Saturday, July 19, 2008

Video: Al Gore's message

Did somebody say "hypocrite"?

(Via Hot Air.)

Video: 'Worse than a flip-flopper'

That ad is by the non-profit group Let Freedom Ring, a fact in which the New York Times endeavors to find something scandalous.

(Cross-posted at AmSpecBlog.)

UPDATE: Let Freedom Ring offers documentation to support the ad.

Bloggers with their own interns?

The air must be mighty thin up there . . .

How to write an Obama lede

OK, as previously established, there are two 'pool' reporters accompanying Obama to Afghanistan, so that all the press accounts are cribbing from the same notebook. Everything else is just spin. Now, let's look at the ledes of the stories.

Washington Post (just the facts, ma'am):
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama arrived in Afghanistan Saturday, according to a campaign spokesman, the first stop on a weeklong foreign tour that will take him to seven countries, including Iraq.
CNN (dressing it up a bit):
Sen. Barack Obama made his first visit to Afghanistan on Saturday before he embarks on his tour of the Middle East and Europe aimed at bolstering his foreign policy credentials.
Chicago Tribune (dressing it up more):
Sen. Barack Obama landed in war-torn Afghanistan early Saturday, his campaign confirmed, starting a weeklong effort to look presidential on the world stage while boosting his standing back home.
AP (more costumes than an opera):
Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama started a campaign-season tour of combat zones and foreign capitals, visiting with U.S. forces in Kuwait and then Afghanistan - the scene of a war he says deserves more attention and more troops.
How nice of the Associated Press to make sure Obama's campaign message got into the first paragraph of their neutral, objective story.

UPDATE: No word in this first pool report as to whether Obama is being accompanied to Afghanistan by his chief foreign policy adviser, Winnie the Pooh.

UPDATE II: The first pool report did not mention rumors that, upon touching down in Kabul, Obama was greeted by crowds of enthusiastic Afghans shouting "Yes, We Can!" Nor did the report confirm that, in a special session early Saturday morning, the Afghan parliament unanimously voted to rename their country "Obamastan."

UPDATE III: The Associated Press gives us this Obama fashion update:
Obama, dressed in light khaki colored trousers and a checkered shirt with his sleeves rolled up, and others in the delegation received a briefing inside the U.S. base in Jalalabad from the Afghan provincial governor of Nangarhar.
A checkered shirt! Hard-hitting news!

Olbermann lies about ... Olbermann?

(Via Hot Air/Olbermann Watch.)

Obama in Afghanistan

New York Times:
Mr. Obama touched down in Kabul about 11:45 a.m. [local time], according to a pool report released by his aides. In addition to attending briefings with military leaders, he hoped to meet with President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan before flying to Iraq later in the weekend.
His trip was cloaked in secrecy, which advisers said was due to security concerns set forth by the Secret Service. His whereabouts have been unknown since he departed Chicago. He left Andrews Air Force Base near Washington on Thursday afternoon, according to a pool report, and turned up in Afghanistan on Saturday.
(Alas, Katie Couric reduced to 'pool' duty!)
Mr. Obama’s arrival opened a weeklong foreign trip that includes visits to Iraq and two other stops in the Middle East as well as appearances in three European capitals. . . .
The international trip by Mr. Obama is intended to counter Republican criticism . . . that he has too little experience in foreign affairs to serve as a world leader.
Note that word "intended" -- the New York Times report presumes to know the intent of Team Obama. There should be an attribution in that sentence, someone saying that this is their intent: "according to campaign strategists," or some such thing.

While the New York Times was teaching its reporters to read minds, perhaps it could have taught them to tell the truth, i.e., this foreign trip is a huge publicity stunt, not a "fact-finding" tour. And it's also a gigantic gamble by Team Obama, since any gaffe committed by Obama abroad will underline his unreadiness for the job of Commander-in-Chief.

Bon voyage, Obama!

UPDATE: By the way, Hopey "hopes to meet with President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan" -- let's reference the famous "5Ws and an H" of journalism for a moment, shall we? Who is Hamid Karzai and when did he become president? What event precipitated his installation as president, and who was the American president whose administration supported Karzai? How would Obama's policy in Afghanistan differ from the Bush administration's? Most importantly, where was Obama when U.S. troops were liberating Afghanistan, and why are none of these questions being asked by the New York Times?

Damn. They can read minds, but they can't do basic reporting.

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin notes the first entry in the "Obama World Tour" T-shirt design competition:

McCain's 'Late Night' nap

Is comic genius a genetic trait?

(Via LA Times/Memeorandum)

Friday, July 18, 2008

The un-fixable problem

About three weeks ago, as part of a concerted effort by the Left to shut down blogs perceived as "anti-Obama," The Other McCain was reported as a "spam blog" to my provider, Blogger.

This means that every time I want to post something or update, I have to do a word-verification. And this word-verification means that advance posting (i.e., forward-dating a post) is impossible.

But guess what? There is neither a phone number nor an e-mail whereby Blogger users can contact tech support. That is to say, the problem can't be fixed, because there is no way for me to contact the people whose job it is to fix the problem.

If there is indeed such a thing as Blogger tech support and if there are real human beings there -- that is to say, if Blogger tech support is not a myth like the Loch Ness Monster -- and somebody there just happens to read this, please help.

Rob Bluey is in Texas

At AFP's Right Online conference. The Washington Post sent a reporter.

I was invited, but nobody offered to pay me to cover the conference, so I didn't go. As previously explained, I write for money. It's called "capitalism."

UPDATE: OK, this is weird. At 9:25, Memeorandum linked the Washington Post story on the Right Online conference. By 10:25 -- zap! -- the link disappeared off the main Memeorandum page.

Q.: How is Jamie Lynn Spears like your cat or dog?

A.: She needs to be spayed or neutered!

Allahpundit doesn't think this is too objectionable. Fox News thinks it's "controversial." For some reason, I wonder if Planned Parenthood is helping PETA with this one.

The argument for spinsterhood

Megan McArdle, weary of fending off marriage proposals from lovestruck suitors entranced by her gigantic charms, issues a cri de coeur:
I assume that contrary to the popular stereotype, men actually must do much better out of marriage than women do, because society expends so much energy on telling women that they cannot be happy unless they marry, and trying to make sure they can't be happy by stigmatizing women who don't.
It's gotten so the poor gal can hardly go in public, as she is constantly besieged my heartsick swains falling to their knees, begging her to accept their tokens of undying love. Yet, alas for her legions of smitten admirers, it appears Miss McArdle will never consent to satisfy their desire for her companionship in connubial bliss, no matter how many carats are in those diamonds they offer as inducement.

Crippled vet -- under the bus!

Democratic Sen. Max Cleland, disabled Vietnam veteran, dissed by Team Obama:
Cleland — despite his iconic status — was abruptly disinvited from appearing with Obama in Atlanta July 8, three sources familiar with the incident said.
"This was a hard decision regarding Senator Cleland," said Obama's deputy campaign manager, Steve Hildebrand, in an email. He cited Obama's policy of banning lobbyists from participating in fundraising or giving money.
"If we make exceptions, we will open ourselves to criticism," he said.Cleland has
told associates he was asked to appear at an Obama fundraising event in Atlanta on July 8, only to be told at the last minute that he wouldn’t be welcome. The policy has been a key symbol of Obama’s outsider status, but many Democrats have also quietly questioned whether it goes too far when prominent party figures like Cleland.
How dare these Democrats question the wise and just policies of St. Hopey? Under the bus with all of them!

McCain's message? 'Show me the money!'

The L.A. Times reports:
Just 3 1/2 months out from the presidential election, McCain's national campaign schedule is being driven by the quest for money, not by the hunt for votes in 50 individual state elections. All right, every campaign says it's gonna compete everywhere. But they don't.
He's always looking for votes wherever he goes. But wherever he goes is determined not by potential votes but by where his finance folks have found enough donate-able money to set up fundraisers.
For McCain for now his itinerary is built on the quest for dollar$, not votes. That helps explain the widespread sense of unease among many Republicans nationally who do not deny he's working very hard.
But they fear he wasted his three-month general election head start not defining himself and not driving home the all-important central message of why he wants to be president.
The problem, of course, is that McCain was the favorite of a relatively small number of big-ticket contributors. He's got no no activist grassroots. I remember at CPAC in February, the hotel lobby was filled with young volunteers for Mitt Romney. But when John McCain arrived, it was with a squadron of professionals -- consultant types, hired guns.

To the extent that McCain has any natural "base," it can be summed up in two words: Old Republicans. These GOP geezers aren't going to spend 20 hours a week canvassing precincts in their walkers. And they sure as heck aren't going to do much in terms of Facebook/MySpace/MeetUp action.

Appealing to patriotic geriatrics is all fine and good, but it's hard to staff a campaign from the hip-replacement/coronary-stent crowd. McCain's inability -- or unwillingness -- to consider the interests and concerns of younger voters is a major weakness, and not one that can be corrected in July.

And let me point something out: I hammer Obama relentlessly, day after day, week after week. But every time I say anything negative about the McCain campaign, there is inevitably feedback from conservatives along the lines of: "How can you say that? Do you want Obama to win?" No, but if the Republican Party nominates a bad candidate, who is to blame for that? Certainly not me, since my top three choices for the GOP nomination were:
  • 1. Somebody besides John McCain;
  • 2. Anybody who's not John McCain; and
  • 3. Please, dear God, not John McCain.
So I blame his nomination on you Republicans who were either (a) McCainiacs all the way, or (b) late arrivals on the Anybody But McCain bandwagon.

At any rate, if John McCain is a bad candidate with an incompetent staff that runs a stupid campaign, that's not my fault, and I'm not going to ignore it, just because he's a Republican. The truth trumps all other considerations.

UPDATE: Jimmie at Sundries Shack:
John McCain backed his way into the nomination because Republicans shot each
front-runner full of holes the second they got any sort of lead.
The big problem was that Fredhead Fever fizzled. A lot of that was Fred's fault (and his wife's fault) but a lot of it was because Rudy Giuliani's influential admirers in conservative media did everything they could to pour water on Fredhead Fever.

Also, Romney and Huckabee split the religious conservative vote, and neither of them got much juice outside that bloc. Huckabee would have been acceptable except (a) he had a well-established open borders record, and (b) he is an ignoramus on economics. Romney had good rhetoric on both economics and immigration, but his Massachusetts record was at variance with his presidential rhetoric on these as on other issues.

I had hoped that the Anybody But McCain forces would coalesce around Romney -- for all his flip-flops, the guy just looks like a president --but then Romney came to CPAC and quit (saying in almost as many words that if he kept running, the terrorists would win). That left McCain, Huckabee and Ron Paul. The very next day, Ron Paul announced he would be "scaling back" his presidential campaign. At which point, the "Draft Bob Barr" movement sprang full-blown from the head Zeus. But that's another story . . .

This year's GOP primary race was a disaster from start to finish, and why? One word: "Macaca."

'F--- Saddam. We're taking him out.'

March 2002 -- a full year before the invasion of Iraq -- John McCain and another senator are at the White House meeting with Condoleeza Rice:
Bush unexpectedly stuck his head in the door. "Are you all talking about Iraq?" the President asked, his voice tinged with schoolyard bravado. Before McCain and the others in the room could do more than nod, Bush waved his hand dismissively.
"F--- Saddam," he said. "We're taking him out." And then he left.
Among other things, this anecdote in Time (h/t: Hot Air) reminds me of the arguments I kept having with conservative friends in late 2002 and early '03. There was a lot of diplomatic back-and-forth with our "allies," and much debate then going on in Congress. My friends were taking all this seriously, as if it were still up in the air whether we would or would not invade Iraq.

"The decision has already been made," I insisted. The deployment of multiple Army divisions to the region, I said, was not merely a threatening gesture, but a "Guns of August" type omen. Nothing Saddam could do at that point -- and certainly no protest by Germany or France -- was going to prevent the execution of the invasion plan.

This story about Bush saying "F--- Saddam" in March 2002 also points to something else I've said all along: The decision to invade Iraq had very little to do with the arguments that were (publicly) made in favor of the invasion.

Recall that in the fall of 2002, the issue of war and peace appeared to hinge on WMD and Saddam's cooperation with Hans Blix and the U.N. weapons inspectors. But Bush had made up his mind to "take out" Saddam long before then, so that by March 2002, it was something he took for granted, bluntly dismissing any alternative. Yet in March 2002, the showdown over WMD and weapons inspections hadn't even really begun, much less reached any kind of crisis.

This is why all that Plamegate nonsense about uranium ore was so irrelevant. Saddam's weapons weren't the reason for the invasion, but merely a politically convenient pretext, since the Clinton administration had already made Saddam's WMD the basis for previous military action. If Saddam's weapons were justification for the 1998 air strikes -- as all Democrats agreed -- then how could they argue against an invasion to eliminate the threat?

The decision to invade Iraq was made early, that decision was not based on the issues that were debated in late 2002 and '03, and once Bush made his decision, he never reconsidered it. The pre-war debate was thus moot, pointless, irrelevant, a charade, a sham.

'But what about judges?'

The trump card of every argument about whether John McCain deserves conservative support is bogus, says Bob Barr:
John McCain is warning conservatives that control of today's finely balanced Supreme Court depends on his election. Unfortunately, his jurisprudence is likely to be anything but conservative. . . .
Mr. McCain is a convenient convert to the cause of sound judicial appointments. He has never paid much attention to judicial philosophy, backing both Clinton Supreme Court nominees – Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. He also participated in the so-called "Gang of 14," which favored centrist over conservative nominees as part of a compromise between President George W. Bush and Senate Democrats.
There's more where that came from -- and the fact that the Wall Street Journal published it indicates that the WSJ editorial board isn't unanimously pro-McCain.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

This is not a flame war

I am not going to get angry at Daniel Larison's critique of my jocular anti-Douthatism, but let me make a couple of points about his post:

  • "Buddhist economics" -- I mentioned this in relation to my disdain for Crunchy Cons, and Larison seems not to grasp the reference to my review. As I pointed out, E.F. Schumacher (Small Is Beautiful) is almost the only economist named by Dreher in his book. Schumacher was a Keynesian-turned-Buddhist, whose Buddhist views thoroughly inform his disdain for economic growth (see Skousen). If Dreher prefers stagnation to growth, then he must be in very heaven now.
  • My advice to Douthat -- There is truth in humor, and sometimes people either don't get my jokes or miss the truth I'm trying to convey. And perhaps Larison might ponder why I don't think it wise to put everything I know on the Internet. He can buy me a beer sometime and we'll talk.
  • "Southern conspiracy" -- Ha. This whole thing started with Douthat, a Harvard-educated native of New Haven, Conn. I'm as Southern as they get, as I'm sure Heidi Beirich and Mark Potok would attest.
Dreher, Stooksbury, Douthat -- what do they have in common? A contempt for the basic consevative idea that the best economic policy is to let the market take care of itself. As I understand Douthat's book (from reviews), he has the idea that the Republican Party must be willing to give the working class something at taxpayer expense in order to outbid the Democrats. That is to say, "conservative redistributionism," just another variation of "big government conservatism."

Much of my animus toward Douthat is the same animus I exhibited toward Ryan Sager, namely my resentment of 20-something wunderkinden who write books sharing their brilliant new insight that's going to save the GOP, the conservative cause, and worldwide humanity. Twenty-something know-it-alls are arrogant enough without praise from me, and I certainly don't intend to sit at their feet worshipfully awaiting their pearls of precocious wisdom.

Expecting humility from Harvard grads would be rather foolish, but the Harvard grad who claims to have special insight into the political views of blue-collar America -- well, if that don't beat all I ever heard! But because Douthat's suggestions involve a critique of free market economics, he is an automatic hero to other anti-market conservatives.

The project of the anti-market conservatives seems to be to organize some kind of special-interest bloc along economic lines, thus to wage a class warfare of the Right. But if the working man wants class warfare -- if he wants to hear wealth demonized and to be promised taxpayer-funded handouts -- the Left can give him all he wants. A socialism of the Right is still socialism. (See Mises.)

Anti-market conservatism strikes me as a surrender to the superstitions inculcated by liberalism. Rather than telling the working man that his (un)economic ideas -- e.g., protectionism -- are mistaken, the anti-marketeers want conservatives to treat such ignorant notions as if they were valid. This is a politics that does not seek to persuade people of truth, but instead appeals to their preconceived errors.

UPDATE: For reasons unknown, Andrew Sullivan is interested in this "tussle," as Clark Stooksbury calls it. Stooksbury suggests that I "must still be smarting from the fact that within a three month period in the pages of Chronicles two years ago, I gave a mostly positive review of Rod Dreher’s book while being far more critical of McCain’s." Well, actually:

  • A. I never saw the Chronicles review of Donkey Cons, haven't the slightest idea what Stooksbury said about the book, and probably for the better.
  • B. I never saw his Chronicles review of Crunchy Cons, either -- ditto, ditto.
I've made freelance contributions to Chronicles a couple of times and spoke at the John Randolph Club several years ago. I used to get Chronicles free at my office, but the magazine stopped arriving a few years ago and I haven't seen it very often since then. I'd glady write for Chronicles again if they asked me, but they haven't done so, and therefore I'm generally out of the loop as far as Chronicles goes.

So I have to laugh at the suggestion that I'm grinding an ax with Stooksbury over something he wrote that I've never actually read. But if, as Stooksbury says, he praised Crunchy Cons and panned the book I co-wrote with Lynn Vincent, this just reinforces my general impression of what this "tussle" is all about, to wit:

There is a general feeling among conservatives that the Republican Party hasn't been a very good steward of the conservative cause. (The only conservatives who disagree with this premise are those on the GOP payroll.)

The question of how to fix this problem of the wayward GOP has bedeviled conservatives for decades. And some of them (among whom I'd classify my antagonists) seem to think the solution is to take the side of almost any critic of the Republican Party and its policies -- even if that critic is Noam Chomsky or Glenn Greenwald.

Correspondingly, there is among the anti-Republican conservatives an attitude of very deep hostility toward any conservative (and this is how my antagonists have classified me) who is chiefly interested in discrediting liberal ideas and defeating the political vehicle of those ideas, the Democratic Party.

"Liberal bashing" is an epithet among anti-Republican conservatives, and in the case of certain annoying Fox News personalities, I understand and share their disdain. Yet I do not share their apparent belief that the way to respond is to form drum circles of disgruntlement, inviting anyone and everyone who has an ax to grind with the GOP to join in. This amounts to self-imposed marginalization, and can only result in a conservative movement splintered and weakened, and liberalism triumphant.

Yes, I understand that the neocon intolerance of dissent -- their insistence that everyone in the conservative movement speak in "respectable" terms, effectively limiting debate to a rehashing of Republican Party talking points -- is at the root of all this. (I've sometimes joked that my next book would be titled, First They Came For Mel Bradford.) But it's like I tell my kids when they get into fights: "You can't control what other people do to you. You can control how you react."

"He hit me first!" is not a mature argument. Grudge-holding and score-settling is not going to fix the problems with the conservative movement. I can get pretty angry when I get offended, and my mocking sense of humor often offends people. In such instances, I hope that the occasional objects of my wrath or sarcasm would forgive my excesses.

Given that I admit these faults in myself, how can I then justify brooding over every insult to myself or my friends, compiling endless lists of enemies, and looking for every opportunity to do them ill?

A conservatism of spite? No. I've got no use for that. It wouldn't do me or anyone else any good. If it were up to me, everyone would be my friend. If people want to be my enemies, that's their choice, but it's completely one-sided. As I once remarked to Max Blumenthal, I'm too lazy to be evil.

Polling update

As of Thursday, the breakdown of the Rasmussen Electoral College report is:
Or, including the leaners:
Which is to say, if the election were held today, Obama wins. Unfortunately for Obama, Election Day is still more than three months away.

Recent state polls from Rasmussen:
Nevada -- Obama 42, McCain 40
N. Carolina -- McCain 45, Obama 42
Kansas -- McCain 52, Obama 32
Arkansas -- McCain 47, Obama 37
Discussion: McCain's strong lead in Kansas is good news, and could be parlayed into a stronger showing in other nearby states -- Missouri and Colorado -- where Obama hopes to compete. The narrow margin in North Carolina has to worry McCain's campaign; his immigration stance really hurts him with blue-collar North Carolinians, who are furious about the seeming endless influx of illegals in the past 10 years. Strange, however, that Arkansas (with a very similar situation) remains solid for McCain. Nevada is one of the states to watch; Barr could be a factor there.

National polls: The RCP average is Obama 45.9%, McCain 41.8% -- a 4.1% spread in the Democrat's favor. But that average includes a Quinnipiac poll that has Obama ahead 50-41, a nine-point spread unmatched by any other recent poll. Both tracking polls show the race a dead heat -- Rasmussen has it a tie (46-46) and Gallup has Obama by 2 points (46-44), which is within the margin of error.

Summary: The situation remains what it has been. Obama has a very small but persistent lead in national polls. The Electoral College currently favors the Democrat. The race remains Obama's to lose, but there's still a long way to go. The best news for McCain is that, a month before the conventions begin, Obama has not opened up the kind of commanding lead that would make him the presumptive winner. The "bandwagon effect," in other words, has not shifted against the Republican, as might have been feared, given the overall anti-GOP mood.

Don't jerk Larry Craig's nozzle

Too much information! Too much information!

His "wide stance" on energy policy . . .

Funny. Smart. Loser.

Why I wouldn't actually vote for Sean Tevis:
  • He's a Democrat -- Total deal-killer. The Gambino mob of American politics, corrupt to the core.
  • His phony head-fake on immigration -- Faux-conservatism on immigration is to Democrats in this decade what "let's get tough on drugs" was for Democrats in the '90s, a way to seem conservative without ever actually voting conservative. The Democrats are total open-borders, because they're basically importing a new constituency.
  • His name is Sean -- Friends don't friends vote for people named Sean. Or Kevin. Or Heather. If you want to be a politican, get a real name.
  • He's Greek -- Name a good Greek-American politician. You can't. The Greeks haven't produced a decent politician since Pericles.
But while I'd never vote for him, Tevis does bring the funny.

Obama, Prince of Pork

Sizzling hot taxpayer bacon:
Back when Barack Obama was a state senator, the Illinois Legislature offered this perk: You get elected, you get to give out some money. . . .
He ... pumped cash into St. Sabina Catholic parish, the South Side church whose pastor is the Rev. Michael Pfleger. . . . St. Sabina got $100,000 to help rebuild its community center.
And a venture capital fund linked to the Rev. Jesse Jackson . . . got $200,000, thanks to Obama.
In all, Obama doled out more than $3.6 million in state grants in just the last half of his state legislative career, records show.
Buying friends is a quick way to popularity, and it's such a bargain when you're spending other people's money. Ed Morrisey:
[T]his underscores the superficiality of Obama’s claims to be a reformer. He played the game in Chicago as well as anyone plays it on Capitol Hill. . . . The notion that he has any kind of track record in New Politics gets eaten by the pork that the Sun-Times lists on its site.
"Chicago reformer" -- an oxymoron, as opposed to a redundancy like "corrupt union."

Obama: A fool and his money

The leeches of the professional consultant class have apparently latched onto Hope:
With a burn rate of $42 million a month, Obama's campaign can just barely sustain its current levels of spending. And what's leftover may not be adequate to run the kind of campaign he needs to win. Just consider despite all the money he's raised, Obama has been outspent on television by 3 to 1 in the last two months. All the stagecraft and theatrics has come with a hefty cost. . . .
Obama's overhead is $10 million more per month than McCain's, and this is likely to increase substantially given his campaign's out of control spending and lofty plans for the general election. . . .
A paid staff of 2,000 is unheard of in the history of presidential elections. Consider that it's five times larger than Bush's campaign staff in 2004. (Emphasis added.)
Adding so much paid staff this early in the campaign is a mistake because, if you have to cut back later -- and Obama can't possibly keep meeting such a bloated payroll -- the negative publicity is disastrous: "Obama cuts staff; cites cash crunch."

Besides which, what's the pricetag for this foolish foreign expedition? Geezy-peezy! Look, ask any political operative about the manpower involved in organizing one -- just one -- campaign rally or fundraiser, stateside. The whole business of travel schedules, advance publicity, media arrangements, hotel bookings, stage set ups, sound and lighting -- when a big campaign is on the road, the logistics of the operation are a never-ending headache that chews through the man hours.

OK, so now try to do this in six or seven countries, with five or six languages, all the customs hassles, etc. The very idea of draining such enormous amounts of money and manpower out of a presidential campaign, a month before the convention, in order to stage a 5-day publicity stunt -- and that is all Obama's foreign trip is -- has to be viewed as what it is: a blunder of epic proportions.

Even if Obama can complete such a trip without committing a costly gaffe (and the smart money says he can't), it's so transparently a P.R. gimmick that the net impact will almost certainly be negative. And it's expensive as all hell.

UPDATE: Marc Ambinder's analysis, while worth reading, can be boiled down to (a) Obama's spending is not too high, (b) he's going to have all the money in the world, and generally (c) everything Plouffe & Axelrod do is brilliantly perfect and perfectly brilliant.

The counter argument is (a) so how come Obama's barely ahead in the polls, (b) does nobody take seriously the continuing disgruntlement of the PUMAs, and (c) doesn't this gaudy and expensive foreign excursion look a lot like hubris?

Fight on, Ricki Lieberman!

She raised more than $100,000 for Hillary Clinton -- and she ain't quitting yet:
Lieberman is keeping her own private hope alive with a daily email blast to supporters, entitled "Electability Watch," which features a cascade of negative articles and other items about Obama as a means to argue that superdelegates should change their minds in Denver and crown Clinton the nominee instead. . . .
In an interview, Lieberman said it is incumbent upon the party's superdelegates to take another cold, hard look at which candidate will be more electable in the fall. Given that neither Obama nor Clinton managed to win enough pledged delegates to secure the nomination, a switch from Obama to Clinton is a technical possibility that nevertheless seems highly improbable. . . .
Lieberman presses on each and every day with her emails, signing off each one with an exhortation for her audience to "GO GO GO!!!" in their efforts to contact and persuade superdelegates. While Lieberman would not reveal the number of people on her list, she bragged in one email that her organization is "beginning to reach SDs [superdelegates] thousands of times a week."
It's hard to beat somebody who refuses to quit. This kind of persistence against all reasonable hope may look a lot like "crazy" to you. I call it "courage." Ricki Lieberman, I salute you. And two new points for "Electability Watch":
Spread the word, Ricki . . .

UPDATE: Gallup has Obama by 2 points. Which reminds me again of what Clinton's people kept trying to point out during the primary campaign: Obama can't win the Big One. He can't close the deal. Or, to quote Paul Begala . . .

UPDATE II: Obama supporters are sending death threats to PUMAs. New Obama slogan: "Hope. Change. Or Death."

Nancy Pelosi-nomics

Ann Coulter:
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi . . . explained the cause of high oil prices back in 2006: "We have two oilmen in the White House. The logical follow-up from that is $3-a-gallon gasoline. It is no accident. It is a cause and effect. A cause and effect." . . .
Is that why a barrel of oil costs mere pennies in all those other countries in the world that are not run by "oilmen"? Wait -- it doesn't cost pennies to them? That's weird. . . .
The current Democratic mantra on energy is: "We can't drill our way out of this problem." Apparently their plan is to talk our way out of this problem.
Jimmie at Sundries Shack demonstrates that -- Yes, We Can! -- drill our way out of this problem and, contrary to the Democratic mantra, it wouldn't take years, either.

Maybe we could also conserve some energy, if all the networks weren't so busy flying TV news crews around the world to cover Obama's Excellent Adventure.

Obama for Homecoming King!

Athletic! Rich! Glamorous! Friends with the cool kids!

Fact: In 1992, 89% of the DC press voted for Clinton. The pro-Clinton bias was bad, but I have never seen anything to equal the kind of unmitigated -- and unembarrassed -- pro-Obama cheerleading coming from the MSM now.

Clearly, NBC is the worst of the lot, but the other two aren't far behind. During the primaries, Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos (and, arguably, CBS' Katie Couric) were pro-Clinton, but now that she's gone, they're completely in the tank for Obama and pulling out all the stops to promote his candidcacy.

This level of blatant bias for one candidate is unequalled in the history of broadcast journalism.

Sailer, Douthat and comments

Now, I finally see the cause of Ross Douthat's new "purge the comments" policy. Monday, Douthat acknowledged that he had used some research from Steve Sailer without proper attribution.

Sailer, a frequent contributor to VDare, is unfraid of the PC police (who've done about all the damage they could do to him by now). It appears that the Douthat-Sailer connection has put Douthat into a cross-current between two forces:
  • Leftists who are excoriating Douthat as a crypto-racist for using material from Sailer, who has written some very blunt things about race.
  • VDare readers who are excoriating Douthat as a wussified sellout for failing to be as blunt as Sailer is about the interaction of race, immigration, economics and politics.
Earlier, before I realized what was going on, I was sneering at Douthat for being a typical Harvard intellectual snob. Don't get me wrong, I still have a real chip on my shoulder about Ivy League elitists who presume to talk of the working class, but now that I see what Douthat's gotten himself into the middle of, I feel sorry for him.

Here he is, a perfectly respectable Harvard-educated conservative whiz kid, with a new book that's getting lots of critical buzz. Suddenly, he finds himself tagged as a plagiarist and a fellow traveler of racists.

Well, I still doubt I'll make it down to DuPont Circle for Douthat's swanky shindig tonight, but God help the poor boy now. Doubt he'll slum over here to read this (Harvard types don't do Blogspot) but if he did, my advice would be:
  • 1. Stay to the right of the Left. Don't try to get into a one-upmanship situation where you're trying to outdo them in multicultural enthusiasm. You can't win that fight.
  • 2. Avoid arguments with Paleos. Those guys play for keeps and (as Joan Jett said) they don't give a damn about their bad reputations.
  • 3. Keep your friends close, and your Neocons closer. This is the flip-side of my advice about the Paleos. Whatever your quarrels with the Neos, avoid making any outright enemies, or next thing you know, you're an "Unpatriotic Conservative" and NRO will dump you like yesterday's garbage.
I know, I know -- my routine bitching about Bill Kristol is a violation of Rule 3, but once a Republican gets a column in the New York Times, nobody in the movement trusts him anymore and he's too big to notice a mere blogger. So there's not really a downside to slamming Kristol now, movement-wise.

Also, I suppose the little thing between me and Clark Stooksbury could be viewed as violation of Rule 2, but Stooksbury started that. Stooksbury is a fan of Dreher, and I panned Crunchy Cons, so Stooksbury considers me evil. But if I've made a mortal enemy by criticizing the Buddhist economics (!) of Crunchy Cons from an Austrian perspective, I don't know what can be done to remedy the problem. When it comes to economics, Mises and Hayek are right and Buddhists are wrong.

At any rate, the key to navigating the kind of situation Douthat appears to have gotten himself into is to remember: You are a conservative. Conservatives are your friends. Liberals are not your friends and don't want to be your friends. Never risk alienating conservatives by attempting to appease the liberals.

If it all goes sideways, however, and Douthat ends up as persona non grata amongst his respectable conservative (former) friends, my advice is: Libertarianism.

No one can ever be kicked out of libertarianism, because no one's in charge, and there's like a Baskin-Robbins assortment of factions. However radical you become, you can always find some fringe anarchist splinter that will take you in. It's a come-as-you-are movement. There's probably even some Buddhist libertarians, but that's not my fault.

UPDATE: Having read the column in which Sailer takes credit for his own ideas in the Douthat/Reihan book, I now hate Douthat a little less. But he's still Harvard, so I still hate him. Harvard, New York Times, PBS, AFL-CIO, al Qaeda -- part of my short list of institutions that qualify everyone associated with them for automatic hatred.

Where did Maverick's media mojo go?

Reporters can be arrogant jerks, but in press relations as in any other business, "the customer is always right" -- it's not smart for campaign aides to get snippy with the media:

(Via Memeorandum and HuffPo.) Some of my best friends are publicists, and I've sometimes given people advice on P.R. One thing I try to explain is that reporters generally pride themselves on their haughty disdain for P.R. people, and if there's any thing that gets on a reporter's nerves, it's being jerked around by some miserable flack.

Yeah, I said the f-word: flack, an epithet for P.R. people that reporters use in the newsroom with a tone of complete contempt, e.g., "Can you believe the nerve of these people? I called to set up an interview with the administrator, and that stupid flack didn't even know when the guy was going to be back in his office. Send me a press release offering the guy for an interview, and the moron doesn't even know her own guy's schedule."

The fact that McCain's flacks are both females is typical of the current trend. At some point, a couple of decades ago, somebody got the idea that "public relations" was a job for pretty girls with nice smiles and no brains -- a friendly, chirpy "spokesperson" -- and never mind if they actually know how to write a press release or deal with reporters.

Hubris watch

Having predicted from the git-go that this European excursion would be a disaster for Barack Obama, I now see the albatrosses are flocking aboard:
Senator John McCain's trip to Iraq last spring was a low-key affair: With his ordinary retinue of reporters following him abroad, the NBC News anchor Brian Williams reported on his arrival in Baghdad from New York, with just two sentences tacked onto the "in other political news" portion of his newscast.
But when Obama heads for Iraq and other locations overseas this summer, Williams is planning to catch up with him in person, as are the other two evening news anchors, Charles Gibson of ABC and Katie Couric of CBS, who, like Williams, are far along in discussions to interview Obama on successive nights.
He'll be surrounded in a cocoon of liberal media adulation, a thousand cameras on the scene to record that historical moment when, at long last, Hope jumps the shark.

Or rides the tank, as it were.

Massachusetts: The Gay Vegas

Cotton Mather must be rolling in his grave:
On Tuesday, the State Senate voted to repeal a 1913 law that prevents Massachusetts from marrying out-of-state couples if their marriages would not be legal in their home states. The repeal, which passed with no objections on a voice vote, is expected to pass the House later this week. Gov. Deval Patrick, a Democrat and a supporter of same-sex marriage whose 18-year-old daughter recently disclosed publicly that she is a lesbian, has said he will sign the repeal. . . .
The law, believed to have been designed to uphold other states' bans on interracial marriage, was invoked in 2004 by Gov. Mitt Romney, a same-sex marriage opponent who said he did not want to make Massachusetts "the Las Vegas of same-sex marriage."
Quick points:
  • Voice vote -- Spineless wimps who don't want to put their votes on the record for the people to see.
  • Lesbian daughter -- Isn't that pretty much mandatory for 18-year-olds in Massachusetts nowadays? Except for the infamous teen sluts of Gloucester, I mean.
  • Mitt Romney -- Notice the way they worked him into the story, just making sure to tag him as a homophobe in case he gets tapped as GOP running mate.
The irresistible logic of "progress" is a fascinating thing to watch. "Gay marriage" -- an unheard-of idea just a few years ago -- is now opposed only by bigoted troglodytes. This all seems vaguely familiar:
In our day, innovations march with so rapid a stride that they quite take away one's breath. The fantastical project of yesterday, which was mentioned only to be ridiculed, is to-day the audacious reform, and will be tomorrow the accomplished fact.
Once you accept "progress" and other such radical abstractions as fundamental principles, insisting that custom and tradition must always yield to theory, you have weighed anchor and cast off, and the ultimate destination is destruction.

Of the folly of "progress," Chesterton said it best: "I have long ceased to argue with people who prefer Thursday to Wednesday because it is Thursday." Burke especially scorned the radical notion of moral progress:
We are not the converts of Rousseau; we are not the disciples of Voltaire; Helvetius has made no progress among us. Atheists are not our preachers; madmen are not our lawgivers. We know that we have made no discoveries, and we think that no discoveries are to be made, in morality, nor many in the great principles of government, nor in the ideas of liberty, which were understood long before we were born, altogether as well as they will be after the grave has heaped its mould upon our presumption, and the silent tomb shall have imposed its law on our pert loquacity.
Liberté, égalité, fraternité -- ah, yes, and the Goddess of Reason! Listen closely, friend, and you can hear those tumbrels on their way to the guillotine.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Debunking Democrat energy myths

Jimmie at Sundries Shack takes on the pet claim of liberals that we can't "drill our way out" of the current oil price situation because it takes so long to bring oil to market:
According to a study quoted in this Wall Street Journal article, we could have crude oil out of the ground from the coast of California “within a year”. We know where the oil is, the water there is shallow, and we’ve actually had the platforms in place since before the ban went into place. There is an estimated 10 billion (yes, billion with a big, fat “B”) barrels of oil off the coast of California.
Even if a tenth of that is in those places, that’s enough oil to supply America for seven weeks. I don’t think that ten percent is an unreasonable estimate, either.
Jimmie's got lots more examples -- read the whole thing -- but I like this California thing best. I'd love to see T. Boone Pickens put about a half-dozen oil rigs just off the coast of Malibu, if only to annoy Barbra Streisand. In fact, Newt Gingrich should change his slogan to, "Drill Here, Drill Now, Annoy Barbra Streisand."

'Allegedly,' my foot

Headline in the Salt Lake Tribune:

Arrest warrant issued for woman whose bogus tip allegedly triggered FLDS raid
"Allegedly" is a legalism originally imposed on newspapers by lawyers concerned about libel prosecutions, and since abused to the point of absurdity by media liberals afraid to call a crook a crook, implying doubt about guilt even in situations where guilt is utterly clear.

I have sometimes seen cases where, in discussing the case of a convicted murderer facing a sentencing hearing, reporters feel the need to qualify their description of the killer's crimes with "allegedly" or "according to prosecutors"! This kind of nonsense makes me want to scream:

"For the love of H.L. Mencken and all that's holy, man, this perp's been read his rights, given his day in court, tried and convicted by a jury of his peers! If they hanged him tomorrow, he'd have no cause to complain. He hacked his mother to death and was covered in her blood when the cops caught him with the bloody knife in his hand. He told the cops -- and I quote -- 'The old nag had it comin' to her.' What in God's green earth is this 'allegedly' doing in your story? Are you afraid this scum's going to get his court-appointed lawyer to sue you for defamation? Don't you think that weak-chinned weasel from the public-defenders office might be too busy trying to keep his guilty-as-sin client from riding the needle to be worried about what you write in a newspaper?"

The ridiculous overuse of "allegedly" so annoyed Wes Pruden that, during his tenure as editor of The Washington Times, he banned any variation of the word -- allege, alleged, allegedly, allegation -- from the newspaper. "Police said," or some variation thereof, was the preferred way of dealing with criminal complaints, and persons charged with crimes were "accused robbers" or "robbery suspects," etc.

This latest development in the case of Rosita Swinton -- discussed by Don Surber at some length -- highlights how prosecutors and the press sometimes cooperate in obscuring unpleasant truths.

What a reasonable person can discern about this case by careful reading of the press accounts is this:
  • Swinton, a Colorado resident who was also a pledged state Democratic convention delegate for Barack Obama, has a habit of hoax phone calls in which she pretends to be an abuse victim, for which she has been previously prosecuted.
  • At some point last year, perhaps as a result of watching an "Oprah" segment on polygamy, Swinton developed an obsessive interest in the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) -- rogue Mormons disavowed by the mainstream LDS Church -- and began devouring news accounts of the group's activities.
  • In late March, in phone calls to an Arizona activist who runs an anti-polygamy group, Swinton claimed to be an FLDS teenager named "Sarah" who was being abused in a polygamist marriage.
  • Subsequently, a Texas family-crisis hotline received similar calls, which were the basis for the search warrant that led to the raid on the El Dorado FLDS compound.
  • Texas Rangers later flew to Colorado, interrogated Swinton and conducted a search of her home.
  • The Texas child-welfare officials who conducted the El Dorado raid (and tried to put more than 400 FLDS children, including tiny infant babies, into foster care) have refused to confirm that Swinton, the known phone hoaxer, was the bogus "Sarah" named in the warrrant, or that her hoax calls were the sole basis for the warrant.
The Texas child-welfare officials obviously don't want to admit that their paramilitary raid -- employing SWAT teams with M-16s and armored personnel carriers --was the result of a hoax, since such an admission (a) would expose them as the gullible chumps they are, (b) potentially result in their unemployment, (c) might expose them to civil liability, and (d) would undermine the prosecution of whatever crimes the FLDS allegedly committed.

The clever reader will note that the original lurid tabloid-style reports about the El Dorado raid -- Virgin Teens Raped by Sick Sex Cult! -- weren't really heavy on the kind of caveats that now are used to hide the idiocy of the Texas officials allegedly duped by the alleged hoaxter, Rosita Swinton. For some reason, reporters are extending to Swinton and the Texas officials she duped a presumption of innocence that was sadly lacking when the "Sarah" affidavit was posted online.

Look, I have about as much respect for the kook theology of Mormonism as I have for Scientology or the "Heaven's Gate" suicide cult, and regard the FLDS as a kind of ultra-kook fringe for hard-core kooks who consider the more mainstream Mormon kooks as insufficiently kooky. The polygamist practices of the FLDS -- "elders" with a dozen or more wives, teen brides forced to become the fourth or fifth or 17th wife of patriarchal geezers -- are creepy beyond words.

But you know what? Welcome to America, where creepy kooks have rights, too. However creepy, kooky or indeed criminal the actions of the FLDS in Texas, they apparently weren't disturbing their neighbors or posing any threat to the larger community. If -- as now appears almost certain -- the only pretext for the raid was a hoax call from an obsessed psycho in Colorado who wasn't a Mormon and had never been within 500 miles of El Dorado, Texas, then these FLDS people are victims of government abuse, and any charges against them based on this warrant will never withstand appellate scrutiny.

A man's home is his castle, and if it so happens that his castle is a kook compound where he's keeping a harem -- hey, why doesn't somebody stage a raid on Hugh Hefner? A lot of people are upset at the idea of the teen mothers at the FLDS compound, but I've said it before and I'll say it again: Texas has the highest teen birth rate in America. If every pregnant 15-year-old in Texas is justification for a paramilitary raid, they're going to have to hire a lot more SWAT officers.

P.S.: One reason "America's Most Wanted" is my favorite show on TV is that they avoid this "allegedly" crap when dealing with criminals. John Walsh never hesitates to call a perp a "lowlife scum."

Mississippification, Obverse Dept.

"[P]eople who live in states with few blacks seem more open to the idea of a president who is not white."
-- Tim Egan, New York Times
This is the flip side of Mississippification and, furthermore, adds important evidence of The Urkel Effect, a related phenomenon I'm too tired to explain in depth right now.

Ross Douthat stifles dissent

The snotty Harvard punk (hey, I can still say that here, can't I?) assigns an intern to patrol his blog comments, suppressing anyone who points out the absurdity of an Ivy League intellectual posing as a proletarian pundit.

Douthat -- a/k/a the GOP's answer to "Mudcat" -- will be rolling out his snotty punk prescription for the Republican Party at a swank Dupont Circle party for all the other Harvard snobs tomorrow. Have fun with that.

'We need not degrade women'

The Reverend Jackson (who's never actually been the pastor of any church) lectures without any evident hint of irony on the importance of "dignity":

(Via Hot Air.) Criticizing the use of the "n-word" by gangsta rappers and black comedians, he says:
"We need not degrade women and degrade our people in order to make a joke or make a hit."
Degrading women? Flashback, June 2001:
Mr Jackson, who is 59 and married with five children, conceived a daughter with 39-year-old Karin Stanford in mid-1998 while she held a senior post in the Baptist preacher's Rainbow PUSH (People United to Save Humanity) Coalition. . . .
Miss Stanford met Mr Jackson in the mid-Nineties when she was teaching at the University of Georgia and researching a thesis, later published as a book - Beyond the Boundaries: Reverend Jesse Jackson in International Affairs. . . .
Mr Jackson appointed Miss Stanford as head of the coalition's Washington office. When she fell pregnant, Mr Jackson gave her $40,000 (£27,000) from coalition funds to help her relocate to Los Angeles during maternity leave.
She still works there as a part-time researcher for the coalition.
Adultery? Siring bastards with your mistress? Putting the aforesaid mistress on the payroll of your extortion racket ministry? No, no, reverend -- these things are not in the least "degrading."

What next? "Dignity" lectures from Snoop and Ice-T?

Mixed messages

Being in media, I'm always interested by controversies over messages, and today there are a couple of these controversies in the news.

Controversy 1:
A Florida man is using billboards with an image of the burning World Trade Center to encourage votes for a Republican presidential candidate, drawing criticism for politicizing the 9/11 attacks.
"Please Don't Vote for a Democrat" reads the type over the picture of the twin towers after hijacked airliners hit them on September, 11, 2001.
Mike Meehan, a St. Cloud, Florida, businessman who paid to post the billboards in the Orlando area, said former President Clinton should have put a stop to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda before 9/11. He said a Republican president would have done so.
"I believe 9/11 could have been prevented if we'd had a Republican president at the time," Meehan said Wednesday on CNN's "American Morning." . . .
The local Republican Party called the billboard "inappropriate," according to WFTV.
Now, hold on there a minute! Am I the only one who's seen The Path to 9/11? Is it a point of controversy among Republicans whether the head-in-the-sand policies of the Clinton administration were a key cause of U.S. vulnerability to al-Qaeda? And please tell me what, exactly, is the difference between the direct message of Mr. Meehan's billboards and the indirect message of the Bush re-election campaign in 2004?

What the local GOP objects to in Mr. Meehan's billboards is that he's saying clearly and openly what Republicans routinely say in coded terms. Frankly, I prefer the refreshing honesty of Mr. Meehan's message to poll-tested and focus-grouped gobbledygook of the official GOP, and what really bothers me is why any Republican Party official felt the need to pass judgment on Mr. Meehan's billboards.

If I was a GOP spokesman, and I got a call from a reporter asking about those billboards, I'd just say, "Look, it's a free country, pal. It's his money and if that's what he wants to say, it's not the place of the Republican Party to tell him not to say it. So stop trying to bug me about somebody else's billboard. We're running a political party, not a billboard-approval service."

Controversy 2:
A state employee has resigned and officials have disavowed an international advertising campaign that led to calls for an investigation of tourism posters proclaiming "South Carolina is so gay."
The campaign, which plastered the London subway with posters advertising the charms of South Carolina and five major U.S. cities to gay European tourists, landed with a resounding thud in South Carolina, where the issue of gay rights has long been a political flashpoint.
The advertisements were timed for London’s Gay Pride Week, which ended Saturday. The posters touted the attractions of the state to gay tourists, including its "gay beaches" and its Civil War-era plantations.
What this involves is a cultural conflict between the "anointed" experts who dreamed up this ad campaign and the "benighted" taxpayers of South Carolina. (I adopt these terms from Thomas Sowell's excellent book, The Vision of the Anointed.)

To the anointed, there is no cause so just and righteous as "tolerance" toward gays, an attitude that often manifests itself in what can fairly be called gay supremacy: The belief that homosexuals are not merely equal to everyone else, but that their status as a persecuted victim group endows gay people with superior status as moral symbols -- "mascots," to borrow another term from Sowell.

Gay supremacy is everywhere nowadays. The ironic "camp" sensibility of gay culture -- catty and mocking, a sort of satirical travesty of bourgeois values -- permeates everything from fashion magazines to primetime sitcoms. There is scarcely a college campus in America where the billboards in dorm lobbies aren't festooned with fliers advertising various "GLBT" activities. A concern for gays as a crucial element of "diversity" now oozes from the human-resources offices of major corporations.

Given all this, one is hardly surprised that a tourism ad agency would think it a clever thing to plaster the slogan "South Carolina is so gay" all over London during a gay pride festival. The clever, sophisticated agency people who dreamed up this slogan are probably puzzled that their ad campaign has provoked controversy. The agency people are scratching their heads and telling themselves:
After all, the portfolio we showed the state tourism officials included such past successes as, "Lesbians Love Lubbock," "Hoboken [Hearts] Homos," and "Tulsa: America's Transvestite Paradise." Why, we just signed a big new contract to run that campaign, "Cleveland: As Queer As It Gets." So what's up with this homophobic crap all of a sudden? Never mind, we'll still have plenty of business once we get that "Welcome to Brokeback Country" deal in Montana.
The ad people, in other words, have been inside the bubble of elite culture -- and its gay supremacist values -- so long that they'd forgotten that there was a whole 'nother country out there, filled with ordinary Americans who've never set foot inside a "diversity workshop" or a Gender Theory classroom.

'But it was satire, your honor'

Perhaps inspired by the New Yorker, a celebrity attempts a light-hearted spoof:
Comedian and actor Andy Dick was arrested today on suspicion of drug possession and sexual battery after police were called to a disturbance outside a restaurant in Murrieta.Police said they arrived at Buffalo Wild Wings on Murrieta Hot Springs Road at about 1:15 a.m. after receiving reports of an intoxicated man urinating outside. They stopped a truck that was leaving the scene and Dick was in the front eat.
According to Murrieta Police Lt. Dennis Vrooman, a 17-year-old girl said 42-year-old Dick had left the restaurant, walked up to her and pulled down her tank top, exposing her breasts. . . .
Vrooman said Dick was "extremely intoxicated" and that police found marijuana and antianxiety Xanax medication in his pockets.
See? The Xanax gives it away. The comedian was obviously engaging in a parody of the behavior of celebrity perpetual rehab failures like Robert Downey Jr. and Danny Bonaduce. Just a harmless joke, and I'm sure at his trial, Dick will deliver the punchline: "Whaddya mean, she's only 17? She looked like at least a 38 to me!"

Just another reminder (as if such a reminder was needed) of why celebrities are so much smarter and more virtuous than ordinary Americans.

'Kumbaya liberalism'

Michelle Malkin, clever gal that she is, didn't just look at the cover of the latest New Yorker, she actually read the article:
The magazine piece quotes Obama's recommendations for how to stop jihad in a local Chicago newspaper op-ed he had published eight days after the September 11 terrorist attacks. It’s a self-parody of blind, deaf, and dumb Kumbaya liberalism:
"We must also engage, however, in the more difficult task of understanding the sources of such madness. The essence of this tragedy, it seems to me, derives from a fundamental absence of empathy on the part of the attackers. . . . Most often, though, it grows out of a climate of poverty and ignorance, helplessness and despair."
Yeah, that stuff in the Koran about smiting the unbelievers -- irrevelevant to those "root causes." The fact that Osama bin Laden is the privileged son of a multimillionaire or that Mohammed Atta was an affluent Egyptian who studied architecture in grad school -- never mind the facts, Democrats must stick to their flawed liberal theories. Michelle continues:
Ayman al-Zawahiri didn’t need more education or wealth to steer him away from Islamic imperialism and working toward a worldwide caliphate. He has a medical degree. So does former Hamas biggie Abdel Rantissi. Seven upper-middle-class jihadi doctors were implicated in the 2007 London/Glasgow bombings. Suspected al Qaeda scientist Affia Siddiqui, still wanted by the FBI for questioning, is a Pakistani who studied microbiology at MIT and did graduate work in neurology at Brandeis.
And she points out that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is a proud alumnus of North Carolina A&T. The liberal faith in salvation through education -- a modern heresy that was one of the main targets of William F. Buckley's 1951 book God and Man at Yale -- has stubbornly survived more than a half-century of contradictory evidence. This idee fixe, based on the egalitarian notion that the only difference between an MIT grad and a ditch-digger is that the ditch-digger doesn't have an MIT diploma, persists in the liberal mind because, if it were ever abandoned, their entire worldview would collapse like a house of cards.

Always, the liberal education agenda is "more, more, more," an agenda that seems to have no fixed objective nor any limits, so that eventually (if the liberals have their way), the population will be entirely composed of full-time students and school employees. This education uber alles agenda seems mainly designed to keep people in school for decades, rather than letting them go out into the world and do something useful for a living.

And so Obama's solution to jihad is to foist this "progressive" nonsense onto the Arab world? The problem with Obama is not that he represents any new radicalism, but that he represents the same old liberal ideas that have failed wherever they've been tried.

Of Hope and wishes

Writing in the British Guardian, Michael Tomasky engages in wishful thinking:
Obama has done very little and has let some silver-platter opportunities pass him by. He is not redefining McCain.
Some leading conventional-wisdom meisters, like Time's Mark Halperin, like to say that this race is completely about Obama. . . .
But it's not all about Obama. It's also about an unnecessary war that was based on lies. It's about a lousy economy and a housing boom that went bust. It's about $4-a-gallon gas. It's about America's dreadful reputation in the world. It's about federal inaction on a wide range of problems, most notably healthcare and climate change, but a bushel of smaller things besides. It's about 84% of Americans thinking the country is on the wrong track.
In other words, it's about the Republicans - their stewardship (failed), and their ideas (stale). And it's about how committed McCain is to that stewardship and those ideas.
Those - a race about Obama and a race about what the GOP has done to the country - are two different races. And Obama is more likely to win the second one.
Well, if "ifs" and "buts" were candy and nuts, we'd all have a Merry Christmas! First of all, it's not just "conventional-wisdom meisters," but veteran Democratic operatives who see this election as a referendum on Obama's readiness for the job of Commander-in-Chief:
"There has never been a major party candidate less relevant in an election than John McCain," said Democratic strategist James Carville. "It's all about Obama."
Tomasky wants the election to be about exactly the issues he wants to discuss, in exactly the terms that he wants to discuss them. A fixed fight, played by ground rules that favor Democrats.

I'm reminded of the Confederate politician who, before the Civil War, supposedly bragged that the South could whip the North in three months fighting with nothing but cornstalks. After the war was over and the South lost, a rival chided the politician about his former boast, to which he responded, "But sir, the Yankees refused to fight with cornstalks."

In other words, you have to fight the fight you're in. Wishful thinking is not a strategy, and if Democrats had wanted an election that was "not about Obama," then why did they nominate this newcomer with no established record whom they've promoted as a celebrity "rock star"?

That is to say, if the Democrats wanted a candidate who was simply "not Republican," then Dennis Kucinich or Christopher Dodd would have done just fine. Instead, like middle-school girls swooning for a teen idol, Democrats got all giddy about Obama, a symbolic tabula rasa onto which they could project their fondest fantasies.

With only three years' in office as a junior senator, with no signature issue except perhaps his early opposition to the war -- a position he's now trying to artfully airbrush -- Obama is inherently a political question mark, and all Tomasky's complaints won't change that.

Rightly or wrongly, independent voters (of which Michalel Tomasky is not one) say they vote "not for the party, but for the man," and the question, "What kind of man is Obama?" -- that is to say, his character -- is foremost in the minds of these undecided "swing" voters.

There is no such question about John McCain. For good or ill, his character, his biography and his record are well known. McCain has been in the Senate more than two decades, his name has been attached to prominent legislation, and he fought a bitter primary battle against George W. Bush in 2000. He cannot be magically transformed into a Bush proxy, no matter how many times Michael Tomasky closes his eyes and wishes it were so.

McCain is the known, Obama is the unknown, and the curiosity of voters about the unknown is both (a) the source of the celebrity-style excitement about Obama, and (b) a glaring political weakness for the Democrat.

Tomasky and his fellow progressives have made their choice, and must live with the consequences. They cannot wish away their candidate's defects any more than the Republicans can pretend that they've nominated the second coming of Ronald Reagan. Wishful thinking is not a strategy. You must fight the fight you're in.

Trouble in the land of Hope?

Item One:
After a brief bout of Obamamania, some Capitol Hill Democrats have begun to complain privately that Barack Obama's presidential campaign is insular, uncooperative and inattentive to their hopes for a broad Democratic victory in November. "They think they know what's right and everyone else is wrong on everything," groused one senior Senate Democratic aide. "They are kind of insufferable at this point."
Item Two:
[T]here are Clinton supporters clinging to the hope that if her name is placed in nomination and the roll call of the states is conducted, she might -- might -- still win.
Heidi Li Feldman, a Georgetown University law professor, insists
there's still "no way of predicting" the outcome should there be a fair vote.
That's because Obama has not secured enough pledged delegates to ensure the
magic number of 2,118 needed to claim victory
; the Illinois senator has
gone past that benchmark only with the pledges of about 390 superdelegates — and
they can change their minds at any time up to the moment they cast their ballots.
Item Three:
Big news folks -- it looks like our efforts in contacting those Superdelegates are starting to pay off. . . . There are unconfirmed reports, based on phone banking efforts to reach out to Super Ds, that eight previously Obama SDs expressed that, given the opportunity, they would vote for Hillary at the convention.
Never mind those mere Democrats in America, though -- Obama's gearing up for his Grand Tour of Europe! Say, how many superdelegates does France get?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Obama's rookie season

My latest American Spectator column:
Obama's Long March to the Democratic nomination was not much of a warm-up for the media environment he'll face as the general election campaign comes into clear focus this fall.
It's as if a promising recruit in Class A baseball were to find himself suddenly catapulted into the major leagues, eagerly leaning into the plate in his first at-bat, only to have the pitcher aim a 95-mph fastball at his ear.
Welcome to the big leagues, rookie.
Unlike his upset of Hillary Clinton, the fall season will pit Obama against the concerted efforts of the conservative communications apparatus his campaign has dubbed the "Republican attack machine."
Obama knows all about that machine -- he might never have gotten this far had it not been for the assistance of the Right in making Hillary a soft target for the challenger. . . .
Please read the whole thing.

Union bosses rip off workers

More proof why "corrupt union" is redundant:
The Hudson study found that by 2005, the last full year of reports filed, 21 of the nation’s biggest unions show that their rank and file members’ pensions are only funded at an appalling 67.7%. Conversely, the pension funds of the union bosses are funded at a much better 88.3%. So, the union bosses — all of who have a separate pension fund than their own rank and file members — have made sure THEIR pensions are funded at a much higher rate than that of their own members.
Needless to say, the union bosses administer both their own and the rank and file members’ funds.
The SEIU is particularly egregious in that the union bosses have a pension funded at 103% while to poor rank and file members are only at a paltry 75% funded.
The whole purpose of labor unions is to collect money to pay fat salaries for the lazy goons who do no actual work. Unions exist exclusively to serve the interests of their leadership, and the poor saps in the rank-and-file -- forced to pay dues as a condition of employment -- are merely the prey of the parasitical goons.

The National Legal and Policy Center's "Union Corruption Update" regularly highlights specific instances of extraordinary thievishness among Big Labor's top goons. But since the entire enterprise of organized labor thievery is a dishonest extortion racket, it is thus absurd to reserve the adjective "corrupt" for those union officials who steal a little more than the law allows.

Obama defies the Wayback Machine

Team Obama tries to hide the evidence of St. Hopey's erstwhile opposition to the surge in Iraq:
Barack Obama's campaign scrubbed his presidential Web site over the weekend to remove criticism of the U.S. troop "surge" in Iraq, the Daily News has learned.
The presumed Democratic nominee replaced his Iraq issue Web page, which had described the surge as a "problem" that had barely reduced violence. "The surge is not working," Obama's old plan stated, citing a lack of Iraqi political cooperation but crediting Sunni sheiks - not U.S. military muscle - for quelling violence in Anbar Province.
The News reported Sunday that insurgent attacks have fallen to the fewest since March 2004. (Emphasis added.)
This childish and impotent gesture won't work, as anyone familiar with Internet technology could tell you. The old stuff can still be found through Google caches, and No Quarter has some of the Messiah's former prophecies of doom in Iraq. Don Surber:
Finally, we know what Obama means by change.
Yeah, Don, but what the hell is the Hope for?

UPDATE: Scott Johnson alludes to Orwell:
Who is heading up the Records Department of the Ministry of Truth over at the Obama campaign?
This constant under-the-bus stuff -- now Obama's thrown his own former anti-war self under the bus -- indeed begins to resemble the facile rewriting of history that Orwell's 1984 portrayed as inherent to totalitarianism, e.g., Stalin's henchmen airbrushing Trotsky from old photos, the coverup of the Comintern's role in the failure of the anti-fascist opposition in Spain, et cetera.

Ed Morrisey questions the timing:
The move comes as John McCain repeatedly points out that Obama opposed the surge in January 2007 and said it would make the situation worse. . . .
The scrubbing . . . may just be a way to prep for his upcoming trip to Iraq. If Obama appeared before the troops who defeated the terrorists in western Iraq, he may not get the reception he wants if his website kept discounting their hard work in the face of a despicable enemy.
Yeah, you can see Obama (who, unlike John Kerry, never wore the uniform) going to Iraq and telling the troops: "Congratulations on your complete failure in this futile doomed quagmire!"

RWFG on 'Gonzo'

Victor Morton, the Right-Wing Film Geek, reviews Gonzo:
Former work colleague Stacy and I went to see GONZO together last week, in part so he could review it for the American Spectator. I have long known that Stacy loves Hunter S. Thompson and had written several times for the newspaper on him, so I figured he’d get a kick about at least seeing GONZO. . . .
The nub of Stacy's complaint was that the film was too heavily focused on Thompson's political involvement in "the Sixties," and thus skrimped heavily on large chunks of material, both from earlier and later.
My review in The American Spectator was a bit harsh, because Alex Gibney's film to a large degree reflects the narrative that Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner has spun since Thompson's death, that the only really important work of HST's career was what he wrote for Rolling Stone. Wenner especially discounts Thompson's later writing, including his columns for

This notion of the great Gonzo in his final years as irrelevant was personally hurtful to Thompson's widow, Anita, who worked with Hunter on the ESPN columns. As she told the New York Daily News, Hunter "wrote more in the final five years of his life than he did in the previous 15 years of his life."

Gibney makes one major concession to Thompson's post-Rolling Stone career, by beginning the film with a re-enactment of HST writing his post-9/11 column for ESPN:
The towers are gone now, reduced to bloody rubble, along with all hopes for Peace in Our Time, in the United States or any other country. Make no mistake about it: We are At War now -- with somebody -- and we will stay At War with that mysterious Enemy for the rest of our lives. . . .
We are going to punish somebody for this attack, but just who or what will be blown to smithereens for it is hard to say. Maybe Afghanistan, maybe Pakistan or Iraq, or possibly all three at once. Who knows? Not even the Generals in what remains of the Pentagon or the New York papers calling for WAR seem to know who did it or where to look for them.
Very good -- the column is read by Johnny Depp, who functions as the voice of Thompson's writing for much of the film. But Gibney obviously chooses this column for the opening scene because it fits his own Bush-hating, anti-war worldview. Thompson matters, Gibney is saying, because Thompson was a man of the Left.

No, Thompson matters because he was a brilliant writer, one of the most creative writers of the 20th century, the inventor of a style that has been often imitated but never equalled. He is admired by so many journalists -- not all of them on the Left -- because, more than any other writer, Thompson conveyed the sense of journalism as fun.

Every reporter who has ever given that spontaneous air-punch of triumph -- yes! -- after hanging up the phone with a source that just gave him the quote that cinched the big story knows the Thompsonesque thrill of journalism as a rollicking good-time adventure. When I first met his widow last fall, she explained one common misconception about Thompson:
"A lot of young people are under the assumption that if you do a lot of cocaine and drink a lot of Wild Turkey, you, too, can write like Hunter S. Thompson."
You don't have to gobble mescaline and guzzle whiskey to be gonzo, you just need to conceive of journalism as a grand sport, a competitive excursion in search of the Big Story. (Ask Philip Klein about how I scooped him with his own notes while he lounged in the hot tub in Santa Barbara.)

Go back and re-read Hell's Angels, as I recently did, and you'll see that Thompson repeatedly excoriates other reporters (from Time, the Associated Press and the rest of the same MSM outlets that we all still hate today) for publishing stories filled with inaccuracies, hype and "official bulls--t," stories that failed to accurately describe who the Angels were, what they did, and why they did it.

Thompson's account went deeper, told a bigger and more interesting truth, and debunked the press hysteria that depicted the Angels -- a relative handful of Harley-riding hoodlums in California -- as a ubiquitous Menace to Society who might, at any moment, swoop down on your Middle American town and gang-rape your daughter.

Thompson got the Real Story, in other words, and thereby exposed as gullible chumps the big-shot Professional Journalists with their precious "objectivity" and "ethics." One can almost hear Hunter shouting: "Objectivity, my ass! How about some facts for a change?" That was the brilliance of Thompson as a journalist, and it is admirable without regard for the narrow lens of left-wing politics through which Gibney insists on telling Thompson's story.

Victor fairly well enjoyed the Gibney film (rating it a 6 on his 10-point scale) and points out that my own deep familiarity with the gonzo syllabus probably accounts for most of my dissatisfaction with the film. I didn't mean to tell anyone not to go see the film, which certainly delivers enough fun in two hours to justify the cost of a $9 ticket and a box of popcorn. I just didn't want anyone to go see it without the caveats.

If you want to know Hunter S. Thompson, read his books. But I guess it's the old story -- if you've read the book, you'll always be somewhat disappointed with the movie version.

At any rate, I owe Victor for a couple of beers and a plate of quesadillas. But considering that I introduced Victor to Ann Coulter, the balance sheet's probably still in my favor.