former member said.
The temple included "a bed where males over the age of 17 engage in sexual activity with female children under the age of 17," said an anonymous informant, who left the
Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, in an affidavit released yesterday. . . .
The temple has many locked safes, vaults and desk drawers which police want to open in a search for evidence of marriages of girls as young as 12 or 13 to older men, and of teens giving birth.
The affidavit says one 16-year-old sect member had four children. . . .
The search of the compound began last Thursday after a 16-year-old girl called a local family violence shelter to report her 50-year-old husband beating and raping her. . . .
Texas has an outstanding arrest warrant for the man alleged to have been the girl's husband, Dale Barlow.
He is a registered sex offender who pleaded no contest to conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor in Arizona last year.
The sect leader, Warren Jeffs, is serving two consecutive sentences of five years to life for being an accomplice to the rape of a 14-year-old who was married to her cousin in Utah.
I previously blogged about the case here and here.

UPDATE: Here's the hunky dreamboat that I'm sure all those "spiritual wives" are crazy about:
The 16-year-old girl whose phone calls led to a raid on a polygamist compound in Texas identified Dale Evans Barlow as the man who she said beat, choked and sexually assaulted her after their "spiritual marriage," according to a court document unsealed Wednesday. . . .

Dale Evans Barlow, who turned 50 in November, was arrested in Arizona in 2005 on charges of conspiracy to have sex with a minor. He was placed on three years probation. . . .
According to the document released Wednesday, the girl said she has an 8-month-old child and is pregnant again. She said Barlow has beaten her -- once hard enough to break her ribs -- choked her and forced her to have sex with him.
She said another of Barlow's "spiritual wives" would hold her infant child while he beat her.
Yep, Mr. Barlow's a real winner.

UPDATE II: Here's MSNBC video about the raid:

In building the ranch in Eldorado, FLDS leaders planned to hunker down and escape notice. That was a mistake. Texans are not used to polygamists in their neighbourhood. Authorities went in as soon as they had legal occasion.
Yeah, don't mess with Texas. And don't mess in Texas.

UPDATE III: Linked by famous Texan, Rusty Shackleford, who says:
I really didn't want to write anything about this. From the beginning my 'something not right about the way this is being reported' detector has been going off.
Granted, the MSM seem to be taking at face value the most lurid allegations by law-enforcement officials. But who can blame them? From the standpoint of ratings, "Polygamous Teen Sex Cult" is a lot better headline than "Officials React to Abuse Claims." And TV is all about ratings, right?

Elton + Hillary = $2.5 million

UPDATED & BUMPED: Michelle Malkin:
Sure, there are Neanderthals who won’t vote for any female candidate based on her gender.
But there are far more anti-Hillary voters who are opposed to her pathological dishonesty -- not her biological make-up.
And yes, there’s the obvious point that if you’re a sexist for opposing Mrs. Clinton, doesn’t that make you a racist for opposing Obama?
Malkin also points out that "the Washington Times first raised questions about the legality of the foreign pop star raising gobs of money for Hill."
* * * * *
According to the New York Times, the attraction of Sir Elton John at Radio City Music Hall raised $2.5 million for the Clinton campaign last night:
Sir Elton John was the main attraction on Wednesday night at Radio City Music Hall in New York, but the spotlight was really on Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was lavished with donations to her presidential campaign.
The event brought in more than $2.5 million, according to the campaign, from the sale of more than 5,000 tickets.
The concert was announced in March with a mass e-mail message to Mrs. Clinton’s supporters, signed by Elton John. “There is nothing I like better than throwing a party for a good friend,” the message said in part.
I actually was invited to attend the Radio City Music Hall event -- that's how it is with Hillary and me -- but decided to stay home and watch "COPS" instead.

UPDATE: Sir Elton gets catty:
"I never cease to be amazed at the misogynist attitude of some of the people in this country," he said. "I say to hell with them."
With apologies to the visiting British nobility, saying "to hell with them" is kind of problematic in a democracy. Or, as Don Surber says:
[W]ho is he to tell us whom to vote for and then to insult those who do not jump to his whims? It says a lot about Hillary that she has to trot out foreigners to prop up her dead parrot campaign.
Don, her campaign isn't dead -- it's just pining for the fjords!

The New Republic probably goes a bit far in suggesting that Sir Elton is "Clinton's Jeremiah Wright." I'm pretty sure Obama's pastor never performed in a feather boa and red-glitter 5-inch platform shoes.

UPDATE II: No sooner do I mention red-glitter 5-inch platform shoes, than I see a story (via Memeorandum) that Obama's dissing the "LGBT" press:

[The editor of the Philadelphia Gay News] published a half-blank front page to represent what he described in an editorial as Obama’s “disrespect of the LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender] local media.”
It was an attention-grabbing move that positioned a floodlight on gripes that had been festering for months in the gay press: Obama won’t make time for local gay publications.
“It wasn’t surprising to me,” said Tammye Nash, editor of the Dallas Voice, a gay and lesbian weekly that also failed in its efforts to interview Obama before the Texas primary on March 4. “Obviously he is not snubbing the gay community. But we obviously feel he is (bypassing) the gay press.”
The Philadelphia Gay News rebuke highlighted Obama’s complex relationship with the gay community, and touched off a blogosphere debate about the role of the gay media in presidential campaign coverage and the ethics of gay journalists.
A "complex relationship with the gay community"? This is what they say about a Democrat who disses the LGBT community. Republicans are just hate-filled homophobic bigots. Nuance.

But you can't blame Obama. Hillary's hanging out with Sir Elton, so she's pretty much got the LGBT community locked up. Obama probably figures he might as well go for the homophobic bigot vote.

UPDATE III: Craig Henry on Sir Elton:
That's why we had that little kerfuffle back in 1775-1783: so we did not have to listen to stupids fops like Sir Elton.
So does this make HRC the modern descendant of the Loyalist ladies in Philadelphia who entertained the British officers while the Continental army froze and starved at Valley Forge?

Media advice -- ignore it!

Chuck Todd, political director of NBC News, gives advice to conservatives:
[John McCain] is proving to be perhaps the only electable Republican in the country, short of Colin Powell or the ineligible Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Conservatives may not be thrilled with what a McCain presidency means, but if social conservatives care about the makeup of the House and Senate, as well state legislatures and the courts, then they should rally around McCain. . . .
There are credible paths to victory for McCain regardless of his opponent. But the easier path -- or the more comfortable one for McCain -- appears to be a campaign against Clinton. . . . McCain's campaign sweet spot over the years has been when he’s the "change" candidate. Despite the (R) next to his name, he can run against Hillary's last name and claim the change mantle. It will not be easy, but it will be easier than claiming that mantle against Obama.
A good time to apply Ann Coulter's First Rule of Politics: Never take advice from your enemies.

The fact that Chuck Todd is political director of NBC News means that he is a liberal Democrat. NBC News does not hire conservative Republicans, except perhaps as truck drivers. No, scratch that. NBC News is a union shop, so its truck drivers are liberal Democrats, too.

If a liberal Democrat says John McCain can win in November, that means McCain is doomed beyond hope.

If a liberal Democrat is telling conservatives to rally 'round John McCain, conservatives would be wise to get as far away from McCain as possible.

And if a liberal Democrat says McCain-Clinton is a better matchup than McCain-Obama, that means Obama could finish surprisingly weak in November. Not weak enough to lose to McCain, but still surprisingly weak.

(What is it with all these MSM pundits offering campaign advice to Republicans lately?)

No. Freaking. Way.

Roger Simon (the Politico columnist, not the Pajamas Media CEO/blogger) writes a bizarre column suggesting the possibility that John McCain could win California in November.

Bizarre, I say, in that Simon suggests that being pro-life is McCain's major handicap in California. McCain's major handicap in California is that he is a Republican.

The Republican Party in California fell completely apart in the 1990s, and the GOP is insignificant as a political force in the state. The election of Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was only made possible by (a) Schwarzenegger's movie star fame and (b) the transparent incompetence of former Democratic Gov. Gray Davis.

After being elected governor, Schwarzenegger was unable to accomplish any of the conservatives reforms he had proposed and was forced to adopt a liberal agenda in order to get re-elected.

Simon devotes the bulk of his column to a scheme proposed by a California Republican strategist:
Giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants is unpopular in California. Schwarzenegger successfully exploited opposition to such driver's licenses in both of his elections, and McCain would have a shot at winning California by exploiting it also. . . . .
Dan Schnur, who was McCain's communications director in 2000 and is now a political strategist based in California, says the driver's license issue could trump the abortion issue when it comes to McCain.
"Even some Democrats who are pro-choice would turn to McCain over the issue of driver's licenses,” Schnur said. "There is a pretty straightforward template for winning California: You do what Schwarzenegger did two years ago, which is run to the middle on the environment and most social issues, draw a stark line on taxes and an even starker line on illegal immigration and driver’s licenses."
Still, Schnur does not minimize the difficulty of an anti-abortion-rights Republican winning California. . . .
"McCain is better-positioned to win California than any other Republican," Schnur said, "but it is still going to be an uphill fight for him."
"Uphill fight"? No, it's an impossibility. Of course, conservatives would be happy if McCain would take a tough stance against illegal immigration. But it ain't going to win him California, and every dime his campaign spends in the state will be a dime wasted. As far as California is concerned, the best hope for Republicans is reconquista: California secedes and becomes the northernmost province of Mexico, and the Democrats lose 2 Senate seats and 55 Electoral College votes.

My inner cynic tells me that this whole Politico column is just about Roger Simon helping his old buddy Dan Schnur get himself some RNC/McCain '08 consulting contracts. And my inner cynic is usually right.

There are few things so pathetically desperate as a "political strategist" hustling for a contract.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Not in the Constitution

Say hello to your constitutional right to shag 15-year-olds:
Lawyers for a polygamist sect that is the subject of a massive child-abuse investigation argued in court Wednesday that although its members' multiple marriages and cloistered ways may be unusual, they have a right to their faith and privacy.
Gary Goldstein, a Sant Antonio lawyer representing the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), also told a judge that the search of the temple in the sect's West Texas compound is analagous to a law enforcement search of the Vatican or other holy places.
Goldstein asked the judge to throw out at least some of the search warrant as unconstitutional. . . .
(H/T: AOSHQ) This investigation began with a girl who says that, at 15, she was forced to become Wife #7 of a 49-year-old convicted sex offender. (I blogged the details earlier.)

Now this lawyer is arguing that Texas laws against polygamy and statutory rape, etc., are unconstitutional. Hmmm.

Where on earth would would a lawyer get the idea that the U.S. Constitution could be used to overturn a state's basic laws governing sex crimes? I wonder . . .

Try to picture James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and George Washington in Philadelphia in 1787, arguing for a federal government empowered to deny states the right to punish polygamy, child molestation or sodomy. It's absurd, and yet that is what liberals would have us believe.

Death for breakfast

Coffee and donuts? OK. Just don't eat eggs:
Middle-aged men who ate seven or more eggs a week had a higher risk of earlier death, U.S. researchers reported on Wednesday. Men with diabetes who ate any eggs at all raised their risk of death during a 20-year period studied, according to the study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Want to bet this study was funded by the fruit lobby ("Big Fruit") or maybe the whole-grain cereal lobby ("Big Bran").

I wonder if anyone has studied what bloggers eat for breakfast?

'Unease' over Obama

Notorious Clinton apologist Lanny Davis:
I have tried to get over my unease surrounding Barack Obama's response to the sermons and writings of his pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. But the unanswered questions remain.
Let's reconstruct that, shall we?
I have tried to get over my unease surrounding Bill Clinton's perjury, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy to solicit illegal contributions from agents of communist China. But the unanswered questions remain.
Much more like it. Of course, what Davis is really doing, by publishing that op-ed in the Wall Street Journal (no doubt it was first pitched to, and turned down by, the New York Times and Washington Post) is to sow doubts about Obama's electabiliy and thereby undermine Obama's fundraising.

Ed Morrisey:
How much do readers want to bet that Lanny Davis gets over the Jeremiah Wright scandal at about the time Hillary Clinton gets out of the race? Me too, but for the moment, we can enjoy the blue-on-blue attacks that presage the general election.
Kind of hard not to be cynical about Lanny Davis, who lost all credibility in 1998, if he ever had any credibility to begin with. Maybe he could start over in Pakistan.

Lawyers killing lawyers

Unfortunately, it's not in Washington:
At least seven people have been killed and 12 others injured after rival groups of lawyers clashed in the Pakistani city of Karachi, police say.
They say the clashes soon became full scale riots with offices and cars set alight in parts of the southern city.
Violence initially broke out when supporters of President Musharraf held a protest against Tuesday's assault on a former cabinet minister by attorneys.
Sher Afgan Niazi, a former government minister, had been attacked by a mob.
"... attacked by a mob" of lawyers? As long as all seven kiled and 12 injured were lawyers, this could be a sign of remarkable progress in Pakistan. It's like the old joke:
Q: What do you call 100 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean?
A: A good start!
Hat tip to Mariel Leonard.

Congratulations to me

For the 22nd consecutive year, I have successfully avoided the Pulitzer Prize.

I just want to thank my friends and family, my editors and my co-workers, for all they've done to help me keep this streak intact.

I don't know how many more years I can continue to avoid the accursed Pulitzer, but I vow to strive diligently to maintain my sterling record of mediocrity.

My friends at the Media Research Center will be helping me celebrate this achievement by throwing a gala dinner in my honor Thursday evening, and I hope you all can be there.

Thank you once again.

UPDATE: I specifically want to thank Dan Collins, of the Protein Wisdom Committee For Blogging Excellence, for his recognition.

Deliciously vicious!

Just click over and read it.

Democrat meltdown?

Jimmie at Sundrews Shack reacts to my earlier post on John McCain's money troubles:
Talk to your friends and neighbors about the coming election. See if you can find one of them, just one, who is actually excited about John McCain.
But then Jimmie takes it in a very interesting direction:
Robert thinks that Johnny Mac is going to get beaten badly. I don’t think so. I think that he’s going to win because the other Democratic candidates just plain stink. Neither one of them seems to be making any great inroads coaxing supporters away from the other one, which is a recipe for the sort of convention Krystallnacht that will drive even some staunch Democrats into McCain’s arms. . . . [I]t’s easy to see McCain winning handily in November. His win won’t come about because he’s anyone’s first choice. He’ll get in because most Americans will find him the candidate who stinks the least.
Hmmmmm. Thanks for that, Jimmie. It's a bit wishful, but still very interesting. And after pondering the possible precedents, I think I feel an essay coming on . . .

Tongue-bath for Chris Matthews

The New York Times Magazine:
There is a level of ubiquity about Chris Matthews today that can be exhausting, occasionally edifying and, for better or worse, central to what has become a very loud national conversation about politics. His soothing-like-a-blender voice feels unnervingly constant in a presidential campaign that has drawn big interest, ratings and voter turnout. . . .
Matthews is the host of a show on the third-rated cable network, yet "ubiquity" is attributed to him. Why is that? Because MSNBC is also the most liberal cable network, and "Hardball" is on the air immediately before "Countdown," hosted by progressive darling Keith Olbermann. In other words, Matthews is ubiquitous on the network New York Times Magazine reporters watch.

The reader must penetrate to the 15th paragraph before learning some key facts about Matthews:
He wrote speeches for Jimmy Carter, worked as a top advisor to Tip O’Neill, ran unsuccessfully for Congress himself in his native Philadelphia at 28.
Carter is a Democrat, O'Neill was a Democrat, and Matthews ran for office as a Democrat. In other words, he's a card-carrying partisan. Just like his fellow Democratic operatives, Tim Russert (a former staffer for Democratic Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan) and George Stephanopoulos (former staffer for Democratic President Bill Clinton).

Nowhere in this article -- which makes much of an alleged Matthews-Russert rivalry -- is there any notice of how strange it is that all these professional Democratic political operatives have been recruited to host TV news shows.

MSNBC has a show hosted by former Republican Rep. Joe Scarborough and Fox News has a show hosted by former Republican Rep. John Kasich, but both of those are fairly recent creations. By contrast, Russert was handpicked to take over "Meet the Press," the longest-running of the network morning shows, and Stephanopoulos was likewise handpicked to replace veteran newsman David Brinkley as host of ABC's "This Week."

It would be impossible to imagine a New York Times story about Karl Rove that did not identify him early and clearly as a conservative Republican. But notice that the 15th-paragraph reference to Matthews' background in politics (not journalism) doesn't even note the partisan affliation of Carter or O'Neill. It's much further down in the story (I lost count of the paragraphs) before we are informed that Matthews lost the Democratic primary in that 1974 congressional race.

UPDATE: The first commenter considers the NYT article "insulting" to Matthews.

Obama or David Duke?

Which one wants "more white people"? Well, at least when the news cameras show up for a campaign rally, it's Obama:
While the crowd was indeed diverse, some students at the event questioned the practices of Mrs. Obama’s event coordinators, who handpicked the crowd sitting behind Mrs. Obama. The Tartan’s correspondents observed one event coordinator say to another, “Get me more white people, we need more white people.” To an Asian girl sitting in the back row, one coordinator said, “We’re moving you, sorry. It’s going to look so pretty, though.”
“I didn’t know they would say, ‘We need a white person here,’ ” said attendee and senior psychology major Shayna Watson, who sat in the crowd behind Mrs. Obama. “I understood they would want a show of diversity, but to pick up people and to reseat them, I didn’t know it would be so outright.”
Ben Smith of the Politico is indifferent to the transparent hypocrisy:
I'm not sure there's any real reason for outrage here; every campaign, at least implicitly, includes race in the staging of events like this -- even a campaign whose supporters chant "race doesn't matter." But they don't usually get caught doing it this explicitly.
Remember: Only Republicans can be accused of hypocrisy, because nobody believes Democrats really stand for anything.

Jimmy Carter hits rock bottom

UPDATED & BUMPED: Fausta reminds us of Jimmy's longtime love affair with tyrants.
* * * * *
Has he lost all sense of shame?
Former President Jimmy Carter is reportedly preparing an unprecedented meeting with the leader of Hamas, an organization that the U.S. government considers one of the leading terrorist threats in the world.
The Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayat reported Tuesday that Carter was planning a trip to Syria for mid-April, during which he would meet with Khaled Meshal, the exiled head of the Palestinian terror group Hamas, on April 18. . . .
Meshal, who lives in Syria to avoid being arrested by the Israeli government, leads
Hamas from his seat in Damascus, where he is a guest of Bashar al-Assad's regime.
The State Department has designated Hamas a "foreign terrorist organization," and some groups hold Meshal personally responsible for ordering the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. . . .
Some Carter critics called the latest reports typical of the ex-president.
“It’s about par for the course from President Carter, demonstrating a lack of judgment typical of what he does," said John Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. . . .
“I’m not surprised that Carter would do this, as he has been supporting Palestinian extremism for many years,” said Steve Emerson, director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, a watchdog group.
It's impossible to find words strong enough to denounce this move by Carter. It demonstrates his indifference to who Hamas is and what Hamas does. Hamas is is an organization dedicated to the annihilation of Israel. It exists for one purpose and one purpose only: To kill Jews.

Maybe next Jimmy will meet with Osama bin Laden.

UPDATE: Allahpundit has a suggestion for Carter's "diplomacy" with Meshal:

As an icebreaker, ask him how many Jews really died in the Holocaust.
Allah also notes that Carter met with Hamas leaders in the West Bank two years ago.

UPDATE II: One blogger who describes herself as "an example of a Jewish person who wants good things for Israel," thinks Jimmy's hobnobbing with Hamas is OK, because CAIR says so. Some people . . .

The death of newspapers

UPDATED: Jack Shafer notes the positive side of buyouts for senior writers (e.g., 61-year-old Linda Greenhouse of the New York Times), suggesting that this helps "replenish a news organization's juices by bringing down the median age of reporters and editors and making it possible for his publication to add a lower-paying entry-level slot."

Except it doesn't really work that way. The massive waves of newspaper layoffs being reported in recent years mean only one thing: Shrinking newsrooms.

There are fewer and fewer jobs for print journalists of any age, young or old. With fewer entry level jobs, and little prospect for career advancement -- upward mobility in a declining industry is tough -- the field of print journalism no longer attracts top writers. Nowadays, kids who have top verbal SAT scores usually end up going to law school.

Poke around the blogosphere a bit, and discover how many top bloggers have law degrees. It ain't just Instapundit.

* * * * *
The Seattle Times announces a workforce reduction "of approximately 200 positions through a combination of freezing open positions and a significant number of layoffs."

It's not the first round of bad news in Seattle, either:

Today's cuts come on top of $21 million the newspaper sliced from its budget earlier this year. In January, the company said it was laying off 17 employees, eliminating 69 positions through attrition, and eliminating or combining some newspaper sections.
Vanderleun gloats:

Of course, the real elephant drooling in the room of newspapers like the Seattle Times these days is "the forgotten reader." These are the potential readers who, because of the unremitting liberal tone and slant of the Times in both the news hole and on the editorial page, loathe the Times and the whole sector of Seattle society it represents. . . .
And yet the Seattle Times, as well as numerous other newspapers now dying in the US, never ever cops to its point of view as the reason why it is failing.
Ah, if only it were that simple. But the fact is that what we are witnessing is not just the death of liberal newspapers, nor merely the death of Old Media -- insert obligatory blogospheric sneer -- we are witnessing the death of reading.

For at least 20 years, and perhaps longer than that, young people have been turning away from the printed word as a source of information and entertainment. Forget about newspapers for a minute and think about novels.

When I was in middle school and high school, a hot new paperback novel (or non-fiction bestseller) would be purchased, shared and eagerly read. Mario Puzo's The Godfather, William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist, Vincent Bugliosi's Helter Skelter -- these are just a few of the popular books I recall reading back in the early '70s, and lots of other teenagers did the same.

Nobody assigned us to read these books. In fact, we sometimes got in trouble for reading them. We either bought them ourselves or borrowed them from friends. I remember bugging a friend to hurry up and finish Helter Skelter so I could borrow it, and then being told I'd likewise have to hurry and finish it, because another friend had called dibs on it next.

These books weren't great literature, but they were at least books -- not books for kids, but books written for an adult readership -- and reading books is a habit that, if formed at an early age, is likely to last a lifetime.

The same is true of newspapers and magazines. We always had the daily paper in our home when I was a child, and Reader's Digest arrived every month. Every day, I'd have to wait for my father to finish reading the paper before I'd get my turn; and once a month, I'd similarly wait my turn to read my mother's Reader's Digest.

Having been in the newspaper business since 1986, I have unfortunately had a ringside seat to watch the industry's decline. And the reason I know that liberal bias is not a sufficient explanation for this decline is the fact that small "hometown" newspapers -- which have never reflected the liberalism that plagues the major metro dailies -- have suffered equally, if not worse, from the decline.

People don't read as much anymore. Period.

You can slice or dice that anyway you please. You can talk about online news until you're blue in the face, but it won't change the fact that Americans now read much less than they once did.

What is happening to newspaper circulation is simply this: As older readers die off, they are not being replaced by younger readers.

The reason for that is that young people -- and by that, I mean, people under 40 -- don't read nearly as much as do their elders. And it has nothing do with print vs. online. If you are under 40 and reading news online, you are an exception, a rarity, among your peers.

Why has the reading habit declined among those under 40? First it was cable TV, then it was the VCR, now the DVD -- and you could add video games to that list -- the increased availability of on-demand video has accustomed young people to process information that way. Just as reading is habit-forming, TV is also habit-forming, and the TV habit has flourished at the expense of reading.

This is why so many young people now say they get their information about current events and politics from "The Tonight Show" or "The Daily Show." If it's not on TV, they don't know about it.

Cable TV became a mass phenomenon in the 1980s, when today's 40-year-olds were teenagers, and since they could choose from so many channels, they grew accustomed to watching whatever they wanted. Thus died the family TV ritual of watching the 6 o'clock news.

So not only are young people less habituated to reading, they are not even interested in news -- that is, not "news" of the old-fashioned Huntley-and-Brinkley kind: Legislation, diplomacy, war. The "news" that young people want is Britney's rehab and Angelina's pregnancy -- in other words, E!

If I were a newspaper executive, I could think of some ways to try to maintain circulation -- more Britney photos! -- but ultimately there are limits to how any print medium can remain relevant in an age where the video image rules.

And if you're an under-40 person who is highly literate, reads the newspaper daily, subscribes to three magazines, and never watches Jon Stewart, please don't e-mail me to rage against me as a clueless old fuddy-duddy. You are exceptional -- and are no doubt intelligent enough to know that my generalizations about your generation are true.

'Spiritually married'

An affidavit has been released detailing conditions at "YFZ Ranch," the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints compound in Texas. Associated Press reports:
A polygamist compound with hundreds of children was rife with sexual abuse, child welfare officials allege in court documents, with girls spiritually married to much older men as soon as they reached puberty and boys groomed to perpetuate the cycle.
The documents released Tuesday also gave details about the hushed phone calls that
triggered the raid, by a 16-year-old girl at the West Texas ranch who said her 50-year-old husband beat and raped her. . . .
Officials have completed removing all 416 children from the ranch. . . .
Court documents said a number of teen girls at the 1,700-acre compound were pregnant. . . .
"Investigators determined that there is a widespread pattern and practice of the (Yearn for Zion) Ranch in which young, minor female residents are conditioned to expect and accept sexual activity with adult men at the ranch upon being spiritually married to them," read the affidavit signed by Lynn McFadden, a Department of Family and Protective Services investigative supervisor.
McFadden said the girls were spiritually married to the men as soon as they reached puberty and were required to produce children. . . .
This "spirtually married" crap has got to be one of the oldest lies in the book. Coming from the Bible Belt, I remember in the 1970s and '80s that this language of being "spiritually married" was used by teen couples from Christian backgrounds who were trying to rationalize premarital sex. The Baptist boy who wanted to get into his Baptist girlfriend's pants would endeavor to convince her that they were "married in the eyes of God." And then when she'd end up "pregnant in the eyes of God" . . .

Anyway, as absurd as that "spirtually married" nonsense was when practiced among teenagers, its heinous if these FCLDS compound crackpots were using it to justify 50-year-old men raping girls. There is nothing "spiritual" about that.

At the Moderate Voice, Clarissa Estes writes:
The Texas LDS commune referenced here, is being run by Warren Jeffs’ younger male kin, because Mr. Jeffs is in prison for pressing an underage girl to have sexual relations with an older man . . .
It’s not only that those men who call themselves LDS and practice polygamy in Jeff’s group, press girl children to engage sexually with older men when the girls are at puberty, which is the onset of menses . . . today that’d be about age 11 and 12 on the average . . . it’s also that a girl that young . . . has all kinds of hazards in too early pregnancies. . . .
There’s something that disturbs me even more about Warren Jeff’s LDS male copy-cats: I have this sickening feeling that the most vile thing this group may be up to is . . . literally breeding children to systematically provide older men with virginal children. A child mill.
A disturbing thing indeed. The root problem with modern polygamy is the math. If the "elders" of the Jeffs cult are going to have four or five wives each, then either (a) they'll have to start finding new wives outside the cult or (b) there will be a wife shortage sooner or later.

UPDATE: From the affidavit posted at The Smoking Gun:
The teenaged mother had called a local family violence shelter several times that day. . . . She reported that she was brought to the YFZ Ranch by her parents about three years ago.
(In other words, when she was 13.)
She stated that about two years after her arrival . . . she was spirtually married to an adult male member of the church (approximate age 49 years old) . . . She indicated that the adult male was also married to several other women and that she was wife number 7. . . .
(Awwww. What an honor to be Wife No. 7!)
[T]he man . . . had been indicted in Mohave County, Arizona, on criminal charges of sexual conduct with a minor . . . in connection with a purported marriage to a minor in Arizona, with whom he had conceived a child. . . .
(He did a plea bargain in August 2007 that required him to register as a sex offender. This guy is such a catch! No wonder all those teenage brides are in love with him, huh?)
She reported that church members have told her if she leaves the ranch, outsiders will hurt her, force her to cut her hair, to wear make up and . . . to have sex with lots of men.
(As opposed to having sex with one creepy old guy.)
She also indicated that her parents . . . were preparing to send her 15 year old sister to live at the YFZ Ranch.
(Special delivery: Wife No. 8!)
[I]nvestigators at the YFZ Ranch observed a number of young teenaged girls who appeared to be minors and appeared to be pregnant, as well as several teenaged girls who already had given birth and had their own infants. . . .
Investigators determined that there is a wide-spread pattern . . . in which young minor female residents are conditioned to expect and accept sexual activity with adult men. . . . [O]nce a female child is determine[d] by the leaders . . . to have reached child bearing age (approximately 13-14 years old) they are then "spiritually married" to an adult male member of the church and they are required to then . . . [have sex with] such male for the purpose of having children.
Clarissa's concerns appear justified by this affidavit. Notice that this is not a situation where teenage girls are permitted to marry, but required to marry, and where the girls themselves evidently have no choice in who or when to marry.

Nor is this anything like Old World customs of arranged marriage. Rather, a few top men in this cult -- who undoubtedly have indoctrinated their followers to regard them as holy "elders" or "prophets" -- were accruing harems of young brides.

The 49-year-old perp described in the affidavit already had six wives when he acquired 15-year-old Wife No. 7. Undoubtedly, the 49-year-old already had young adult or adolescent sons by then. But rather than choose the girl to be Wife No. 1 for one of his sons, he instead adds her to his own harem. Think about that, and you see that there can be no legitimate claim of "spirituality" as justification for such a practice.

Defeat? OK; Free trade? No way

Wall Street Journal:
It is now respectable for Democrats to assert, even to welcome, military defeat (see here). But if a Presidential campaign functionary so much as hints at support for free trade, he's banished to policy exile.
That's the meaning of Sunday's sacking of strategist Mark Penn from Hillary Clinton's campaign. In his noncampaign job with a PR firm, Mr. Penn had met with Colombia's ambassador to the U.S. to discuss the free trade agreement that President Bush sent to Congress yesterday. When word of that meeting leaked to a Wall Street Journal reporter last week, big labor went bonkers and Mrs. Clinton gave him the heave-ho despite more than a decade of loyal service. Maybe if Mr. Penn had called General David Petraeus a con man, he'd still have a job.
George F. Will:
Penn's actual beliefs about free trade, whatever they are, pro or con, certainly accord either with those that Clinton holds now or with those that she held back in the 1990s, when she was in the White House's East Wing acquiring the semi-demi-quasi-presidential experience that makes her just the person to answer the red telephone that, judging by her campaign ads, rings constantly in the West Wing.
She favored the North American Free Trade Agreement until she opposed it: She favored it back when she was a Cub fan, before she imagined being senator from New York and discovered, or remembered, that she had always been a Yankee fan. She opposes NAFTA and the Colombia agreement now that she is a presidential candidate, but her views might change again in a few weeks, when her status does.
It is impossible to know anything about economics and oppose free trade. Unfortunately for Hillary, she's 13 days from a primary in Pennsylvania, a union stronghold. Labor unions are based on opposition to economic reality. Among other things, unions are a coercive attempt to create an artificial shortage of labor; unions therefore actively discourage work, so as to extort higher prices (wages) for the work that occurs.

The union goons have forced Hillary to act as if expanded trade with Colombia is a bad thing, simply because to acknowledge economic reality might cause the rank-and-file to start questioning the nonsense propaganda they've swallowed over the years.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Celebrity update

Sometimes I get bored with politics, so I click over to WeSmirch and check out the celebrity news.

Tori Spelling is pushing the celebrity-pregnancy thing by modeling a bikini:
"So far I've gained 25 pounds and am loving my body!" Spelling, 34, told photo agency Startraks during the March 20 shoot in Beverly Hills. "I'm eating whatever my body tells me it needs and wants.
"I love my growing belly and the curves I'm taking on," she added.
The belly's sexy. It's the rest of her I've never been able to stand.

Supermodel Naomi Campbell blames racism for her being arrested at Heathrow Airport and banned from British Airways.

She called a policewoman a "white bitch," shouted "f---ing white honkies" at police and also called the police "a--holes."

Having had my own ... er, interesting experiences with British Airways and Heathrow Airport, I can assure Miss Campbell that racism has nothing to do with her problems. British Airways staff just don't tolerate unruly passengers.

The headline on this item is "Fergie's Glamorous Swimsuit in Glamour." Guess it shows my age that I thought, "Fergie? The British ex-royal? Isn't she a bit old for swimsuit photos?"

But instead it's some other Fergie, possibly the singer from Black Eyed Peas. I don't know. But she looks OK in the swimsuit. And I bet she's not banned from British Airways, either.

Would you like to see pregnancy pictures of Jamie Lynn Spears? You sick creep! She's only 17! What kind of kinky pervert are you??

OK, but pregancy pictures of Lisa Marie Presley, that's fair game. (Looks like she's in her "Vegas phase," if you know what I mean.)

I've never heard of Eva Herzigova, but apparently she's a celebrity -- a former Sports Illustrated swimsuit model and occasional actress -- who's also pregnant. And nude, if you want to look.

Well, that's it. Pregnancy, racism, swimsuits, more pregnancy, nudity -- kind of a slow day for celebrity news. Neither Britney nor Lindsey has done anything particularly stupid in the past 24 hours. But there's always tomorrow ...

Glenn Greenwald update

Megan McArdle with the Best Line of the Day:
Mr Greenwald's anger at the establishment power structure seems to be rapidly transmuting into anger at the non-Glenn-Greenwald power structure.
Ah, the young lady has a point. To those not familiar with Greenwald's history, he became a laughing stock in July 2006 after Ace of Spades exposed him as a sockpuppeteer.

(For non-bloggers: To "sockpuppet" is to use a phony online identity to promote your own work, to dispute your detractors, or otherwise engage in deception.)

McArdle has laid her finger directly on the nub of Greenwald's deformed personality, namely his extreme narcissism. Greenwald expends 2,000 words in a response to blog posts by Dan Drezner (360 words) and McArdle (800 words). It's just like his sockpuppet episode. He hysterically overreacts to criticism.

This inability to deal rationally with criticism is a common narcissistic trait. Nobody likes to be criticized, and everyone loves to put down their critics, but Greenwald goes completely overboard:

I didn't expect that anyone would actually defend the media's conduct here because it's so self-evidently indefensible -- so ludicrous -- and because defending it would, by definition, require someone to spout rationale that is just inane.

The "points" they make along the way are just painfully self-refuting and outright false (self-evidently so) . .

There's no point arguing with Greenwald, you see, because he is self-evidently right and you are self-evidently wrong. Disagreement is impossible -- unless you're "completely ignorant of even the most basic facts," as Greenwald says of McArdle. And then there's this:
At bottom, both McArdle and Drezner are defending media fixations on the pettiest and stupidest of matters while ignoring the weightiest. . . . Does someone who defends that state of affairs -- who is incapable of recognizing why that's so destructive -- really merit any serious refutation?
Well, Glenn, if they don't merit serious refutation, why are you wasting 2,000 words on them?

As to the point of Greenwald's original argument, that the reason the American people aren't enraged about the things that enrage Greenwald is because the news media feed them trival pap -- sic semper hoc.

Will Kony surrender?

Joseph Kony, who for two decades has led a terror cult called the Lord's Resistance Army, is reportedly ready to sign a peace agreement:
The Chief mediator in the Kony peace talks, Dr Riek Machar said yesterday he had received assurances from the rebel negotiators that Joseph Kony will sign his part of the agreement on Thursday.
If the indicted rebel leader signs the peace deal at the assembly point in Ri-Kwangba on the Sudan-DR Congo border - it will be the first such step taken in ending the 21 year-old rebel insurgency in northern Uganda.
"The LRA delegation has assured me that Kony is in Ri-Kwangba and he is ready to sign the peace deal on Thursday," Dr Machar told Daily Monitor in Juba yesterday. "As mediators we have done everything that could be done to make sure the two sides agree to sign the final peace agreement. Let us wait and see what happens on Thursday."
Considering the massacres, kidnappings and rapes for which Kony is responsible -- he's been indicted by the International Criminal Court -- it's hard to believe he will simply sign a treaty and surrender. As Dr. Machar said, "Let us wait and see . . ."

Barr on the border

Bob Barr appeared on the Neal Boortz Show and seemed to sketch out some sort of background--check system for illegals. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports:
“The Libertarian Party has not exactly been strong on the issue of controlling the Mexican invasion into this country,” Boortz began.
“Actually, they have been,” Barr replied. . . .
Said Barr:
“You set a mechanism internally to determine who is here. And if you catch folks that are here unlawfully, and do not submit themselves to a background check that those coming into this country are going to be required to do, then you send them back to their country.”
Said Boortz:
“It sounds to me that you’re saying, if you find an illegal immigrant in this country, and they’re willing to submit to a background check, that that could open the door to them staying here.”
Said Barr:
“I think as a practical matter, that makes a lot of sense. I’m not sure how you would go about rounding up millions of people and trying to deport them. The key here is security….”
I'm not sure I like the sound of that, but I'm also not sure if the AJC is providing an accurate account of what Barr was actually saying. The AJC is so liberal, they slant the bowling scores.

Boortz, a longtime LP member, responds to "people [who] are concerned that Barr's candidacy [is] going to give us another Ross Perot situation ... where votes for Perot essentially put Bill Clinton into office":
I'm really not going to be upset if the Republicans get their hats handed to them in this election. During the Bush years the only bright moments for the Republican Party were tax cuts and fighting Islamic fascism. Beyond that, what have they done? Well, they doubled the size and the cost of the federal government for one. How's that for a record of accomplishment. In 2007 Republicans were the pork champions in Washington; more pork spending than Democrats. Oh yeah --- let me get my checkbook out and make a huge contribution to the Republican Party right now. . . .
If the Democrats win ... so be it. We've become a nanny nation anyway. Might as well make it official.
Tax cuts are nothing to sneeze at, but they're due to expire and the Republicans don't have the votes in Congress to extend them, anyway.

'Hanoi Jay' Rockefeller

Obama supporter Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV disses John McCain's Vietnam service:
He’s a fighter pilot. He flies at 35,000 feet and drops laser-guided bombs, missiles. He was long gone when they hit. What happened down there, he doesn’t know.
Don Surber says the statement is less insulting in context, although I don't see how. I've criticized Crazy Cousin John for lots of things, but his service in Vietnam is not one of them.

Speaking of insults, I was tempted to say something about the average intelligence level in a state like West Virginia that sends two clowns like Rockefeller and Byrd to the Senate. Then I remembered I live in Maryland, a state that sends Sarbannes and Mikulski to the Senate. Never mind . . .

UPDATE: Ed Morrisey:

Rockefeller also sounds an awful lot like Barack Obama, who claimed that the entire strategy in Afghanistan consisted of "just air raiding villages and killing civilians."
One of my pet peeves is anti-war idiots who suggest that U.S. forces routinely and purposefully engage in the wanton slaughter of civilians. No one who understands U.S. military doctrine would suggest such a thing. Even in the case of documented atrocities -- e.g. My Lai -- these were rogue acts that were punished harshly.

Fool 'em again, Barack

Barack Obama's rhetorical gesture toward supporting Second Amendment rights is transparently phony, as Robert VerBruggen explains:
Since entering the national scene, the Illinois senator has kept mum about his undeniably anti-gun voting record. Now he's actively courting firearm-rights supporters. . . .
The briefest glance at the road ahead reveals why Obama and Clinton have become gun-totin', NAFTA-hatin' small-town folks of late. . . .
The states that haven't voted yet? Pennsylvania, Indiana, North Carolina, West Virginia, Kentucky, Oregon, Montana, and South Dakota. . . .
It's not hard to see why a battle rages for the working-class white vote, and how a little gun love could pay off in the months ahead.
Remember: You can't spell "pander" without "PA"!