Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Best Defense

Armed mom chases off two intruders:
Hunley, who is 5-foot-3, emptied her handgun, firing four shots at the intruder. The gunman ran out the front door. Neither Hunley nor her daughter were hurt during the exchange of gunfire.
Robert Waters (who lives in Ocala) will no doubt save this story for his next sequel to The Best Defense: True Stories of Intended Victims Who Defended Themselves With a Firearm.

(Via Hot Air Headlines.)

U.N. vetoes Zimbabwe sanctions

China and Russia exercise their veto in the Security Council:
British and US efforts to apply punitive pressure on Robert Mugabe were abruptly undermined last night when Russia and China vetoed a UN security council resolution seeking sanctions against Zimbabwe.
The resolution, calling for an arms embargo, and financial and travel restrictions on Mugabe and 13 other regime leaders, was backed by nine nations but foundered on the vetoes of the two permanent members. The arms embargo would have affected Russian and Chinese weapons exporters.
While detesting the self-interested supporters of tyranny in Russia and China, I have to wonder what purpose would have been served by sanctions. After all, what influence could economic sanctions have on a thug like Mugabe who has already willfully destroyed his own nation's economy?

It's a sad commentary that the United States, which has spent hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of lives to overthrow the Saddam regime in Iraq, won't lift a finger to save Zimbabwe from Mugabe, a dictator so thievish and brutal as to make Saddam look like a Boy Scout. One wonders why Barack Obama doesn't make an issue of the Bush administration's indifference to the suffering caused by Mugabe's criminal despotism.

Chuck Schumer's bank run

Blamed for the IndyMac debacle:
The immediate cause of the closing was a deposit run that began and continued after the public release of a June 26 letter to the OTS and the FDIC from Senator Charles Schumer of New York. The letter expressed concerns about IndyMac’s viability. In the following 11 business days, depositors withdrew more than $1.3 billion from their accounts.
The L.A. Times:
Schumer's response? In an e-mail quoted by Bloomberg News, he says: "If OTS had done its job as regulator and not let IndyMac's poor and loose lending practices continue, we wouldn't be where we are today ... Instead of pointing false fingers of blame, OTS should start doing its job to prevent future IndyMacs.''
Guess he got tired of sabotaging the troops in Iraq and decided to apply his skills on the domestic front.

A Democratic landslide?

Don Surber notes that Republicans are "raising the roof and raking it in" in terms of campaign fundraising, despite the general consensus among pundits that this will be a banner year for Democrats. The British Guardian reports:
John McCain, is attracting millions more dollars in funding than expected, which could allow him to match the much-vaunted Barack Obama donation machine. . . .
McCain surprised US political pundits by raising $22 [million] in June, his best showing since he launched his bid for the White House early last year.
Obama remains favourite to win the election, with polls showing him on average five points ahead, but McCain is showing increasing signs of making a fight of it in spite of his lacklustre campaign so far.
It so happens that I'm writing a column on the existential gloom that has taken hold among many conservatives about this year's election. Philip Klein's column contemplating an Obama presidency may or may not be evidence of defeatism, but certainly many conservatives have little hope that McCain can win.

In fact, many conservatives don't want McCain to win. They didn't support him in the primaries, and view the possibility of a McCain presidency with fear and loathing. But that doesn't mean that McCain can't win, or that there would be no benefit from the defeat of Hope.

The first step to winning, of course, is the belief that victory is possible. Many Republicans seem to have allowed themselves to be demoralized by the incessant drumbeat from the media that portrays Obama as an inevitable winner in November. Yet occasionally news leaks out to the contrary:
[I]n May, when Obama's victory seemed inevitable, some 115 former Clinton donors made substantial contributions to presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain of Arizona, according to an analysis done by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics for the Wall Street Journal. And, disgruntled Clinton supporters have put up Internet sites in protest, such as
As little cause as conservatives might have to hope for a McCain victory in November, it remains a possibility, and perhaps my fellow right-wingers can at least appreciate the purely mean-spirited spite of breaking the Democrats' hearts.

UPDATE: Rusty links, but doesn't seem really convinced.

Tony Snow, R.I.P.

I saw Tony Snow in February at CPAC and you wouldn't have known he was sick at all. He'd been fighting cancer for years, but in meeting the man, there was no hint that he was suffering from a deadly illness. And now he's gone:
Tony Snow, the former White House press secretary and conservative pundit who bedeviled the press corps and charmed millions as a FOX News television and radio host, died Saturday after a long bout with cancer. He was 53. . . .
Snow died at 2 a.m. Saturday at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C.
Snow joined FOX in 1996 as the original anchor of "FOX News Sunday" and hosted "Weekend Live" and a radio program, "The Tony Snow Show," before departing in 2006. . . .
Snow took a job as an editorial writer for the Greensboro Record in North Carolina and went on to run the editorial pages at the Newport News (Virginia) Daily Press, Detroit News and Washington Times. He became a nationally syndicated columnist, and in 1991 he became director of speechwriting for President George H.W. Bush.
It was impossible not to like Tony, even if you disagreed with him politically. The late Sam Francis -- who worked with Tony at The Washington Times -- never thought much of Tony as an intellectual or a conservative, but that was not a personal animus. Tony was incapable of making enemies.

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin calls Tony a "mensch" and "one of the kindest people . . . in the news business," and links this video of Tony jamming with his band, Beats Workin':

Kathryn Jean Lopez links Tony's tribute to Reagan, quoting the Gipper's farewell note:
"When the Lord calls me home, whenever that day may be, I will leave with the greatest love for this country of ours and eternal optimism for its future."
Surely that would be Tony Snow's attitude, also.

UPDATE II: Brit Hume's video tribute:

Hef's new girlfriend

Fox News:
It seems Hugh Hefner has found a fourth lady in his life. Anna Faris stars in the upcoming "The House Bunny" (which features the men’s magazine mogul and his
three busty blondes), and has since been spending quite a bit of time at the iconic Playboy Mansion.
"I was just there yesterday. Hef has been an incredible support system; it’s thrilling to see him act," Faris told Pop Tarts last week, adding that she’s been made a real-life honorary girlfriend. . . .
But speaking of Hef and his girlfriends, it seems things weren't quite so sunny at the annual Fourth of July bash at the mansion on Friday.
According to some partygoers, there was a bit of a tiff among the girls and Kendra wasn't speaking to Holly or Bridget.
"They didn't even exchange glances," an eyewitness said. "I don't know what happened, but Kendra made sure to keep her distance."
Oh, the turmoil! The controversy! The Viagra!

(Photo by Hollywood Tuna.)

Obama +9% in North Carolina??

Hard to believe these Zogby numbers:
North Carolina
Obama 47%
McCain 38%
Barr 4%
Other polls have consistently shown McCain leading in North Carolina. Four years ago, Bush got 56% in North Carolina, and yet Zogby has McCain is at 38%? This is a bit puzzling, perhaps partly explained by the fact that Zogby has blacks at 33% of the sample, whereas blacks were 26% in the 2004 exit poll.

Elsewhere, Zogby has Colorado neck-and-neck (Obama 40%, McCain 38%, Barr 8%), but Obama significantly ahead in Virginia (Obama 44%, McCain 39%, Barr 5%). If Zogby's numbers are correct here, then these are two states where Bob Barr's Libertarian candidacy could have a real impact.

Notes from the underground

Conservative Kevin DeAnna goes incognito to a Campus Progress conference:

The Young Democratic Socialists handed out a flyer featuring Martin Luther King stating, "We are saying that something is wrong with capitalism, there must be a better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism" -- which would shock my movement colleagues who tell me every January that MLK was a conservative Republican. . . .
The tendency of attendees to speak of overthrowing the "system" and in the next sentence talking about the upcoming Obama Administration is exactly how activists should think. . . . They understand that the role of activists is to push politicians towards an independently defined agenda rather than serving as cannon fodder.
Hence, a common concern of many activists was how to avoid being "co-opted" by the Democratic establishment -- even if that establishment is headed by the most liberal candidate in American history. Similarly, a comment during the civil rights panel about how any movement needs a "militant resistance" was met not with nervous glances but agreement to what all perceived to be an obvious point.
DeAnna perceives among young conservatives too much of a careerist focus, which tends to work against independent activism. He concludes that young conservative activists have more to learn from the Left than vice-versa.

(Cross-posted at AmSpecBlog.)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Our Hispanic baby boom

Fox News headlines its story: "Teen Pregnancy Rate Hits 15-Year High." Bet dollars to donuts that this misleading angle will be repeated in dozens of op-ed columns blaming the rise on abstinence education.

But before everyone hits the panic button and buys into the Planned Parenthood propaganda, let me point out that the recent rise in teen birth rates is entirely a function of the increased Hispanic population.

The federal report that is the basis for the Fox News story doesn't mention this fact in its summary, but look at the statistics from the report:
Teen Birth Rates 2006
(Per 1,000 females 15-19)
White* 26.6
Black* 64.3
Asian 16.7
Hispanic 83.0
(*Excluding Hispanics, who may be of any race.)
Compare these figures to 15 years earlier:
Teen Birth Rates 1991
(Per 1,000 females 15-19)
White* 43.4
Black* 114.8
Asian 27.3
Hispanic 104.6
(*Excluding Hispanics, who may be of any race.)
So, since 1991, the teen birth rate for whites and Asians has decreased 39%, while the black teen birth rate has decreased 44%, but the Hispanic teen birth rate has decreased only 21%.

The report describes the demographic impact of the continued Hispanic influx:
In 2007, 57 percent of children were White, non-Hispanic, 21 percent were Hispanic, 15 percent were Black, 4 percent were Asian, and 4 percent were of all other races (Figure 1).The percentage of children who are Hispanic has increased faster than that of any other racial or ethnic group, growing from 9 percent of the child population in 1980 to 21 percent in 2007.
In other words, the proportion of U.S. children in the demographic group with the highest teen birth rates has increased 133% since 1980. So, despite 39%-44% declines in teen births among other ethnic groups, we now see teen births on the rise again. The change in the birth rate is not due to a change in teen behavior, but a change in teen demographics.

What these statistics make clear is that, if U.S. officials seriously wanted to decrease the number of teen births, they could do so merely by enforcing its immigration laws, since a substantial share of the current Hispanic population is here illegally.

As I've written before, however, I am not a "teen pregnancy crisis" alarmist, and view such alarmists with suspicion.

UPDATE: Jessica Grose at Jezebel reports that this story -- also reported as news Friday by CNN and Bloomberg -- is based on statistics originally released nine months ago by the CDC.

The money wars

The Washington Post reports that Barack Obama, who raised $127 million in three months (February-April) raised only $22 million in May:
[T]he campaign, combined with the Democratic National Committee, hopes to have raised $450 million by Election Day. . . .
Several of Obama's top fundraisers said yesterday that they don't think trend lines showing three straight months of declining donations to the candidate are cause for concern. But they said the campaign has recognized it will need to expand efforts to raise money from high-dollar donors in order to meet budget projections.
"It's one of the reasons why the Clinton people are so important," said Kirk Wagar, Obama's Florida finance chairman. "Most of us have beaten our Rolodexes pretty badly."
Ah, so the Clinton-Obama thing gets interesting now, huh? Meanwhile, in the Republican camp:
Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign said Thursday that Republicans anticipate raising a combined $400 million war chest for the general election campaign against Sen. Barack Obama this fall.
The massive cost of defeating Hillary has left Obama hurting, especially since he needs the Clinton money machine on his side now.

UPDATE: Sean Oxendine at Next Right notices Team Obama working the news cycle to create the appearance of momentum:
In the heat of the most competitive primary in recent times, Obama managed to get his fundraising dollars counted in 3-4 days. But now, its taking him 3 weeks to do it?
It is still idle speculation, but we might be in for a treat tomorrow or next Friday (or whatever day they can bury the numbers).
A big part of the fundraising slowdown for Obama is probably due to the fact that so much of his support is based in academia, which goes on vacation June-August.

Newsweek poll hits earth

I never for a minute believed last month's Newsweek poll showing Barack Obama leading by 15 points (or the L.A. Times poll showing him up by 12), but Newsweek reports their latest poll -- with Obama leading by a mere 3 points -- as if the previous numbers were real:
A month after emerging victorious from the bruising Democratic nominating contest, some of Barack Obama's glow may be fading. In the latest NEWSWEEK Poll, the llinois senator leads Republican nominee John McCain by just 3 percentage points, 44 percent to 41 percent. The statistical dead heat is a marked change from last month's NEWSWEEK Poll, where Obama led McCain by 15 points, 51 percent to 36 percent.
Obama's rapid drop comes at a strategically challenging moment for the Democratic candidate. [Emphasis added]
Amazing. The "rapid drop" never happened, because Obama's purported 15-point June lead never existed -- at the time, the Gallup daily tracking poll showed his lead in the neighborhood of 2%-3%. But rather than admit their earlier poll was wrong, the writers at Newsweek are forced to pretend that something in the past three weeks has caused a double-digit drop in Obama's advantage.

Ironically, Newsweek reports their new (and undoubtedly more accurate) poll on a day when the latest Gallup daily poll shows Obama up by 6 points, which is about as much as he's ever led McCain. Meanwhile, Rasmussen has Obama by 2 and CNN has him by 5 points.

UPDATE: Ed Morrisey looks at the internals and concludes:
If they weighted the sample to this degree, then Obama’s in much bigger trouble than I first thought.
It's interesting to compare the latest poll sample with the internals for the June Newsweek poll:
Over 60: July -- 43%; June -- 27%
Under 40: July -- 16%; June -- 32%
This is amazing -- the June poll included twice the percentage of under-40 voters as the more recent one.

UPDATE II: James Joyner links, looks at the Real Clear Politics average and says:
McCain’s numbers have been as high as 47 and as low as 40 whereas Obama’s have
fluctuated between 43 and 49. The gap between the two has never exceeded 4
points. So, we’ve got a very close race with very little movement that Obama has
been leading, with brief exceptions, for months.
J0yner also reminds us of the "Wilder Effect," the polling phenomenon which tends to overstate the level of white support for black candidates, but notes that "recent evidence for that phenomenon is scant." I'd add that, at least during the Democratic primaries, I don't recall any indication that polls were overstating Obama's support. In the general election campaign, however, we're dealing with another phenomenon, the tendency of early polls to overstate the support for Democrats, period.

He said it

"[B]log reading is a completely worthless exercise and nobody should really engage in it."
-- blogger Matthew Yglesias

Kinsley's class warfare

Against Clinton donors?
Barack Obama has refused $84 million of government money for the fall campaign because he believes he can raise more privately. For the Democrats to find it easier than the Republicans to raise money is a recent development, and a somewhat inspiring one. Affluent people who give to the Republican Party are advancing their own class interests, whereas those who give to the Democrats generally aren't. This suggests an admirable seriousness about their giving. On the other hand, if they go off in a snit when their candidate loses the nomination, that will suggest that they aren't really in this out of progressive passion--they just find politics an amusing hobby, like racehorses or yachts.
"Class interests"? What the hell is this, Victorian England? And might I point out that Michael Kinsley has never lived in cardboard box under a bridge: And why should the "affluent," alone among all categories of Americans, foreswear the advancement of their own interests? Why is the $2 million property owner condemned as selfish for advancing his interests, whereas the $160,000-a-year labor union officer is regarded as a noble humitarian?

I have never understood people like Kinsley -- born to privilege, sent to the best schools in the country, fast-tracked into prestigious careers, and then spend their entire adult lives under the impression that they are uniquely endowed with empathy toward the downtrodden.

Has Kinsley ever actually talked to any of the downtrodden? Has he got some "Dickie Flatt" of his acquaintance whom he uses as a barometer of underclass attitudes? Did it ever even occur to Kinsley that his politics-as-charity model is profoundly flawed, that perhaps government giveaway programs are not the best means of aiding the (putatively) oppressed?

Fuck Michael Kinsley and fuck the Harvard-educated horse he rode in on.

Adultery and harassment

A 24-year-old woman talks about the first time she met a 40-year-old married man:
"He kind of chased me around . . . the hors d'oeuvre table. I was trying to get something to eat and I thought, 'This guy's kind of weird.' I was kind of trying to get away from him."
Yeah, that's Cindy Hensley McCain on "The Tonight Show," explaining how she met her husband in 1979, when he was still someone else's husband. They had a 10-month affair before he filed for divorce from Carol Shepp McCain, to whom he'd been married since 1965.

The L.A. Times, out of the thin blue air -- apropos of no legitimate news angle -- decided to run a 1,700-word feature on the Republican's first marriage and 1980 divorce. An unapologetic slime job with no possible justification as news.

It's kind of funny how anyone who raises Obama's Indonesian education (which dates to the same era as McCain's first marriage) is slammed as a smear artist. But 30-year-old news about the Republican's divorce -- hey, that's relevant and timely!

McCain ad: A waste of money

Ed Morrisey says:

This is a monumentally stupid ad. It spends a full minute saying nothing about the issue it supposedly addresses, and it insults the intelligence of the people whom McCain is trying to woo.
It's hard to guess what purpose this ad was intended to serve. Surely McCain HQ/RNC doesn't imagine that this ad will win over Hispanics, do they? Any Latino who has any sensitivity for this kind of patriotic appeal is probably already a Republican. I could see maybe -- maybe -- this ad helping fire up some Cuban-Americans in Florida or thoroughly assimilated Tex-Mex in Texas. But that's about it.

What McCain (and, I guess, his handlers) don't seem to get about the immigration issue is that opponents of amnesty don't base their opposition on a dislike of Hispanics, and they resent like hell being told that they are anti-Hispanic bigots, which is what this ad does.

"Hispanics are good people," is the sum and essence of the ad's message. Well, who said Hispanics aren't good people? Not me. Not Peter Brimelow or Mark Krikorian or any other conservative critic of McCain's amnesty plan. So exactly who is McCain arguing with here? Where are these hate-filled bigots?

Nowhere. Like all advocates of open borders, McCain falls into the habit of arguing against a fictitious strawman -- the intolerant and irrational xenophobe who hates all foreigners. But liking or disliking foreigners, per se, has nothing to do with the question of whether our laws should be enforced.

You don't have to be a hatemonger to think that 15 million illegals is 15 million too many, and that rather than worrying about how to grant them "guest worker" status, we ought to be worrying about how to control our borders so the number of illegals doesn't swell to 20, 25, 30 million.

The United States already grants legal residency to about 800,000 immigrants in the average year. What amnesty supporters are saying is that this number -- which far exceeds the number of annual immigrants accepted by any other country on earth -- is too low. Amnesty supporters say that America is heartless and hateful and that we have been too stingy with green cards. Amnesty supporters say, in effect, that the legal number of immigrants should be 1.5 million -- an extra 700,000 a year -- and that this policy should be made retroactive so as to cover the 15 million who've illegal crossed our borders in the past 20 years.

Amnesty is simply bad policy, and to accuse amnesty opponents of bigotry -- as Senator McCain has repeatedly done -- is harmful and false.

UPDATE: Marc Ambinder, who appears to be on the very short list of reporters who get press releases from Team McCain, says the ad is "meant to demonstrate McCain's willingness to challenge his party." Great. He's challenging the party on an issue where 70% of Americans support the conservative position of stricter border enforcement, and 70% oppose McCain's open-borders amnesty/guest-workers position.

Video: Obama's values

Obama: "I was raised by a single mom and my grandparents . . . after being abandoned by my Marxist father, who nonetheless was the iconic subject of my first book. The less said about my childhood in Indonesia with my Muslim stepfather, the better, OK? And while this ad makes it seem like I love the white American side of my family, I later condemned my grandmother as a racist and threw her under the bus."

Powerline's Paul Mirengoff:

It was Bill Clinton who first used the term "fairy tale" in conjunction with the Obama campaign. . . . [I]t's possible that Obama may once-upon-a-time himself into the White House.

Obama and the Magic Beanstalk!

'Gonzo' review

At The American Spectator:
Neither mescaline nor LSD were available at the concession stand of the theater where I saw Alex Gibney's new documentary, Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, so I had to make do with a couple of cold Coronas.
This dearth of hallucinogenic enhancement may explain why the film seemed to suffer from an excess of politics and a shortage of laughter. Or maybe not.
Gibney, who won an Oscar for Taxi to the Dark Side, his anti-war film about the death of a Guantanamo Bay detainee, seems determined to force the square peg of Thompson idiosyncrasies into the round hole of contemporary liberal passions. It's an awkward fit. At times, Gonzo seems more like a celebration of George McGovern's 1972 presidential campaign than of Thompson's journalism career.
Please read the whole thing. I'm still not sure if there was ibogaine in the popcorn.

UPDATE: Gibney more or less admits to forcing HST to fit his narrative:
"I didn't know what we'd find when we were back there (to the late 1960s), but what we found was this eerie similarity between the conflict over the Vietnam War and the conflict over the Iraq war," Gibney said. "There's a character flaw American policymakers seemed to have -- believing that with a right application of force and a misplaced idealism, you can change the world and make it do what you want it to do."
Both Nixon and Bush "appeal to that aspect of the American electorate that Hunter Thompson understood: fear and loathing. People who are angry. Bush has that ability to manipulate the dark corners of the American id. People who feel they have been displaced, overlooked. Even though his economic policy rudders against them, he manipulates their anger and their fear in ways that don't represent their best possibility. And so, too, did Nixon. He was great at that. Compared to Bush, Nixon looks like an Athenian statesman."
Yeah, sure, fine -- but what the hell does that have to do with Hunter S. Thompson? The man was a reporter, not a political philosopher. And then there's this:
"Wouldn't it be interesting to do a film about a journalist who aggressively didn't play by the rules at a time when the people in power are manipulating reporters by forcing them to play by these phony rules?" Gibney said.
Pray tell, who are these "people in power," and how are they forcing reporters "to play by these phony rules?" Is he talking about publishers?

Frankly, I don't think Gibney knows anything at all about journalism. He's just one of these paranoid people who imagines a rich and powerful (and no doubt, Republican) "them" out there running the world. Which may explain why he's suing the distributor of his Oscar-winning anti-war documentary -- those sinister corporate thieves!

And good luck with that next film deal, after suing the distributor of your last film. Investors just love doing business with a lawsuit-happy crank.

Video: Bob Barr on 'McBama'

Fox Business News:

Polanski, age of consent & 'gray areas'

At Slate, Juliet Lapidos discusses the Roman Polanski case and statutory rape laws:
This particular case is likely just plain wrong and out of the gray area . . . but in general I find myself saying, "yeah, but..." when it comes to the age of consent. 13 is young. No doubt about it. But 18 strikes me as a little old if we're talking about the youngest age at which someone can say yes and mean yes. Isn't it just a little condescending? . . .
I entered into a relationship with an older man when I was 18. I knew what I was doing, and frankly, I would have known what I was doing at 17 or at 16.
(Via Instapundit.) When I was a teenager in Georgia, the age of consent was 14 (i.e., statutory rape was a crime involving someone 13 or younger), yet other laws tended to extend the umbrella of legal protection to those under 18. Involvement with a minor could be prosecuted under "contributing to the deliquency of a minor" or similar laws. But it was the '70s, and law enforcement was not particularly zealous about discouraging teenage sex. The boyfriends of teenage girls had more to fear from angry parents than from the law.

Since then, Georgia attempted to make its laws more stringent, so that sex with anyone 15 years or younger could be prosecuted as a felony, resulting in the Marcus Dixon case that gained nationwide attention.

Juliet Lapidos' concern about criminalization of the consensual affairs of 16- and 17-year-olds is misplaced. The age of consent varies from state to state, but in few states is it as high as 18.

Anyone with two eyes and a brain can see that American teenagers are not suffering from excessive sexual repression. Thus, to fret that the threat of statutory rape prosecution might have a "chilling effect" on youthful romance is to worry about a non-existent problem. If you want to worry about a real problem, worry about the pandemic of sexually-transmitted disease among our unrepressed adolescents.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

'Total Quality Jihad family'

Iowahawk brings the funny.

Obama's daughter's inconvenient birthday

In a 1,000-word feature Wednesday, Peter Nicholas of the Los Angeles Times portrayed Barack Obama as a helpless victim of the campaign trail, "caught" in Butte, Mont., on Fourth of July weekend, when he "wriggled free of the campaign's fetters" for his daughter's 10th birthday.

In fact, as a "pool" report by the Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman made clear, the reason Obama was in Montana on his daughter's birthday was so that "Inconvenient Truth" director Davis Guggenheim's crew could shoot scenes for a film bio of the candidate to be shown at the Democratic National Convention.

So, rather than being "caught" in Butte, Obama seems to have chosen the city's Fourth of July parade as the perfect setting for a film by an Oscar-winning director. After I blogged about the L.A. Times story, an alert reader spotted the discrepancy in the description of why Obama was in Montana and sent this e-mail to Nicholas:
You state that Obama improvised a party for his daughter's [birthday] because he was "caught" in Montana. I believe he was there to film a movie to use at his convention. That's quite different than what your article implied, wouldn't you agree? He chose to be there so he could use clips from the July 4th parade in his film. So, he "purposely" chose to be there on his daughter's [birthday]. Leaves quite a different impression, doesn't it? One wonders why you chose to mislead your readers.
To accuse the reporter of intentionally striving to "mislead" readers is a bit strong, but certainly it is inaccurate to characterize any political candidate as a passive pawn of his own campaign. Ultimately, the candidate is always in charge.

If Obama had wanted to spend Fourth of July alone with his family in Chicago, he could have done so. Spending the holiday in Butte, Mont., was his own choice. Nobody forced him to schedule the film shoot, just as no one forced him to run for president. So the "campaign's fetters" are self-imposed.

Madonna craved Canseco's seed

A lot of people act as if Madonna's disgusting decadence were a recent phenomenon. Not:
In the new issue of Us Weekly . . . former Oakland A and onetime Yankee Jose Canseco details how the singer, 49, tried to romance him in 1991 even though, like baseball nemesis A-Rod, he was married at the time. . . .
"She wanted to get married and have a child with me -- she wanted a Cuban child," he tells Us.
Canseco recalls: "We went downstairs [at her house in the Hollywood Hills] and she came over and said, 'What would you do if I kissed you?' and then sat on my lap and kissed me."
Madonna even offered to support him if he split with his wife. "She said, 'I have lots of money. Don't worry about that,'" Canseco tells Us.
If memory serves, this was shortly before she hooked up with The Worm.

Poll Watch

The Fourth of July weekend appears to have occasioned a polling holiday. Looking at Real Clear Politics, nobody but Rasmussen and Gallup seems to have released any important polls in the past week.

Stu Rothenberg doesn't like Rasmussen's methodology, a caveat I feel compelled to mention in regard to Rasmussen's poll showing Obama barely leading (47%-44%) in New Jersey. I remember a period in fall 2004 when Bush appeared competitive in some New Jersey polls, only to lose on Election Day by 7 points. Maybe there's some unknown factor (racism?) that would cause Obama to underperform Kerry in New Jersey, but I'm still skeptical. On the other hand, since South Jersey gets Philadelphia TV, and Pennsylvania may yet be competitive, so there's a good two-birds-with-one-stone argument for the McCain campaign to target the Philly market.

More credible than the New Jersey poll is Rasmussen's Missouri poll, with McCain leading 50%-45% -- corroborated by a partisan Democratic poll showing McCain up by 3 points there. Having reached the magic 50% mark there is very encouraging for the Republican. Given that most polls also show him leading Florida, this could mean that two major Bush states where the GOP might have had to play defense will be off the battleground map in November. That would allow Team McCain to concentrate more efforts on defending Ohio, Colorado, Nevada and Virginia.

Meanwhile, Obama is just two weeks away from campaigning for votes in Europe, a move that I predict will be seen as one of the biggest political follies of the year.

Will update if any further polls results are reported today.

UPDATE: The latest Gallup daily has Obama by 3 points, as does the latest Rasmussen tracking poll. The very narrow margins in these polls -- since June 17, Gallup has only shown four days with Obama ahead by more than 4 points -- are a stark contrast to the media portrayal of the campaign as an inevitable triumph for Obama.

An illegal president?

No wonder he's so sympathetic to illegal aliens . . .

'Ego-enlarging thrill'

The kind of sympathetic human-interest feature the L.A. Times would never write about any Republican:
Being Barack Obama would seem an ego-enlarging thrill, with ecstatic crowds at every stop and -- if the polls are right -- a better than 50-50 shot at becoming president.
Watching him on the trail in recent days, though, it often appears as if the unrelenting attention and prolonged campaigning are getting wearisome. He told a customer at an Indiana diner two months ago that he had lost 7 or 8 pounds. He said he was learning to get by on four-to-five hours' sleep.
Since late last month, after Obama clinched the nomination, his movements have been tracked as never before. He is trailed constantly by a corps of reporters and camera crews, even when his public day of campaigning ends.
Also: His favorite color is blue and he likes puppies. It's a Tiger Beat article about Donnie Osmond, circa 1972.

It's not that I object to human-interest articles about candidates, or that the rigors of the campaign trail aren't real. It's that only Democrats get this kind of treatment from the MSM. There was a time, not many years ago, when President Bush was greeted by "estatic crowds at every stop," but the liberal press never mentioned that, nor did they ever do this kind of sympathetic coverage about the travails of campaigning.

When the New York Times did a "soft" feature about Rush Limbaugh, Media Matters and Ezra Klein screamed bloody murder. But Limbaugh is not a candidate for Commander-in-Chief, and a puff-piece profile of a radio host doesn't influence an election.

Jackson disses Obama

Via Gateway Pundit:

Barack Obama is "talking down to black people . . . I want to cut his nuts off," says Jesse Jackson. The Reverend attempts to explain this to CNN's Wolf Blitzer:
The appeal in black America is record levels of unemployment, home foreclosure crisis, records of murders, and all kind of reprehensible actions for black America. A million blacks are in jail even as we talk today and 900,000 young black men. . . .
Each time he gives one of these message at a black church, it appears to be targeted and the media takes it and runs with it as a solution to a structural crisis -- you know -- his moral behavior.
I have no idea what that means, and I don't think Jackson does, either. He's just making noise -- "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." It is unlikely Jackson's latest idiocy will have any impact on the campaign. Although evidence of a rift between him and Obama is interesting, I can't see Jackson swaying any large number of voters against Obama.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Juan La Raza McCain

John McCain and Barack Obama will both pander to the National Council of La Raza on Saturday. Michelle Malkin lists NCLR's 15-point agenda, and says:
Only in America could critics of a group called "The Race" be labeled racists. Such is the triumph of left-wing identity chauvinists, whose aggressive activists and supine abettors have succeeded in redefining all opposition as "hate."
"Supine abettors"! Look that up in your Funk & Wagnall's, kids! By the way, did you notice that Bob Barr isn't scheduled to speak to La Raza?

And don't forget to vote now!

Will DNC deny Hillary a vote?

The Messiah must be nominated by universal acclamation, some Democrats say:
Some prominent New York delegates who supported Hillary Clinton say it would be a bad idea for her name to be placed in nomination at the Democratic convention next month. . . .
"It would be wrong," said former New York State Democratic Chairman Herman (Denny) Farrell, a superdelegate who strongly supported Clinton's candidacy. "There should not be a roll call ... they should unify."
A full roll call could be a reminder of how divided Democrats were.
"I don't see any compelling reason to do anything that is not directed towards unity," said City Councilman John Liu of Queens, a delegate pledged to Clinton. "She said she's supporting Sen. Obama and now we just all need to be on the same page."
Back when Hillary supposedly "conceded" the nomination, I kept pointing out: Until she releases her delegates from their pledges and tells them to vote for Obama on the first ballot, she hasn't actually conceded anything. And why should she?

What has Obama done for Hillary, except steal her superdelegates? His supporters aren't helping Hillary with her campaign debt, and they're still badmouthing her:
"Why would I help pay off debts that Hillary amassed simply to keep damaging Senator Obama?" . . .
"Writing checks to politicians I don't like is not at the top of my list."
"Not a penny for that woman. Or her husband. Or -- god forbid -- Mark Penn" . . .
When the Obamaphiles say "unity," what they really mean is: "Shut up, you loser bitch!" They're sore winners. I think they are seriously underestimating the potential of Hillary and her supporters to sabotage him. And they're not really giving her any incentive to play nice.

El presidente de la educación

Obama tells you how to raise your kids:

(Via Hot Air.) My 19-year-old daughter is in Argentina right now, completing her sophomore year of college in a full-immersion Spanish-language program.

This video shows Obama, the cosmopolitan snob, condemning Americans as a bunch of provincial rubes. And that he chose as his venue for this lecture McEachern High School in Powder Springs, Ga. -- one of the best schools in Georgia in an extremely affluent West Cobb community -- demonstrates his own cluelessness. (BTW, more than 40% of McEachern students are black.)

Victor Davis Hanson makes the point that the study of languages -- including Latin and Greek -- is inherent to classical education, whereas Obama has in the past supported minority-themed schools where "oppression studies" dominate the curriculum. And I rather doubt that in his career as a community organizer, Obama led any protests about the paucity of German and French classes in Chicago schools.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Hispanic recession

According to a U.S. Department of Labor report, of the 155,000 jobs the American economy lost in June, 153,000 were lost by Hispanics. Ed Rubenstein concludes that "a diminished influx of illegal workers is playing the larger role" in these job losses, and points out:
After years of unbroken growth, the amount of money sent south by Mexicans working in the U.S. is falling. In the first quarter of this year the year-on-year cash flow is down by 2.9%, according to Goldman Sachs.
In other words, the June employment numbers, which MSM headlines have characterized as heralding a recession, are actually evidence that enhanced border-security measures are working.

Americans aren't losing jobs; illegal aliens are.

Poll: Vote now!

Who will you vote for in November?

'Socially minded liberal types'

A comedy video, in which liberal crusader Laura Flanders describes joining other "socially minded liberal types" to hear a speech left-wing education guru Jonathan Kozol, only to discover that only one person at her table had sent their child to government schools.

Radical egalitarians like Kozol (and Flanders) can't seem to accept that government fails at education for the same reason government fails at everything else. Once government usurps a social function previously provided privately by individuals, the entitlement mentality eventually sets in.

If it is the government's job to educate your child, and your child fails to become educated, then government is to blame for the failure -- not your child, and certainly not you. Government, by claiming a monopoly on education -- claiming that only a certified teacher in a certified school is capable of educating children -- thereby absolves parents and everyone outside the school system of responsibility for education.

Meanwhile, inside the school, the spirit of bureaucracy takes hold. The bureaucrats who run the government school are concerned only with meeting the minimal requirements to retain their jobs -- requirements so low that it is almost impossible to fire a government school teacher nowadays. The mission of the school is not to educate children, but to serve the employment interests of the bureaucrats, who organize into unions in order to defeat any effort by taxpayers to control the system.

Teachers unions dominate school-board elections, so that no board member can be elected without union approval. Thus, when it is time to negotiate contracts, the union is represented on both sides of the bargaining table. "Education" becomes a crooked racket, organized to benefit the lazy and dishonest, and any idealistic young person who might actually be interested in educating children eventually will flee such a system in horror.

This system cannot be reformed. The only viable option, for parents who wish their children to have a genuine education, is to escape the system. So while Flanders seems shocked -- shocked! -- that most of the "socially minded liberals" in Kozol's audience don't send their children to public schools, those parents have taken the first step toward real "reform" of American education, namely abandoning the existing system.

Parents who abandon the existing system should be praised, and those parents who have not yet abandoned the system should be encouraged to do so. Furthermore, once parents have abandoned the system, they should condemn the system. If a school is not good enough for my child, why is it good enough for your child? Get your kids out of those rotten government schools! As far as I'm concerned, parents who send their kids to government schools are guilty of child neglect.

The only way to reform this system is to destroy this system, and if you're not part of the solution -- if you don't get your kids out of the system and encourage other parents to do the same -- you're part of the problem.

UPDATE: In the comments field, Donald Douglas of Americaneocon says:
As a professor at a public college, I take exception with going that far.
Why? Your students at Long Beach City College enroll there voluntarily, choose their own classes and pay tuition -- three characteristics that distinguish college from government K-12 schools, which are compulsory and tuition-free.

In K-12 education, the child arrives at the school at 7:30 a.m. and is the responsibility of the school until 3:30 p.m. -- more like a babysitting service than a school -- whereas at college, the student is always responsible for his own education. The college student determines his own schedule and can leave at any time he wishes.

While I would not propose granting such autonomy to 7-year-olds, why does the government K-12 system not allow the child's parents any input in the location, schedule or content of their child's education?

Answer: Because parental input conflicts with the bureaucratic interests of the administration. The government-school bureaucrats control the system, and provide the type of education that suits their interests, rather than the interests of the child or the parent.

This is why government education must rely on compulsion to force parents to send their children to school, to ensure that the system is not required to be responsive to parental inputs. By placing the school bureaucrats into a position to command compliance from parents, government education diminishes parental authority. Therefore, the first lesson a child learns from the government school is: Your parents are helpless, untrustworthy idiots.

Promises, promises

Among other things, Obama's new ad includes the promise of a "$1,000 tax cut to help families":

Curious thing: With all these plans for "energy independence," how come Obama hasn't passed any actual energy legislation during his three years in the Senate?

Celebrity update

Digging through today's tabloid trash:
Headlines via WeSmirch.

Waxman's folly

When last heard from, Henry Waxman was still chasing the Plamegate will-o'-th'-wisp. Now, he wants to outlaw Karl Rove:
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), who has primary jurisdiction over the executive branch, is considering legislation to eliminate Karl Rove-type advisers in future administrations. . . .
"Why should we be using taxpayer dollars to have a person solely in charge of politics in the White House?" Waxman said in an interview. "Can you imagine the reaction if each member of Congress had a campaign person paid for with taxpayer dollars?" . . . As Bush’s senior adviser, Rove headed the Office of Political Affairs, which interacts with the party’s political committees, and the Office of Public Liaison, which works with outside groups such as business, religious and advocacy organizations that want to communicate with the president.
A meaningless threat by Waxman, who knows full well that the Clinton administration had the same kind of advisers in the same offices doing the same jobs, and that if Obama is elected, he'll do the very same thing. Waxman's pretended outrage is yet another example of how Democrats suddenly scream "scandal" when Republicans start doing what Democrats have done for years.

CBS News floozy

Hot-to-trot homewrecker Lara Logan is now knocked up, Howard Kurtz reports:
Logan finds her romantic life reduced to tabloid fodder. And there is a new complication: She recently discovered that she is pregnant.
"Nobody likes to read about themselves like that, especially the way it's been sensationalized," Logan says of the coverage that spread to the front page of the New York Post, which called her a "sexy CBS siren" and "in-bedded reporter." "I hated it. But I'm just going to rise above it and keep going." The baby is due in January, she says, and she is "looking forward to being a mom."
Logan, 37, says she and Burkett plan to get married eventually. Her divorce is slated to become final in two weeks, and Burkett's divorce trial is likely to end next month. But the case has turned decidedly messy, with Burkett's estranged wife Kimberly, the mother of their 3-year-old daughter, charging that Logan broke up her marriage.
Maybe CBS can get a miniseries out of this.

The icon factor

Considering my nomination for the prestigious Yggy, I'm now taking Sully more seriously, but then he writes this:
Since the general election started, it's been a walk-over for the Democrat, in my view.
In your view, indeed, Andrew. Political analysis requires discounting for one's own inherent biases and trying to get outside the subjective perspective. Failure to do so can lead to Pauline Kael Syndrome.

On the other hand, I think Patrick Ruffini (to whom Sully was responding) may be guilty of a similar error in dismissing as irrelevant the "massive activity gap" between McCain and Obama. It would be a mistake to take for granted that this obvious weakness for McCain -- not only the candidate's own shortcomings, but also the extreme demoralization of the GOP base -- will make no difference in November.

Ruffini dismisses the "activity gap," I suspect, mainly because he can imagine no remedy. John McCain is not a captivating speaker, and cannot be transformed into one. And given the fact that the Republican Party has abandoned its conservative principles and offers no agenda, the grassroots demoralization is also irremediable.

At this point, none of this can be helped and -- if your objective is trying to find a way for McCain to win -- there's no point worrying about it. Like the 4th Infantry Division accidentally landing on Utah Beach a mile south of their objective, you "start the war from here." If that's what Ruffini is saying, it makes sense from the planning view, but that doesn't mean the "activity gap" won't matter.

I'm more persuaded by Ruffini's central argument that the key for the GOP is to make the election a referendum on the relatively unknown and inexperienced Democrat: "It's all about Obama." Sowing doubt, highlighting the thinness of Obama's resume, raising whatever scandal factors you can find -- that is clearly the best hope for the Republicans.

The problem is getting that message out, considering Obama's massive financial advantage and the media's pro-Obama bias. Yet if, as Ruffini says, Obama can be knocked off his pedestal, the press is likely to be pretty harsh on the fallen idol. The "just another politician" label could hurt Obama badly.

Powder Springs, Ga.?

Almost as misguided as his European trip:
ATLANTA -- Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama is scheduled to host a town hall meeting at McEachern High School in Powder Springs at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday morning.
The town hall meeting, which is open to the public, follows a fundraiser for the Obama campaign in Atlanta Monday night.
To paraphrase Joe Namath's famous Super Bowl III prediction, I guarantee Obama will not win Georgia. I grew up in Lithia Springs, about 10 miles down the road from Powder Springs, and I can tell you that whatever the turnout for this rally, whatever the news reports or polls may say, Obama will not win Georgia.

Just like sending him to Montana for the Fourth of July, this trip to Georgia is a serious blunder by Obama's campaign managers. They are violating a cardinal rule of politics: Hunt where the ducks are.

Every day spent campaigning in states that Obama can't possibly win is a day not spent in Colorado, Nevada, Ohio -- key swing states that might decide the election. In the wake of their primary upset of Clinton, Obama's top staffers are clearly overconfident, and this may prove their undoing.

For crying out loud, two recent polls -- by Rasmussen and Strategic Vision -- show McCain leading by 7%-8% in Florida. Why send Obama to Powder Springs when he should be in Orlando?

The tepidity and incompetence of the McCain campaign may make all this moot, but if somehow the GOP gets its act together before October, the Democrats will look back on these summer months -- when the Obama campaign wasted its resources on European travel and symbolic ventures to hopelessly Red states -- with bitter recriminations.

BTW, Obama's Gallup lead slipped to 4 points Monday. There is no basis for the apparent belief at Obama HQ that the Democrat is an inevitable victor, coasting to a certain triumph, who will pay no price for pointlessly campaigning in unwinnable states.

Boycott Beijing

Why? Allison Stokke didn't make the Olympic team. An injustice!

'Not here to make friends'

Via Ace:

He's still Bill

Clinton in Aspen:
President Clinton clearly still loves the spotlight -- stopping to take photos with a number of diners. When he posed with one young woman, his overheard comment, ''Honey, how old are you?'' did generate a few chuckles from nearby diners -- for obvious reasons.

Busch selling out?

Over at the Spectator, Tracy Meehan is afraid that his hometown brewer, Anheuser-Busch, might be bought out by foreigners.

Tracy: Just drink Corona, the foreign beer that even xenophobes love. "Deport the Mexicans, Keep the Coronas."

Our first semi-honky president?

Joe Curl attempts to decipher the nomenclature of Barack Obama's ancestry:
Debra Dickerson, a contributing writer and blogger for the liberal Mother Jones magazine, said at the Web site in January that Mr. Obama is not even technically black, defining the term "in our political and social reality" as applying only to "those descended from West African slaves."
This kind of stuff seems a bit nitpicky to me. It's much easier to apply what I call "the Sand Mountain test."

Sand Mountain is a region of northeast Alabama that has a legendary reputation for racism. So, whenever somebody asks if Obama is "black enough," just ask yourself, "Would he be called the n-word on Sand Mountain?"

I don't think a sociological research grant will be necessary to determine the answer.

Just shoot them

It's highly unlikely police in Berkeley, Calif., would use lethal force against the idiot tree-sitting protesters, but we can hope, can't we?

Video: Hallow & Lambro on Obama

Ralph Z. Hallow and Donald Lambro of The Washington Times talk about Democratic nominee Barack Obama:

Notice that Hallow sees gloom for the GOP, where Lambro sees nothing but sunshine. These are their genetic predispositions. Lambro is the eternal optimist, and Hallow is eternally convinced that we're teetering on the brink of the abyss.

And in case you were wondering, yes, those are Hallow's actual ears. Enormous, aren't they?

DCCC playing favorites

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is now interfering in Democratic primary races:
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has in recent weeks injected itself into almost all of the major primaries remaining despite pledging previously to abstain. . . .
Only six races with competitive Democratic primaries are currently listed as “toss-up” or “lean Democratic” by the Cook Political Report. The DCCC has now picked a side in all six of them.
This is extraordinarily un-democratic, and if grassroots Democrats aren't offended, they should be. It's very bad for the national party to pick candidates in competitive primaries. One of the ways that the Bush-led Republican Party destroyed grassroots enthusiasm in the GOP was by playing favorites in the primaries.

Even in the case of incumbents facing primary challengers, the national party leadership should stay out of these local intraparty races, since to do otherwise sends a signal to local activists that they don't really control their own party.

GOP trouble in Florida?

A Democratic polling firm finds two Cuban-American Republican congressmen barely leading their Demoocratic rivals in the Miami area. This may or may not be trouble for the GOP. It's hard to judge the reliability of partisan polls, and House races are much harder to poll than statewide races. On the other hand, this poll -- and the free publicity given to it by McClatchy Newspapers -- will help drive fundraising for the challengers.

Send Sean to St. Paul

Sean Hackbarth of The American Mind has been credentialed for the GOP Convention in St. Paul. He's running a fundraiser to get the cash for the trip. Give him money. And then give me some.

From an unhappy blogger

Dear Blogspot:

For the past 10 days or more, I have been required to type in a word verification every time I wanted to create, update or save a post. I am told that this is because Obamabots, in an effort to suppress criticism of their candidate, flagged me as a "spam blogger."

This has been going on, as I say, for 10 freaking days and it's starting to get pretty dadgum annoying. I would send you a message of complaint but -- how convenient! -- you've set things up so that there is no possible way that anyone can send an e-mail to tech support.

I like the Blogspot software, glitches and all, because it's simple and easy to use. But besides the insult inherent in falsely being labeled a "spam blogger," this word-verification hassle is getting on my nerves. It means, among other things, that my posts no longer auto-save while I'm composing them.

Please fix this problem, or I'll be forced to take drastic measures.

Unhappily yours,
Robert Stacy McCain

Damn the paywall!

Ezra Klein calls this New York Times profile of Rush Limbaugh "an extraordinary act of editorial cowardice," which means it's probably an excellent article. Unfortunately, Sulzberger's greedy minions have put the 8,000-word feature behind the paywall.

Among other things, the NYT profile occasions Ana Marie Cox to confess that she is a "Rush 24/7" subscriber, pronouncing El Rushbo "funny and informative . . . fascinating." Frankly, I think Cox just does this to rub our noses in it: "Look, I'm such a freaking big shot, I got my publisher to spring for the cost of a Limbaugh subscription!"

The Weekly Standard has a short excerpt of the article about how Rush gets paid extra to plug products personally during his show. I've tried this as a blogger. For instance, I occasionally throw this slogan into my blog: Corona Beer, the imported beer that even xenophobes love. Deport the Mexicans. Keep the Coronas.

I'm still waiting for that endorsement check.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Doing the French Mistake!

Obama will be overseas at least four days (July 22-25) later this month, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Startling news from AP

Because the Associated Press now charges $2.50 per word for bloggers to quote their stories, I can only paraphrase the poll finding that 19 percent of Americans associate the word "old" with John McCain.


Radical Islamic feminism

It's illegal for women to drive in Saudi Arabia, but apparently the Blessed Prophet says blowing yourself to smithereens in pursuit of jihad is an equal-opportunity gig:
A female suicide bomber has killed nine people and wounded 12 others in an attack on an Iraqi market, police said. . . .
The use of women to carry out suicide bombings has become a regular tactic of al-Qaeda in Iraq.
The US military says there have been more than 20 suicide bombings by women this year in Iraq.
A BBC reporter in Baquba says women and children were among the casualties in Monday's attack.
This kind of reminds me of a joke:
Q: If male suicide bombers get 72 virgins, what do the women get?
A: Shut up, you Zionist infidel dog!
I didn't say it was a funny joke.

Racist plane stops Obama

St. Hopey's visitation to North Carolina --that notorious hotbed of racism -- was postponed due to "a maintenance issue."

Right. We know the truth: It was a conspiracy by McDonnell-Douglas, part of the racism-industrial complex.

Harry Reid makes me sick

No fool like an old fool:

As an Appalachian-American, I consider Reid's denigration of fossil fuels an assault on my culture. Let's face it, where was the South before the invention of the internal combustion engine? We had all that corn whiskey, but no means of efficient distribution. Then along comes Henry Ford and the automobile, rednecks discovered their latent genetic predisposition for souping up hot rods, and next thing you kn0w -- boom! -- NASCAR is the No. 1 spectator sport in America.

Reid's assault on internal combustion will mean unemployment for thousands of shade-tree mechanics named Bubba and Earl and Dwayne. Besides, who needs caribou, anyway? Let's drill, drill, drill!

'Racism' and Jesse Helms

For reasons unknown, the Washington Post decides to memorialize the late Sen. Jesse Helms by re-posting a 2001 David Broder column with the headline, "Jesse Helms, White Racist." Meanwhile, at National Review Online, Jonah Goldberg gets an e-mail from a scold who demands that he "denounce Jesse Helms' racist legacy as a stain on conservatism."

This raises an important question that I think too few intellectuals -- liberal, conservative or otherwise -- have bothered to address, namely: Are "racists" entitled to political representation?

The scare-quotes around "racism" are necessary because, over the past four decades, the word "racism" has been thrown around so casually as to have been stripped of nearly all its power to denote anything real and definite. It is now commonly used an all-purpose epithet. As Peter Brimelow once acidly observed, a "racist" is someone who is winning an argument with a liberal.

There seems to be an inverse relationship between the descriptive power and the political power of the "R-word." The less "racist" can be said to describe anything definite, the more political damage can be inflicted by labeling someone a "racist." And this, I suspect, is a major reason why so few intellectuals are willing to confront the question raised by the Helms legacy.

Are "racists" entitled to political representation? David Broder, apparently, would answer "no." Helms unabashedly appealed to the concerns of white racists in North Carolina, Broder says, and thereby permanently placed himself beyond respectability.

This formula leaves unexamined a number of questions. Who were these racists to whom Helms appealed? What were their concerns? Most importantly, were their concerns politically legitimate? That is to say, did the purported racism of North Carolina voters manifest itself in genuine policy controversies where reasonable men might disagree in good conscience?

Politics is about the pursuit of self-interest, a point which James Madison (that notorious racist) made in Federalist 10. Everybody -- doctors, bankers, auto workers, real-estate brokers, et cetera, ad infinitum -- supports the candidate, the party and the policies they believe will best advance and defend their own self-interest. Quite naturally, most people don't see any conflict between their own narrow interests and the interests of society at large. "What's good for me is good for America," the voter assumes, and who am I to dispute their judgment?

Yet notice that, in the case of Jesse Helms and those evil white racists in North Carolina, David Broder and others do not hesitate to pass judgment. Broder apparently presumes that no white person in North Carolina ever had any legitimate self-interest that would have been harmed by the liberal agenda of Helms' opponents. As Michelle Malkin says:
Shorter Broder: You are an unrepentant bigot if you oppose racial preferences, object to the MLK federal holiday, or refer explicitly to the black voting bloc.
Broder sets himself up as an arbiter of what constitutes legitimate political discourse, without regard to the real-life concerns of those North Carolinians to whose "racism" Helms appealed.

Broder's reflexive condemnation of "racism" -- an unwillingness to consider the circumstances that give rise to the concerns labeled with this radioactive epithet -- is one of those annoying asterisks beside the liberal's otherwise universal toleration for opposing viewpoints. When it comes to al-Qaeda or Hamas, the liberal will tell you, we must try to understand the sense of collective grievance that causes Islamic extremists to slaughter innocents. But when it comes to white North Carolinians voting for a Republican senator, this standard of liberal sympathy does not apply.

Having been excoriated in the past for trying to express the fundamentally American idea that people have the right to their own opinions (even "racist" opinions), I will avoid an in-depth examination of the specific issues of Helms' career. Rather, I will conclude with this observation: When legitimate grievances are stigmatized, marginalized and excluded from public discourse, our political system becomes unrepresentative and dysfunctional. The fact that the grievances of white North Carolinians are not shared by elite journalists in Washington does not render those grievances illegitimate, and the attempt to label them illegitimate by applying the epithet "racist" is undemocratic in the extreme.

More 'Obamacons'

Having just gotten through with a post about Obamacons, now I find the San Francisco Chronicle writing about the phenomenon. When liberal reporters write about conservatives, it's important to keep your B.S. detector handy, but there's some good stuff, too, including this:
Matt Welch, editor in chief of the libertarian Reason Magazine and author of "McCain, the Myth of a Maverick," thinks Obama's conservative support "comes as much anything else from people being exhausted with the Republican coalition, who are mad at one wing or another, and they just think it's time for them to lose. It's just, 'Look, we're out of ideas, we're exhausted, it's not working, we don't know what our principles are anymore, let's take one for the team and have a black guy be the president for a while.' "
That "exhaustion" attitude is particularly true of professional conservative operatives in Washington. The older ones succumbed to Beltway fever at least five years ago; they're more concerned about getting new donors for their 501(c)s than advancing a conservative agenda.

While the Old Guard are now calmly re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, the younger staffers involved in the RNC/John McCain campaign are just collecting a paycheck and going through the motions. The McCain campaign is merely a resume-builder for them. None of these young staffers really believes in John McCain and none really expects him to win, and the honest ones don't mind saying so -- privately.

Most importantly, none of the Beltway conservatives, young or old, can give you a conservative argument in favor of McCain's election other than (a) "Obama would be worse" and (b) "What about judges?"

It's still possible that Obama may lose, but only because of his own inexperience and his campaign team's incompetence. The defeat of Obama will not be a mandate for a "John McCain agenda."

UPDATE: An exhausted Bill Kristol suggests bringing back Mike Murphy. Matt Lewis shrugs:
But I also have to think that in a worst-case scenario, McCain has to believe that if he has to go down, he should at least have the peace of mind in knowing that he went down doing things his way.
The significance: Lewis appears to have accepted McCain's defeat as a realistic possibility, if not indeed the most likely outcome. Lewis is echoing the sentiment of most young Republicans in Washington, who are already mapping out their contingency plans for an Obama administration. The GOP is already psychologically defeated. John McCain's campaign is a symptom, not a cause, of this mindset.

UPDATE II: I didn't seek the "Yglesias Award," and was surprised to be nominated. The "Yggy" has been defined as honoring "writers, politicians, columnists or pundits who actually criticize their own side, make enemies among political allies, and generally risk something for the sake of saying what they believe."

Well, it's not a matter of what I believe, it's a matter of what is. The basic problem with the conservative movement during the Bush administration is that it has ceased to be a movement -- that is, organized political activism driven by the concerns of its grassroots supporters. The "movement" has been almost entirely co-opted by professional partisan operatives, who now issue orders telling conservatives what they're supposed to think, and banish anyone who dares disagree with the official GOP position.

Look at the No Child Left Behind Act -- an expensive, centralized, top-down, big-government program that doesn't work. Yet where are the conservative spokesmen who will say so? Where are the Republican congressmen and senators calling for NCLB's repeal? Where is that National Review or Weekly Standard cover story pronouncing the Bush administration's education agenda a flat failure? Most of all, whatever happened to the conservative Republicans who took over Congress in 1994 and vowed to end the federal role in education?

Those crickets are chirping loudly, aren't they? So now we see the Republican presidential nomination in the hands of John McCain, previously denounced by numerous movement spokesmen as an unconservative abomination. But are these conservatives now calling for his defeat? Are they organizing a protest in St. Paul? Are they in any way threatening to rock the boat?

Nope. Is it any wonder the GOP has no respect for conservatives? If you volunteer to be a doormat, don't complain about the footprints on your back.

UPDATE III: I find myself criticized by a commenter as "lazy" for presuming that the Washington correspondent of the San Francisco Chronicle could fairly be called "a liberal reporter." OK, for all I know Carolyn Lochhead is a closet Buchananite who moonlights anonymously at VDare and spends her weekends picketing abortion clinics. But if Ms. Lochhead is not actually a liberal, do we really want to alert her bosses at the Chronicle to this fact? It might be a firing offense.

UPDATE IV: Bruce Bartlett e-mails to inform me that he was the one who tipped Sully, thus the Yggy.


Bob Novak seems to have cribbed this quote by supply-sider Larry Hunter from Bruce Bartlett's New Republic article about "Obamacons":
"The Republican Party is a dead rotting carcass with a few decrepit old leaders stumbling around like zombies in a horror version of 'Weekend With Bernie,' handcuffed to a corpse."
Novak attributes the quote to Hunter's blog, although I can't find the original post. At any rate, attribution issues aside, the quote is picked up by Steven Greenhut of the Orange County Register, who writes:
Four or eight years of a President Obama with a Democratic Congress ought to give Republicans some time to build an agenda around these time-tested ideas. Complete Democratic control is a troubling prospect, but it might be the quickest way to turn a rotting corpse into a living organism.
This "worse-is-better" argument is very much like that of the radicals of '68 who were so determined to stop Hubert Humphrey and defeat the Democratic Party's Old Guard that they ended up, in effect, electing Richard Nixon.

I agree wholeheartedly with Greenhut that the GOP leadership is clueless and obsolete, and seems not to have learned its lesson in '06, but then again, neither has Greenhut, who remains firmly in the grips of open-borders mania:
"Yes, we can slow illegal immigration though some sound policies, but we won't be overly punitive in doing so. The big problem isn't that there are too many immigrants, but too few Americans. We're committed to creating opportunities for assimilation and reducing the costs associated with immigration by reducing the size of the welfare state. Our policies will welcome people and remove barriers to their independence and success. Isn't that better than building a wall?"
That's what passes for conservatism in California, where the GOP is permanently stuck in the Pete Wilson era, desperately frightened that opposition to illegal immigration might cost the Republican Party votes among Hispanics. That attitude was, and remains, rooted in fundamental misconceptions about the nature of the electorate and the alleged "backlash" against Prop 187. California GOP leaders -- who've made the mistake of internalizing the liberal MSM narrative -- believe that, prior to Prop 187 in 1994, Chicanos were all Reaganite supply-side fanatics, and only then aligned with the Democrats because of Republican "intolerance."

Greenhut (and similarly-minded Republican 'fraidy cats) don't seem to understand that the illegal immigration issue is about crime. The illegal invasion is an expression of a criminal mentality among the invaders. Tolerance for lawbreaking does not inspire affection, but rather contempt, in the minds of criminals. California Republicans like Greenhut won't tolerate smokers in a restaurant, but they're willing to tolerate criminals whose very presence in the United States is a violation of federal law.

Greenhut's "reform" agenda is one-way ticket to GOP oblivion.

UPDATE: Noting the Zombiecon nominee's recent panderfest in Mexico, Michelle Malkin asks:

Whose idea was it to send John McCain down to Mexico the day before Independence Day and have him grovel for Latino votes south of the border by visiting the Basilica de Guadalupe–a famed Catholic shrine featuring the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, which most Mexican politicians consider off-limits for campaigning?

When your "Latino outreach director" is all about unpatriotic pandering to lawbreakers, you are a dead man walking.