Saturday, May 3, 2008

Humanizing Hillary

Hillary sounds surprisingly conservative as she talks about the advantages of having Secret Service agents chaperone Chelsea's teenage dates.

Lots of guys -- especially Republican guys -- like to badmouth Chelsea's looks, but let's be honest: Blonde hair, big blue eyes, radiant smile, what's not to like? Surely, she would at least pass the AOSHQ Test.

Speaking of AOSHQ, I agree: Heh!

The battle of 'Ruwartistan'

A feud within the Libertarian Party boiled over in the past two weeks, and the party's executive director Shane Cory resigned today, as I report at The American Spectator blog:
Cory's exit comes in wake of an internal party uproar surrounding longtime Libertarian activist Mary Ruwart, who is seeking the LP presidential nomination, after it was reported that a passage in a book she wrote in 1999 appeared to defend child pornography. This prompted Cory, who had been the Libertarian executive director since 2005, to issue an official LP press
clarifying that the party opposes child pornography. Ruwart's supporters and others in the party's "left-libertarian" wing responded by accusing Coryof attempting to sabotage her presidential campaign and being a "lackey for Bob Barr," who is considered Ruwart's chief rival for the LP nomination. . . .
The Philadelphia Inquirer recently called Barr "John McCain's worst nightmare." But as I explained in an American Spectator article last month, before Barr can disturb any Republican dreams in November, he's first got to overcome resistance from Ruwart and other stalwarts of the LP's more radical wing.
The Libertarian Party is riven by Byzantine schisms and factionalism that defy easy description, but Brian Doherty of Reason magazine offered a pretty good glimpse with his coverage of the 2004 LP national convention, where the delegates rejected the telegenic Aaron Russo in favor of the cerebral Michael Badnarik.

Many disgrunted Republicans see Barr's LP candidacy as a way to fill "a gaping ideological hole on the right side of the political spectrum." The problem is that many hard-core LP types apparently would rather be part of an irrelevant (but ideologically "pure") fringe party than to expand the Libertarian electoral base by reaching out to mainstream voters. When the executive director faces a mutiny because he condemns kiddie porn, the fringe wins.

(BTW, the "Ruwartistan" in the title is a reference to my visit last month to the Libertarian Party of North Carolina's convention. Ruwart has many allies in the LPNC, and won the convention's presidential straw poll with 17 of 25 votes. A friend joked that North Carolina is "Ruwartistan.")

Pledge? What's a pledge?

After all, they're Democrats:
A little-known loophole in Democratic Party rules potentially frees up every delegate -- even those selected in primaries and caucuses -- to shift their allegiance at the convention. All that delegates are required to do is to "in all good conscience" reflect the sentiments of the voters who chose them. For delegates with flexible consciences, the sky is theoretically the limit. "The press is wrong in exclusively focusing on the superdelegates," says a member of the Democratic National Committee, who has closely studied the convention rulebook. "If it goes to the Convention, everybody's up for grabs."
(Via Memeorandum.) A Democrat with a "good conscience"? Good luck finding one of those in Denver!

So long as Hillary can keep it close going into the convention, she can promise those delegates the moon (not to mention Cabinet posts and ambassadorships) and basically buy the nomination. Failing that, Team Clinton will steal it.

Bribery, blackmail, threats, promises, violence, extortion -- count on Team Clinton to do whatever it takes. You can talk all you want about Hope and Change, but if this thing comes down to backroom bare-knuckle cut-throat politics, Obama is doomed.

UPDATE: Of course, most journalists would consider it a professional faux-pas to suggest that a candidate for the office of President of These United States -- indeed, a distinguished Senator from the Great State of New York -- would resort to outright crime in order to win her party's nomination.

Yet we are, after all, talking about Democrats. Having co-authored the definitive book on Democratic Party corruption, I assure you that no act of political skullduggery to which the Clinton campaign is likely to resort would be anything new in the history of a party that was co-founded by Aaron Burr.

Nor do I mean to suggest that Team Obama is a bunch of Boy Scouts, incapable of the kind of treachery, swindling and graft necessary to success in the Democratic Party. I mean, hey, they're Chicago Democrats, OK?

All I'm saying is that Hillary has by far the more experienced and distinguished team of liars, cheats and hoodlums on her payroll. I certainly intend no aspersions the goon squad at Obama HQ, but I think even David Axelrod would admit that his gang of ambitious young villains has their work cut out for them, going up against Clinton's crew of seasoned scoundrels. Axelrod has no one on his roguish roster who can compare to the sinister likes of Lanny Davis and Sid Blumenthal.

So when I say that Team Clinton will have a decisive advantage if the Democratic nomination comes down to dirty-dealing in Denver, this should not be considered an expression of bias against the Obama campaign. It's just a neutral, objective fact.

Angry journalists

FishbowlDC highlights this rant at
I hate the fact that the people who actually make all of the major decisions for the newsroom have never written a single headline, edited or written a single story, or worked past 7 p.m., much less on a weekend. All of the choices they make are for a business that literally does not exist. It’s not the business that *I* am working for, anyway. It’s the one in their heads that they think exists because they literally are not in the building when the actual business is running. How can you run a newspaper when you have never even been in the newsroom during the real work hours? DUH.
Preach it, brother! What this staffer is referring to is the fact that most of the actual business of putting out your morning newspaper occurs between 4 p.m. and midnight, while most of the brass leaves the office at 6 p.m.

The news business is not, never has been, and never will be, a 9-to-5 job. Sure, there are people in the business who slide along for years with that 40-hour-a-week clock-watcher mentality, but excellence cannot be achieved on such a schedule.


Ed Morrisey is shocked -- shocked! -- that Murdoch's Fox would stoop so low as to do skin-sational tabloid TV about a buxom blonde who was fired from her teaching job because she was moonlighting as a bikini babe on a charter fishing boat.

The bikini doesn't offend me, but that tattoo is gross. Nothing says "trashy tramp" quite so eloquently as a tattoo, and she's got a huge tattoo on her shoulder. Also, her name is "Tiffany," which is one of those total trailer-park names. Between that name, that tattoo and that fake-blonde hair, she's only slightly less obvious than Ashley Alexandra Dupre.

BTW, speaking of skin-sational tabloids, my friend Victor Morton chastised me yesterday for failing to give him credit for telling me that Benny Hill "Page Three" joke.

Geraldo said WHAT?

Allahpundit gives Geraldo Rivera a pass on this comment, but surely the left side of the blogosphere -- which seems perpetually outraged by the very existence of Fox News -- won't let him get away with it.

Imagine if Bill O'Reilly had said such a thing. Both Think Progress and Huffington Post have blogged about it, but so far I don't see any lefties demanding Geraldo's ouster. Maybe they're hesitant to condemn someone who has threatened to spit on Michelle Malkin.

Besides which, Geraldo's "joke" wasn't even remotely funny. If he'd really wanted to say something wicked about Barbara Walters, he should have called her the inspiration for Lili Von Shtupp.

Why Ace is evil

Sometimes when you know you're not supposed to laugh, it only makes you laugh harder:
On his 2000 census form he listed his race as "Other/Lenny Kravitz."
So bad in so many ways . . . and this may be even worse.


One of the greatest privileges accorded to the press is access. A reporter's credentials are an essential tool of his trade. A press pass grants the reporter free access to events that others pay to attend, and allows him access to people and places who would be off-limits otherwise.

Even the dumbest rookie reporter knows that the privileges his press pass grants him ought never to be abused. Imagine, then, the collective wrath of that the professional journalism establishment would rain down on a partisan political hack who obtained press access in order to engage in a cheap campaign stunt.

That's what happened this week when Marty Parrish -- a former campaign aide to Sen. Joe Biden and now an avowed Obama supporter -- signed in as a reporter for Huffington Post to gain access to a John McCain townhall event, and then disrupted the event in Iowa by asking the candidate if he had called his wife a "cunt."

(The question was based on a claim in a book by Democratic operative Cliff Schecter, who claims to have heard about the alleged 1992 incident from "three reporters from Arizona, on the condition of anonymity." The sourcing raises obvious questions: Why would three reporters have failed to report such an incident? Why would these reporters insist on anonymity 16 years later? Since no such reporter or anyone else has come forward as witness to this alleged incident -- which supposedly occurred in the presence of two McCain campaign staffers -- it's hard to resist the conclusion that Schecter is lying.)

Huffington Post contributor Keith Dinsmore apparently colluded with Parrish in the campaign stunt -- they both signed in on the same media sign-in sheet, and Dinsmore provided HuffPo with video of Parrish's disruption. Dinsmore then filed an account of the incident that dishonestly omits the fact that Parrish signed in on the media list as a HuffPo contributor.

Such behavior is not journalism, it's political activism -- and it's activism of the most childish and idiotic variety.

It would be perfectly legitimate for a journalist at a press conference to ask McCain to confirm or deny Schecter's claim, but Parrish wasn't at a press conference. Parrish did not identify himself as a journalist when he raised his hand during the townhall event, and he dishonestly began his question by pretending to inquire about health care policy. Parrish was obviously seeking to disrupt the townhall event by using the shock value of the word "cunt."

Online news organizations fought for years to gain the kind of access accorded to journalists from traditional media outfits. The irresponsible behavior of Parrish and the dishonest "journalism" of Dinsmore not only discredit HuffPo as an institution, but undermine the credibility of online media in general.

Both Michelle Malkin and Allahpundit blogged about this stunt, but surprisingly, neither of them raised the issue of how these HuffPo clowns damaged the reputation of online media. And, just as surprisingly, the collective wrath of the professional journalism has not rained down on Parrish and Dinsmore, either.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Dann the man

When I worked at The Washington Times, my colleagues and I would sometimes gather at the Dubliner for after-work refreshments.

During one visit to the Dubliner a couple of years ago, we found ourselves talking to Marc Dann, a Democrat who was then a candidate for attorney general of Ohio. Dann, who was visiting DC for some kind of conference, seemed like a nice guy, easygoing and reasonable.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I saw this story:
Ohio's attorney general admitted an extramarital affair with an employee Friday, soon after three of his aides were fired or forced out after an investigation found evidence of sexual harassment and other misconduct.
Leader of both parties were critical of Attorney General Marc Dann, one of several Democrats swept into office in 2006 after a scandal over state investments sullied Republicans. He apologized to his wife and supporters but promised not to step down.
"I'm embarrassed. I have taken responsibility for what I've done," he told reporters.
Dann had lived with two of the aides at an apartment during much of his first year in office and some of the alleged harassment by one of the aides occurred there.
"I did not create an atmosphere in my public and personal life that is consistent with the important mission of the Office of Attorney General ...," Dann said. "I am heartbroken by my failure to recognize the problems being created and by my failure to stop them."
Ohio GOP deputy chairman Kevin DeWine called for Dann's resignation, saying he turned the attorney general's office into a "raunchy frat pad." . .
Dann, 46, said the affair was consensual and refused to disclose the name of the employee. He said the relationship came during a difficult time in his marriage, but that it "was wrong and I deeply regret it."
Dann's scheduler, Jessica Utovich, with whom he had a close relationship in which they often used profanity, nicknames and teasing when e-mailing each other, resigned voluntarily, said Tom Winters, first assistant attorney general. He did not give a reason.
When interviewed for the sexual harassment investigation conducted by assistant attorneys general, Dann said Utovich stayed overnight at an apartment he shared with the two aides for a variety of reasons that he would not discuss.
You might think that a Democrat elected because of Republican scandals would have been careful to avoid any scandalous behavior of his own.

What's really sad is that Dann's alleged paramour, Jessica Utovich, wasn't even all that hot. Dick Feagler of Cleveland Scene isn't impressed, either:
Back in our day, if an attorney general got caught with an aide wearing pajamas, we wouldn’t have called it a sex scandal. We wouldda called it a preseason game with the babysitter, like playing the Jets and you’re only using your third-stringers. And if it didn’t involve a bearded lady from the circus or a truck load of cod, we wouldn’t be yammering about it in the newspaper, that’s for sure…
Back in my day, it wasn't a sex scandal if the dame couldn't sing along with Connie Francis. Why, back in my day, every attorney general had a trollop parked somewhere. They had names like Patty and Mary Jean, and they were gonna attend secretarial school someday.
Clearly, Feagler is onto something. America has seen a steady decline in the quality of political mistresses since the days of Wayne Hays, whose bombshell secretary Elizabeth Ray famously declared: "I can't type. I can't file. I can't even answer the phone."

If a politician is going to destroy his career over a tramp, he ought to get his money's worth, like Elliott Spitzer did. What's the point of sinking your political prospects and wrecking your marriage over a mousy-looking brunette like Jessica Utovich? That's not just a scandal, it's an embarrassment.

For crying out loud, you're the No. 3 man in state government, and that's the best you can do for a mistress? I'm disappointed, Marc.

Progressive fashion

Elizabeth Wurtzel's Wall Street Journal column about Weather Underground terrorist Bernardine Dohrn (Bill Ayers' old lady) struck me:
When I was 15, I read an article in Rolling Stone about the Weather Underground and became fascinated with Bernardine Dohrn. . . .
[L]ike many teenagers tragically lost in the Reagan '80s, I had Woodstock dreams, imagining some perfect purple haze of love. By the time I got to college, the cult of latter-day hippies had become a marketing phenomenon: Urban Outfitters was selling tie-dye T-shirts and groups of us made daytrips to Walden Pond to drop acid on Thoreau's acreage. Undergraduates lived in shanties, built in front of the university president's office at Harvard Yard, to protest investment in apartheid South Africa; all around the campus, reprints of posters advocating the 1969 student strike were thumb-tacked on kiosks and telephone poles. I was there, one of many, in love with a dream I'd had as a kid.
What's up with that? I mean, whence the "Woodstock dreams" and tie-dye T-shirts, the ID of campus protest as a rite of passage? Why was Wurtzel "tragically lost" in the 1980s and why, of all things, did she turn to hippie fashions and recycled radicalism from the '60s?

The '60s is the only decade that has such enduring power. You never see teenagers mimic the styles of the 1920s, with flapper dresses, bathtub gin and jazz. But even now, more than 40 years past the Summer of Love, you still see these college kids at protests who seem to be stuck in some kind of time warp, chanting variations of the same chants that radicals were chanting 40 years ago.

It's irrational, and the irrational always fascinates me. As she notes, Wurtzel wasn't the only "tragically lost" kid in the '80s who glommed onto the fashion and politics of the '60s, but she leaves the "why" unexplained, perhaps because of the difficulty of finding a rational explanation. This is an irrational attraction to an irrational era.

Reminds me of an old joke:
Q. What did the Deadhead say when the drugs wore off?
A. "Man, this band sucks!"

Rebate economics

Because I've got a large family -- five of my six children are under 16 -- I'll be getting a hefty rebate check from Uncle Sam, but that's not going to fix the economy. The "stimulus" merely adds to the federal budget deficit, and the ballooning deficit is a big part of the problem.

Michelle Malkin observes:
The solution to the problem of too many people borrowing money and spending beyond their means -- charging their credit cards up the wazoo, buying more house than they can afford, etc., etc., etc. -- is not to borrow more money for a one-time rebate that encourages them to spend more to produce a short-term, feel-good boost to the economy.
America's current economic woes won't be fixed by such measures. Bad monetary policy at the Fed and bad fiscal policy in Washington are the chief culprits. Underlying this, however, is the looming disaster of Social Security and Medicare -- entitlements that impose massive liabilities on taxpayers, but do nothing to generate economic growth. In fact, by siphoning cash from the pockets of young workers and funneling it into the pockets of the elderly, Social Security and Medicare function to prevent capital formation, and capital formation is essential to growth.

But you have to understand economics to get that argument, and the overwhelming majority of Americans don't understand economics. The president has an MBA from Harvard, so one presumes he understands economics, but if he's ever tried to explain these things to the American people, I don't remember.

When Bush was pushing Social Security reform in 2005, he obsessively chattered about private accounts, yet I don't recall that he ever tried to explain why the accumulation of private wealth is a good thing. Ultimately, arguments for economic freedom fail, unless one is willing to contrast the morality of the market versus the immorality of the alternatives.

I'll be glad to take my immoral tax rebate (which is not actually a rebate, but rather an ill-disguised welfare payment) and use it to pay bills. No "stimulus" will result from that, but why should I care? I don't get paid to worry about the economy, and the people who do get paid to worry about it have been screwing things up, so why should I cooperate with their plan?

UPDATE: Just noticed Michelle's link to, and this video:

Since moving from Georgia to Maryland in 1997, we've rented. The real estate market in the D.C. area was already ludicrously inflated before the "bubble," and there has never been any prospect that I could buy a house here on a journalist's salary.

Part of economic common sense is being able to recognize when you can't afford something. I don't have a boat or an SUV, either, but unlike boats and SUVs, some people apparently have the idea that home ownership is an entitlement, a right. Thus we have all kinds of government programs intended to ensure that everybody can buy a house -- even if they obviously can't afford a house.

So I have zero sympathy for idiots who got themselves upside-down on ARMs and then cry: "We're losing our house!" No, ma'am, you're not. It's not your house, it's the bank's house, and the bank is just taking back what is rightfully theirs. Stop whining and start paying rent.

Operation Chaos update

At AOSHQ, Gabriel Malor argues that Hillary Clinton would be the tougher candidate for November:
She's the stronger of the two in the general. McCain will wipe the floor with Obama. Typically Democrats do not win without Pennsylvania. Guess who absolutely bombs in Pennsylvania? Democrats always make a fight of Ohio and Florida. Guess who got whooped in Ohio and Florida? And why? Because a large segment of Democratic blue-collar voters cannot bring themselves to vote for Obama.
Quinnipiac has a new poll that confirms this: McCain does better against Obama in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania than against Clinton. These are crucial states if we want to get to the magic number.
I'm not sure that those numbers will hold up in the fall. Hillary starts out with ultra-high negatives, and I don't see the elderly McCain as a good matchup against the 46-year-old Obama. No offense to Gabriel, but I trust Rush Limbaugh's judgment more:
[T]he purpose of Operation Chaos is not to secure the nomination of either of these two. It is to keep exactly what's going, going, and that's chaos. Because the end result is that neither of these two are going to be electable by the time this is over. . . .
Operation Chaos has anticipated all the possibilities, here. If I could just ask all of you: Trust the commander. Just chill out. We know what we're doing here. . . .
Operation Chaos was started to revive Mrs. Clinton because she was in the tank, and we wanted the campaign to go on.
Exactly. The longer the nomination fight continues, and the closer the contest, the worse the damage to the Democratic Party -- regardless of who the ultimate nominee is.

At this point, Obama is reportedly within about 300 delegates of the nomination, so conservatives should be pushing all-out on Hillary's behalf. (Sidney Blumenthal thanks you!)

There's no point getting ahead of the game by trying to guess how this plays out in November. As usual, Rush is right: Stop worrying about the final outcome, and keep your mind focused on inflicting maximum damage to the Democrats right now.

Clinton up TEN in Indiana?

The Wright scandal hits home in this poll:
A statewide poll indicates a dramatic shift of support from Sen. Barack Obama to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton ahead of next week's Indiana Democratic presidential primary -- a shift that could be explained by a controversy over Obama's ex-pastor, the poll's conductor says.
The survey . . . showed Clinton with a 10-point lead over Obama in Indiana -- 48 percent to 38 percent -- with 14 percent of respondents undecided. ...
The telephone poll of 943 randomly selected likely Democratic primary voters, conducted from April 25 through April 29, showed Clinton's support getting stronger as the polling period advanced.
Meanwhile, the Gallup national tracking poll shows Hillary up 49-45 -- a 14-point swing since April 21, when Obama led 50-40. CNN's latest poll, conducted April 28-30, has a virtual dead heat (Obama 46, Hillary 45), with Obama having lost 6 points since mid-March.

Despite (or perhaps because of) this evidence of Wright-inspired meltdown for Obama, he continues to pick up Democratic superdelegates.

Thursday, May 1, 2008


John Solomon says that the layoffs are over at The Washington Times. If you go through the list of laid-off employees, there was only one person axed on the national desk, and that was national editor Ken Hanner.

Exactly why Solomon would single out Hanner is something of a mystery. I suppose it might reflect resentment toward Hanner among some other people in the organization. Or maybe the rationale was that, since metro, features and other departments suffered multiple layoffs, the national desk had to lose somebody big.

Let's change the subject!

Michelle Malkin spots Michelle Obama engaged in evasive action on "The View":
MEREDITH VIEIRA: Michelle, do you feel that the Reverend Wright betrayed your husband?
MICHELLE OBAMA: I think Barack has spoken so clearly and eloquently about this.
MEREDITH VIEIRA: But do you personally feel that the Reverend Wright…
MICHELLE OBAMA: You know what I think Meredith? I think we gotta move forward. You know, this conversation doesn’t help my kids. You know, it doesn’t help kids out there who are looking for us to make decisions and choices about how we’re going to better fund education.
I'm planning to go sing karaoke tonight, and if Mrs. McCain starts giving me grief when I slink home about 3 a.m., I've got my answer ready: "You know, this conversation doesn't help my kids."

Scientific proof: Everybody's a racist

Greetings, my fellow haters:
Using a variety of sophisticated methods, psychologists have established that people unwittingly hold an astounding assortment of stereotypical beliefs and attitudes about social groups: black and white, female and male, elderly and young, gay and straight, fat and thin. Although these implicit biases inhabit us all, we vary in the particulars, depending on our own group membership, our conscious desire to avoid bias and the contours of our everyday environments.
(Via Hot Air Headlines.) After extensive examination of "subliminal bias," the article then goes on to discuss PC re-education schemes:
Seeing targeted groups in more favorable social contexts can help thwart biased attitudes. In laboratory studies, seeing a black face with a church as a background, instead of a dilapidated street corner, considering familiar examples of admired blacks such as actor Denzel Washington and athlete Michael Jordan, and reading about Arab-Muslims’ positive contributions to society all weaken people’s implicit racial and ethnic biases. In real college classrooms, students taking a course on prejudice reduction who had a black professor showed greater reductions in both implicit and explicit prejudice at the end of the semester than did those who had a white professor.
Notice that -- having initially laid out the fact of latent prejudice against "social groups . . . elderly and young, fat and thin" -- the article then focuses almost obsessively on race, and especially white prejudice against non-white minorities.

Some prejudices are more equal than others. (And prejudice against chubby beauty queens is apparently too inconsequential to deserve more than a passing reference from Scientific American.)

Mo' mo' for Hillary?

More momentum from Rasmussen:
The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Thursday shows that Barack Obama’s former Pastor, Jeremiah Wright, has had a significant impact on the race for the White House. The news is not good for Obama. . . .
In the race for the Democratic Presidential Nomination, the Wright impact is especially evident. Clinton now has a statistically insignificant two-point edge over Obama, 46% to 44%. However, that represents a ten-point swing since Wright’s press conference. Before Pastor Wright appeared at the National Press Club, Obama led Clinton by eight points. . . .
In Indiana, Clinton leads Obama by five points. In North Carolina Obama leads. Rasmussen Markets data shows Obama continues to be the favorite for the Democratic nomination, but expectations have slipped significantly in recent days.
Via Hot Air, where Allahpundit discusses what might be called the "Anybody But Clinton" (ABC) Movement:
[A] late Hillary surge might force superdelegates out of the woodwork and, paradoxically, into declaring for Obama. They're worried about the race dragging on and the better she does, the more likely that is to happen. Coming out for [Obama] when he's in trouble is thus a way to blunt her momentum, essentially telling her, "Unless you win every remaining primary 80/20 he's going to be the nominee, so you might as well drop out."
Tuesday's primary results may put a stop to this kind of shenanigans, however. The three most recent polls in Indiana show Hillary ahead by margins between 5% and 9%, while Obama's lead in North Carolina has either dwindled or, according to Matt Towery's Insider Advantage poll, disappeared altogether.

A solid Indiana win by Hillary -- piled on top of her Ohio and Pennsylvania wins -- reinforces her argument about "electability" in swing states. She's unlikely to win North Carolina outright, but just wait until the TV talking heads get a look at the exit polls there; expect massive black-white polarization.

All of this means that Tuesday's results will be interpreted by the media as a referendum on Wright, and by this time next week, the "electability" question will be all over TV.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, a Connecticut superdelegate is coming out for Hillary today, while three Illinois superdelegates declare for Obama.

Looking ahead, Obama faces a problem in the primary schedule, with West Virginia on May 13 and Kentucky on May 20. Lot of bitter gun-clingers in those states, so within three weeks, the media narrative will be about Obama's losing streak.

Hillary at the pumps

Transparent PR stunt? Of course. But if John McCain can do a photo-op in Selma, Hillary Clinton can go to a gas station:
The Democratic presidential candidate and sheet metal worker Jason Wilfing, 33, pulled into the station in a large white Ford 250 pickup truck, Clinton riding shotgun. Never mind that it wasn't even Wilfing's truck — he had borrowed his boss's larger vehicle to accommodate Clinton's security agent and personal assistant, who rode in the back. . . .
Wilfing chose regular unleaded gasoline, and began filling the tank. The two engaged in chit chat, with New York senator mentioning her proposal for a temporary gas tax holiday to ease the price pinch on consumers.
The tank filled, Clinton looked at the price recorded at the pump and shook her head.
"Sixty-three dollars," she said. "For just about half a tank."
Shutters clicked, cameras whirred. Point made.
Next up: Hillary travels to the mountains of West Virginia, where she will listen as a moonshiner complains about rising corn prices.

VIDEO BONUS: Via Hot Air, Hillary attempts to figure out the coffee machine at the gas station:

Pomocon does Miley Cyrus

Ummm, maybe I should rephrase that? At any rate, Post-Modern Conservative James Poulos semi-defends the bare-back photos of the 15-year-old Disney starlet:
The photo of Miss Cyrus is a very pretty photo and very tasteful, but it is also a worshipful celebration of the fecundity of the pubescent female body, and the pre-legal body at that. Which would hardly be a problem if we didn't live in a culture in which 'worship' seems to mean corrupting unceremoniously and kicking to the curb. We have a major problem here: the cognitive dissonance involved in sexualizing ever-younger girls issues in an unholy amalgam of mini Madonnas and major whores. Poor Miley, caught in the crossfire: despite our heroic efforts to the contrary, it is still sometimes impossible to have one's cake and eat it too.
Once upon a time, I observed that there are two sides in the Culture War: parents and everybody else.

You simply cannot understand why Michelle Malkin, to cite one example, rages against the pornification of popular culture until you've tried to raise sane and decent kids amid the tsunami of smut that's swept into our society.

It's not that we're prudes. (Malkin once said "balls" on national TV, for crying out loud.) I don't get apoplectic at the raunchiness of Ace of Spades HQ and I myself enjoy the fun of "babeblogging." But kids don't read blogs, Ace is not yet an influential role model for teenagers, and Malkin was referring to "testicular fortitude," not appealing to prurient interest.

The protest against the Miley Cyrus VF photo is not about just that one photo, but about the general trend of which it is a part. And every parent knows what it's like to try to fight this trend.

I could cite a litany of unwelcome pop-culture intrusions into the parenting process, but how about this: The grocery store. That's right, the grocery store -- a seldom-mentioned battleground in the Culture War.

When our firstborn child was about 7, I took her with me to the grocery store. When we got to the checkout line, we were standing there waiting our turn when I happened to notice my 7-year-old daughter staring at the magazine rack. Suddenly, I realized that she was reading the cover blurbs on Cosmopolitan: "Seven Sex Secrets To Drive Him Wild," etc.

Well, excuse my Piaget, but if that's not developmentally inappropriate, I don't know what is. Bad enough that the grocery stores put the cookies on the same aisle with the breakfast cereal, but does my 7-year-old need to be propagandized by Helen Gurley Brown in the checkout line?

It's psychologically unhealthy and, once you're a parent, you start noticing that popular culture is constantly bombarding kids with such developmentally inappropriate messages. I mean, what's up with those ads for Cialis during the football games? What sort of psychic trauma is being inflicted on boys as they ponder the possibility of going to the doctor for treatment of a 4-hour erection?

Among the pop-culture provocations that parents have to deal with, Miley Cyrus's Vanity Fair picture probably doesn't rank among the all-time Top 10. But parents can't allow it to go unprotested, because what's next? Dora the Explorer in Hustler?

I joke, but this is a serious problem in our hypersexualized society -- how to keep this stuff from warping the healthy, normal development of children. It's not just "right-wingers" or "fundies" who are concerned about this, either. It's practically all parents, but especially parents of girls who want their daughters to grow up to be something better than Ashley Alexandra Dupre.

So, yeah, I know about "art." Hell, I minored in art in college, and am a huge fan of such 19th-century neoclassicists as William Bouguereau (no stranger to the nude maiden, he) but do we really need "artistic" photos of Hannah Montana?

"Dora, there's a Mr. Flynt calling on Line One ..."


The controversy over Rev. Jeremiah Wright appears to have driven some of Sen. Barack Obama's supporters over the cliff, from messianic fervor into outright lunacy.

Exhibit A, a young Obamaphile writes to Andrew Sullivan:
If Obama is done in by this whole Wright thing I am done with politics. I can't invest myself in something that is so sure to disappoint me time and time and time again.
Nice to have the starring role in your own adolescent melodrama, isn't it? Pouting and sulking are not effective strategies, and neither is denial. Which brings us to Exhibit B:
The only reason there is a "furor" as the press likes to say, is because the Repubs and the press who are so firmly snuggled up in their pockets have created one. And the only credibility Obama has lost in my eyes is due to him feeling that he has to address it as if it is valid.
Once you stop laughing at the contention that the "Repubs" have the press "in their pockets," consider the fierce denial involved in this Obamaphile's refusal to grant the validity of Wright as an issue in the Democratic primary.

That's the key point. Democratic voters (and superdelegates, too) are being asked to evaluate whether Obama's 20-year association with Wright -- and the revelation of Wright's radicalism -- creates a political vulnerability that will hurt Obama's chances of being elected in November.

It doesn't matter whether the Wright issue is "valid" in some objective, logical, bird's-eye-view perspective. What matters is how it will be perceived in the general election by independent voters. The Wright issue matters because of its potential to sink Obama in November.

If Sullivan and his sulky young e-mailer want to ignore Wright and keep pushing for Obama's nomination, nobody's stopping them. And if any other Obama supporters want to blame the media for the "furor," go right ahead. But if Obama does get the nomination, and then his association with Wright contributes to a loss in November, don't say you weren't warned.

On the other hand, maybe all this "furor" will be forgotten in a few days, and Obama will sail to a great triumph in November. Somehow, though, many people seem to think such a scenario is less likely now than it was before Wright decided to go on his media tour -- and you can't blame that decision on "Repubs and the press."

BTW, it's May 1, and we just finished the month of April -- best month ever for The Other McCain, with 16,174 visitors and a daily average of 780 page-views. During the best 7-day period of the month (April 19-25) the daily average page-views was 1,046. Thanks to all the bloggers who linked here during April, and thanks to the regular readers (and regular commenters, like SueK) who've contributed to a 137% increase in traffic in a single month.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

James Wolcott, fraud

If James Wolcott is being paid by the word, his 3,700-word screed in the June issue of Vanity Fair is the Crime of the Century.

The article is presented as describing the "vicious Clinton-versus-Obama rupture at Daily Kos" and thus an analysis of "a party-wide split" among Democrats, but it's really nothing of the kind. In fact, it's nothing at all. There is no reporting and very little that could be called research. Just massive paragraph after paragraph of florid prose.

Wolcott expends most of his 368-word second paragraph rehashing the sins of the Bush administration. His next paragraph is 430 words chiefly about the Democratic primary field, and is crammed with colorful assertions like this:
Once Edwards dropped out of the race ... the buffer zone was removed, direct contact replaced triangulation, and the Obama and Hillary supporters faced off like the Jets and the Sharks. The rancor was disproportionate in intensity and extravagant in invective, a fervor worthy of ancestral foes. Months-old grievances seethed and erupted as if they had been bubbling for centuries in a lake of bad blood. On the most egoistic plane, it seemed like a clash of entitlements, the messianics versus the menopausals.
D'ya really think so, Jim? Maybe I was busy and missed this epic gladiatorial bloodletting that ensued after Edwards folded his tent.

After summarizing some anti-Hillary chatter on MSNBC, Wolcott then aims 144 words at Andrew Sullivan, including these two remarkable sentences:

Sullivan's Daily Dish blog is must-reading among the media elite, those sheep. His words extend wider ripples in the ocean of emotion that passes for opinion journalism than did those of his fellow cobblers.

Graydon Carter is getting ripped off. Does Wolcott offer any evidence -- source? attribution? statistics? -- that Sullivan's blog really has such sway among the "media elite"? And what's with that poetic bit about "wider ripples in the ocean of emotion"? A clever metaphor, but does it actually mean anything?

Wolcott then starts name-dropping his way through "the progressive netroots community" -- including TPM -- before adding more poetry:
The majority of Huffpo’s high-profile contributors were so over the rainbow about Obama that it was as if they had found rapture in the poppy fields and were rolling around on their backs like ladybugs.
I actually like that description, but by the time he gets to the end of that sentence, Wolcott's already written 1,300 words -- and hasn't really approached his putative subject, which I suppose I should remind you is "[t]he vicious Clinton-versus-Obama rupture at Daily Kos ... [that] reflects a party-wide split."

Thirteen hundred words into the piece, Wolcott finally starts describing Markos Moulitsas Zuniga and Daily Kos -- and expends more than 700 words in the process. So you're at the 2,000-word mark before Wolcott drops this sentence on you:
The Clinton campaign was culturally disadvantaged at Daily Kos.
Got it? After 2,000 words of setup, now Wolcott at last is ready to approach his theme!
At Daily Kos, Clinton’s supporters felt not only outnumbered but patronized as objects of sexist condescension, pummeled like tackling dummies.
He then recounts some of the details, including an "open letter" by a disgruntled ex-Kossack who felt that DKos had become an Obamaphile echo chamber. Wolcott quotes "Alegre's" letter at length and one wonders if Wolcott got his usual rate for those 181 words he cut and pasted from the 'Net.

For that matter, in the ensuing paragraphs, Wolcott includes extensive cut-and-paste quotes from other sources, including Tom Watson (53 words), Al Giordano (79 words) and Kos himself (57 words). All these quotes are properly attributed, and surely those quoted must be flattered at their inclusion in Vanity Fair, but they're not getting paid as "contributing editors," as is Wolcott, who is presumably paid by the word for a 3,700-word article in which 1/10th of "his" words were gotten by the method of CTRL+C, CTRL+V.

This quote-cribbing might not bother me so much if the DKos feud were some fast-breaking story that Wolcott was rushing to report on deadline. But most of this stuff took place in February and March (Alegre's "open letter" was posted on March 14) and Vanity Fair is a monthly publication.

And in all of his 3,700-word opus, Wolcott never does any reporting. He never picks up the phone to call Markos or Arianna or Sully or anyone else in the story. There is no indication that Wolcott did any research into the online strategies of the Obama and Hillary campaigns. There is nothing, in short, that you'd call political journalism.

What VF has done is to assign a literary critic to a political story. The result is what might be expected. An avowed Hillary supporter, Wolcott ends up blaming the "fratricidal skirmishing" among liberal bloggers on frustration over "the failure of Democrats and activists to bring the Bush-Cheney administration to account," and ends with this:
Democrats have pulled their punches for so long that they know only how to hit themselves in the face, earning the reputation for masochism that gives Dick Cheney a good chuckle each night at bedtime as he's being packed in ice.
What does this mean? I challenge anyone to read through Wolcott's 3,700 words and tell me exactly how this conclusion is justified by the narrative he's crafted.

Who are these Democrats who've "pulled their punches"? Jack Murtha? Harry Reid? Ted Kennedy? Chuck Schumer? And while I'd be the first to admit to schadenfreude over the extended primary battle between Obama and Hillary, I don't see how it constitutes "masochism" on the part of Democrats. Were Republicans engaged in "masochism" when Ronald Reagan challenged Jerry Ford in '76? Or when Pat Buchanan challenged George H.W. Bush in '92?

Wolcott's 3,700 words (one might subtract the 370 words he cut-and-pasted from the blogs) cannot be described as political journalism. He doesn't write to impart knowledge, but to achieve a literary effect. He is too busy conjuring pithy metaphors to be concerned that he is failing to depict political reality.

Indifferent to truth, Wolcott is engaged in a species of fraud.

Reversal of fortune

It's almost like that climactic scene in every action movie of the past 20 years: One minute, our hero is helpless, doomed. The villain holds a pistol to the head of the hero's love interest. The hero is forced to drop his gun, and the villain chortles with laughter -- his evil scheme will now succeed.

Then -- WHAM! An explosion, the villain is momentarily distracted, the hero grabs his gun, kills the villain, rescues the girl, and foils the evil scheme. A familiar story, yes?

Coming soon to a Democratic primary near you, it's Hillary Clinton, starring in Diehard 2008:
As Hillary Clinton continues virtually nonstop campaigning between North Carolina and Indiana, the candidate and her team are showing signs of increased confidence. . . .
Her operatives speak confidently about winning in Indiana. They are publicly playing down their chances of victory in North Carolina, but her schedule suggests otherwise. Clinton is almost spending as much time in the Tar Heel state as the must-win state of Indiana -- as is her husband, who is campaigning extensively in rural towns in both states. Her aides think finishing only a few points behind Obama in North Carolina and winning in Indiana and other states in May could push her to a lead in the overall popular vote, even without counting votes in Michigan and Florida.
Ace Smith, Clinton's North Carolina state director, is repeating the campaign's mantra that a win in the Tar Heel State would be "the upset of the century."
(Via Memeorandum.) The sun shines now on Team Hillary, while clouds loom over Team Obama, and the Eagleton-like albatross that is the Jeremiah Wright controversy will not soon fly away, as Victor Davis Hanson explains:
Wright won’t quit now for two reasons. First, he knows what he said for two decades, and where Obama was when he said it. So he bristles that Obama’s protestations of suddenly being “shocked” by Wright are empty and untrue, and designed to assure the very “rich white folks” whom Wright dismisses. Two, psychologically Wright resents the reversals in positions; the infant politician that he once sired and nurtured is now far better known precisely for rejecting, at least in speeches, the very mother’s milk Wright fed him for years.
And now, like the apocalyptic voice of doom for Democrats, comes the word from CINC-OC Rush Limbaugh: Operation Chaos is once again fully operational!

UPDATE: When it rains, it pours.
UPDATE II: Hillary just sent me another e-mail:
Senator Obama wants to close out this race before every American has a say, but you and I have a different idea -- and so do millions of Americans headed to the polls in the next few weeks.
This race isn't decided yet, no matter what the Obama campaign would like you to think. After our big win in Pennsylvania, more Americans have voted for me than for any other candidate. And just next week, we've got races in North Carolina (where Governor Mike Easley endorsed me yesterday) and Indiana (where we're in a tight race right next door to Senator Obama's home state).
But before those big races on May 6, we're facing a critical deadline. Tonight at midnight, we close the books on our April fundraising -- and the number we report has the power to shape the story of this election. I can't put it any stronger than this: every dollar we bring in by midnight tonight can make the difference in this race. That's why some of my active supporters have agreed to match contributions from new donors made before the midnight deadline. And because your contribution is matched, it's worth twice as much -- every $25 gift is worth $50. Even a $5 gift is twice as valuable. If you've never made a gift online, there will never be a better time than right now. Contribute before our midnight deadline, and your gift is worth twice as much.
Over the course of this campaign, I have relied on you and hundreds of thousands of people just like you. Your time, your hard work, your generosity, and your heart have all sustained me through the ups and downs of this incredible journey.
Some people, including my opponent, would like to declare this race over. They want you and me to just give up. Why? Because every time they think we're out of it we come roaring back -- and now we have a clear path to victory. Our first step on this path is to show that our campaign is as strong as it has ever been. We have until midnight tonight to get every dollar in the door before our April fundraising deadline. And if you give before midnight tonight, your gift is doubled thanks to our matching program. Double your impact and help us win by contributing before the midnight deadline.
I want to thank you for your personal and powerful involvement in this race. It makes such a difference to me to know you're a part of our campaign.
Thank you, ma'am. It's the least I could do.

Oedipal issues

Paging Dr. Freud! Mark Morford bares his psyche:
[T]he ideal presidential wife, one tepid, timid, thoroughly useless Laura Bush.
[D]ocile, prudish, former librarian Laura Bush, she of the nonexistent inspiration and dull-as-dishwater personality? Yes indeed, that Laura Bush. . . .
Laura has also come to epitomize the compliant, unobtrusive woman, the worst kind of example for modern young women today. This is, of course, why conservative Republicans and fundie Christians love her. They call her "classy."
What they mean is: She knows her place, keeps her mouth shut, possesses exactly zero sexuality, speaks only when spoken to, lets the men do the "real" work, stays so far off in the background she might as well be wallpaper.
Get it? In Morford's universe, women are supposed to be either (a) sex objects or (b) "in your face" like Teresa Heinz Kerry. The idea of a woman as wife and mother -- this ordinary "dull-as-dishwater" image fills Morford with fear and loathing.

The tepid, timid Michelle Malkin says:

[Morford] earns his pay by railing against Laura Bush because she isn’t an obnoxious, left-wing elite bigmouth like Teresa Heinz Kerry and because she doesn’t believe, as Hillary Clinton did, that her role as First Lady gives her the prerogative to plan the massive government takeover of huge swaths of the private sector.
I think it goes beyond the political. I think Morford has psychological issues that involve a hostility to traditional sex roles.

Call it Post-Feminism Syndrome. Guys who don't want to deal with the responsibilities of traditional masculinity -- husband, father, breadwinner, all that stoic and steadfast stuff -- tend to project this fear onto women who epitomize traditional femininity: wife, mother, homemaker, all that kind and nurturing stuff.

Post-Feminism Syndrome is the obverse of the well-noted tendency of feminist women to lash out at men who epitomize traditional notions of masculinity. And both tendencies are rooted in the individual's personal discomfort with traditional sex roles.

Please note what I'm not saying: I'm not saying that everyone has to fit into traditional roles. I'm just saying that such over-the-top attacks on traditional roles -- or on people who in some way epitomize those roles, as in the case of Morford's attack on Laura Bush -- are outward expressions of a troubled personality.

Clearly, the prim-and-proper matron type represents some kind of psychosexual threat to Morford's damaged ego.

UPDATE: Continuing our analysis of Morfordism, let's see if there is a pattern in the descriptors he applies to Mrs. Bush:
. . . tepid, timid . . . useless . . . docile, prudish . . . dull . . . limp . . . nice, meek, domestic . . . compliant, unobtrusive . . . docile . . .
Apparently, he scraped the bottom of his thesaurus so he had to use "docile" twice in the same column.

Something tells me -- and this is just a random guess -- that Mark Morford does not aspire to be suburban Dad: Puttering around in his woodshop, mowing the lawn in front of his 4BR/3BA home, attending Rotary meetings, driving the kids to softball practice in a station wagon, commuting five days a week to a 9-to-5 job in an office somewhere.

No, no. Morford has no ordinary ambitions. When he looks in the mirror, he espies no Ordinary American. Not for him the middle-class Middle America middlebrow life. His life is exciting! adventurous! urban! hip!

Morford's pose is ironic, his attitude sarcastic, especially as it regards the Ordinary American -- that mayonnaise-on-Wonderbread stereotypical suburbanite who looms large in liberal imaginations as the epitome of all that is wrong with America. Here is the unspoken subtext of Morford's column (not just this particular column, but of his column in general):
Plastic People, living their boring little lives out there in the vanilla suburbs, voting Republican and worrying about their kid getting a "C" in chemistry -- why, they wouldn't even know a burgundy from a merlot! They probably can't even spell merlot!
Such insipid surburban sameness! Uptight timid men with their tidy little lawns in front of their tidy little houses, with their tidy little wives. Tepid, docile, dull, prudish, meek, compliant, docile -- did I mention "docile"?
You see what I'm getting at? Morford is not merely contrasting Laura Bush with Hillary Clinton and Teresa Kerry, he is contrasting two visions of The Good Life. His worldview is primitively Manichean, so that one is either Us (sophisticated, enlightened and progressive) or Them (ignorant, benighted and reactionary).

Morford doesn't hate Republicans because of policy or ideology. He hates Republicans because he mentally associates Republicans with things that are dull, ordinary and boring. In the mind of Morford (as in the minds of many like him) Republicans are bad because they are stuffy, uptight, sexually repressed, suburban . . . docile.

This stereotype is a reverse projection, a psychologically constructed contrast with the liberal's idealized self-image. It is a puerile defense mechanism, similar to the way high-school students form cliques as a means of identity-seeking.

Hannah Arendt famously titled her book about Eichmann, "The Banality of Evil"; Morford reverses this into "The Evil of Banality."

Morford's 11th Commandment is, "Thou shalt not be boring," and his hatred of the ordinary is rooted in an obsession with maintaining an image of himself as extraordinary.

If you wish to get more insight into the psychology of liberalism, please allow to me to recommend Thomas Sowell's The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy.

Rush cites Ace of Spades!

Alas, El Rushbo got the URL wrong, but it's still pretty cool. Rush also mentioned Mary Katharine Ham, and here's the extra-supercool part -- both Ace and MK were at the VIP party we threw at CPAC. So it's like a "brush with fame" thing.

Trimming around the edges

The latest round of layoffs announced at The Washington Times -- mainly in the features department, including Shelley Widhalm, who often volunteered to do Culture Etc. stories.

With Ken Hanner axed last week, Chris Dolan gets promoted all the way from assistant national editor to an assistant managing editor slot. Guess John Solomon felt he had to let Hanner go, if he was going to promote Dolan over his head.

These won't be the last of the layoffs. So far, they've only been trimming around the edges -- no layoffs announced yet on the national, foreign, business or copy desks. Cuts there are inevitable, if they're serious about profitability.

Obviously, I remain "extremely gloomy" about the future of journalism.

Six days to go

Previously ....

Today is Wednesday. Democratic primary voters in Indiana and North Carolina go to the polls Tuesday. Sen. Barack Obama's relationship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright continues to dominate the news.

I've already done two talk-radio shows about my American Spectator article on the Obama-Wright story, and I'm about to do two more.

A week from today, we'll know the results of those two primaries, and I predict those results will be interpreted as a referendum on Obama's handling of l'affaire de Wright.

Tabloid update: Cher & Tom Cruise

Bored with Barack Obama and the Rev. Wright? Just head over to and get the latest updated celebrity gossip, including this bit of retro-gossip:
In what sounds like a real-life, all-star version of The Graduate, Cher is now admitting to having acted upon a long-ago crush on the much younger Tom Cruise. Their happy time together took place just as Cruise, now 45, was kicking off his career 25 years ago, the 61-year-old diva tells Oprah Winfrey for an upcoming show taped in Las Vegas. "I was so crazy about him," says Cher, who was 39 when she reportedly met the 23-year-old Cruise at a White House fund-raiser in the mid-'80s, not long after his breakthrough role in 1983's Risky Business. . . .
Let's see: Greg Allman, Gene Simmons, David Geffen, Richie Sambora, Tom Cruise . . . who didn't Cher sleep with? She's like an amusement park ride -- stand in line and take a number, guys. And be sure to fasten your seatbelt, or you might fall in off.

UPDATE: Speaking of "take a number," Elliot Spitzer's hooker, Ashley Dupre, who had sued "Girls Gone Wild," now appears in a video -- in the shower -- exonerating Joe Francis. The video shows her (fake?) ID.

UPDATE II: Charlie Sheen and hookers -- does that even qualify as "gossip" anymore? Except for Denise Richards, has Charlie ever dated anyone he wasn't paying for? Oh, wait . . . now that I recall his divorce settlement, I guess Charlie ended up paying for Denise, too. My suggestion to future Charlie Sheen girlfriends: Get your payment in advance, in cash.

Jailbait double standards

UPDATED & BUMPED: Because Michelle Malkin weighs in:
Are parents without scruples more likely to sacrifice their daughters to the wolves of the entertainment industry? Or does show business sap all the common sense out of mothers and fathers who should know better? Either way, they are guilty of child abandonment.
I spotted this story Sunday on the celebrity gossip aggregator We Smirch (sister site of political aggregator Memeorandum) and blogged about it, because I knew it would be a big deal. A 15-year-old starlet topless in Vanity Fair? The photographer defending it as "artistic"? That's a big deal. Oh, and now there's video:

By releasing the video, Vanity Fair apparently intends to emphasize that Miley's father was on the set during the photo shoot -- which only raises more questions.

As the father of 15-year-old twin sons, let me add something: If you've got a 15-year-old, check their MySpace pages, and their friends' MySpace pages. Chances are you'll find something at least as shocking as this Vanity Fair photo -- in the digital age, you don't have to be Annie Leibovitz to take semi-porn photos.


Fifteen-year-old Disney "Hannah Montana" franchise starlet Miley Cyrus poses in her panties, shows her bra, and now poses topless in Vanity Fair -- and yet no legal action is threatened?

Meanwhile, in Texas, the mere suspicion that teenagers are getting married causes a SWAT raid and state officials take 416 children away from their parents.

Maybe if the polygamous cult would make some Disney movies, they could get away with it. Otherwise, Texas officials might fear those fundamentalist kids are being deprived of an underwear-flashing, topless-posing normal adolescence like Miley's.

(Please note that the topless photo of Miley Cyrus is by Annie Leibovitz, who explains that it's "artistic" and therefore presumably not illegal child pornography, something else that might merit a Texas SWAT raid.)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Hillary's got the Big Mo?

She picked up a key endorsement from North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley:

Polls show her closing in Carolina and leading big in Indiana -- she's even pulled ahead nationally. A proposed Michigan compromise would give her a delegate boost. I'm telling you, it would be a mistake to count her out yet.

A face for radio

Just did an hour with Andrea Shea King on Blog Talk Radio -- a fun and lively hour, discussing the Rev. Jeremiah Wright as Obama's Eagleton affair.

I found time to mention a Hot Air headline about super-delegate Ike Skelton endorsing Hillary and Mary Katharine Ham's father being polled in North Carolina. But somehow we didn't get around to discussing the 176-pound Miss England finalist. Darn -- the important issues get overlooked again.

However, if you just can't get your fill of politics, be sure to see my latest post at the American Spectator blog. (Personally, I'd rather discuss chubby beauty queens.)

At any rate, I had a wonderful time on Andrea's show and if any of Andrea's listeners find me, please bookmark the blog and buy the book!

Isn't she lovely?

Chloe Marshall of Cranleigh, England, won the title of Miss Surrey and she is now a finalist for the Miss England crown.

She's a beautiful brunette who stands 5-foot-10 and, perhaps you guys will be interested to learn, Miss Marshall's official profile describes her as a 36DD. And there's a swimsuit photo.

That got your attention, huh?

However, I must point out that Miss Marshall is only 17 -- and she weighs 176 pounds.

Here she is in that swimsuit photo I promised (click to enlarge). Chloe explained her Miss England quest to the Telegraph:
"I wanted to go through to the Miss England finals to break through the stereotype that you have to be tall and skinny.
"I wanted to make a bit of a statement. When I studied the other entrants for the Miss Surrey competition I concluded that pretty as the contestants were, they were equally all uniformly blonde and Barbie doll like.
"I want to show girls out there that it is possible to be beautiful and not a standard sized zero."
She was interviewed on Britain's "Five News":

"I'm going to stay like this, because I'm proud of who I am."

You go, Chloe! I've never thought the anorexic scarecrow look was attractive, and there's nothing wrong with a little more to love. Good luck in the finals and, whatever the outcome, you're already a winner.

UPDATE: This post has already gotten more comments than anything since last week's post on South-bashing, proving my theory that people get bored with 24/7 politics. As much as I love blogging about politics, I get burnt out if I don't occasionally throw in a little Britney Spears-type celebrity news. Some people think the news should always be ultra-serious, but I like a bit of tabloid fun now and again, and who can resist a story about a 176-pound beauty queen? It's a big story, you might say.

UPDATE II: Since everyone seems to be playing "Hot or Not?" in the comment field, here are some more photos (via the Daily Mail) to help you decide. First, the inarguably impressive cleavage shot:

To paraphrase Larry the Cable Guy, that's hot, I don't care who you are. Now, time for Exhibit B -- the full-length bikini shot:

There she is -- all 5-foot-10, 176 pounds of her. Certainly a very different look for a beauty pageant finalist. Dr. Melissa Clouthier has a "Hot or Not?" poll going.

UPDATE III: Linked by Don Surber, who I'll bet would vote "hot" -- West Virginians are known to like their women with that "gravy-and-biscuits" look.

Video: Bob Barr makes his case

With Toby Keith's "I Love This Bar" as the soundtrack, Bob Barr explains to ReasonTV why he should get the Libertarian Party presidential nomination:

The interview is conducted by Dave Weigel, who has an article handicapping the LP presidential field:
When former Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.) announced he was seeking the Libertarian Party's nomination for president, Republicans who'd sent "thank you" cards to Ralph Nader experienced their first flashes of this nightmare. "Sure, it will hurt," said South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Katon Dawson. "We'll just have to see how much." . . .
Throughout 2007, the LP watched Ron Paul vaccuum up libertarian money and siphon energy from the low-key field. . . .
Bob Barr, an LP leader since 2006, introduced Paul at the Conservative Political Action Conference with a rousing speech that ramped up the movement to draft him.
The biggest problem for Barr -- as I hinted gingerly in an American Spectator article earlier this month -- is that he's liable to face strong resistance from certain hard-core LP people who view him with suspicion. (Let's face it: Hard-core LP people view everyone with suspicion.)

UPDATE: Don't know if this is good news or bad news for Barr, but Andrew Sullivan views him as an acceptable safety valve:
If, somehow, the Clintons manage to wrestle the Democratic nomination from Obama, and if McCain really does continue what looks like a morphing into a neocon supply-sider budget-buster, then Barr will increasingly look like an option for a solid protest vote.
Just in case it matters, I know for a fact that Barr is pro-Dairy Queen:

Enough 'distance' for Obama?

Michelle Malkin liveblogged the press conference in which Barack Obama tried to put more distance -- more like a Grand Canyon -- between himself and Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Malkin notices a big difference between what Obama said yesterday and what Obama said today, and concludes:
It wasn’t the fact that Wright has been spewing this same recycled crap for years that finally got Obama mad. It was that he finally realized it was hurting his campaign. And he was personally miffed by Wright’s insults against him.
Will this do the trick? Will the MSM now drop the Wright issue? Don't bet on it. This is the kind of juicy narrative that the MSM will still be chattering about on the Sunday shows. And then, if Hillary wins Indiana, the story will be revived: "Did Wright hurt Obama with white Democratic primary voters?"

UPDATE: Allahpundit has video and says:
Imagine his surprise at finding that his spiritual mentor of 20 years is a preening, hateful, attention whore. . . .
The bottom line: After 20 years of friendship, if Obama didn’t know Wright held these beliefs he’s a moron and if he did know he’s a fraud.
Allah also links Ace, who provides the obligatory Ace-ification of the story:
Throwing him under the bus. I could no more disown him than I could disown someone who had become a serious political liability.
This time, the media will crow, he really has put this issue completely behind him. Of course they said that last time, too, and six thousand times since then.
Wright is a "distraction" from what really matters, he informs us. Wow, I didn't see that one coming.
Ace has more -- a lot f***ing more -- so read it all because, I remind you, he is the CPAC Blogger of the Year.

UPDATE II: At the American Spectator blog, Philip Klein says of Obama's press conference:
This is exactly the way Obama should have addressed the issue to begin with instead of letting it linger. This is about as good as he could have done under the circumstances, but I still think Obama has major credibility problems on how he could have been so blind for so long about Wright.
That's just it. The ABC News story on Wright broke on March 13. It then takes 47 days until Obama finally comes out with a strong response?

Hate to repeat myself, but it's like McGovern and Eagleton. It was McGovern's delay in dumping Eagleton that proved so damaging. For 10 days, Eagleton sort of dangled in the wind, thereby producing a bummer of a story that clogged up news cycle after news cycle.

Oh, and anybody want to bet we haven't heard the last from Rev. Wright? He's liable to come back with a denunciation of Obama that stretches the story out even further.

How did the Wright story start?

In his appraisal today of what the Rev. Jeremiah Wright controversy means for the Obama campaign, Thomas Lifson mentions the "media claque" that praised to high heaven Obama's Philadelphia speech on March 18 -- a speech that, in retrospect, looks to have been a mistake.

The question of What It All Means will be hashed over by legions of pundits and commentators in the coming days, but Lifson's mention of the media's role in the Wright controversy reminds me of another question, one that's been nagging at my brain for weeks now.

What bugs me is this: Why, on March 13, did ABC News decide to go with their story on Wright?

Conservative media had been trying to draw attention to Wright's radicalism for months, without any MSM outfit following on. And then out of thin air -- two days after the Mississippi primary, with the six-week Pennsylvania campaign just getting underway -- ABC News jumped on it, thus inaugurating the long crisis.

There are three obvious possibilities:
  • The timing was entirely coincidental. Maybe ABC had been working on it for a while and it was not until March 13 that they were able to put together a story worth airing; or else, one of their producers just happened to stumble onto the Wright angle at that time. But nobody who knows anything about bigtime politics believes in coincidences, so maybe . . .
  • Republican operatives pushed the story. By early March, it was possible to count delegates and conclude that Obama had the nomination locked. Therefore, Karl Rove and the GOP Brain Trust decide that the six-week lull before Pennsylvania would be a good time to hit Obama with this Wright-the-radical-preacher angle. But does that make sense? Wouldn't it be better to time it until August? So maybe . . .
  • Team Clinton was behind it. Sid Blumenthal called in a favor from his old buddy George Stephanopoulos at ABC, and this conspiratorial collusion results in a story perfectly calculated scares Pennsylvania's working-class white voters into delivering a miracle comeback for Hillary.
None of these explanations, however, is entirely satisfactory. The paranoid tinfoil-hat conspiracy crackpot would rather think it was Halliburton or the Mossad than to buy any of those theories. Which leads us to a fourth -- less obvious, but genuinely twisted -- possibility:

  • The Obama people did it themselves. Obama's handlers had to know this Wright thing was going to make news sooner or later. After the Mississippi primary, Team Obama counted the delegates, concluded they had the nomination locked up and said, "Better sooner than later." So they got their friends at ABC to do the story in early March, figuring that the negative impact wouldn't hurt Obama in terms of the Democratic nomination, and it would be better to get the story out early -- months before the general election campaign began -- than for it to leak into the media in August or September.

One of the reasons that this possibility makes sense is the fact that, just five days after ABC broke the story, Obama was ready with a 5,000-word "More Perfect Union" speech in Philadelphia.

Since when does a major presidential campaign uncork a 5,000-word speech in just five days? While I concede such a thing is possible -- a team of top speechwriters laboring long hours to improvise a major speech -- but I just don't think it's too bloody likely.

It smells like a set-up, and if I'm right -- if Obama's team got the Wright story to ABC in March as a sort of pre-emptive move against the Republicans -- then they did so expecting that Obama would emerge mostly unscathed by the self-inflicted controversy. The Philadelphia speech would fix the problem, Obama would move forward to victory in Pennsylvania, and that would be the last they'd hear about Wright for the rest of the campaign.

If so (and I admit we're now dangling at the end of a long string of hypothetical suppositions), then Team Obama badly miscalculated. Because of the "bitter" controversy, Obama got beaten badly in Pennsylvania, and Rev. Wright has refused to be silenced.

Most of all, if Team Obama believed the Democratic nomination was a lock as of March 11, they forgot to tell the news to Hillary Clinton. Notice how you're hearing a lot less pundit talk this week about how Hillary can't win?

Whatever the ultimate outcome of this election, the Wright controversy and Obama's handling of it will be one of the major episodes in this saga. And the mystery of that March 13 ABC News story will linger. It may be a blogosphere cliche, but I question the timing.