Saturday, July 5, 2008

I survived Camp Fubar

Our Fourth of July fireworks spectacular was ... well, spectacular.

We fired the show at my friend Darryl Brook's campsite -- a/k/a "Camp Fubar -- at Weiss Lake in Alabama. More than 50 people showed up by showtime, and among the attendees were Bob Barr campaign strategist Stephen Gordon and several Georgia and Alabama Libertarian activists, including Shana Kluck and Lance Lamberton.

Not counting the 48 roman candles, there were 3,145 aerial shots in the show, which ran about 10 minutes. Criticism is possible (there were some timing issues, so that one of the finale stations didn't fire in exactly in sequence with the others) but the audience is the ultimate arbiter, and nothing but raves were heard from the spectators. "Better than Epcot!" (Somebody got video, and we'll link that as soon as it's online.)

Saturday morning, as we cleaned up debris, people in vehicles passing by on the road would shout out, "Great show last night!" We hope to do it again -- bigger and better -- for 2009. Which means, of course, that I've got only 364 days to get ready for Third Annual Camp Fubar Pyrotechnic Extravaganza.

Thanks to everyone who contributed, including my buddy David and my sons Bob, Jefferson and Emerson. Thanks to Jeff Wilson and the folks at Wild Wilma's Fireworks. And, especially, thanks to Mrs. McCain for putting up with the original Pyro-Dad.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Get well soon, Brian

Congratulations to liberal blogger Brian Beutler on surviving a mugging in the Adams Morgan district of DC during which he was shot three times. Despite his serious injuries, Beutler is reportedly already joking around in the hospital, and here's hoping that he makes a rapid recovery.

Given the gravity of the situation, I will resist the temptation to make any comment about guns and crime in DC. Megan McArdle, however, couldn't resist, describing the fearfulness of being a woman alone in one of the world's most dangerous cities.

Coming around

An evangelical leader (reluctantly) rallies to the Republican standard. Expect a lot more of this slow-motion, half-hearted, guess-we've-got-no-choice activity over the next few months. It won't close the "enthusiasm gap," but it might prevent an all-out Christian conservative boycott of the McCain campaign.

McCain: 'Where's my message?'

The quest for coherence continues:
Sen. John McCain ordered a shake-up of his team yesterday, reducing the role of campaign manager Rick Davis and vesting political adviser Steve Schmidt with "full operational control" of his bid for the presidency. . . .
"There's not a cogent message," one Republican strategist said yesterday, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
There's your first clue, Sherlock. When you need a "strategist" to tell you your campaign is screwed up, you've got problems. There's more:
The problems crystallized this week, with McCain on a three-day trip to Colombia and Mexico, where he is talking about trade and drug trafficking, an exercise even some insiders considered a waste of the candidate's time.
Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner, boys and girls! Neither Mexico nor Colombia has any votes in the Electoral College. Wonder when Team Obama's going to realize the folly of foreign travel during the campaign season?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Fireworks for Freedom!

Beginning Wednesday, I will be on the road to Alabama, where some buddies have invited me to shoot one of my famously fantastic consumer fireworks displays on the shores of beautiful Weiss Lake for the 4th of July.

En route to Alabama via East Tennessee, I'll be stopping by Wild Wilma's Fireworks to pick up some additional fireworks, although I've already got hundreds of dollars worth of stuff stashed down home. Assembling the show will require two days of hard work Thursday and Friday, with the assistance of my sons.

Nanny State worrywarts will tell you that fireworks are dangerous. Nonsense. The secret to safety, as I explained in a 2006 article for Reason magazine, can be summed up in four words found on the label of every consumer fireworks item: "Light fuse, get away."

So I'm going to be either on the road or working to build the show for the next couple of days, which means blogging will be light. Here's a little preview of what happens when we "light fuse, get away":

That's the 2-minute finale from our 2005 show. Notice that the explosions were so loud they drowned out the 400-watt P.A. system. The entire show ran 10 minutes and featured more than $2,000 worth of fireworks -- $2,000 wholesale. I buy by the case.

Stupid commie pervert!

James Joyner:
[M]ost blogs are frankly unreadable by those not sympathetic to the point of view of the author. This holds true even when one excludes the 90-plus percent of political blogs that are unreadable, period. Few people have an appetite for being rudely insulted on a regular basis, having their intelligence, decency and patriotism questioned.
So how do you explain Ace's success?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The 'smear' smear

Jamie Kirchick in the Politico:
The only obstacle between Barack Obama and the presidency is the mountain of smears that will no doubt come his way. That’s the narrative that Obama supporters — and his swooning chroniclers in the mainstream media — would have us believe. . . .
Thus far, no one with any serious affiliation to John McCain's campaign has resorted to the alleged "scare" tactics which Republicans — and, apparently, only Republicans — have been perfecting since Richard Nixon was first elected. . . .
The evidence of dirty Republican tricks has been utterly absent this campaign season.
What Kirchick doesn't say is that pre-emptively accusing your opponents of being smear artists is, in itself, a smear. What he also doesn't say is that Obama & Co. have used this tactic for three transparently self-serving purposes:
  • To discourage the media from reporting negative information about Obama;
  • To set up the notion that any tactics Obama and his surrogates use are inherent fair, since the GOP supposedly deals dirt as a matter of routine; and
  • To encourage liberals to send more campaign cash.
Fundraising appeals from Team Obama have repeatedly used the bogeyman of a "Republican attack machine" to scare liberals into forking over more money for a campaign that has already exceeded every fund-raising total in history. Never mind that consultants' commissions means that most of the money they get is just being plowed back into more fund-raising: "Send us money so we can pay people to tell you to send us more money!"

If Democrats want to know why they lose elections, it's the same reason Republicans lose elections: Campaigns are routinely fleeced and misled by greedy, incompetent political operatives who are only in it for the money.

No need to name names, but the basic problem is that there are too many True Believers in politics and not enough hard-eyed cynics with the street-smarts it takes to look at these super-slick "consultant" types and ask, "What's in it for him?" Anywhere you find a bunch of True Believers, you can be sure there's going to be some slick operators trying to figure out a way to cash in on the action.

UPDATE: Ed Morrissey:
A leader who didn’t want to have his party take part in such a smear campaign would act to stop one when it got rolling. Obama’s answer? It’s not a priority for him. That makes it pretty clear where the problem lies and where the smear campaign originates.
That's a reference to Wesley Clark's attack on McCain's war record, which is just more evidence -- as if it were needed -- that Wesley Clark is a dimwit. I've criticized Crazy Cousin John for just about everything he's done since 1998, but his war record is the one thing about McCain that can't be criticized. I would say that it's the height of stupidity for Clark to have attacked McCain where McCain's reputation is impregnable, but Clark keeps reaching for new heights. If Wesley Clark is what passes for a foreign-policy guru at Obama HQ, they're in more trouble than they know.

'McCain needs a strong message'

Brilliant suggestion:
Senator McCain must improve his standing with independents and moderates. . . . Interestingly, Senator McCain receives a 56% favorable rating among independents compared to Senator Obama who receives a 55% favorable rating among independents. The difference is that, Senator Obama has a 13-point advantage among these independent voters – 30% Senator McCain / 43% Senator Obama / 28% undecided. Again, Senator McCain needs a strong message to bring these voters back into the fold.
He "needs a strong message" -- doesn't matter what the message is, so long as it's "strong." Thanks for that, guys!

That's from a memo by McGlaughlin & Associates (more at the link) and if it's a fair sampling of the kind of "analysis" and advice McCain is getting nowadays, it's no wonder he's floundering. Another sample:
It's time for Republicans to develop a new brand of conservatism that directly contrasts on the issues to Senator Obama and the Democratic Party.
This kind of advice is useless, especially to a non-ideological candidate like McCain, who's likely to take it as carte blanche to say and do whatever strikes his fancy: "Look a me! I'm developing a new brand of conservatism!"

The only good thing in the memo is that hint that this "new" conservatism should "directly contrast on the issues" with Obama. Considering that Obama is a down-the-line 100% liberal, what this means is if Obama says "yes," and McCain says "no," then McCain would be taking a conservative position by the process of elimination.

The problem is, McCain has spent so much time hanging around Ted Kennedy and Russ Feingold, his natural tendency is to go along with whatever liberals do. McCain can't get over his desire to make liberals to like him, which is the essence of his problem.
Politics means occasionally sticking your thumb in the other guy's eye. It's inevitable; you can't make 100% of the people happy. But McCain's spent the past 10 years sticking it to conservatives, and it appears to be a hard habit to break.

Obama's satanic sex supporters

A South Carolina Democratic Party official is charged in connection with satanic ritual sex crimes:

The sick details:
Joy Johnson, 30, a third vice chairwoman of the county Democratic party and vice chairwoman of the Young Democrats, was charged Friday with two counts of aiding and abetting.
Her husband, Joseph Scott Craig, 25, was charged with second-degree rape, second-degree kidnapping, and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon for an incident in January and another in May.
"Part of the allegations are that satanic worship is part of this case," said Mark McCullough, an assistant district attorney, when the two appeared in court Monday morning after spending the weekend in the Durham County Jail. . . .
A judge set Johnson's bail at $270,000. Craig's bail was set at $500,000. . . .
Johnson and Craig, along with Diana Palmer, first vice chairwoman for the local Democrats, are partners in a company called Indigo Dawn. The company's Web site says Indigo Dawn offers products and services "to promote enlightenment and assist in the development and self-empowerment and divine potential."
Among he services offered, according to the Web site, are "intuitive guidance, past-life regression, spirit guide communication and healing and cleansing."
Will Obama denounce this? Or is he afraid of alienating the Democrats' satanic constituency?

On this day ...

... 145 years ago, on the morning of July 1, 1863, the Battle of Gettysburg began.

My great-grandfather, Pvt. Winston Wood Bolt, Co. K, 13th Alabama Volunteer Infantry Regiment, was in the opening clash of the battle. Part of Brig. Gen. James J. Archer's brigade, the 13th Alabama marched eastward from Cashtown at dawn. As the brigade approached Gettysburg from the west, they were fired on by Union cavalry videttes -- the first shots of the battle.

Archer deployed the 5th Alabama battalion in a skirmish line to chase off the Yankees, and the march was resumed. Upon reaching Herr Ridge, Archer halted while the rest of Maj. Gen. Harry Heth's division came up, along with the corps commander, Lt. Gen. A.P. Hill.

East of Herr Ridge, the ground slopes down to a small stream called Willoughby Run, with Seminary Ridge rising on the far side. There, a small body of Union troops with a battery of artillery were in line, contesting further advance. After reconnoitering and consulting, Hill and Heth ordered Archer's brigade to deploy south of the road, with Brig. Gen. Joseph Davis' brigade to the north.

About 11 a.m., the Confederate line moved forward, down to Willoughby Run and across. The 13th Alabama, commanded by Col. Birkett D. Fry, was on the right of Archer's line and thus constituted the south flank of the advance. The advance initially met with success, as the Tennessee regiments in Archer's brigade poured a heavy volleys into the Union position in McPherson's woods near the road, killing Maj. Gen. John Reynolds, commander of the Union I Corps.

However, Union reinforcements arrived on the field in the form of Brig. Gen. Solomon Meredith's "Iron Brigade." The first of Solomon's regiments to reach the scene moved toward the woods near the road to reinforce the Union line there. But the 24th Michigan, bringing up the rear of the march, deployed further south and came swarming down the hill, completely overlapping the flank of the 13th Alabama.

Outflanked and nearly surrounded, more than 100 members of the 13th Alabama were captured, along with Gen. Archer and scores of other men from the brigade. My great-grandfather was among those captured, and spent the next two years as a guest of Uncle Sam in a prisoner of war camp at Fort Delaware, where the prisoners ate rats to survive.

Diversity in one family

After Barack Obama's mother was abandoned by his Kenyan father, she married Indonesian businessman Lolo Sotero and moved to Jakarta, where she subsequently had a daughter, Maya, who grew up and married Chinese-Canadian Konrad Ng.

Maya Sotero-Ng is now campaigning for her half-brother, trying to help him woo Asian-American voters.

Kenyan, Indonesian, Chinese, Canadian -- four countries, three continents, one family. Who says Obama lacks foreign policy experience?

Mississippification & Obama

I coined the term "Mississippification" after the 2000 election to describe a trend observable by comparing exit polls, census data and the vote totals. Liberal academic Thomas Schaller sees the same thing:
Two pervasive and persistent myths about racial voting in the modern South are behind the notion that Mr. Obama might win in places like Georgia, North Carolina and Mississippi.
The first myth is that African-American turnout in the South is low. Black voters are actually well represented in the Southern electorate. . . .
The second myth is that Democratic presidential candidates fare better in Southern states that have large numbers of African-Americans. In fact, the reverse is true, because the more blacks there are in a Southern state, the more likely the white voters are to vote Republican.
It should be noted that this trend applies generally nationwide. Even in Northern states, the larger the black population, the more heavily the white vote tends to shift toward Republicans.

I dubbed this phenomenon "Mississippification" based on the fact that Mississppi has the largest percentage black population of any state (37%), but while Al Gore got more than 90% of the black vote in Mississippi, George Bush got nearly 90% of the white vote and thus won the state with 57% of the total. (CNN no longer has the 2000 exit polls online, but they showed that whites in Mississippi voted Republican at a higher level than the white population of any other state.)

Schaller correctly concludes that it is highly unlikely that Obama is going to de-"Mississippify" the vote in the South. To which I would add, or anywhere else.

UPDATE: Dan Riehl: "the O.J. verdict in reverse"?

UPDATE II: Liberal blogger Booman:
Schaller doesn't consider any benefit that Obama may have derived from the organization he did in the state during the primary. He doesn't discuss the competitive senate race between Roger Wicker and former governor Ronnie Musgrove. . . .
Schaller's analysis takes no account of Obama's superior political skills that far outrun what John Kerry had to offer.
Booman: It's Mississippi, OK? Have you ever been to Mississippi? All the "skills" and "organization" on the planet couldn't elect a liberal Democrat from Chicago in Mississippi, even if the Chicago Democrat was a white guy named Smith.

And since you mention the Senate race, Booman: What do you want to bet that the Musgrove campaign is begging Obama not to come to Mississippi? Heck, every time the TV news shows Obama's face, Musgrove loses a few more voters. It's Mississippi, I repeat. The past ain't dead there. It ain't even the past.

UPDATE: Obama's at 36% in neighboring Louisiana. Does Booman suppose that Mary Landrieu, now in the fight of her life, wants Obama to come in to campaign for her? What does Booman imagine would be the effect of that photo-op?

Yeah, baby!

NRA to pony up $40 million vs. Barack Obama.

Obama puckers up

Remember when Bill Clinton said Barack Obama would have to "kiss my ass" to get his support? Well, keep that Chapstick handy:
"President Clinton had a very good conversation with Sen. Obama today. He renewed his offer to do whatever he can to ensure Sen. Obama is our next President," said Bill Clinton spokesperson Matt McKenna.
Allahpundit observes:
Doubtless he did it simply to try to stop Bill from sucking up any more media coverage with his lingering bitterness. Meditate on this as a measure of how far the Legacy has fallen: If Clinton promised tomorrow not to say another word for the rest of the campaign, whether for or against Obama, the party leadership as well as the vast majority of Democrats could probably live with it just fine.
Allah: Let it go, man. Just let it go. Hillary lost the nomination and Bill's shameful record speaks for itself. Ally McBeal got cancelled, Friends and Seinfeld are in reruns, and Kurt Cobain's dead. The '90s are over, buddy. Move on.

Besides, Billy Jeff hates Hope, too. That means he's on your side now, like it or not.

UPDATE: Politico:
The campaign said the call lasted about 20 minutes. Maria Gavrilovic of CBS News quotes the campaign as reporting that Obama called Clinton [Monday] on the drive from Kansas City to Independence at approximately 10 a.m. Central. Obama asked him to campaign with and for him, and Clinton said he is looking forward to it.
Ed Morrisey:
The man who insisted that he could meet Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hugo Chavez without preconditions certainly took his time speaking with the former leader of his own party after clinching the nomination.
Despite the death of Kurt Kobain and the cancellation of Ally McBeal, the Clintons are not irrelevant. Older Democrats (50+) had a lot of emotional investment in the idea of Hillary continuing a presidency that the Baby Boom liberals viewed as a success. Al Gore was supposed to have done this, but Bush cheated him out of it (or so the Clintonistas believe), and the Hillary candidacy was their chance at a restoration.

These older Democrats are not racist, but they also don't believe that America is over the race thing, and they fear that Obama -- a political novice -- isn't ready to deal with the "Republican attack machine" the way the Clintons would have been.

Old people vote, and old people have memories. This is the political fact that is being overlooked in the liberal enthusiasm for Obama (and the corresponding gloom among some young conservatives). All the young campaign reporters I talk to seem to have the idea that the "youth vote" is going to sweep the Messiah to victory, and that the alienation of older Democrats (the Hillary voters) is not going to matter. Good luck with that.

In today's Democracy Corps poll, 21% of the respondents were over 65 or older. Nov. 4 is going to be National Geezer Day.

Democrat poll: Obama +4%

Carville/Greenburg's Democracy Corps poll has the race at Obama 48%, McCain 44%.

Yes, but what does it mean, Mr. Pundit Man?

What it means, dear readers, is that the Newsweek and LA Times polls, both of which showed Obama leading by double digits, were totally wack. They were propaganda, not polls, intended to lend an aura of inevitability to Obama, thus pushing a "bandwagon effect" in his favor.

All other national polls in the past two weeks, including the Gallup and Rasmussen tracking polls, show Obama leading in the range of 4%-6%. That's a genuine lead, but just barely outside the margin of error. Going into the 4th of July weekend, we're looking at a dead heat.

How many Electoral College votes does France get?

From my latest American Spectator column:
HOWEVER MISBEGOTTEN Obama's Alaska expedition might be, at least the people there are eligible to vote for him. That's more than can be said for the folks the Democrat will encounter on the overseas trip the Obama campaign announced over the weekend. . . .
The same GOP wits who dubbed the most recent Democratic presidential candidate John Francois Kerry are sure to have a fun-filled field day with Obama's world tour. . . .
Obama's European excursion, like Plouffe's remarks last week about sending the candidate to Alaska, Wyoming, and perhaps Texas, is apparently an expression of the sublime optimism that seems to have seized the minds of the Democrat's top campaign operatives.
Please read the whole thing. This article builds on themes developed on the blog here and at AmSpec blog over the past week -- see here, here, here and here -- with some extra reporting on the "Unite for Change" events the Obama campaign hastily staged over the weekend.

It's a very interesting experience as a writer to switch hats from blogger to columnist on the same topic, drawing together into a single coherent theme the observations and research that had previously been scattered hither and yon across the blogosphere.

June: Most awesomest month ever!

Sitemeter shows that June was the best month ever for The Other McCain, with more than 27,000 visitors -- an average of more than 900 per day!

Of course, a big part of that was due to the mighty Instalanche on July 16, linking the post "Obama: Still no bounce." That link helped drive 5,916 visits in a single day. I probably pitch 50 posts a month to Insty, and every time that 'lanche hits, I'm as giddy as a schoolgirl with a new puppy. Thank you, Professor Reynolds.

Other biggies of the conserva-sphere linking in the past month include Michelle Malkin, Hot Air, Ace of Spades, Stop the ACLU, Ann Althouse, and Outside the Beltway. (Checking Technorati, I don't see any recent links by the Jawa Report. Is Rusty mad at me or something?)

The weird thing this month was that I got linked by several left-wing blogs, including ThinkProgress and Crooks & Liars. Hey, traffic's traffic. If the Nutroots want to send traffic to a bourgeois capitalist pig blogger, I say, "Bring it on!" Call me nasty names, just link me, baby.

Speaking of shameless craving for traffic, one of my most consistent hit-makers is "Natalie Portman on a slim pretext," a bit of unabashed babe-blogging that seems to keep turning up in Google Image searches. As I said, traffic's traffic.

BTW, did I mention Ruslana Korshunova? In her underwear? Or do you want a video? Shameless (though not tasteless, like Geraldo).

Some might say that babe-blogging is evidence of right-wing sexist misogyny, or that it demonstrates the hypocrisy of conservative "family values." Nonsense. Every red-blooded American guy likes to see a pretty face now and then, and this is a red-blooded American blog. Blogging about politics all the time gets boring, so I try to mix in a little celebrity news every so often, just for a change of pace. And if Ann Hathaway has the occasional wardrobe malfunction, how is that my fault?

Come for the babes, stay for the politics. Or vice-versa. Either way, it's just good old-fashioned capitalism at work.

And it is working, after all. Traffic is steadily growing. In the first 15 days of June, we had six days with 600 or more visitors. In the last 15 days of June, we had only one day with less than 600 hits. Since March, monthly page views have nearly quadrupled to almost 38K and, while month-to-month growth slowed slightly in June, the point is, it's still growing. It's not like I have a "business model" or anything, but I do view it as a business. With the occasional model.

If I'm still blogging regularly in September, when public attention to the presidential campaign heats up, the traffic growth should really kick in -- presuming, of course, that Insty keeps linking me. But, hey, he's a red-blooded American guy, right?

Monday, June 30, 2008

The 'unity' bounce

After a week of tied or nearly-tied numbers in the Gallup daily tracking poll, Barack Obama's opened up a 5-point lead (47%-42%) over John McCain in the past couple of days.

This poll bounce exactly coincides with the media tongue-bath Obama received for his Friday event with Hillary Clinton in Unity, N.H. It may reflect a long-term gain or maybe not, but either way it's certainly a function of the extravagantly fond media attention the Democrats got on Friday. And Saturday. And Sunday.

Considering how the media continues to lay palm fronds at the feet of St. Obama, it's some kind of miracle that Gallup shows His Hopeyness with only 5-point lead. But don't worry, with five points (and two fishes) he can feed thousands.

Grain of salt

Megan McArdle:
[T]here is a competitive male dynamic to groups that is completely different from the way female groups act. They don't know, of course, because unless the group is overwhelmingly female, the dynamic of any mixed group always defaults to male, with women fading back into supporting conversational roles. . . .
Men gain status by standing out from the group; women gain status by submerging themselves into it -- by strengthening the group, often at the expense of themselves.
A. "Iron my shirt."
B. That was a joke.
C. I didn't say it was a funny joke.
D. What Megan seems to miss is that the men are competing against each other, not against the women. The men who are "winning" these cocktail parties are engaged in displays of dominance, establishing their place within the hierarchy. Why? Because there is a word for the submissive male: loser.
E. Why is it important for guys not to be losers? Because chicks don't dig losers. I've been at a few cocktail parties where Megan was in attendance, and I don't recall seeing her hanging out with the awkward stuttering nebbishes, the nervous sweaty guys with thick glasses. (I don't blame her for avoiding those losers, just pointing out that her enlightened gender awareness hasn't changed her stereotypically female disdain for losers.)
F. Ergo, if guys seem extraordinarily keen on outdoing one another, it's a natural thing. A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.
G. This is not intended as a putdown of Megan, who's a wonderful person, nor is it a putdown of women in general. I love women, which is why I married one.
H. This is intended as a defense of men, taking Megan's commentary as an implied slur against men as clueless simpletons who lack self-awareness. Some guys are like that, sure. But, really, what's the point in guys sitting around deconstructing the whole hierarchical competitive thing? Competition among men is natural, permanently etched in our DNA, and deconstructing it won't make it go away. The only reason for a guy to analyze it is to learn how to win it. Otherwise, analysis is for losers.
I. Female group behavior is not quite the picnic in the park Megan portrays it to be, as I'm sure any woman who has ever worked in a majority-female workplace could testify. Women have a tendency to turn on other women with a cold and hideous cruelty.

Sheehy on Hillary

While covering the Clinton campaign in Shepherdstown, W.Va., I happened to find myself seated next to Gail Sheehy at a post-rally press conference. We chatted briefly, and I recalled to her the scene six weeks earlier in Greensburg, Pa., where Hillary drew an enthusiastic crowd of supporters even as every political reporter in Washington was declaring her mathematically eliminated from winning the nomination.

Sheehy's now produced her excellent account of the Clinton campaign in Vanity Fair, which begins with a startling revelation:
"Are you here for the Deathwatch?"
That was how my friends in the traveling press corps welcomed me into the bub­ble of the Clinton campaign plane. It was three days before the March 4 Democratic primaries in Ohio and Texas, and they were boarding the 737 with the sullen obedience of inmates after an outing in the yard. Some had been following the once inevitable front-runner since the January 3 Iowa caucus when she was first pronounced to be in a "slump."
The traveling press corps -- the full-time national campaign correspondents from the networks, the major papers and the Associated Press --were relentlessly hostile to Hillary all the way to the end. The reason was simple and obvious: They're liberals, and liberals love Obama.

Hillary Clinton was not beaten in the primaries. If it was up to primary voters, she'd be going all the way to Denver, with a fair chance to win the floor fight for the nomination.

Hillary was beaten by the media, which after Iowa began to portray her as already beaten. By the time the campaign reached Pennsylvania in March, the media were declaring Hillary doomed because they wanted her to be doomed. If she was doomed, after all, there was no reason why the super-delegates shouldn't endorse Obama.

The media declared Obama the winner, and that encouraged the superdelegates to endorse Obama. Even today -- on June 30 -- Obama doesn't have enough pledged delegates to win the nomination. Hillary won the popular vote. It is only because of the superdelegates that he has claimed the nomination, and the media is responsible for that.

The Democratic Party has allowed the media to choose its candidate, and Hillary would be entirely justified if she said, "Fine. They media's got their candidate. Let the media get him elected."

Running mate? What does she want with that loser gig? She spent millions of dollars of her own money on this campaign, and she wasn't running for vice president. Let that backstabber Chris Dodd have the VP slot, what does she care? Hillary should take a long, well-deserved vacation, and then start working up a book proposal to recoup the money she lost in this campaign.

Maybe Obama can win it by himself. After all, he walks on water every Wednesday, heals lepers on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and raises the dead every weekend, right? Let the Anointed One make his own path, and fare-thee-well.

But if Obama loses ... Heh. If Obama loses ...

The 'consenting adults' problem

Prior to the 1950s and '60s, most states had a network of laws, well-rooted in the Anglo-American tradition, that had the cumulative effect of outlawing every manner of sex except between husband and wife.

Adultery, fornication, sodomy -- one way or another, if you were messin' around with anyone except your lawful spouse, you were outside the law. Frank Sinatra was once arrested on a charge of "seduction," a New Jersey law that made it illegal for a man to use a false promise of marriage to entice a woman into sex.

Under the guise of reform and "modernization," however, nearly all of these laws were gradually eliminated as our legal system came to recognize the "consenting adults" standard: Anything goes, as long as the individuals involved are over 18 and consent to whatever it is.

The biggest problem with the modern system is that at times it can be maddeningly difficult to determine if there was genuine consent. One party to the act (almost always the woman) complains that she was compelled to do things against her will and, if the guy denies it, you've got the classic he-said, she-said date-rape situation. Kobe Bryant experienced this problem.

In the old days, providing the couple weren't husband and wife, all that was necessary was to establish that sex took place, and if the woman complained, the guy was just about certain to be guilty of something. So any woman who made a claim of sexual exploitation generally had the law on her side.

It was kind of old-fashioned and arguably sexist, but it worked. Welcome to the enlightened future:
A Durham couple charged with kidnapping, rape and assault was involved with a satanic cult, a prosecutor said Monday.
Joy Johnson and Joseph Craig appeared at a bond hearing Monday. . . .
Prosecutors said a man and a woman met Craig through a shared interest in Satan worship, but the pair never consented to physical abuse.
Craig shackled his victims to beds, kept them in dog cages and starved them inside his Albany Street home, prosecutors said. He was charged with beating the man with a cane and a cord and with raping the woman.
"This goes well above what they were interested in doing," an assistant Durham County district attorney said.
Wait a minute: You're a willing servant of Beelzebub, and you're all into the kinky group-sex scene but -- but! -- you weren't down for the whole bondage/S&M trip? Well, what the heck kind of lame excuse for a satanic cultist are you?
You think Mephistopheles approves of your uptight bourgeois hangups? No way, honey: The dog cage, the beatings, the so-called "rape" -- what Your Infernal Master wants, Your Infernal Master gets, sweetheart.

Which is to say, exactly how does the prosecution aim to go about proving that the complainants -- kinky cultists that they are -- didn't consent to the cage-and-whip routine?

All the defendant has to say is, "Yeah, they were begging for it, your honor, both of 'em. Bondage, humiliation, a bit of the old rough stuff -- that's a big part of our satanic ritual. These two knew what they were getting into, but then we had ... well, I guess you'd call it a theological dispute. See, this guy thought he was going to tie my wife up and have sex with me, and I told him that's not the way I learned the ritual. In my demonic denomination, I'm the priest, which means I get to put the other guy in a dog cage and have sex with his wife. So when you get right down to it, judge, this is a First Amendment freedom-of-religion case, and don't you go imposing your values on me!"

Very tough case to prove, you see, because we're so progressive and modern. We're sophisticated and tolerant. Everything's relative and, after all, who are we to judge?

This story was linked at Memeorandum, which is usually for politics, and I didn't really get the political angle until I read down a little further in the story:
Johnson, who was third vice-chair of the Durham County Democratic Party and vice-chair for the Young Democrats, was charged with two counts of aiding and abetting. Prosecutors said she knew her husband planned the crime and watched as they were committed.
She has resigned her positions with the Democratic Party, said state Sen. Floyd McKissick, D-Durham.
"She seemed to be a very open, reasonable, responsible person, but certainly, the allegations that have been made are shocking to everybody who has known her," McKissick said. "We wish her the best going through this difficult and trying time."
Johnson also resigned her position as office manager for the Durham People's Alliance.
Obviously, this is a case of political persecution -- a witch hunt, so to speak -- and you know what that means. Yep, just as in the Republican conspiracy against Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, loyal Durham County Democrat (and satanic cultist) Joy Johnson was set up and framed by Karl Rove!

This time, Karl's got his defense ready: "The devil made me do it."

Did Obamabots target my blog?

Starting Sunday, every time I tried to create a post, the Blogspot software asked me for word verification. I figured it was some new thing Blogspot was doing, but then I checked and saw this message:
Your blog requires word verification
Blogger's spam-prevention robots have detected that your blog has characteristics of a spam blog. ... Since you're an actual person reading this, your blog is probably not a spam blog. Automated spam detection is inherently fuzzy, and we sincerely apologize for this false positive.
Hmmm. And then I saw this:
After some digging it became apparent that several Blogspot accounts had been shut down because of similar spam issues, and nearly all of them had three things in common: Most were pro-Hillary Clinton blogs, all were anti-Barack Obama, and several were listed on, an anti-Obama website.
A "Flag Blog" link sits at the very top of every free Blogspot account. If a person finds objectionable content on a Blogspot site or suspects it's publishing spam, he or she can click on the link and it will send a notice to Google requesting "human review."
I spoke to several of the bloggers who had accounts locked and every single one was convinced that it was Obama supporters who had flagged the blogs in some kind of concerted effort to silence them.
If this is what explains The Other McCain's being flagged as a "spam blog," I'm going to be extremely angry. In point of fact, as "anti-Obama" as I might be, I'm also pretty doggone "anti-McCain," too. Every conservative site on Blogspot could perhaps be construed as "anti-Obama," and thus shut down by such online vandalism. As Ed Morrisey says:
I seriously doubt that the Obama campaign would be stupid enough to get involved in such an effort, but it does say something about his supporters.
Is this how the idealistic acolytes of Hope would show their support of "a new direction in politics"? By resorting to brownshirt goon squad tactics?

I've sent a message to Blogspot requesting an explanation of this. In the meantime, every time I have to type in that stupid word verification in order to post an update, I'll just mutter to myself: "Fascist Obama scumbags." Call that "objectionable content," if you will.
UPDATE: New York Times has an item on the situation, but without a link to yours truly. And I'm still having to type in the stupid word verification, you facist Obama scumbags.

Obama: Sexist pig

I always knew there was something I liked about that guy.

You stay classy, Geraldo!

FNC's Geraldo At Large made the decision last night to show "exclusive" video of model, Ruslana Korshunova, who committed suicide in New York City Saturday. The video included images of her bloody, pale face with the rest of her body covered by a white sheet.
Geraldo Rivera described the video, saying, "These are the last images of her broken body being lifted off the Manhattan sidewalk, where shocked and sickened witnesses watched her smash onto the concrete."
Geraldo's not just scum. He's the virus that grows on the germs that infest the parasites who feed on the slime that encrusts the scum.

My own, more respectful, tribute to the stunning and tragic Ruslana. And here's a video tribute from one of her fans:

Note her exotic epicanthic eyes -- alas, no more!

Skinny, yes. But 'micro'?

When last I interviewed Michelle Malkin a couple of years ago, I couldn't help noticing how skinny she was. But I figured, what with her column, the blog, Hot Air, books, campus lectures, frequent appearances on Fox News plus being a mother of two, maybe she was just too busy to eat very much.

Now, however, it appears that she fasting in an effort to become a "micro-celebrity." As opposed to a jumbo like Rosie O'Donnell, who's a maxi-celebrity.

John McCain, 'extreme conservative'?

What planet does Bonnie Erbe live on?
Eight years ago, Ralph Nader appointed himself Green Party candidate for president, cobbling together the mantra that candidates Bush and Gore were so similar he needed to enter the race to give voters a real choice. . . .
In 2008, however, the opposite problem presents itself. Primary voters nominated an extreme conservative and an extreme liberal. Independent mainstreamers such as myself . . . have been handed Sophie's Choice or, more accurately, no choice at all. This explains, too, all the flip-flopping McCain and Obama have been doing of late; now that we're into the general election phase, they have to paint themselves as mainstreamers. Neither man is.
What next? Elton John is "extremely macho"? That the Republican presidential nominee is "an extreme conservative" will come as news to Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Malkin, Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham and hundreds of other conservatives who have denounced John McCain as a Kennedy-hugging, Feingold-smooching RINO.

Ruslana Korshunova, R.I.P.

One of the world's most beautiful women committed suicide Saturday at age 20:
Ruslana Korshunova, 20, whose face graced the cover of French Elle and Russian Vogue, apparently jumped from her ninth-floor apartment in her Water Street building in the Financial District at 2:30 p.m. . . .
Korshunova, a green-eyed beauty, known as "The Russian Rapunzel" for her long, flowing chestnut locks, worked with the elite modeling agency IMG. . . .
The 5-foot-8 head-turner -- just days from her 21st birthday -- has been featured in ads for Marc Jacobs, DKNY, Vera Wang and Christian Dior. She was discovered in 2003 when a booker from London-based Models 1, Debbie Jones, noticed her in a feature about the model's hometown of Almaty, Kazakhstan.
"She looked like something out of a fairytale!" Jones told British Vogue. Soon after, the 17-year-old beauty was hailed as the next big thing, gracing runways at Fashion Week wearing Jill Stuart, Betsey Johnson and other designers.
Her exotic beauty -- high cheekbones, pouty lips and epicanthic green eyes -- catapulted Ruslana from small-town life into a world of wealth and glamour at an age when most teenagers are worrying about senior prom and final exams. David Usborne notes:
Like every supermodel, Ruslana Korshunova had to grow up a lot faster than the rest of us. Plucked from her native Kazakhstan by a London fashion agency at just 15 years old, within just two years she was on the catwalks of New York and on the cover of Vogue. Her almond eyes and "fairy-tale" features had given her a life of almost instantaneous success that -- we might imagine now -- became overwhelming. . . .
Korshunova belonged to the internet generation for whom social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace can substitute for clubs, confessionals and therapist chairs. "I am so lost. Will I ever find myself?" she wrote on one site three months ago.
Oddly, Ruslana appears to have leapt to her death just hours after a late date (that ended at 5 a.m. Saturday) with her 24-year-old ex-boyfriend, although for the past three months, she'd been dating a new 32-year-old boyfriend:
"She was doing good. She was one of the top models. She was happy with this," said Mark Kaminsky, 32.
Carrying a bouquet of white roses and lilies, Kaminsky wept outside Korshunova's Water St. apartment as he recalled how he met the Kazakh beauty through a friend in March. . . .
The pair moved into Kaminsky's Staten Island house just two days after they met, although Korshunova kept the downtown apartment she treasured.
"We decided right away, we were a good couple. I was in love," said Kaminsky, a luxury car exporter.
He last saw his girlfriend about noon on Saturday, about two hours before she leaped to her death. They had plans to go to her best friend's birthday party that night.
Korshunova seemed to have everything - a jet-set life, a new boyfriend and gorgeous looks that landed her the covers of top fashion magazines.
But everything may have been too much.
Korshunova was barely out of her teens, working near-constantly and - her online confessions reveal - feeling "lost" in a foreign land.
"She gave up on herself," said her ex-boyfriend Artem Perchenok, 24. "Everybody here can barely breathe."
Forget this crap about the existential pressures of being an international supermodel. Does anyone even notice that this 20-year-old girl appears to have been in the middle of a love triangle? Or do young people now take these things so casually that romantic despair can be ruled out automatically?

UPDATE: Linked at The Week Daily. Meanwhile, as at least one commenter has noted, there are those who contend that Ruslana was murdered. There's already a conspiracy theory involving the Russian Mafia:
Beyond that, the basic premise of the conspiracy theory is that the Russian (and one assumes, Kazakh) underworld colludes with their semi-legal oligarchic corporate counterparts and corrupt government officials to traffic in high-dollar model flesh.
Yeah. Listen, people, you need to stop using that cheap store-brand tinfoil in your hats. Everybody knows that only premium-grade Reynolds Aluminum Foil can block those CIA brain-control waves.

Why no 'Swiftboats'?

John McCain can expect little help from Republican 527 groups this year, Steven Thomma reports. I endeavor to explain this mysterious dearth of big-money Hope-haters at the AmSpec blog:
One major reason for the shortage of anti-Obama efforts is that many conservative activists put all their eggs into the anti-Hillary basket. Conservative authors in the past couple of years had issued a whole catalog of anti-Hillary books that are now politically irrelevant. Richard Collins rolled out his group in 2006, and in January, Citizens United premiered "Hillary: The Movie." Having invested so heavily in stopping her, the "usual suspects" on the Right have fewer resources left for stopping him.
Juan Cole gloats:
It could be that the country is in such a mess that even rich cranky white people are not sure they trust McSame not to give us another Bush term.
We note for the record that Juan Cole is both white and cranky. Further note that he is a full professor at the University of Michigan, where annual salaries of $300,000 for professors are commonplace. To say nothing of the fortunes to be earned in the lucrative field of blogging . . .

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Barr on 'Fox News Sunday'

All new AOSHQ

Ace has a newly-redesigned Web site. Same morons, just a new site.

Jeri Barr's toffee bars

LOTUS is cooking up presidential sweets.

West Virginia . . . or France?

Obama HQ is whoopin' it up about their trip to see Paris. Meanwhile, on the domestic front:
In a close election come November, the difference between President McCain and President Obama could come down to me and my people: a bunch of ornery, racist, coal-minin', banjo-pickin', Scots-Irish hillbillies clinging to our guns and religion on the side of some Godforsaken, moonshine-soaked ridge in West Virginia.
Screw the hillbillies: Obama's going to Alaska! But I've still yet to figure how they plan to pick up Electoral College votes in France.

(Via Instapundit & Don Surber.)

Bon voyage, Obama!

Itinerary of Obama's excellent adventure:
Mr. Obama . . . will visit Jordan, Israel, Germany, France and the United Kingdom. On a separate trip, he is also planning to visit American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, but aides declined to disclose those details for security reasons. . . .
"This trip will be an important opportunity for me to assess the situation in countries that are critical to American national security," Mr. Obama said in a statement, "and to consult with some of our closest friends and allies about the common challenges we face."
So this is definite: In July, Obama will hobnob with foreigners in five countries. Visiting U.S. troops overseas? Hey, that's still just in the "planning" stage.

Can't you just see the RNC ad in swing states? Any halfway competent consultant could storyboard this on a cocktail napkin -- Photoshop images of Obama and Big Ben, Obama and the Eiffel Tower, a little zigzaggy animation of Obama's route across Europe. A narrator with a posh accent doing kind of a "Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous" riff, the general idea being to portray Obama as a snob who'd rather hang out with a bunch of snooty European elitists than to mingle amongst ordinary Americans.

It's basically a rerun of the "windsurfing John Kerry" meme. And to highlight the contrast, while Obama's on the grand tour of Europe, the Republicans will send McCain out in shirt sleeves to visit steel mills in Pittsburgh, corn farmers in Iowa, auto workers in Michigan. A no-brainer for the "right-wing noise machine," you see? I'm sure Republicans are already icing the champagne for their "Obama Bon Voyage" fundraising parties.

UPDATE: Look at Rasmussen's Electoral College update and see if you think Obama's sitting in such fine position that he can afford to take a week off the campaign trail to go gallavanting across the globe. True, there are three red states (14 EVs) in the "toss-up" category, and three red states (32 EVs) in the "leans Democrat" column, but if McCain can just win over those six states, and hold everything in the "safe/likely/leans GOP" columns, he wins. In a 127-day campaign fought mainly over six states, then, McCain's prospects are by no means so dismal that Obama can laugh it off and go sip champagne in London, Paris and Bonn.

UPDATE II: Open Left's Paul Rosenberg does a bit of highbrow conceptualizing to express his nagging concerns. He cites Theda Skocpol's (equally highbrow) analysis:
Although Obama seems to be "up" in current national polls, McCain is actually doing a much better job of shaping the agenda to his advantage. . . . Abetted by the media's proclivity for dramatic gestures and horse race analysis, the McCain camp has done what it needs to portray their man as a fighting underdog focused on real-world issues.
Rosenburg's take:
Skopcol is saying, in effect, is that Obama is repeating his post-Iowa mistake of getting too ethereal.
I don't know about "ethereal," but he sure seems pretty damned cocky. What neither of these two liberal highbrows seem to get is that Obama's problem may be much simpler than their explanations suggest. At a time when Obama has every generic political advantage, he might be able to bury McCain now by turning on the afterburners in terms of ordinary campaigning.

Instead, his team has become overconfident -- imagining that winning on Nov. 4 will be like organizing for the Iowa caucus -- and thus allowed itself to be distracted by grandiose schemes: "We'll campaign in Texas, Wyoming, and Alaska! We'll showcase Obama's international appeal!"

If Obama takes that European trip, the GOP will skewer him for it. He'll take a huge hit in the polls, and be trailing bad enough by mid-August you'll start hearing talk about a "shake-up" at Obama HQ.

Worse still, now that the idiots at Obama HQ have issued a statement declaring their plans and itinerary for Europe, they can't cancel it (or even scale it back) without handing the Republicans a P.R. coup. Imagine the headline: "Obama cancels Europe trip; slide in polls worries Democrats." So much for the "inevitable frontrunner" meme, huh?

Obama's handlers have painted themselves into a corner, and if the McCain campaign brain-trust is reasonably competent (a mighty big "if"), this Europe trip is going to become an updated version of the Dukakis tank ride.

Team Obama: Incompetent?

Further evidence they don't know what they're doing:
Since his visit to southwest Missouri last week, presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain has aired more than three times as many campaign ads in the state as his Democratic rival, Barack Obama.
McCain’s campaign outspent and out-aired Obama in every major media market in Missouri, including St. Louis, from June 19 through last Wednesday. McCain held a town-hall forum in Springfield, Mo. on June 18.
McCain spent $224,696 for 791 spots that ran on local broadcast stations around Missouri. That compares to $115,054 spent by the Obama campaign to air 212 spots.
So, while the Obama campaign talks about sending their candidate to Alaska (3 Electoral College votes) and Europe (zero Electoral College votes), McCain's campaigning in Missouri, a swing state with 11 Electoral College votes -- where the Republican now leads by 7 points.

David Plouffe's PowerPoint prowess may have impressed Eleanor Clift, but I'm not impressed by a Democratic presidential campaign that talks grandiosely of "a 50-state strategy" while getting their butts kicked in Missouri, Kentucky and Florida. The poll trends most emphatically do not justify such manic overconfidence by Team Obama, especially given the lingering bitterness in the Clinton camp.

McCain's running circles around them in key swing states, while Plouffe & Co. devote staff time and resources to coordinating travel to London, Paris and points beyond. Sensible Democrats should be pushing the panic button at this point, although if they want to keep whistling past the graveyard, that's fine with me.

UPDATE: Change you can Photoshop:

(Hat tip: Instapundit.)

UPDATE II: Some Democrats begin to sweat.

UPDATE III: Time magazine analyzes the spin:
A series of national polls suggested that Obama's lead over McCain was expanding. Two of them — one by Newsweek, the other by the Los Angeles Times — showed his lead jumping to double-digits. The McCain campaign quickly — and rightly — criticized the polls' methodology, claiming each over-sampled self-identified Democrats. Other polls, like those by Gallup, Rasmussen and Time, suggest a narrower race. But the Obama folks capitalized on the perception shift by dispatching campaign manager David Plouffe to Washington, where he gave a 12-slide PowerPoint presentation demonstrating just how confident they are.
See? A couple of anomalous polls are the basis for Team Obama to push a "perception shift" with Plouffe's slideshow. It's all about getting the media to paint Obama as the confident frontrunner, in an attempt to create an early "bandwagon effect" for the Democrat. The problem is that Team Obama seems to be reading their own press releases, which is the only thing that can explain their wild-eyed talk of dispatching the candidate to Europe and Anchorage.

UPDATE IV: "Remember Dukakis."

Get me some coffee, hon

And how about a danish to go with it, sweetheart?
A woman who was fired from her job as a receptionist after she refused to get coffee for the men in the office has lost her Title VII sexual harassment suit now that a federal judge has declared that there's nothing sexist about requiring workers to serve coffee -- even if those workers are always women.
"The act of getting coffee is not, by itself, a gender-specific act," U.S. District Judge Berle M. Schiller wrote in Klopfenstein v. National Sales and Supply.
Schiller found that plaintiff Tamara Klopfenstein failed to allege even a prima facie case of sex discrimination because she cannot show that she was treated differently from any "similarly situated" male employees since there was only one receptionist in the office and the job had always been held by a woman.
Judge Schiller, an American hero!

Hereditary trait

Roberta McCain, speed demon:
John McCain . . . likes to regale reporters on the subject of his mother's numerous speeding tickets -- one in Arizona some time back reportedly for clocking 112.
Crazy runs in the McCain family. I've had my share of speeding tickets, but I've never been caught doing more than 89 mph.

The one think I don't understand: If the cop was parked doing radar checks, and grandma flew past him at 112 mph, why did she stop? With such a head start, Roberta almost certainly could have outrun the cop.

In that situation, I'd have just floored it. Hit 140 mph while the cop was still pulling onto the highway. By the time he could catch up or radio for backup, I'd be out of sight, off the freeway at the next exit and parked behind a Waffle House. A cop can't get your tag number when you're a high-speed blur disappearing into the distance.

Like I said, crazy runs in the family. Never surrender when you've got a reasonable chance to escape.

Book title of the year

Caligula for President: Better American Living Through Tyrrany. Via Insty, who observes: "I predict that if Obama is elected President, we'll see no more last-days-of-Rome books from left-leaning authors."

In praise of teen mothers

Having viciously mocked Jamie Lynn Spears as trailer trash, today's post by Richard Fernandez on the collapse of European fertility reminds me to be grateful for teenage mothers.

Fernandez links a New York Times article in which Russell Shorto seeks an explanation for Europe's demographic meltdown. Shorto speculates on why the United States, almost alone among industrialized democratic societies, now has replacement level (i.e., average 2.1 children per woman) fertility rates:
Some commentators explain its healthy birthrate in terms of the relatively conservative and religiously oriented nature of American society, which both encourages larger families.
There are glaring problems with that explanation. First of all, 37 percent of U.S. births are to unmarried women, which isn't the sort of data that the "conservative and religiously oriented" theory would require. Secondly, it's hard to explain higher birth rates on the "nature of American society," when the people making the difference are newcomers:
Hispanic women have the highest unmarried birthrate in the country -- over three times that of whites and Asians, and nearly one and a half times that of black women, according to the Centers for Disease Control. . . . Forty-five percent of all Hispanic births occur outside of marriage, compared with 24 percent of white births and 15 percent of Asian births.
Do a demographic breakdown of U.S. births by ethnicity, and it becomes obvious that not every group is contributing equally to that 2.1 TFR:
Total fertility rate (2006)
White: 1.86
Black: 2.11
Asian: 1.91
Hispanic: 2.96
(Source: National Center for Health Statistics, see Table 1; the "white" and "black" categories shown here exclude Hispanics, who may be of any race.)
The Hispanic TFR is 59% higher than that of whites. What does that mean? While non-Hispanic whites accounted for 66.4% of the U.S. population in 2006 (source), they accounted for only 54.1% of U.S. births. Hispanics, who were 14.8% of U.S. population in 2006, accounted for 24.4% of U.S. births.

OK, so why -- beyond the mere fact of having more babies -- is the Hispanic birth rate so much higher? The explanation involves a demographic truism that Ben Wattenberg made famous: "Fertility delayed is fertility denied." Let's look at Table 2 of that NCHS report, shall we?
Birth rate age 15-19 (2006)
White 26.6
Black 63.7
Asian 16.7
Hispanic 83.3
(Birth rate is births per 1,000 females.)
The Hispanic teen birth rate is 213% higher than the birth rate for white teens. The higher birth rate of Hispanic teens is a major reason why the overall fertility rate of Hispanics is 59% higher than the white rate. And the higher Hispanic fertility rate is the only reason the United States is at "replacement" fertility.

In other words, while Russell Shorto of the New York Times suggests that "the relatively conservative and religiously oriented nature of American society" explains why we aren't following Europe's downward spiral toward demographic collapse, what he really should be saying is: "Thank God for 16-year-old Maria Lopez getting knocked up in the barrio of East L.A.!"

Now, let's refocus our attention on Europe's problem, shall we? Because it so happens that our "teen pregnancy crisis" mongers just love to compare America to Europe. Take a gander at this little item on "adolescent sexual health" from Advocates For Youth (AFY), where they report:
Teen birth rates 2001
U.S. 48.7
France 12.5
Germany 10.0
Netherlands 4.5
However, what AFY doesn't do is compare TFRs of those same countries:
Total fertility rates
U.S. 2.10
France 1.98
Germany 1.41
Netherlands 1.66
In other words, by making these invidious comparisons about teen pregnancy, the enlightened progressives at AFY are essentially urging Americans to emulate European nations that are on the path to demographic collapse. Teen mothers account for 10.2% of U.S. births. Subtract teen mothers (61% of whom are non-white) from the equation, and the American fertility rate would be lower than that of France.

Conservatives contemplating demographic trends, like Mark Steyn and Pat Buchanan, usually end up in a mood of Spenglerian gloom, issuing jeremiads about the impending apocalypse. In the optimistic, can-do spirit of Ronald Reagan, I say, "God bless Jamie Lynn Spears -- and God bless America!"
UPDATE 7/23: This has proved a surprisingly popular post, and I've updated with a new post, "Famous teenage mothers," you might also want to read.

The Fox News ghetto

Ratings woes:
The most dominant cable news channel for nearly a decade and a political force in its own right, Fox has seen its once formidable advantage over CNN erode in this presidential election year, as both CNN and MSNBC have added viewers at far more dramatic rates.
While Fox News remains the most-watched cable news channel over all — it has been attracting an average of nearly 2 million viewers each weeknight this year, compared to 1.3 million for CNN and 805,000 for MSNBC — its momentum has effectively stalled, at least when measured over years past.
This highlights a problem that I've been complaining about for two years. Once Fox became No. 1 as the Republican network, a lot of conservatives proclaimed victory over the liberal MSM -- even though the three major evening news broadcasts still had a combined audience of 20 million, compared to Fox's 2 million primetime viewers.

What seems to have happened since 2004 is that the other networks, figuring that there's no point trying to compete with Fox for conservative viewers, have actually slanted their news even farther left. (This is what broadcasters call "counterprogramming" -- if the other station's showing a romantic comedy, let's show an action series.)

The success of Fox News is why the No. 1 broadcast news show, NBC's Nightly News, now looks like a 30-minute Michael Moore documentary. The NBC News producers figure, "Hey, if they don't like news that looks suspiciously like DNC talking points, let 'em watch Fox."

Think about coverage of Hurricane Katrina, for example. Conservatives watching Fox News saw the anchors and commenters describing the disaster in New Orleans as a result of failures of Democratic state and local officials. Great -- 2 million people saw that. But another 20+ million saw the other networks portray the New Orleans flooding as a result of Republican racism and incompetence.

This same scenario has occurred over and over, on issue after issue in recent years, as conservatives have stopped watching other networks and retreated to the Fox News ghetto. As much as I prefer watching Fox, I realize that even as the No. 1 cable news network, its audience is still a mere fraction of the rest of the TV news audience. There is danger in the echo-chamber effect of conservatives believing they're winning the argument just because they hear their own views expressed on "O'Reilly" or "Hannity & Colmes."

Fox's ratings have been stagnant lately because of the greater interest in the Democratic primaries, and that won't necessarily continue into the fall, but conservatives should consider the possibility that the potential audience for Fox might be maxed out in terms of their current lineup. If they were to replace O'Reilly with Laura Ingraham, I wouldn't be surprised.

Planning failure in Iraq

The New York Times reports:
The story of the American occupation of Iraq has been the subject of numerous ooks, studies and memoirs. But now the Army has waded into the highly charged debate with its own nearly 700-page account: "On Point II: Transition to the New ampaign." . . .
The report focuses on the 18 months after President Bush’s May 2003 announcement that major combat operations in Iraq were over. . . .
A big problem, the study says, was the lack of detailed plans before the war for the postwar phase, a deficiency that reflected the general optimism in the White House and in the Pentagon, led by then-Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, about Iraq’s future, and an assumption that civilian agencies would assume much of the burden.
"I can remember asking the question during our war gaming and the development of our plan, 'O.K., we are in Baghdad, what next?' No real good answers came forth," Col. Thomas G. Torrance, the commander of the Third Infantry Division's artillery, told Army historians.
I'm not sure whether the "general optimism in the White House" phrase is part of the Army account or the reporter's own interpolation. Nevertheless, the Army seems to acknowledge the folly of de-Baathification:
Paul Bremer III . . . issued decrees to disband the Iraqi Army and ban thousands of former Baath Party members from working for the government, orders that the study asserts caught American field commanders "off guard" and, in their view, "created a pool of disaffected and unemployed Sunni Arabs" that the insurgency could draw on.
Students of history will recall that Patton, during the occupation of German, got in trouble for opposing de-Nazification, which he saw as removing from office skilled and respected civilian administrators merely because of their political affiliation. It made no sense, Patton said, to remove the head of a hospital or a water works merely because -- perhaps as a condition of keeping his job under the totalitarian regime -- he joined the ruling party.

Bremer's insistence on de-Baathification --what can only be called a radical reconstruction policy in Iraq -- was an error that was obvious to many at the time. Unfortunately, those who saw Bremer's policy as an error didn't have the influence to stop it.

Botched raid in Iraq

Somebody's in big trouble for this one:
Senior Iraqi government officials said Saturday that a U.S. Special Forces counterterrorism unit conducted the raid that reportedly killed a relative of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, touching off a high-stakes diplomatic crisis between the United States and Iraq. . . .
Ali Abdulhussein Razak al Maliki, who was killed in the raid, was related to the prime minister and had close ties to his personal security detail, according to authorities in Karbala. . . .
Iraqi officials in Karbala said the operation began at dawn Friday with U.S. aircraft delivering dozens of American troops to the rural Shiite Muslim town of Janaja, which is populated mostly by members of the Maliki tribe.
Authorities said the raid apparently was aimed at capturing what the military calls a "high-value target," often a reference to the leader of a militant cell.
Raed Shakir Jowdet, the Iraqi military commander of Karbala operations, told journalists Friday that the Americans had acted on faulty intelligence.
Certainly, the death of Maliki's relative is a diplomatic disaster. Be assured that somewhere, some U.S. colonel or brigadier general is watching his career come to a screeching halt as a result of this blunder.

Fresh faces of foreign policy?

Ralph Peters attacks "whoppers" about the Obama-McCain matchup:
Whopper No. 6: As president, Barack Obama would bring positive change to our
foreign policy - and John McCain's too old to get it.

Hmm: Take a gander at Obama's senior foreign-policy advisers: Madeleine Albright (71), Warren Christopher (82), Anthony Lake (69), Lee Hamilton (77), Richard Clarke (57) . . .
If you added up their ages and fed the number into a time-machine, you'd land in Europe in the middle of the Black Death.
More important: These are the people whose watch saw the first attack on the World Trade Center, Mogadishu, Rwanda, the Srebrenica massacre, a pass for the Russians on Chechnya, the Khobar Towers bombing, the attacks on our embassies in Africa, the near-sinking of the USS Cole - oh, and the US bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade.
Their legacy climaxed on 9/11.
You couldn't assemble a team in Washington with more strategic failures to its credit.
The presence of Madeleine Albright anywhere in the vicinity of U.S. foreign policy ought to scare any sensible American to death. She was without exception the worst Secretary of State in U.S. history.