Saturday, June 28, 2008

'Fascist demagoguery'

That's what they call it nowadays when students complain about a wacko professor:
A few months ago a former Dartmouth writing instructor, Priya Venkatesan, informed some of her former students that she was planning to sue them, along with Dartmouth. . . .
As Joseph Rago of the Wall Street Journal reports, she taught them that "scientific knowledge has suspect access to truth," inasmuch as "scientific facts do not correspond to a natural reality but conform to a social construct." . . .
[After students complained] She responded by accusing the students of "fascist demagoguery," consulting a physician about "intellectual distress," and canceling classes for a week. Later, as noted, she threatened to sue some of her students for creating a "hostile work environment," and to sue Dartmouth itself for countenancing the "harassment."
(Via Insty, a professor, but not wacko.) Her brave stand against "fascist demagoguery" will no doubt earn Professor Venkatesan a McArthur "genius" grant, so she can do oppo-research for Obama.

Maverick's anti-tax agenda?

This might be taking matters too far:
San Diego County officials, it turns out, have been sending out tax notices on the La Jolla property, an oceanfront condo, for four years without receiving a response. County records show the bills, which were mailed to a Phoenix address associated with Mrs. McCain's trust, were returned by the post office.
An overblown nothing of a story, as it turns out. It appears to be a case of misdirected mail. The bank that oversees Mrs. McCain's family trust never got the tax notices, and the property -- where Mrs. McCain's elderly aunt lives -- owed less than $1,800 in taxes per year. Just a paperwork snafu, and the check's in the mail. No biggie.

The lede of the Newsweek story tries to play the class warfare card a bit too obviously. This is nothing but confirmation of Newsweek's status as the most left-leaning of the newsmagazines.

UPDATE: Leave it to Media Matters to complain about not enough class warfare in the media.

'Flexible and pragmatic'

Not duplicitous and arrogant, says Ann Althouse, whom Insty is at pains to distinguish from the "rubes."

Perhaps the lady is suffering from Matthews Syndrome, a disorder characterized by excessive Hope and peculiar sensations in the legs.

More poll talk

While browsing Memeorandum, I saw the Rasmussen Texas poll as a featured link and said, "Huh?" The New Republic's Nate Silver was discussing recent polls and mentioned Texas:
The two polls of Texas show the race tightening, but probably not enough to make the race interesting. There's a good rundown here of the pros and cons of Obama investing resources in Texas. . . . If Tejanos vote in anything resembling the same proportion that they constitute of Texas's citizenry, the state could be quite competitive.
I can assure Nate Silver that at the RNC they're laughing their butts off at the prospect of Obama wasting campaign resources in Texas, whatever the sympathies of "Tejanos" may be. (The problem with that scenario is that, despite its large Hispanic population, many Hispanics are either illegals or recent legal immigrants who aren't eligible to vote, while the more assimilated Tex-Mex are fairly conservative.)

Silver's attitude is indicative of the dizzy overconfidence that Obama has inspired in liberals, so that he utterly fails to realize that, despite David Plouffe's talk of a 50-state strategy, many of the states won by Bill Clinton (e.g., Kentucky) appear to be off-limits to Obama. Meanwhile, McCain is very close in Ohio, and not out of range in Michigan, Pennslyvania and -- here's a shocker -- Connecticut.

Yet even now Obama's brain trust is talking about sending their guy on world tour. I'm sure the gang at RNC headquarters are chilling champagne for their Obama bon voyage party.

Has Team Obama lost it?

First, they said they'd send the candidate to Alaska, and fantasized about Wyoming and even Texas. Now, they're babbling about England and beyond:
Obama's campaign said the likely nominee will travel to Jordan, Israel, Germany, France and the United Kingdom. The Illinois senator also has said he intends to visit Iraq and Afghanistan this summer; his campaign would not say whether those stops would be part of the trip to the Mideast and Europe.
Pennsylvania? Ohio? Florida? No, forget about the stupid morons in those silly swing states -- let's campaign in foreign countries where there aren't even any eligible voters!

Sensible Democrats must be tearing their hair out and chewing the carpet in frustration. It's 128 days until Nov. 4, and there is no campaign resource as precious as the candidate's personal presence -- speaking at rallies and fund-raising events, doing photo-op handshakes with ordinary Americans, talking to reporters and editors.

Yet Team Obama wants the candidate to skip the swing states, and instead do the grand tour of Europe, with a jaunt to the Levant thrown in for good measure. This, mind you, at a time when voters by more than a 2-to-1 margin are telling pollsters that their top concern is not foreign policy but domestic economic issues.

WTF? Are Plouffe and Axelrod daft? How the heck does it help convince independent voters that Obama can be trusted to fix the economy for ordinary Americans to turn on their TVs and see the candidate in London, Paris or Tel Aviv?

Given the itinerary they're laying out to the press, this "Look, Foreigners Love Me!" tour will occupy at least a week of Obama's schedule -- time that the candidate might otherwise spend at state fairs or plant-gate handshake events or rallies for his volunteers in key states.

Let me go ahead and predict that one of three things will happen. Either (a) this talk of a foreign trip will be quietly shelved, at the behest of Democratic elders; (b) the plan will be seriously scaled back to no more than 4 days, with maybe a quick London stopover en route to Iraq, and a quick stopover in Paris on the way back; or (c) Team Obama will go ahead with this grandiose scheme and suffer a brutal P.R. beating as a result.

Bill vs. Barack

According to the Telegraph:
"I’ve spoken to a couple of people who he's been in contact with and he is mad as hell.
"He's saying he's not going to reach out, that Obama has to come to him. One person told me that Bill said Obama would have to quote kiss my ass close quote, if he wants his support."
(Via Hot Air.) We observed yesterday that Obama was forcing Hillary to jump through hoops, and noticed when Kathryn Jean Lopez predicted that Team Obama's public effort to humiliate the Clintons would backfire. Looks like Bubba's getting ready to blow up.

UPDATE: Thomas Edsall:
"Bill wants to be honored, to return to the role of Democratic elder statesman, and get rid of this image of him as a pol willing to do anything to win," said one associate.
Heh. Good luck with that, pal.

UPDATE II: Noel Sheppard catches this by UPI:
Oprah Winfrey and Bill Clinton didn't seem like they were on good terms at Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday in London, a source told the New York Daily News. . . .
"There was a very cold reception between them," a source told the Daily News.
Ooooh. Dissing Oprah? He really is mad.

Why are liberals obsessing over the 'Obama is a Muslim' rumors?

This bogus Obama-the-secret-Muslim meme -- and the belief that it is a GOP plot with the potential to wreck Obama's election hopes -- has become an idee fixe with liberals. There are not one, but two stories in the MSM about it. First, the New York Times rolls out Princeton neuroscientist Sam Wang and science writer Sandra Aamodt to tell us that voters are crazy:
Eighteen percent of Americans think the sun revolves around the earth, one poll has found. Thus it seems slightly less egregious that, according to another poll, 10 percent of us think that Senator Barack Obama, a Christian, is instead a Muslim. The Obama campaign has created a Web site to dispel misinformation. But this effort may be more difficult than it seems, thanks to the quirky way in which our brains store memories — and mislead us along the way.
Dan Collins at Protein Wisdom observes deadpan:
Delusion, it would seem, despite the universality of these processes, afflicts conservatives most.
Next, the Washington Post profiles another Princeton Ph.D. who's won a McArthur "genius" award and whose research project is trying to figure out where all those Obama-the-secret-Muslim e-mails are coming from. She's viciously mocked by Byron York, who suggests that these Ph.D. types are engaged in what amounts to oppo-research and propaganda.

Yet it is the subject of their investigations that fascinates me. Obama-the-secret-Muslim is transparently bogus to anyone who takes the trouble to investigate Obama's biography. Only the kind of idiot who'd respond to a Nigerian scam e-mail could fall for that crap, and yet these Ph.D. researchers are obsessed with a dumb rumor that only appeals to morons. What this obsession indicates is:
  • Academia is now so dominated by liberals that they don't even think twice about devoting themselves to partisan agitprop under the guise of "research";
  • Liberal academics have a very low opinion of the intelligence of the average voter; and
  • These academics believe that it is the average voter's stupidity that accounts for Republican political victories.
In other words, according to the liberal geniuses of academia, the only reason anybody ever votes Republican is because they've been deceived into false beliefs by the "right-wing noise machine." Therefore, the faults and errors of Democratic candidates and campaigns -- to say nothing of possible shortcomings in liberal policies -- need never be examined.

How comforting it must be to wrap yourself in the warm, fuzzy blanket of your own assumed superiority, and then to be rewarded for your self-justifying rationalizations with "genuius" grants and fawning publicity in the New York Times and the Washington Post.

The Vision of the Anointed, indeed.

UPDATE: Mark Halperin seems impressed that "a scholar with two Ph.D.s" is investigating the e-mails. In general, when I encounter someone with a graduate degree (except in medicine or law), I don't think, "Oh, wow! They must be super-smart!"

Rather, the phrase "Ph.D." automatically invokes memories of the grad students I knew when I was in college: A bunch of bums who preferred to keep hanging around college rather than go out in the real world and get a job. You'd see them down at the Pub, these guys who were 26 or 28 or 30, drinking beer and hitting on 20-year-old coeds (this was back when the drinking age was 19). And you'd think to yourself, "Yeah, I see what that game's about."

The people I knew who went to grad school weren't smarter than me, or even smarter than the average college student. No. It wasn't their brains that made them stand out. Their distinguishing characteristics were (a) an unwillingness to leave the campus cocoon and try to earn their own living, and (b) indulgent parents who'd foot the bill for them to pursue an MFA or whatever.

A stereotype? Sure. I know people with graduate degrees who worked their way through school, and who are genuinely devoted to whatever discipline they're pursuing. Yet the impression I formed from direct observation -- the typical grad student as an immature slacker seeking to avoid a confrontation with off-campus reality -- has lingered for some 25 or 30 years. The way I look at it, the decision to attend grad school is an admission that you're too feeble to earn a living with just a bachelor's degree.

UPDATE II: Linked by Ann Althouse. Thanks!

UPDATE III: Linked by See-Dubya, who's impressed by the "downright Newtonian epiphany" of the McArthur grantee. Also: See-Dubya narcs out his Mom as the phantom e-mailer.

Howard Kurtz, gun nut?

In an unusually political piece by the Washington Post's media critic, Howard Kurtz skewers Barack Obama for flip-flopping on the DC gun ban:
Regardless of what you think of the merits of yesterday's Supreme Court ruling overturning the capital's handgun law, it seems to me we're entitled to a clear position by the presumed Democratic nominee. And I'm a bit confused about how the confusion came about.
Kurtz quotes the Obama campaign's November 2007 statement to the Chicago Tribune: "Obama believes the D.C. handgun law is constitutional." That was then, this is now:
That statement was obviously an inartful attempt to explain the Senator's consistent position,' Obama spokesman Bill Burton tells ABC News."
What riles Kurtz -- one of those hillbillies bitterly clinging to his guns, no doubt -- is that once SCOTUS handed down its ruling, the MSM "inartfully" overlooked the evidence that Obama was for the gun ban before he was against it:
Even the Tribune--the very paper that the Obama camp told he supported the gun ban--makes no reference to the November interview. Instead: "Democrat Barack Obama offered a guarded response Thursday to the Supreme Court ruling striking down the District of Columbia's prohibition on handguns and sidestepped providing a view on the 32-year-old local gun ban. Republican rival John McCain's campaign accused him of an 'incredible flip-flop' on gun control."
So McCain accuses Obama of a flip-flop, and the Trib can't check the clips to tell readers whether there's some basis in fact for the charge?
Bull's-eye, Howie. This is a very subtle sort of media spin. Instead of reporting the fact that Obama has changed his position, the media turns this into a Republican accusation -- in other words, you have to be a right-wing partisan to believe that Obama has flip-flopped.

The most amazing thing in this Kurtz article is that he quotes both Ed Morrisey of Hot Air and Curt at Flopping Aces.

And I'm like, "Whoa! Howard Freaking Kurtz reads Hot Air?" Makes me wonder what's his secret pseudonym in the comments field. Next think you know, we'll discover Howie's an AOSHQ moron.

This has completely changed my conception of Kurtz. Now, I'm picturing Howie in his bunker, somewhere in the Virginia foothills of the Blue Ridge, out near Front Royal, reloading .223 cartridges as he listens to shortwave radio. Howie's wearing his RealTree camos and his NRA Life Member cap.

There's a big poster on the wall: Charlton Heston holding up a musket, with the motto, "From My Cold, Dead Hands!" Kurtz finishes loading one more cartridge and says, "Well, that's another 200 rounds -- enough for one night," and puts away his tools and his powder. He steps outside the bunker door into the warm Virginia summer evening.

Howie stuffs some Prince Albert into his corncob pipe, flicks his Zippo, and inhales deeply. Gazing toward the perimeter of the Kurtz compound, he sees the moonlight glinting off the razor wire atop the 8-foot fence. He sees the tiny red power-indicator lights glowing on the motion sensors and the security cameras that pivot around, ensuring 360-degree coverage.

Smoking his pipe, Howie's thinking of going inside to log onto his computer and check for updates at Then suddenly, he freezes. What was that noise? It sounded like the snap of a twig, the rustle of underbrush.

Kurtz tenses, his hand silently reaching for the commando knife sheathed on his web belt. He peers keenly into the shadows next to his Army-surplus M114 HMMWV with its twin-mounted .50s. There's definitely somebody there. He can hear them breathing.

The mortars. Ever since the feds busted his militia buddies down in Alabama last year, Kurtz has been fearing that sooner or later, one of those guys would cop a plea and rat him out about the two cases of bootleg 60mm mortar rounds he'd bought in 1999, to be prepared for the millennium meltdown.

And now the BATFE has come for him. Them, the FBI, the IRS, the CIA -- probably some UN blue helmets out there, too. Somehow they'd managed to penetrate his perimeter and now, as he stands in the darkness outside his bunker, Kurtz knows he's surrounded, with no weapon handy but his trusty commando knife.

"Come on, you bastards!" Howie suddenly screams into the night. "I'll take you all! Don't tread on me! Give me liberty or give me ..."

In the shadows beside the HMMWV, something moves and emerges into the moonlight. A dark shape softly trots toward Kurtz.

"Rusty!" Kurtz mutters, chuckling. "Rusty, old boy, you scared me to death!"

Howie reaches down and scratches the neck of his AKC prize Doberman, named "Rusty" in honor of his idol, Rush Limbaugh. The dog playfully licks Kurtz's hand. "I figured the FBI snipers must have already taken you out, boy -- otherwise you would have barked, right?"

Kurtz taps the ashes from his corncob pipe, laughing at his own silly fears.

"C'mon, boy, let's go in the house," he says to his beloved companion. "You're probably hungry. Me, too. How about some nice, fresh venison?"

He steps inside the bunker, closes the heavy steel door and bolts it, thinking about the court decision that overturned the DC gun ban. Maybe after supper, he'll log onto Flopping Aces and see what Curt has to say . . .

UPDATE: Kurtz's notorious gun-nut extremist buddy Ed Morrisey gives us video proof of Obama's flip-flop:

Especially in the February interview, Obama does a perfect liberal fakeout on gun rights: Claiming to be in favor of Second Amendment freedoms while slamming the NRA, raising the bogus "loophole" argument, and blaming law-abiding firearms dealers for the illegal actions of criminals. How stupid does he think we are?

NYT on Bob Barr

Suddenly, he's the cuddly, cute ex-Republican that liberal reporters love:
Bob Barr, the former Republican congressman from Georgia turned Libertarian Party candidate for president . . . gleefully recounted what he says a group of Republicans told him at a recent meeting in Washington: Don't run.
"'Well, gee, you might take votes from Senator McCain,'" Mr. Barr said this week, mimicking one of the complainers, as he sat sipping Coca-Cola in his plush corner office, 12 stories above Atlanta. “They all said, 'Look, we understand why you're doing this. We agree with why you're doing it. But please don't do it.'" . . .
Many Republicans said they were unconcerned about Mr. Barr's presence in the race. "We're confident that regardless of the field, our candidate’s message will carry through to November," said Tucker Bounds, a spokesman for the McCain campaign.
I'll remember to quote Tucker Bounds next time one of my Republican friends complains that I dare even acknowledge the existence of such a thing as the Bob Barr campaign.

"Fear not: The McCain message will will carry through to November," I'll say. And my Republican friends will say: "Message? McCain's got a message now? What is it?"

Jane Hamsher interviews Barr on BloggingHeads:

Civilization? Over.

"This is so unspeakably reprehensible; I can’t even find the words."

(Via Ace.)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Will Bill stand for this?

Barack Obama's bossing Hillary around. Kathryn Jean Lopez thinks there will be consequences:
This Unity, New Hampshire, event was the ultimate in political mortification for Hillary Clinton.
I may be crazy. But Bill Clinton is not going to let himself be humiliated. He's in talks with McCain before long if he's not already. He's going to salvage his name before this election is over.
Hmmmm. That angle hadn't occurred to me. Of course, getting pushed around by Team Obama -- "do this" and "say that" and being forced to send out fundraising letters for him -- is hard enough on her, but man, it's got to be eating Bill's heart out.

The DNC is run by Howard Dean (no friend of Bill) and now Bill's enemies within the party are putting his wife through this degrading "unity" charade. Maybe he'll just decide he needs to get reaquainted with his old pal, Joe Lieberman. And, say, how long's it been since Billy Jeff had a chat with Zell Miller?


Nicole Belle at Crooks and Liars is apparently not fluent in American colloquialisms. She takes an exchange from an interview with John McCain and tries to say he's joking about beating his wife, when he's actually paraphrasing the classic trick question, "When did you stop beating your wife?"

Here's the exchange, in which the Las Vegas Sun interviewer tries to get McCain to explain why he didn't name Nevada's unpopular, scandal-ridden Republican governor as his state campaign chairman:
Q: Why snub the governor?
I didn’t mean to snub him. I’ve known the lieutenant governor for 15 years and we’ve been good friends….I didn’t intend to snub him. There are other states where the governor is not the chairman.
Q: Maybe it’s the governor’s approval rating and you are running from him like you are from the president?
(Chuckling) And I stopped beating my wife just a couple of weeks ago…
In other words, "I'm not going to touch that with a 10-foot pole." Yet Nicole Belle either is unfamiliar with the expression, "When did you stop beating your wife?" or else she's being disingenuous, because she treats this as if McCain were actually making a joke of domestic abuse:
John McCain chose the wrong day to make a wife-beating joke. . . .
It’s McCain’s horrendous behavior towards American women, including those closest to him, that should send Clinton backers fleeing for the exits.
Giving her the benefit of the doubt, rather than accuse Ms. Belle of dishonestly making a false insinuation, I'll guess that she's just plain stupid. Dumb as a stump. Thick as a brick. Got the IQ of a toaster oven. A few fries short of a Happy Meal. (These are called "figures of speech," Ms. Belle.)

Video: 'To Remake America'

From today's Unity, N.H., event, here's Hilary:

"A year and a half ago, Barack and I each began a journey, to make history and re-make America."

Does America need to be re-made? Just throw the existing America -- our Constitution, our laws, our history, our traditions -- into the garbage can, and start from scratch?

"America sucks," is what Hillary's saying. And she and Obama are united in saying it.

UPDATE: More on behind-the-scenes Democratic divisions from Howard Fineman at Newsweek:
Clinton threw around her weight early on, and the Obama people haven't forgotten.
A year ago, here in New Hampshire, experienced Democrats with access to money were told that, if they supported Obama, they would be shut out in Washington once Clinton became president.
"Now these same people who were threatening us want us to pay off Hillary's debt!" said another Obama funder. "This is what my husband calls 'delusional chutzpah.'"


An immoderate post at the Moderate Voice:
Our national schizophrenia on firearms defies rational explanation. In the wake of yesterday's Supreme Court decision, both presidential candidates and, according to public opinion polls, most voters believe in "the right to bear arms."
Yet only one out of three Americans owns a gun and, after mass murders like Virginia Tech, there is an upsurge of grief and outrage at the easy availability of deadly weapons. . . .
How do we reconcile the apparent contradiction that many of those who believe in preserving the life of fetuses are just as passionate about the right to own weapons that kill human beings after birth?
Uh, sir, my weapons have never killed a human being. You are equating my rifle -- whose most recent target was a rabid raccoon that wandered out of the woods -- with guns owned by murderers. It's like saying that I'm passionate about car ownership because cars can be used for vehicular homicide.

Why is gun ownership a fundamental right? Let me ask: What good is "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," if you're dead? Implicit in the right to life is the right to self-defense. If someone attempts to kill you, and you kill your assailant in order to save your own life, you have committed no crime -- it's justifiable homicide, not murder.

Gun ownership is a right because guns save lives -- which happens to be the name of an excellent book by Robert Waters: Guns Save Lives: True Stories of Americans Defending Their Lives With Firearms. I recommend it heartily. Another book I'd recommend -- if, like the poster at Moderate Voice, you're incapable of grasping the basics of reasoning and argument -- is Introduction to Logic.

Video: 'A Real Choice'

Wow. Very powerful video by Martin Avila.

Obama bossing Hillary around

Not only did Barack Obama force Hillary Clinton to attend his rally in New Hampshire, but now he's issuing orders to her supporters, Howard Fineman reports:
Obama has made two phone calls in recent days to a good source of mine who is also a top Clinton supporter and fundraiser. . . .
Obama's message was clear: He wanted this person to join his campaign and get her donors to "max out" to him.
You see, even though some funders have given all they can to the Clinton effort, they are still free to donate another $4,600 to Obama's presidential campaign.
Fineman's source said Obama was "haughty." Hmmm. Sounds suspiciously familiar. The Clinton campaign had originally said after Hillary conceded the nomination that she was planning to take a vacation. (At one point, it was reported she wouldn't return to the Senate until July 7.) She was totally exhausted from the primary campaign, and obviously needed rest.

Instead, Hillary's been required to do all these "unity" events to show her support for Obama and to try to get her donors to give him money. It's obvious that this is all his idea, not hers -- she'd rather be vacationing somewhere -- but Obama's campaign is making her do all this or else they won't help Clinton with her debt.

Team Obama has already raised more than $295 million and ended May with more than $43 million cash on hand. Team Obama's fundraising prowess is so historically awesome that the candidate has forgone federal matching funds. Meanwhile, Hillary finished the campaign millions of dollars in debt.

So, why is it that the cash-rich Obama campaign is putting the muscle on Hillary's donors? Shouldn't he first ask his donors -- who obviously have lots more money than Hillary's donors do -- to help her, rather than the other way around?

Maverick to conservatives: Screw you!

Interviewed by the Las Vegas Sun:
I haven't won on every issue. I didn’t win on immigration reform, but I'll go back at it. And I'm glad I did it.
Why on earth would he feel compelled to say he’s glad he pushed for a bill that the base hates with a nuclear passion? . . . This is him flipping the bird to amnesty opponents.
My hunch? John McCain doesn't want to be president. He only ran for the GOP nomination out of spite, so that he could prevent a conservative Republican from getting the nomination. He's sticking his thumb in the eye of conservatives now for the same reason: Because he hates conservatives.

That's why the McCain campaign shifted into neutral the minute Mitt quit in February, why the campaign has done nothing to build a grassroots infrastructure at the state level, why the McCain campaign's fundraising plan is to drain the Republican National Committee treasury -- the most important goal for John McCain is to destroy the conservative wing of the Republican Party. And he's right on track!

UPDATE: I'd feel a lot better about getting linked by Think Progress if they were attacking me and calling me names.


Ben Smith gets a Chris Matthews-style tingle in his leg.

Video: Obama's slide show

David Plouffe explains the math:

The text is online, as he says:
We've got an enormous opportunity to win back Bush States. Why is that? Well, it starts with Barack Obama's appeal. He's got appeal across the country with independent voters. We think we're going to be able to create historic turnout in the African American community and with younger voters, but also with the organization that you have built. The reason that we think we can be competitive in Georgia, North Dakota, Alaska, North Carolina, is because you guys built a tremendous organization on the ground and we've got to build on that.
As I responded at the Spectator blog:
Ever been pitched by a pyramid ... er, multi-tiered marketing promoter? "You guys built a tremendous organization" in states we've got a snowball's chance of actually winning Nov. 4, but "we've got to build on that," so please send money! It may be totally legit, but to street-smart ears, it sounds like a hustle.
Tomorrow, they're "United for Change."

Gallup daily: Tied for 3 days

Just a statistical anomaly?
For the third straight day, Gallup Poll Daily tracking shows Barack Obama and John McCain tied in national registered voter preferences. . . .
From a broader perspective, there has been little major change in the race for the entire month, with Obama either tying McCain or leading the race by a slim margin throughout June. This relative stability is not unexpected in the summer months when no actual voting is taking place, and when voters' attention may be diverted elsewhere unless and until a major news event occurs with the potential to disrupt the structure of the race.
So, 12% undecided and a dead heat. How, then, does David Plouffe justify talk about sending Obama to Alaska?

Obama's rosy scenario

Are Obama campaign manager David Plouffe's Electoral College plans realistic? I make the case for skepticism at the American Spectator blog:
Having watched Team Obama's ground game in operation one night last month, I don't deny that their grassroots organizing efforts are impressive, and I've seen no evidence of any effort by John McCain's campaign to build anything to match it.
However, a state primary campaign is not like (and a state party caucus is even less like) a nationwide general election campaign. There were 112 million votes cast in the 2004 presidential election. Between them, Obama and Hillary Clinton mustered about 35 million votes in this year's Democratic primaries. The larger the scale of the contest, the more the election turns on voters' generalized perceptions of the candidates, and the less impact the phone-bank/canvass/get-out-the-vote "ground game" will have.
This was a major reason why Obama repeatedly came up short in the big states like Ohio and Pennsylvania, a point that Hillary's handlers kept harping on in their appeals to super-delegates. And there was nothing Obama's organizational strength could do to help him win Kentucky and West Virginia.
Please read the whole thing. Meanwhile, more reports today indicate Obama still hasn't healed the breach with Hillary's supporters. Obama's getting hit with the "just another politician" label, and one Clintonista just jumped the fence to support John McCain, joining Joe-mentum. Hubris at Obama HQ is a dangerous thing for Democrats.

McCain leads in Missouri

Amid a general atmosphere of troublesome swing-state polls for John McCain -- Colorado, Virginia and New Mexico look shaky -- there is good news in Missouri, where the latest SurveyUSA poll has the Republican leading by 7 points. McCain actually gained ground in Missouri, improving from a 3-point lead in last month's SurveyUSA poll.

Time poll: Obama 43%, McCain 38%

What's interesting here is the large (19%) undecided number:

Illinois Senator Barack Obama enters the General Election with a tight lead, 43% to 38%, over Arizona Senator John McCain, according to a new TIME Magazine poll of registered voters. The poll shows Obama gaining only a slight bounce from Hillary Clinton's departure from the campaign early this month.
When undecided voters leaning towards Obama and McCain are accounted for, the race narrows to a mere 4 percentage points, barely above the poll's 3.5% margin of error. Thirty percent of those who remain undecided said they lean towards McCain, 20% said they were leaning toward Obama with 46% citing no preference.

Ed Morrisey:

Obama has actually lost ground since February, which dovetails with his collapse in the final months of the Democratic primary. This tends to underscore the shakiness of the Obama phenomenon; it hasn’t translated into general-election enthusiasm, and the trends are going in the wrong direction.
Last night, a friend of the family -- who's not very political -- asked, "Who do you think will win?" I had to answer: "At this point, I don't have a clue." While the political environment generally favors Obama, that won't determine the outcome. The election will be decided by what happens over the next four months.

6/25: Gallup daily: Vindication?
6/24: Obama by 3? Or by 12?
6/24: BounceWatch Update
6/22: Gallup: No bounce

Thursday, June 26, 2008

TV newswomen are sluts

CBS's Lara Logan, two-timing homewrecker, follows in the floozy footsteps of journalistic jezebel Barbara Walters.

That's why they call them "broadcasters" -- those TV broads spread it far and wide.

HubrisWatch Update

Megalomania rampant at Obama HQ:

Democrat Barack Obama could be coming to Alaska to campaign as part of his effort to win a state that hasn't chosen a Democrat for president since 1964.
"That is the plan -- we are pretty sure he's going to come at the end of the summer," said Kat Pustay, who was named Wednesday as Obama's Alaska director. . . .
"The campaign in Chicago is saying this is a battleground state so we're going to get resources," she said.

If any further evidence were needed that Axelrod and Plouffe have fallen into the deadly maddening throes of Ibogaine addiction, this is it.

Alaska has only three Electoral College votes; TPM's Greg Sargent notes that Gore got 28% and Kerry got 36% in Alaska; Obama opposes drilling ANWR, while Alaskans overwhelming support it. Obama's chance of winning Alaska is negligible, and the reward would be small.

Furthermore, travel time to Anchorage from the nearest major airport (Seattle-Tacoma) is about 2-1/2 hours. So, just to reach Alaska would likely require that Obama travel to Washington state (a solid "red state" where he doesn't really need to campaign anyway), and then spend 5 hours round-trip in transit to campaign in a state where he has practically zero chance to win.

By comparison, what might Obama accomplish by spending a single day in Florida, which has 27 electoral votes -- 9 times the Electoral College weight of Alaska -- and is much more likely to be a swing state in November?

Alternatively, Obama could do a morning rally in Akron or Youngstown, Ohio, hop over to Pittsburgh (65 miles from Youngstown) for a noon event, and then fly to Dulles International in time to do a 6 p.m. rally in Northern Virginia that would draw live TV news coverage. By such scheduling, Obama could -- in a single day -- be "local news" in three competitive states with a combined 54 Electoral College votes.

Both Sargent and Ben Smith appear to be taking this Alaska talk seriously, but it would be sheer madness for Team Obama even to think about it. In fact, it was wrong for the Obama campaign's leadership to suggest to their Alaska campaign chairwoman that they would even consider such a trip, because it's a promise that Obama surely will be forced to break.

If any sane Democrat happens to be reading this, I would urge you to go up to Chicago, get the top Obama campaign officials into a room, and stage an intervention:

"Here, David, let me take that Red Bull. Have a nice cup of hot mint tea instead. Would anybody like a cookie? Listen, guys we've been thinking, maybe with all the stress of the campaign, all those problems from Hillary, the 19-hour days and all, maybe you're ... a little tired. Maybe you could use some time to get away from it all, y'know? Just chill out for a few days and not worry about the campaign for a while. . . . David, stop checking your Blackberry, OK? Just listen to me . . ."

These bizarre fantasies about campaigning in Alaska, Wyoming, Texas -- Texas? Texas? Are you freaking kidding me? -- are clear evidence of a delusional condition at Obama HQ. I can't swear for certain they've gotten into the Ibogaine, but given their grandiose ideation, it's a possibility that can't be ruled out.

UPDATE: Some sanity at MSNBC:

It's not dissimilar to what Bush did with California in 2000, when he spent real money and campaign time to see if he could dare Gore to follow suit. Gore didn't and the Bush strategy almost cost him the presidency.

In other words, "Hunt where the ducks are."

UPDATE II: A conversation about this at The American Spectator blog, where James Antle tries to explain David Plouffe's manic babbling in terms of "leveraging the 'enthusiasm gap,'" to which I respond:

Either Plouffe's trying to head-fake the McCain campaign off-balance, or else he's trying to deceive Democrats (and their media minions) into believing that Team Obama is such a mighty juggernaut that the candidate can afford to kill time in Wyoming to help local Democrats, rather than campaigning in a state he might actually win. I frankly think they're over their heads, they know it, and they're talking this bold talk as a facade to hide their own panic.

Nor am I the only one who sees this Alaska talk as evidence of (possibly Ibogaine-induced) lunacy. Newsweek's Andrew Romano writes:

During a session with reporters at the Democratic National Committee's Washington, D.C. headquarters this afternoon, Barack Obama campaign manager David Plouffe made a pretty interesting prediction: Obama could win Alaska in November. I wasn't there, but I imagine Plouffe's projection was greeted with the sound of every hack in the room scribbling "crazy" in his notebook. And underlining it. Twice.

They say there's a fine line between genius and madness. And Plouffe sounds like he's at least four miles on the other side of that line.


Another one under Obama's bus

Jim Hoft reports on how Obama's Marxist pal Mike Klonsky has been airbrushed from the Land of Hope.

There ought to be a video game called "Obama's Bus," which would be kind of like "Grand Theft Auto," except the object of the game would be to see how many people you could throw under the bus.


Supreme Court overturns DC gun ban.

UPDATE: The Hill reports:
The 5-4 decision handed down Thursday is the Supreme Court’s first major Second Amendment ruling in nearly 70 years. It declared unconstitutional a D.C. law on the books for more than 30 years.
About doggone time, too!

UPDATE II: Associated Press:
The court’s 5-4 ruling strikes down the District of Columbia’s 32-year-old ban on handguns as incompatible with gun rights under the Second Amendment. The decision goes further than even the Bush administration wanted, but probably leaves most firearms laws intact.
The ruling is online in PDF format. Comment by Allahpundit:
So as I understand this, you have a right to own a handgun, a shotgun, a rifle or some other weapon you’d buy either for home defense or hunting, since that’s how a colonial-era militia operated. Live by the originalist sword, die by the originalist sword.
Very good, very good. Looks like a solid victory for the Second Amendment. Wonder if it guarantees your right to shoot a child rapist?

UPDATE III: This ruling ends many years of secret civil disobedience in DC. For years, I have advised women in Washington to ignore the ban and carry a "lady gun" (e.g., a small .32 automatic) in their purse. "Better to be judged by 12 than carried by six," as they say. Given the notorious incompetence of DC police, the chances of a woman in the District actually getting busted with an unlicensed pistol are probably smaller than the chances of her getting raped and murdered.

Hugh Hewitt says this court decision is good news for Mitt RomneyJohn McCain.

UPDATE IV: Justice Stevens, in his dissent, relies heavily on Joseph Story's Commentaries. This is bogus, first of all, because the Commentaries are not the Constitution. Story was not present at the Founding (he was only 10 when the Second Amendment was ratified) and did not have complete access to all the debates surrounding the Second Amendment, or to the papers of George Mason, the principle author of the amendment. So for Stevens to cite Story as authoritative and superior to the plain "shall not be infringed" of the amendment itself, is pretzel logic.

Secondly, in other contexts, liberals like Stevens routinely disregard the essentially conservative views of Story. If it were up to Story, certainly the court would never have invalidated the death penalty for child rapists. Stevens' citation of Story as the ultimo dictum on the Constitutional is thus profoundly dishonest.

Some creme broulee, sir?

UPDATE V: One of Michelle Malkin's readers makes this observation:
Prediction: Unlike the 5-4 Boumediene vs. Bush decision [the Gitmo case], which the MSM hailed as "landmark" [and] "historic" because it rebuked Bush, this 5-4 decision will be spun as a decision by the "conservative" Supreme Court, which was "controversial," "fractured" or "splintered." Anything to cast doubt on the decision.
Indeed. I've never understood why so many of my journalistic colleagues, who treat the First Amendment as if it were divine writ, nevertheless despise the Second Amendment and gun owners. I suspect it's mainly because nowadays most journalists are a bunch of neurasthenic wimps who've never won a fistfight.

"Today's decision marks a new era for gun rights in America. By protecting an individual's right to keep and bear arms, the Second Amendment ensures that all Americans are able to participate in sporting activities, hunt, and protect themselves and their families. . . .
"Where crime rates are high, a gun may be the only means for law-abiding citizens to safeguard themselves and their families. Lawful gun ownership deters an untold number of crimes every year."
-- Bob Barr
Libertarian Party presidential nominee
and National Rifle Association board member
No word yet on what Obama thinks about Justice Scalia and those four other hillbillies bitterly clinging to their guns.

Screw Canada!

And kiss my butt, France:
Republicans tend to be far more likely than Democrats to believe "we all should be willing to fight for our country … right or wrong," and to support the use of pre-emptive military force. They are less likely to care what the rest of the world thinks of us.
(Via See-Dubya at Malkin.) My desire to be admired by Swedes is indiscernibly greater than my yearning to be esteemed in Botswana. For popularity in Peru, Poland and Portugal, I care next to nothing. As for Azerbaijan and Albania, I care nothing all. I positively crave the contempt of Croatia, Kazakhstan, and Cote D'Ivoire.

God bless America. What kind of commie peacenik scum cares about the opinions of a bunch of smelly foreigners, anyway??

(This message brought to you by the Republican Grassroots Committee for International Understanding.)

Obama's book deals

As I noted last month, Barack Obama appears to have gotten a sweetheart deal on his first book. Cal at DBAGD points out that the deal may have been even sweeter than suspected:
The NY Times reports that Obama's first agent (the one he dumped when he became a big name) forgave him for missing his first deadline at Poseidon Press (then a small imprint of Simon Schuster) and wrangled him a second contract with a $40,000 advance. . . .
But the Times article glosses quickly over an aspect of the story that Peter Osnos, who was then publisher of Times Books at Random House, filled in two years ago,
before anyone was paying attention:
"A book proposal by Obama about his life was submitted to publishers and a deal was reached with Poseidon, a small imprint of Simon & Schuster, for what is known in the industry as 'six figures' (about $125,000, I am told). Several years passed and Obama was too busy finishing law school and embarking on his career to get the book done. Simon & Schuster canceled the contract, which probably meant that Obama had to pay back at least some of what he had received of the advance."
So the "modest advance" was preceded by an extremely generous advance, but Obama didn't honor that first contract. While presumably (says Osnos) Obama had to return at least some of the advance, the Times leaves the first advance completely unmentioned. Thus, Obama took a six-figure advance, around $125,000, while still in law school, and didn't deliver a book. What did he do with the money? When did he return it, and how much?
Whoa! A six-figure advance for a 27-year-old law student with no significant previous publishing experience? Who ever heard of such a thing?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Saudi official: Sex at 9? OK!

Video at MemriTV. The money quotes:
There is no minimal age for entering marriage. You can have a marriage contract even with a one-year-old girl, not to mention a girl of nine, seven, or eight. This is merely a contract [indicating] consent. The guardian in such a case must be the father, because the father's opinion is obligatory. Thus, the girl becomes a wife... But is the girl ready for sex or not? What is the appropriate age for having sex for the first time? This varies according to environment and traditions. In Yemen, girls are married off at nine, ten, eleven, eight, or thirteen, while in other countries, they are married off at 16. Some countries have legislated laws forbidding having sex before the girl is eighteen. . . .
The Prophet Muhammad is the model we follow. He took 'Aisha to be his wife when she was six, but he had sex with her only when she was nine.
(Via Marty Peretz at TNR.) The interviewer then asks whether the marriage of a 12-year-old boy and an 11-year-old girl is valid under Islamic law:
If the guardian is the father, and he marries his daughter off to a man of appropriate standing, the marriage is obviously valid.
It's very simple: Under Sharia law, a daughter is her father's chattel. Period.

Gallup Daily: Vindication?

Having spent the past few days questioning the polls by Newsweek (Obama +15) and LATimes (Obama +12), today I was out of pocket when the latest Gallup daily tracking poll went online, showing the race now a 45%-45% dead heat between Barack Obama and John McCain.

What this means is that, contrary to such Obama triumphalists as Dave Weigel, far from turning into a blowout victory for the Democrat, the presidential contest now appears to be getting closer. Indeed, given that McCain has gained 4 points and Obama lost 3 points since June 9, one might see this latest Gallup poll as evidence of a slow-motion McCain surge. (Hey, the old man's 71, he can't whup that youngster overnight, y'know.)

Moreover, I'm pleased to see my previous skepticism echoed (and quoted) by Ed Morrisey, Tammy Bruce and Greg Paterico. The McCain campaign's polling company, Opinion Strategies, also pushed back today against the LATimes poll's methodology.

So, now that my skepticism appears to be at least temporarily vindicated, let me point out that I'm not necessarily saying McCain will win, nor am I denying the possibility that Newsweek and LATimes have picked up a trend that Gallup somehow missed.

What I am saying is that it's way too early for anyone to declare Obama a winner on the basis of one or two anomalous poll results. In past elections -- not just recent presidential elections, but elections at all different levels going back many years -- polls have generally tended to overstate the level of support for Democrats.

Therefore, given the roughly 50-50 partisan trend in recent years, it isn't surprising that most polls show Obama leading by around 4% to 5% in June. And I don't care what the polls say, or how much money the guy's expecting to raise, or how much Hope he inspires in young liberals, Obama had better be prepared for a close-fought campaign that boils down to a handful of key swing states on Election Day. If he heeds his recklessly enthusiastic advisers and spreads his resources too thin in an overambitious "50 state strategy," Obama will look like a world-class chump on Nov. 5.

BTW, shout-out to Stu Rothenberg, whom I met today at the CNN Washington bureau. For some reason, I initially mistook him for Jeffrey Toobin. My apologies, Mr. Rothenberg, but all CNN pundits look alike to me. I have the same problem with Fox News anchor babes. I can't tell Martha MacCallum from Megyn Kelly.

Good-bye, loser

Chris Cannon bites the dust:
Jason Chaffetz's promise to change Washington, starting with Rep. Chris Cannon, resonated with Republican voters, who ousted the six-term incumbent in a GOP primary Tuesday. . . .
With 99 percent of the votes counted, Chaffetz led Cannon by about 20 points. Chaffetz now advances to face Democrat Bennion Spencer in November. The seat strongly favors Republicans. . . .
Chaffetz hammered away at Cannon, running a relentless campaign targeting Congress' failure to control government spending, fix immigration and energy policies, and vowing to eliminate the federal government's role in public education. "The Republican Party is broken and I want to fix it," said Chaffetz.
Cannon is a shameless open-borders panderer and amnesty supporter, whose survival in a 2006 primary was touted as evidence that voters didn't care about immigration. Guess again, loser.

Pass the Ibogaine

Jimmie's tripping on Gonzo, the movie:
[I]t’s hard to tell whether that’s because of the lingering love the ink-stained wretches who write movie reviews have for Thompson or because it’s actually a good movie.
The subjective subject is endlessly fascinating, but the Widow Thompson says it's actually a good movie, too.


This isn't Hope, it's megalomania:
Barack Obama will focus his resources largely in 14 states George W. Bush won in 2004, his chief field operative said Tuesday, hoping to score upsets in places like Virginia, Indiana, and Georgia. . . .
In an unusual move, Obama’s campaign will also devote some resources to states it’s unlikely to win, with the goal of influencing specific local contests in places like Texas and Wyoming. . . .
"It’s revealing that Barack Obama has now been forced to expand the states on his map because he’s so weak in traditional Democratic targets such as West Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee and Florida, not to mention his ongoing problems in Pennsylvania and Ohio,” said McCain spokesman Brian Rogers.
(Via Memeorandum.) What Team Obama is attempting is the "50-state strategy" that David Sirota and others have urged. It's a fantastic gamble, and is the product of either (a) genius, (b) desperation, or (c) overconfidence.

I was in West Virginia in May to watch Obama's field operation at work. It's impressive to watch, but there are limits to what can be accomplished by the "ground war" of grassroots organizing, just as there are limits to what can be accomplished throught he "air war" of TV ads.

At one level, it makes sense for Team Obama to spread the field this way. During the primaries, they built ground-level organizations in these non-battleground states, and there's no sense in abandoning that infrastructure.

At another level, the overwhelming likelihood is that (a) the election will be very close, and (b) in the end, it will come down to a handful of battleground states, including Ohio, Florida, Missouri, Minnesota, Iowa, Colorado and (perhaps) Pennsylvania and Virginia. If Obama loses because he comes up short in, say, Missouri, this 50-state strategy -- Texas? Wyoming? are you kidding me? -- will go down in history as one of the great bonehead moves in American politics.

UPDATE: Michael Turk thinks Team Obama's strategy is less crazy than it looks. The problem Republicans face, in attempting to counter this move, is that they have nominated a presidential candidate who generates zero grassroots enthusiasm. McCain has no natural constituency, except maybe the Geezer Vote. Certainly, the hardcore Republican activists -- Christian conservatives, NRA, homeschoolers, College Republicans, etc. -- are not going to volunteer their time to canvass and phone-bank for a GOP candidate who's made clear that he has nothing but contempt for the conservative grassroots.

Oregon, gone

Republican Sen. Gordon Smith, desperate for re-election, touts his co-operation with Barack Obama:

Oregon is a West Coast version of Vermont now. They've got a right-to-die law in Oregon, and the Republican Party there is committing suicide.

By the way, whatever Gordon Smith (or Barack Obama) says, laws don't improve gas mileage. They passed a law mandating higher mileage, which basically means Congress telling automakers what kind of cars to build. This is an immoral and unconstitutional abuse of government power -- and he's bragging about it.

UPDATE: Jimmie at Sundries Shack:

Yeah, we should color Oregon blue since it’s been that color for at least the past eight years. Oregon voted for Al Gore in 2000, John Kerry in 2004 and has only two Republicans out of eight members of Congress. We’re not exactly talking about a Republican enclave here, or even a coin-toss battleground state.

In fact, Oregon has been blue since 1992, having twice gone for Clinton. In 1992, the vote in Oregon was Clinton 42%, Bush 32%, Perot 24%. In 1996, it was Clinton 47%, Bush 39%, Perot 9%. In 2000, it was 47% each for Gore and Bush -- Gore won by less than 6,000 votes -- with 5% for Nader. In 2004, it was Kerry 51%, Bush 47%. (Election data from David Leip.)

Oregon, it appears, is one of those states where Republicans have been bamboozled into a state of fearful defensiveness, which then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Ronald Reagan got 56% in Oregon in 1984. But when Clinton twice won the state with pluralities (42% in '92, 47% in '96), the GOP hit the panic button and started endorsing liberalism. So they've been steamrollered into becoming a "me, too" party -- a cell-block punk for the Democrats.

Caribou: Menace to humanity

My latest American Spectator article:
Having done extensive research on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, I find that wildlife experts and energy policy analysts agree that caribou don't do anything to improve fuel efficiency. Even if you grind up a caribou and put him in your gas tank, scientists say, your mileage will not be significantly enhanced, regardless of the sadistic pleasure you might get from grinding up a caribou.
Sadistic feelings toward caribou are on the rise, psychologists warn. Increasingly, American motorists are asking themselves, "What have those stinking caribou ever done for us?" . . .
By all means, read the whole thing.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Britney 'stabbed in the back'

By her own mother?
Britney Spears and Jamie Lynn may not be all tat happy with mom these days. According to a report from Star Magazine, Lynne Spears' daughters are crushed over her explosive tell-all, that the magazine claims will expose family's darkest secrets.
The magazine reports that after all of the trials that Britney and Jamie Lynn Spears have been through lately (the unplanned teen pregnancy and the breakdowns from Britney) nothing has been worse than what their mother, Lynne, is about to do. Star reports that she's set to publish a tell-all book under the guise of a memoir about raising her two famous daughters, Through the Storm: A Real Story of Fame and Family in a Tabloid World. "We're pushing for a September release," Curt Harding of Thomas Nelson books tells Star.
"They feel like they've been stabbed in the back by their own flesh and blood," one family friend tells Star. "The two of them have enough problems in their lives without Lynne creating more. She was there every step of the way, so she knows all of her daughters' dirty little secrets."
And you wonder why those girls are so crazy. Dear Old Mom reportedly dishes about Britney's lesbian lovers and how Britney lost her virginity at 14. Her book is monstrously behind deadline, after having to go back for re-writes when Jamie Lynn got knocked up by her loser boyfriend.

Mama Spears' book was originally pitched as an "inspirational" title, the kind of uplifting, heartfelt, every-mother-can-relate saga that would get her booked on "Oprah." However, now that both daughters have turned out to be low-rent trailer trash -- at the rate Britney's going, her next TV appearance may be on "COPS" -- the publishers seem to be aiming straight for the tabloid market in a desperate attempt to recoup the fat advance they've already paid out.

Obama by 3? Or by 12?

It is impossible to reconcile the new LATimes/Bloomberg poll, showing Barack Obama leading by 12 points -- 49% to 37% for John McCain -- with the Gallup daily tracking poll, which has show Obama's lead in the 2%-3% range each of the past five days.

Disregarding Gallup and other recent polls (Rasmussen, Fox, Zogby, ABC) showing the margin around 5%, David Weigel of Reason magazine exults over the anomalous LATimes result:
The country desperately wants a Democratic president at the moment.
Even if this was what the poll showed (49% is not "the country") voters will not have the choice of voting for a generic Democratic president -- or against a generic Republican. In 1996, I was among those who believed that any Republican could beat Bill Clinton. Unfortunately "any Republican" wasn't on the ballot; Bob Dole was. He got 41%.

One reason that Weigel believes that "the country" is so wild for Obama is because Weigel is college educated, under 30, single, living in Washington, D.C. -- thus, a member of several key Democratic constituencies. Weigel inhabits a millieu of Obamaphiles. I'm reminded of Pauline Kael, who expressed amazement in 1972 that Nixon had won, since no one she knew had voted for him.

I'll keep watching polls with a jaundiced eye. Meanwhile, guess who said this:
A lot of times, media polling, if it shows that a candidate is not doing that well, it might, hurt them getting money for their campaign, but that's the name of the game.
That's Susan Pinkus, director of the LATimes poll, in a 2003 interview with PBS.

UPDATE: Allahpundit looks at the internals:
[W]e’ve got the same lopsided sample here that we had in that 15-point Newsweek spread last week — 39/22/27 among Democrats, Republicans, and independents, respectively. Even so, the LAT’s sample was random, and even Gallup concedes that Dems now lead the GOP 50/36 in party identification. We keep dismissing these polls where the leftist contingent vastly outnumbers the right, but, er, should we?
It's a good question, and I'm sure that Gallup and other pollsters are going to take a close look at their methodology in the wake of these two recent off-the-chart results. If Gallup and others have been "weighting" their samples to approximate a past pattern of party parity that no longer exists, then perhaps the LAT/Newsweek double-digit lead is real.

But I still doubt it. If you look at the actual primary results, Obama faded after March. He lost Pennsylvania, Indiana, West Virginia and Kentucky because blue-collar voters preferred Hillary. Therefore, I am suspicious . . . .

WHOA! Holy freaking cow! I just checked the crosstabs of the LATimes poll:
Right there's your problem, Mister! Retirees only 12 percent of the sample? Compare this to the 2004 exit polls:
LATimes has oversampled younger voters and undersampled the crucial geezer constituency. They don't break out voter preferences by age group, but you can be sure that McCain does much better with voters 65-plus than he does with under-30s.

Victory through breeding

Further proof that right-wing bloggers will ultimately triumph through reproductive superiority. Attaboy, Slublog, you're 1/9th the way to being a Duggar.

Laughing at Obama

(Via Hot Air.) "The Spirit of Reform of Public Financing is actually the name of Obama's new yacht." Not bad. But Colbert's a lot funnier.

BTW, is it just me, or does Bill Richardson's new goatee make him look like Wolfman Jack?

Drill 'em, John!

Protest pests turn out in Santa Barbara:
About 100 mostly environmental protesters demonstrated outside the McCain-Schwarzenegger event this morning at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History -- one of the largest demonstrations the presumptive GOP nominee has faced on the campaign trail. . . .
[T]he protesters intermittently broke into chants like "offshore no more" and "no new drilling." . . .
Some notable signs:
"McBush: You drill, we lose. We Vote, you lose."
"No pumps for chumps"
The chances of a Republican carrying California are so remote, there's no point pandering to those environmentalist losers anyway. Santa Barbara is beautiful, but it would be a lot more beautiful with a couple dozen oil platforms out there in the channel. Drill 'em!

It could be worse

Stuart Rothenberg's assessment of Republican prospects in this year's Senate races is less gloomy than I would have expected:
[I]t's . . . possible that all the talk about Democratic Senate opportunities is just a bit over-hyped, and that Democrats will have a good year, not a great one. . . .
Democrats continue to be well-positioned to take over three GOP-held seats: open seats in Virginia and New Mexico, and Sen. John Sununu's seat in New Hampshire. . ..
In sum, developments in two states, Minnesota and Maine, should have Republicans optimistic, while Democrats have reasons to be happy about some longer-shot races, as well as their top takeover opportunities.
At this point, according to Rothenberg, it seems likely that Republicans (who currently hold 49 Senate seats) will lose at least three seats, putting them at 46. Democratic challenges to Norm Coleman (R-MN) and Susan Collins (R-ME) appear to be faltering. And while Rothenberg sees good prospects for the Democrats in Colorado, Alaska and North Carolina, those are all still competitive seats, which Republicans at least stand a chance of holding. Meanwhile, Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu is vulnerable in Louisiana.

There are many bad indicators for Senate Republicans, who have by far the most incumbents up for re-election (23 GOP vs. 12 Democrat incumbents). Combine the clear anti-incumbent signals -- the low congressional approval rating and the 79% "wrong track" number -- with the Democrats' double-digit edge in the "generic ballot," and Republicans certainly have cause to worry this November. Yet as the individual races have shaped up so far, there is no evidence that the worst-case scenario is materializing.

Given the lack of a "bounce" by Barack Obama since the end of his primary battle against Hillary Clinton, it looks as if some independent voters disenchanted with the GOP may be having doubts about the Democrats' readiness to lead. If Obama should stumble -- and, as arguably the least-experienced major-party presidential candidate since Jimmy Carter, an Obama meltdown remains a real possibility -- that might cause a reverse-coattails situation that could drag down some otherwise promising Democratic Senate challengers, leaving the GOP relatively unscathed, with 46 or even 47 seats.

Don't mistake this for optimism. Things still look bad, but they could be much worse.

UPDATE: Thanks to the anonymous commenter who pointed out that there aren't 23 GOP incumbents facing re-election. Rather, there are 18 Republican incumbents seeking re-election and 5 other open seats currently held by Republicans (who are retiring).

'They were going to deny us barbecue'

News from Odessa, Texas:
Leaders of the Black Cultural Council say volunteers and the black community felt "humiliated" after two health department food inspectors threatened to put a stop to a Juneteenth celebration over questions about food preparation for 600 free barbecue sandwiches. . .
"I wanted people to go away talking about how great the celebration was this year. All you heard was 'They were going to deny us barbecue. Here we are in modern-day slavery again.' "
(Via Malkin.) Actually, this sounds like a story about bureaucrats gone mad with their own power, attempting to enforce health department regulations at what is essentially a private party. It's more like a church potluck or a family reunion than a commercial vending situation.

BounceWatch update

UPDATED & BUMPED: The latest Gallup daily tracking poll shows no change, Obama 46, McCain 43:
This is the fifth straight day that neither candidate has held a statistically significant lead, although Obama has consistently polled a slightly higher number, as he has since the start of June. On this long-term basis, it seems clear that Obama has a significant, albeit slight, advantage in the race.
Which is to say, the 2%-3% lead is small, but because it has shown up consistently, it can be considered a statistical fact.

Still, the big story here is what has not happened. In the three weeks since the last Democratic primary, Obama has not surged ahead of McCain. The "bounce" Obama got from Hillary's concession peaked June 9 when he led by 7 points over McCain (48%-41%) and has since subsided. The general election campaign begins, then, with the two candidates in a virtual dead heat.

Today, the RealClearPolitics average has Barack Obama leading John McCain by 6.6 points. It is worthwhile to note, however, that the RCP average currently includes two recent polls of dubious merit:
Subtract these two outliers, and Obama's lead in the RCP average shrinks to 4 points. Of course, June polls aren't predictive, so it doesn't really matter at this point. The MSM, however, is reporting these results in such a way as to portray Obama as an unstoppable juggernaut in a transparent attempt to create a bandwagon effect for the Democrat.

UPDATE: The MSM's misrepresentation of poll results is nothing new, of course, and neither is my resentment of it. Two explanations are possible, and neither is flattering:
  • Editors and reporters don't understand polling, and thus ignorantly misrepresent the results; or
  • Editors and reporters are purposely misrepresenting the results of their own polls.
The most important cause for skepticism toward political poll results is the fact that we don't know whether any given poll has surveyed a truly representative sample of the electorate. This is especially true of polls taken far in advance of the election. To look at a June poll as predictive of the November result is to assume that nothing that happens in the next four months will affect voter preference. Yet, even as a "snapshot" -- a transitory impression of voter preference at this moment -- polls have profound shortcomings.

Voters fall into four basic categories: (a) loyal partisan Democrats, who always vote Democrat no matter what; (b) loyal partisan Republicans, who always vote Republican no matter what; (c) dedicated independents, who always vote, but have no strong partisan leanings; and (d) episodic voters, who do not always vote.

Given the fact that huge numbers of eligible voters don't vote, a pollster -- if his poll results are to be useful or credible -- must try to screen for "likely voters." This is a doggone difficult thing to do, but it must be attempted, because voters and non-voters differ significantly in their preferences. Non-voters are more likely to support liberal policies and Democratic candidates (a source of endless frustration to liberal Democrats). So a poll that doesn't properly screen for "likely voters" will always skew leftward (as was true of the Newsweek poll that surveyed "registered voters" rather than "likely voters").

This is probably why early polls have historically overstated support for Democratic presidential candidates. The closer you get to Election Day, the easier it becomes to determine who the "likely voters" are. Thus, the samples in early polls contain lots of liberal-leaning eligible voters who, in the end, won't actually bother to vote.

Whatever other biases one may attribute to MSM, they are definitely biased toward inflating the importance of these polls they commission at such tremendous expense. Skepticism is merited.

Marriage: Your chances

June is a traditional month for weddings. If you're one of those who has (so far) always been a bridesmaid rather than a bride, did you ever wonder what the odds are that you'll eventually marry? Let's look at the data (from the latest Census Bureau report):
  • The good news is that, by age 40-44, about 87 percent of women have been married at least once.
  • However, that percentage is based on marriage patterns that prevailed 20 or 25 years ago. In 1980 (when the 44-year-old women in the 2006 survey were 18), the median age at first marriage for U.S. women was 22. The current median age at first marriage is 25 for U.S. women. A rise in the median marriage age tends to reduce the likelihood of marriage for any woman who is currently unmarried.
  • The longer you stay single, the less likelihood of you ever marrying. Consider that 4 out 5 women (81%) ages 18-24 have never married, compared to 24% of women ages 30-34, and 13% of women ages 40-44. Thus, if you aren't married by the time you're 25, there is still roughly a 70% likelihood you'll be married within 10 years, and an 84% chance you'll be married by the time you reach your early 40s. On the other hand, if you are among the 1-in-4 women who are still unmarried by the time they reach their early 30s, the odds are against you -- there's only a 46% chance you'll be married within 10 years.
Of course, these are just general statistics. Your mileage may vary. But as a general proposition, women who want to marry eventually shouldn't wait until they're 30 to start hunting a groom.


A journalist friend e-mails me:
WTF? Tertiary syphilis??? Unless you have information I doubt you have, this would probably be actionable if Rich Lowry read it.
My friend has a point. To suggest that Lowry's mental impairment is the result of advanced syphilis -- general paresis, in which the disease destroys the central nervous system -- is irresponsibly defamatory. On the other hand:
  • Arguing that the McCain campaign would benefit from hiring Bill Kristol -- hey, look at what Bill did for Dan Quayle's career! -- is the kind of bizarre statement that calls into question the mental capacity of anyone who would make it. Especially since Kristol is already dispensing his advice for free via the Weekly Standard, the New York Times, and Fox News.
  • Political correctness being what it is, I feared that such old-fashioned slurs as "retard," "moron" and "feeb" might be unacceptable to certain advocacy groups. Similar considerations ruled out "psycho," "schizo" and "nutjob." I was seeking le mot juste.
  • "Tertiary syphilis" is a term sufficiently exotic that anyone sophisticated enough to comprehend it would realize that Lowry (probably) isn't suffering from it.
  • Ibogaine addiction, however, can't be ruled out.
  • At this point, getting sued for libel by the editor of National Review would be an incredible career-booster for me, an unbearable embarrassment for him. It would expose him as the kind of humorless narcissist who self-Googles and then flies into a towering rage over a puerile joke at his expense by a mere blogger.
Let's face it: Lowry is a textbook example of the Peter Principle in action, a man struggling under the burden of his own spectacular incompetence. Lowry knows as well as anyone that, if there were any justice in the world, he would have been required long ago to surrender the editorship of National Review to Ramesh Ponnuru, Jonah Goldberg or some other reasonably skilled journalist. If Lowry occasionally utters something completely insane -- e.g., suggesting that Bill Kristol lay aside his lucrative TV/newspaper/magazine career to become a political adviser -- this is to be understood for what it is: A cry for help.

Lowry should be pitied, not mocked. I apologize for my uncharitable jest. Rich needs our prayers, not our jokes.

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin, while not going so far as to suggest that Lowry is in the terminal stages of an irreversible neurological deterioration, also rejects his advice:
With all due respect, adding another Beltway political strategist to the McCain camp isn’t going to fix an un-fixable the problem. It’s not fundamentally flawed messaging, it’s a fundamentally flawed candidate. The sooner Republicans reconcile themselves to that, the better.
An eminently more responsible argument, and one with which I certainly agree. I hope everyone understands that my resort to dark satire is a reflexive response to the depressing joke that this year's presidential campaign has become. Like I said, "a cry for help."