Saturday, May 17, 2008

The blue helmets are coming!

No doubt, the U.N.will start by investigating those bitter, gun-clinging Hope-haters in West Virginia:
A special U.N. human rights investigator will visit the United States this month to probe racism, an issue that has forced its way into the race to secure the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.
The United Nations said Doudou Diene would meet federal and local officials, as well as lawmakers and judicial authorities during the May 19-June 6 visit.
"The special rapporteur will...gather first-hand information on issues related to racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance," a U.N. statement said on Friday.
His three-week visit, at U.S. government invitation, will cover eight cities -- Washington D.C., New York, Chicago, Omaha, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Miami and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
There must be a misprint on his schedule. Surely, Monsieur Diene will want to visit West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and those other "key swing states" won by that notorious xenophobe, Hillary Clinton. Mais oui?

Michael Moore: 'A big mess'

At Cannes, asked about his next film:
"Regardless of who the president is come November, we have a big mess, a big, big mess to be cleaned up, and I don't know whether it can be cleaned up."
A big mess that may be impossible to clean up? A film autobiography, perhaps?

Cannes is supposed to be about starlets sunning themselves topless on the Cote d'Azure. What's with all the freaking politics?

Authors Against Obama

I call for the formation of Authors Against Obama, a group of professional writers who object to crap like this:
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. . . . 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."
Writers of the world, UNITE! We are being oppressed, and it's people like Obama, his agent and his publishers who are oppressing us.

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.

A memoir! Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?? Unless you led the league in RBIs and helped the Yankees win the Series, how the hell does a 28-year-old get away with selling a memoir to a major publisher for $40,000?

By what accomplishment does a 28-year-old law student merit readership for a memoir? What can he possibly write that anyone would want to read? Nothing.
Mr. Obama, an inveterate journal writer who had published poems in a college literary magazine but had never attempted a book, struggled to finish. . . .
The book came out in the summer of 1995, shortly before Mr. Obama announced that he was running for the Illinois State Senate. At 57th Street Books, in Mr. Obama’s neighborhood in Chicago, a few dozen people turned out for a reading.
There were respectful reviews in newspapers including The New York Times and The Boston Globe. Times Books sold 8,000 to 9,000 copies.

First-time author. $40,000. Memoir. Reviewed in the New York Times.

All right, that's it. Forget about Jeremiah Wright. I don't care about Bill Ayers or Hamas or Obama's health care plans or anything else. When a 28-year-old student gets a $40,000 book contract based on a proposal to write about race relations, then instead turns in a memoir that gets favorably reviewed by The New York Times (!), he has committed an injustice against the profession of letters which no self-respecting author can endorse or condone.

Authors Against Obama! Who's with me?

UPDATE: I've created a Facebook group.

UPDATE II: Welcome, Instapundit readers. I don't know whether the link should be interpreted as an endorsement from Professor Reynolds. Somehow, though, I don't think any major publishers were offering him big bucks for a memoir when he was a second-year law student.

UPDATE III: In the comment field, Reliapundit notes his post from June 2005, recounting how Obama broke his contract with his first agent once he hit the big time, reportedly resulting in an out-of-court settlement. This only amplifies my argument that Obama has damaged longstanding traditions in the literary community. Agents usually screw over authors, rather than the other way around.

UPDATE IV: Hey, buy a book, OK? David Horowitz called it "irresistible."

UPDATE JULY 31: Welcome National Review Online readers. Wow, it's not every day a two-month-old post makes the Site Meter jump. Thanks, Jim Geraghty -- and I'll be sure to buy a copy of Voting to Kill just as soon as NR acknowledges the existence of Donkey Cons: Sex, Crime, and Corruption in the Democratic Party, which the magazine couldn't even be bothered to review in 2006. Ah, the injustice of it all! (Maybe if I'd had Obama's agent . . .) Have added an updated reaction.

Cosby's cause

"These are people going around stealing Coca-Cola. People getting shot in the back of the head over a piece of pound cake. Then we all run out and are outraged: 'The cops shouldn't have shot him.' What the hell was he doing with the pound cake in his hand? . . .
"Ladies and gentlemen, listen to these people. They are showing you what’s wrong. . . . What part of Africa did this come from? We are not Africans. Those people are not Africans. They don’t know a damned thing about Africa — with names like Shaniqua, Shaligua, Mohammed, and all that crap, and all of them are in jail."
--Bill Cosby, 2004

The so-called "poundcake speech" is recounted in a profile of Cosby in the May issue of The Atlantic Monthly. The writer, Ta-Nehesi Coates, begins the article thus:
Last summer, in Detroit’s St. Paul Church of God in Christ, I watched Bill Cosby summon his inner Malcolm X. . . .
Cosby had come to Detroit aiming to grab the city's black men by their collars and shake them out of the torpor that has left so many of them -- like so many of their peers across the country -- undereducated, over-incarcerated, and underrepresented in the ranks of active fathers. . . .
"Men, if you want to win, we can win," Cosby said. "We are not a pitiful race of people. We are a bright race, who can move with the best. But we are in a new time, where people are behaving in abnormal ways and calling it normal … When they used to come into our neighborhoods, we put the kids in the basement, grabbed a rifle, and said, 'By any means necessary.'
"I don't want to talk about hatred of these people," he continued. "I'm talking about a time when we protected our women and protected our children. Now I got people in wheelchairs, paralyzed. A little girl in Camden, jumping rope, shot through the mouth. Grandmother saw it out the window. And people are waiting around for Jesus to come, when Jesus is already within you." . . .
He was preaching from the book of black self-reliance, a gospel that he has spent the past four years carrying across the country in a series of events that he bills as "call-outs."
"My problem," Cosby told the audience, "is I'm tired of losing to white people. When I say I don't care about white people, I mean let them say what they want to say. What can they say to me that’s worse than what their grandfather said?"

Some people, I suppose, will read Cosby's words and suppose that his message has degenerated into outright black racism. I disagree.

Understand to whom Cosby was addressing these remarks, and what his purpose was. He was talking to young black men in Detroit, one of the most economically devastated inner cities in America. Many of these young men have already absorbed a large amount of Afrocentrism or some other variety of crackpot black racialist nonsense -- if from no other source, then from rap music.

Cosby wisely understands that, in order to connect with his audience -- in order to get his ideas into their heads in a way they'll take seriously -- he must play upon their racial sensibilities. He wishes to point them toward an achievement-based sense of ethnic dignity, and to point out how sloth, selfishness and criminality are contrary to that goal.

Yet Cosby cannot ignore the fact that many young black men have grown up listening to people tell them to blame all their problems on the white man. Cos at least has to give that idea a head-fake, before turning it around to get his young listeners to consider how their own bad attitudes and their own bad behaviors are a much more immediate problem for the black community than white malice or malfeasance.

Therefore, no, I am not in the least bothered or offended by Cosby summoning "his inner Malcolm X." As a matter of fact, years ago I read The Autobiography of Malcolm X and found that the late Nation of Islam leader had many true and useful ideas.

Malcolm X rightly excoriated the hypocrisy of white liberalism, which renders black people as objects of pity or charity, so that the liberal's conduct toward the black man is less about true fairness and justice, and more about the white liberal proving to himself what a morally superior being he is. This is the essential truth about liberalism that Thomas Sowell examines so brilliantly in his book The Vision of the Anointed, the subtitle of which pretty much says it all: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy.

Conservative views are sometimes honestly misunderstood -- and have often been deliberately misconstrued by liberals -- as "racism," a word that has been overused to the point that it has lost any meaningful definition. The charge of "racism" involves the attempt to smuggle into the debate certain unexamined premises, i.e.:
  • I know what you're thinking. The person who makes the accusation of racism is claiming to be a mind-reader, knowing the accuser's thoughts and intentions. It's a sort of psychiatric diagnosis.
  • Moral superiority. By hurling the charge of racism, the accuser not only declares that he is innocent of any such sin, but that he is so pure-hearted, insightful and beneficent as to feel it his duty to go around detecting and uprooting racism in others.
  • Goodwill is more important than good actions. Liberals generally reject the sound Christian doctrine of salvation by faith alone, yet their attitude about race often resembles a sort of secular twist on Calvinism. What is important to the liberal is to avow the correct beliefs about race, never mind what (if anything) they actually do about those beliefs -- and also never mind whether those beliefs are factual, or whether putting those beliefs into action would do any good for anyone.
In 1997, Bill Clinton announced that a "national dialogue" about race would be a major initiative of his second term. No such dialogue ever happened, because Clinton entrusted the initiative to political correctoids who instead conducted a boring monologue about the evils of white racism (as if America hadn't already been hearing that lecture for 30 years). Nothing that was said or done during Clinton's bogus "dialogue" accomplished anything useful or constructive, yet liberals credited Clinton with moral virtue merely for inaugurating it. (Which was exactly why he did it, of course. It was a PR gimmick.)

White liberals who run around declaring themselves amis du noirs are, as a rule, either con artists or lunatics. And black people who fall for that kind of liberal nonsense are like suckers in a game of three-card Monte.

Whatever else Cosby may tell his black audiences, at least he isn't repeating the politically correct shibboleths of liberalism. For that, he deserves praise.

Ted Kennedy has a seizure

According to CNN:
Sen. Edward Kennedy was rushed to a hospital in Massachusetts Saturday morning, his office confirmed. . . .
A well-informed Democratic source in Massachusetts said the 76-year-old senator had "symptoms of a stroke" at the Kennedy family compound in Hyannis Port.
If Kennedy were a Republican, and I were a liberal blogger, this is where I would say something tastelessly snarky, to the point of wishing he were dead.

Sorry to disappoint anyone, but I'm not going to do that. My prayers for the senator's speedy recovery, and comfort to his family.

UPDATE: Some DKos blogger linked this post as an example of "bloggers making underhanded nasty comments." Bizarre. I most pointedly did not make any such comment, except to observe that no ill can befall any Republican without the DUmmies and Kossacks chortling in glee. Nevertheless, thanks for the link. Call me a douchebag, misrepresent my comments -- I don't care, as long as you link me. I'm all about the traffic, baby.

UPDATE II: Apparently he's going to be fine:
In Reno, Nevada, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters that Kennedy "will be fine."
Reid spoke to Kennedy's wife, Vickie, who told Reid that Kennedy had a seizure, but "woke up fighting."
Kennedy had surgery at Mass General in October to clear a blockage in his cartoid[sic] artery in his neck.
Should be "carotid artery," a blockage of which is a very serious thing, but apparently Kennedy will make a full recovery.

I'm sure everyone in the conservative movement looks forward to Ted returning to good health, so we can make fun of him as usual. See, our prayers were sincere. Without Teddy alive and in the Senate, who else would the GOP use in those attack ads? "So-and-so is more liberal than Ted Kennedy . . ."

Get well soon, Senator!

Understatement of the Week

James Joyner:
Mein Kampf was, I suppose, pretty evil.
I suppose . . .

Celebrity update

Even for a political junkie, all politics all the time gets boring, so occasionally I click over to the celebrity-news aggregator We Smirch to see what new nadirs of decadence the bold-name glitterati are reaching. To summarize briefly:
I don't really care about any of these people. I don't even know who Katie Price is, let alone why she's also known as Jordan. But at least I'm honest enough not to pretend to care or know. If you're going to pander to starstruck curiosity, pander shamelessly.

Dear liberals . . .

One of the great things about the Obama-Clinton fight is that some of you liberals are learning a valuable lesson about how the Democratic Party operates:
With the clock running down on a long-fought primary, NARAL Pro-Choice America leaders sent state affiliates reeling this week by endorsing Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois. It was seen as a gratuitous slap in the face to a longtime ally, and it sparked a fear even closer to home: that the move will alienate donors loyal to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.
Many on this week's conference call were stunned on learning the news, making urgent pleas for the group to remain neutral until after the June 3 Democratic primaries. "It's created a firestorm," said NARAL Pro-Choice New York President Kelli Conlin, who was on the conference call. "Everyone was mystified ... saying, 'What is the upside for the organization? And, frankly, [there was] a lot of concern about the donor base. ... There was real concern there would be a backlash."
There was a backlash, and it was swift, starting with NARAL's own website. At last count, there were more than 3,300 comments in an electronic chat about the endorsement, the overwhelming majority of them negative. "Shame shame shame!" read one, with many correspondents threatening never to support NARAL financially again. "No more donations from me!!!" wrote another.
See? For years, NARAL has been collecting money from liberals who were under the impression that the organization was devoted to advancing the cause of "women's rights." In fact, NARAL is just a front group, a special interest lobby, a faction within the Democratic Party. NARAL's leaders and operatives are no different than the leaders and operatives of the AFL-CIO. Ed Morrisey's explanation:
NARAL wants to show some muscle in the party’s operations, and doesn’t mind throwing Hillary under the bus to do so.
Sorry, Ed. Not cynical enough. You should spend some time in Washington and learn how these things really work.

Howard Dean and the bigshots at the DNC are trying to finish up the job they've done on Hillary, so they called in some favors, worked some connections, made some promises or made some threats, and -- voila! -- NARAL endorses Obama.

What? You liberals don't believe me? You think I'm just a right-winger giving you spin from the "noise machine"? Look, here's an explanation from a couple of old-time liberals who know a thing or two about how these things work:
Two former members of Congress (and Clinton supporters) — Geraldine Ferraro and Pat Schroeder — jabbed at NARAL for endorsing before the general election. "Looks like some higher ups at NARAL are trying to get jobs in the new administration ... nothing else makes sense to us," they wrote in a joint letter.
Ferraro and Schroeder are old enough to know that things like this don't just happen by magic. The honchos at NARAL weren't motivated by idealism. Somebody got something in return for that endorsement.

Politics is a big-money business. Did you know that, in the month of February, the Obama campaign was spending at the rate of $1.5 million a day? Or that, by the end of March, the Obama campaign had more than $40 million cash on hand, while the DNC had $5.3 million cash on hand?

There is nothing in political life more certain than that an organized group of idealistic true believers will eventually attract the interest of greedy, self-serving power junkies. The true believers will get ripped off and screwed over, and the power junkies will walk away rich.

Did I say . . . rich?

Or did I say . . . rich?

The folks who run NARAL's DC headquarters aren't volunteers, they're career political operatives, which means that they're in it for the money. If the Obama/Dean/DNC axis wanted to buy an endorsement from NARAL, the only question was the price.

UPDATE: BDBlue at Corrente may be a liberal, but she's not completely naive:
I feel so much better knowing that they are so committed to supporting my rights that they essentially sold their endorsement to Obama. And it wasn’t just a chance to raise money, it was also a chance to tell long time supporters to go f--- themselves. . . .
NARAL does a lousy job defending choice, loses its donor base and then decides to remedy the situation by further p---ing off its donor base. . . .
[NARAL honcho Nancy Keenan] has hooked NARAL up to the Obama cash machine. Of course, I fully expect the Obama donors to get the same level of service (read: pathetic) the old donors got.
BDBlue, let me give you a hint: Beach house. Generally speaking, when people start throwing around big money in Washington, the smart folks end up with beach houses in Delaware or on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Either that, or they buy McMansions out in horse country.

On the other hand, maybe Nancy Keenan is too stupid to work herself a deal like that.

UPDATE II: Feminist blogger: "Follow the money."

'White women for Obama'

Colorado State Democratic Convention:
Another Obama supporter was Janice Francis, who recounted her joy when she turned onto East Cheyenne Mountain Road earlier Friday and encountered dozens of Obama and Clinton signs and rows of cars with liberal bumper stickers.
"I never thought I'd see that in Colorado Springs, absolutely not, and I've lived here since high school," said Francis, 65. . . .
Francis and two of her friends, Elana Hanson and Pam Clausen, wore T-shirts they designed and sold that said "ColoradObama." Francis and Hanson are trying to get elected as delegates from the 5th District.
If they win, Clausen said she's going to go to Denver and share their hotel room with them.
"We're white women for Obama," Clausen said.
"Oprah's the one who got us turned on to him," Francis said.
Via Talk Left, where Jeralyn Merritt says, "It's embarrassing to see that these women . . . are from my home state."

Snyder ruins Six Flags

When I was in high school and college, I worked three summers at Six Flags Over Georgia. The company ran a tight ship and enforced high standards. The pay was low, but you were proud to work there.

The park was lavishly landscaped and immaculately clean, the employees were cheerful, courteous and well-groomed, and Six Flags regularly set records for attendance and what management called "per cap," which is the average amount spent inside the park by each guest. (They were always "guests," never "customers.")

Apparently, since Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder led a hostile takeover of the Six Flags parent corporation in 2005, he's nearly ruined it. The Washington City Paper has the lowlights of Snyder's tenure, including my favorite:

Nov. 9, 2007: [The company's stock] closes at $1.88, representing a 70-percent drop since Oct. 24, 2005, when Snyder called for the removal of then-Chairman Kieran Burke in a letter to Six Flags shareholders. At the core of Snyder’s bid to get rid of Burke was this argument: “Stockholders would have been better off hiding their money under a mattress” than investing in the company under Burke, Snyder wrote. On the day that letter was registered with the SEC, a share of Six Flags stock was trading at $7.35. (Emphasis added.)
Can you beat that for absolute boneheadedness? Telling stockholders that the chairman's stewardship of the company has been so abysmal that they'd be "better off hiding their money under a mattress"?

Also, try this quote from a less-than-satisfied Six Flags guest: "I remember smoke and the smell of burning. I felt like I was going to die."

That's from a teenage girl whose feet were chopped off by a Six Flags ride. Yeah, and then there's the class-action lawsuits after more than 400 guests fell ill from a virus that causes "the sudden onset of nausea, vomiting and diarrhea."

The Snyder-owned Six Flags was named in November as one of the "worst managed companies in the United States" by analyst Scott Rothbort, whose prognosis was blunt: "The next stop ... is bankruptcy."

Attaboy, Dan!

(The first year after Snyder bought the 'Skins, the team went 10-6 and made the playoffs. In the eight seasons since then, the team has accumulated a regular-season record of 58-70 and has gotten two wild-card playoff slots, with a postseason record of 1-2. Along the way, Snyder has engaged in such classy moves as selling the naming rights to the stadium to FedEx. The 'Skins, who won three Super Bowls in the '80s and '90s, haven't made it as far as a conference championship game since winning Super Bowl XXVI in 1992.)

Clinton keeps fighting

It's over. It's over, right? Don't tell her it's over:

Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday she wasn't ceding Oregon — or the nomination — to opponent Barack Obama, who is heavily favored to collect another victory here next week as he comes closer to winning the Democratic nomination.
"I've been declared dead so many times, and luckily it's been premature, and I'm hoping it stays premature," Clinton said. "If I'd listened to people a month ago, three weeks ago, last week, you wouldn't be here trying to make up your minds about who you're going to vote for," she added.
She said that during an hour-long televised town hall event that he had all to herself because Obama refused to debate her. Think she's ready to quit? Uh-uh:

Proving she has no plans to leave the race just yet, Hillary Rodham Clinton is airing new messages in Kentucky and Oregon.
Here's an Oregon ad where she takes dead aim at the pundits who've been counting her out for the past two months:

The polls show she'll win by a landslide in Kentucky, while Obama's got a 15-point lead in Oregon. But after Hillary got a full hour of free TV in Oregon, surely it will be closer than that.

After Tuesday, there will be two weeks left until the last primaries June 3 in South Dakota and Montana. Only by getting additional superdelegates in his column could Obama clinch by then if 2,025 is the magic number. And Hillary keeps saying the number is 2,209, or else voters in Michigan and Florida will have been "disenfranchised."

Experts have been saying for two months that Hillary can't win, and who am I to argue with experts? But if she can't win, she doesn't seem to know it. She'll fight it out to the bitter end. Obama evidently thinks he's got the nomination so safely locked up he can ignore Oregon, let her have a whole hour of free TV and focus his attention on John McCain. That's an extraordinary level of confidence, one that ought to worry Obama's supporters.

UPDATE: I just looked at the RCP delegate count, and noticed how Hillary has nibbled away at Obama's pledged delegate lead since Pennsylvania (where she was net +12). Guam was a 2-2 tie, and Obama gained a net +13 from the May 6 primaries in North Carolina and Indiana, but then Hillary netted +12 in West Virginia.

So the pledged delegate gap has narrowed by 11 since April 22, and Obama's cumulative margin is now 153. There are 103 delegates at stake Tuesday. If Hillary gets the Kentucky landslide predicted by the polls, and Obama underperforms in Oregon, the gap should narrow further. Given that a Kentucky win would reinforce her swing-state "electability" argument, Clinton could go into the last two weeks with a strong argument why superdelegates (227 of whom have not yet declared for either candidate) should not jump too quickly to her opponent.

If between now and June 3 there were any serious scandal or gaffe on Obama's part . . . ah, but what am I saying? It's over. The experts told us so.

UPDATE II: The latest ARG poll for Oregon has it at Obama 50, Hillary 45. Of course, it's a mail-in primary and voting's been going on for a couple of weeks already, so it's hard to poll. But if Hillary holds Obama to a single-digit margin in Oregon and wins big in Kentucky, it will be interesting to hear what the pundits are saying on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Obama is "whining for votes."

Friday, May 16, 2008

'Painfully awkward video'

Mike Huckbee "jokes" about Obama and guns. Quote:
"That was Barack Obama, he just tripped off a chair, he's getting ready to speak. Somebody aimed a gun at him and he dove for the floor."
"Deafening silence," says Allahpundit. So much for the Huckster's vice-presidential aspirations.

UPDATE: Just randomly to deal with some bloggy stuff while I'm thinking about it, The Other McCain passed the 50,000-visitors mark yesterday, less than 90 days since I began blogging regularly in early March.

Averaging almost 800 visitors daily as of 8 p.m. today (Friday, May 16). That projects to more than 30,000 page-views per month, and more than 1/3 of the way to the 2,000 visitors-per-day threshold at which display advertising becomes feasible. If this kind of readership growth continues, the blog could be a remunerative enterprise within months.

Thanks to all the bloggers who've linked here, and thanks to the regular readers. Thanks even to left-wingers who link me. Call me a "douchebag" as often as you want, man, just keep linking me. If I'm going to be a douchebag, I want to be a successful douchebag.

Still 'extremely gloomy'

The death of journalism, continued:
The Internet is destroying journalism, according to Internet journalist Joshua Micah Marshall. . . . In a Friday speech at a Harvard conference on the future of the web, Marshall said traditional reporters are "terrorized" by economic and competitive challenges, living with a mix of "denial and fatalism" about the future of their craft -- and their livelihoods. When openings for entry-level jobs are posted at Marshall's site, for example, he said applications come in from senior investigate journalists struggling to find a job. The industry changes are bad for journalists, Marshall argued, but good for journalism.
Marshall is left about most things, but he's at least half-right about this. I've written before about the grim prospects for the future of journalism, although my take on the subject is somewhat different.

It's not the Internet that's killing journalism, it's illiteracy. The idea that the Internet is replacing print journalism as a news source is an illusion. There is no one-to-one exchange of people canceling newspaper subscriptions and people logging onto the Internet. There is, instead, a shrinking readership of news, period, regardless of whether the news is delivered by computer or by print.

What is the maximum daily readership of HuffingtonPost or the Drudge Report? Is that online readership smaller or larger than the combined readership decline of U.S. newspapers and newsmagazines in the past 10 years?

It's not just MSM. It's not just Old Media. It's not just "dead tree." We are witnessing the death of a mass market for news, regardless of the medium. The cyber-triumphalists of the blogosphere who cheer every report about layoffs and circulation declines at U.S. newspapers don't seem to realize that the bell also tolls for them.

Think about those surveys that tell us that under-30s get most of their political news from "The Daily Show" or Jay Leno's monologues. People who cannot read fluently -- that is, those who cannot process written information as effectively as they process the spoken word -- will never constitute a readership for serious news, whether that news is delivered via print or computer.

Evidence clearly indicates that reading fluency has declined steadily in recent decades. To read well -- to read complex material with both speed and comprehension -- requires reading often. A good reader is a habitual reader. Over the past 30 or 40 years, American schools and parents have failed to inculcate the reading habit in children, producing a generation of young adults in which a majority is incapable of reading and comprehending an article from Newsweek, let alone an essay from Commentary or the New Criterion.

Market forces are at work. The demand for news has been shrinking steadily for a couple of decades, and now the supply is dwindling. Twenty years ago, scores of American newspapers maintained bureaus in Washington. Most of those bureaus have been eliminated or stripped down to a bare minimum.

News industry executives have tried to explain away the problems of the business by citing the loss of ad revenue to Craigslist, Ebay, Fandango, etc. But while newspapers might have been able to compete with such online venues by reducing their ad rates, dwindling circulation tells a different story. People are reading less news, and this is especially true of young adults, the market most coveted by advertisers.

If the major target audience for feature films is the 18-34 demographic, why should a movie studio advertise its new releases in newspapers? When's the last time you saw someone under 35 actually reading a newspaper?

As older readers die off, they are not being replaced by young readers. The pet illusion of the cyber-triumphalists -- that readership is merely being transferred from print to online sources -- is only an illusion.

Even the most savvy news executives don't seem to grasp the dynamics of this. When I was at The Washington Times, some people in the newsroom labored under the delusion that the blogosphere is all about "kids," or that bloggers are a bunch of unshaven slackers who just rant. In fact, most bloggers are in their 30s, 40s or 50s, most of their readership is in the same age range and, in contrast to their image as ranting troglodytes, successful bloggers tend to have high levels of education.

As literacy declines and the mass market for news consequently dries up, the readership for news begins to resemble an elite. This has important ramifications. However, given that declining literacy travels in tandem with a dwindling attention span, I don't suppose there would be much of a readership for an extended discussion of those ramifications, so I will desist.

ADDENDUM: Josh Marshall is himself evidence of one my points about blogging. He's 39 years old (i.e., not a "kid") and is a Princeton alum with a Ph.D. from Brown. He is a member of the elite, writing for an elite readership, and his output is thus necessarily a reflection of elite sensibilities.

In 2000, 28 percent of freshmen at colleges and universities required remedial coursework. An 18-year-old incapable of reading at a college level is unlikely ever to become a frequent reader of political news and discussion. Civic discourse is limited to the literate few, excluding the interests and voices of the Ordinary American, who does not participate in this discourse. There are elites who claim to speak for the masses, but the masses themselves don't even read op-ed columns, much less write them.

Raped by a RINO?

LOTUS makes clear her view of the John McCain candidacy with a line of T-shirts and other merchandise bearing this artwork:
UPDATE: Michelle Malkin notes that conservatives aren't just quietly rolling over for the RINO gang rapists. The question, however, is whether the GOP sadists know the difference between cries of agony and squeals of delight. Or if they even care.

Brer McCain's briar patch

John McCain tells the NRA convention he would "welcome a debate" with Barack Obama about national security. Obama's offer to meet "unconditionally" with Iran is "reckless," McCain says.

"Americans have every reason to doubt [Obama's] strength, determination and judgment," says McCain.

By attacking McCain in the context of Bush's "appeasement" remark, Obama has thrown Brer Rabbit into the briar patch -- national security is McCain's strong suit.

Obama evidently has learned nothing from John Kerry's experience in 2004 -- or from George McGovern's experience in 1972. No matter how unpopular or unsuccessful the war, American voters in wartime prefer a hawkish commander-in-chief.

Voters are clearly weary of the war in Iraq, but given the choice between victory and surrender, Americans will always vote for victory.

UPDATE: Via NECN, video of McCain on Iraq:

From the prepared text of McCain's remarks:
Senator Obama would meet unconditionally with some of the world's worst dictators and state sponsors of terrorists. I would not add to the prestige of those who support violent extremists or seek to destroy our allies. . . .
Senator Obama has said, if elected, he will withdraw Americans from Iraq quickly no matter what the situation on the ground is and no matter what U.S. military commanders advise. But if we withdraw prematurely from Iraq, al Qaeda in Iraq will survive, proclaim victory and continue to provoke sectarian tensions that, while they have been subdued by the success of the surge, still exist, and are ripe for provocation by al Qaeda. Civil war in Iraq could easily descend into genocide, and destabilize the entire region as neighboring powers come to the aid of their favored factions. A reckless and premature withdrawal would be a terrible defeat for our security interests and our values.
Extra material was obviously added to this speech after the prepared text was sent onto PR Newswire.

UPDATE II: Ben Smith of the Politico quotes a statement from Obama's spokesman:
What's reckless is continuing the Bush-McCain foreign policy that has cost us thousands of lives and a trillion dollars in Iraq, strengthened Iran, enabled Hamas to take Gaza, took our eye off al Qaeda, failed to capture Osama bin Laden, failed to finish the job in Afghanistan, and left us less safe and less respected in the world. No amount of utterly predictable fear-mongering and tough talk can change the fact that John McCain is running to continue the most disastrous foreign policy in recent American history.
Notice the phrase "Bush-McCain foreign policy." The Obama campaign clearly wants this election to be a referendum on the Bush administration.

UPDATE III: Republican Rep. Tom Davis calls Bush "radioactive" for GOP congressional candidates this fall. This very much recalls the situation that faced Al Gore in 2000, when Bill Clinton's image had been so sullied by the Lewinsky affair.

Hillary: "Chaos" continues

Whether or not her staff have accepted Hillary Clinton's defeat as inevitable, her campaign's capacity for mischief continues. The following fundraising e-mail was sent out over Hillary's signature this afternoon:
Millions of voters in Florida and Michigan are depending on you to help make sure they have a voice in this race. Will you stand up for them today?
Thanks to your efforts, thanks to the hundreds of thousands of people who have already spoken out, the DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee is meeting May 31 to make a decision about whether or not the votes in Michigan and Florida will count.
Now I need you to urge the DNC to make the right decision on May 31. I need you to remind them that in the Democratic Party, we count every vote.
Tell the Democratic National Committee to count the votes of Florida and Michigan.
On May 31, the DNC has a chance to make it clear that the people of Florida and Michigan have a voice in our party. The decision is especially critical given the important role these states will play in November.
And your voice could make the difference for the millions of people who went to the polls in those two states to make their choice for president.
Stand with me today and tell the DNC to count the votes in Florida and Michigan.
I have consistently said that every vote must count. It is such an important principle in our party. I really appreciate you standing up for the values we share.
Thank you,

Save your pity, and put an asterisk beside your post-mortems. Hillary continues to insist that it will take 2,209 delegates to win the nomination, and if the DNC does otherwise, it will give the lie to their rhetoric about "disenfranchisment."

This may be just a tactical threat -- muscling a campaign-debt payoff from the DNC in return for her concession -- but that doesn't mean it's not a genuine threat. If the Democrats want her to go away nicely, they'll have to crawl and beg.

If you go to kill the Queen, be sure to kill the Queen.

UPDATE: Hard-core Clinton supporter Jeralyn Merritt conveys the message of Hillary's Friday conference call with friendly bloggers:
She is staying in the race. She is ahead in the popular vote by 50,000 votes, counting Florida and Michigan which must be counted. She intends to continue to lead in the popular vote when June 3 comes around and everyone has voted.
The number one message: It's the map not the math. In addition to the popular vote, the electoral map shows her with a cushion and Obama with a deficit. She has won 311 electoral votes to Obama's 217. While a few of hers like Texas and Oklahoma will be a challenge in November, many of his states will be: Alaska, Idaho, Utah, to name a few.
It's especially important to focus on this because it's what superdelegates are supposed to be doing, exercising independent judgment to determine who would be the better candidate against John McCain in November. (Emphasis added.)
The key point here is that Hillary is making arguments for her nomination that, while they might not persuade superdelegates, will certainly seem plausible to her own committed supporters. Thus, if Hillary is denied the nomination, many of her supporters will feel deeply disappointed and betrayed by their own party, an alienation perhaps sufficient to deny Obama thousands of votes in key swing states come Nov. 4.

Even if Team Obama feels they've got the nomination locked, they've still got every incentive to be nice to Hillary at this stage, because if she can't rally her supporters to back Obama in November, he could be in trouble.

'She knows the reality'

Once inevitable, now impossible:

Via Hot Air, as Ed Morrissey summarizes:
Bad news, Chaosters — it looks like Hillary Clinton will throw in the towel before the convention. According to Andrea Mitchell at MS-NBC, the big loss in North Carolina and the narrow win in Indiana has convinced even the Clintons that they just can't get to the nomination. Mitchell says that Team Hillary is just "going through the motions."
Michelle Malkin offers mournful music.

UPDATE: I've gone on the road three times to cover the Hillary campaign for The American Spectator. It began as more or less a whim in late March, when I saw that all the experts were lining up to declare the Clinton candidacy dead. "What the heck, let's go see the gotterdammerung," I said to myself, and off I went to Pennsylvania.

What I saw in Greensburg, Pa., however, was not a campaign feebly playing out the string, but rather enthusiastic crowds and a candidate who refused to quit:
Trailing badly in the fourth quarter of her campaign for the Democratic nomination, Hillary may yet lose, but she seems determined not to quit until the final whistle.
Asked Tuesday if she was feeling pressure to get out of the race, Mrs. Clinton answered, "The most common thing the people say -- it happened here, it happened last night, it happens everywhere I go -- is, 'Don't give up,' 'Keep going,' 'We're with you.' And I feel very good about that, because that's what I intend to do."
I next caught up with Hillary in Harrisburg on the eve of her April 22 Pennsylvania victory:
Almost all observers expect Hillary to win today's primary in a state where every credible poll has shown her leading since last year. But if she can win by the double-digit margin suggested by the internal poll the Clinton campaign leaked to Drudge yesterday, Hillary's people are ready to declare a momentum shift based on Obama's apparent inability to win in states that will be major battlegrounds in November.
"Senator Obama has been outspending us three-to-one here in Pennsylvania,"
[Clinton spokesman Mo] Elleithee said. "I think a lot of people are going to have to ask the question, if he fails to win here, despite outspending us three-to-one -- which would be the same pattern as we saw in Texas and Ohio -- he's going to have to start answering a lot of questions as to why.
"Why can't he close the sale? Why can't he win in these big states, and these swing states in the general election?"
That win kept her in the game another two weeks, but the May 6 results blunted her momentum. By the time she reached West Virginia the next day, the press was again hounding her to quit:
Hillary's supporters cheered and chanted her name at the West Virginia event, but reporters pounced at a post-rally press conference, suggesting it might be time for her to strike the tent. Does her vow to keep fighting, asked one network TV reporter, mean that Clinton will continue her campaign all the way until the vote on the convention floor in Denver?
"I'm staying in this race until there's a nominee, and I obviously am going to work as hard as I can to become that nominee," she answered. "So we will continue to contest these elections and move forward." . . .
A few minutes before Hillary's Shepherdstown speech, Clinton spokesman Mo Elleithee dismissed doomsayers in the media."The pundits have counted us out since Iowa," he said. "The funny thing about elections is, the voters get to make up their own minds."Barring a decisive tsunami of superdelegate support to Obama, the campaign will continue.
Now, it seems, even her own campaign staff have accepted defeat, which is not the same as saying that they're quitting the fight. I chronicle and summarize Hillary's "Chaos" comeback in the June print edition of The American Spectator, soon available on newsstands everywhere. To subscribe to the Spectator (12 issues for a low, low $19.95), click here.

McCain losing Republicans?

A couple of days ago, I chided See-Dubya for his dismissive attitude toward Bob Barr ("Ron Paul grew a mustache?") but it seems that the potential for conservative alienation increases with the possibility that Lindsey Graham might be McCain's running mate. Now See-Dubya says:
McShamnesty relied on him as his go-to guy and amanuensis on the campaign trail, and they really seem to be two of a kind.
I used to think McCain would be too smart and too considerate of conservative opinion to pick Graham. Recent events have disabused me of such illusions.
I’m sure there’s some payoff for Graham down the line. If that payoff is the VP slot, so help me, I’m writing a check for $20 to Bob Barr on the spot. I’ve promised myself I’d never vote for a candidate who advocated the legalization of narcotics, but I don’t recall any promises about sending him money. And if you think that the GOP is bummed now, there will be open revolt if Graham gets too prominent a post.
Frankly, I think Graham's angling for attorney general, rather than VP, but the longer conservatives look at McCain, the less they like him. See-Dubya sees others thinking that way:
I was listening to Glenn Beck a little while ago and he was venting about the Feinstein/Craig shamnesty sneak, and he paused and told his producer: "You know what? Book Bob Barr for another hour for TV next week, and an hour for radio."
BTW, if anyone in the DC area wants to meet Bob Barr, he'll be at a Reason magazine event next Tuesday, along with three other candidates for the Libertarian Party nomination.

UPDATE: Newsweek magazine has a Q&A with Barr.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Malkin on McCain

Crazy Cousin John's "vision" speech is "pure fantasy," Michelle says:
McCain’s problem is that he has allied himself, for the unprincipled, empty cause of mindless "bipartisanship," with people and causes that move our country in the wrong direction.
I don't want a Republican presidential nominee who makes common cause with La Raza/The Race.
I don't want a Republican presidential nominee who sneers about profits like Ralph Nader.
I don't want a Republican presidential nominee who talks and walks like Al Gore.
And as I’ve said before in response to the annoying McCain platitudes about "reaching across the aisle" and 'getting things done':
When did it become the Republican Party’s top priority to “get things done?"
All the MSM pundits keep wondering when McCain is going to try to patch things up with disaffected conservatives. Obviously, the answer is, he's not. So far as the Republican nominee is concerned, conservatives can stay home on Election Day.

Good luck with that strategy, cuz.

UPDATE: Jeff in Tennessee dislikes my earlier criticism of the "rally 'round the GOP nominee" argument, then goes into a sort of lesser-of-two-evils plea on McCain's behalf.

I will reiterate that it is not my job to elect Republicans. A job implies pay, and while the Republican Party routinely shells out millions to strategists, consultants, etc., none of that money has found its way into my pocket. We see what kind of advice the GOP is getting, and what kind of results their overpaid advisers produce.

It is my independent assessment that the Republican Party is screwed up, that the nomination of John McCain is proof positive of how screwed up the party is, and that the election of John McCain would not remedy the fundamental problem, but rather aggravate it.

You can keep taking your cues from the GOP's paid agents, or you can think for yourself. At some point, conservatives must identify and pay heed to the line between "Republican" and "conservative." Otherwise we'll all end up as lackeys for the Republican Establishment.

Mr. Olbermann, the war isn't about you

Keith Olbermann's shtick amounts to this: Use a lot of overblown adjectives and hyperbole to make simplistic statements sound "smart." The Olbermann viewer comes to the broadcast with pre-conceived hatreds, to which Olbermann gives voice in a way that makes the viewer feel their hatreds are sophisticated, intelligent and mature.

Witness Wednesday's rant. The first sentence is barely coherent:
President Bush has resorted anew to the sleaziest fear-mongering and mass manipulation of an administration and public life dedicated to realizing the lowest of our expectations.
Why "anew"? Why not "again"? The word "anew" is poetic, the sort of thing you'd hear in a valedictory address. What's the point of sticking it into this rant?

Look at how Olberman phrases the central accusation here: "the sleaziest fear-mongering and mass manipulation." Is it only the fear-mongering that is sleazy, or is the mass manipulation also sleazy? But if this is truly the "sleaziest" episode of the Bush years, how can Bush be said to have "resorted" to it "anew"? In other words, "anew" suggests that Bush has merely equaled some previous nadir of sleaze, a nadir that Olbemann doesn't specify.

The structure of this sentence is needlessly complex. Bush is the subject, and "resorted" is the predicate.

"Bush resorted to ..." what? "[T]he sleaziest fear-mongering and mass manipulation." In other words, the object of the verb "resorted" is compound. Bush hasn't resorted to one thing, but two, thereby requiring the conjunction "and."

The sentence might have held up if Olberman had been content to accuse Bush of resorting to "sleazy fear-mongering and mass manipulation." But no, he felt the need for the superlative "sleaziest," thus requiring a frame of reference. "Sleaziest" in what context? Compared to what?

The sleaziest, Olbermann tells us, "of an administration and public life dedicated to realizing the lowest of our expectations." Great. Now he's modifying the compound object of the sentence with a compound prepositional phrase.

What we see here is a piling-on of accusations, an impatience, a sense that Olbermann can't wait another sentence, that everything he wants to say must be said now. It's a furious sputter that conveys only one idea: Olbermann hates Bush. But you knew that before you tuned into MSNBC.

After quoting Bush's recent response to a reporter's question about what might happen if the U.S. were to precipitously withdraw from Iraq, Olberman says:
Through your haze of self-congratulation and self-pity, do you still have no earthly clue that this nation has laid waste to Iraq to achieve your political objectives?
This is a question? Would Bush accept the accusation that the Allied invasion "has laid waste to Iraq"? Or would Bush talk about the toppling of Saddam and the "nation-building" aspect of the mission?

You don't have to endorse Bush's "political objectives" to balk at this flat assertion that the U.S. has "laid waste to Iraq." And the characterization of Bush as operating inside a "haze of self-congratulation and self-pity" is another of those flat assertions for which Olbermann doesn't even bother to offer evidence.

Then Olberman quotes Bush saying he was "disappointed to see how flawed our intelligence was" in reference to Iraq's weapons programs, even though "intelligence communities all across the world shared the same assessment."

Right. As of late 2002, no one doubted that Saddam had extensive stockpiles of chemical weapons and that Iraq had bioweapons capacity. The extent of Saddam's nuclear program was more speculative. With his SCUD missiles, however, Saddam certainly had the means of delivering a warhead if he ever obtained or manufactured one. SCUDs aren't highly accurate, and their range is limited, but they were still a regional threat.

But look how Olbermann reacts:
You, Mr. Bush, are responsible for how "intelligence communities all across the world shared the same assessment."
You and the sycophants you dredged up and put behind the most important steering wheel in the world propagated palpable nonsense and shoved it down the throat of every intelligence community across the world and punished anybody who didn't agree it was really chicken salad.
And you, Mr. Bush, threw under the bus, all of the subsequent critics who bravely stepped forward later to point out just how much of a self-fulfilling prophecy you had embraced, and adopted as this country's policy in lieu of, say, common sense.
The fiasco of pre-war intelligence, sir, is your fiasco.
Certainly, the president is responsible for his decisions, and if the invasion of Iraq was undertaken in the absence of accurate information, then Bush is responsible. Yet Bush didn't become president until January 2001, and necessarily relied on intelligence about Saddam's weapons that had been accumulated during eight years of the Clinton administration.

Perhaps Bush and his "sycophants" failed to properly evaluate the Clinton-era intelligence they were working with, but I fail to see how they could be held responsible for estimates independently generated by British or other foreign intelligence agencies. Olbermann offers no evidence at all for his assertion that Bush "propagated palpable nonsense and shoved it down the throat" of foreign agencies.

There is no argument in Olbermann's rant. Argument requires evidence and logic. All Olbermann offers is assertion and venomous language. Ranting incoherently like a cokehead on a three-day binge isn't going to persuade anyone of anything, but Olbermann's audience doesn't need to be persuaded to hate Bush, so he doesn't even bother to argue.

Olberman expends 2,034 words on this rant, a stem-winding lecture in the world of television news, where the story that gets more than one minute in the evening news is a rarity. Two thousand words is nearly three times as long as the typical op-ed column, and yet Olbermann's rant lacks the informative quality of such a column. Instead, it's a Dagwood sandwich of piled-up assertions:
The war in Iraq, your war, Mr. Bush, is about how you accomplished the derangement of two nations, and how you helped funnel billions of taxpayer dollars to lascivious and perennially thirsty corporations like Halliburton and Blackwater, and how you sent 4,000 Americans to their deaths for nothing.
As emotionally satisfying as it may be for Olbermann to deploy SAT words like "derangement" and "lascivious" against the objects of his hatred, this is neither news nor argument. And the fact that he's allowed to rant on for 2,034 words in this self-indulgent fashion might help explain why MSNBC has such a tiny audience.

Good Charlotte kills

The latest fatal fad for kids:
Hannah was a happy 13-year-old until she became an 'emo' - part of a sinister teenage craze that romanticises death. Three months later she hanged herself. Here, her devastated mother tells other parents: No child is safe.
On the night before she died, she came into their room, kissed her father Raymond on the cheek and cheerfully told him: "I love you, Dad."
The following day Hannah's mother Heather went to check on her daughter and found her hanging by a tie from the top rail of her bunk bed. . . .
Why on earth did their daughter — a popular, intelligent and attractive girl — do such a thing?
They could find only one clue: Hannah was what is known as an "emo".
Some describe it as a cult or a sect, but in reality the term — derived from the word "emotional" — encapsulates a trend that is becoming hugely popular among Britain's schoolchildren. . . .
Hair is all-important: often dyed black and straightened, it is worn in a long fringe brushed to one side of the face.
Music also plays a critical role.
Emos like guitar-based rock with emotional lyrics.
American bands such as My Chemical Romance, Good Charlotte and Blink 182 are particular favourites.
Let's face it, suicide sometimes reflects a rational assessment: "OMG! I'm the kind of pathetic wuss who listens to Blink 182!" The amazing thing is that all Blink 182 fans haven't killed themselves. Yet.

Parents, if you've got a teenager, just don't let them listen to any of that "emo" crap, which is for losers, nerds and wienies. Make sure your kids listen to the Stones, Zep, ZZ Top, Van Halen -- good old red-blooded rock 'n' roll, man.

Jodie Foster's gay divorce

Celebrity news update:
Hollywood star Jodie Foster has ended her 14-year lesbian relationship with film producer Cydney Bernard.
The split comes just four months after Miss Foster broke her silence about the relationship, which was long an open secret in movie circles.
Ms Foster revealed her domestic situation for the first time a speech to a gathering of fellow Hollywood stars in Decemeber.
The 45-year-old star of Panic Room, The Accused and Silence Of The Lambs, who was collecting an award, pointedly thanked: "My beautiful Cydney, who sticks by me through all the rotten and the bliss."
So, they'd been going strong as a secret for 14 years, but five months after Jodie tells the world -- kaput.

See? This "coming out" stuff is highly overrated. It's much better for gays to hide in the closet. The shame and secrecy keeps you close.

I wonder if the voices in John Hinckley's head will tell him to go kill Jodie's ex-girlfriend?

Brand damage

Republicans are starting to realize that the policy blunders of Team Bush and the GOP Establishment have badly hurt the party's image:
They said the first was an outlier. The second, a fluke. But after losing their third seat this year in a special election, House Republicans faced the possibility on Wednesday that if they don't repair their image with voters, they could be in for another rough November.
Understatement of the year!
A Democratic pick-up streak that started with Rep. Bill Foster's upset victory in the March election to replace former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) crested Tuesday night, when Democrat Travis Childers won a solidly Republican open seat in Mississippi.
The GOP spent one-fifth of its available national party cash for House races on the Mississippi seat. Vice President Dick Cheney campaigned there. President George W. Bush and presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain pitched in with automated phone calls. Their candidate lost anyway. Meanwhile, reeling House Republicans unveiled a new slogan this week --"Change you deserve" -- only to watch Democrats gleefully note that it is already used to market an antidepressant.
Several House Republicans say the losses reveal a voter disconnect with their party, rooted in dissatisfaction with Bush, which GOP candidates will have to repair district-by-district this fall. Some, including McCain and several members of the Illinois congressional delegation, appear to believe that to "re-brand" the Republican Party, they must first distance themselves from it.
In six months time, there will be a smoldering crater where the Republican Party used to be. The GOP is heading for one of its worst years since 1974. And the blame belongs squarely on the shoulders of Team Bush. This administration has been a political failure, and it's time this failure was acknowledged.

Silky has Hope

Will the endorsement of a smarmy trial lawyer make a difference?
At a rally in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Wednesday evening, John Edwards endorsed Barack Obama, who was on the stage with him, to be the Democratic nominee for president.
Sounding a theme of a nation divided into parts by walls, Mr. Edwards said, "The reason I am here tonight is that Democratic voters in America have made their choice and so have I."
Mr. Edwards then went on to say, "There is one man who knows in his heart that it is time to tear down that wall and make one America, Barack Obama."
What a phenomenally stupid thing to say. In a nation of 300 million people, there is only one man who has this great truth "in his heart"?

Eh, who cares? Edwards' value to Obama is that Edwards had been Kerry's running mate in 2004 and was the third leading candidate in the primaries this year. Edwards has made a career pushing logical fallacies with emotional resonance, and his latest expedition into incoherence won't bother Obama.

However, Edwards has 16 pledged delegates who could help move Obama that much closer to the nomination.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Sean Penn, brain-dead

Interviewed at Cannes:
”I don't have a candidate I'm supporting and I'm certainly interested and excited by the hope that Barack Obama is inspiring,” he said, but went on to accuse him of a “phenomenally inhuman and unconstitutional” voting record.
”I hope that he will understand, if he is the nominee, the degree of disillusionment that will happen if he doesn't become a greater man than he will ever be,” Penn said. “This is the most important election, certainly in my lifetime, and maybe ever.”

BTW, guess who joined Penn on the red carpet at Cannes? Natalie Portman:
Portman, 26, said she would not be endorsing Obama or his rival, Hillary Clinton, but added: “I think it's a very exciting year for our politics, that for the first time in a while we have a choice of who we like better instead of who we hate least.”
Just what I needed. Another flimsy excuse to blog about Natalie Portman.

Rangoon or bust!

A "humanitarian invasion" of Burma? Surely, you jest. I know I do. How do you say "sarcasm" in Burmese?


Over at the American Spectator blog, I linked Rush Limbaugh's discussion of Tuesday's Mississippi congressional defeat, which El Rushbo blames on "the Republican establishment . . . the country club types who are in the process of destroying the Republican Party . . . the pseudoconservatives of the New York Times and the DC-New York media establishment who think that Rockefeller Republicanism and country club Republicanism is the future of the party."

There can be no doubt, I believe, that Limbaugh is talking about David Brooks, Bill Kristol, Michael Gerson and other such Republican critics of limited-government conservatism. By the way, as James Antle notes, Gerson's column today -- as usual, hyping Bush's "compassionate" agenda -- got a quick smackdown from Dr. Coburn:
Unfortunately, all Gerson has shown is that demagoguery is the last refuge of a former administration official looking for a legacy.
Ouch. The gormless Gerson deserved that.

Fairly unbalanced

This Fox News anchor rolls his eyes and his voice drips with sarcasm as he keeps throwing GOP talking points at Bob Barr:

The anchor begins the interview this way:
"So, could he be a spoiler for John McCain? . . . Libertarian nominees have never managed to get more than 1 percent of the vote in presidential elections . . . . Do you really think you have a realistic chance of getting elected, and if not, then why are you doing this?"
Barr gives a 45-second answer, then the anchor says:
"Let me stop you there. In a close race, you could turn out to be the kind of spoiler for John McCain that Ralph Nader was Al Gore eight years ago. . . ."
The anchor then reads back to Barr a quote from Newt Gingrich. So the Barr candidacy is only of interest to Fox News insofar as Barr threatens to be a "spoiler for John McCain." (In point of fact, it was not Nader, but Pat Buchanan who delivered the fatal blow to Gore in Florida, due to the Palm Beach County "butterfly ballot.")

Is Fox News in the business of reporting the news, or is it in the business of electing John McCain? I can understand an unabashed GOP publicist like Stephen Spruiell parroting the Gingrich spin, but nobody ever expects anything except Republican talking points from National Review anymore. I thought Fox, at least, wanted to maintain some semblance of independence.

UPDATE: It's not that I've got anything against Republican talking points per se. I like this RNC ad, for example:

(Via Hot Air.) That's a campaign ad that doesn't pretend to be anything but a campaign ad, whereas the Fox anchor was delivering Republican talking points as if they were actually news.

'Thank you, West Virginia!'

Hillary Clinton vows to continue her divisive race-baiting campaign for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, no matter what her critics say:

I didn't hear Rush Limbaugh's show today, so I don't know what to think about this yet.

Pre-teen pole dancers?

Michelle Malkin rightly denounces as "pedophilia chic," Beyonce's new line of slutwear for toddlers. In the process, she links back to her own post from October (a post I must have missed at the time) about a scene from "Keeping Up With the Kardashians," in which a Hollywood producer records video of Bruce Jenner's pre-teen daughters (Kim Kardashian's half-sisters) dancing on a stripper pole:

Where are the feminists who should be denouncing this exploitative crap? Teaching 9- and 11-year girls to imitate strippers? Might as well sign them up now as Future Dates of Elliott Spitzer.

It's not just celebrity sleazoids who are pushing to sexualize kids. I reported about the academic pro-pedophile movement in 2002.

Hillary foe declares victory

But he's not going home:
It isn’t just Barack Obama’s camp that’s starting to claim victory over Hillary Clinton. Some conservatives are, too. Richard Collins, the Texas GOP activist and fundraiser behind the anti-Clinton site, has declared her, well, stopped.“Sen. Clinton has been whupped and its over,” Collins told us. . . .
Not that Collins’ work is done. Late last week, he announced the debut of to help take down Obama.
This morning I drank my coffee from a promotional mug I picked up at CPAC in 2006.

Hillary's Hillbilly Heaven

Oh, what a beautiful sight at TPM from John Marshall, who provides this map of Appalachia:

And then this map of counties where Hillary's won Democratic primaries by 65% or more:

Marshall then asks, "So what is it about this region?" Hey, man, ask Obama. We're just bitter, and that's all there is to it.

Sing it, Tex:

Blues in the blood?

Blogging over at The American Spectator about a Dutch blog that erroneously stated that I'm not related to Crazy Cousin John:
I am a distant cousin of John McCain, a kinship that can be traced back to two brothers, Hugh and Alexander McCain, who migrated westward from South Carolina circa 1800. One branch of the family ended up as plantation owners in the Mississippi Delta, the other branch ended up as East Alabama dirt farmers. I'm a proud descendant of the Alabama dirt-farming McCains.
Following that link to the 2000 Salon article, I noticed this paragraph:
Tracing the genealogies of slaves is often easy, because slaves frequently adopted the surnames of their owners. In 1876, for example, a Mary J. McCain married Isham Hurt. The two had a son, blues guitarist "Mississippi" John Hurt, in 1892 on Teoc, the plantation community where the McCains owned 2,000 acres.
The mighty McCain mojo might be hereditary.

Who's to blame?

The Republican brand is badly damaged:

The sky is falling on House Republicans and there is no sign of it letting up.
The GOP loss in Mississippi’s special election Tuesday is the strongest sign yet that the Republican Party is in shambles. And while some Republicans see a light at the end of the tunnel, that light more likely represents the Democratic train that is primed to mow down more Republicans in November.
The third straight House special election loss in three conservative districts this year is a clear indication that the GOP brand is turning off voters and the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is in disarray.
Let the hunt for scapegoats commence! The Republican Party's professional apologists will scour around for excuses, but it's hard to escape the conclusion that the Bush presidency has been a political failure.

Republicans lost 31 House seats and six Senate seats in the 2006 mid-term elections, and the GOP's grand poobahs tried to ignore the significance of their defeat.

One of the big reasons for the 2006 disaster was that John McCain's amnesty bill alienated many blue-collar voters who had been voting Republican in recent elections. Yet not only did McCain try to pass amnesty again in 2007, but then the Republican Party nominated the La Raza-loving author of this anti-American legislation as its 2008 presidential candidate.

It was President Bush himself who, in January 2004, proposed guest-worker status and amnesty for "undocument workers." In his second term, Bush pressured Republicans in Congress to support such legislation. No doubt other factors are involved in the collapse of the GOP coalition, but it's imp0ssible to ignore the role of Bush, McCain and amnesty in this disaster.

Some of my conservative friends are engaged in a "rally 'round the GOP nominee" effort, and their motives I won't impugn. It seems to me, however, given the mounting evidence that Republicans are doomed to defeat in November, that the smart thing for conservatives to do would be to get as far away as possible from this impending disaster.

On Nov. 5, when there's nothing left of the Republican Party but a smoldering crater, you want to be in a position to say, "I told you so."

UPDATE: Dad29 likes my line from yesterday:

Conservatives are like a battered wife in an abusive relationship with the GOP, except that we can't even get a restraining order.
I think my obstreperous attitude toward the Republican elite my be rooted in my experiences as an ex-Democrat. I was born and raised a yellow-dog Democrat and remained fiercely loyal to the party long after many of my friends and neighbors had become "Reagan Democrats." (To give you an idea of what a hard-core partisan I was, I voted for Mondale in '84 -- in Georgia, a state where Reagan got 60% of the vote.)

For years, I gritted my teeth and put up with the idiotic liberals who kept bringing disaster on the Democrats. I didn't even bother to vote in 1988. And then in 1992, along came Bill Clinton, a Southern governor who at least made an effort to distance himself from the Dukakis/Cranston wing of the party. Clinton fooled me so completely that I became an enthusiastic supporter --bumper stickers on the back of my car, the whole deal.

Fool me once, as they say. The three most significant initiatives of the Clinton administration were: (a) gays in the military, (b) socialized medicine, and (c) the bogus "assault weapons" ban. You may say I'm ignoring other major Clinton initiatives, but these were the most significant to me, in that I was 100% against them.

I had voted for a "Sam Nunn Democrat," and had gotten a San Francisco Democrat instead. The "assault weapons" ban was the real deal-breaker. My reaction could be summed up in four words: F--- you, Democratic Party.

By 1996, I'd swung so far to the right that I couldn't bring myself to vote for that mushy middle-of-the-road sellout Bob Dole, the "Senator From Archer Daniels Midland" whom Newt Gingrich once dubbed "the tax collector for the welfare state." In 1996, I voted for Harry Browne.

Having been screwed, blued and tattooed by the Democrats, I'm now intensely skeptical of those conservatives who urge me to act on motives of Republican partisan loyalty, despite every evidence that the GOP has nothing but contempt for its conservative supporters.

UPDATE II: Philip Klein of The American Spectator dubs John McCain "the only electable candidate in [the GOP] once Rudy Giuliani's post-9/11 popularity vanished," causing me to register my astonishment. That GOP Kool-Aid must be powerful stuff.

P.S.: So far as I know, the term "pre-mortem" was coined in October 2006. With all the gloomy GOP omens this year I say, why wait until October?

'Please come to Denver'

Thousands of left-wing freaks are coming to Denver, and the city's freaking out:
Planning for the worst during the Democratic National Convention requires one of the best, and that expertise doesn’t come cheap.
Denver is paying $225 an hour - or $9,000 a week - to Ellis M. Stanley Sr., an emergency management veteran who has been tapped to serve as director of DNC planning for the city’s Office of Emergency Management.
Stanley, who has overseen planning for major events including the 1988 Democratic convention and the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, stands to make up to $280,000 while under contract with the city through August.
The 1996 Olympics -- yeah, that turned out swell.

Michelle Malkin has dubbed Stanley an "expert on moonbat management," but I wonder if Denver put this job up for bids? I probably could have come up with a lot cheaper security plan for the Democratic convention. Hire a bunch of bitter Bible-clinging gun-toters, give 'em plenty of .12-gauge shotgun ammunition, and if anybody wants to start any trouble, Go ahead, punk, make my day.

P.S.: The post title is from the second verse of Dave Loggins' 1974 hit, "Please Come to Boston":