Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Entering Old Fogeyhood

I remember when gas was 28 cents a gallon.

I remember squeezing five bucks worth of gasoline in my 1967 Volkswagen Beetle.

I remember thinking it was scandalous when gasoline hit 50 cents a gallon. And $1 a gallon. And $2 a gallon...

Today, I paid $3.65 for gas at a station in Dallas.

I had a discussion a few weeks ago with a friend of mine who is into environmentalism (personally and professionally). She told me that people would start changing their consumption habits when gasoline hit $5 a gallon. I thought it would have to go higher than that, but now I have my doubts. Even at $3.65, it's painful when I have to fill up twice a week.

Now we have the disgusting spectacle of Hillary Clinton and John McCain proposing gas tax holidays to pander to voters.

A gas tax holiday proposed by U.S. presidential hopefuls John McCain and Hillary Clinton is viewed as a bad idea by many economists and has drawn unexpected support for Clinton rival Barack Obama, who also is opposed.

As painful as it is to discover I agree with Barack Obama on anything, I do agree with him here. Unless the gas tax were repealed permanently, this sort of gimmick would only inflict greater pain later. And such a repeal would do nothing for state gasoline taxes, which can be as bad or worse than the federal tax.

Arguments on how to bring down the price of gas vary nearly as much as religious faiths. Personally, I don't actually expect prices to come down much no matter what we do because energy consumption is global and India and China will suck up whatever we don't. It seems to me that this would be a good time for all three candidates to spend more time talking about the range of alternatives for energy as opposed to rolling out gimmicks.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Most Overrated Product: A College Degree

Via Memeorandum, Marty Nemko berates colleges for peddling worthless college degrees that leave students in debt for decades and no better educated.

Among my saddest moments as a career counselor is when I hear a story like this: "I wasn't a good student in high school, but I wanted to prove that I can get a college diploma. I'd be the first one in my family to do it. But it's been five years and $80,000, and I still have 45 credits to go."

I have a hard time telling such people the killer statistic: Among high-school students who graduated in the bottom 40 percent of their classes, and whose first institutions were four-year colleges, two-thirds had not earned diplomas eight and a half years later. That figure is from a study cited by Clifford Adelman, a former research analyst at the U.S. Department of Education and now a senior research associate at the Institute for Higher Education Policy. Yet four-year colleges admit and take money from hundreds of thousands of such students each year!

Even worse, most of those college dropouts leave the campus having learned little of value, and with a mountain of debt and devastated self-esteem from their unsuccessful struggles. Perhaps worst of all, even those who do manage to graduate too rarely end up in careers that require a college education. So it's not surprising that when you hop into a cab or walk into a restaurant, you're likely to meet workers who spent years and their family's life savings on college, only to end up with a job they could have done as a high-school dropout.

Such students are not aberrations. Today, amazingly, a majority of the students whom colleges admit are grossly underprepared. Only 23 percent of the 1.3 million high-school graduates of 2007 who took the ACT examination were ready for college-level work in the core subjects of English, math, reading, and science.

Perhaps more surprising, even those high-school students who are fully qualified to attend college are increasingly unlikely to derive enough benefit to justify the often six-figure cost and four to six years (or more) it takes to graduate. Research suggests that more than 40 percent of freshmen at four-year institutions do not graduate in six years. Colleges trumpet the statistic that, over their lifetimes, college graduates earn more than nongraduates, but that's terribly misleading. You could lock the collegebound in a closet for four years, and they'd still go on to earn more than the pool of non-collegebound — they're brighter, more motivated, and have better family connections.

My parents were determined that their children would all attend college (two out of the three of us graduated and I have an advanced degree) because, at the time, college-educated adults held better jobs and had more job security. Unfortunately, neither of those things can be said these days. White collar jobs are just as likely to be eliminated or sent overseas as manufacturing jobs. This joke:
The engineer looks at an idea and asks "How will it work?" The accountant looks at it and asks "How much will it cost?" The businessman looks at it and asks "How do we sell it?" The liberal arts grad looks at it and asks, "Do you want fries with that?"

is unfortunately quite true.

Nemko offers a series of suggestions for making a college diploma worth more, but I'm skeptical. I've sworn there will be no liberal arts majors (no communications, no art, no French, etc.) out of my brood. It's fine if they like school and studying new things; they can do that once they can support themselves.

Congratulations, Obama

For finally doing what you should have done six weeks ago.

Not sure I believe any of it except that you had to do something.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Supreme Court Gets It Right on Voting and IDs; Nutroots React Accordingly

The Supreme Court has upheld the Constitutionality of state requirements of photo IDs for voting.

What's interesting isn't the decision but the composition of the majority.

Indiana has a "valid interest in protecting 'the integrity and reliability of the electoral process,'" said Justice John Paul Stevens in an opinion that was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Stevens said that Indiana's desire to prevent fraud and to inspire voter confidence in the election system are important even though there have been no reports of the kind of fraud the law was designed to combat. Evidence of voters being inconvenienced by the law's requirements also is scant. For the overwhelming majority of voters, an Indiana driver's license serves as the identification.

The story itself is a picture of media bias, highlighting what Democrats who opposed the measure said in the lede, and using a headline that talks about states "demanding" identification to vote. This article from does a better job at objectivity.

Naturally, the nutroots are screeching about disenfranchising people, but I can only conclude that liberals want people to vote illegally. The law in question clearly allowed for free photo IDs specifically to overcome any arguments about "disenfranchisement." But that doesn't stop your local nut from going ballistic. A few choice comments:
Not everyone can afford to get a government-issued ID. This directly goes against the poor who may not have the money to purchase an ID if they don’t have a drivers license. Unless the government is going to give those who can not afford the proper ID, which I highly doubt (health care anyone?), I don’t see how this if fair.

The number of Americans with driver's licenses is very high (I don't have an exact figure) and, as I said before, the state is providing free photo IDs. It's hard to argue that free ain't free enough.
Hey Scalia, why don’t you go Cheney yourself! This torture approving, pissing his pants in fear ala “24″ goodfella whannabe deserves the deepest scorn of every true American. A pathetic excuse for a judge and the perfect Bush lackie. He’ll rot in Hell with the rest of these pathetic excuses for profesionals in this criminal Administration.

Shorter commenter: I'm too stupid to add something intelligent to the thread.
THIS is the best reason to vote Democratic in November. We just can’t allow the highest court in the land to become even more reactionary. It would put our nation behind fifty years, minimum...

50 years back? To 1958? But--but I like my TiVO and color TV!
who was the sixth vote?
we are so fokked…
Scalia’s a fan of Jack Bauer.
Stevens has gone senescent.
The goddam Inquisition controls jurisprudence in the USofA…

A good example of why we need literacy tests.

I could go on. The comedy on the Left never ends. One commenter swore that the Constitution didn't guarantee a right to vote. Others swore that we're going down the road to fascism (seems we've been on that road a long time according to these people. Shouldn't we have gotten there by now?). Others just swore.

The Supreme Court made the right choice. States should have the right to require ID to vote to minimize voter fraud. Getting a photo identification is very easy in this country and the state even offered free IDs for those unable to afford one. What's really at work here is that liberals don't care if ineligible voters get to cast ballots because they hope those "voters" would cast ballots for Democrats. This is why they supported the Motor Voter law and decry any restrictions as placing too great a burden on (pick your favorite group here).

UPDATE: The hysteria continues at Echidne of the Snakes, where someone should hand Anthony McCarthy the smelling salts.
We have to save the right of a citizen to cast a vote from the Supreme Court. It’s clear now, the Republicans intend to overturn the Voting Rights Act and all other protections for the right of The People to cast a vote. The photo ID law will drive down the vote in states that adopt it, it will be the easiest thing for them to do to make it an insurmountable burden to obtain an ID in a timely manner to vote, legal remedies will take longer than the presidential campaign.

Both of the Democratic candidates for president, all of our leadership should issue a joint statement condemning this atrocity and begin a plan to legislatively overturn the usurpation of the Court on behalf of Republican state legislatures to rig the vote through making it harder for poor and minority citizens to vote. They want to send us back to the 1950s and eventually back to the 1800s.

Notice there's no evidence for this shrieking other than the fact that the SCOTUS said states can require IDs. How this heads us back to the 1800s takes more imagination (or estrogen, I suppose) than I have.

What Happened to Obama's "Post Racial" Campaign?

I guess it went up in smoke when his bigoted pastor decided to play the race card.

Attacks on him are really attacks on the black church, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. said in a speech to the National Press Club in Washington on Monday, in which he mounted a spirited defense of views and sermons that have become an issue in the presidential campaign because Senator Barack Obama attended his church for many years...

Speaking Monday, Mr. Wright said that political opponents of Senator Obama were exploiting the fact that the style of prayer and preaching in black churches was different from European church traditions — “Different, but not deficient,” he said.

In questions and answers after his prepared remarks, Mr. Wright bristled when it was suggested that some of his past statements seemed unpatriotic. He served six years in the military, he declared, adding a gibe at the vice president, “How many years did Cheney serve?”

My father served more than three times the number of years Wright served. Does that mean he had a right to make stupid or racist remarks with impunity? I think not and he wouldn't have gotten a pass for making them.

Barack Obama thought he had put Jeremiah Wright behind him. But now, it looks like Wright is gonna stick to Obama like skunk stink.
The Rev. Jeremiah Wright said Monday that he will try to change national policy by “coming after” Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) if he is elected president.

The pastor also insisted Obama “didn’t denounce” him and “didn’t distance himself” from Wright’s controversial remarks, but “did what politicians do.”

Wright implied Obama still agrees with him by saying: “He had to distance himself, because he's a politician, from what the media was saying I had said, which was [portrayed as] anti-American.”

As I said in this post, Wright doesn't believe Obama doesn't agree with him on his various hair-brained positions regarding race. He essentially said that Obama was lying.

One has to wonder if Wright actually wants Obama to win. He's certainly doing all he can to prevent it. Maybe Wright truly believes all the bitter, nasty things he says about race in America. Perhaps he hasn't lived in the U.S. in the last 40-odd years and seen and appreciated the progress that's been made. That a black man is poised to win the nomination (however weakly) of a major political party is a stunning testament to how far as a nation we have come. But somehow, Wright is stuck back in the 1940s, in a Jim Crow South, at the Tuskeegee experiment.

And sadly for Barack Obama, his "spiritual mentor" (Wright says he's his pastor) is effectively blowing any possibility of Obama winning the presidency. Why? Because even if there is lingering racism in America--and there is--you don't win the presidency by bludgeoning white Americans with past racism or present day perceived racism. We don't want the guilt and we won't accept it.

Don't take my word for it. Others are saying it, too.
Should it become necessary in the months from now to identify the moment that doomed Obama's presidential aspirations, attention is likely to focus on the hour between nine and ten this morning at the National Press Club. It was then that Wright, Obama's longtime pastor, reignited a controversy about race from which Obama had only recently recovered - and added lighter fuel.

Speaking before an audience that included Marion Barry, Cornel West, Malik Zulu Shabazz of the New Black Panther Party and Nation of Islam official Jamil Muhammad, Wright praised Louis Farrakhan, defended the view that Zionism is racism, accused the United States of terrorism, repeated his view that the government created the AIDS virus to cause the genocide of racial minorities, stood by other past remarks ("God damn America") and held himself out as a spokesman for the black church in America.

In front of 30 television cameras, Wright's audience cheered him on as the minister mocked the media and, at one point, did a little victory dance on the podium. It seemed as if Wright, jokingly offering himself as Obama's vice president, was actually trying to doom Obama; a member of the head table, American Urban Radio's April Ryan, confirmed that Wright's security was provided by bodyguards from Farrakhan's Nation of Islam.

I'm not sure how Barack Obama distances himself from this freak show enough to persuade voters he is a (rational) "agent of change." But even Joel Klein isn't buying Wright's "all black churches are like this" line.
I've been to dozens and dozens of African-American church services over the years, including the investiture of one of my friends as an AME minister two years ago, and I have very rarely, if ever, heard the kind of rants that are part of Reverend Wright's canon. Yes, as many have pointed out, Martin Luther King Jr. gave some angry, angry sermons--especially about the obscenity of the war in Vietnam--but for Wright to say the attacks on him are an attack on the black church is to offer a straitened and solipsistic view of that grand institution. Black liberation theology is not the black church.

And worse, Wright's purpose now seems quite clear: to aggrandize himself--the guy is going to be a go-to mainstream media source for racial extremist spew, the next iteration of Al Sharpton--and destroy Barack Obama.

I almost feel sorry for Barack Obama.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Internalizing Sharia

City Journal has an interesting article on the way Western civilization is bowing to the pressures of Islamic law and jihad.

The cultural jihadists have enjoyed disturbing success. Two events in particular—the 2004 assassination in Amsterdam of Theo van Gogh in retaliation for his film about Islam’s oppression of women, and the global wave of riots, murders, and vandalism that followed a Danish newspaper’s 2005 publication of cartoons satirizing Mohammed—have had a massive ripple effect throughout the West. Motivated variously, and doubtless sometimes simultaneously, by fear, misguided sympathy, and multicultural ideology—which teaches us to belittle our freedoms and to genuflect to non-Western cultures, however repressive—people at every level of Western society, but especially elites, have allowed concerns about what fundamentalist Muslims will feel, think, or do to influence their actions and expressions. These Westerners have begun, in other words, to internalize the strictures of sharia, and thus implicitly to accept the deferential status of dhimmis—infidels living in Muslim societies.

This highlights one of the largest problems with multiculturalism, which assumes all cultures to have equal value. The truth is, many other cultures are not equal to Western civilization and its emphasis on personal, individual liberty. In our misguided attempt to show how open-minded we are, we are, instead, submitting to a level of intellectual slavery unacceptable in the West for over a century.

I'll be more blunt: Islamic civilizations as practiced in at least the last two centuries is inferior to that of Western civilizations such as those found in the United States and Great Britain. For all the talk from the Left of fascism and totalitarian rule, the U.S. provides more and better opportunities for free expression, free thought, and personal fulfillment than anywhere else on the planet. It's not jingoism to say so.

This isn't to say that there aren't people and organizations whose sole purpose seems to be to silence dissent. That's why you have groups like CAIR, who scour the media in attempts to silence those who point out the violent and anti-intellectual nature of Islam as practiced by a vocal but powerful minority of Muslims. These people don't want their theologies or philosophies debated; they want dissenters silenced.

That's why cartoons can cause riots and major media do not like to discuss the religious origins of various crimes. It's perfectly legitimate to allow Bill Maher to malign Catholicism, but don't point out that a BBC documentary neglected to inform viewers that several of its "ordinary Muslims" were actually terrorists.

My oldest daughter took a practice A.P. test this weekend and brought home the test. The test was over world history, but only world history of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. There was virtually no European history and no American references on the test. There was, however, a required essay on Islam and contributions to world culture by Muslims.

We can argue about the appropriateness and timeliness of such assignments. I do, in fact, think it's a good thing for high school students to be learning about the cultures in that part of the world, considering how important that area is to America in the 21st Century. But I don't recall being required to write essays on the contributions of imperialist Japan to world culture. In fact, my world history courses weren't particularly objective where Germany and Japan are concerned.

But that was 30 years ago, before certain people decided that America is the root of all evil in the world and that, when attacked, we deserved it.

I cannot imagine such nonsense being spoken even 30 years ago, but now we have "spiritual mentors" who unapologetically think America is the problem. It's no wonder that Western civilization is surrendering to those who demand we not offend them.

Yankee Elitism and the Rise of the South

I'm always amused when I read snobbish ruminations like this one, denouncing the victory of Southern/Southwestern culture over the effete East.

The coarsened sensibility that this now-dominant Southernism and frontierism has brought to our national dialogue is unmistakable. We must endure "lapel-pin politics" that elevates the shallowest sort of faux jingoism over who's got a better plan for Iraq and Afghanistan. We have re-imported creationism into our political dialogue (in the form of "intelligent design"). Hillary Clinton panders shamelessly to Roman Catholics, who have allied with Southern Protestant evangelicals on questions of morality, with anti-abortionism serving as the main bridge. Barack Obama seems to be so leery of being identified as an urban Northern liberal that he's running away from the most obvious explanation of his association with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and former Weatherman Bill Ayers: after Obama graduated from college he became an inner-city organizer in Chicago, and they were natural allies for someone in a situation like that. We routinely demonize organizations like the United Nations that we desperately need and which are critical to missions like nation-building in Afghanistan. On foreign policy, the realism and internationalism of the Eastern elitist tradition once kept the Southern-frontier warrior culture and Wilsonian messianism in check. Now the latter two, in toxic combination, have taken over our national dialogue, and the Easterners are running for the hills.

Obama's a smart guy. If his associations with bigot Wright and terrorist Ayers were merely business, he would have said so up front. Likewise, it was his apparent disdain for wearing an American flag that got him in hot water on that front.

It's always interesting watching the Left explode when their candidates falter over questions of association and patriotism. The truth is that they are uncomfortable with displays of patriotism, whether it's a flag pin, "God Bless America," or backing American foreign policy.

I'm not saying they aren't patriotic. I'm saying they don't like showing it. Maybe this is a bit like those Christians who don't like to talk about their faith. Don't question it! It's in their heads and hearts, not on their sleeves.

The snobbery of Michael Hirsch's piece shows how he just doesn't get it. Like Obama's "bitter" speech, Hirsch's "we don't allow free speech like the founding fathers did" sounds whiny and obtuse. The fact that we have so much free speech is Obama's problem. Why? Because he can't frame the exact image of his candidacy that he wishes without pesky side issues like patriotism and radicalism leaking through. Because of the freedom of the blogosphere and the flourishing of free speech, Obama is forced to confront unpleasant topics and not allowed to ignore them as he would like. If thinking values and beliefs matter in a presidential candidate is Southern, then I'm happy to be Southern.

Anatomy of a New York Times Smear

Roger Kimball has a terrific analysis of New York Times smears against John McCain, using the latest non-issue story that John McCain used a jet from his wife's company for perfectly legal travel. Here's the analysis:

1. Prissy introductory sentence or two noting that Mr. McCain has a reputation [read “unearned reputation”] for taking the ethical high road on issues like campaign finance reform.
2. “The-Times-has-learned” sentence intimating some tort or misbehavior.

3. A paragraph or two of exposition that simultaneously reveals that a) Mr. McCain actually didn’t do anything wrong but b) he would have if only the law had been different and besides everyone knows he is guilty in spirit.

We've had 3 stories of this nature so far: the non-affair with a lobbyist, the legal land swap deals approved by environmentalists, legislators and businesses, and now the legal use of a company jet by the GOP presidential nominee.

What do all these "smears" have in common? Two things: John McCain did nothing illegal and the New York Times wishes he did. As a commenter on Roger's thread points out regarding the jet usage, the non-rule in question doesn't even go into effect until December, yet McCain used the planes between August and February, nearly a year before. And also, the FEC doesn't have enough members to conduct its business because...Barack Obama is blocking President Bush's nominees.

As Obama tanks, expect to see more of these non-issue smears.

They Can't Lie Like They Used To

The internet is a wonderful thing, particularly for catching politicians lie, as they regularly do. Little Green Footballs has Obama lying about why he doesn't wear an American flag pin and then calling bloggers liars for accurately quoting him.

Personally, I don't care if he wears an American flag pin or not. I think the reason he gave--that he felt all jingoistic and everything--is quite telling about Obama as a person, but I don't think it is a crucial argument concerning his unelectability. OTOH, he must be feeling a lot of heat from somewhere for not wearing one and for the reason he gave. That would explain his altered story and the fact that now reporting what he says is "lying." Sounds like a few moonbats I know.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

There's Nothing Wrong with This Joke

In our politically correct age, it's impossible not to offend someone somewhere, but this takes the cake.

Call it the perils of Twitter.

Or a new Maginot Line in what Slate's John Dickerson has called "the Umbrage War."

On his Facebook page, the Democratic National Committee's director of research, Mike Gehrke, was shown "twittering" -- meaning he was sending a message to his friends through "Twitter" -- the following message:

"Mike is twittering: You know what you call someone who digs up dirt on John McCain? An archeologist."

It's a Jay Leno joke, fyi.

DNC spokeswoman Karen Finney reports that the comment has been taken down and Mike "has been reprimanded."

I actually think the joke is funny and there's nothing wrong with it. I'm afraid this election cycle is gearing up to be the most boring and uptight election in years. *sigh*

About Those Taxes

I've pummelled Jeromy Brown repeatedly in the comment thread to this post about Barack Obama's delusional tax policy (among other things) and how he either won't deliver on his promises or is lying about how he'll pay for them. Till now, Jeromy's just pulled out his usual arguments: slobber, blather, ad hominem attacks, then declare victory.

But this Washington Post editorial points out the way the Democrats' tax policies don't add up.

THE DEMOCRATIC presidential candidates have some big plans -- with big price tags attached. By our calculations, using figures supplied by the campaigns, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) has proposed new spending and tax breaks that would amount to almost $265 billion a year when fully implemented, while the initiatives proposed by Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) total nearly $333 billion. Those initiatives, which would be phased in over time and which the candidates say they have identified ways of funding, don't include billions of dollars more in one-time spending.

In addition, both candidates would extend the Bush tax cuts for those making less than $250,000 a year, at an annual cost of another $140 billion in 2012, and renew the research tax credit ($9 billion). And both say they would take steps to prevent the alternative minimum tax from sweeping in additional taxpayers, adding $50 billion or so to the annual price tag. So the deficit -- even before any new spending -- would be that much deeper than it would have been if the tax cuts were permitted to expire.

These numbers, moreover, don't include some initiatives that the candidates talk about but for which they haven't formulated specific policies. For instance, Mr. Obama's campaign Web site says he supports closing the "doughnut hole" in the Medicare prescription drug plan, while Ms. Clinton has promised on the campaign trail to "fix" the hole. That could cost as much as $40 billion annually. Meanwhile, both Democrats put themselves into a new straitjacket at the last debate by promising that they would never raise taxes on the middle class -- which they went on to define generously as those earning less than $200,000 or $250,000 a year.

Altogether, then, they are talking about additional costs to the tune of a half-trillion dollars per year, more (Obama) or less (Clinton). The total federal budget this year is about $2.9 trillion. (Emphasis mine)

It's well-known that Democrats pander to the greed factor. Why else define the middle class as including those making up to $200,000? And they don't feel obligated to explain how they'll pay for all that pandering or who will be forced to pay it (even though we know who will). But even by Democrat standards, these numbers are staggering. That $500,000,000,000 figure doesn't even discuss fixing the problems with Medicare and Social Security.

New Democrats? No, this is the same ol', same ol'. Even Jeromy Brown admits that Obama's lying about not raising taxes. When his supporters admit he lies, I think the candidate is in trouble.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Scalia: I'm a Conservative, But Not Biased

This article acts as a teaser for Leslie Stahl's interview with Justice Antonin Scalia, which will air on 60 Minutes Sunday.

Scalia does a good job explaining both his judicial philosophy and how this differs from personal opinion.

Scalia told CBS News' "60 Minutes" that he may be conservative, but he is not biased on issues that come before the Court. "I mean, I confess to being a social conservative, but it does not affect my views on cases," Scalia said in excerpts released Thursday.

"On the abortion thing, for example, if indeed I were ... trying to impose my own views, I would not only be opposed to Roe versus Wade, I would be in favor of the opposite view, which the anti-abortion people would like to see adopted, which is to interpret the Constitution to mean that a state must prohibit abortion," Scalia told correspondent Lesley Stahl.

"And you're against that?" Stahl asked.

Scalia replied, "Of course. There's nothing" (in the Constitution to support that view).

One's judicial philosophy for interpreting the Constitution doesn't have to parallel one's personal opinions about certain issues. That's why, for example, I'm personally opposed to gay marriage, but I can accept that states may allow it. And I feel the same way about abortion.

When I was a liberal, I truly disliked Justice Scalia and thought his argument--that the Constitution says what it says and no more--was simplistic and stupid. But law school caused me to appreciate the legislative process (including persuading enough people of the rightness of one's position) and the importance of having certain immutable standards. The problem with the "living Constitution" philosophy is that it takes away the right of the people to create laws through the process outlined in the Constitution.

The other problem with the living Constitution interpretation is that it allows a small number of people (five justices) to override the will of the majority through a non-democratic process. There is a perfectly constitutional process in place if one really wants change: the amendment process. But liberals dislike that alternative because it requires thought and persuasion as opposed to bullying.

Race Is The Most Important Issue

That's been Dana at Common Sense Political Thought's argument for months, and he does a terrific job of supporting that contention in this post.

I've resisted the idea that race would determine the outcome of our presidential elections. Perhaps that's because I've always been a little naive and a little idealistic when it comes to race in America. But when eight percent of (assumably white) Americans say they can't vote for a black person for president, then I guess I've been smacked with reality.

Don't get me wrong; I think Obama is a terrible candidate with terrible ideas which disqualify him from the presidency. I think his feckless domestic policy would raise taxes and harm private enterprise while his uninformed and naive foreign policy would put us in real danger. And my disgust at his association with bigot Jeremiah Wright isn't based on his race; it's based on his words, actions, and attitudes.

Dana argues that Obama can't win if eight percent of the American electorate has already written him off. As much as I hate to admit it, I think he might be right.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Voting for Someone Based on Qualifications is "Very White"

According to Whoopi Goldberg on The View.

Newsbusters has the whole, contorted transcript, but, in a nutshell, Whoopi Goldberg and Sherri Shepherd tell Elisabeth Hasselbeck that she's always had presidents that looked like her but they haven't.

I don't like Hasselbeck. I think she's too polite and let's the lefies hold sway. And this idea that a white man as president is "someone who looks like me" shows that, for black people, race is more important than gender.

The key difference in viewpoints is that Hasselbeck (and women like me) want to vote based on qualifications, not identity politics. Why? Because if our vote is only based on immutable characteristics like sex and race, someone will always be left out. Where is the Hispanic voice crying because there's not been a president who looks like them? Or the Asian? Or the disabled?

Voting based on identity creates more divisions than unity. That's why Barack Obama tried early to downplay race; he knew that to win over more white voters, he had to be a "different kind of black candidate." He's allowed people like Goldberg and Shepherd to see his candidacy in terms of his race while allowing white supporters to look beyond his race.

Unfortunately for Obama, the emphasis from the Left on identity politics will destroy their candidate. Most Americans would love to break the color barrier for the presidency. They just want to decide that race isn't the reason they are voting for someone.

Bigot Wright: The Gift that Keeps on Giving

PBS has released excerpts from their upcoming interview with bigot--er, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. The results don't help either Wright or Obama.

BILL MOYERS: What do you think they (people questioning Wright's sermons) wanted to communicate?

REVEREND WRIGHT: I think they wanted to communicate that I am unpatriotic, that I am
un-American, that I am filled with hate speech, that I have a cult at Trinity United Church of Christ. And by the way, guess who goes to his church, hint, hint, hint? That's what they wanted to communicate.

They know nothing about the church. They know nothing about our prison ministry. They know nothing about our food ministry. They know nothing about our senior citizens home. They know nothing about all we try to do as a church and have tried to do, and still continue to do as a church that believes what Martin Marty said, that the two worlds have to be together. And that the gospel of Jesus Christ has to speak to those worlds, not only in terms of the preached message on a Sunday morning
but in terms of the lived-out ministry throughout the week.

No one has questioned that Wright's church has a variety of worthwhile programs available to help various constituencies. But, er, Mr. Wright, that's what church's are supposed to do. What they're not supposed to do is make whacked out accusations about white people, the government, and anyone who questions their minister. If you say the government invented AIDS to kill black people, it's really quite normal to question why someone would make such an idiotic and paranoid statement.

Worse for Barack Obama, was Wright's explanation for Obama's "speech" on race (which didn't address what went on in his church but, instead, tried to find equivalencies between things that weren't equivalent at all):
BILL MOYERS: You performed his wedding ceremony. You baptized his two children. You were, for 20 years, his spiritual counsel. He has said that. And, yet, he, in that speech at Philadelphia, had to say some hard things about you. How did those did it go down with you when you heard Barack Obama say those things?

REVEREND WRIGHT: It went down very simply. He's a politician, I'm a pastor. We speak to two different audiences. And he says what he has to say as a politician. I say what I have to say as a pastor. But they're two different worlds.

I do what I do. He does what politicians do. So that what happened in Philadelphia where he had to respond to the sound bytes, he responded as a politician. (Emphasis mine)

Shorter Wright: Obama lied because it's what he needed to do.

One would think that Wright would try, in some way, to help Obama by stating that his racist diatribes were wrong. Instead, Wright's statements show that he is unrepentant and that Obama lied to save his political hide. It's hard to see how this helps Obama in any way. But it makes great footage for some enterprising 527.

BTW, Ed Morrissey at Hot Air has this post in which ABC provides the context that Wright says is needed for his comments. It doesn't help.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Pass the Popcorn, Please

I don't mind admitting that I'm enjoying watching the Democrats killed by their own identity politics. There's something satisfying about watching the party of victims eat each other.

This article by Lanny Davis at HuffPo outlines 10 signs of Barack Obama's weakness. The comments are interesting primarily because Obamessiah supporters can't find any faults with their candidate. He's the super victim, the ultra victim, if you will: emblematic of the Victim Party, Obama is being undone by members of his own party. And it isn't his fault. Oh, no! It can't be his fault. Someone made him say stupid, insulting things about loyal Democrat voters. Someone forced him to stay 20 years in a bigot's church, then tell us how he "transcends" race. Someone pressured him to hang out with homegrown terrorists, unrepentant 40 years after their crimes. Someone else made him run negative ads, even after saying he wanted a "different" kind of campaign. Nope, wasn't Obama's fault. He was just a victim.

Obama's supporters are left looking silly when they sneer that Hillary Clinton should drop out because the popular vote isn't with her, particularly after she has the popular vote.

But what else can they argue? That she can't win in November? Clinton would have a better chance against John McCain in part because she would draw many voters who might otherwise vote for him. Obama's appeal among moderates and independents is questionable, at best. If the choice comes down to Obama or McCain, many in those groups will swing Republican.

Obama is left in the uncomfortable position of running away from his (scant) record when he tries to run to the center. He'll do this with his sleight of hand regarding his votes (and non-votes) in the Senate, but few will buy it. Between Obama's associates, his Most Liberal Senator status, and his nonscripted speeches, he's doing all the work for the GOP.

Hillary Wins Pennsylvania

Ding, dong, the witch ain't dead.

Breakdown of demographics here, which says Bittergate had no effect, then goes on to explain how those Obama spoke about voted for Hillary. Apparently, though there's little evidence to support this, working class white men were gonna vote for Hillary anyway. Who's bitter now?

Clinton won six in 10 Democrats who had a gun in the home and nearly six in 10 weekly churchgoers.

Nope, no effect at all.

The New York Times whines yet again that Hillary needs to get out.
Voters are getting tired of it; it is demeaning the political process; and it does not work. It is past time for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to acknowledge that the negativity, for which she is mostly responsible, does nothing but harm to her, her opponent, her party and the 2008 election.

The NYT is wrong yet again. It gives the country time to find out exactly who Barack Obama is, what his beliefs are and have been and with whom he associates, which can tell us more than his lyin' lips.

All via Memeorandum.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Racism and the General Election

This Politico story depressed me horribly, not because I don't want John McCain to win, but that it measures the number of people unwilling to vote for a black person at 15%.

I was talking the other day to a prominent Republican who asked me what I thought John McCain’s strongest issues would be in the general election.

Lower taxes and the argument he will be better able to protect America from its enemies, I said.

Republicans have a pretty good track record with those two.

The Republican shook his head. “You’re missing the most important one,” he said. “Race. McCain runs against Barack Obama and the race vote is worth maybe 15 percent to McCain.”

The man I was talking to is not a racist; he was just stating what he believes to be a fact: There is a percentage of the American electorate who will simply not vote for a black person no matter what his qualities or qualifications.

How big is that percentage? An AP-Yahoo poll conducted April 2-14 found that “about 8 percent of whites would be uncomfortable voting for a black for president.”

I don’t know if 8 percent sounds high or low to you, but I was amazed that 8 percent of respondents were willing to admit this to a pollster. And I figure that the true figure is much higher.

The contrarian in me almost wants to vote for Obama just because of this poll (I said almost). I've said from the get-go that Obama would be a difficult candidate to run against because, regardless of his record, challenging him will be seen as racism.

Unfortunately, there's enough real racism left in the country that we don't need the gotcha politics of "You didn't vote for Obama? You must be a racist!"

I've said before that I'm about the same age as Obama, so I think I have a pretty good handle on the attitudes of my generation of Americans regarding race. When I was just out of high school, it was still pretty common to hear people use the N-word, then act shocked if someone were offended by it. Most people who felt that way then wouldn't say that now, but I'm not entirely sure they don't still feel that way. My attitude about racism (that it is a disgusting blight that has poisoned us throughout history) hasn't really changed, either. It's just that I was always offended by it.

I won't vote for Obama, but I guess I'm in the 85% who can find credible reasons for picking John McCain over him.

UPDATE: And this stuff doesn't help. If Obama loses, we'll all be tarred as racists.

Monday, April 21, 2008

McCain Accepts Public Financing

The one argument made against John McCain's presidential bid that I thought held water was his inability to raise money. After the Republican decks were cleared, many (including yours truly) had hoped that he would do better. But that hasn't happened and now McCain has given in to public financing.

The feds will give you $84 million in September, after you’re formally nominated, for two months of campaigning. If you can’t raise more than $42 million a month on your own (or not so much more as to justify the time demands of holding relentless fundraising events), you take it. If you can, you don’t. How do those numbers break for Maverick? He pulled in $15.4 million in March, a little more than a third of what Kerry took in the month after he locked up the nomination four years ago. That is to say, it’s not just that he’s doing poorly vis-a-vis Obama — $72 million versus $236 million, if you can believe it — it’s that he’s doing poorly, period.

There is a certain irony to the man who championed campaign finance reform being beaten by it. Not that I'm enjoying it, mind you.

Obama's Priorities: The Waffle Comes First

I found it amusing that Mr. Man of the People got a little testy when his breakfast was interrupted by yet another reporter.

As Sen. Hillary Clinton was preparing to campaign here today, Sen. Barack Obama was meeting with voters at a diner and apparently pretty hungry.

"Why can't I just eat my waffle?" he said, when asked a foreign policy question by a reporter at the Glider Diner.

On the day before the Pennsylvania primary, Obama is campaigning in the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh areas, avoiding the so-called "T" section of the state dominated by rural and conservative voters.

It was a stupid question, of course. If Senator Obama had wanted to enjoy his waffle in peace, he would have had it at the hotel with his entourage. But he wanted the photo op in a diner (read: blue collar potential voters).

Jeromy Brown has tried to argue that no real Democrats are offended by Obama's elitist remarks. But what Jeromy doesn't take into account is that Obama's gaffes are being observed by all voters, not just Democrats, and I doubt most people, particularly religious people or gun owners, thought the remark was harmless.

In Support of the Unitary Presidency?

I get a quote from the founding fathers sent to my e-mail every day from Patriot Post. This morning's quote seems to support the claims of George W. Bush to the unitary presidency.

"My construction of the constitution is very different from that
you quote. It is that each department is truly independent of the
others, and has an equal right to decide for itself what is the
meaning of the constitution in the cases submitted to its action;
and especially, where it is to act ultimately and without appeal."

-- Thomas Jefferson (letter to Samuel Adams Wells, 12 May 1819)

John Marshall stomped all over this idea in Marbury v. Madison. But it's always interesting to read what the founding fathers thought government should be like.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

John McCain's "Lifelong Government Healthcare"

I came across this Crooks and Liars post via Memeorandum and quite nearly laughed out loud.

note this little exchange between Stephanopoulos and McCain over healthcare. Elizabeth Edwards has been a vocal critic of McCain’s proposed healthcare plan in that it basically doesn’t help those who need it the most. McCain’s response falls into the less than satisfactory category:

STEPHANOPOULOS: What’s wrong with government — what’s wrong with government-run health care?

MCCAIN: And we continue to have these debates — what’s wrong with it? Go to Canada. Go to England and you can find out what’s wrong with it. Governments don’t make the right decisions. Families make the right decisions.

STEPHANOPOULOS: One of the points Mrs. Edwards made in the Wall Street Journal, she said that your whole life, you had government health care. You were the son of a Naval officer, a Naval officer, now a member of Congress. And her point is, why shouldn’t every American be able to get the kind of health care that members of Congress get or members of the military get?

MCCAIN: It’s a cheap shot, but I did have a period of time where I didn’t have very good government health care. I had it from another government. (LAUGHTER) So, look, I know what it’s like in America not to have health care. We know that Americans are hurting there as well. We’ve got to make health care affordable and available. The difference, again, between myself and the Democrats, and with all due respect, Mrs. Edwards, I want the families to make the choices. They want the government to make the choices. That’s a fundamental difference, and we will continue to debate that issue.

What I found amusing is that I've, in fact, written that military-style health care is what you'll get with socialized medicine.

McCain isn't going to criticize the care he's received. That's partly because, as an active duty soldier, he would have received faster service than I, a lowly dependent, received. And as a senator, he receives better care than the average soldier because he is a senator.

The problem with Lizzie Edwards question is that it shows exactly how ignorant she is. She knows not of what she speaks. Stephanopoulos would be wise to ask Lizzie exactly where and when she received care from a military hospital and why she would assume that socialized medicine would look like the health care senators receive. Actually, we would all be subject to the long waits and hit-or-miss quality of service that dependents of military personnel receive. It's not the worst; my Frankenstein's scar only cost my parents $14 in 1971. But I still sport a Frankenstein's scar on my right elbow.

The silly woman at C&L who wrote the post goes on to try to favorably describe the British health care system:
While the UK’s program did have its drawbacks, the government has instituted policies to expand choice for the people and moreover, the government pays significantly less as a percentage of the GDP for healthcare than we do (8.3% vs. 15.3%) and it covers everyone.

It's hard to believe that Nicole Belle wrote this with a straight face. "Have its drawbacks?" Has she not heard about Britain's refusal to use the newest cancer drugs because of costs? Or patients being left in ambulances for hours, idling in hospital parking lots because the hospital cannot comply with government regulations that E.R. patients be treated within four hours of arrival? Or about the woman forced to birth her own baby in a NHS toilet because there were no midwives available?

This isn't even discussing the new trend in British vacationing: medical tourism.

It's hard to believe that Nicole and other liberals cannot accept that socialized medicine doesn't provide top tier health care for all people. Instead, it provides a bottom tier that everyone is required to adhere to.

"Your Children Are Ours,"

Said the State of Texas regarding the 400-plus children of the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints church.

I haven't blogged about this unfolding subject, but like many others here in Texas, my revulsion for the idea of 13-year-old girls married to 50-year-old men was topped by my horror at the State taking all the children from their mothers and planning to put those children up for adoption or parcelled out to foster care with little that resembles due process.

It's one thing to argue about individual abuse cases but another to make a wholesale accusation that separates children from both biological parents on abuse charges. In typical child abuse cases, the accused is separated from the family, but the family is left in tact because it is better for the children. That's not what is happening to the little cult on the prairie in Eldorado.

I'm not arguing that clearly abused children shouldn't be removed from abusive homes, but it is hard for me to believe all 400-plus children fit that category by virtue of being born into this sect. In short, this is yet another example of the overreaching of the state not terribly unlike the Branch Davidians or Ruby Ridge.

I don't agree with a lot of the anti-government rhetoric of this post, but he has a point that every parent should embrace:

The point has been made before, but it bears repeating now: If you want to avoid having your children stolen by the State, never, under any circumstances, let any child "protective" worker or police officer into your home without a formal warrant. This includes medical emergencies, unless they are immediately life-threatening -- and even then you're taking a severe risk if you permit agents of the State to have access to your home.

Breaking: Missouri Pro-Choicers Favor Coercion

How else to explain their opposition to a bill banning forced abortions?

Under the bill, those who threaten to fire a pregnant woman unless she has an abortion, or to take away her college scholarships, could be charged with a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of $1,000. People who abuse or threaten a pregnant woman to try to get her to have an abortion could be charged with additional crimes carrying enhanced penalties.

The measure also would make it a felony, punishable by up to seven years in prison, for doctors to perform an abortion when they believe a woman has been coerced.

Legislation like this is great for pro-lifers. It puts pro-abortion supporters in the uncomfortable position of supporting distasteful positions, such as Barack Obama's opposition to the Infant Born Alive Act. That piece of legislation would have required Illinois doctors and nurses to attempt to save babies who were born, not killed, during abortion procedures. Obama opposed saving those children.

The Missouri legislation also included other informed consent provisions.
Women would need to be given the option of seeing an ultrasound of their fetus. They would also need to be instructed about potential health risks and that their fetus can be given anesthesia before the abortion. And women would need to certify in writing that they have been provided with the required materials and are voluntarily giving their informed consent to have an abortion.

The bill also would require doctors and clinics that perform abortions to post several posters. The signs would declare: "There are many public and private agencies willing and able to help you carry your child to term, and to assist you and your child after your child is born."

The signs would add: "The state of Missouri encourages you to contact those agencies before making a final decision about abortion. State law requires that your physician or a qualified health professional give you the opportunity to call agencies like these before you undergo an abortion."

It's always interesting watching those who favor abortion (and who argue that they believe in "choice") squirm at allowing women options other than abortion.

A Scandal Sure to Determine the Presidency

It's rare for the spinsters at Pandagon to amuse me, but this post on Cindy McCain's recipes made me giggle.

According to Matthew Yglesias, the "Cindy's recipes" section of John McCain's presidential website contains--brace yourself for it--recipes from the Food Network!!!!!!!

I know, I know. That a highly accomplished woman--businesswoman, philanthropist--wouldn't be dishing up homemade lasagna every night is a real shocker. And even though, like Barack Obama borrowing a speech from Gov. Deval Patrick, the error has been attributed to a staffer, that doesn't stop Amanda Marcotte from carping and sniping.

First thought: Hey, what if Food Network recipes really are her favorite? Just kidding. I had to blog this because I’m sort of surprised that Matt didn’t bring up the obvious answer to the question of why Cindy McCain probably doesn’t have recipes to put up on the site: I doubt she does much cooking, if any at all.

I mean, think about it. McCain is the daughter of an extremely wealthy man who made his money through a beer distribution company. In fact, if you read Glenn Greenwald’s book, you’ll see there’s good reason to believe that part of the reason that John McCain aggressively courted her while still married to his first wife was that her wealth and connections would help get him into politics. And by “aggressively court”, I mean “most likely had an adulterous affair”, because he did, after all, marry Cindy within a month of divorcing his first wife. But this is a long way of saying that Cindy McCain is probably someone whose wealth means that she doesn’t really have to do much cooking for herself, and thus wouldn’t have favorite recipes. Not, I must stress, that I would hold that against her. There is no reason a woman should have to cook if she doesn’t want to.

Shorter Amanda: This is a stupid, sexist "scandal," but I'm desperate and believe sexism is good when it benefits my side.

I hate to point out to Amanda, who is probably still eating her Spaghettios out of the can, that, yes, it is possible a staffer asked Cindy, "What are your favorite recipes?" and she replied, "Well, I make X, Y, and Z, but don't really have recipes," and the staffer went and found *real* recipes for those dishes. And as someone who actually does cook for my family on a nightly basis, I can testify that using the Betty Crocker cookbook qualifies as *my* recipes.

What's amusing is the amount of cattiness Amanda can always pack into such a small space. She has a real talent for crassness that is unparalleled in the blogosphere. I mean, who else could go from "the recipes were from the Food Network" to "John McCain married her for her money" in less than a paragraph?

Tackier still is her assertion that she doesn't care whether Cindy McCain cooks or not. In truth, she does care because, as her commenters point out, Barbara Bush's homey grandma image put her head and shoulders above Hillary Clinton in the likability ratings. But the idea that a few recipes on her husband's campaign page are going to outweigh the gaffes of the Democrat candidate? That's quite a stretch.

Apropos of nothing (other than yet another example of the classlessness of the average Pandagon commenter), I have to print this comment from the same thread:

Cindy McSame cooking? Dear me, just look at her surgery. Anywhere near the stove and she would melt like the witch from OZ.

McSame is pandering to the lower classes. They all cook and watch children and barely finish the local paper. So, he panders to their lacks.

Since when is cooking gender related? Condi Rice is a fantabulous shoe shopper and token, should we assume her skill set extends to culinary artistry?

Naw, they aren't elitist at all!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy Returns!

Obama backers at the HuffPo have already started the hysteria that the vast right wing conspiracy has returned, this time to destroy Barack Obama.

A high-ranking labor supporter of Hillary Clinton is distributing to union leaders and to Democratic strategists a document detailing the radical activities of Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, two former members of the '70s group the Weather Underground, who decades later, in Chicago, crossed paths with Barack Obama.

The document - a three-page emailed essay by Rick Sloan, communications director for the International Association of Machinists as Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) -- takes both literary and political license to outline what Sloan believes would be the thrust of a hypothetical Republican campaign against Obama focusing on his tangential connection to Ayers and Dohrn.

The goal of the essay appears to be to discredit Obama as the prospective Democratic presidential nominee.

The most damaging new material cited by Sloan appears in a link to an FBI Freedom of Information web site -- where a viewer can examine hundreds of pages of a study of the Weather Underground and its leaders, written in 1976 by the Chicago FBI office, just at the group was disintegrating at the end of the Vietnam War.

Sloan contends that the purpose of his document is to outline what he conjectures will be the tactics of Republican operative Karl Rove, an informal adviser to John McCain's campaign, if Obama is the nominee. The title of Sloan's paper is: "What Is Rove Up To?"

Sloan argues that Rove will use Ayers and Dohrn for 'red-baiting' attacks on Obama. Rove's "target is Barack Obama's signature slogan 'Change We Can Believe In.' Rove wants to redefine it as revolutionary change, change driven by an alien ideology, change no patriotic American could
stomach. And he intends to do so by channeling Senator Joseph McCarthy."

Sloan bases his conjecture on two Rove appearances on Fox's Hannity & Colmes, April 8 and April 14. During one appearance, Rove referred to Ayers and Dohrn thus: "Are there ways to find out the relationship between Ayers and Obama that are visual, that give it power and force?" During the other appearance, more obliquely, Rove described as "almost Marxian" Obama's controversial remarks about "bitter" small town Pennsylvanians.

Oh, for God's sake. I guess we can't expect Democrats to have actually vetted their own candidates for possible character flaws before the election cycle begins (that's why the superdelegates are picking the candidate instead). No, it must be that nobody would care about a president who hangs out with bigots and terrorists.

No, it's just those Republican meanies making a big deal out of nothing. Riiight.

Well, I hate to break it to man-crushin' Jeromy Brown, but there's an awful lot of "nothings" adding up to something in the case of Obama.

There's his associations with bigots and terrorists. Try as he might, most people aren't going to believe Obama went to a bigot's church because of the Bible study. If, as Jeromy tries to argue, there's no proof that Obama thinks any of the kooky things Jeremiah Wright spews, then we are left to ponder his sanity because no one would stay in a church where the pastor went on vicious rants periodically (I'm being kind here) if he were a thinking person. To call a bigot one's "spiritual mentor" and then say you disagreed with the teachings of that mentor is, well, ridiculous.

Now we find out that Obama hung out with William Ayers the unrepentant terrorist.

Just in case anyone has forgotten, Ayers was part of a radical leftist anti-war group called the Weathermen, who believed in killing American citizens to end our involvement in Vietnam. Ayers has stated he is unrepentant for his role and that he "didn't do enough." I guess killing your own citizens isn't enough for some people.

Now, Obama has tried to argue that he was only a kid during Vietnam. That's fair enough. I was, too. But I didn't grow up to hang out with people who would have liked nothing better than to kill my father the soldier. Perhaps it is unfair that I hold people of my generation and age (mid-40s) to a similar standard, but there it is. Even in my more liberal days, I would have found hanging out with unrepentant terrorists to be a problem.

The problem the Democrats face isn't that Republicans are going to vet their presidential candidate. The problem is that they didn't do it themselves. Perhaps they were simply starry-eyed by Obama's perfect liberal voting record. Or maybe they loved a guy who could say he wanted to transcend race even as he insulted potential voters as bigots and rednecks. Or maybe they swooned when Obama criticized McCain's association with lobbyists (saying we should scrutinize who he hangs out with), but didn't bother looking at who Obama hangs out with.

Regardless of why Democrats swung behind an unknown, very liberal candidate, they are stuck with him. Don't blame Republicans for pointing out how stupid a choice it was.

Nutroot Implosion

It was funny watching the hysteria from moonbats over the questions asked during the Hillary-Barack showdown the other night. Funny, I can't find any of these same voices showing outrage and dismay when Republicans were asked about their beliefs regarding biblical inerrancy.

Let's face it. We already know liberals are a bunch of hypocrites. Witness their pitiful whining that the debate didn't center around issues like the war and health care...where there's a sheet of paper's width difference between the two candidates.

The fact is, we've had lots of Democrat debates along the lines the moonbats say they wanted. And, if they were honest, they know the candidates' positions on all these issues. What they are angry about is the fact that Obama couldn't duck questions about his questionable past any longer.

And it isn't your imagination that the media worships at the Obama idol nearly as much as the slobbering Jeromy Brown, who continues to try to portray Obama as a man seeking unity (even after calling Pennsylvanians a bunch of redneck morons). No, this Politico story points out the media's rampant desire to uplife Obama and ensure his election regardless of his past associations and behaviors (as well as lack of any experience or vetting).

This is not to say that ABC’s performance was flawless. There were some weird questions (“Do you think Reverend Wright loves America as much as you do?”). There were some questionable production decisions (the camera cutaways to Chelsea Clinton, the stacking of so many process questions in the first 45 minutes.)

But there was nothing to justify Tom Shales’s hyperbolic review (“shoddy, despicable performances” by Gibson and Stephanopoulos) in the Washington Post or Greg Mitchell’s in Editor & Publisher (“perhaps the most embarrassing performance by the media in a major presidential debate in years.”) Others, like Time’s Michael Grunwald, likewise weighed in against ABC.

In fact, the balance of political questions (15) to policy questions (13) was more substantive than other debates this year that prompted no deluge of protests. The difference is that this time there were more hard questions for Obama than for Clinton.

Moreover, those questions about Jeremiah Wright, about Obama’s association with 1960s radical William Ayers, about apparent contradictions between his past and present views on proven wedge issues like gun control, were entirely in-bounds. If anything they were overdue for a front-runner and likely nominee.

If Obama was covered like Clinton is, one feels certain the media focus would not have been on the questions, but on a candidate performance that at times seemed tinny, impatient, and uncertain.

Journalists are people, too. And, like people, they get caught up in the moment when they consider something historic to be happening. That's fine when you're covering the dismantling of the Berlin Wall, but unethical in a political campaign. Granted, there were and are reporters who favor John McCain (or Mike Huckabee when he was still in the race), and such coverage could have been difficult to stomach had it been long-term and pervasive (there are books out there complaining about McCain's reputation as a maverick). The difference in McCain's case was that he didn't have a fawning media on top of fawning conservative support. Indeed, McCain won despite the barrage of bashing he took from the likes of media giants like Rush Limbaugh.

As the Politico story points out, the rush to Obama's defense by supposedly objective journalists points out the holes in modern journalism, namely, the complete abandonment of objectivity and embrace of personal opinion. It's one thing to listen to the hysteria of Jeromy Brown ("They’ll call the candidate funded by the people elitist, they’ll portray the biracial man who tries to bring blacks and whites together a Black Panther, they’ll call a champion of America’s greatness unpatriotic. They’ll do it because they think you’re stupid, not because they believe it. And then they’ll tell you Obama thinks you’re stupid.") since his three regular commenters will believe whatever he tells them. It's another thing when reporters for well-regarded news services is telling you that character questions are unimportant (remember, that's how we got Bill "it depends on what the definition of is is" Clinton).

Unfortunately for Obama, ordinary voters care about things like why you are embarrassed to wear an American flag on your lapel or associate with known radicals. They are insulted when you put down their religious faith as, somehow, just an expression of bitterness (note to Obama: real Christians believe that their faith sustains them in good times and bad). And they are angry when you assume that their desire that all people in this country follow the law is, somehow, based on racism.

It's odd that the same candidate who has twisted John McCain's "100 years in Iraq" comment out of shape would whine about being asked to explain his own comments. It's strange when the man given a free ride as a "new kind of politician who doesn't care about race" sits in the pews of a bigot for 20 years and yet claims he doesn't agree with that bigot's viewpoints (we wouldn't give that pass to a Republican candidate). And, frankly, it's bizarre that a family which makes way more that your humble blogger can claim that $10,000 a year for extra curriculars compares to putting Spaghettios on the table for dinner.

Last Wednesday's performance is just the warm-up for what the apologists will be doing for Obama in the fall. The question is whether smart people will buy into it.

UPDATE: Jeromy Brown scurries home to distort and cry and have another drink after having his ass handed to him yet again.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Obama the Marxist?

Leftwing Think Progress thinks they have a gotcha moment with Senator Joe Lieberman today when he pondered whether Barack Obama should be called a Marxist, as William Kristol has posited.

I will tell ya that during this campaign, I’ve learned some things about him, about the kind of environment from which he came ideologically. And I wouldn’t…I’d hesitate to say he’s a Marxist, but he’s got some positions that are far to the left of me and I think mainstream America.

Moonbats everywhere shriek at being identified with Karl Marx, but, given some of their positions, they certainly have more in common with communists than with conservatives.

Obama's gaffe regarding guns, religion, illegal immigration, and anti-trade (the part that has been forgotten) may not paint him as a Marxist, but it is just the latest proof of how out of touch Obama is with normal Americans. He said,
And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

Cling to guns? Cling to religion? Cling to the laws of our land regarding immigration? Anti-trade?

As this Redstate post states, missteps like this one give us a better vision of what Obama actually thinks of his fellow citizens than any of the Hope and Change garbage. And as Erick pointed out, Jack Cafferty accusing Second Amendment supporting citizens of becoming Al Qaeda was disgusting and did nothing to help Obama.

But really. If Obama doesn't want people to ponder his affinity for Marxism, maybe he shouldn't surround himself with people who have questionable philosophies and connections.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Obama, A "Disaster in the Making"? ponders why Hillary won't quit and here's the answer they have come up with: an Obama candidacy is a disaster in the making.

Rip off the duct tape and here is what they would say: Obama has serious problems with Jewish voters (goodbye Florida), working-class whites (goodbye Ohio) and Hispanics (goodbye, New Mexico).

The useful idiots will continue to make apologies as Obama continues to insult constituencies necessary for a Democrat victory in November. Which is fine with me. The problem, of course, is that while Obama is busy telling us how he could have insulted gun owners more articulately, he actually meant what he said. This is a bit like his supposed dressing-down of bigot Jeremiah Wright. Obama disavowed the handful of Wright comments that made it to press, but he's never explained what part of Wright's theology he agrees with, including rewarding other bigots like Louis Farrakhan.

I'm not complaining. I had thought Obama would be a more difficult opponent for John McCain, largely because any criticism of Obama would be treated as latent and open racism. Apparently, I have nothing to fear in that regard. Barack Obama just needs to keep talking, insulting more people with his stuffy, arrogant ultra-liberalism, and he'll drown his own candidacy.

UPDATE: Via Patterico's Pontifications comes Victor Davis Hanson's unpacking of Obama's statement and restatement. Excellent!

A New Definition of Torture

I spent five hours today driving back from Houston and all my car radio could pick up was NPR.

The news itself wasn't so bad, but Latino USA nearly made me drive off the road. I listen to (and watch) a lot of programming aimed at Hispanic audiences. Living in a state like Texas, which has a large Hispanic population, I find shows like American Latino TV very interesting, providing information on places to go, movies to see, and much more. But Latino USA's topic this week was the Criminal Alien Program of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Department, and the show was decidedly pro-criminal. Well, that's not what they would have called it. They spoke repeatedly about immigrants, never using the term illegal immigrants. In short, the program treated government enforcement of immigration laws as if they were targetting people here legally and abusing them.

Even in a segment with Department of Homeland Security assistant secretary Julie Meyers, interviewer Maria Hinojosa tried to dismiss any concerns about criminal immigrants as somehow abusive of law-abiding citizens. Yet the CAP program is specifically aimed at people who are here illegally who then commit more crimes. And we're not talking about traffic violations or truancy, as Hinojosa tried to argue, but violent crimes.

Keep in mind that programs like Latino USA are funded in part by your tax dollars.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Limiting the A**hole Factor

No, I'm not recommending that obnoxious moonbats be banned from blogging. :) has an interesting article on the affects of negative people in the workplace and what you should do about them.

(T)wo business professors, Christine Porath and Amir Erez, whose revealing study of rudeness and its toxic effects is illuminating. They subjected two groups of study participants to varying degrees of rudeness, and they asked a third group to only imagine they were the object of the rudeness. All groups were then asked to perform tasks requiring cognitive functions. The result? In all three groups the ability of the participants to think was severely impaired. Why? They were unable to use their cognitive processing power to perform the tasks, wasting their brain wattage on mulling over and ruminating upon the rudeness, or parsing the comments and figuring out how they should have responded. This included the bystander group, asked only to empathize. Talk about collateral damage. Want to learn more? Check out "Rudeness and Its Noxious Effects" in the March issue of the Harvard Business Review.

Want more empirical evidence? Robert Sutton's book, "The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't," is brimming with studies and experiments. Work with a rude jerk and what happens? You become one as well. It's called emotional contagion, as Dr. Michelle Duffy demonstrated in her study -- which Sutton cites -- of hospital employees working for insensitive bosses who acted like jerks and condoned it in others. The employees morphed into their bosses. It's true: We ape others, especially those higher in the food chain.

One study Sutton discusses, by British researchers Charlotte Rayner and Loraleigh Keashly, translated the effects of such uncivil and rude behavior into cold, hard cash. Historical data show that 25 percent of those bullied at work and 20 percent of those who merely witness it leave their employment (once again, bystander damage). The researchers postulate that in a company of 1,000 employees, if 25 percent leave and if the average historical replacement cost is $20,000, then the annual cost is $750,000. Tack on two witnesses per bullied employee, 20 percent of those witnesses leave, and that adds $1.2 million for, as Sutton puts it, a TCA (total cost of assholes) of close to $2 million per year.

I'm always amazed at companies that seemingly foster rudeness among their employees. That unhappy employees produce less and leave in droves seems like a "Duh!" moment to me, but there are a lot of companies where this sort of churlish and slovenly behavior is tolerated, if not encouraged.

I've gotten nasty e-mails from co-workers for asking them (politely) to fix their mistakes, as though the very act of asking them to do their jobs is offensive. And plenty of people have received abrupt memos or request for information from managers who don't even preface the request with a "Good Morning" or "Hello."

Maybe our society has just gotten so impersonal that such behavior is commonplace, but as the figures above show, being nice to your coworkers or subordinates has potential benefits while rudeness is exponentially harmful.

One of the most interesting suggestions in the article was to curb the use of e-mails and telephone calls for communication. It's much harder to be rude to someone through a device like e-mail as opposed to face-to-face. I'll have to see implement this and see what happens.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Consequences and Punishment

A recurring theme in abortion debates is that when pro-lifers say "consequences" (as in "pregnancy is a predictable consequence of sex") that they really mean "punishment" (as in "sluts who have sex outside of marriage deserve the punishment of pregnancy").

Of course, that's not what pro-life supporters mean, but it's a nice straw man that pro-abortion advocates like to use. It takes all that needless thinking out of the argument and allows them to use a soundbite instead of their brains.

As I said a long time ago, a consequence is merely the result of a particular behavior, whereas a punishment is a penalty inflicted for an offense or fault. If you get drunk and run your car into a tree, the accident isn't a punishment for your drunkenness. It's a consequence of it.

I bring all this up after reading this Pandagon post where Amanda Marcotte, once again, makes this same disingenuous argument.

The stupid factor cannot be underestimated. Right now, there’s a raging, um, debate, in comments about whether or not the word “consequences”, when used by an anti-choicer describing what he would like to happen to people, especially women, who f***, is synonymous with “punishment”. The dumbass anti-choicers think they are incredibly f****** clever using the word “consequences”. “With this word, we can advocate punishing the sluts without actually saying we’re going to punish them! It’s an amazing plan! They will never see through our clever ruse.”

They must assume everyone else is as dumb as they are and we can’t figure out a word’s meaning from context clues, which is something that your average 3rd grader can ace on a standardized exam.

The biggest, most glaring problem with this argument is that pro-lifers don't see having children as punishment. Of course, this is a point that the Amanda Marcottes of the world don't understand. It's a little like speaking English to a person who only understands Russian. But I'll try again.

Um, Amanda? Having children isn't punishment, even when you aren't crazy about having children. What they are are people you create by having sex, and, believe it or not, biologically, that's the point of sex. Not just for you to have fun. I know you think the fun part of sex is the only part, but it's not. So, when pro-lifers don't buy the "I've got to have abortion available in case I become pregnant and can't afford the baby" argument, it isn't because they are *ahem* "dumbass anti-choicers." It's because they recognize that people who make this argument don't want to accept that sex leads to babies. They want to do what they want and then just kill the baby when nature intervenes.

Farther into Amanda's usual tiresome screed came this "clever" argument:
If abortion is made illegal, what is the preferred prison sentence should be for a woman that has an abortion?

It is, of course, the sort of stupid argument most notable on sites like Pandagon. But, hey, I'll bite.

First, if Roe v. Wade were overturned, abortion would not be instantly illegal. Some states would still have legal abortion while others would not, and there would be states with greater restrictions while others would have few or no restrictions. It's the beauty of that whole federalism thing that people in different states can have different standards.

But what if abortion were completely illegal in some state? Should women be jailed for having abortions? Why not? It would probably be based on a voluntary manslaughter standard, which can carry some jail time and/or a fine. I'm all for holding women to the same standard we hold men.

The truth is, abortion will never be illegal in all 50 states. It will mean that women who want abortions will have to go to a place that allows it. Or they will have to argue why having an abortion because you don't want the child is good enough to change the law to allow it. Or they will have to have the children.

I've seen some crazy arguments on Pandagon for why people are pro-life. Amanda has argued that people are pro-life because they don't like sex, or they just want more white babies for adoption or because they want to punish women. But the truth is that people who are pro-life disagree with abortion because of what happens to the babies and to the mothers. Babies are killed and many women are left with guilt, pain, and regret, not because others are hateful and nasty but because they know what abortion actually is.

I don't expect Amanda Marcotte to understand the difference between consequences and punishment. Judging from the incredibly absurd arguments she makes about pro-life supporters, she stopped thinking a long time ago. And using reason and logic might force her to stop creating strawmen and actually face the weaknesses in the pro-choice argument.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

More Sexual Harassment Run Amok

From comes three stories about children labelled as sexual harassers.

First up is this story about the impact of public school zero tolerance policies regarding sexual harassment.

In his seven years, Randy Castro has been an aspiring soccer player, an accomplished Lego architect, and a Royal Ranger at his Pentecostal church. He also, according to his elementary school record, sexually harassed a first-grade classmate.

more stories like thisDuring recess at his Woodbridge, Va., school one day in November, when he was 6, he said, he smacked the classmate's bottom. The girl told the teacher. The teacher took Randy to the principal, who told him such behavior was inappropriate.

School officials wrote an incident report calling it "Sexual Touching Against Student, Offensive," which will remain on his student record permanently.

Then, as Randy sat in the principal's office, they called the police.

"I thought they were going to take me to prison," Randy said recently. "I was scared."

I'm not advocating allowing this sort of behavior at school, but does a six-year-old know enough to sexually harass another person? I'm not even sure kindergarteners are learning the labels of their body parts at that stage.

Unfortunately, the story gets worse.
In 2006, a kindergartner in Hagerstown, Md., was accused of sexual harassment after reportedly pinching a female classmate's buttocks.

A 4-year-old in Texas was given an in-school suspension after a teacher's aide accused him of sexual harassment for pressing his face into her breasts when he hugged her.

At least the teacher wasn't labelled a sex offender and sent to jail for giving the student a hug in the first place.

The truth is that children act out what they see on television and some of that can have sexual implications. But none of the behavior described in the article could be called sexual harassment in any real sense. It's important to teach children to keep their hands to themselves, but labelling kindergarteners sex offenders dilutes the meaning of that term and unfairly labels people too young to be aware of their behavior. And we don't really know yet how this sort of idiocy will affect those "sex offenders" as they age.

In a second article, an 11-year-old boy has been suspended for quoting South Park because it offended three female classmates.
The boy's grandmother said he was quoting from the show. In a letter to the local school committee, she wrote that "there was never any sexual intent or comment made."

But the girls' parents are outraged and have taken legal action against the boy.

"When we first got the letter from (one of the parents), he asked us to keep the boy out of class. That has been granted. The fact that this escalated beyond that, I don't understand how that happened," School Committee President Kerry Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald received another letter saying, "I want to know specifically what will be done to ensure that my daughter is not exposed to further harm by this boy." (Emphasis mine)

What harm was his daughter exposed to? Being offended? An 11-year-old is old enough for middle school, and any adult can tell you that these girls will be exposed to a lot worse than South Park by the time they reach high school.

This isn't to say quoting South Park (or Family Guy or The Simpsons or a host of other animated shows) is appropriate. But the purpose of school is to teach children how to behave and when it is acceptable to talk one way and when it isn't. Labelling children and scarring their school records seems a bit harsh to me.

The final article described the suspension of a first grade boy for putting two fingers in the waistband of a classmate's (girl) pants.
A first grader was suspended for three days after school officials said he sexually harassed a girl in his class by allegedly putting two fingers inside the girl's waistband while she sat on the floor in front of him.

The boy's mother, Berthena Dorinvil, said she "screamed" about last week's suspension from Downey Elementary School, and added her son doesn't know what sexual harassment is.

"He doesn't know those things," she told The Enterprise of Brockton. "He's only 6 years old."

School officials declined comment to The Enterprise, citing the child's age.

"They would have not suspended the child without doing an investigation," said spokeswoman Cynthia McNally.

Dorinvil said the school principal, Diane Gosselin, called her to pick up her son Jan. 30. She said her son asked the principal if the police were going to come get him.

The principal told Dorinvil the girl complained to the teacher after her son touched the girl's waistband, hitting her skin, in a room full of children.

Dorinvil said her son told her he touched the girl's shirt, not her skin, after the girl touched him.

All of these stories are about children learning to keep their hands to themselves. Calling such horseplay sexual harassment overreaches and also dilutes the power of such terms. The main problem, however, isn't even the ridiculous zero tolerance policies of schools. The problem is parents who want their children protected from any offense and are willing to litigate to get what they want.

We don't live in a perfect world. Sometimes, you get offended. There's nothing in the Constitution that protects you from getting offended, and that lack of protection includes hot house flowers (children) whose parents can't handle dealing with unpleasantries at school. It's odd that this generation, brought up after the Sexual Revolution, seems inable to handle the least offensive behavior.

See? I Told You So!

Universal healthcare leads to longer wait times for simple procedures.

You don't have to be a rocket scientist--or even a doctor--to recognize that once you have universal care, people want to use it for everything from serious illnesses to pesky, minor inconveniences. That creates a strain on your healthcare system, which translates into longer waits for routine preventative care like physicals.

The linked New York Times article discusses a variety of factors leading to a new strain on the health care system, chief among them is the fact that primary care physicians have the same student loans as your expensive specialist but don't get paid as well.

“I calculated that every time I have a Medicare patient it’s like handing them a $20 bill when they leave,” said (one doctor cited). “I never went into medicine to get rich, but I never expected to feel as disrespected as I feel. Where is the incentive for a practice like ours?”

Liberals would tell you that you already make enough and should be happy to pay more in taxes. You should feel guilty for being well off and, therefore, forfeit your pay!

Book Review: Comrade J, Or Why The Left Really Are Useful Idiots

Think the Cold War is over? Think Russia is our ally, our friend? Think it's just U.S. incompetence that leads to major stories about U.S. incompetence? Did you think nuclear winter was true and not just propaganda? Think Russia doesn't spy on us anymore?

Well, have I got a book for you.

Comrade J: The Untold Story of Russia's Master Spy in America After the End of the Cold War is a fascinating read about ongoing espionage between the Russians and the U.S. Sergei Tretyakov was a high-level SVR (formerly KGB) agent who had worked in Canada and the U.S. spying and recruiting for the Soviet Union and, after the breakup of the U.S.S.R., Russia.

Tretyakov tells a fascinating and believable tale about the procedures and theories behind spying and how recruiting typically worked. For example, spies typically work with "unofficial contacts," who may not have any idea that they are giving useful information to the Russians, but who believe they are just exchanging information with an "ally." Former Deputy Department of State head Strobe Talbott was named as one of these. Tretyakov was quick to point out that Talbott was not a spy. Most of us would recognize Tretyakov's description of Talbott as a useful idiot (my word, not Tretyakov's), and that description fits many, if not most liberals and their attitude toward the U.S. with regards to foreign policy.

Indeed, so much of the information in Comrade J confirms what most conservatives would tell you about our enemies both inside and outside the U.S.: they wish to destroy the United States as a superpower. Short of that, they will embarrass the U.S. at any opportunity to damage U.S. credibility. Shockingly, Tretyakov frequently recruited informants who were not from the U.S., but from supposed U.S. allies like Canada, Germany and Japan. These were people who would never betray secrets about their own countries, but who felt justified to betray the U.S., which has helped countries around the world for more than half a century.

Tretyakov explains a variety of techniques used by Russians to spy on the U.S., most of which require research skills as opposed to James Bond-style intelligence. Much of the intelligence business was about reading U.S. newspapers and other publications (I'm sure in 2008, this includes American bloggers, particularly on the Left). Tretyakov even used the Freedom of Information Act to gain reports from Congressional committees. These reports contained information Tretyakov used to make other deductions about U.S. military strength and positioning.

What made Tretyakov turn on Russia, spy for the U.S. and, eventually, defect? Tretyakov says that his disaffection with Russia became absolute during the presidencies of Boris Yeltsin and Vladamir Putin, a period which brought in the thugocracy that now controls Russia. It was one thing to spy for the Soviet Union when he was protecting the people, according to Tretyakov. It was another thing to spy for corrupt officials who were lining their own pockets while millions of common Russians struggled to get by. My problem with this explanation is that I don't really believe Russia today is any different from the former Soviet Union in this regard. Top officials always lived much, much better than the common Russian. The real difference I see is in the level of crime aimed at ordinary citizens.

The second reason Tretyakov gave is more plausible to me: he wanted his daughter to have a better life and didn't think it was possible in Russia. After so many years in the West, it is doubtful to me that Tretyakov and his family would have adjusted well to life in Moscow (his daughter even says this). Certainly, the opportunities might not be there. I can understand someone defecting for the sake of his children.

There are, of course, those who are skeptical about Tretyakov's claims of recruitment and success, and there is a place for that. There may be places where Tretyakov plays up his own importance or role in various events to bolster his story. But overall, Comrade J is most believable and should give Americans pause about what they say or think about their own country. It certainly justifies questioning the patriotism of some people, particularly those who think patriotism is defined as opposing our country.

Here is an example of the useful idiot zone:

Sergei Tretyakov has been interviewed on CSPAN and NPR's Fresh Air and elsewhere this week, and I have had such mixed feelings about him. How has he helped his countrymen by betraying his country and defecting to the US? How would Americans view someone who defected from Bush's America, in a similar intelligence position, to Putin's Russia?

The moral relativism of the Left is incredible to behold. What was the solution, according to this commenter? To continue spying for a corrupt Russian government which could--and would--kill you for any or no reason? There's simply no comparison between Russia and the United States. Our critics do not have to worry about being gunned down in the street for disagreeing with American policy or exposing corruption. Perhaps that would be a difference these moonbats could understand, but don't count on it.