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Friday, January 09, 2009

The John Murtha "Redeploy Them to Okinawa" Award
Posted by: McQ
Today's category in the ongoing First Annual QandO Awards is the John Murtha "Redeploy Them to Okinawa" Award - The dumbest quote by a politician for 2008.

And the nominees are:

- Barack Obama on Barack Obama:
"I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.
- George W. Bush on the reason for backing the bailout:
"I've abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system."
- Alcee Hastings (D-FL) on Sarah Palin:
"Anybody toting guns and stripping moose don't care too much about what they do with Jews and blacks."
- Joe Biden in a Joe Biden moment talking about a man in a wheelchair:
"Chuck, Stand Up, Chuck. Let Them See You. Oh, God Love You, What Am I Talking About?"
- Jesse Jackson Jr on the election of Barack Obama:
"I cried all night. I'm going to be crying for the next four years. What Barack Obama has accomplished is the single most extraordinary event that has occurred in the 232 years of the nation's political history. ... The event itself is so extraordinary that another chapter could be added to the Bible to chronicle its significance."
- Harry Reid "bankruptcy" talk sends already hard-hit stocks sharply lower:
"We don't have a lot of leeway on time. One of the individuals in the caucus today talked about a major insurance company. A major insurance company — one with a name that everyone knows that's on the verge of going bankrupt. That's what this is all about,
- Nancy Pelosi dazzles everyone on Meet the Press with her knowledge of fossile fuels:
"I believe in natural gas as a clean, cheap alternative to fossil fuels," she said at one point. Natural gas "is cheap, abundant and clean compared to fossil fuels."
The John Murtha "Redeploy Them To Okinawa" Award
Barack Obama
George Bush
Alcee Hastings
Joe Biden
Jesse Jackson Jr
Harry Reid
Nancy Pelosi free polls

Nominations for the rest of the awards can still be made here. Vote once a day. Voting will close Saturday.

You can still vote for the Rosie O'Donnell "Bush is a War Criminal" Award here.

Permalink | Comments ( 17 ) | TrackBacks ( 2 ) | Category: Awards

The Law of Unintended Consequences - Part MMCLXV
Posted by: McQ
Watch this video report closely. Note how the shop owner, who was all for "increased regulation", suddenly discovers that it's not so cool when it is a) stupid and b) negatively affects her business:

This is clearly a stupid and sloppily written law which was obviously passed in haste without being carefully read or debated in Congress and then signed into law by the President.

It was a "for goodness sake, do something for the children" law, which will now impose onerous cost through regulation on people and businesses it was never intended to touch - or so I would guess (but, in fact, you never know).

You can read about the law here in more detail. But it is a very fine example of the "crisis law" phenomenon in which bad law is written and passed to address a 'crisis' and ends up making the "crisis" worse.

Another example of that are the bailout bills we're seeing proliferate - but you knew that, didn't you?

Permalink | Comments ( 19 ) | TrackBacks ( 2 ) | Category: Legal Affairs

Contact With Hamas Is The Wrong Solution
Posted by: McQ
Reports are out claiming that the incoming Obama administration will eschew the former policy of isolating terrorist groups and instead seek low level engagement with them. Well, that's not really what the reports say - they don't refer to talks between a terror group and the US government at any level. In fact, other than stating that Hamas has been "designated" as a terrorist organization, and implying that's a mistake, Hamas and terror are barely linked (at least in the report cited). At worst they're referred to as a "radical organization".
The incoming Obama administration is prepared to abandon George Bush's ­doctrine of isolating Hamas by establishing a channel to the Islamist organisation, sources close to the transition team say.

The move to open contacts with Hamas, which could be initiated through the US intelligence services, would represent a definitive break with the Bush ­presidency's ostracising of the group. The state department has designated Hamas a terrorist organisation, and in 2006 ­Congress passed a law banning US financial aid to the group.

The Guardian has spoken to three ­people with knowledge of the discussions in the Obama camp. There is no talk of Obama approving direct diplomatic negotiations with Hamas early on, but he is being urged by advisers to initiate low-level or clandestine approaches, and there is growing recognition in Washington that the policy of ostracising Hamas is counter-productive. A tested course would be to start ­contacts through Hamas and the US intelligence services, similar to the secret process through which the US engaged with the PLO in the 1970s. Israel did not become aware of the contacts until much later.
My question, given what we know of Hamas and its refusal to negotiate at all with Israel, how, at any level, the Obama administration believes it can change attitudes like this:

Obviously peace is better than conflict. And I understand the belief that negotiation is always the best first step.

But you have to have two willing partners in negotiations. You have to have a willingness on both sides to work toward a common goal and do the necessary compromising to achieve it.

Hamas has never, ever, shown the first inclination toward any of that.

Anyone - where in Hamas's charter, words or actions has it ever provided even the first inkling it is willing to negotiate? What is it willing to give up or repudiate?

Hamas has specifically said it would negotiate nothing with Israel. Ever. You'd think by now even the most rabid disciple of the Neville Chamberlin school of negotiation first, last and always would realize that dealing with Hamas is a dead-end.

Secondly - given Hamas's intransigence, both past and present, why should Israel negotiate anything with them? Hamas has proved to be an implacable enemy whose stated mission is the destruction Israel. What is negotiable there? Israel unilaterally gave up Gaza to the Palestinians. Instead of that being perceived positively as a move toward peace, Hamas regarded it as a sign of Israeli weakness and stepped up rocket and mortar attacks by 650%.

Is courting a terrorist organization, even at a low level, worth risking our relationship with Israel?

Lastly - if Obama wants to work on peace in the region, why not concentrate the American effort where it might bear some fruit and eventually point to a solution that could help neutralize Hamas's hold on Gaza? Work with the PA and the West Bank Palestinians toward some sort of accommodation with Israel. That, when negotiated and implemented, would starkly point out what organization is the problem in Gaza. And then the PA could become the instrument to take back Gaza from the terrorists instead of either Israel or the US.

But contact with a terror organization, even at a low-level, only accomplishes one thing - it legitimizes them. And that legitimization will only harden their intransigence, not soften it.

Permalink | Comments ( 28 ) | TrackBacks ( 1 ) | Category: Terrorism

Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Rosie O'Donnell "Bush is a War Criminal" Award
Posted by: McQ
Well it's time to start the voting for the First Annual QandO Awards. And we'll do it a category at a time. Today, we'll begin with the Rosie O'Donnell "Bush is a war criminal" Award for the stupidest celebrity quote for 2008.

And the nominees are:

- Matt Damon remarking about the nomination of Sarah Palin as the Republican Vice Presidential candidate:
"Do the actuary tables and there's a one out of three chance, if not more, that McCain doesn't survive his first term and it'll be President Palin... It's like a really bad Disney movie. The hockey mom, you know, 'oh, I'm just a hockey mom'... and she's facing down President Putin... It's totally absurd... it's a really terrifying possibility... I need to know if she really think that dinosaurs were here 4,000 years ago. I want to know that, I really do. Because she's gonna have the nuclear codes."
- Robert Redford in a speech about the decision of the the Bush administration to auction leases to oil and gas companies for exploration on 132 parcels of land in Utah.
"In my mind, in my opinion, it's morally criminal what they are attempting to do and the way they are doing it."
- Rosanne Barr on, well it's obvious:
"Bad Mother Palin is blabbing about how her pregnant teenage daughter has made the right CHOICE!!! Well, first of all, Ms. Palin, I mean MRS. Palin, your slutty daughter wouldn't have a CHOICE to make at all, if you had your way!!! ...I can see that she gets off talking badly to Barack, and I am sure the "N" word is rollin around that empty head of hers somewhere."
- Stephen King giving his opinion on who you'll find in the military:
"I don't want to sound like an ad, a public service ad on TV, but the fact is if you can read, you can walk into a job later on. If you don't, then you've got, the Army, Iraq, I don't know, something like that. It's, it's not as bright. So, that's my little commercial for that."
- Joy Behar on the View discussing racism:
"[W]hen I was in college, I studied sociology. And what we learned is that racism is an institutional thing. It's not like, it's something that goes from the top down. In other words it's not something- if somebody is- you can't be racist if you're in the oppressed minority. It goes the other direction. The majority is racist to the oppressed minority."
- Ted Turner well, being Ted Turner:
"And the KGB, I think, was an honorable place to work. And it, it gave people in the former Soviet Union, a communist country, an opportunity to do something important and worthwhile."
The Rosie O'Donnell "Bush is a war criminal" Award
Matt Damon
Robert Redford
Rosanne Barr
Stephen King
Joy Behar
Ted Turner free polls

Nominations for the rest of the awards can still be made here. Vote once a day. Voting will close Saturday.

Permalink | Comments ( 22 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Awards

AT&T Wireless: Now with more suckage
Posted by: Billy Hollis
Telecommunications is a strange area of our economy. It's not part of the public sector, but it's so heavily regulated that it's not really a free and open market either. Plus there is rapid technological change, driven partially by advances in other industries, so business models for some parts of the telecom sector evolve rapidly. Right now that means internet access and wireless service.

I don't know very many folks who are entirely happy with their wireless service. The business model doesn't really promote satisfaction, because the industry is currently an oligopoly. The providers are mostly interested in tying down their customers to make it expensive to switch. That way, they can skimp on reliability of phones, support, and service, and customers will mostly put up with it because (1) it's expensive and inconvenient to switch, and (2) there is no obviously better alternative anyway.

This leads to much suckage from the standpoint of the consumer. I've been experiencing my ration of suckage for the last couple of months. If you want to hear me rant about it, read on. If you're not in the mood, I understand completely, so go over to for a cartoon, or maybe peruse FailBlog for some laughs.


Continue reading "AT&T Wireless: Now with more suckage"

Permalink | Comments ( 25 ) | TrackBacks ( 3 ) | Category: Personal

Disproportionate my A**
Posted by: McQ
It is well known that Hamas has dug tunnels under the border between Egypt and Gaza through which they smuggle weaponry.

As an aside: imagine how much "food and humanitarian aid" could have come through that same route had they decided to spend their money on that instead of weapons - and, most likely, they would have been able to bring it in overland vs tunnels to boot.

Anyway, the estimate is that there are about 300 tunnels in use. Additionally it is well known that the tunnels lead to houses near the border where the weaponry is stored for later use.

Now if you were a ruthless and immoral enemy, what would you do? Well, my guess is you'd attempt to strike the tunnels and the housing without warning hoping to catch at least some Hamas weapons smugglers in the act and essentially write off any civilian casualties as the price of their complicity, no?

Well, as MichaelW pointed out below, that's not how the IDF operates. So when they decided to go after those 300 tunnels and the houses which stored the weaponry, here's what they did:
Earlier, Palestinian sources reported that an Israeli aircraft dropped leaflets over the Rafah refugee camp, urging residents to flee because of planned Israeli strikes. The leaflet addressed Rafah residents of a strip of neighborhoods that run parallel to the Egypt border.

"Because Hamas uses your houses to hide and smuggle military weapons, the IDF will attack the area, between the Egyptian border and the beach road," the leaflet said, according a local UN official.

The leaflet included the names of four neighborhoods expected to be hit by the IDF, and instructed locals to immediately leave their homes. "For your safety and for the safety of your children - follow the instructions in this announcement," the leaflet read.

Security officials estimated that about 300 tunnels were used for smuggling weapons from Egypt to the Strip before the Gaza operation was launched.

After the leaflets were dropped, about 5,000 fled to two UN schools turned into temporary shelters, the official said.
Now, here's my question - given the warning, given the specific neighborhoods to be struck and given the ample time between warning and strike which allowed 5,000 people to flee, what should one believe about "civilians" who are now reported as killed or injured in the strike?

And given all of the above, how can anyone who understands the principle of proportionality argue the IDF's action was "disproportionate?"

Permalink | Comments ( 53 ) | TrackBacks ( 5 ) | Category: The War

Carter’s version of the War in Gaza
Posted by: McQ
Jimmy Carter starts his article in the Washington Post this way:
I know from personal involvement that the devastating invasion of Gaza by Israel could easily have been avoided.

After visiting Sderot last April and seeing the serious psychological damage caused by the rockets that had fallen in that area, my wife, Rosalynn, and I declared their launching from Gaza to be inexcusable and an act of terrorism.
To that point, Mr. Carter and I were in agreement. Of course knowing it was Carter writing this piece, I knew there had to be a huge "but" coming soon. And, of course, I was right.

As usual, Mr. Carter presents a rather contextless one-sided view of what what happening at this time and ignores the recent (and inconvenient to the thrust of his article) past. He much more subtle in his accusations than usual (he's apparently learned from the criticism he's received and adapted his style). This time he crafts his fiction carefully so as to lead the reader to conclusion that it is all the Israeli's fault. But there are plenty of red flags which pop up that give away the game.

Bottom line, Carter essentially implies that Israel was starving the Palestinians for no good reason and Hamas as well as the PA were desperate for a peaceful solution. The rockets? Although condemned initially as an inexcusable act of terrorism, they're now essentially excused as acts of frustration and desperation. And besides, not that many Israelis were killed.

Carter then writes:
After extended discussions with those from Gaza, these Hamas leaders also agreed to accept any peace agreement that might be negotiated between the Israelis and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who also heads the PLO, provided it was approved by a majority vote of Palestinians in a referendum or by an elected unity government.

Since we were only observers, and not negotiators, we relayed this information to the Egyptians, and they pursued the cease-fire proposal. After about a month, the Egyptians and Hamas informed us that all military action by both sides and all rocket firing would stop on June 19, for a period of six months, and that humanitarian supplies would be restored to the normal level that had existed before Israel's withdrawal in 2005 (about 700 trucks daily).

We were unable to confirm this in Jerusalem because of Israel's unwillingness to admit to any negotiations with Hamas, but rocket firing was soon stopped and there was an increase in supplies of food, water, medicine and fuel. Yet the increase was to an average of about 20 percent of normal levels. And this fragile truce was partially broken on Nov. 4, when Israel launched an attack in Gaza to destroy a defensive tunnel being dug by Hamas inside the wall that encloses Gaza.
A "defensive tunnel"? Heh, you've got to be kidding me. The tunnel was part of a plan to kidnap Israeli soldiers. What was defensive was the operation to take it out. The tunnel was a perfect example of Hamas using the truce as cover to continue its aggression against Israel.

And we know from Hamas's own words that they had no wish whatsoever for a truce of any kind with Israel. We also know that the PA and other Palestinians blame Hamas for what is going on, not Israel.

What Carter leaves out of his version of events is the level of attack Israel has sustained during Hamas's rule in Gaza and the fact that Hamas immediately resumed that level at the end of the cease fire.

To give a little context to what has caused Israel to finally act against Hamas in Gaza after 3+ years let's look at what Hamas has actually done.

Let's start with the period of Aug. 15, 2005 - Jan. 25, 2006. That's the period between Israel's evacuation of Gaza and the election of Hamas. In that period of time, Israel was attacked by rockets and mortars an average of 15 times a month.

Between the time of the Hamas election and it's Gaza coup (Jan. 25, 2006 - June 14, 2007), the attack average was 102 a month, an increase of 650%.

From the Hamas' takeover and the start of the Tahadiya or State of Calm (June 14, 2007 - June 16, 2008), the average increased to 361 attacks per month. That's an additional 350% increase.

Now, those rocket and mortar shells were coming from someone and somewhere. And while there are those who would like to pretend they were homemade, we've since found out that they've come in from Iran and China.

Unless those two countries are giving these things away, Hamas has been buying them. So instead of spending money for food and humanitarian supplies, apparently Hamas opted for weaponry and aggression. Somehow, however, it is Israel's fault that the humanitarian flow of goods into Gaza is down to a trickle, in the face of an average of 361 rocket and mortar attacks a month of imported weaponry.

Carter is correct that this war could have been avoided, but not for the reasons he'd have you believe. All Hamas has to do is disavow aggression, violence and its stated mission of the destruction of Israel. All it has to do is spend its money on food and medicine instead of rockets and mortars.

The reason this war wasn't avoidable is Hamas has an intransigent position that refuses all efforts at a peace accord with Israel. Until they change that position and enter into good faith peace negotiations then, at least as I see it, the onus of the suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza rests solely and squarely on them and no one else.

Permalink | Comments ( 20 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: The War

Posted by: MichaelW
There's really no other word for what is passing as "news" out of Gaza recently.

On my way into work this morning, for example, I was treated to "reporting" of Ayman Mohyeldin, an Al Jazeera correspondent, who happens to be one of the few journalists in the besieged territory. The interview was conducted on NPR's Morning Edition program and purported to bring us a look at what's actually happening on the ground. Instead I was informed that the Israeli's have acted almost indiscriminately in their campaign against Hamas terrorists, and that within Gaza "there is no safe zone."

Most striking in what was an otherwise standard anti-Israel biased report was the comparison by Mohyeldin of the early-warning systems available in Israel to the lack thereof in Gaza. Mohyeldin exasperatedly informed listeners that Gazans were essentially sitting ducks for the Israeli attacks because (a) there was no warning infrastructure (sirens, etc.), and (b) the Israelis have assaulted every square inch of the territory without mercy. Neither Mohyeldin nor the NPR interviewer mentioned that Israelis have been bombarding areas of attack with leaflets, phone calls and even sound bombs, all intended to clear the area of civilians prior to any actual explosives touching down. Of course, when your enemy actively uses the civilian population as a means towards its own ends, the results are predictable:
Israel's notifications to civilians in Gaza to leave populated locations before they are bombed are cynically used by Hamas for organizing human shields, a new study says.

The study by the Terror and Intelligence Information Center shows that when the IDF warns Arab civilians of an impending attack in their neighborhood, Hamas uses the information in order to organize the civilians into human shields in the hope of protecting the targets from the IDF's wrath.

Hamas's de facto prime minister Ismail Haniyeh and other top terrorists, including Nizar Riyan, who was killed in the course of Operation Cast Lead, have publicly boasted of using the warnings as "intelligence" and then using civilians, including women and children, as human shields to protect the homes of terrorists.
Getting back to the NPR story, I must admit that I was flabbergasted at the sheer propaganda being passed off as "news" in that report. That not one mention was made of the lengths Israel goes to in order to prevent civilian casualties, including the early warnings that Mohyeldin helpfully informed us the Palestinians lack, all while lamenting how "there is no safe zone" in Gaza, serves to underscore just how biased the reporting has been.

And for those who would suggest that perhaps Mohyeldin was not aware of any such early warnings from the Israeli's, he's commented on them in his other reporting:
Earlier on Thursday, thousands of Palestinians fled their homes in the southern Gaza Strip as Israeli forces bombarded Rafah after dropping leaflets to warn local residents about an impending blitz.

Witnesses said that homes, suspected smuggling tunnels and a mosque were hit in the area along the Egyptian border early on Thursday.

The leaflets warned that that the Israeli military "will bomb the area due to its use by terrorists to [dig] tunnels and to stock up" on weapons.

Hundreds of tunnels are believed to cross under the Egyptian border around Rafah allowing Palestinians to smuggle in basic supplies, in short supply due to the Israeli blockade, and weapons.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said the military dropped the flyers "as in the past to avoid civilian casualties".


Al Jazeera's Ayman Mohyeldin, reporting from Gaza City, said the flyers would have frightened the civilian population of southern Gaza.
So, according to Mohyeldin, Gazans are more afraid of leaflets than bombs? Interesting reporting there.

Sadly, for those who don't seek out news from sources other than MSM outlets (New York Times, NBC, NPR, CNN, etc.), this is exactly the sort of information that's being offered as the "truth" about what's going on in the Gaza Strip. Eventually, just like "I can see Russia from my house!" the narrative becomes accepted, or too embedded with factual content to ever be fully exposed as a myth. Of course, that may also be one of the reasons why the internet has surpassed print media as a source of news, and its quickly gaining on TV.

One last point for those tempted to spout the latest media narrative about why the reporting out of Gaza has been so awful. If you think that Israel is preventing reporters from entering Gaza so that it can conduct its war crimes out of the view of a responsible press corps, then please ask yourself, "Why haven't they entered through Egypt?" Even NPR's David Folkenflik had to acknowledge that the IDF was not solely responsible for the media blackout of the war zone, albeit with typical MSM spin:
Peled notes that Egypt is not allowing journalists to enter Gaza from the territory's southern border, either. Yet there may be another cause to the restrictions: Israeli officials have long complained that Palestinian activists and terrorist groups manipulate foreign journalists by claiming Israeli atrocities.
See what he did there? One of the statements is a fact (which goes unaddressed), while the other is pure speculation posing as fact. The speculation diverts attention away from the factual content, and back towards the preferred narrative — i.e. Israel bad. Nevermind that the speculative statement is a complete non sequitur (Israeli claims of manipulation may be a reason that Egypt has closed its borders to journalists?). The only important thing is maintain the narrative.


Permalink | Comments ( 3 ) | TrackBacks ( 1 ) | Category: Media

Posted by: McQ
Jennifer Rubin at Commentary, finds the same Maureen Dowd who spent so many words denigrating Sarah Palin and worrying about her supposed lack of qualifications having a much different reaction to the properly connected, politically acceptable but woefully unqualified Carolyn "you know" Kennedy's desire for the vacated Hillary Clinton Senate seat.
Sensing that the tide has turned against Caroline Kennedy, Maureen Dowd rides to her rescue. Dowd coos:
I know Caroline Kennedy. She's smart, cultivated, serious and unpretentious. The Senate, shamefully sparse on profiles in courage during Dick Cheney's reign of terror, would be lucky to get her.
You sense that between the second and third sentences Dowd was sorely tempted to insert: "Just like me!"

So now, with the election safely behind us and Sarah Palin tucked away back in Alaska, the truth can be told. Identity politics is not, in itself, objectionable - it just depends on the identity. Not okay: small town, funny accent, overt religiosity, non-tony education. Okay: Manhattan address, Ivy League, discreet attire, impeccable lineage. (In other words, just like Dowd's inner circle.)
Rubin nails the pretentious media snob to the wall - and most of the other Palin critics as well. You have to assume the irony was completely lost on Dowd.

Permalink | Comments ( 22 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Media

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

You know its bad out there when ...
Posted by: McQ
This gives "too big to fail" an entirely new meaning.
Another major American industry is asking for assistance as the global financial crisis continues: Hustler publisher Larry Flynt and Girls Gone Wild CEO Joe Francis said Wednesday they will request that Congress allocate $5 billion for a bailout of the adult entertainment industry.

"The take here is that everyone and their mother want to be bailed out from the banks to the big three," said Owen Moogan, spokesman for Larry Flynt. "The porn industry has been hurt by the downturn like everyone else and they are going to ask for the $5 billion. Is it the most serious thing in the world? Is it going to make the lives of Americans better if it happens? It is not for them to determine."

Francis said in a statement that "the US government should actively support the adult industry's survival and growth, just as it feels the need to support any other industry cherished by the American people."
This is obviously a publicity-seeking jab at all the rent seekers out there, but I do appreciate the effort even if it comes from an unlikely source.
"People are too depressed to be sexually active," Flynt said in the statement. "This is very unhealthy as a nation. Americans can do without cars and such but they cannot do without sex."

"With all this economic misery and people losing all that money, sex is the farthest thing from their mind. It's time for congress to rejuvenate the sexual appetite of America. The only way they can do this is by supporting the adult industry and doing it quickly."
My only question is how Flynt expects Nancy Peolosi, Harry Reid and Barney Frank to "rejuvinate" anything to do with America's "sexual appetite". Yeesh ...

Permalink | Comments ( 22 ) | TrackBacks ( 2 ) | Category: Economics

Obama Stimulus Package - paving the wrong road?
Posted by: McQ
All sorts of opinion is out there concerning PEBO's desired stimulus package. I pick Jonathan Cohn's over at the Plank because it pretty much covers what I want to cover. For instance:
The general consensus among left-of-center economists these days is that government spending, rather than tax cuts, represent the most efficient way to fight recessions. Among other things, people who receive tax cuts don't always spend the money right away. More affluent people, in particular, tend to put that money into savings—a move less likely to generate economic activity in the short term.
Consider that paragraph carefully. Look at the claims it makes. A) government spends money more efficiently than people do. B) affluent people tend to save their money and thus are less likely to generate "economic activity in the short term".

Let's deal with B) first. Where do "left-of-center" economists think the "affluent" put their savings? In a can in the back yard? At a minimum it is going into a bank. And the bank is going to do something with the money to make more money (that's how they survive and prosper), and that's how the investment cycle starts. The difference here is instead of letting the government pick the winners (i.e. the entities and programs it chooses to "invest" in by taxing, borrowing or printing money), you have the market picking the winners with its own money.

In reality, as Professor Douglas Houston points out, government stimulus packages are more politically driven than economically driven:
"Government spending programs like these are political grab-bags whose successes are predicated on satisfying political interest groups, not on creating value and growth in a market economy; these government spending programs then often become embedded 'entitlements,' crowding out the flow of funds to private investments in a free marketplace."
Douglas Houston
Professor, School of Business, University of Kansas
And you have to ask, as Scott Bradford does, given the government's track record to this point, is this really wise?
"Governments make lots of a bad policy during times of economic stress. A spending package that approaches $1 trillion is a case in point. Do we really trust the Congress and the Executive Branch to spend such vast sums wisely, especially after all the bumbling around and ill-advised bailouts this year? Does the government really have a long list of well-thought-out, cost-effective projects that will help our economy? I do not think so."
Scott Bradford
Associate Professor, Brigham Young University
As for point A), do left-of-center economists really believe what Cohn claims they do? That government spends money more efficiently than do people (I'm assuming his claim that money kept because of tax cuts isn't spent the "right way" means it doesn't provide as much stimulus as government spending - i.e. efficiency).

That's just counter-intuitive from the get-go. Why? Alan Stockman addresses the point:
"[T]ax cuts will not create the waste [that] government spending would, because individual households are making their own decisions about which spending or investment projects are worthwhile for themselves."
Alan Stockman
Wilson Professor of Economics, University of Rochester
David Laband echoes the point:
"Our economy as a whole will [not] benefit from taking money from current or future taxpayers to support a government spending spree. No doubt, certain interest groups will gain from feeding at the public sector trough. But losers surely will outnumber winners by a large margin. Our economy as a whole will benefit from Congress lowering taxes and letting Americans decide for themselves what is worth spending their hard-earned dollars on."
David Laband
Professor of Economics and Policy, Auburn University
And Richard Wagner puts an exclamation point beside it:
"Any so-called stimulus program is a ruse. The government can increase its spending only by reducing private spending equivalently. Whether government finances its added spending by increasing taxes, by borrowing, or by inflating the currency, the added spending will be offset by reduced private spending. Furthermore, private spending is generally more efficient than the government spending that would replace it because people act more carefully when they spend their own money than when they spend other people's money."
Richard Wagner
Professor of Economics, George Mason University
Now I hesitate to call these folks I've quoted "right-of-center" economists, because I don't know if that's true. But what is certainly true is they do not agree with the two points Cohn attributes to "left-of-center" economists.

In fact, as James Butkiewicz points out, even the chair of Obama's Council of Economic Advisers advocates tax cuts over government spending:
"Tax cuts are preferable to spending, especially the many programs that will doubtless result from this process. Even the designated chair of Obama's CEA finds that increased taxes reduce growth."
James Butkiewicz
Professor of Economics, University of Delaware
The fact that tax cuts are actually a part of the package is a good thing. What's somewhat disturbing though is their inclusion is a matter of politics, not sound fiscal thinking. It has been included at the insistence of the Republicans with the view by Democrats being that their inclusion will help ease passage of the rest of the bill.

The rest of the stimulus package, some 350 to 450 billion dollars, is pointed toward spending on "infrastructure". That is, large public projects. As Cohn notes:
On the other hand, coming up with $600 to $700 billion in well-timed government stimulus may not be as easy as it sounds. For a while now, Obama advisers have been warning that there are only so many ready-to-go infraustructure programs—and only so many social needs the states are prepared to meet quicky. To give you a sense of scale, total non-discretionary, non-military spending this year is only around $500 billion. As Paul Krugman explains on his blog,

...there's a problem with a public-investment-only stimulus plan, namely timing. We need stimulus fast, and there's a limited supply of "shovel-ready" projects that can be started soon enough to deliver an economic boost any time soon. You can bulk up stimulus through other forms of spending, mainly aid to Americans in distress—unemployment benefits, food stamps, etc.. And you can also provide aid to state and local governments so that they don't have to cut spending-avoiding anti-stimulus is a fast way to achieve net stimulus. But everything I've heard says that even with all these things it's hard to come up with enough spending to provide all the aid the economy needs in 2009.
So the consensus is, as Krugman says, "we need stimulus fast" and infrastructure programs don't really lend themselves to providing that. But note what Krugman contends will provide that fast stimulus - more government spending. In fact, he contends that increased unemployment benefits, food stamps and aid to local and state governments is the way to go.

It is fraudulent nonsense.

As Donald Luskin says:
"Government spending does not create incentives for labor, innovation and investment. Instead of spending $1 trillion in Washington, let Washington forgive $1 trillion in tax revenues to create incentives for millions of individuals and firms to get the economy going again, one dollar at a time."
Donald Luskin
Chief Investment Officer, Trend Macrolytics LLC
What is a better cure for unemployment than a job? So that being the case, what is the best way to stimulate job growth? Well certainly not by increasing spending on unemployment benefits and food stamps.

And what is the best way to encourage job creation?
"During recessions, unemployment rationalizes a role for government in creating jobs. But there is no reason these jobs should be directly working for the government: nothing about a recession justifies larger government. If we are worried about too few jobs, it makes sense to subsidize private employment (for example, by temporarily lowering payroll taxes or creating a new tax subsidy for new hires)."
Glen Weyl
Junior Fellow at the Society of Fellows and Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Department of Economics, Harvard University
And the infrastructure spending? Well Thomas Mayer has a good point about that:
"There is not only the problem that efficient projects are often slow to get to the point where they generate actual expenditures, but also that once the government starts spending it is hard to turn off the tap when the stimulus is no longer needed."
Thomas Mayer
Professor Emeritus, University of California -Davis
Does anyone doubt his point? This so-called "stimulus" will in fact mostly stimulate a permanent expansion of government at all levels.

This "stimulus package" means the era of huge government is back and on steroids. Its passage means an economic sea change for this country, and not a positive one either.

Stacie Beck lays it out most succinctly:
"A spending stimulus will only delay the needed restructuring of the U.S. economy to remain internationally competitive. Tax cuts will facilitate that restructuring far better than spending and job creation by the government."
Stacie Beck
Professor, University of Delaware
And Gene Smiley gives you the probable - and lamentable - outcome of its passage:
"An 'economic stimulus' program will do nothing to correct the serious price and resource misallocations that currently exist and are stopping the economy from moving back toward 'full-employment.' In fact, they will likely retard the recovery. They will divert resources from the private sector to the government sector moving us further away from a free-enterprise economy."
Gene Smiley
Emeritus Professor of Economics, Marquette University
Pelosi and Reid are promising passage of a stimulus package by February. Obama is promising a deficit of 1.2 trillion. There is a good way to keep from piling up that debt - defeat this stimulus package and insist on tax cuts as the primary means toward recovery. Then get government the heck out of the way.

Unfortunately that's not at all what I think will happen. And the result - a repetition of something we've already seen but seem determined to ignore:
"Japan's federal expenditures, following their 1989 stock market crash, have had little to no effect on their recovery. Japan has been left with a huge government debt per GDP ratio and nearly 20 years of little to no growth. Why on earth would the U.S. want to follow in Japan's footsteps?"
Gary Quinlivan
Dean of the Alex G. McKenna School, St. Vincent College
Why indeed?

Permalink | Comments ( 27 ) | TrackBacks ( 3 ) | Category: Economics

The Majority "leader?"
Posted by: McQ
After Harry Reid's tough words and claim of constitutional authority being on his side in refusing to seat Roland Burris as Illinois junior senator, it appears the cave-in by Reid is imminent:
Senate Democrats plan to accept Roland Burris for President-elect Barack Obama's vacant seat, the Associated Press reports.

Burris is meeting with the Senate's top two Democrats — Majority Leader Harry Reid and assistant leader Dick Durbin — on Wednesday in the hopes of securing their support.

But a spokesman for Reid denied the report to FOX News, saying, "There are various options on the table."

"There will be no white smoke today," Reid spokesman Rodell Mollineau told FOX News when asked if Burris would be named the junior senator from Illinois on Wednesday.
You have to love ever clever Harry's comparison of his tawdry brand of politics with the election of a pope.

But it is obvious that in the end, Reid is going to have to eat his words - again.

That's because, as usual, due to his lack of leadership and his inability to anticipate how this would play out, the Democrats "united front" has cracked wide open:
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Rules Committee, told reporters Tuesday evening that Burris should be seated.

"If you don't seat Mr. Burris, it has ramifications for gubernatorial appointments all over America," the California Democrat said. "Mr. Burris is a senior, experienced politician. He has been attorney general, he has been controller, and he is very well-respected. I am hopeful that this will be settled."
Yes, when it comes to politics vs. principles, well, there's never a doubt which will eventually win out on Harry's watch. But apparently Reid can't help the clueless combativeness which he mistakes for "leadership". It is constantly amazing how often Reid misreads situations and acts accordingly. No wonder his seat is considered a "contested" seat in 2010. If you had an embarrassment like that representing your state, would you want to keep him (yeah, I know other embarrassments continue to get reelected, but we're talking Nevada being more like South Dakota (Daschle) than Massachusetts.)?

Nothing would be more pleasing than to see Reid lose his seat at the height of Democratic Congressional power.

Permalink | Comments ( 9 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Congress

If they had a choice ...
Posted by: McQ
Democrats constantly tell us they are the party of "choice". Of course they seem to almost exclusively define 'choice' in terms of reproductive rights. The choice of schools?

Not so much.

No one that I know of would argue that Oregon is a "conservative" or right-wing dominated state. That's why this survey is so interesting:
When asked "if it were your decision and you could select any type of school, what type of school would you select in order to obtain the best education for your child," here's how Oregonians responded:

* 44 percent selected private schools
* 24 percent selected charter schools
* 14 percent selected home schooling
* 13 percent selected regular public schools
* 5 percent selected virtual schools

The survey demonstrates a wide disconnect between schooling preferences and actual school enrollments. While forty-four percent of Oregon parents said they would like to send their child to a private school, only 7 percent of Oregon's students attend private schools. Twenty-four percent of Oregon parents said they would like to send their child to a charter school, yet charter schools enroll only about 2 percent of the state's students. While only thirteen percent of Oregon parents said they would choose a regular public school for their child, more than nine of ten — 91 percent — attend regular public schools. The implication of these results, is that Oregon, like many other states, does not have sufficient school choice systems in place to match parents' schooling preferences.
The survey points out that most feel the public school system is failing them. As for money, the majority felt that the money being spent per pupil was "about right" or "too high".

But essentially, the biggest message in the survey was this:
Oregonians show potentially high demand for new school models such as charter schools, virtual schools and vouchers. Survey results show 70 percent of voters are favorable to charter schools, 51 percent are favorable to virtual schools, and 63 percent are favorable to vouchers. Twenty-four percent strongly favor charter schools, 13 percent strongly favor virtual schools, and 19 percent strongly favor vouchers. These findings remain consistently high across family income groups.
Or said another way, the present system of education is not meeting the needs or demands of its "customers."

Of course the unfortunate part of this is the "customers" really don't have the say they should have when it comes to education policy. Much of that is driven by the union representing the teachers.

If the Obama administration wants to live up to its promise of 'change', it seems to me a change in attitude among policy makers that focuses on the desires of education's "customers", instead of exclusively on the teachers, might be a great place to start.

As the survey points out:
School choice is not a partisan issue among Oregon residents. The survey results indicate general agreement among Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. There is potential in Oregon to put aside party differences and work together on systemic reforms, as there are shared common views on school choice policies. High levels of support exist for school vouchers, tax-credit scholarships, charter schools, and personal-use tax credits and deductions for education expenses.
A perfect "post-partisan" issue, no?

However, given the debt he owes the teacher's union, I don't foresee any worthwhile progress in this direction during his term in office. We'll see. Maybe he'll surprise us. But I doubt that "school choice" is really high on the new administration's education agenda.

Permalink | Comments ( 11 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Education

Have you hugged your Income Redistributionist Specialist lately?
Posted by: McQ
I'm sure you've heard by now that the Minister of Justice in the UK as decided that inmates in prison shouldn't be called inmates anymore because, you see, it might offend them.

The absurdity of political correctness and the pseudo right not to be offended trundle on. In that spirit, The Nose On Your Face offers the following specific titles for our "freedom-challenged tenants of the state":
9. Jaywalker = Free-Spirited Ambulatory Impulse-Control Sufferer

8. Embezzler = Income Redistribution Specialist

7. Pedophile = Juvenille Outreach Coordinator

6. Murderer = Super Late-Term Pro-Choice Advocate

5. Bank Robber = Forcible Wealth Procurement Facilitator

4. Mugger = Darwinian Overachiver

3. Islamic Terrorist = Student

2. Rapist = Incidental Vaginal Penetration Engineer

1. Counterfeiter = Surplus Currency Designer
Laugh, but it wouldn't surprise me if these someday became acceptable references to criminals - I mean, you wouldn't want to offend a pedophile would you?

Permalink | Comments ( 6 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Humor

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Plan 9 from AGW
Posted by: McQ
Okay, they call it "plan B", but you get the point. This is some seriously desperate, and goofy, stuff. Written by Steve Connor, the "Science Editor" and Chris Green for The Independent, it takes you deep into the warping effect AGW has had on "science".
An emergency "Plan B" using the latest technology is needed to save the world from dangerous climate change, according to a poll of leading scientists carried out by The Independent. The collective international failure to curb the growing emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere has meant that an alternative to merely curbing emissions may become necessary.

The plan would involve highly controversial proposals to lower global temperatures artificially through daringly ambitious schemes that either reduce sunlight levels by man-made means or take CO2 out of the air. This "geoengineering" approach - including schemes such as fertilising the oceans with iron to stimulate algal blooms - would have been dismissed as a distraction a few years ago but is now being seen by the majority of scientists we surveyed as a viable emergency backup plan that could save the planet from the worst effects of climate change, at least until deep cuts are made in CO2 emissions.
Of course The Independent never identifies the "leading scientists" it surveyed, although it does admit to it being a mere 80 later on in the article.

This type of alarmism relies on a sort of corollary of the Rahm Emanuel principle that one should never let a good crisis go to waste but always use it to implement things which would be impossible under normal circumstances. The AGW corollary is if you don't have a real crisis, manufacture one. And that's precisely what the Science editor and the 80 "leading scientists" attempt here.

So what is Plan B? Well, actually its Plan B1, B2, B3, B4 and, my personal favorite, B5.

Plan B1:

Injecting the air with particles to reflect sunlight. Also known as the "artificial volcano plan". Of course they have no idea how many of the artificial sulfate particles they would have to inject into the stratosphere or how long they'd have to do it, but they're pretty sure that it would eventually result in acid rain and have adverse consequences for agriculture.

Okay. On to Plan B2:

Creating low clouds over the oceans. The plan is to pump water vapor into the atmosphere to create clouds over the ocean and thereby cool the earth. This is the "we had to destroy the village to save the village" plan. You see, water vapor accounts for about 95% of Earth's greenhouse effect. So the cure is to put more of what supposedly ails us into the atmosphere to stop the warming?

Hmmm. Uh, Plan B3:

Fertilising the sea with iron filings. Or among skeptics, the "blooming idiot" plan. The idea is to salt the sea with iron filings to encourage photoplankton to grow and it would, in turn, absorb CO2. Then they're supposed to quietly give up the ghost and sink to the bottom of the sea with the CO2 conveniently trapped forever. The only problem with this brilliant plan is photoplankton is voraciously sought out and eaten by all types of sea creatures as a part of their diet. And, of course, should that happen, vs. the quiet dying and sinking, well the CO2 is returned to the atmosphere plus some.

Lovely. And then there is Plan B4:

Mixing the deep water of the ocean. This is known as the "cosmic Mix-Master" option. Yes, giant tubes will be placed in the ocean and surface water "rich in carbon" will be pumped to the bottom of the sea, never to resurface. Of course the problem is the water deep in the sea that is displaced has to go somewhere and it will most likely go up. Any guess what is locked in that water right now? Heh, yup - lots and lots of carbon. Any guess where it will end up?

Yeesh. And finally, my favorite, B5:

Giant mirrors in space. Known among the less than impressed as the "window shade option" (and by others as the "Simpson Effect"), this plan requires either giant mirrors or lots and lots of tiny mirrors be shot into space and placed between Earth and the sun. Yes, that's right. Mirrors. Between us and the sun. And then, of course, we'll just, you know, turn them as we deem necessary whenever we want to adjust the amount of sunlight and heat we receive here on earth. What could go wrong with that?


This is what "leading scientists" come up with?

"Stupid, stupid!"

I like Plan 9 better:

By the way, for future reference when the AGW crowd starts trying to lay the greenhouse gases allegedly causing world-wide climate change (or global warming - whatever they're pushing that day) off on man, remind them that the anthropogenic (man-made) contribution to the "Greenhouse
Effect," expressed as % of total (with water vapor included) is a mere 0.28%.

Again, that's not just CO2 - that's all of the gases which allegedly contribute to that effect.

Permalink | Comments ( 31 ) | TrackBacks ( 1 ) | Category: Environment

You need experience for this stuff?
Posted by: McQ
Hey, why not Leon "We have intelligence agencies?" Panetta for Director of the CIA? After all we have Barack "Who says you need experience?" Obama making the selection and Caroline "Hey, I'm a Kennedy, what more do you need?" Schlossberg under serious consideration for a Senate seat.

Why not Leon "What does a spy look like?" Panetta for CIA?

Because, you know:
On the merits, this idea that the CIA Director needs to be a career intelligence professional seems to have been pulled out of thin air.
Oh, for sure ... I mean, we wouldn't want amateur hour in Washington, would we?

Permalink | Comments ( 25 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Government

He’s Baaaaaaaaack ...
Posted by: McQ
Our good buddy Jesse Macbeth has apparently paid his dues to society or is at least out on parole. Macbeth has decided that it is now his mission in life to apologize for what he did previously (a good thing) and to blame it all on the IVAW (Iraq Veterans Against the War) - the usual thing (see blame shifting post for the argument).

You see, the IVAW made him do all of what he did ... even when he was doing it before he ever heard of the IVAW one supposes. They're a much more powerful organization than you think, apparently.

In fact, as it turns out, or I should say, according to Macbeth, the IVAW paid him to be a liar and denigrate and devalue the service of real soldiers. I guess he was just practicing when he did it prior to joining the IVAW.

We covered his previous life extensively here.

And Macbeth is writing a book. Yes, he claims to have a book deal (of course he's claimed a lot of things since he first came to our notice) and he's 50 pages into it (woohoo!). I'm sure it will be a real page turner.

Oh, and he talks about some of the stuff he has seen on the internet. He makes an assertion that "some woman" claiming to be his sister isn't. I actually know for a fact that isn't true - but hey, we're talking Jesse Macbeth here.

Lastly, you have to remember, he's "seen some things" and that's why he's the way he is.

Anyway, for your viewing pleasure I submit the following:

Help Jesse name his book. Please.

[HT: This Ain't Hell]

Permalink | Comments ( 11 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Military Affairs

The "Choices"
Posted by: McQ
Paul Hsieh lays them out as they pertain to health care. Not who gets what, or how much it will cost in monetary terms, but in terms of freedom and lack thereof.

Here's how I understood freedom and liberty worked:
Of course healthy diet and exercise are good. But these are issues of personal - not government - responsibility. So long as they don't harm others, adults should have the right to eat and drink what they wish - and the corresponding responsibility to enjoy (or suffer) the consequences of their choices. Anyone who makes poor lifestyle choices should pay the price himself or rely on voluntary charity, not demand that the government pay for his choices.
Does anyone have a particular argument with that?

In fact, if you believe in freedom and liberty, there really isn't another choice, is there?

But here's what's being offered as the alternative:
Government attempts to regulate individual lifestyles are based on the claim that they must limit medical costs that would otherwise be a burden on "society." But this issue can arise only in "universal healthcare" systems where taxpayers must pay for everyone's medical expenses.
Of course that's not how the alternative is presented. Hey, it's going to be marketed just like children's toys and fast food. They're going to try to make you want it and want it badly. But the fact remains that at its base, once it belongs to government, your life is no longer your own. If you don't believe me, look at what is happening in other countries where they already "enjoy" the alternative:
Imagine a country where the government regularly checks the waistlines of citizens over age 40. Anyone deemed too fat would be required to undergo diet counseling. Those who fail to lose sufficient weight could face further "reeducation" and their communities subject to stiff fines.

Is this some nightmarish dystopia?

No, this is contemporary Japan.

The Japanese government argues that it must regulate citizens' lifestyles because it is paying their health costs.
And Japan isn't the only government using "universal health care" as a means of controlling people's lives. Other examples are numerous and varied:
... [T]he British government has banned some television ads for eggs on the grounds that they were promoting an unhealthy lifestyle. This is a blatant infringement of egg sellers' rights to advertise their products.
Of course its a blatant infringement, but Nanny knows best.
In 2007, New Zealand banned Richie Trezise, a Welsh submarine cable specialist, from entering the country on the grounds that his obesity would "impose significant costs ... on New Zealand's health or special education services." Richie later lost weight and was allowed to immigrate, but his wife had trouble slimming and was kept home. Germany has mounted an aggressive anti-obesity campaign in workplaces and schools to promote dieting and exercise. Citizens who fail to cooperate are branded as "antisocial" for costing the government billions of euros in medical expenses.
And before we feel too sumg:
Many American cities ban restaurants from selling foods with trans fats. Los Angeles has imposed a moratorium on new fast food restaurants in South L.A. Other California cities ban smoking in some private residences. California has outlawed after-school bake sales as part of a "zero tolerance" ban on selling sugar products on campus. New York Gov. David Paterson has proposed an 18 percent tax on sugary sodas and juice drinks, and state officials have not ruled out additional taxes on cheeseburgers and other foods deemed unhealthy.
The universal health care debate is one of those foundational debates which can, and will, change forever the fabric of the country. In reality, universal healthcare is a painted, glittering whore which will pass along a morally fatal disease after we choose her. In short:
Just as universal healthcare will further fuel the nanny state, the nanny state mind-set helps fuel the drive toward universal healthcare. Individuals aren't regarded as competent to decide how to manage their lives and their health. So the government provides "cradle to grave" coverage of their healthcare.

Nanny state regulations and universal healthcare thus feed a vicious cycle of increasing government control over individuals. Both undermine individual responsibility and habituate citizens to ever-worsening erosions of their individual rights. Both promote dependence on government. Both undermine the virtues of independence and rationality. Both jeopardize the very foundations of a free society.

The American Founding Fathers who fought and died for our freedoms would be appalled to know their descendants were allowing the government to dictate what they could eat and drink. The Founders correctly understood that the proper role of government is to protect individual rights and otherwise leave men free to live - not tell us how many eggs we should eat.
The unfortunate problem, at least as I see it, is that once this passes into law, it is unrecoverable.
Any government that attempts to guarantee healthcare must also control its costs. The inevitable next step will be to seek to control citizens' health and their behavior. Hence, Americans should beware that if we adopt universal healthcare, we also risk creating a "nanny state on steroids" antithetical to core American principles.
And freedom and liberty, as we've always understood them, will be dead.

Permalink | Comments ( 15 ) | TrackBacks ( 2 ) | Category: Health Care

And the games begin...
Posted by: McQ
Almost, maybe, we'll see Senator Roland Burris (D-IL) has been denied the seat to which IL Governor Rod Blagojevich(D) appointed him:
Roland Burris was denied entry to the Senate chambers on Tuesday as he tried to claim the seat once held by President-elect Barack Obama.

Burris said the secretary of the Senate rejected his credentials, and therefore he would not be allowed access to the floor.

Timothy W. Wright III, an attorney for Burris, said the rejection of Burris' credentials was unlawful.

"Our credentials were rejected by the secretary of the Senate. We were not allowed to be placed in the record books. We were not allowed to proceed to the floor for purposes of taking oath, all of which we think was improperly done and it is against the law of this land," Wright said.

Burris said he was not seeking a confrontation and would consult with his attorneys to determine his next steps.
Burris, in my estimation, is playing this correctly. However, it is fun to watch. However, you can't ask for better theater than when the Barney Fife of the Senate, aka Harry Reid (D-Mayberry), is given a stage on which to huff and puff and play tough guy.

The Volokh Conspiracy has the arguments both for and against seating Burris.

My legally uninformed guess is he ends up in the Senate because Senate Democrats really don't want this sort of thing to play out successfully given they know they won't always be in charge of the Senate.

Permalink | Comments ( 4 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Congress

Comedy on the left
Posted by: McQ
Either John Cole has gone into the comedy business or he has joined the long line of the irony impaired on the left.

His latest screed in answer to criticism of Nancy Pelosi's decision to change House rules making it more difficult for the minority party to participate is just flat hilarious (especially in light of Pelosi's conveniently forgotten promises when accepting the Speaker's gavel). For instance, he manages - one assumes with a straight face - to project on Congressional Republicans precisely what Congressional Democrats have done for 8 years. Political amnesia is a wonderful thing, isn't it?:
On our plate we currently have a number of disasters, near disasters, and emerging disasters we have to deal with immediately. The hurdles for the incoming administration are mind-numbing, notwithstanding the infighting among the rival factions within the Democratic party, and that is without factoring in the Republican party, who can be counted on to sabotage anything and everything if there is the slightest hint of electoral gain to be had.
You see, now that the pure and principled Democrats are in charge, all is fair in love and politics - well at least from the Democratic side - and the minority should shut up, fall into line and unquestioningly support the new administration.

You know, like the Democrats did for those previous 8 years of a Republican administration: ever loyal, with no eye on "electoral gain", and no hint of undermining anything the Republican administration did.

Heh ... you just have to laugh at the chutzpah. Obviously Cole forgets the celebration by certain Democrats of possible electoral gains fostered by a natural disaster, or the belief by others that losing in Iraq would benefit them electorally.

Nope - a disease called ideological blindness prevents Cole and others from "seeing" those events for what they were. Couple that with the afore mentioned political amnesia and it comes as no surprise that much of the left is, in fact, irony impaired.

You also have to remember that Cole had a political epiphany during the Bush administration and changed sides. And, of course, you know the old saying about reformed whores.
We can debate whether or not Pelosi should make those rule changes, and whether or not the rules changes are a good idea or not. I can handle that. What I find absurd is the notion that the the House GOP has any desire to work with the Democrats and the incoming administration.
The obvious unasked question is why should they, given how well Democrats worked with the present administration over the past 8 years? What reason have Democrats, by example and by word, given Republicans for cooperation now that Democrats have won?

Don't expect answers to those. They would expose the hypocrisy of Cole's position.

But it is instructive, isn't it? One supposes that Cole's assumed "loyal opposition" of the past (I'm sure that's how he would characterize it) is something only the left does. If the right employs the same tactics, it is suddenly the work of 'petulant brats' who are 'obstructionists'.

I can't say I'm particularly surprised as Cole has never struck me as a particularly deep thinker. He is symptomatic, however, of the huge shift that is now occurring on the left as they demand from the right that which they refused to give when they were in the minority.

Funny stuff.

Permalink | Comments ( 21 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: The Left

New Taxes: Most likely Indirect and regressive
Posted by: McQ
The government is hungry for money. And it is looking for innovative ways to get it. However, they don't want to take it from you directly. You see that's political suicide. So when we hear about the great 300 billion middle class tax cut that the Obama administration is so graciously planning on granting, we should realize that most of it will be recovered by indirect taxes. For instance:
Indirectly it could be considered a cheeseburger tax, but one of the suggestions offered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in its Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) for regulating greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act is to levy a tax on livestock.
The plan? $175 per dairy cow, $87.50 per beef cow, and $20 per hog.

Now obviously a dairy farmer isn't going to absorb that cost. And if all dairy farmers have to pay it, then it is a cost quite easily passed on to the middle class (and poor) consumer. Consequently this regressive tax will add 7 to 8 cents to a gallon of milk. And the same goes for beef and pork products. Thus a nice little chunk of the promised 300 billion tax cut is recovered (and we're saving the world, so who can complain?).

And the government hasn't once directly taxed you in the process and is able to maintain the fiction that you've been fairly and progressively treated by their tax policy.

Oh, and as an aside: if McDonalds can get beef of adequate quality shipped in from another country for less per pound than it costs for American beef with the added tax, what do you suppose they'll do?

Permalink | Comments ( 12 ) | TrackBacks ( 1 ) | Category: Taxation

Monday, January 05, 2009

Apple Introduces Revolutionary New Laptop With No Keyboard
Posted by: Dale Franks
Apple does it again, with a revolutionary new ultra-slim notebook.


Permalink | Comments ( 5 ) | TrackBacks ( 2 ) | Category: Humor

The Role of the RNC Chair
Posted by: Bryan Pick
Here's the extended comment I left at The Next Right in response to Mindy Finn's question of the appropriate role(s) of the RNC Chair:


Private fundraising, both directly from candidates and from third-party (not "Libertarian" third party, but "MoveOn" third-party) groups, should start to take precedence over centralized party funds for individual races.  If a critical race needs to be tipped one way or the other, the Right needs to have a separate infrastructure in place to get funds to that candidate.  The party should highlight these races, but not spend funds fighting fires close to election day.

The Republican Party, under the leadership of the chairman, should start to identify itself primarily as the facilitator of infrastructure, making sure that the Right has all the institutions it needs to:
  • build local membership,
  • recruit candidates as broadly as possible, so we can challenge the Dems everywhere,
  • pressure Democrats steadily on both policy and personnel,
  • identify winnable races,
  • pick up on new shifts in the political winds (memes that can catch on, new winning issues that can attract at least part-time allies into the coalition, and even demographic changes), and
  • develop new policy ideas (we already have formidable institutions in place for this).
The focus here should be on building from the bottom up, and can most efficiently be done by providing the tools rather than sending in late reinforcements for each campaign (money, manpower, etc.).

So in each and every locale, the local infrastructure's job during elections should be to:
  • alert non-local Republicans to unexpected vulnerabilities that can be exploited with wider attention and more resources,
  • score points against Democrat personnel whenever the opportunity arises (start building the rap sheets now in those blue states, because these victories are cumulative and mutually reinforcing),
  • win if possible, but
  • always be shifting the Overton window toward the Right's ideas and policies, staying somewhat to the Right of even the candidates themselves.  (Candidates, in turn, need to learn to tolerate this pressure, and take advantage of the blazed path when the opposition weakens on an issue.)
The top-down part of the chairman's job is secondary but necessary: rather than try to set a policy agenda himself, he should be trying to manage relationships, as you say, so that the factions can tolerate each other long enough for the movement's intellectuals to shape an agenda around the disparate parts of the coalition.  (It starts with unifying grievances, then familiarity develops between them, so that they know each others' tolerances, leading to stronger coordination.)  The party platform should reflect those developments rather than try to drive them.

Frank Meyer's fusionism gave a unifying rationale for a coalition that could last as long as the Cold War did, and created a framework that defined which internal conflicts could be avoided — i.e., promoting policies that furthered the ends of all factions, and suppressing policy fights in the areas of disagreement.

This avoids the tendency for one dominant faction in the party to grab hold of its favorite value and push it to the detriment (and disgust) of the other factions in the party that it needs to win.

From there, the party/chairman can gently steer candidates who take a few too many liberties with the Republican platform (more liberties than they need to take to win) by alerting the existing infrastructure in those locales to tug harder back in the direction of the party's overarching agenda.

Any fundraising the chairman/party does, whether the party's in power or not, should be directed toward those ends (infrastructure for bottom-up, shaping the coalition from the top-down).  If candidates want an infusion of funds, they need to do something that excites the movement — get within striking range, bring some fresh ideas to the table, etc.

Permalink | Comments ( 3 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Politics

Obama’s latest jobs plan
Posted by: McQ
First, per Barack Obama, it was going to be 5 million "green collar" jobs.

Then he did a little subtracting - it became creating or saving 2 million jobs.

Now he's into addition again - now he's going to create 3 million jobs - unfortunately, only 80% will be in the private sector.

And that leaves? Yes, 600,000 new government jobs.

Of course we all know how much of a positive economic effect those have in comparison with private sector jobs, don't we?

But, as Rahm Emanuel said, never let a crisis go by without doing things you probably couldn't do in its absence - like expand the heck out of government.

Permalink | Comments ( 4 ) | TrackBacks ( 4 ) | Category: Politics

Vote for Pundit Review!
Posted by: McQ
Well, for the first time QandO didn't make the finals in the Weblog Awards. I think that's mostly because they don't know where to categorize our blog. They've never had a libertarian category and we don't quite fit under either liberal or conservative. We're not a milblog and darn sure not a mommy blog or a pet blog although we do keep a pet lawyer (rimshot).

Michael will get me for that.

Anyway, that all being said, the purpose of this post is to encourage you to vote for Pundit Review as the best podcast.

That's where I do my weekly "Someone You Should Know" segment. And, with the weekly radio show, Kevin and Rob do some great work and snag some fantastic interviews.

Thanks in advance - and remember, you can vote once a day until the polls close.

Permalink | Comments ( 0 ) | TrackBacks ( 2 ) | Category: Podcasting

Automatic Congressional Pay Raises Explained
Posted by: MichaelW
Eugene Volokh gets to the bottom of the mystery:
On June 18, 1912, Congress passed a law entitled,

An Act to provide for the support and maintenance of bastards in the District of Columbia.
Could also be why there are so many lawyers there. [/rimshot]

Permalink | Comments ( 0 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Humor

RNC Chair Debate - Best in Show
Posted by: Bryan Pick
just went to the RNC Chair Debate with Jon, and here are my impressions.

I wasn't terribly familiar with all of these guys ahead of time, although I sat with Saul Anuzis at an American Spectator breakfast recently. So with only a short briefing about each man's apparent flaws and viability as a candidate, I came with a pretty open mind.

As I see it, there are three bare necessities for reforming an organization: the perception to diagnose the problem, the brains to optimize solutions, and the courage to pursue the necessary means of those solutions.

So first, I wanted the candidates to show that they understood how the Republican Party got into this mess.

Second, I wanted to hear how they planned to rejuvenate the party. I believe the RNC's role is mostly seeding new membership from the bottom up, and secondarily enforcing some discipline to keep everyone moving in the right direction — tipping the balance of critical races should be an outgrowth of their primary role.

And third, I wanted to see evidence that they had a good understanding of the role of new media and new technology.

I gave bonus points to those who could approach these issues in a no-nonsense way that showed they were ready to break with the recent past of the GOP and that showed they were grounded enough in their opinions to discuss them openly and earnestly, no reservations.

Truth be told, I agree with Jon that there was more noise than signal, but from what I heard, I think Blackwell had the best showing, followed closely by Steele. Saltsman made it to third thanks to his comments about open technology, and if I absolutely had to order the rest, it would be a tie between Anuzis and Dawson, with Duncan coming last. I might have been docking points unconsciously for Duncan's failure to turn the party around for '06 and '08.

What did Blackwell and Steele do to earn such high marks? They were openly critical of the party as it has been recently run, and they articulated the reasons for their dissatisfaction with verve.

They also both explicitly recognized the necessity of going down to the local and state levels, all over the country, and pushing out the power and responsibility.

Saltsman seemed to understand these things about as well, but he was not as convincing all around. He made some good points about the proper pursuit of new technology.

Dawson was fairly earnest and a good sport, but he was also timid about calling out the GOP, and didn't do much to inspire me that he was going to aggressively bring much-needed change to the party. Anuzis was... I don't know. He didn't stand out. He was slightly handicapped by a faulty microphone — that problem should have been fixed immediately (always, always have a backup microphone at the ready).

Duncan did not inspire confidence that he would turn the RNC around after the last two cycles. I understand he was in a difficult position, but that made this the perfect time to take his lumps, explain where things really went wrong, admit where some things could be improved, and generally show a superior understanding of the inner workings of the RNC. He did not take that opportunity, so he never gave himself the chance to bounce back and show that he could bring some initiative to reforming the party.

I didn't get the sense that any of these men are perfect for the job. Even for Blackwell and Steele, doubts remain about their ability to execute and their deeper understanding of how to integrate new technology/media into the party strategy. And I don't think the party is such a massive ship to turn around that nobody can do it. This is an extremely important position for the next two to four years (hence the packed ballroom, with quite a few in the audience having to stand in the back), so may the most competent man win.


By the way, among such trivial matters as how many guns each candidate owned and who their favorite Republican president was, one question of negligible consequence was how many Twitter followers they had.

Well, I'm on Twitter, and as I linked above, so is Jon. Follow us!

Permalink | Comments ( 0 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Elections

Climate Change: Ebb and Floe
Posted by: MichaelW
"This? This is ice. This is what happens to water when it gets too cold."
— Chris Knight (Val Kilmer), in Real Genius (1985)

Yet another predicted indicator of climate doom bites the dust:
Rapid growth spurt leaves amount of ice at levels seen 29 years ago.

Thanks to a rapid rebound in recent months, global sea ice levels now equal those seen 29 years ago, when the year 1979 also drew to a close.

Ice levels had been tracking lower throughout much of 2008, but rapidly recovered in the last quarter. In fact, the rate of increase from September onward is the fastest rate of change on record, either upwards or downwards.

In fact, if you look at the chart reproduced by DailyTech, you will find that the variance in seasonal sea ice has been fairly small over the past thirty years. So, although the average amount of sea ice in the past decade has trended below the thirty year average, it was never by much (2-3 million sq. km ("MSK") at most). The amount of sea ice at any given time in that period has ranged from roughly 15 MSK to 23 MSK. Accordingly, taking any particular point along that scale because it varies from the mean, and using it to mean anything terribly significant, is probably not very helpful. That goes for proving that the the ice cap is melting as well as for showing that everything is hunky dory.

However, it is interesting that we now have almost exactly the same amount of sea ice as we did in 1979, despite the repeated assertions that the planet is melting. Obviously the warming that we've witnessed was not too great, or we wouldn't be right back where we were at the dawn of the Reagan era. And, again looking at the chart, it's also fairly obvious that the trend is relatively flat. At worst, there is a rather flat arc in the trend of deviation from the thirty year mean, with a high point in the late 80's and early 90's. Overall, however, the trend seems to be a rather consistent amount of average sea ice.

As to why there was so a rapid build-up of ice, one could either consult their expansive knowledge of cheesy-80's-movie trivia, or rely on "experts":
Earlier this year, predictions were rife that the North Pole could melt entirely in 2008. Instead, the Arctic ice saw a substantial recovery. Bill Chapman, a researcher with the UIUC's Arctic Center, tells DailyTech this was due in part to colder temperatures in the region.
Personally, I thought Val Kilmer's delivery was better.

And let's not forget the real world consequences of the failed predictions from global warming alarmists:
In May, concerns over disappearing sea ice led the U.S. to officially list the polar bear a threatened species, over objections from experts who claimed the animal's numbers were increasing.
I'm sure those polar bears will be coming off the threatened species list any day now. Either that or the seals comprising a large part of the polar bear diet will have to go on the list, making those "threatened" bears now a threat. Irony: a dish best served cold.

Permalink | Comments ( 4 ) | TrackBacks ( 5 ) | Category: Environment

Bill Ayers on Bill Ayers, oh, and education
Posted by: McQ
The resurrection of Bill Ayers continues. His most recent attempt is at Huffington Post where he ostensibly uses the opportunity to tell Barack Obama how he screwed up choosing the Education Secretary he did.

I mean, this guy is an education 'expert' didn't you know? His self-written HuffPo CV proves it:
Author and Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago and domestic terrorist.
Yeah, I added the bold part, but I hate things which are incomplete.

Ayers claims Obama's pick, Arne Duncan, has little to show to qualify him as the best pick for Ed Sec. Had he had the choice, he'd have picked Linda Darling-Hammond because, you know, she's:
... smart, honest, compassionate and courageous, and perhaps most striking, she actually knows schools and classrooms, curriculum and teaching, kids and child development.
Of course, unable to help himself, Ayers provides what I assume he figured would be a humorous aside. It actually is quite telling:
So I would have picked Darling-Hammond, but then again I would have picked Noam Chomsky for state, Naomi Klein for defense, Bernardine Dohrn for Attorney General, Bill Fletcher for commerce, James Thindwa for labor, Barbara Ransby for human services, Paul Krugman for treasury, and Amy Goodman for press secretary. So what do I know?
What indeed? That list itself (and one on which I'd bet Paul Krugman sincerely wishes he wasn't included) tells you all you need to know about why Darling-Hammond would be a poor choice.

Of course Ayers writes that all off to politics:
Darling-Hammond would not have been a smart pick for Obama. She was steadily demonized in a concerted campaign to undermine her effectiveness, and she would surely have had great difficulty getting any traction whatsoever for progressive policy change in this environment.
Of course, the LA Times succintly sums up the politics of why Ayers and his ilk would find Linda Darling-Hammond their "most qualified" for the position:
Stanford University professor Linda Darling-Hammond, who was named to Obama's education transition team, is one of the most-mentioned candidates. As a severe critic of the No Child Left Behind Act and an opponent of merit pay for teachers, she is favored by teachers unions.
The more I see of Ayer's thinking (and writing) the more I understand the lessons he's learned about subversion since his bomb throwing days. Join the system, use the system and subvert the system. And learn to use the language of freedom to sooth the dupes while you implement your anti-freedom agenda.

The proof of his success is how "mainstream" some of his radical ideas are becoming. Oh, I don't begrudge him his ability to throw them out there freely and often. That's part of the contract. I simply sit in wonder that they're taken as seriously as they are and he is considered one of the guiding lights in education. Of course he hasn't done it alone. There are a whole coterie of "educators" just like him who've been working for decades to subvert the education system.

And now, ironically, as a creature inside the system and successfully subverting it, he and his ilk become the system. Hopefully, somewhere out there, an anti-Ayers is learning the same lessons and preparing to implement them in the same way.

Permalink | Comments ( 6 ) | TrackBacks ( 1 ) | Category: Education

Hamas has no desire to negotiate "peace"
Posted by: McQ
Rabbi Michael Lerner claims, in the TimesOnLine, that Israel's response to the Hamas provocations is something which is within its rights, but stupid:
Israel's attempt to wipe out Hamas is understandable, but stupid. No country in the world is going to ignore the provocation of rockets being launched from neighbouring territory day after day. If Mexico had a group of anti-imperialists bombing Texas, imagine how long it would take for America to mobilise a counterattack. Israel has every right to respond.

But the kind of response matters. Killing 500 Palestinians and wounding 2,000 others (at the time of writing) is disproportionate. Hamas can harass, but it cannot pose any threat to the existence of Israel. And just as Hamas's indiscriminate bombing of population centres is a crime against humanity, so is Israel's killing of civilians (at least 130 so far in Gaza, not to mention the thousands in the years of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza).
Let's be clear about something - while Hamas may not pose a serious threat to the existence of Israel at the moment that doesn't mean, given the Hamas charter which calls for the destruction of Israel, that it won't pose a very real future threat.

As Bryan Pick pointed out recently, with WMD becoming a commodity and much easier to obtain, a death cult such as Hamas wouldn't think twice about using such a weapon if it came into their hands.

That is the threat which Rabbi Lerner and many of the apologists for Hamas seem to want to ignore. Hamas would have no problem whatsoever using a chemical, biological or, God forbid, a nuclear weapon if it could get ahold of one.

So the threat isn't Hama's rockets, it is Hamas.

But speaking of those rockets, Melanie Phillips covers that point quite well:
Then there's the belief that the Hamas rockets are some kind of homemade, harmless Dad's Army effort which could and should be ignored.

But the only reason more Israelis haven't been killed by them is that in the south, the population has been all but living in bomb shelters. And there is nothing 'homemade' about the Russian-designed Katyushas and Iranian Grad rockets now putting around one-tenth of Israel's population within their range.
Lerner also seems not to understand what proportionality really means, falling back on the numbers game as an indicator of what is or isn't proportionate in response to the 6,000 rockets fired from Gaza which have rained down on Israel in the last 7 years.

At some point, you have to say "enough" and stop the attempts on your citizen's lives. The fact is, as I pointed out in a post about proportionality, Israel's response had been quite proportional. Phillips amplifies the point:
The UN has confirmed that the vast majority (75 per cent) of the dead in Gaza have been Hamas terrorists. Given the huge number of bombing sorties that have been conducted, this proves that the Israelis are specifically targeting the Hamas infrastructure.
Obviously the sorties have been very carefully managed to avoid, as much as possible, civilian casualties. In fact, Israel calls the people in the buildings to be bombed and warns them ahead of time to evacuate. And they also drop flyers. But as Phillips astutely points out, dead Palestinians are more valuable in the propaganda war than dead Israelis.
Alas, the civilian death toll will unavoidably mount, which is deeply regrettable.

But what must be understood is that Hamas have deliberately situated their weapons under apartment blocks, in mosques and in hospitals.

The Israelis build bomb shelters for their civilians; Hamas stores bombs underneath its civilians in order to create as many civilian casualties as possible to manipulate world opinion.

What people find so hard to grasp is that Hamas actually wants to maximise the number of Palestinians who are killed because, as they boast: 'We desire death as you desire life.'
Lastly, it seems to be forgotten that Hamas constitutes the government in Gaza. This isn't just some uncontrollable terrorist organization which is fighting a war against Israel despite the best efforts of its government to stop it. It is the government. And after it came into control of Gaza, it has purposely increased its bombardment of Israel. As Phillips points out, since Israel withdrew from Gaza, rocket attacks have increased by 500%.

People like Lerner want to give a nod to the right of self-defense, but then want to decide what constitutes "proper" or "proportional" action. They do it without seeming to care who the enemy is, what the enemy believes or what he does. Instead they try to boil it down to a sterile numbers game and pretend that the larger the number killed on one side represents a "disproportionate" response on the other.

Well, if that's the case, then each time we wrap up an operation in Iraq or Afghanistan where we kill 150 to 200 while losing none we should be condemned as war criminals. Obviously, we must strive to lose as many as they lose to insure "proportionality" in our war against terror - and that's especially true if the 'civilians' aid and abet the combatants. Silly? Yes. But certainly no sillier than the "proportionality" argument now being used by Hama's supporters.

No one likes to see civilians killed. And while there are indeed "innocent" civilians being killed in this Israeli incursion, there are also some not-so-innocent ones meeting their fate as well. And you have to wonder if the "civilian" count includes the 75 Fatah members that Hamas has knee-capped during the past few days?

Israel seems to have come to the conclusion that it can no longer tolerate a government run by a death-cult that continues to attack it. It also seems to understand that it poses a future threat it cannot risk. I can certainly understand their thinking. I'm just amazed at those who can't seem to grasp the stakes or understand the threat.

Permalink | Comments ( 63 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: The War

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Podcast for 4 Jan 09
Posted by: Dale Franks
In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, Bryan, and Dale discuss the Hamas/Israel situation, and the appointment of Roland Burris to the IL senate seat vacated by Barack Obama.


The direct link to the podcast is here.

The intro and outro music is Vena Cava by 50 Foot Wave, and is available for free download here.

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don't forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don't have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2007, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.

Permalink | Comments ( 19 ) | TrackBacks ( 9 ) | Category: Podcasting

BlogTalk Radio - Tonight 8pm (EST)
Posted by: McQ
Call in number: (718) 664-9614

Yes, friends, it is a call-in show, so do call in.

Subject(s): The Hamas/Israeli situation and the reaction to it. And of course the newest shenanigans among Democrats and their Senate appointments.

Permalink | Comments ( 1 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Podcasting

And the Democratic Circus plays on
Posted by: McQ
Under a cloud of suspicion, Bill Richardson withdraws his name from the Commerce Secretary nomination:
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, tapped in December by President-elect Barack Obama to serve as secretary of Commerce, has withdrawn his name for the position, citing a pending investigation into a company that has done business with his state.

"Let me say unequivocally that I and my Administration have acted properly in all matters and that this investigation will bear out that fact," he said Sunday in a report by NBC News' Andrea Mitchell. "But I have concluded that the ongoing investigation also would have forced an untenable delay in the confirmation process."

A federal grand jury is investigating how a California company that contributed to Richardson's political activities won a lucrative New Mexico state contract.
And Congress isn't even in session or the new administration in power yet - more to come?

Well, there's Charlie Rangel.

And Bithead brings us up to date on some happenings in NY concerning the Clintons.

Meanwhile there are reports that Harry Reid attempted to influence disgraced IL governor Rod Blagojevich's Senate selection. Allegedly, Reid wasn't too keen on any of the African-American candidates under consideration. Reid apparently thought any of them would lose to a Republican in the next election.

Permalink | Comments ( 44 ) | TrackBacks ( 3 ) | Category: Politics

The left - drawing false parallels
Posted by: McQ
Peterr at FireDogLake points to a quote by Munib Younan, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jordan and the Holy Land in which he likens the security wall Israel erected to the Berlin wall:
[W]ho would have imagined that less than two decades later we would be back to building walls? I have no doubt that the Separation Wall in the Holy Land will one day fall for the same reasons. The only question is how many lives, how many shattered and demolished villages, how much dehumanization and stigmatization will we tolerate?

This Wall is not a sign of justice or peace, it is a material sign of the walls of hatred that are growing stronger everyday. This wall does not provide security, it breeds despair and a culture of separation. And it cannot contain the hatred and resentment that are building every day.
Anyone who can liken a wall erected to keep oppressed citizens in with a wall erected to keep suicidal enemies out simply can't be taken seriously.

But this is a common tactic of the left - attempt to draw parallels between any totalitarian regime and Israel so its attempts at self-defense can then be compared to those oppressive regimes.

Not a single mention of Hamas. Not a single mention of the fact that the West Bank is mostly peaceful. Or that since Israel has erected the wall, Hamas sponsored suicide bombers have largely been unsuccessful in blowing themselves up on buses and in pizza parlors (although they've certainly tried to sneak their martyrs through on numerous occasions). Certainly no mention of the Hamas charter's refusal to negotiate anything, much less peace, with Israel. And constant rocket attacks? Nah. Not important. It's all about "walls" and "violence" being the "tool of the incompetent" - Israeli "violence" of course.

The belief that all Israel has to do is quit being violent and the Palestinians will live in peace with them (because that's what they want) continues to stun and amaze me. Where does that come from? One can only believe that if they have a totally blinkered view of the conflict.

And, where were the protests and UN resolutions when the government of the Palestinians in Gaza, i.e. Hamas, was lobbing 4,000 rockets and thousands of mortar rounds into Israel? Where were the denunciations of "violence" being the "tool of the incompetent" then?

Elements of the left continue to be as misguided about this situation as most of the Hamas rockets.

Peterr concludes:
A week ago, Bishop Younan and a dozen of his ecumenical partners in Jerusalem called for Sunday, January 4, 2009 to be "a day for justice and peace in the land of peace." If that were to happen, it would be a miracle.
No, the miracle would be having Hamas renounce its charter, declare a willingness to advance the peace process and then actually doing that. Until that happens, or Hamas ceases to exist, no peace in the region is possible. It looks like Israel, seeing no possibility of a Hamas renunciation of its charter of violence, has chosen to take the second option.

I wish them success.

Permalink | Comments ( 16 ) | TrackBacks ( 2 ) | Category: The War

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Interesting Reads
Posted by: McQ
Some interesting reads:

'The Golden Age of Political Aristocracy" - David Sirota, Open Left.

Sirota uses the surprising selection by Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter's of Michael Bennet for U.S. Senate as a springboard for discussing "aristocracy" vs. "meritocracy". Interesting observation from someone on the left concerning the seeming reality of "hope and change" at least at this point.

"Gaza has its version of rocket scientists" - Mark Steyn.

An interesting discussion of the Hamas/Israel situation plus a lot more. One of the more interesting parts concerns the culture of those who oppose Israel's existence. Steyn thinks we make a mistake if we believe they're "just like us" instead of living in a culture that glorifies death and murder.

Mr. Gore: Apology Accepted - Harold Ambler.

Perhaps the biggest surprise in this utter destruction of the global warming fraud is where it is published - the Huffington Post.

"Why 2009 Will be Worse than 2008" - Jeff Taylor.

Taylor lays it all out in his Reason article. Most of it you've read right here. However he does have an interesting political observation concerning Obama and Bernanke. Sounds pretty probable to me. Also note his point about rising Republican stars in Governor's chairs.

"Some Forecasters See a Fast Economic Recovery" - Louis Uchitelle

Contrast Uchitelle's NYT article with Taylor's article. Tell me which seems more believable.

There - that ought to keep you busy.

Permalink | Comments ( 22 ) | TrackBacks ( 1 ) | Category: Media

Breaking: IDF sorties into Gaza (UPDATE)
Posted by: McQ
CNN is reporting:
Israeli ground troops have begun moving into Gaza, according to Israel Defense Forces.
We'll see if they learned anything from their last dust up in Lebanon. It seems clear, at least to me, that their intent with this move is to figuratively "wipe Hamas from the map" or so cripple them they're not a viable governing body anymore (which would allow the relatively more reasonable Fatah or even the PA to exert authority over Gaza).

"The objective is to destroy the Hamas terror infrastructure in the area of operations," said Israel Defense Forces Major Avital Leibovitch, a military spokeswoman, confirming that incursions were under way. "We are going to take some of the launch areas used by Hamas."

The IDF Spokesperson's office issued a statement, emphasizing that this stage of the operation will further the goals of the eight-day offensive as voiced by the IDF until now: To strike a direct and hard blow against the Hamas while increasing the deterrent strength of the IDF, in order to bring about an improved and more stable security situation for residents of Southern Israel over the long term.

Permalink | Comments ( 5 ) | TrackBacks ( 3 ) | Category: News

The problem of blame shifting and lack of accountability
Posted by: McQ
The Aspen bomber is perfect for this discussion:
A man who attempted to rob two banks in Aspen, Colo., on New Year's Eve with four homemade gasoline bombs in what he called a "suicide mission" was found dead early Thursday after sparking a manhunt that shut down the city's holiday celebrations.

The man, James Chester Blanning Jr., was found dead early Thursday just east of Aspen in rural Pitkin County, said Asst. Chief Bill Linn of the Aspen Police Department during a news conference held on New Year's Day. Blanning was found in his Jeep Cherokee and died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Well at least he got the "suicide mission" part right. His complaint? Apparently he was miffed that Aspen had, as he saw it, become a playground for the rich instead of remaining a poor mining town which would have allowed him to bilk potential investors. So for that, people must die.

His last sentence sort of says it all doesn't it?

In reality he was just a common criminal trying to shift blame (unsurprisingly to Bush) and the spotlight from his crude attempt at extortion:
Of course, I'd bet Blanning also blamed Bush for this:
According to the Denver Post, Blanning was sentenced in Rio Blanco District Court in 1996 to 16 years in prison for racketeering and a series of white-collar crimes. According to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, the crimes included forgery of deeds and wills, fraudulent security sales and forged money, the Post reported.
I was particularly intrigued by this case because of the content of the note. Another, in a long line of blame shifters who try to lay their behavior off on others. And yes, I'd feel the same way if the name in the note was Obama. It again highlights what I see as a growing cultural trend - the refusal of an actor to take responsibility for his actions. Like a petulant child, he claims his actions and their results are everyone else's fault.

They're not - whack job or not, they're the result of Blanning's demented thinking, not anyone else's. The obviousness of his note just serves to magnify and illustrate the problem very well. Others, especially among politicians, tend to be more nuanced in their blame shifting. It is, in my humble opinion, a sign of a sickening society. No one is ever the blame for what they do and thus no one is ever held responsible. Or at least not the real perpetrators.

Blanning's bombs and note are just a manifestation of the culture of blame shifting and the refusal to take responsibility for one's actions. Some will argue his suicide was an act of taking responsibility. Instead I'd argue it was a coward's way of avoiding it.

But there's more to it than just someone taking responsibility for their actions. They must then be held accountable for them by the society.

Making people take responsibility for their actions is a moral requirement for any society which hopes to survive and remain great. But it can't just be enforced at one level and ignored at others. It can't just be something we require of criminals. It has to be required of politicians, business leaders and other leaders within the society.

As it works now in the realm of politics some minor functionary who was dumb enough to actually carry out morally dubious orders may end up paying a price, but the real perpetrators of the problem are rarely held accountable.

A perfect example of this decline of necessary morality can be found in the financial mess we've been enduring.

Where are the stake holders in businesses such as AIG, GM and Bear Sterns and other failed business entities calling for the heads of the CEOs and their boards of directors? Where are the voters clamoring for politicians who were instrumental in the crack-up to step down?

Instead we see the rewards of position still flowing to many of them. And, in fact, in the case of some of the politicians in question, their power has actually been increased and enhanced. The perpetrators of the disaster are now being touted as our saviors.

It is hard not to be cynical when you see such things happen as regularly as they do. It makes one concerned about the long-term moral health and future of such a society.

Permalink | Comments ( 13 ) | TrackBacks ( 2 ) | Category: Culture

Friday, January 02, 2009

What a Fine Little Mess
Posted by: McQ
The coming spectacle of seating IL Gov. Rod Blagojevich's choice for the vacated Senate seat of Barack Obama promises to be quite a show.

You have a sitting governor charged with corruption in government, specifically a little pay-to-play scandal concerning the Obama Senate seat refusing to step down as demanded and appointing a replacement anyway.

You have the replacement, former IL AG Roland Burris, determined to take the appointment even after calling Gov. Rod Blagojevich's actions "appalling".

You have the IL Secretary of State claiming he won't sign the appointment of Burris when it is pretty clear he simply doesn't have the legal authority to do anything about it.

You have former Black Panther and IL Rep Bobby Rush introducing the race card saying it is wrong to "hang and lynch the appointee as you try to castigate the appointer." "Hang" and especially "lynch" are racially loaded words and Rush knows that very well.

You have Burris deciding that if all else fails, race baiting is a fine way to procede saying on NBC's "Today" show :
"It is a fact, there are no African-Americans in the United States Senate," he said. "Is it racism that is taking place? That's a question that someone may raise."
And finally you have my favorite player - Harry Reid. Reid thinks there something in play with this nonsense about the IL Secretary of State not signing the appointment (legal scholars seem to think that doesn't matter one whit) and his plan adds to the spectacle:
Should Burris appear in Washington without that certification, armed police officers stand ready to bar him from the Senate floor, said a Democratic official briefed on Senate leaders' plans.
The real pity?

Here is one heck of a juicy scandal and not a Bush or Rove in sight to blame it on. Nope, this one is all Democrat and - here's a late prediction - one of many, many to come.


Permalink | Comments ( 8 ) | TrackBacks ( 3 ) | Category: Scandals

Word abuse
Posted by: McQ
Heh ... here's an interesting exercise:
A Michigan university has released its 34th annual list of words and phrases ripe for banishment from the English language, including "green" and "maverick."

Lake Superior State University in the city of Sault Ste. Marie said its 34th annual "List of Words to Be Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness" was based on nominations from the public.

"Green" — including variations "going green," "building green," "greening," "green technology" and others — received the most nominations this year, the school said.

Two additional environmentally themed entries, "carbon footprint" and "carbon offsetting," also made the list.

The list included other words bandied about by politicians during 2008, including "maverick," "bailout" and "game changer."

Nominators also lamented the use of "staycation" to mean a vacation that does not involve traveling far from home.

"Occurrences of this word are going up with gas prices. 'Vacation' does not mean 'travel,' nor does travel always involve vacation. Let's send this word on a slow boat to nowhere," said Dan Muldoon of Omaha.
Er, how about "change"?

To bad they didn't address phrases - like "for the children", "yes, we can" and "hope and change".

Any words you'd like to see banished for "Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness?"

Permalink | Comments ( 22 ) | TrackBacks ( 4 ) | Category: Humor

LA Times columist’s predictable "blame Israel" (and Bush) column
Posted by: McQ
Rosa Brooks manages a rather stunning feat - she proves she has a marginal grasp on the obvious while then proving she hasn't a clue about the present Israeli/Palestinian problem.

The Obvious? The title - "Israel Can't Bomb Its Way To Peace".

My guess, Ms. Brooks, is you won't find anyone in Israel who disagrees with that. However, just as obvious, but completely unsaid is "Hamas Can't Rocket Its Way To Peace" either. And before the first Israeli bomb found its mark, hundreds, if not thousands of Hamas's rockets had been fired into Israel.

Sometimes a bombing run has absolutely nothing to do with seeking peace. It has to do with destroying a threat.

We then get the "Ezra Klein defense" of Hamas's terror tactics:
In a strictly military sense, Israel will "win" this battle against Hamas. For all its threats and bravado, Hamas is weak, and its weapons — terrorism, homemade rockets — are the weapons of the weak. Since 2001, Hamas has fired thousands of unguided Kassam rockets at Israel, but the rockets have killed only a handful of Israelis.
We are further treated to the predictable cynical "cause" for this attempt to take out Hamas - Israeli politics:
The Israeli assault may even strengthen Hamas in the longer run and weaken its more moderate secular rival, Fatah. As Israel should know by now (as we all should know), dropping bombs in densely populated areas is a surefire way to radicalize civilians and get them to rally around the home team, however flawed.

Ironically, it's precisely this psychological phenomenon that Olmert, Barak and Livni are counting on among Israelis, but they seem to assume it doesn't exist among Palestinians. (Or, worse, they're too cynical to care, as long as they profit politically.)
Speaking of the predictable, I'm sure by now you've figured out who is to blame for this, haven't you?

Heh ...
It's time for the United States to wake up from its long slumber and reengage — forcefully — with the Middle East peace process ... In January 2001, the Taba talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority came achingly close to a final settlement, but talks broke down after Likud's Ariel Sharon was elected prime minister on Feb. 6, 2001. Sharon refused to meet with Yasser Arafat, and newly inaugurated President George W. Bush had no interest in pushing Israel toward peace.
And that, dear reader, is why Hamas rockets are raining down on Israel and Israel is attacking Hamas. No mention of Arafat turning down a 98% solution when he had the chance, is there? Certainly no mention of the fact that Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza leaving it to the Palestinians to rule.

Last, Ms. Brooks also fails to mention that Hamas, a terrorist group, constitutes the governing body in Gaza and has this to say about any "peace process" in its charter:
Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement [Hamas]. Abusing any part of Palestine is abuse directed against part of religion. Nationalism of the Islamic Resistance Movement [Hamas] is part of its religion. Its members have been fed on that. For the sake of hoisting the banner of Allah over their homeland they fight. (Article 13)
Sounds like a group who would gladly negotiate "peace", doesn't it?

Additionally the PA and Abbas put the onus squarely where it belongs and condemn Hamas as instigator of the violence and the roadblock to peace - not Israel - something else Ms. Brooks seems to have missed.

I stand in awe, sometimes, at the audacity of those on the left who find the ability, in any situation, to excuse the terrorist and blame those defending themselves. And as formulaic, predictable and cynical as their arguments may be, they also seem to always find someone to publish their apologist rubbish.

Permalink | Comments ( 38 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: The War

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Always Root for the Underdog?
Posted by: Bryan Pick
Ezra Klein on intentionality versus results:
Chait makes a common claim, which is that all analysis of the Israel/Palestinian conflict has to begin from a place of intentionality. "Hamas has a problem with Israel because Hamas believes Israel has no right to exist," he writes. "Israel has a problem with Hamas because Hamas believes Israel has no right to exist. If Hamas lay down all its weapons, Israel would lift its blockade. If Israel lay down all its weapons, Hamas would kill as many Israelis as it could."

There's truth to this. But it can also obscure more than it can reveal. One important disconnect in Israel/Palestine debate is that Israel's supporters tend to focus on what the Palestinians want while Palestine's supporters tend to focus on what the Israelis do. Israel's defenders, for instance, make a lot of Hamas's willingness to kill large numbers of civilians. Palestine's defenders make a lot of the fact that Israel actually kills large numbers of Palestinian civilians.
That's not a terribly good case for Hamas, though. "Support Hamas: More Malicious, but Less Efficient"?

By that logic, if we supported Palestinians and they became more effective, they would become less worthy of support.


Edit: I just remembered that McQ made a similar point several days ago, responding to another post by Klein. Mine's more succinct, though. ;-)

Permalink | Comments ( 11 ) | TrackBacks ( 1 ) | Category: Foreign Affairs

The Nominations are Open
Posted by: McQ
Since everyone else seems to be handing out end of the year awards, I'm pleased to announce the First Annual QandO awards.

However, there's a slight twist - they haven't yet been awarded.

Yes dear readers, you get to nominate your own "winners" in each category. Now this will take a bit of research to support your candidates, but that's half the fun, isn't it? Please provide links when possible.

Nominations will stay open for 7 days. We'll then do a series of votes to determine the winners.

So, without further ado:

The "Helen Thomas" Bias in the Media Award - The person or institution that demonstrated the most media bias during 2008.

The "Truther" Award - The person who best epitomizes the "rationality" demonstrated by 9/11 truthers but on a different subject in 2008.

The "Wrong Way Corrigan" Award - The person or institution which advocated or did exactly the wrong thing for a given situation in 2008.

The Harry Reid "This War Is Lost" Award - The most abysmally wrong or stupid quote made about the war in Iraq in 2008.

The Al Gore "The Earth Has A Fever" Award - The most fevered but factually challenged defense of AGW in 2008.

The Jonestown Award - The biggest Kool Aid drinker in the media or blogosphere in 2008.

The Rosie O'Donnell "Bush is a War Criminal" Award - The dumbest celebrity quote of 2008

The Duke Cunningham "Ethics in Politics" Award. - The politician who best demonstrated the worst of ethics in 2008.

The John Murtha "Redeploy Them to Okinawa" Award - The dumbest quote by a politician for 2008.

OK, get to work.

Permalink | Comments ( 19 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Awards

Another gun law success
Posted by: McQ
You've probably heard of this. It was apparently triggered by the Israeli strikes against Hamas:
A gunman wounded two Israelis working at a packed central Denmark shopping mall Wednesday, Danish police said.

The two wounded men are Israelis in their 20s, police spokesman Lars Thede said. He said it was too early to speculate on whether they were targeted because of their nationality.

One of the wounded was shot in the arm and the other in the leg, police said. Their condition is unclear.

What is clear, unsurprisingly, is that Denmark's gun laws were ineffective.

Permalink | Comments ( 7 ) | TrackBacks ( 1 ) | Category: Guns and Gun Rights

Happy 2009!
Posted by: McQ
From all of us at QandO to all our readers and commenters, we wish you a great and prosperous new year.

Now start practicing writing "2009" on everything. I'll get used to it about June.

Permalink | Comments ( 2 ) | TrackBacks ( 2 ) | Category: Personal

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

There’s a disturbance in the Force
Posted by: McQ
And it is being caused by a moonbat named Richard Warman, a Canadian and apparently a professional whiner when he's not suing someone. It would appear Mr. Warman is the most easily offended man in Canada and, having taken offense to something or other, has decided it would be fun to sue a group of conservative bloggers - ostensibly on some bogus "human rights" complaint - and shut them down.

One of them is Kathy Shaidle of Five Feet Of Fury. I only know of Kathy as a fellow guest blogger who shares weekend duty at John Hawkins Right Wing News.

But as a fellow blogger I can't ignore the fact that she is under attack by someone who appears bent on infringing on her freedom to speak out. Additionally, as if Ezra Levant hasn't had enough of this foolishness, he's also named in the suit, along with Kate McMillan of SmallDeadAnimals and which is a site similar to Free Republic.

Politics or ideology aside, this is an intolerable attempt to stifle free speech and it shouldn't allowed to go unanswered. Go on over to Kathy's site and read up on it. If you're so inclined hit the donate button as regardless of how frivolous this law suit is, it's going to cost all of them money.

Help firmly plant the "American concept" of free speech on Canadian soil.

Permalink | Comments ( 16 ) | TrackBacks ( 11 ) | Category: Freedom and Liberty

Don’t like Korea and Germany? Try Kosovo and Bosnia then ...
Posted by: McQ
Firedog Lake and a few other lefty blogs are having a bit of trouble trying to get their head around an apt analogy to justify a base in Iraq and seem to be pretty sure there isn't one:
McCain's problem is not merely that his analogy to Korea falls apart when analyzed — see Juan Cole and Frank Rich and Bill Sher — but that he assumes an extended US occupation of Iraq after we've subdued it by force would not provoke a deep and continuing hostility by resentful Iraqis (and Muslims elsewhere). It's simply not credible to believe that such hostility would not produce continuing attacks on US forces as long as they occupied Iraq and shielded its collaborating government. Even now, polls of Iraqi opinion have repeatedly found the Iraqis resent our occupation, are furious when we attack civilians, find attacking Americans acceptable and want a timetable for withdrawal (as do 60 percent of Americans ).

If Korea (or Germany or Japan) is not a helpful analogy, what is? Perhaps a more apt comparison is Israel's decades long war with the Palestinians.
Personally, I was thinking Kosovo and Bosnia.

You know Bill Clinton's, "They'll be home by Christmas" war? The unprovoked, preemptive war of choice the left seems to forget about when it comes to discussions like this? What has it been now, almost 10 years?

In Kosovo, the base's name is Camp Bondsteel. It houses 7,000 US troops.

And you know why you don't remember them being there? Because no one, not even the majority Muslim population, is shooting at them. And as I understand it, that's precisely what McCain hopes will be the case at an eventual base in Iraq.

There's also Camp Comanche in Bosnia. It's within sniper distance of the Tuzla airport. Still there, still full of US troops, still among a 40% Muslim population and still not having any problems.

So what do you think? Could they still be there in, say, a 100 years? And if so, how would that necessarily be a problem?

Lastly, given the premise of "after we've subdued it by force would [that] not provoke a deep and continuing hostility by resentful Iraqis (and Muslims elsewhere)", why isn't this at work in these two Muslim enclaves?

Permalink | Comments ( 26 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Foreign Affairs

Another Conversation about Race
Posted by: Jon Henke
Thomas Sowell...
Nothing is more fraudulent than calls for a "dialogue on race." Those who issue such calls are usually quick to cry "racism" at any frank criticism. They are almost invariably seeking a monologue on race, to which others are supposed to listen.
If you actually want to have a dialogue on race, start by describing what you or your side has done wrong. If your "conversation about race" consists of telling other people that they suck, you're not really looking for a dialogue.

Incidentally, Barack Obama - to his credit - did it exactly right. In addition to pointing out the tragic legacy of racism in America and the legitimate grievances of African-Americans, he also criticized Jeremiah Wright's "incendiary language" and "views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation". He acknowledged that "working- and middle-class white Americans don't feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race" and acknowledged their "legitimate concerns" over race-related policy and issues.

His supporters have not often followed suit, but his speech was a good example of how to do this well. If his supporters do not follow his example, however, his single speech will not create a "dialogue on race". To a great extent, it is up to him to demand that.
The same people who have gone ballistic when some prominent figure is found to belong to some all-male social club are full of excuses for why Barack Obama remained a member of a racist and anti-American church for 20 years.
Conversely: The same people who went ballistic when over Barack Obama's 20-year association with a church and Pastor who preached a racially-separatist message are full of excuses when some prominent figure is found to belong to some all-male (or all-white) social club.

The lesson, I suppose, is that it is quite easy for a National Conversation about Race to turn into a National Chance to Exploit Race To Score Political Points.

Permalink | Comments ( 34 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Race

It lives ...
Posted by: McQ
I'm not sure who Ernest Partridge is (apparently one of the Partridge Family who didn't make the cut and took up writing instead), but if ever anyone wanted a perfect example of why the politics of the AGW crowd are so dangerous, he manages to provide that perfect example. Prepare to see the words such as "consensus", "policy", "libertarian" and "free market" wielded with all the deftness of a meat axe in the hands of a butcher with the DT's.

This is one of those posts which you could fisk almost word by word. Instead here's the link to our environmental category - you can do your own fisking.

And yes, I know it's a "DU" production, but I belive it's indicative of a large population out there for whom he speaks.

I will regale you with my favorite part though (that is after his rather lame libertarian bashing which caused me to take a look at the article in the first place):
In a New York Times article, published just two days ago, Andrew C. Revkin reports a growing consensus opinion that:
What is needed ... is the development of radically advanced low-carbon technologies, which ... will only come about with greatly increased spending by determined governments on what has so far been an anemic commitment to research and development. A Manhattan-like Project, so to speak....

In an article in the journal Nature last week, researchers concerned with the economics, politics, and science of climate also argued that technology policy, not emissions policy, must dominate.
"Policy" means guidance "from the top." No place for an "invisible hand" of the market here. "A Manhattan-like Project" means government funding and administration today, just as it did sixty-five years ago at Oak Ridge, Hanford and Los Alamos. Exxon-Mobil won't do it. Why should they? They are flourishing quite well, thank you very much, in the "awl bidness." Global warming is a public emergency, requiring a public response.

"Market forces" are not irrelevant to this vast undertaking. Tax incentives and competition for government contracts can stimulate incentive, innovation, and enterprise. For example, windfall profit taxes could be levied on the oil companies, with the proceeds directed back at them earmarked for alternative energy research and development. But market forces, thus utilized, are subordinated to public policy. And the libertarians will have none of it.
"'Policy' means guidance from the top!" As only the boys and girls "at the top" can provide as we've witnessed many times in the past. Any doubt in your mind where this person sees this going and how thankful he'd be for that to happen?

Read the rest of it and enjoy how this bird gets to this point of celebrating subordinating "market forces" to "public policy" - and while it is amusing, it's also a bit terrifying.

Permalink | Comments ( 2 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Environment

Legitimate questions are non-partisan in nature, aren’t they? (update)
Posted by: McQ
Tom Bevan of RealClear Politics, points out this quote in a WSJ article by Clintonite Lanny Davis:
When I said on CNN recently that concerns about the Wright-Obama issue were "appropriate" to continue to be discussed, my friend Joe Klein of Time Magazine said, "Lanny, Lanny, you're spreading the poison right now" and that an "honorable person" would "stay away from this stuff."

Attacking the motives of those who feel this discomfort about Senator Obama's response or nonresponse to Reverend Wright's comments is not just unfair and wrong. It also misses the important electoral point about winning the general election in November: This issue is not going away. If many loyal, progressive Democrats remain troubled by this issue, then there must be even more unease among key swing voters - soft "Reagan Democrats," independents and moderate Republicans - who will decide the 2008 election.
Bevan's analysis is spot on:
Could Joe Klein provide any better example of the liberal elitist mindset and how disconnected it is from the real world? Rev. Wright is on tape spewing some pretty vile anti-American stuff from the pulpit, yet Klein accuses Davis of being the one "spreading the poison" for having the temerity to question whether it was appropriate for Barack Obama to sit silent in the pews of Trinity United for 20 years. You see, Joe Klein, in his infinite progressive wisdom, has declared this subject off limits, and apparently anyone who thinks otherwise is dishonorable, a bigot, a racist, or worse.
Bevan is absolutely correct. The difference this time vs. times past is that the Klein-type declaration is being rejected outright by many more voices than have been heard in the past. Instead of arguing with the TV, there are forums like Bevan's and this one in which people can point out the absolute bankruptcy of Klein's argument.

Klein doesn't want to talk about it because talking about it will mean actually taking a deep look at his "chosen One". And if he did that, he might not be as impressed as he presently is, so it's best not to look. And anyone who argues otherwise is "spreading poison".

The only poison I see in this process is that which could fill the abscess of ignorance if we don't vet this candidate and all the candidates to the fullest possible extent. Who a candidate associates himself with and for how long are important. So is the level of association. Obviously an "acquaintance" isn't at the same level as a "mentor". Someone you've known for a week is hardly at the same level as someone you've known for 23 years.

Any reasonable person who can make that differentiation would reject the Klein argument out of hand. A 23 year relationship with a declared "mentor" is an association which deserves scrutiny - especially when the mentor is as controversial as Wright. And it certainly isn't "poison" to demand answers to the questions which continue to lay there.

Says Davis:
Attacking the motives of those who feel this discomfort about Senator Obama's response or nonresponse to Reverend Wright's comments is not just unfair and wrong. It also misses the important electoral point about winning the general election in November: This issue is not going away. If many loyal, progressive Democrats remain troubled by this issue, then there must be even more unease among key swing voters - soft "Reagan Democrats," independents and moderate Republicans - who will decide the 2008 election.
No, it's not. And while Bevan disagrees with Davis concerning Obama being hurt among Democrats, he certainly thinks the damage outside pure progressive circles has been extensive and may not be recoverable among some segments such as Reagan Democrats and independents. Bevan also notes the clear justification for the lingering questions:
This may offend Joe Klein's political sensibilities, but it's clearly within bounds. To most people, Obama's twenty year relationship with Rev. Wright (not to mention his long association with shady dealer Tony Rezko) goes directly to the question of Obama's much-touted judgment.
Not only judgment, but character as well. Until the answers are forthcoming and complete, this will not only linger, but fester. It will remain a major issue which Obama is eventually going to have to confront head on.

Bevan also makes the more obvious point about Klein:
Were the shoe on the other foot, of course, and the issue was John McCain's close, two-decade long relationship with a right-wing preacher with a history of saying offensive things from the pulpit, Joe Klein would almost certainly find that a legitimate topic germane to McCain's presidential bid. And he would scoff at those who suggested discussing the matter constituted "spreading the poison."
Nope - it would be all about "legitimate questions" concerning McCain's "judgment and character" and certainly questions about how much he agreed with the philosophy of both the pastor and his church. There'd also be a full court press until he answered the questions.

However, if, as a journalist, you're in the tank for a candidate, what would under normal circumstances be red meat for you suddenly becomes "poison" and full court presses are left to Kansas and Memphis State.

UPDATE: Klein whines and then tries to change the subject. Color me surprised.

Permalink | Comments ( 7 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Elections

Michelle Obama: We’re going to take part of your pie...
Posted by: McQ
So are we to ignore what the spouse is saying out there on the campaign trail (Bill Clinton wouldn't appreciate that, would he) and pretend it really isn't an indicator of what the candidate believes?
"If we don't wake up as a nation with a new kind of leadership ... for how we want this country to work, then we won't get universal health care," she said.

"The truth is, in order to get things like universal health care and a revamped education system, then someone is going to have to give up a piece of their pie so that someone else can have more."
Let me restate that for you.

"From each according to his ability, to each according to his need".

Sound familiar?

(HT: Bilwick)

Linked by NeoCon News, Caveat Bettor, Mental Hiccups and The Liberty Papers - Thanks!

Permalink | Comments ( 77 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: QuotObama

Fraud, waste and abuse? Give ’em credit cards ...
Posted by: McQ
You know, it's not so much the credit cards, but the obvious lack of oversight that should frighten you:
Federal employees used government credit cards to pay for lingerie, gambling, iPods, Internet dating services, and a $13,000 steak-and-liquor dinner, according to a new audit from the Government Accountability Office, which found widespread abuses in a purchasing program meant to improve bureaucratic efficiency.
The total for these credit card purchases was 20 billion dollars. And here's what the GAO found [pdf]:
Internal control weaknesses in agency purchase card programs exposed the federal government to fraud, waste, abuse, and loss of assets. When testing internal controls, GAO asked agencies to provide documentation on selected transactions to prove that the purchase of goods or services had been properly authorized and that when the good or service was delivered, an individual other than the cardholder received and signed for it. Using a statistical sample of purchase card transactions from July 1, 2005, through June 30, 2006, GAO estimated that nearly 41 percent of the transactions failed to meet either of these basic internal control standards. Using a second sample of transactions over $2,500, GAO found a similar failure rate-agencies could not demonstrate that 48 percent of these large purchases met the standard of proper authorization, independent receipt and acceptance, or both.
How is that for oversight?

Some of the more egregious examples?
From October 2000 through September 2006, a cardholder at the Department of Agriculture (USDA) fraudulently paid over $642,000 to a live-in boyfriend who shared the same bank account as the cardholder.

The $642,000 was used for personal expenditures, such as gambling, car loan and mortgage payments, and other retail purchases. The activities took place over a 6-year period, but were not detected by the agency until a whistleblower reported the cardholder to the agency's Office of Inspector General in 2006. The cardholder was sentenced to 21 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution of over $642,000.
Six freakin' years? How does one get away with that for 6 years?
A postmaster at USPS used his government purchase card to fraudulently subscribe to two Internet dating services over 15 consecutive months (April 2004 through October 2006). The monthly charges for these dating services were the only charges that appeared on the cardholder's monthly statements during this period; yet each of these charges was authorized and paid for by USPS. The cardholder paid restitution of over $1,100 but faced no disciplinary action for this fraud.
Showed up on his statement, no one questioned it for 2 years, and when discovered, no disciplinary action. But I'm sure the USPS will tell you that they're very serious about the problem of fraud, waste and abuse.

Eh, maybe not:
USPS paid over $13,000 for 81 conference attendees to dine at an upscale steak restaurant in Orlando, Florida, in 2006. The dinner, which cost over $160 per person, included steaks, crab, appetizers, and over $3,000 in alcoholic beverages purchased over a 5-hour period.
The WaPo gives us a few more details:
Ruth's Chris Steak House in Orlando, including "over 200 appetizers and over $3,000 of alcohol, including more than 40 bottles of wine costing more than $50 each and brand-name liquor such as Courvoisier, Belvedere and Johnny Walker Gold."
The GAO defined the transaction as abusive.

The USPS? It saved money for heaven sake:
Postal Service spokesman Gerry McKiernan said the dinner was held to entertain large postal customers who were already in Florida for another conference, and actually saved money because it combined four events into one. He also defended the payments for alcohol.

"When you're having dinner with customers, it's normal to have a drink," McKiernan said.
Hey, they're entitled to spend your money in such a way.

Can't get something approved through proper channels? Heck, use the credit card and buy those Toyotas:
One USDA cardholder used year-end funds to acquire a Toyota Sienna and a Toyota Land Cruiser totaling nearly $80,000. Although the purchases were made at the request of two Foreign Agricultural Service offices, the cardholder violated agency policy by failing to acquire a GSA waiver.

The cardholder also used four convenience checks, purchasing the Toyota Sienna with one check and splitting the payment for the Land Cruiser into three separate checks because its
purchase price exceeded the convenience checks' maximum purchase limit. Although documentation from USDA showed that the vehicles were shipped overseas to the units that requested them, we did not perform additional work to determine whether these vehicles represented a valid government need.
The "we" is the GAO. And, apparently, this method of obtaining the vehicles was perfectly fine with the USDA since it was the GAO, not the USDA which found the purchase and questioned it.

I have a corporate credit card. I've had one for years. I would never, ever even think of using it as these people have without explicit authorization from corporate. If I did, it wouldn't take 6 years, or 6 months or even 6 weeks to be called to account. I have to turn in an expense report every week which is scrutinized and, if something questionable is on there, explained by me. The price of misuse is simple - termination.

It's not difficult, but it seems to be absolutely foreign to those who run government agencies. Time to figuratively see some heads roll. The postmaster who used the card for a dating service should be gone - and so should the person charged with oversight. Same for the Toyota buyer and his or her boss. Etc., etc., etc.

Permalink | Comments ( 17 ) | TrackBacks ( 8 ) | Category: Government

Read my lips - Cut spending!
Posted by: McQ
In the midst of the Iraq report and all the coverage it is getting, John F. Cogan and R. Glenn Hubbard put some numbers to the taxes which will assault American's pocketbooks if the tax cuts are left to lapse:
By historical standards, federal revenues relative to GDP, at 18.8% last year, are high. In the past 25 years, this level was only exceeded during the five years from 1996 to 2000. Still, we stand on the verge of a very large tax increase, one that will occur unless the next Congress and president agree to rescind it. Letting the Bush tax cuts expire will drive the personal income tax burden up by 25% - to its highest point relative to GDP in history.

This would be the largest increase in personal income taxes since World War II. It would be more than twice as large as President Lyndon Johnson's surcharge to finance the war in Vietnam and the war on poverty. It would be more than twice the combined personal income tax increases under Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton. The increase would push total federal government revenues relative to GDP to 20%.
This, of course, in the face of the claims by Obama and Clinton that these increases are needed to "restore near-term budget balance and finance longer-term entitlement growth." Not a word about spending cuts. Not one.

"Restore near-term budget balance?" Couldn't that be done by reducing spending to reduce the deficit to near zero?

"Finance long-term entitlement growth?" As we've noted, not a thing has been done to either reduce entitlement spending or fix the problems with entitlement programs, yet they see nothing wrong with demanding more money from you to finance more spending.

And if you've been paying attention to food and fuel prices, you know that unless you get commensurate wage increases, these coming tax increases (and let's not play the semantics game, if taxes go up, even to "previous levels" it is an increase") are going to bite you very hard in your wallet.

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words:

So, what, instead, needs to be done? How about something called 'fiscal restraint'?
Balancing the federal budget without a tax increase will require strong fiscal restraint. To achieve balance by the end of the next president's term in office, federal nondefense spending growth needs to be restrained to 2% per year instead of the currently projected 4.5%. This will be tough, but the federal government has been on a bipartisan spending binge for a decade. How large is this binge? Compared to the 1997 level adjusted for inflation and new homeland security spending, in 2007 actual nondefense appropriations were $125 billion higher, or cumulatively, a nearly $900 billion excess for the decade. If the next two congresses were to remove this excess gradually and shave 1% per year from projected entitlement growth, the budget could be balanced.
This is the sort of plan a responsible candidate running for office (either Congress or the Presidency) should be talking about. This is a plan that any responsible candidate for the last few decades should have been talking about and trying to implement. Leave the tax cuts alone and make the commensurate cuts in federal spending necessary to "restore near-term balance in the budget".

And as for "financing long-term entitlement growth", the answer is "no", not until some hard and necessary changes are made to those programs as have been demanded for decades now.

If you see your country heading into tough economic times which are going to require people to tighten their financial belts, why shouldn't government do the same? And does it make sense to take more money from those whose purchasing power is eroding because of price increases among the staples of their lives? If small business is the real engine of the economy and taxes are raised on those incomes, what will happen?

None of these questions are being asked of those claiming it is necessary to let these tax cuts lapse. And they're important questions. Consider this:
The current economic slowdown will increase the federal budget deficit this year and, in all likelihood, next year as well. But as the economy enters its recovery phase, raising taxes would choke off the recovery. The right policy, for both the economy and the budget, would be to make current tax rates permanent well before the scheduled increase. Giving investors greater certainty that current tax rates will be maintained will spur investment and aid the economic recovery, as it did in 2003. Federal budget balance will be achieved once the economy is again operating on all its cylinders.
But that's not what we're hearing is it?

Until and unless there is fiscal restraint now - planned fiscal restraint, not just promises, we should demand politicans leave the tax structure as it is until they can prove they can handle the money they have just as each and every one of us must. And we should further refuse a single extra penny until they address entitlements:
This near-term budget debate foreshadows the more significant long-term budget debate the next president must lead. The CBO tells us that after a generation, Social Security and Medicare spending, left unchecked, will rise by 10 percentage points of GDP. Continuing the current hands-off entitlement policy will have severe consequences. The strategy of ratifying spending with higher taxes would require that all federal taxes rise by nearly 60%, bringing them to a European-level tax burden.

We still have time to prepare for the looming entitlement problem. Although baby boomers soon begin their retirement, the real impact of their numbers on the federal budget will not be felt for a decade. According to official budget forecasts, Social-Security costs will claim 4.5% of GDP in 2013, no higher than its claim on GDP during the first half of the 1990s.

Having time is no excuse for inaction, but a near-term tax increase is the wrong way to prepare. Higher revenues will encourage Congress to raise spending, compounding the long-term budget problem. And, the long-term tax increase required to fund unchecked long-term spending would likely reduce annual GDP growth by a full percentage point.

The proper way to prepare to meet the entitlement challenge consists of three essential elements: Change entitlements to slow their cost growth; eliminate all nonessential spending in the remainder of the budget; and, most important but often overlooked, adopt policies that promote economic growth. The greater the economic growth, the larger the economic pie, and the greater the public and private resources available to finance entitlement obligations and other national priorities.
Unless the candidates for president are willing to lead this fight and propose a specific plan for addressing it, they shouldn't be considered a serious candidate for president. At this point, I don't believe, based on that criteria, that any of them qualify.

While the war in Iraq is important and is costing a lot, it is going to end. But this other fiscal intemperance - which costs us much more - never seems to end, and unless you want increasingly larger portions of your income (as a percent of GDP) going to a wasteful, profligate and unaccountable federal government you're going to have to stand up and make some demands (and then follow up those demands by making them toe the line in terms of spending cuts and fiscal restraint).

Given the recent record, I wish us all good luck on that - depressing, isn't it?
One of the stirring cries that led to the American Revolution was:
"Taxation without representation is tyranny. "
-Attributed to James Otis, Boston lawyer and politician
Based on the misleading rhetoric we are hearing from our political leaders, I think it is safe to say:

"Taxation with representation ain't so hot either." -Gerald Barzan
(HT: Kurt)

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Iraq: The 45 day pause
Posted by: McQ
For whatever reason, the Senate committees which heard from Gen. Petraeus, didn't seem to understand the necessity of a 45 day pause, before doing any further troop withdrawals from Iraq:
Gen. David H. Petraeus, the senior American commander in Iraq, recommended on Tuesday halting any additional withdrawals of American troops after July for at least 45 days and possibly more, telling Congress that progress there was "fragile and reversible."


During the hearing, General Petraeus warned against removing "too many troops too quickly." Under stiff questioning, he declined to offer even an estimate of American force levels by the end of this year.

The general's comments were met by sharp criticism from the Armed Service Committee's chairman, Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, that the Bush administration had adopted "a war plan with no exit strategy."
Think about it. You've got 20 combat brigades in Iraq. You're going to draw them down to 15. Where I come from that's a 25% reduction in force.

But the job isn't going away. The demands are still there. So you have to ensure that before you pull anyone else out, you can at least maintain the status quo in terms of security. Obviously, if you've pulled 25% of your force out of an area, one of three things have to happen:

A) you have to fill that void with 5 brigades of the ISF, or

B) you try to cover the areas with less troops, or

C) based on your assessment of the situation, you shift your remaining brigades (and perhaps some ISF units) around to cover the area left by the 5 brigades who've moved out.

Then what do you do? You give it a reasonable amount of time to see how it works, adjust as necessary ,and you then resume your mission while assessing the possibility of even more troop withdrawals.

And that reasonable amount of time?

Hey, how does 45 days sound?

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Wright a former Muslim? OK, I missed that first time through ...
Posted by: McQ
I read this TNR article quite some time back as Obama was beginning to emerge as a very serious candidate. I was interested in the fact that both he and Hillary had a "Saul Alinsky" connection. And it was in this article that I found out why he joined a church in Chicago (to aid his community organizing). What I missed completely, at the time, was a line about Jeremiah Wright that sort of brings everything into the proper focus. Of course, at the time I read the article, by Ryan Lizza, Wright wasn't the subject of any scrutiny:
From Wright and others, Obama learned that part of his problem as an organizer was that he was trying to build a confederation of churches but wasn't showing up in the pews on Sunday. When pastors asked him the inevitable questions about his own spiritual life, Obama would duck them uncomfortably. A Reverend Philips put the problem to him squarely when he learned that Obama didn't attend services. "It might help your mission if you had a church home," he told Obama. "It doesn't matter where, really. What you're asking from pastors requires us to set aside some of our more priestly concerns in favor of prophesy. That requires a good deal of faith on our part. It makes us want to know just where you're getting yours from."

After many lectures like this, Obama decided to take a second look at Wright's church. Older pastors warned him that Trinity was for "Buppies"—black urban professionals—and didn't have enough street cred. But Wright was a former Muslim and black nationalist who had studied at Howard and Chicago, and Trinity's guiding principles—what the church calls the "Black Value System"—included a "Disavowal of the Pursuit of Middleclassness.'"

The crosscurrents appealed to Obama. He came to believe that the church could not only compensate for the limitations of Alinsky-style organizing but could help answer the nagging identity problem he had come to Chicago to solve. "It was a powerful program, this cultural community," he wrote, "one more pliant than simple nationalism, more sustaining than my own brand of organizing."
Now obviously, the reference here is to Louis Farrakhan's "Nation of Islam", not the Muslim faith everywhere else in the world. So suddenly all of the deference to Farrakhan makes sense. And that coupled with the black nationalism explains the racist rants from the pulpit.

And notice what Lizza contends - that the church he chose was a means to "help answer the nagging identity problem he had come to Chicago to solve." How in the world can that be so unless you buy into what the church believes in?

Now, again, it is TNR and we've certainly had issues with that bunch so take it with a grain of salt if you wish, but it sure seems to connect some dots.

Couple it with this and you really end up scratching your head:
In yesterday's conversation with Time's Joe Klein I noted that when then Illinois State Senator Barack Obama ran against incumbent Congressman Bobby Rush in the 2000 Democratic primary for the 1st Congressional District, Obama announced there wasn't much difference between the two candidates when it came to beliefs.

"I don't think there are a lot of ideological differences," Obama declared after a television debate between Rush, himself and a third candidate Donne Trotter.
Anyone know who Bobby Rush is? Well, from 1963 to 1968, was a co-founder of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party. Now, you take Obama's ideological declaration any way you wish, but you have to assume he meant what he said.

And then there's Obama acquaintance with Bill "I don't regret setting bombs; I feel we didn't do enough" Ayers, formerly of the ultra-radical Weather Underground.

You know, taken singly, you can say, "eh, so he knew so-and-so, no biggie". But when you begin to put them side-by-side, you begin to think, "aren't there a few too many "coincidences" here?"

I'm sorry but I find all of these 'coincidences' to be something which should be looked into much more closely than they are. A disciple of Saul Alinsky, a connection to black nationalism and the beliefs of the Nation of Islam (through his pastor and church), a self-declared ideological sameness with a former member of the Black Panther Party and "friend" of a violent former member of the Weather Underground?

Time for the MSM to do a little digging and Obama to do a lot more explaining than he's had to do to this point.

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The Education Monopoly
Posted by: Jon Henke
Apparently, the government's re-licensing standards for teachers do not appear to preclude people convicted of racketeering and fraud directly related to education.

Fortunately, we have a dollar democracy, where we can easily withdraw our support and take our child to a competing education system with higher standards. So...where do I go to cancel that payment?

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The Anti-Gore
Posted by: McQ
A few real inconvenient truths. Enjoy:


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Media Criticism: it’s the consumers, stupid
Posted by: Jon Henke
Megan McArdle is in a scuffle with Glenn Greenwald. Greenwald demonstrates his usual lack of reading comprehension and/or willingness to misrepresent the claims of his critics, factual errors, a heaping dose of ignorance/naievete about the subject on which he writes, and a level of sanctimony normally associated with people too blinded to realize they might be wrong. McArdle responds to Greenwald's latest diatribe...
I am not defending John Yoo, or his memos, or the government's behavior. I am simply pointing out that when it comes to the journalistic coverage of same, Mr Greenwald has the correlation running the wrong way: the public doesn't know because it doesn't care, not because the journalists don't want to tell them. If the public did care, Mr Greenwald would have more readers.

Frankly, his assertions sound bizarre, even lunatic, to anyone who has ever met a journalist or a newspaper editor. And the later part of his rant, during which he accuses me and Dan of supporting the media establishment because it is helping us cover up our war crimes, ranges into the kind of frenzied conspiracy-theorizing that I generally associate with Ron Paul's more wild-eyed supporters.
Greenwald's argues that the press is obsessed with trivialities and they are choosing to report on those trivialities, rather than more important issues. Which is probably true, to some extent. But in a free market, the media is just a vessel. They respond to incentives and they deliver the content that the market (the audience) demands.

And you know what? Sometimes that really sucks.
A campaign only gets credit for the messages it can push into the mainstream media. As I pointed out during the [Allen Senate] campaign, at one point, the Washington Post and had done 156 stories involving 'macaca' in the previous 60 days...versus only 1 story that even mentioned Senator Allen's major energy policy proposal. Senator Allen spent a lot of time touring the Commonwealth to talk about his policies and his record, but you'd be hard-pressed to find much media coverage of those issues...especially from the Washington Post.

Oh, sure, the Washington Post did do one lengthy piece on George Allen - 1,302 words mostly devoted to George Allen's wardrobe.
Does the media need to do better? Yeah. But, again, this isn't the result of the personal deficiencies in reporters. It is the result of their incentives.

I won't presume to suggest that the psychoanalysis performed by Dr. Glenn Greenwald is incorrect, but I would suggest that Greenwald could do a bit more to educate himself about why the media doesn't focus more on detailed, important policy thinking about his own audience.

Gedankenexperiment time!

What would happen to Glenn Greenwald's readership and volume of inbound links if.

  • .Glenn Greenwald spent a few months blogging about Democratic hypocrisy and wrongdoing?

  • .Glenn Greenwald spent a few months blogging about detailed, important policy issues that don't involve partisan conflict and wrongdoing?

HINT: his audience would fall quickly and Greenwald would learn that his readers weren't quite as interested in policy details as they were in partisan politics. He would quickly discover that the people who were inflamed by hypocrisy and wrongdoing by Republicans were - surprise! - not quite so interested in such stories about Democrats. Replace the appropriate words there and you'll also have a good explanation for much of the past 8 years.

Glenn Greenwald does not have his audience because his readers are deeply interested in detailed, important policy issues. He has the audience he has because his readers are deeply interested in detailed, important policy issues that reinforce their beliefs about their political opponents. And he knows that, which is why he caters almost exclusively to partisan grievances, rather than to non-partisan criticism.

Media criticism is important. But misrepresenting and caricaturing the people he's criticizing - as he did with McArdle and Drezner - does more to prove their point than Greenwald's.

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Sen. Jay "Clueless" Rockefeller (update)
Posted by: McQ
To quote Bugs Bunny, "what a maroon":
Rockefeller believes McCain has become insensitive to many human issues. "McCain was a fighter pilot, who dropped laser-guided missiles from 35,000 feet. He was long gone when they hit.

"What happened when they [the missiles] get to the ground? He doesn't know. You have to care about the lives of people. McCain never gets into those issues."
Speaking of insensitive, that has to rank up there with some of the most clueless and insensitive statements ever uttered. Talk about "Stereotypes 'R Us".

Sometimes these yahoos just get too darn cute for their own good and because they like to hear themselves talk, they sometimes blurt out something which just makes you cringe.

Says the McCain campaign:
Senator Rockefeller's statement is an insult to all the men and women who are serving or have served in America's military. Had Senator Rockefeller served himself, he would appreciate and understand that most who have been to war emerge with a much deeper concern for humanity than they otherwise might.
For those who would challenge the point, Rockefeller is putting in one big bucket everyone who fires indirect fire weapons (artillery, missiles, etc) within the whole of the US military and claiming none of them are sensitive to human issues because they do so. Do you really want to go there?

(HT: Weekly Standard Blog)

UPDATE: Rockefeller apologizes:
"I made an inaccurate and wrong analogy, and I have extended my sincere apology to him," Rockefeller said in a statement. "While we differ a great deal on policy issues, I profoundly respect and appreciate his dedication to our country, and I regret my very poor choice of words."
Yup - that respect was just oozing out of the dumb statement Rockefeller made.

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Ice lost as a result of climate change
Posted by: McQ
For those who missed it:
Surface snowmelt in Antarctica in 2008, as derived from spaceborne passive microwave observations at 19.35 gigahertz, was 40% below the average of the period 1987-2007. The melting index (MI, a measure of where melting occurred and for how long) in 2008 was the second-smallest value in the 1987-2008 period, with 3,465,625 square kilometers times days (km2 × days) against the average value of 8,407,531 km2 × days (Figure 1a). Melt extent (ME, the extent of the area subject to melting) in 2008 set a new minimum with 297,500 square kilometers, against an average value of approximately 861,812 square kilometers. The 2008 updated melting index and melt extent trends over the whole continent, as derived from a linear regression approach, are -164,487 km2 × days per year (MI) and -11,506 square kilometers per year (ME), respectively.
And if you need a picture:


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Al Sadr offers to lay down his arms (update)
Posted by: McQ
Interesting development:
Iraq's largest and most dangerous militia, the Mahdi Army, will disband voluntarily if leading Shia scholars advise its leader to do so, officials said today, in a dramatic move that could quell much of the fighting in the country.

Aides to Hojetoleslam Moqtada al-Sadr, who is under mounting political and military pressure, said that the militia chief would send delegations to Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, a moderate religious leader in Najaf, and to senior clerics in Qom in Iran to consult on whether he should stand down his 60,000-strong militia.

The sudden announcement came as Lieutenant-General David Petraeus, Commander of US Forces in Iraq, starts two days of testimony to Congress on the success of America's troop "surge".
Someone tell The Times what a "Lieutenant General" is and that Petraeus isn't one. Anyway, listening to the testimony today, Amb. Crocker made an interesting point about the battle in Basra. Per Crocker the Iraqi people were not happy with al-Sadr or the militia's confronting the ISF. Part of that goes back to previous confrontations. Another part of that goes to its connection with Iran (and Iran's Qods Force). The unpopularity of al Sadr's actions have, apparently, become clear to him. As Crocker reminded the Senate Armed Services Committee, Iraq fought an 8 year war with Iran not that long ago hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were killed or wounded in that conflict.

The hand of Iran was very clear in the Basra confrontation, and, per Crocker, that hasn't set will with the majority of Iraqis. Consequently, despite the rush to declare al Sadr the "victor" in Basra, it would appear that the hand that was strengthened was that of Maliki.
The position of Hojetoleslam al-Sadr, whose fighters had fought government forces to a standstill in Basra, was looking increasingly precarious today. His erstwhile ally, Nouri al-Maliki, the Shia Prime Minister, who led the Basra crackdown personally, saw his popular support bolstered by his tough stance on lawless militias.

Despite the inconclusive results of his Basra offensive, Mr al-Maliki has refused to back down and this weekend stitched together a rare consensus of Kurds, Sunnis and Shias to back a draft law banning any party that maintains a militia from running in future elections.

"A decision was taken . . . that they no longer have a right to participate in the political process or take part in the upcoming elections unless they end the Mahdi Army," Mr al-Maliki said.

That united stance has put the Sadrists on the back foot, while even in Sadr City itself support for the militia was waning as government forces and their US allies pushed ever deeper into Mahdi Army territory.
Al-Sadr, of course, has attempted to pass the buck and has stated he'll disarm if Shia clerics above him tell him too.

But the bottom line is it is al Sadr looking for accommodation, conditions and capitulation and it is Maliki who is standing his ground. It remains to be seen how this will all play out, but it is difficult to see how anyone can argue that after Basra, it is al Sadr who has the upper hand.

UPDATE: Al Sadr's "superiors" "refuse" to make the decision to disband the Mahdi militia:
Iraq's top Shiite religious leaders have told anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr not to disband his Mehdi Army, an al-Sadr spokesman said Monday amid fresh fighting in the militia's Baghdad strongholds.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki demanded Sunday that the cleric disband his militia, which waged two uprisings against U.S. troops in 2004, or see his supporters barred from public office.

But al-Sadr spokesman Salah al-Obeidi said al-Sadr has consulted with Iraq's Shiite clerical leadership "and they refused that." He did not provide details of the talks.
My question is have they refused to allow him to disband, or have they refused to make that decision, leaving it for him to decide? That's not clear in the article.

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Ambassador Crocker’s statement
Posted by: McQ
Here's the transcript of the Crocker statement.


Ryan C. Crocker, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq

Testimony to Senate Armed Services Committee

April 8, 2008

AMB. CROCKER: Mr. Chairman, Senator McCain, members of the committee, it is an honor to appear before you today to provide my assessment on political, economic and diplomatic developments in Iraq.

When General Petraeus and I reported to you in September, I gave my considered judgment on whether our goals in Iraq were attainable. Can Iraq develop into a united, stable country with a democratically elected government operating under the rule of law?


Continue reading "Ambassador Crocker’s statement "

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Transcript of Gen Petraeus statement
Posted by: McQ
OK, we have an official transcript now. You can find the charts he talks about here [pdf]


Report to Congress on the Situation in Iraq

General David H. Petraeus Commander, Multi-National Force-Iraq 8-9 April 2008

Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member, Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to provide an update on the security situation in Iraq and to discuss the recommendations I recently provided to my chain of command.

Since Ambassador Crocker and I appeared before you seven months ago, there has been significant but uneven security progress in Iraq. Since September, levels of violence and civilian deaths have been reduced substantially, Al Qaeda-Iraq and a number of other extremist elements have been dealt serious blows, the capabilities of Iraqi Security Force elements have grown, and there has been noteworthy involvement of local Iraqis in local security. Nonetheless, the situation in certain areas is still unsatisfactory and innumerable challenges remain. Moreover, as events in the past two weeks have reminded us and as I have repeatedly cautioned, the progress made since last spring is fragile and reversible. Still, security in Iraq is better than it was when Ambassador Crocker and I reported to you last September, and it is significantly better than it was 15 months ago when Iraq was on the brink of civil war and the decision was made to deploy additional US forces to Iraq.

A number of factors have contributed to the progress that has been made. First, of course, has been the impact of increased numbers of Coalition and Iraqi Forces. You are well aware of the U.S. surge. Less recognized is that Iraq has also conducted a surge, adding well over 100,000 additional soldiers and police to the ranks of its security forces in 2007 and slowly increasing its capability to deploy and employ these forces.


Continue reading "Transcript of Gen Petraeus statement"

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10 worst US infrastructure problems
Posted by: McQ
Popular Mechanics lists the 10 worst infrastructure problems in the US. One is found in Atlanta. It has been a problem for a long time, but, as usual, little if anything has been done to address it. The irony, of course, is it exacerbates an existing natural problem:
Water shortages aren't limited to the Southwest. When Georgians faced drought last fall, residents of Atlanta pitched in to reduce their consumption, yet as much of 18 percent of the city's water was hemorrhaging through leaking pipes. A similar situation is found throughout the country. Municipal lines running beneath the streets lose massive volumes of water, as do privately owned pipes that carry water to houses and other buildings.
Amazing. A list of all the rest of the problem areas can be found here.

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Monday, April 07, 2008

The Olympics, China and protests
Posted by: McQ
I have no problem with the protests along the torch route that are taking place as long as they don't descend into violence. But China deserves every single voice speaking out against it right now:
The last part of the Olympic torch relay in Paris was canceled Monday after a day of chaos in which anti-China protesters forced authorities to extinguish the flame at least five times, take to a bus and skip some scheduled stops, including city hall.

There were confrontations between the authorities and demonstrators throughout the day as the relay attempted to crisscross Paris, birthplace of the modern Olympic movement, passing landmarks including l'Arc d'Triomphe, the Place de la Concord, The Louvre and Notre Dame.

The torch was eventually driven by bus to its ending destination, where it was displayed again during a public ceremony at a stadium.

Numerous protesters, some armed with fire extinguishers, were taken away by police, The Associated Press reported. At other times police used tear gas to remove demonstrators who lay in the road and tried to block the route.
So good on you, protesters. Show the IOC how absolutely dumb their decision to run this supposed showcase of freedom called the Olympics in a totalitarian regime. And further, keep China's abysmal record on human rights and oppression on the front page.

However, we now have a number of politicians, sensing the mood out there, looking for ways to popularly cash in on these spontaneous events. Some are even talking about boycotting the games.

Uh, no.

Not a general boycott. The only people punished in those are the athletes from the country boycotting the event. And, of course it means more medals for the Chinese team that they might not have won if the boycotting country had been there.

Nope. If there's going to be any boycott, let the politicians do it all by themselves. Don't show up for the opening ceremony. Don't show up at all. That would be fine with me. I know it might be tough for the boondoggle addicted among the political class to make that sort of sacrifice but that, if anything, is the proper way to "do something" if they think it is necessary.

But leave the athletes out of it. Jimmy Carter, as only he could do, showed us the utter stupidity of a complete boycott. Let our athletes kick a little Chinese ass. That'll make much more of an impression on the Chinese masses than some pol not showing up for the opening ceremony.

The USSR finally collapsed like a wet paper box when its citizens began to have access to information and contact with those who lived outside the Iron Curtain. This is the first time, en mass, that the world has had the same opportunity to do so behind the Bamboo Curtain, and it would be both stupid and counter-productive to boycott this because we suddenly want to "take a stand on human rights" after mostly ignoring them for a couple of decades.

Politicians - stay home if your conscience demands it. I doubt that it will. But regardless, leave the rest of it alone to play out as it will. My guess is the Chinese will end up either throwing their hands up (less likely) or end up showing their true face to the world (more likely). And that is much more valuable than playing the boycott game in my estimation.

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Posted by: McQ
I sometimes just shake my head in wonder at the mouthings of politicians:
"Foreign policy is the area where I am probably most confident." — Barack Obama, on competing with Hillary Clinton and John McCain, "Huffington Post," 4/7.

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It took all of this time to determine Diana was killed by her reckless driver?
Posted by: McQ
CBS blasts out a "breaking story" email:
A coroner's jury has ruled that Princess Diana and boyfriend Dodi Fayed were unlawfully killed through the reckless actions of their driver and the paparazzi in 1997.
Huh. Wonder how much that cost British taxpayers?

I hate to admit it, but I figured that out in, well, 1997 as did most Brits I'm sure.

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Recession? Well not yet, but check out housing starts!
Posted by: McQ
A little more "fun with charts". I borrowed a couple from Captain Capitalism (I don't believe he's related to Captain Sarcastic) and they're rather interesting in what they reveal.

First, are we in a recession? Not yet, at least not officially:

But, as you can see, we're certainly trying to get there. However, since the technical definition of a recession requires two successive quarters of negative growth (see shaded areas on graph), you can clearly see that definition hasn't been met.

However, look at this comparison between housing starts and unemployment:

Check out the shaded areas (recessions) and where housing starts were during those times. Then look at the level where housing starts presently reside on the graph. Note also that the unemployment rate, as is normal, lags behind the housing start trend.

With the rising unemployment rate, we're finally beginning to see the impact of the housing bubble on jobs lost. Per the chart and the trends graphed there, we should expect that to continue to rise. Couple that with the increased costs we're seeing across the board - driven mostly by rising fuel costs - and I would have to say the recipe for recession is definitely coming to at least a simmer.

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How politicized has "climate change" become?
Posted by: McQ
Check out these reactions to the new ad that Al Gore has going out (part of that 300 million ad campaign I noted here).

The first set of reactions is by age:

Obviously younger people are much more supportive of the message than are older people (idealism vs. skepticism?).

But the real, sharp difference comes with political affiliation. Keep an eye on the "independent" line:

Obviously those who identify as Republicans are not at all supportive of the message about climate change (although their candidate for president does seem supportive) and independents are much less supportive than Dems, but more supportive than Reps and pretty much flatten out in response saying, at least to me, that they're probably pretty evenly split on the issue.

It does, however, give lie to the Al Gore quote recently on "60 Minutes" where he claims the skeptics are only a "tiny minority".

Rasmussen conducted this with 611 participants including 203 Democrats, 203 Republicans, and 205 independent or unaffiliated voters.

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Blogging hazardous to your health?
Posted by: McQ
Well, so says a story in the NY Times. It concentrates on "professional bloggers". Although I'm not a professional blogger, I play one on the internet.

It seems that a couple of bloggers have died and the NY Times sees that as possible epidemic among the victims of the blogging masses trapped in their self-created sweat-shops:
They work long hours, often to exhaustion. Many are paid by the piece - not garments, but blog posts. This is the digital-era sweatshop. You may know it by a different name: home.

A growing work force of home-office laborers and entrepreneurs, armed with computers and smartphones and wired to the hilt, are toiling under great physical and emotional stress created by the around-the-clock Internet economy that demands a constant stream of news and comment.

Of course, the bloggers can work elsewhere, and they profess a love of the nonstop action and perhaps the chance to create a global media outlet without a major up-front investment. At the same time, some are starting to wonder if something has gone very wrong. In the last few months, two among their ranks have died suddenly.


Can the naming of a disorder be far behind (may I suggest Post Blogging Stess Syndrome -PBSS?)?

Despite the fact that correlation is not causation, the NY Times plows on:
Other bloggers complain of weight loss or gain, sleep disorders, exhaustion and other maladies born of the nonstop strain of producing for a news and information cycle that is as always-on as the Internet.

To be sure, there is no official diagnosis of death by blogging, and the premature demise of two people obviously does not qualify as an epidemic. There is also no certainty that the stress of the work contributed to their deaths. But friends and family of the deceased, and fellow information workers, say those deaths have them thinking about the dangers of their work style.

The pressure even gets to those who work for themselves - and are being well-compensated for it.

"I haven't died yet," said Michael Arrington, the founder and co-editor of TechCrunch, a popular technology blog. The site has brought in millions in advertising revenue, but there has been a hefty cost. Mr. Arrington says he has gained 30 pounds in the last three years, developed a severe sleeping disorder and turned his home into an office for him and four employees. "At some point, I'll have a nervous breakdown and be admitted to the hospital, or something else will happen."

"This is not sustainable," he said.
Well not if you're taking in "millions" and have set it up like that, no, probably not. But then poor business practices have little to do with blogging. Or said another way, perhaps if he had a more efficient business operation the stress level would be less whether the business was based in blogging or traditional reporting.

Eh, it's got to be blogging.

Ed Morrissey has the best take on this. First he is amazed that somehow he's managed to finally become a part of a victim class. And then he sets the record straight and lays out what I would imagine most of those who are paid to blog think about it:
I started professionally blogging a year ago. Since then, I eat better because I eat at home. I sleep better because I can take a rest when I need it. I lost weight because I don't do drive-thru on long commutes to an office. I am much more relaxed because I spend all day doing what I love, rather than compensating for the stress of the above jobs, at least three of which I did myself as an adult in the last twenty-five years.

Thanks to the New York Times, I do have the answer to my introspection: I have no need of victim classes, even for myself. If making a living for constant commentary from the comfort of my own home has become the sweatshop environment of the 21st century, then we have truly reached the Golden Age of human experience.
Heh ... indeed. Like I said, I'm not a paid blogger, but I'll take Ed's word for it. Anyone who spends the time he does on something he loves and gets paid for it isn't a victim. Me? I find this to be therapeutic, enjoyable, engaging and enlightening. Would I like to be paid to do it? Sure. But obviously paid or not, I'd be doing it. Hardly the actions of a victim of anything but his own joyful addiction.

Blog on ...

Permalink | Comments ( 5 ) | TrackBacks ( 1 ) | Category: Professional Blogging

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Podcast for 06 Apr 08
Posted by: Dale Franks
In this podcast, Bruce McQuain and Dale Franks talk about General Petraeus' upcoming testimony this week about Iraq, and the Randi Rhodes kerfluffle.


The direct link to the podcast is here.

The intro and outro music is Vena Cava by 50 Foot Wave, and is available for free download here.

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don't forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don't have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here.

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BlogTalk Radio - 8pm (EST)
Posted by: McQ
Call in number: (718) 664-9614

Yes, friends, it is a call-in show, so do call in.

Subjects: A little Iraq, a little election news, possibly some of Ted and Jane and maybe an Abolut or two.

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A little lesson in leadership
Posted by: McQ
I was reading a post at "Comments from Left Field" in which Kyle Moore tells what he is pretty sure is an apocryphal Navy story about an Admiral and recruit. You can read it here:


He prefaced that story with:
There's something of a folklorish tale/urban legend that exists in the training culture of the Navy. It's a parable, really, maybe a fable, either way it comes with its own moral, and I've never seen anything remotely close to it happen in real life.
Well, I have. And, being a lazy Sunday afternoon, it seems like a good time to tell that story.

I was a brand-new platoon leader with the 82nd Airborne Div and reported in on a Thursday during a time our brigade was in a post-support cycle (there were three cycles - Post support where you did housekeeping stuff for the Post commander, Training - where you lived in the field and DRF or Division Reaction Force - where you trained but were also packed and ready to go within 12 hours if alerted).

One of the worst post support jobs was ammo dump guard. You were out in the middle of nowhere for 24 hours, 4 on and 4 off and that meant no one really rested or slept. Lousy chow, crummy conditions, just a miserable time. Well, as the new guy, who better to 'get his feet wet' with his platoon than me? And as an extra added bonus, the last platoon which had had the duty had managed to kill one of their own while screwing around with a shotgun. So, as you can imagine, visibility was rather high.

My CO, a gruff sort, said "listen to your platoon sergeant and don't kill anybody". Those were the extent of my instructions. To make a long story short, we end up out there doing our thing. Around 2am, a frantic quavering voice comes in over the radio, "Sergeant of the guard, post 4, I need you out here". This was repeated rapidly about 4 times each time seemingly a bit more frantic than the first.

We got on the horn, asked what the problem was (intruder) and the status (on the ground) and told the guard, a kid who'd just made PFC, that we'd be there immediately. The post was about a half mile down the road. Myself, the PSG and a driver, all armed, took off.

When we pulled up to the post, there stood my soldier at port arms while the "intruder" in civilian clothes was on the ground in the front leaning rest position. He had gray hair and had been in that position for a while so his arms were shaking a little.

The jeep pulled up and my platoon sergeant said, "Oh, [expletive]!" and I knew immediately we had a problem. I wasn't sure yet what it was, but PSGs sounding like that aren't a good thing.

I looked back at him when he said it and immediately jumped out of the jeep, .45 drawn and hurried over to the guard. The kid could hardly speak. He just pointed to the ID card laying on the ground in front of the "intruder".

By that time my platoon sergeant had gotten out of the jeep and was trying to get my attention with "Sir?" "Sir"!, but I had already walked up to the intruder, bent down and picked up the ID card.

In that split second I figured mine and all of the rest of my platoon's military careers had just come to a thundering halt, because the first thing I saw was the rank on the ID. The rank was "MG".

"MG", of course, is short for Major General or a 2 star general. And the only 2 star general on that post was the commanding general of the 82nd Airborne Division. There on the ground in front of me, in the front leaning rest was our division commander. Having just reported in, of course, I'd never met the man, and I can assure you, this wasn't the way I figured it would happen.

As soon as I understood who he was, I told him I confirmed his identity and he was free to stand up.

The general stood up and what sticks in my mind, even to this day, was the gravel stuck to the palms of his hands. He shook that off, bushed his slacks off and asked my name and unit. I sort of stammered through it and when I finished he asked me what the guard's special orders were concerning an intruder.

My platoon sergeant, anticipating the request had the clipboard which was found at each guard's post and read the SO which said that the guards were to challenge unknown personnel with the password, and if when challenged the intruder didn't know the password, he was to be ordered immediately into the front leaning rest and from that position told to get any ID out and place it in front of him. The guard was then to call the sergeant of the guard and hold the intruder there until the SOG arrived.

The general stood there as my PSG read the SO and looked at the PFC who, I swear, I thought was going to pass out at any second.

After a long and pregnant pause the general asked the soldier his name and rank. "PFC Smith, sir". Said the general, "Well you're SP4 Smith now, son. Well done."

He looked at me and told me to get the promotion paperwork in for his signature. After I answered to the affirmative he said "carry on, gentlemen", turned on his heel, went to his car parked a bit down the road, and left the area.

You could have heard a pin drop. We stood there in both shock and awe. It was one of the most valuable lessons in leadership I ever learned in the Army. Of course, our new SP4 became mildly famous for having put the CG in the front leaning rest, but he was also a young soldier who worshiped the ground the CG walked on. And the lesson he taught by his example and that spot promotion wasn't lost on anyone in the entire brigade when the story got out.

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Clinton: Another exaggeration questioned
Posted by: McQ
Pretty soon she's not going to have anything to talk about:
Over the last five weeks, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York has featured in her campaign stump speeches the story of a health care horror: an uninsured pregnant woman who lost her baby and died herself after being denied care by an Ohio hospital because she could not come up with a $100 fee.

The woman, Trina Bachtel, did die last August, two weeks after her baby boy was stillborn at O'Bleness Memorial Hospital in Athens, Ohio. But hospital administrators said Friday that Ms. Bachtel was under the care of an obstetrics practice affiliated with the hospital, that she was never refused treatment and that she was, in fact, insured.

"We implore the Clinton campaign to immediately desist from repeating this story," said Rick Castrop, chief executive officer of the O'Bleness Health System.
How does one get a story so wrong?

Oh ... sorry, I had to duck there. Sniper fire you know.

Anyway, here's how the Clinton campaign explained it:
A Clinton spokesman, Mo Elleithee, said candidates would frequently retell stories relayed to them, vetting them when possible. "In this case, we did try but were not able to fully vet it," Mr. Elleithee said. "If the hospital claims it did not happen that way, we respect that."
Or said another way, "if we hear a good story, one that will make big points for us and our agenda, whether we can confirm it or not, we're using it until someone makes us stop."

What were those three words again? Judgment? Integrity? Honesty? I've always thought they were integral to that fourth and most important of words - leadership. If so, we know who we don't want answering the phone at 3am.

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"Moses" gone to the Promised Land
Posted by: McQ
Charlton Heston has died at age 84.
Charlton Heston, who appeared in some 100 films in his 60-year acting career but who is remembered chiefly for his monumental, jut-jawed portrayals of Moses, Ben-Hur and Michelangelo, died Saturday night at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif. He was 84, according to his family.
Of course, to a younger generation he's probably known just as well for his role as spokesman for the NRA.

I'll always remember him for his role as Ben-Hur simply because of the timing of the film during my childhood. It was an epic, he was a fitting hero and it was a good movie. I would guess for most actors, that would be a fitting epitaph. I also just liked the guy.

RIP Charlton Heston.

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Saturday, April 05, 2008

Rules, rules, rules ...
Posted by: McQ
Here's an interesting little exercise.

What if the Democrats, instead of doing the proportional delegate thing, had done the same thing as the Republicans and had a winner-take-all primary system?

Well it would be Obama talking about not denying the remainder of the states the chance to vote and it would be Obama attempting to avoid the pressure to drop out of the race:
If the Democrats were to allot their current state delegate totals in a winner-take-all format, Clinton would actually have a significant delegate advantage. Despite having won only 14 recognized contests to Obama's 30, Clinton would currently have a 120 (1738 to 1618) total delegate lead and a remarkable 167 (1427 to 1260) pledged delegate lead. These numbers give Texas' "prima-caucus" delegates to Clinton and do not include Florida, Michigan or the 693 total delegates and 566 pledged delegates still to be won in the next few months.
And as tenuous as it is, she also has some claim to FL and MI. So had it been a winner-take-all contest, it would have been a horse of a completely different color. The Obama bandwagon may not have had as many jumping on and it could have conceivable gotten worse and worse for him.

As Rasmussen points out, this could provide a fairly reasonable (at least as reasonable as it gets in this primary) argument for Clinton staying in the race:
The Clinton campaign could contend that it is the proportional allocation system's inherent "over-fairness" that is denying her the significant delegate gains that she justifiably deserves from winning states like Ohio, where Clinton's 10 percent margin of victory only garnered her 9 more delegates than Obama. This may be an effective argument for Sen. Clinton to justify going forward in the race, especially if she is able to pull closer to even in the popular vote after the contests in Pennsylvania, Indiana and North Carolina.
On to Puerto Rico, Ms. Clinton, please. I don't want to miss out on a minute of the fun this continues to bring.

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Pelosi: We don’t want to hear any good news
Posted by: McQ
This just chaps my, well, it irritates the hell out of me:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) warned Army Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker on Thursday not to "put a shine on recent events" in Iraq when they testify before Congress next week.

"I hope we don't hear any glorification of what happened in Basra," said Pelosi, referring to a recent military offensive against Shiite militants in the city led by the Iraqi government and supported by U.S. forces.

Although powerful Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr agreed to a ceasefire after six days of fighting, Pelosi wondered why the U.S. was caught off guard by the offensive and questioned how the ceasefire was achieved, saying the terms were "probably dictated from Iran."

"We have to know the real ground truths of what is happening there, not put a shine on events because of a resolution that looks less violent when in fact it has been dictated by al-Sadr, who can grant or withhold that call for violence," Pelosi said.
Nancy Pelosi wouldn't know "ground truth" in Iraq if it was spoon fed to her. And she certainly hasn't any idea of ground truth in Basra. What Nancy Pelosi is doing is rewording the embarrassing "willing suspension of disbelief" Hillary Clinton used. In fact, Pelosi, et al, aren't really interested in what Petraeus and Crocker say and they damn sure don't want to hear anything which could be interpreted as good news.

What a poor argument for the benefits of a seniority system she and Harry Reid are.

Permalink | Comments ( 33 ) | TrackBacks ( 1 ) | Category: Iraq

Project Hero: SSG Chad Malmberg, Silver Star
Posted by: McQ
This is the story of a young National Guard staff sergeant who was a convoy commander in charge of getting all the vehicles and the 15 soldiers back to his base in Iraq safely. Naturally about 30 insurgents decided they'd ambush him and the convoy with the idea of killing or capturing them all.

As you'll see, SSG Chad Malmberg had a completely different outcome in mind and he took charge and made his outcome the final one.
Outnumbered by almost two to one, an ambush closing in like a vice, more than a thousand rounds raining down for 50 minutes - the chances of success, much less survival, might seem impossible. But for Staff Sgt. Chad Malmberg of the Minnesota Army National Guard's 34th Infantry Division, the day he and his men faced those odds was also the day they managed to repel a large coordinated attack - without suffering a single casualty. "It's not the size of the dog in the fight," he later said in an interview, "but it's the size of the fight in the dog. That day, we had a lot of fight in us." For his gallantry in battle, Malmberg became the first Minnesota Guardsman in his division - known as the "Red Bulls" - to receive the Silver Star since World War II.

On January 27, 2007, Malmberg's convoy, which included more than 20 gun trucks and logistical vehicles, was traveling from Baghdad International Airport late at night when an IED exploded. The convoy stopped to assess the situation; it soon became clear, however, that the IED was only the beginning of the attack - the largest ambush during Malmberg's 16-month deployment. Hostile forces melted out of the night and fired rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms. In the darkness, it was difficult to pinpoint the exact location of the fire. Malmberg knew he had to get closer, so he moved forward and engaged several enemy positions. He then exited his vehicle and attempted to direct the other trucks out of the kill zone. The concentration of enemy fire made this maneuver too difficult - which meant that Malmberg and the rest of the team would have to stand their ground and fight to the end.

Malmberg saw fire from behind and moved to support the rear elements. He dealt the attackers a blow with an AT-4 anti-tank shot - before calling in air support.

The enemy fire continued relentlessly, and in such close quarters, the aircraft did not have a clear shot. For the next half hour, Malmberg's team of 15 soldiers continued to fight an enemy force that outnumbered them. The hostile forces eventually drew to within 20 meters. Malmberg, recognizing that the convoy could be overrun, again entered the kill zone and threw a hand grenade into a nearby ditch, killing several insurgents. That action neutralized the offensive, and prevented the convoy from being taken over.

Despite the long odds and the fierce fighting, Malmberg's leadership as a Convoy Escort Team commander prevented his 35-member team of soldiers and civilians from taking casualties. The St. Paul native is currently enrolled at Minnesota State University as a full-time student, and plans to pursue a career in law enforcement after graduation.
SSG Chad Malmberg, awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action and, more importantly to him, ensuring all 15 of his guys made it out of that ambush alive.


Continue reading "Project Hero: SSG Chad Malmberg, Silver Star"

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Friday, April 04, 2008

Absolut responds
Posted by: McQ
Le affair Absolut sees the company respond in the wishy-washy way companies these days respond. They didn't mean to, uh, well you read it:
The In An Absolut World advertising campaign invites consumers to visualize a world that appeals to them — one they feel may be more idealized or one that may be a bit "fantastic." As such, the campaign will elicit varying opinions and points of view. We have a variety of executions running in countries worldwide, and each is germane to that country and that population.

This particular ad, which ran in Mexico, was based upon historical perspectives and was created with a Mexican sensibility. In no way was this meant to offend or disparage, nor does it advocate an altering of borders, nor does it lend support to any anti-American sentiment, nor does it reflect immigration issues. Instead, it hearkens to a time which the population of Mexico may feel was more ideal.

As a global company, we recognize that people in different parts of the world may lend different perspectives or interpret our ads in a different way than was intended in that market. Obviously, this ad was run in Mexico, and not the US — that ad might have been very different.

By Paula Eriksson, VP Corporate Communications, V&S Absolut Spirits
Yup, the ad here might "absolut"ly include a broken bottle or two.

BTW, Ms. Ericksson, as you can see we have a couple of "executions" of the ad running below that some people may find to be a "world that appeals to them — one they feel may be more idealized or one that may be a bit "fantastic." Any guess as to how most Swedes would feel about them?


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Calvin Broadus Jr. Says Obama receives funding from the KKK
Posted by: McQ
Do I have your attention yet?

Heh ... yes, file this under the weird story of the week.

Calvin Broadus Jr, of course, is Snoop Dogg, and if you believe the Daily Dish at the SF Chronicle, Calvin is none to impressed with Mr. Obama:
He tells the Guardian, "The KKK gave Obama money. They was (sic) one of his biggest supporters ... Why wouldn't they be? The media won't tell you that. They don't want you to know that. They just want you to know that this [bleep] befriended this other [bleep] who be (sic) threatening your values.

"But we all know all presidents lie to get into [bleep] office. That's they (sic) job."

But Snoop insists Obama will still emerge victorious in the upcoming presidential elections. He adds, "In America's eyes, that mutha[bleep]'s gonna be president 'cos (John) McCain can't [bleep] with him. Hillary (Clinton) can't [bleep] with him. He's winning over white people, white ladies."
I take it Calvin doesn't endorse Obama? Or does he?

His point about McCain and Clinton not being able to [bleep] with Obama is pretty spot on though. Heck if Clinton is called a racist every time she turns around, then McCain hasn't a chance. And then there are the 'white ladies'.

Ok then.

Hey, in this country, everyone has a voice.

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In an "Absolut World" (update)
Posted by: McQ
P.H. Potfry takes the Absolut ad campaign to its "oh, so fun" logical conclusion.

I'm sure the Swedes have no problem with either.

UPDATE: A Second Hand Conjecture joins the fun. Ace has a couple more. The News Buckit "disappears" Sweden for a "Greater Finland" in their "Absolut world".

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This Randi Rhodes thing ...
Posted by: McQ
Have you been following this little kerfuffle that has the leftosphere in such an uproar while most of the rightosphere laughs?

Seems Air America talk host Randi Rhodes was doing a stand-up gig in San Francisco and called Ms. Clinton everything but a child of God. In a profanity laced rant, she went after both Clinton and Geraldine Ferraro, dropping the "F" bomb and calling them both whores.

Clinton supporters were simply aghast. And as a consequence, Air America has suspended Rhodes indefinitely.

First note that this wasn't done on the air, as was the Imus thing. Now, I'm not sure if it was an Air America sponsored event [commenter Horatio says it was an AA event -ed.], but I don't believe it was. However, since Rhodes went after an icon of the left in such a vicious manner, even though it wasn't on the air, AA felt it was incumbent upon them to act.

But as James Joyner notes, "[s]he also called Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and Dick Cheney racists and anti-Semites but Air America seems not to be upset by that". He also cites someone who claims Rhodes has made even more outrageous statements about the likes of Mitt Romney without repercussions.

So one has to believe it's not what she said, but about who she said it. That, for most reasonable people, smacks of hypocrisy and underlines again the divisiveness this primary campaign is having among Democrats (if you don't believe that read the comments at the AA link).

In fact, my guess is had she limited herself to those baseless insults against Nixon, Reagan and Cheney, her performance would have never made a ripple and the smug left would have continued to believe that all hate is spewed on the right. (You can see the video of her "performance" at OTB.)

Don Surber, sarcastically calling them "Taliban lefties", lists the reaction of some:
So, how are the free speech lefties handling it?

The Democratic Daily: "The misogynistic screed in the video above is astounding, simply astounding. Quite frankly I think Rhodes should be fired, not suspended."

F-bombs are a regular feature of the Democratic Daily.

Shakesville: "My only question is why she was only suspended and not [expletive]-canned, like she should have been long ago."

Liberal Values called it an F-bomb even though it is used several times on that site. But LV didn't not ask for her head on a platter.

No Quarter took credit for the suspension. Nice brown shirts.
One of the values of this primary, as far as I'm concerned, is to finally see the veneer the left has tried to hide itself behind ripped away. As is obvious, "smear" and "hate" aren't the exclusive property of the right nor is "hypocrisy". And free speech? Well, that's exclusively reserved for those on the left with whom they agree. Calling Reagan an anti-semite and racist? OK. Calling Hillary Clinton a whore? Off with Rhodes' head.

Permalink | Comments ( 16 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: The Left

Do we need to rethink the rush to biofuels?
Posted by: McQ
We've seen net cooling for the last 10 years, there are serious questions about both the models and the equations from which global warming has been predicted and still the rush to convert to biofuels continues with very grave possible consequences:
World Bank President Robert Zoellick says a global food crisis demands the immediate attention of world leaders.

"As financial markets have tumbled, food prices have soared," Zoellick said in a speech on Wednesday. He said the situation is not expected to get better any time soon — and he is pushing what he calls a "new deal for global food policy."

"Since 2005, the prices of staples have jumped 80 percent," Zoellick said on Wednesday. "Last month, the real price of rice hit a 19-year high; the real price of wheat rose to a 28-year high and almost twice the average price of the last 25 years."

While that is good news for farmers, it is blow to vulnerable groups, including children, he said.

"The World Bank Group estimates that 33 countries around the world face potential social unrest because of the acute hike in food and energy prices. For these countries, where food comprises from half to three quarters of consumption, there is no margin for survival."
Zoellick properly identifies one of the prime reasons for these huge increases in the price of staples:
In his speech on Wednesday, Zoellick mentioned biofuels as one the "realities" that will keep food prices high for years to come.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 passed by Congress and signed by President Bush increases the amount of biofuels (usually corn-based ethanol) that must be added to gasoline sold in the United States.

But diverting corn from food to fuel use has raised food prices, the Heritage Foundation noted.

Corn cost about $2.00 a bushel when the 2005 law was signed, but it's now selling for more than $5.00 — "primarily because a quarter of the crop is now used to produce energy," wrote Ben Lieberman, a senior policy analyst at Heritage.

Moreover, the price of corn-fed meat and dairy products has jumped as well; and wheat and soybean prices are also rising, because acreage once devoted to those crops is now going to corn.
Everywhere you look, there are warnings that diverting food stock to make fuel is driving prices up and creating more scarcity:
Corn prices jumped to a record $6 a bushel Thursday, driven up by an expected supply shortfall that will only add to Americans' growing grocery bill and further squeeze struggling ethanol producers.

Corn prices have shot up nearly 30 percent this year amid dwindling stockpiles and surging demand for the grain used to feed livestock and make alternative fuels including ethanol. Prices are poised to go even higher after the U.S. government this week predicted that American farmers — the world's biggest corn producers — will plant sharply less of the crop in 2008 compared to last year.


Worldwide demand for corn to feed livestock and to make biofuel is putting enormous pressure on global supply. And with the U.S. expected to plant less corn, the supply shortage will only worsen. The U.S. Department of Agriculture projected that farmers will plant 86 million acres of corn in 2008, an 8 percent drop from last year.
The World Food Programme issued its own warnings:
The WFP boss said the prices of staple foods had risen by up to 40 per cent in the last six months and was impacting negatively on poor families.

Several cases of unrest have been reported across the globe especially in third world countries over high food and fuel costs in recent months.


According to WFP, the rising food prices are rooted in increased oil prices, competition between bio-fuels and food, rising food demand from emerging economies and climatic changes such as droughts and floods.

Of course you'd like to believe that the market would adjust and compensate for the increased demand. However, it has to be left alone to do that, and that certainly isn't the case, especially here:
The market should adjust, spurring more planting and more production in response to higher prices. Last week's annual outlook conference of the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that U.S. farmers were cutting their plantings of cotton and sugar in order to take advantage of the higher prices for wheat, corn and soy. Wheat production is projected to soar 13 percent to 2.33 billion bushels as farmers expand planting for the grain by 6 percent.

But markets worldwide face severe constraints from government manipulation of prices. Sometimes, like the U.S. subsidies for biofuels, this is done with the best of intentions, to cut U.S. dependency on imported fossil fuels. But government action can have severe effects.
We're beginning to see some of those severe effects of government manipulation manifested in higher prices and scarcity and impacting, as they always do, the poorest among us.
For corn farmers, the mandate has exceeded their wildest dreams, but for consumers, it has been an expensive double-whammy-higher costs to drive to the supermarket and higher prices once you're there. A recent study from Purdue University puts the added food cost from the renewable mandate at $15 billion in 2007-about $130 per household.[2] And that was from ethanol usage at a fraction of what will be required in the years ahead.

Globally, with nearly a billion people at risk for hunger and malnutrition, the costs are far higher. Several anti-hunger organizations have weighed in heavily against current policies. An August 2007 United Nations report warns of "serious risks of creating a battle between food and fuel that will leave the poor and hungry in developing countries at the mercy of rapidly rising prices for food, land, and water."[3] There is evidence that this may already be happening, including food-related rioting in Mexico, Indonesia, Egypt, and the Philippines.
Somewhere along the line, someone will claim all of this to be a "market failure". Just watch.

And, of course, then there's the environmental impact that biofuels supposedly help alleviate:
Not only is ethanol less productive than gasoline as a fuel source, its production is hurting the environment it was intended to preserve, particularly in the Third World. The amount of land needed to grow corn and other biofuel sources means that their production is leading to deforestation, the destruction of wetlands and grasslands, species extinction, displacement of indigenous peoples and small farmers, and loss of habitats that store carbon.

Scientists predict that the Gulf of Mexico, already polluted by agricultural runoff from the United States, will only get worse as demand for ethanol, and therefore corn, increases. Meanwhile, rain forests throughout Central and South America are being razed to make way for land to grow biofuel components. Tortilla shortages in Mexico, rising flour prices in Pakistan, Indonesian and Malaysian forests being cut down and burned to make palm oil, and encroachments upon the Amazon rainforest due to Brazilian sugar cane production - all these developments indicate that biofuels are turning out to be more destructive than helpful.

The latest issue of Time magazine addresses the subject in frightening detail. Michael Grunwald, author of the cover story, "The Clean Energy Scam," posits a worldwide epidemic that could end up being a greater disaster than all the alleged evils of fossil fuels combined. As he puts it:

"Deforestation accounts for 20 percent of all current carbon emissions. So unless the world can eliminate emissions from all other sources - cars, power plants, factories, even flatulent cows - it needs to reduce deforestation or risk an environmental catastrophe. That means limiting the expansion of agriculture, a daunting task as the world's population keeps expanding. And saving forests is probably an impossibility so long as vast expanses of cropland are used to grow modest amounts of fuel. The biofuels boom, in short, is one that could haunt the planet for generations - and it's only getting started."
Corn-based ethanol is inefficient as a fuel for automobiles, reducing vehicle gas mileage by 20-30 percent in vehicles using E85, the highest ethanol content fuel. Fewer miles-per-gallon of gas essentially eliminates any savings achieved, even by mixing ethanol with gasoline in the lower 9 percent ethanol blends required in all U.S. gasoline today. And of course, it also takes energy to produce ethanol - for farming and distilling the corn and transporting the final product to the pump - and much of that energy will come from carbon-based fuels.
Accordingly, the United Nations has expressed skepticism about ethanol and other biofuels.

One of the few things on which the UN and I are in sync.
The biofuel madness is gathering steam, and it's not good news for the world's poor and hungry. Putting one man's dinner into another man's car hardly seems like a sensible or ethical way of solving any of the world's problems. —Graham Young, 2 August 2006
Agreed. Ben Lieberman of Heritage is hopeful that this will all be short lived:
It is only a matter of time before the public realizes that the mandate is contributing to their pain at the pump. The media are belatedly picking up on this point. Eventually, Members of Congress-at least those outside of the 10 or so Midwestern states where much of the corn and ethanol production is concentrated-will realize that the mandate is a lousy deal for their constituents, and they may want to do something about it.
If only I could buy into that optimism. We've known any number of government programs which were lousy deals, have had endless politicians promise to fix them or even do away with them and yet still exist today. What you see, as with the global warming hype, is a rush to judgment which has spawned the usual less than optimal government solutions. And unfortunately, when the government gets involved and gets a full head of steam, it is virtually impossible to stop and it's programs, no matter how awful, seem to somehow always survive.

You see, to actually admit a mistake and power down a program like the ethanol subsidy program and mandates would mean having to admit to a mistake. And doing so is not advantageous to a politician's political health. So instead, as food prices continue to grow, my prediction is that we'll hear about the greed of the food purveyors, just as the oil companies have been made the villains of high oil prices, and instead of backing off and letting the free market work, the solution, backed by the economically ignorant public, will be to see even more government regulation and intervention.

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Obama advisor recommends leaving large number of troops in Iraq
Posted by: McQ
First Samantha Power, now Colin Kahl:
A key adviser to Senator Obama's campaign is recommending in a confidential paper that America keep between 60,000 and 80,000 troops in Iraq as of late 2010, a plan at odds with the public pledge of the Illinois senator to withdraw combat forces from Iraq within 16 months of taking office.

The paper, obtained by The New York Sun, was written by Colin Kahl for the center-left Center for a New American Security. In "Stay on Success: A Policy of Conditional Engagement," Mr. Kahl writes that through negotiations with the Iraqi government "the U.S. should aim to transition to a sustainable over-watch posture (of perhaps 60,000-80,000 forces) by the end of 2010 (although the specific timelines should be the byproduct of negotiations and conditions on the ground)."

Mr. Kahl is the day-to-day coordinator of the Obama campaign's working group on Iraq. A shorter and less detailed version of this paper appeared on the center's Web site as a policy brief.
Kahl and the Obama campaign both deny this represents the campaign's Iraq position. However, it certainly represents a studied and reasonable approach to Iraq that even his senior advisors can't seem to deny.
Mr. Kahl's paper laid out what he called a "middle way" between unlimited engagement in Iraq and complete and rapid disengagement. The approach is contingent, he said, on the progress and willingness of Iraq's major confessional parties in reaching political accommodation.
Of course "rapid disengagement" is the Obama policy at the moment.

So is Obama A) spreading a populist message he knows is wrong and dangerous to the national interest but also knows will help get him elected or B) planning to do something completely different when in office than what he's claiming on the campaign trail, or C) all of the above?

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Not this canard again ...
Posted by: McQ
The great global warming "malaria will spread" myth is on the march once again after being refuted in 2000. Apparently such nonsense is recyclable:
Climate change could bring malaria and other diseases to Britain and trigger more frequent heatwaves that will have huge health impacts, doctors said on Thursday.

With the exception of Lyme disease, insect-borne diseases are largely unknown in Britain. But global warming could change that in a few decades, according to a report from the British Medical Association (BMA).

"Higher temperatures and heavier rainfall may increase the spread of infections like malaria that have previously been virtually non-existent in the UK," the organisation's Head of Science and Ethics, Dr Vivienne Nathanson, said.
But Paul Reiter, chief entomologist at the US Government's dengue research laboratory in Puerto Rico, says climate change is not to blame.

He pointed out, in an interview with New Scientist magazine, that virtually all of the US was plagued by malaria in the 1880s, and that the disease had been endemic as far north as Finland.
Finland? Hardly a tropical paradise, is it? As the latter article points out, there's a fairly simple explanation as to why we don't have malaria in either Philadelphia or Finland today:
Improvements in public health monitoring as well as increases in population density helped largely eliminate the threat of the disease toward the last decade of the 19th century.
Oh ... that and something called DDT.

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Making a wish come true
Posted by: McQ
At 5, he could have gone anywhere in the world and pretty much done anything he wanted to do. Gavin Cox has leukemia and the Make-a-Wish Foundation had told him he pretty much had carte blanc in that regard.

What Gavin wanted to do was become a soldier. On March 18th the US Army made his wish come true.

During a solemn ceremony in the Army Medical Department Center and School command conference room, the little boy stood proudly on the conference room table surrounded by soldiers of all ranks. Dressed in an Army combat uniform, Gavin was promoted to the honorary rank of sergeant in the Army Medical Department by the installation commander, Army Maj. Gen. Russell Czerw.


After reciting the Army's enlistment oath with him, Czerw pinned the rank of sergeant on his uniform and emphasized to the young man standing at attention, "This is a great day. Thank you for making this day special for us." He then inducted Gavin as an honorary member of the AMEDD Regiment.


The training day for Sergeant Cox began with a trip in a tactical vehicle to the ES 2000 weapons training facility, where he earned his marksmanship badge. He then took a break from training to join soldiers at the Rocco Dining Facility.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Joey Wrinkle stood outside with a platoon of soldiers assigned to 187th Medical Battalion representing all the medical specialties trained by the battalion. Assigned to the platoon for lunch, Sergeant Cox led the guidon bearer and the formation into the dining facility.

"I presented him with my airborne wings. He is strong and brave like an airborne soldier, and he deserves to be recognized. This is about what we do as soldiers," Wrinkle said.

During lunch, soldiers stopped by to wish Gavin well and present their own badges to him. He left the dining facility with air assault and expert medic badges added to his uniform.

At his next stop on the training schedule, he visited the Department of Combat Medic Training and watched soldier-medics training with a human patient simulator. He completed the day learning how patients are loaded on a Stryker ambulance and transferred to hospital units.

During the day, Gavin's parents watched their son talking to soldiers and enjoying his day with them. Troy Heminger served on active duty for nine years with 1110th Support Battalion and 58th Signal Battalion as a microwave systems operations and maintenance specialist. "He is having fun," he said, watching the boy interact with soldiers. "He is forgetting about his illness for a while."

After spending the day with Army medics, Gavin and his family left San Antonio the next day for Fort Hood, Texas, where honorary Sergeant Cox would spend another day in the Army as a soldier with the Army's combat units.

You tell me, doesn't that smile say it all?

Gavin is now undergoing intensified chemotherapy at Dallas Children's Hospital. My prayers are with him and his family.


[If you have a couple of extra bucks, hit the Make A Wish foundation's tip jar if you're so inclined. Gavin's smile is priceless, but making the wishes come true requires some monetary help.]

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Why PO your largest customer?
Posted by: McQ
Frankly, you don't have to be a Vanderbilt to figure out that's probably not a good idea.

Banging around the blogosphere today is this ad from Absolut vodka which is running in Mexico:

Absolut is wholly owned by the Swedish government. But it is and has been up for sale and it appears the deal is close to consumation. As this article in USA Today points out the liquor industry is a "a complicated industry in which the brand owner often is different from the marketer and distributor." That said, does it make sense for anyone, especially a marketer who one would think is focused on increasing positive brand awareness and more sales to graphically depict something absolutely (no pun intended) political which is controversial at best?

If your world-wide volume is 11 million cases and 5 million go to the US, does it makes sense to thumb your nose at the place in hopes of picking up some sales in Mexico? And is it smart, in terms of marketing, to go political with a consumer product?

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Berkeley’s City Council - is this what you’d accept from yours?
Posted by: McQ
I don't know about you, but if my city council was doing this, I'd be more than a little irritated that my taxes were being used by local government to pursue an agenda over which it has no authority and no impact:
Berkeley is finding that having its own foreign policy isn't cheap. The city's recent dustup with the U.S. Marine Corps has so far cost the city more than $200,000, while businesses say they've been slammed by related protests.

And that's on top of the $1 million the city spends annually on domestic and foreign policy matters hatched by its 45 citizen commissions, which outnumber those in virtually every other city in America and debate everything from regime change in Iran to the plight of nonneutered dogs.

"We in Berkeley have one of the top universities in the world, which brings in people from more than 100 countries. Delving into foreign policy is unavoidable," said Mike Sherman, a longtime member of the Peace and Justice Commission, which sparked an uproar two months ago with its resolution telling the Marine Corps that its recruiting center was not welcome in the city.
Why is a city sponsoring these committees at taxpayer expense? There's nothing else for which that money is more badly needed? The roads are perfect, the police are properly staffed, trained and equipped? The fire department has all it needs in terms of assets and firefighters? The city's administration is perfect and has no needs?
"I think it's out of hand," Wozniak said of Berkeley's commissions, most of which meet monthly and have two or three subcommittees that also meet regularly. "When we spend a lot of time debating things like the Marines issue, we're not spending time on the serious problems in this city, like fire station closures. It's easier to tackle international issues than deal with messy local problems."
Ya think? And as a result of these sorts of frivolous expenditures can you guess what else is happening?
Additional costs include city staff time to handle permits, the media, security and the thousands of e-mails that have intermittently crashed the city's computer server. In addition, businesses around the recruiting station have been hurt by the protests, and at least four hotels and a handful of restaurants have reported cancellations as a result of the boycott.

"The city is raising business fees and parking meter rates at the same time they're spending all this money on international issues and handling protests. It doesn't make sense, in these difficult economic times," said Ted Garrett, director of the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce. "We're very concerned about the effect this is having on business."
I have to tell you, given the above, if I lived there, I'd most likely be heavily involved in a recall petition drive. It would be difficult to find a better example of wasteful government involved in activity inappropriate and unrelated to its primary job than Berkeley.

Unless, of course, you'd like to focus on the federal government instead.

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Reason 4,598 why the UN is laughable
Posted by: McQ
Eugene Volokh points us to a very recent resolution from the so-called "UN Human Rights Commission". They might as easily be called the "Human Rights Suppression Commission" if this resolution is any indication:
The Human Rights Council ...

8. Urges States to take actions to prohibit the dissemination, including through political institutions and organizations, of racist and xenophobic ideas and material aimed at any religion or its followers that constitute incitement to racial and religious hatred, hostility or violence;

9. Also urges States to provide, within their respective legal and constitutional systems, adequate protection against acts of hatred, discrimination, intimidation and coercion resulting from the defamation of any religion, to take all possible measures to promote tolerance and respect for all religions and their value systems and to complement legal systems with intellectual and moral strategies to combat religious hatred and intolerance;

10. Emphasizes that respect of religions and their protection from contempt is an essential element conducive for the exercise by all of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; ...

13. Reaffirms that general comment No. 15 of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, in which the Committee stipulates that the prohibition of the dissemination of all ideas based upon racial superiority or hatred is compatible with the freedom of opinion and expression, is equally applicable to the question of incitement to religious hatred; ...
Volokh points to the Orwellian contradictions in this absurd resolution:
So prohibiting dissemination of ideas based upon religious superiority "is compatible with the freedom of opinion and expression"; I suppose that would include claims that Islam, Christianity, or whatever else is the one true religion that is correct while others are false. And states are supposed to "prohibit the dissemination ... of ... xenophobic ideas and material aimed at any religion or its followers that constitute incitement to racial and religious ... hostility"; I suppose that would include, for instance, condemnation of Scientology as fraud, or of Catholicism as oppressive, or for that matter of all religion as folly. And here I thought that freedom of thought, conscience and religion included the freedom to think and comment about all ideologies, including religious ones.
The resolution passed. One of those countries voting for it was Saudi Arabia.

Anyone, do you expect them to actually abide by this?
Also urges States to provide, within their respective legal and constitutional systems, adequate protection against acts of hatred, discrimination, intimidation and coercion resulting from the defamation of any religion ...
They did vote for that language.

Or do you believe they will use such a resolution as a basis to become even more draconian in their suppression of other religions using "material aimed at any religion or its followers that constitute incitement to racial and religious hatred, hostility or violence" as an excuse for banning all other religion, their materials and their practice from the kingdom?

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Valuable endorsement or nail in the coffin?
Posted by: McQ
Frankly, if I were Obama, I'm not sure I'd be that thrilled with this endorsement:
Jane Fonda, the actress and ardent anti-Vietnam War advocate who visited North Vietnam during those hostilities, has endorsed Democrat Barack Obama for president.
I'm not one who throws this word around lightly but considering what she did at the time, giving aid (propaganda photo anyone?) and comfort (got on the radio in NV and condemned her own country) I've always considered her to be a traitor.

For many Vietnam and Vietnam era vets she symbolized those who crossed the line from responsible dissent to materially aiding the war effort of the enemy. Legally she got a pass. But in the minds of many veterans she is a despicable creature that few have forgiven. Most, like myself, don't use the "F" word, don't buy her products or anything associated with her name and take every opportunity presented to remind other of what she did - especially in this new era that finds the majority of our nation supporting our troops. This is one of them so bear with me.

For those who want to complain that Vietnam is old news, I'll agree. However, what happened to those who fought it at the hands of the people of their own nation isn't old news as far as I'm concerned, and that's the point here. For many of them it is as fresh as the day they walked through the SF airport. Whether you agree or not with the actions of your country, when you do things that materially benefit the war effort of your country's enemy, you've crossed that line from patriotism (it is patriotic to dissent) to traitorous conduct. She did that and I will forever revile her for doing so. Anytime she sticks her turkey-neck out into the public eye, I'm going to remind people of her past.

And yes, this is personal. [/rant]

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Guest blogging
Posted by: Jon Henke
I've been guest-blogging this week over at Megan McArdle's blog at The Atlantic. You can read my stuff over there until Megan returns from vacation, at which point I will be exiled from the kingdom.

I'm not sure which is cooler, though: being invited by Megan McArdle to guest blog for her, or having the opportunity to blog at The Atlantic. I hold both in very high esteem.

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McCain: The Faustian Choice
Posted by: Dale Franks
Steven Bainbridge comments on John McCain's Annapolis speech today.
The speech is also a salutary reminder that McCain is a national greatness conservative rather than either a social or limited government conservative. The trouble with national greatness conservatives is that they need a crusade. Indeed, McCain's speech admits it:
I discovered that nothing in life is more liberating than to fight for a cause that encompasses you but is not defined by your existence alone.

They need some calling that requires the American people to step up to the plate and hit a home run. In short, they need a war. Their paradigm is the so-called greatest generation and the crusade against fascism.

In the absence of war, they will settle for imperialism...

In this light, the claim advanced by some on the left that McCain would represent a third term for George Bush has a certain validity. Like Bush, although perhaps for different reasons, McCain is a big government conservative. If we learned anything from the Bush presidency, however, is that big government conservatism is an oxymoron. Bush has not advanced the conservative agenda. To the contrary, he has left the conservative agenda in shambles. Government is bigger but no more effective.
Read the whole thing. there's a lot there to chew on.

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What would we know without studies?
Posted by: McQ
In case this wasn't clear to you through personal observation, I suppose this makes it official:
Rap music has increasingly glamorized the use of illegal drugs, portraying marijuana, crack and cocaine as symbols of wealth and status, according to a new study by the journal Addiction Research & Theory.
More importantly:
"This is an alarming trend, as rap artists are role models for the nation's youth, especially in urban areas," Herd said.
How screwed up is this world when rap stars are "role models for the nation's youth"?

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Just because you can make a pot of money doesn’t mean you’re particularly bright (update)
Posted by: McQ
And Ted Turner takes every opportunity presented to prove that point. Ted pontificates on global warming and not acting to stop it:
Not doing it will be catastrophic. We'll be eight degrees hottest in ten, not ten but 30 or 40 years and basically none of the crops will grow. Most of the people will have died and the rest of us will be cannibals.
My guess he either pulled that out of his rear end or he's been listening to Al Gore again (and Al pulled it out of his).

So we have Gore, Turner, Sharpton and Roberson pushing this meme now, do we? Beside the dubious science which now seems to be coming apart at the seams, if you didn't have any other reasons to blow this nonsense off, there are four great reasons to do so.

UPDATE: If those four reasons aren't enough, this should make you very afraid. Obama answering a question from a woman at a rally:
A woman at a town hall asked the Illinois senator if elected president would he consider tapping the former vice president for his Cabinet, or an even higher level office, to address global warming.

"I would," Obama said. "Not only will I, but I will make a commitment that Al Gore will be at the table and play a central part in us figuring out how we solve this problem. He's somebody I talk to on a regular basis. I'm already consulting with him in terms of these issues, but climate change is real. It is something we have to deal with now, not 10 years from now, not 20 years from now."
Al Gore - Climate Czar.

Whoa - a chill just ran up my spine (that shouldn't happen with global warming should it?).

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Continued troop levels in Iraq "major risk"
Posted by: McQ
I've covered this before. The troop levels we have in Iraq is unsustainable and it has degrade our ability to answer a call elsewhere in world. That's both recognized and a given. Again, as I've stated, that's dangerous and something we have to "fix" as soon as possible.
Senior Army and Marine Corps leaders said yesterday that the increase of more than 30,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan has put unsustainable levels of stress on U.S. ground forces and has put their readiness to fight other conflicts at the lowest level in years.

In a stark assessment a week before Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, is to testify on the war's progress, Gen. Richard A. Cody, the Army's vice chief of staff, said that the heavy deployments are inflicting "incredible stress" on soldiers and families and that they pose "a significant risk" to the nation's all-volunteer military.

"When the five-brigade surge went in . . . that took all the stroke out of the shock absorbers for the United States Army," Cody testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee's readiness panel.

He said that even if five brigades are pulled out of Iraq by July, as planned, it would take some time before the Army could return to 12-month tours for soldiers. Petraeus is expected to call for a pause in further troop reductions to assess their impact on security in Iraq.

"I've never seen our lack of strategic depth be where it is today," said Cody, who has been the senior Army official in charge of operations and readiness for the past six years and plans to retire this summer.
I agree with Gen. Cody. In any operation, such as Iraq, there are risks, and your job as a planner and a commander is to determine the acceptable risks. Some of the reasons I was initially against the surge are precisely those which Gen. Cody lays out here. And the effect will be long-term, i.e. it will take us a while, even if we get back to 12 month rotations and the desired down time between rotations to again get both the Army and Marines back to the level of combat fitness we need for any future conventional deployment.

So while the surge's success made the risk that Cody outlines here acceptable at the time, it is getting to the point were that risk acceptability is less and less acceptable.

Immediately, we do indeed need to take our combat troops down to at least pre-surge levels as planned.

The number I've heard batted around as "indefinitely sustainable" is 10 Brigade Combat Teams (BCT). That number, apparently, allows us to do what Cody wants to do in terms of rotation lengths and downtime between them while allowing the military to have the units necessary (and available) to form that "strategic depth" he talks about (he wants "an airborne brigade, a heavy brigade and a Stryker brigade ready for "full-spectrum operations").

There's another part of this which is less apparent and again, something I've talked about in the past. The degradation of basic skills. For instance, in Iraq, very few, if any artillerymen are firing artillery. They're acting as infantry. Same for armor forces. Consequently their basic skills are degrading for lack of training. But what happens is the soldiers who stay in and advance in their MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) advance without having the experience in those basic skills of actually doing their jobs in that capacity. You end up with mid-level NCOs and junior officers who've really never acted for any length in the capacity that their MOS assigns them. That hurts combat proficiency should we be faced with a conventional war somewhere and they're deployed in their conventional roles.

These, of course, are problems that must be solved. Yes, I believe the effort in Iraq is critical and I've stated the reasons many times. But, while I understand the concept of acceptable risk, I also understand that the possible long term effects of the troop levels we now have in Iraq, unless changed soon, are moving, strategically, beyond an acceptable risk. And while I understand that the expansion of the Army and Marines will help alleviate the problem, to paraphrase Rumsfeld, that's not the Army we have now. It's time to 'fix' this problem and begin to move us toward that 10 BCT maximum as soon as the situation will allow it. As the Army expands, it may give planners some further flexibility with the 10 BCT max. But until then, we need to get there as soon as we safely can as the risk of not doing so is no longer acceptable.

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You want "red and blue"?
Posted by: McQ
Well here it is with a twist:

Talk about an east/west difference. Let the migration begin.

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Some thoughts on Natan Sharansky’s interview
Posted by: McQ
If you're not familiar with Natan Sharansky, read the short bio at Middle East Quarterly. Sharansky talks about what is going on in the ME as it relates to freedom and democracy there. Sharansky immigrated from the USSR to Israel:
Middle East Quarterly: At the Republican National Convention, on September 2, 2004, President Bush said "freedom is on the march" in the Middle East. Do you agree?

Natan Sharansky: Freedom definitely has a much better chance to succeed today than some years or even some months ago. For freedom to succeed, not only must people throughout the Middle East desire freedom, but there needs to be solidarity from the outer world and, also, a readiness to link foreign policy to human rights and support for dissent.
An obvious missing key ingredient is that solidarity. Certainly you can argue the major cause for its absence right now is the resistance to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. And that's a fair argument. But the history of the region didn't begin in 2003 and there certainly hasn't been a record of solidarity among Western powers as concerns the ME that I can remember, ever. While war should be the last resort, solidarity on the wielding of soft power and diplomacy should be something we could and should achieve.

What's going on right now, and I think what Sharansky sees is, for the lack of a better phrase, a shaping of the battlefield, where we, meaning the West, will have opportunities to do what Sharansky suggests - in solidarity, if we can manage it.
MEQ: What can the United States do to support dissidents in the Middle East and elsewhere?

Sharansky: Washington should replicate the success of its policy toward the Soviet Union. The first nail in the coffin of the Soviet dictatorship was the Jackson-Vanek amendment [of 1973], which linked trade to emigration rights. The Helsinki agreement [of 1975] further enshrined human rights in international relations. In the 1980s, President Reagan stood firm on human rights, emboldening myself and other dissidents in our fight against dictatorship. Washington should adopt similar policies to aid dissidents in Arab countries.
Of course we've always talked the talk, but rarely walked the walk, with the USSR being the obvious exception. And the exception helped prove the strategy, even, as now, we again tend to ignore it. Pragmatism meets idealism, and most say we shouldn't jeopardize our access to oil by trying to push a human rights agenda. Sharansky's point about solidarity is the key. If Western nations are committed to human rights and hold them as an important criteria upon which to base relations, then their commitment as a whole to such requirements should be enough to begin to force change.

Unfortunately, being the realist I am (or perhaps cynic), I find very little evidence that such a solid front could ever be realized among Western nations. And, especially in the case of oil, finding buyers isn't something which ME sellers are particularly concerned with.

On the other hand, if Iraq becomes a democratic success and if the cultural bounds its democracy sets are acceptable to most of the rest of the ME's population, it could be the single most important means of seeing freedom continue to advance in the region.
MEQ: Pundits and European governments criticized President Bush for the crudeness of his "Axis of Evil" reference.[5] How important is rhetoric?

Sharansky: The world is full of doublethink. What it most lacks is moral clarity. It is extremely important to call a spade a spade. It is necessary to understand the nature of the war that we are in the midst of. The battle is not between Israel and the Palestinians or between the United States and Iraq. Rather, the current fight pits the world of freedom against the world of terror. I have told President Bush that the two greatest speeches of my lifetime were Ronald Reagan's speech casting the Soviet Union as an evil empire and the president's own speech on June 24, 2002, when he said that Palestinians deserve to live in freedom and that only with freedom would the Middle East enjoy security.[6]
I've often wondered why the shrinking violets of this world were so aghast at the "axis of evil" remark. Those Bush named certainly have lived up to their billing in my opinion.

And Sharnsky is right - the world is full of doublethink and few have the courage or foresight to lay it all out in the stark terms of language which it all requires. There are and always have been "evil regimes" in this world and that's inarguable. There is, at this time, indeed a lack of moral clarity and it is effecting us all. Right and wrong have become malleable concepts and all but meaningless as applied by some. Tolerance has somehow become more important than morality (right and wrong), to the point that dictators are left to not only survive, but flourish.

I'm not suggesting we should confront every dictator militarily. The US can't be the world's policeman and the EU seems to have decided it will not carry the financial burden of a viable military. But we, meaning the West, have so many levers other than military pressure that we can pull and for whatever reason, simply can't find it in ourselves to use them. It makes little sense to me. While we seem to be able to clearly recognize wrong or evil, we seem unable to then figure out a practical way to confront it in solidarity. In fact, in most cases, we find ways of rationalizing reasons not to do so. That's moral cowardice.

Sharansky survived a brutal regime with the help and intervention of the US. None of today's existing authoritarian regimes is going to willingly change. It's the nature of the beast. But solidarity which brings consistent and concerted pressure on such regimes, other than military, has a very real effect. We've seen it. We've watched it work. It seems high time we put those lessons back to work - in the ME and the rest of the world.

I'm not offering the "how" of that particular strategy since each authoritarian regime will require its own unique plan. But I am offering a "why" ... because as freedom and democracy do expand, and do take hold, countries become peaceful and human rights take center stage. And that is and always has been in ours and any other democratic country's national interest.

(HT: Villainous Company)

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

What’s Persian for "schadenfreude"
Posted by: McQ
Who's out-Spitzering Eliot Spitzer?

Why the police chief of Tehran, that's who:
Tehran's police chief, Reza Zarei, has been arrested after he was found nude in a local brothel with six naked prostitutes, according to report on the Iranian Farda News.

Farda News is a website said to be close to the mayor of Tehran and former chief of the police forces, Mohammed Bagher Qalibaf.

Following the raid, Zarei stepped down from his post as police chief. The news of his arrest however was not reported by any official Iranian news agency.
How Spitzer-like is this bust?
Before he was arrested, Zarei was in charge of the programme for the 'moralisation of the city'.

It is alleged that in the past six months, hundreds of young people have been arrested in Iran for not respecting the Islamic code of behaviour.
Maybe if he survives, he could immigrate and run for Governor of NY.

What a wonderful world we live in.

(HT: Gateway Pundit)

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And another story of Hillary’s past emerges
Posted by: McQ
If you thought sniper-gate was bad, check this out.

Ed Morrissey has taken a look at a Dan Calabrese column and finds what he reads to be rather damning:
Dan Calabrese's new column on Hillary Clinton's past may bring the curtain down on her political future. Calabrese interviewed Jerry Zeifman, the man who served as chief counsel to the House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate hearings, has tried to tell the story of his former staffer's behavior during those proceedings for years. Zeifman claims he fired Hillary for unethical behavior and that she conspired to deny Richard Nixon counsel during the hearings.
As Ed points out, the right to counsel is a pretty basic right of any defendant in any sort of legal procedure. And, as you'll see, Zeifman clearly feels Clinton was both unethical and and a liar.

Ziefman, according to the Calabrese article, was her immediate supervisor.
When the investigation was over, Zeifman fired Hillary from the committee staff and refused to give her a letter of recommendation - one of only three people who earned that dubious distinction in Zeifman's 17-year career.


"Because she was a liar," Zeifman said in an interview last week. "She was an unethical, dishonest lawyer. She conspired to violate the Constitution, the rules of the House, the rules of the committee and the rules of confidentiality."
Ziefman's laid it all out here (see "Hillary's Crocodile Tears in Connecticut).

Ed's right - pretty damning stuff. It ought to be fun watching the HRC campaign spin this one.

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Iraq, Obama and McCain: Who doesn’t understand what?
Posted by: McQ
Oh, man ... this is poor, but from Joe Klein, hardly unexpected.
The problem with John McCain's 100 years in Iraq formulation isn't that he's calling for 95 more years of combat—he isn't—but that he thinks you can have a long-term basing arrangement in Iraq similar to those we have in Germany or Korea. That betrays a fairly acute lack of knowledge about both Iraq and Islam. It may well be possible to station U.S. troops in small, peripheral kingdoms like Dubai or Kuwait, but Iraq is—and has always been—volatile, tenuous, centrally-located and nearly as sensitive to the presence of infidels as Saudi Arabia. It is a terrible candidate for a long-term basing agreement.
Is it? What's interesting here is Klein formulates a "solution" in peripheral kingdoms which are also Islamic (and assumes they wouldn't have a problem with basing US troops for the very same reason he feels Iraq would) and invents a past for Iraq which is just not true.

In fact, up until Saddam invaded Kuwait, there were 5,150 military and non-military specialists based in Iraq from the Soviet Union - you remember them don't you? In fact, Iraq had been a client of the USSR for decades. That relationship didn't begin to go bad until 1985 when Mikhail Gorbachev and Perestroika arrived on the scene. When Iraq invaded Kuwait, the USSR threw them under the bus instead of supporting them (another in a long line of miscalculations Saddam made).

So obviously, to that point, there was little if any concern with "infidels" being on Iraqi soil until Saddam's fall, if then.

While the newfound religious freedom now evident in Iraq may find a portion of the population which considers "infidels" problematic, that doesn't include their leadership which has made it clear that they do not want an early exit by US forces but prefer they remain until they Iraqi government is well prepared to take charge of its own security. Given the operation in Basra, that may not be too far off.
Furthermore, McCain's frequent "You don't know anything" tirades about national security might be more effective if he had a better sense of the war in question. When I asked him about Basra in January, he assured me that it was "not a problem." Last week, he seemed to think it was a good idea for the militia that calls itself the Iraqi Army to attack the militia that calls itself the Mahdi Army. So did George W. Bush, who posited it as the good guys fighting the "terrorists." This betrayed a fundamental lack of knowledge about Shi'ite politics, something any good President or presidential contender—especially one who styles himself a "national security" expert—needs to study. McCain surely knows more about the military than Barack Obama does—and Obama certainly needs to learn more—but McCain's carelessness and oversimplification, and wrong analysis, when it comes to the situation in Iraq puts him in a surprisingly vulnerable position.
Of course, it's alway nice to see an "objective reporter" and apparent expert in Shiite politics, like Joe Klein, point to the flaws he perceives in one argument while ignoring the giant holes in the other.

Obama is talking about a precipitous withdrawal of US troops which would put in jeopardy everything that has transpired in the last 5 years. And Klein is trying to rationalize it for him.

Anyone who thinks that the region which provides us with the life blood of our economy and national security, and the country which is central to its stability, aren't places where we should have a presence is the one who is prone to carelessness and oversimplification. Any guess as to why the Soviet Union aggressively pursued a relationship with Iraq and based their people there?

There is no question that a reasonable accommodation could be found for basing US troops in Iraq without any real visibility or impact being seen on Iraqi society. But Klein seems to believe that one soldier anywhere in Iraq will spawn a collection of Osama clones who'll use that soldier's presence to bomb the US into the stone age.

Hey, Joe, they've been there for 5 years now in great numbers and that hasn't yet been a problem. And, by the way, why wouldn't their presence in Kuwait be just as problematic to a fanatic as a base in Iraq? To them the Caliphate is the Caliphate, isn't it?

Klein gives us a peek at the attempted "100 years war" strategy the left will most likely try to employ now after the Obama campaign has been repeatedly corrected about their out of context use of the quote.

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Hugo’s Congressional "testimony"
Posted by: McQ
As the annual "beat up on the oil company execs" circus tours Congress for the third straight year, House Republican Leader John Boehner gives us an April Fool's version of the "testimony" of Venezuelan "oil exec" Hugo Chavez. Sometimes humor is the best answer to foolishness:
Testimony of Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela
Select Committee for Energy Independence and Global Warming
Hearing on "Drilling for Answers: Oil Company Profits,
Runaway Prices and the Pursuit of Alternatives"

April 1, 2008

Chairman Markey, though I was unable to attend today's hearing in person, I hope you will accept this written testimony. More importantly, I hope you will accept my sincere 'thank you' for the tax breaks the new Democratic Majority provided to my state-owned oil giant, CITGO, in recent 'energy' legislation passed by the House of Representatives.

It is especially relieving to know that while CITGO receives these tax breaks, five other major oil companies - including American-owned companies employing thousands of working Americans - will be forced to pay higher taxes, raising energy costs on consumers in your country and endangering scores of jobs as well. Please extend my gratitude to Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Hoyer, Whip Clyburn, Chairman Emanuel, and everyone who played a role in scheduling this legislation for a vote in the House of Representatives.

Being a socialist dictator is a difficult - and often lonely - burden these days. As more nations move toward democracy, the number of socialist dictators in our world is declining, and we can use all the help we can get. As I seek to keep our socialist movement afloat in South America, it is comforting to know that I have such strong allies in the House Democratic Majority.

Though the American economy is struggling and families in your country are feeling the strain from rising costs for everything from food to fuel, I'm pleased the House Majority did not allow these realities to stand in the way of your admirable efforts to raise taxes on them in order to pay for more government spending and, more importantly, my own tax breaks.

Moreover, I am so grateful that you have overlooked my repeated threats to cut off Venezuelan energy supplies to your nation and my consistently cozy relationship with the Castro regime in Cuba - regardless of which Castro is in charge. To know that I will receive tax breaks not provided to my global competitors, even in spite of my radical Left-wing, authoritarian ideology, gives me great confidence in my future relationship with this Congress.

Before I conclude, I hope you will permit me to make two additional pitches for policy actions out of this Congress. First, Chairman Markey, I want to applaud the ongoing support that has reportedly been provided by at least one of your House Democratic colleagues for my Marxist brothers in the Colombian FARC - a terrorist organization I have been working closely with to expand my influence in that nation. News reports recently detailed a trip one senior House Democrat made to Colombia to force Colombian President Alvaro Uribe - an American ally - to position me as a mediator between Colombia and the FARC. As you might expect, I wholeheartedly supported that effort and strongly encourage similar meetings in the future as well.

Likewise, Mr. Chairman, I strongly encourage you to impress upon your Democratic colleagues how vital it is to my influence in South America that the Majority continues bottling up the so-called U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement. As you might expect, free trade between your nation and my neighbors in Colombia would be a sharp blow to my efforts to expand my reach throughout South America, and any assistance you can provide me in derailing the agreement would be most appreciated.

In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, though I understand not being invited to today's politically-motivated, made-for-TV hearing on the oil industry, please know that I am ready and willing to provide whatever assistance I can to advance the House Majority's policy goals, on energy and otherwise. I hope you will relay that message to your Democratic leadership team, and I appreciate the opportunity to thank you for your ongoing assistance to my socialist regime.

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Obama campaign funds: "Technically correct" but, a "distinction without a difference" (update)
Posted by: McQ
As with most bloggers it pleases me when I get ahead of the MSM on a story. Apparently the extended Democratic primary and the many 'gotchyas' it has produced has reporters pouring over political claims that the two Dem candidates have made over the years.

Today it is finally dealing with this quote:
"I am in this race to tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over. I have done more than any other candidate in this race to take on lobbyists - and won. They have not funded my campaign, they will not get a job in my White House, and they will not drown out the voices of the American people when I am president."
As you'll recall, QandO dealt with that question back in February.

But backpatting done, let's not get in the way of this most recent MSM "discovery" based on a new ad (which essentially repeats the quote above) running in PA. What spurred the look, I guess, was that it specifically targeted oil companies:
"Since the gas lines of the '70s, Democrats and Republicans have talked about energy independence, but nothing's changed - except now Exxon's making $40 billion a year, and we're paying $3.50 for gas.

I'm Barack Obama. I don't take money from oil companies or Washington lobbyists, and I won't let them block change anymore. They'll pay a penalty on windfall profits. We'll invest in alternative energy, create jobs and free ourselves from foreign oil. I approve this message because it's time that Washington worked for you. Not them."
But Jake Tapper points out that has a little different point of view on this:
In a new ad, Obama says, "I don't take money from oil companies."

Technically, that's true, since a law that has been on the books for more than a century prohibits corporations from giving money directly to any federal candidate. But that doesn't distinguish Obama from his rivals in the race.

We find the statement misleading:

* Obama has accepted more than $213,000 from individuals who work for companies in the oil and gas industry and their spouses.

* Two of Obama's bundlers are top executives at oil companies and are listed on his Web site as raising between $50,000 and $100,000 for the presidential hopeful.
Additionally what Obama never really points out about PAC contributions is, in the big scheme of things, they're fairly insignificant as a source of revenue:
The Obama campaign points out that the senator doesn't take money from PACs or from lobbyists. calls that a "distinction without very much of a practical difference. Political action committee funds are pooled contributions from a company's or an organization's individual employees or members; corporate lobbyists often have a big say as to where a PAC's donations go. But a PAC can give no more than $5,000 per candidate, per election. We're not sure how a $5,000 contribution from, say, Chevron's PAC would have more influence on a candidate than, for example, the $9,500 Obama has received from Chevron employees giving money individually."
And, as I pointed out in that February post, via, oil isn't the only sector which has contributed to the Obama campaign:
In the financial sector, one and a quarter million dollars have found their way into the Obama campaign. The largest donor was Goldman Sacs at $375,978. JP Morgan Chase was second with $216,459 while Citigroup coughed up $181,787 and Morgan Stanley only produced $109,025 to finance Obama's campaign.

Time Warner led the big business contributors to the Obama campaign with $131,485, followed by GE at $47,450 and Microsoft at $44,250. Last time I looked, each of those were 'corporations'.

AT&T, you know, the communications corporation, kicked in $43,483 and among insurance corporations, Blue Cross/Blue Shield managed to send along $40,150 to the Obama campaign.

Other corporate contributors include Boeing, Walt Disney, Vivendi, UPS, Lockheed Martin, General Motors and American Airlines.

I even managed to find contributions from Pfizer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly & Co. and GlaxoSmithKline to the tune of $23,350.
Concludes FactCheck:
We've noted before that Obama's policy of not taking money from lobbyists is a bit of hair-splitting. It's true that he doesn't accept contributions from individuals who are registered to lobby the federal government. But he does take money from their spouses and from other individuals at firms where lobbyists work. And some of his bigger fundraisers were registered lobbyists until they signed on with the Obama campaign.

Even the campaign has acknowledged that this policy is flawed. "It isn't a perfect solution to the problem and it isn't even a perfect symbol," Obama spokesman Bill Burton has said.
But the acknowledged false message somehow continues getting recycled, doesn't it?

UPDATE: Obama's message is one which obviously implies contributions by lobbyists and PACs "drown out voices" through their contributions because they able to "block change", seemingly through the influence their contributions garner. Fair reading of Obama's assertions?

Then let's not forget something Marc Ambinder reminded us of in February as well:
According to independent expenditure notices filed with the Federal Election Commission, the Service Employees International Union plans to spend more than $700,000 over the next week to help Barack Obama in Texas and Ohio.

Additionally, the union's powerful local 1199, based in New York, will spend nearly $200,000 more to pay the salaries of SEIU members who will volunteer on Obama's behalf.

Local 1199's federal PAC is spending $75,000 to pay salaries and per diems of its members who're working for Obama in Texas. 1199 is sending $106,600 worth of employees to Ohio.

The SEIU's Committee on Political Education (COPE) filed notice yesterday that it would spent approximately $300,000 on door-to-door canvassing and $400,000 on direct mail in Ohio.
If his implication is that PACs and lobbyists expect to be rewarded for campaign contributions, what's the reward for this sort of non-contribution contribution? What voices will they attempt to drown out? What change will they want to block?

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You’d almost think this was an April Fool’s joke
Posted by: McQ

Glenn Greenwald has published a new book entitled - wait for it - "Great American Hypocrites".

When you quit laughing, you'll realize it isn't an intentional joke. You'll also realize that Greenwald doesn't have an irony sensitive bone in his body. And what a perfect day to announce it, huh?

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Posted by: McQ
One of the stories I did for Pundit Review's "Someone You Should Know" series was about a young PFC named Channing Moss. And while the story is about him it is also about those who worked so hard and risked so much to save his life.

It is an incredible story. Listen to if first here. Then, watch this video about it all, to include the surgery I talk about. It is an amazing story. Hat tip to Kevin for the link to the video.

Linked by Soldier's Angels Germany - Thanks!

Permalink | Comments ( 3 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Military Affairs

Iraqi government says operations in Basra will continue
Posted by: McQ
Bill Roggio:
One day after Muqtada al Sadr, the leader of the Mahdi Army, called for his fighters to abandon combat, the fighting in Basrah has come to a near-halt, and the Iraqi security forces are patrolling the streets. While Sadr spokesman said the Iraqi government agreed to Sadr's terms for the cease-fire, Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki has said the security forces will continue operations in Basrah in the South. Meanwhile, the Mahdi Army took heavy casualties in Basrah, Nasiriyah, Babil, and Baghdad over the weekend, despite Sadr's call for the end of fighting.

Maliki was clear that operations would continue in the South. "The armed groups who refuse al Sadr's announcement and the pardon we offered will be targets, especially those in possession of heavy weapons," Maliki said, referring to the 10-day amnesty period for militias to turn in heavy and medium weapons. "Security operations in Basra will continue to stop all the terrorist and criminal activities along with the organized gangs targeting people."

The Iraqi military said it was moving in more forces into the South after admitting it was surprised by the level of resistance encountered in Basrah. "Fresh military reinforcements were sent to Basra to start clearing a number of Basra districts of wanted criminals and gunmen taking up arms," said Brigadier General Abdel Aziz al Ubaidi, the operations chief for the Ministry of Defense. "Preparations for fresh operations have been made to conduct raids and clearance operations in Basra ... [and] military operations would continue to restore security in Basra."
That supports the scenario I laid out below where the purpose of the operations is to clear Basra of criminal gangs, their influence and control.

Roggio continues, pointing out that in the clash between the Iraqi Army and the Mahdi army, it appears the Mahdi army came out on the worst end of it:
The reasons behind Sadr's call for a cessation in fighting remain unknown, but reports indicate the Mahdi Army was having a difficult time sustaining its operations and has taken heavy casualties. "Whatever gains [the Mahdi Army] has made in the field [in Basrah], they were running short of ammunition, food, and water," an anonymous US military officer serving in South told The Long War Journal. "In short [the Mahdi Army] had no ability to sustain the effort.

TIME's sources in Basrah paint a similar picture. "There has been a large-scale retreat of the Mahdi Army in the oil-rich Iraqi port city because of low morale and because ammunition is low due to the closure of the Iranian border," the magazine reported.
Those reports indicate a successful cordon was established isolating Mahdi troops and keeping them from being resupplied and reinforced. IOW, the handwriting was on the wall as to how this operation would end had the fighting continued.

The continuation of the security operation, talked about yesterday, seems to mean the IA has established control and is proceeding with its plans. Additionally, if the point needed to be made, IA reinforcements are arriving in the area. Most likely to tighten the cordon and be available should another round of fighting with the Mahdi army erupt. I would guess that will be most unlikely.

All the particulars of who did what to whom as far as brokering the cease fire will be sorted out I'm sure, but as far as I see it you have to work pretty hard to make this a victory for al Sadr and a defeat for Maliki. The side that is "continuing operations" is the side most reasonable people will consider to be the victor.

Fighting has also all but ceased in Baghdad's Sadr city and in Nasiriyah. An interesting nugget from Sadr city:
An unknown number of Mahdi Army fighters in the Iskan and Washash neighborhoods have gone against Sadr's demands to keep their weapons and have surrendered them to the military in accordance with the amnesty offer issued by Maliki.
And while the ISF is taking the lead in the Basra operation, it is also taking the lead in media operations as well.

From a second press conference held by Dr. Ali al-Dabbagh, spokesman for the Iraqi government and Major General Lua Aziz, spokesman for the ISF. MG Aziz sums up the operation [again the wording is awkward in some areas because it is translated from Arabic]:


The bold line again emphasizes that the operations continue in Basra.

Another interesting quote from Dr. Ali:
The guarantees for the Sadr Trend and for all Iraqis say that the Iraqi government has law and everyone should abide by the law. Regarding the general amnesty, and as I have said, we have-we are releasing a huge number of detainees. Regarding the investigation of those who have committed crime, there is also a commitment-as the statement says that there is cooperation so that those who committed crimes will be presented to court and prosecuted. And we will resort to the law. That's why-so all the detentions will not target only-will not target a certain trend, but will target only the criminals. And this is what the Iraqi government is doing and what it's committed to do.
The use of "trend" is more or less the same as we'd use "party" although, in this case, it has a armed branch as well. The discussion by Dr. Ali is about whether special demands were met for the "Sadr trend" to end the fighting. He's essentially saying "no". And, as is obvious, he's telling the reporter that the amnesty is a general one, not just one for the "Sadr trend". Also encouraging is the discussion of the rule of law.

And in answer to a question about reported complaints of "random raids":
We don't have any random raids and search operations because the units and the Army, instead of endangering themselves by going out, they should-they sometimes stay in the bases so that they can train themselves. Just going out and conducting raid operation-random raids is something not possible because all the raid operations are based on intelligence reports. But sometimes mistakes could happen. I hope you give us the name so that we can follow up.
A question from an LA Times reporter as to how well al Sadr's instructions were being followed by his followers, Dr. Ali says:
I think that the decision and the call made by Muqtada al-Sadr-Sayyed Muqtada al-Sadr are for those who follow up and abide by his statement. Anyone who use his weapon and raise weapon will be an outlaw. And anyone who targets the institutes of the government will be-he will be violating the law and also violating the statement made by Muqtada al-Sadr. That's why the government is or will enforce the law on everyone. And this is what the government will do.
Pretty clear if you ask me.

Ali further clarifies it when answering a followup question:
We think that the decision made by Muqtada-Sayyed Muqtada al-Sadr will isolate those criminal groups that tried to abuse and also break the law. And also they tried to abuse the Sadr Trend and the figure of the Sadr Trend. So after this statement, anyone who will carry weapon and anyone who will not or will continue to fight is a-will be considered as an outlaw. So anyone who will carry a weapon will be an outlaw. This initiative will also have a good contribution in stabilizing the situation. And we cannot deny that there were some groups that went to the streets because they thought the government is facing the Sadr Trend. And it's not true because we are not facing or where they-with any political trend, especially the Sadr Trend. Because the Sadr Trend is not facing the government. That's why we think that this statement will contribute in a good way in reducing the tension and also to stabilize the situation.
So again the claim is this continuing operation isn't and hasn't been about a confrontation between the government and al Sadr's group (which explains the hurried ceasefire much more reasonably than other scenarios).

But Ali makes it clear that there are some "criminals" within the "Sadr Trend" who, if warrants have been issued for them, will be arrested:
I've said in my briefing that the security forces in Basra cleared part of the areas in Basra and there are other parts [that] will be cleared. So, of course, we have the warrant for the arrests for all the wanted individuals and criminals so when the security forces find those people, they will be detained. But detaining members of the Sadr Trend, there are some criminals in all the parts like-parties like in the Sadr Trend and the Islamic Party. So the question is will there be any criminals in the Sadr Trend? There could be some criminals in the Sadr Trend. And there were some arrest warrants and if they are found, they will be arrested.
Certainly no backing down there and clearly that statement lends credence to the claim that the operation is aimed at "criminal elements".

Then there's this very revealing question and answer:
REP15: Sorry. We have heard you emphasize from the start, including today, that the operation in Basra doesn't target any specific group. And yet the reports that we get of the clashes all seem to be concentrated in areas that are controlled by Jaish al-Mahdi. Have the government forces gone into the port, for example, or other areas that are controlled by other groups? Or will you be pursuing individuals belonging to other groups, are they on your list as well?

DR ALI:[Speaks in Arabic.]

INT: We think that no group should control any place in Basra. And it's not-and no group has right to control any place. It's the government and the government constitutes-according to the constitution, no one should share the government in establishing the law. That's why the government, when it targets any group that tries to violate the law or breaks the law, they target them because they tried to break the law regardless of their political background. If people understood that we targeted a certain area or certain people because there were some wanted individuals in those areas and, of course, the operations extended to other places to include Basra. The operations will not be-will not [be] over unless Basra is stable so that the Iraqi citizen could live a normal life without any threats.
Note the bold line - per this reporter, the ISF and government of Iraq have "emphasized from the start" that this wasn't about any particular "trend" or militia. Anyone else remember that emphasis in reports coming out of there?

The answer too is both revealing and encouraging. Rule of law, security, etc.

The general reporting we've seen on this reminds me of much of the past reporting that has come out of Iraq - incomplete, uninformed and consequently painting the wrong picture. Reporting that seems aimed at describing a failed state, incompetent rulers, and a poorly trained and led military regardless of the actual situation. That's certainly not what I see being the case as I dig into this more and more. But I'm not at all surprised by what I've read previously and the doom and gloom it immediately spurred among the chattering classes, particularly on the left.

And, if you'll be mildly patient, you'll see it bloom, again, right here in our comment section. That said, once all of what I've outlined above is realized by the press, expect to see Iraq once again fade from the front pages of the newspapers.

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Sunday, March 09, 2008

Podcast for 09 Mar 08
Posted by: Dale Franks
In this podcast, Bruce McQuain and Dale Franks discuss: The primary races, the increasing negativity on the Democratic side, Obamas bad week, and the California homeshooling court decision.


The direct link to the podcast is here.

The intro and outro music is Vena Cava by 50 Foot Wave, and is available for free download here.

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don't forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don't have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here.

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BlogTalk Radio: Tonight 8PM (EST)
Posted by: McQ
Call in number: (718) 664-9614

Yes, friends, it is a call-in show, so do call in.

Subjects: More on the aftermath of the OH/TX primaries and the never-ending Texas caucuses. The Colombia/Ecuador kerfuffle. The FL/MI do-over primaries. Obama's bad week and Hillary's foreign policy experience. And we'll touch on the not so disagreeable disagreement about California homeschooling.

Permalink | Comments ( 0 ) | TrackBacks ( 1 ) | Category: Podcasting

How "green" is green?
Posted by: McQ
You know all those "green energy" jobs Clinton and Obama love to go on about? Well, here's a place where those green jobs aren't particularly doing the environment any favors:
The first time Li Gengxuan saw the dump trucks from the nearby factory pull into his village, he couldn't believe what happened. Stopping between the cornfields and the primary school playground, the workers dumped buckets of bubbling white liquid onto the ground. Then they turned around and drove right back through the gates of their compound without a word.

This ritual has been going on almost every day for nine months, Li and other villagers said.

In China, a country buckling with the breakneck pace of its industrial growth, such stories of environmental pollution are not uncommon. But the Luoyang Zhonggui High-Technology Co., here in the central plains of Henan Province near the Yellow River, stands out for one reason: It's a green energy company, producing polysilicon destined for solar energy panels sold around the world. But the byproduct of polysilicon production — silicon tetrachloride — is a highly toxic substance that poses environmental hazards.
Obviously we're unlikely to see a scenario like the above unfold here. But the point of all this is for most of these technologies there are trade-offs in byproducts and pollutants which can be very toxic and difficult to dispose of. In the case of silicon tetrachloride:
"The land where you dump or bury it will be infertile. No grass or trees will grow in the place. . . . It is like dynamite — it is poisonous, it is polluting. Human beings can never touch it," said Ren Bingyan, a professor at the School of Material Sciences at Hebei Industrial University.
I'm sure there's an approved method of handling and disposing of silicon tetrachloride, and I'm pretty sure it is expensive. And unless companies choose to dispose of it as the Luoyang Zhonggui High-Technology company tried to do, consumers are going to pay for it in expensive "energy saving" devices.

This example goes to the question that should be asked of all supposed "green" technologies. What, in terms of pollutants and toxic waste, is produced in the production of the technology? Ethanol, for instance, may use more energy than it produces simply because of the existing production process it requires and the fact that it cannot be transported by pipeline, but must be trucked to and from the refinery.

And photovoltaic cells which the company cited above was manufacturing? Well, at the moment they're not the most efficient method of generating energy. A squared meter of panels will power 4 100 watt lightbulbs.

William Tucker, author of "Terrestrial Energy: How a Nuclear-Solar Alliance Can Rescue the Planet" points out that the solar panels necessary to power one suburban home would require an array about half the size of a football field and cost in the neighborhood of $140,000. That's not exactly a short-term ROI when compared to traditional forms of energy generation.

That's not to say that solar panels aren't an important part of a total energy solution, but in reality, they'll be a small part. Same with wind. According to Tucker, because of the unpredictability of wind (recently demonstrated in Texas), only 20% of any grid's power can be wind driven because that is the most a grid can mask by other sources should wind fail. And then there's the 'eye-pollution' arrays of giant windmills bring - ask Ted Kennedy.

There's no question that coal isn't the most pollutant free way to produce energy. But it is the cheapest. We burn 1 billion tons of coal a year (up from 500 million in 1976) and it produces 40 percent of our greenhouse gases and 20 percent of the world's total carbon emissions.

Tucker points out that an average 1,000 megawatt coal plant uses a railroad car load of coal to provide 20 minutes of electricity.

I know, you're wondering, "where in the hell is he going with this". Well, it's to familiar territory, and you should have gotten the hint in the title of Tucker's book.

Good old, reliable, clean nuclear energy.

Here's how Tucker describes the contrast between that 1,000 watt coal plant at which a train with 110 cars each loaded with 20 tons of coal, arrives every 5 days. At a 1,000 megawatt nuclear plant:
"Every two years a fleet of flatbed trucks pulls up to the reactor to deliver a load of fuel rods. These rods are only mildly radioactive and can be handled with gloves. They will be loaded into a reactor, where they will remain for six years (only 1/3 of the rods are replaced at each refueling). The replaced rods will be removed and transferred to a storage pool inside the containment structure, where they can remain indefinitely (three feet of water blocks the radiation). There is no exhaust, no carbon emissions, no sulfur sludge to be carted away hourly and heaped into vast dumps. There is no release into the environment. The fuel rods come out looking exactly as they did going in, except they are now more highly radioactive. There is no air pollution, no water pollution, no ground pollution."
In other words, if Obama and Clinton want to create green energy jobs, their top priority should be seeing how many nuclear power plants they can bring on line in a 4 year period - assuming either of them ever get the chance.

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Ecuador calls for non-US OAS
Posted by: McQ
We could call it the "Oranization of Some American States" or OSAS:
Ecuador's Pres. Correa asks Latin nations to form a new organization of American states without US to eliminate its regional interference.

Ecuador's President Rafael Correa said Latin America needs to establish an organization of American states (OAS) which is only comprised of the Latin American countries, reported Xinhua.

He said the United States exerted the pressure on presidents of many Latin American countries when they expressed concerns over the diplomatic crisis involving Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela and Nicaragua.

He said US interference made the OAS solve the crisis slowly, saying that it took the Rio Group summit "just one day to resolve the crisis, and look how long the OAS is going to take."
Of course it's sort of handy that the Rio Group summit was previously scheduled and just happened to coincide with the Ecuadorian/Colombian border flap.

There's no question that the US attempts to exert influence over other countries. But, as we watch Hugo Chavez operate, it's clear the US isn't the only country attempting to do so (Hugo does it with suitcases of money). In fact, they call that game "diplomacy".

This call by Ecuador, however, is really about leftist governments of Latin America attempting to exclude the US from OAS proceedings with an eye toward dominating them. They simply can't do that with the US involved as it has been able to frustrate their efforts at will. I doubt the OAS will go as far as exclude the US, but it wouldn't surprise me if this was the opening salvo in an effort to bring a parallel organization on line, put together by the likes of Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Ecuador, to eventually supplant the OAS if possible.

Permalink | Comments ( 2 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Foreign Affairs

Project Hero: SGT Willie Copeland III, Navy Cross
Posted by: McQ

You wonder when you read something like this about how you might react if faced with the situation and odds that Marine Corps Sgt. Willie Copeland III found himself facing on a day in April of 2004. Would you find the strength and courage to do what was necessary to defeat the enemy? No one can answer that question truthfully until they're confronted by such a reality.

But, on that day, Sgt. Willie Copeland not only found the strength and courage to do what was necessary, but he went beyond the call of duty and was thus awarded the second highest award for valor - the Navy Cross.
The brave are those who recognize the path ahead and yet drive forward undeterred. On April 7, 2004, Sgt. Copeland exemplified such bravery as he and his team were traveling through the dangerous Sunni Triangle. As their 15-vehicle convoy headed toward a forward operating base in the Al Anbar Province, a large group of insurgents ambushed the convoy. Suddenly, about 40 to 60 insurgents embedded in concealed positions along the Euphrates River attacked the Marines, instantly halting the lead vehicle.

Taken aback by the sudden attack, Copeland had no time to regroup. Insurgents began raining heavy fire down upon the entire convoy, using mortar- and machine-gun fire. One shot found its mark, disabling Copeland's Humvee. Forced to flee, Copeland led five Marines out toward the enemy fighters through an open field. Exposed and with no back-up, they trudged through a deep and muddy canal, rushing toward the enemies. Slowly, methodically, the Marines covered ground, eventually getting within hand grenade range of the enemy.

The vigor of the first assault eliminated 10 insurgents at close range while forcing others to flee. During the firefight, Copeland's commanding officer was hit. Unwilling to subject any more Marines to danger, he signaled others to remain in covered positions as he exposed himself to fire and moved the captain to a safer location. Shielding his officer from further attacks, Copeland applied first aid and waited with him until an armored Humvee arrived to evacuate the injured Marine to a hospital.

For his leadership and actions, Copeland was awarded the Navy Cross on April 21, 2005.
Sgt. Copeland is a fine example of the type of warriors and leaders our Marine Corps trains. They personify duty, honor, bravery and courage and they are part of an organization and a tradition of which all Americans can be proud.


Continue reading "Project Hero: SGT Willie Copeland III, Navy Cross"

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Ode to a Blackbird
Posted by: McQ
Terrific post at Maggie's Farm from an SR-71 Blackbird pilot:
We trained for a year, flying out of Beale AFB in California, Kadena Airbase in Okinawa, and RAF Mildenhall in England. On a typical training mission, we would take off near Sacramento, refuel over Nevada, accelerate into Montana, obtain high Mach over Colorado, turn right over New Mexico, speed across the Los Angeles Basin, run up the West Coast, turn right at Seattle, then return to Beale. Total flight time: two hours and 40 minutes.

One day, high above Arizona, we were monitoring the radio traffic of all the mortal airplanes below us. First, a Cessna pilot asked the air traffic controllers to check his ground speed. 'Ninety knots,' ATC replied. A twin Bonanza soon made the same request. 'One-twenty on the ground,' was the reply. To our surprise, a navy F-18 came over the radio with a ground speed check. I knew exactly what he was doing. Of course, he had a ground speed indicator in his cockpit, but he wanted to let all the bug-smashers in the valley know what real speed was 'Dusty 52, we show you at 525 on the ground,' ATC responded. The situation was too ripe. I heard the click of Walter's mike button in the rear seat. In his most innocent voice, Walter startled the controller by asking for a ground speed check from 81,000 feet, clearly above controlled airspace. In a cool, professional voice, the controller replied, 'Aspen 20, I show you at 1,742 knots on the ground.' We did not hear another transmission on that frequency all the way to the coast.
Go. Read. Enjoy.

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Saturday, March 08, 2008

And for those among us who will be tipping a few back tonight - take heart!
Posted by: McQ
Literally. Again science finds a drop or two to be good for the old ticker:
Middle-aged non-drinkers can quickly reduce their risk of heart disease by introducing a daily tipple to their diet, South Carolina researchers say.

New moderate drinkers were 38% less likely to develop heart disease than those who stayed tee-total, a four-year study involving 7,500 people found.

Those who drank only wine showed the most benefit, the researchers reported in the American Medical Journal.
OK, that ticks me off a bit — winos getting the most benefit. But for the beer drinkers, it still helps:
The results came from a study of 7,500 people taking part in a trial to look at risk factors for atherosclerosis - hardening of the arteries.

None of them drank alcohol at the start of the study but 6% began to drink moderate amounts - one drink per day or fewer for women and two drinks per day or fewer for men - during the course of the research.

The reduced cardiovascular risk remained when the researchers from the Medical University of South Carolina took into account physical activity, body mass index, demographic and cardiac risk factors.
The study also found some improvement in HDL or "good" cholesterol in those who took up drinking.
There was no difference in deaths over the four-year follow up.
Except the 6% died a little happier than the other 94%.

My favorite line in the article however, was this:
Despite several studies showing an association with alcohol intake and reduced cardiovascular risk, guidance from the American Heart Association warns people not to start drinking if they do not already drink alcohol.
Now I understand the point, especially concerning the possibility of alcoholism among those who don't yet know they're alcoholics, but imagine a study which says any substance does all of the above and then telling everyone "don't use that substance if you don't already do so".

In this health crazed society do you really think anyone will heed such a warning?

Anyway, I'm off to treat my, er, keep my heart healthy.

To your health!

Permalink | Comments ( 2 ) | TrackBacks ( 1 ) | Category: Health Care

Dem "Dream Ticket" takes a hit
Posted by: McQ
At least one configuration of it does, anyway. Barack Obama in an interview today:
Q: You've raised $55 million in February and in your speech today you said "I was against the war in '03, '04, '05 — all the way on through 2010, and you specifically mentioned Hillary Clinton and John McCain. Could you ever see yourself on the same ticket as Senator Clinton?

A: Well, you know, I think it's premature. You won't see me as a vice presidential candidate — you know, I'm running for president.
Obviously it isn't premature enough for Obama to rule himself out.

And I have nothing to base this on but gut instinct, but I don't see Hillary Clinton playing second fiddle to Barack Obama. To much ego for that (She's played second fiddle to Bill for her entire political life. I don't think she's up for a reprise.).

However, that's not the dream ticket that keep some on the right up at night as Patterico describes it:
This is the nightmare scenario that wakes me up at night. And its so easy to see it develop.

Hillary wins big in Penn and PR, while Obama continues to sweep up some smaller states. Neither is close to the majority number, but Hillary refuses to give in.

More and more polling begins to suggest - as Pew does today - that Obama will lose a significant number of blue collar "Archie Bunker" democrats that are currently supporting Hillary, but will vote for McCain before Obama. This will give McCain states like Ohio, Michigan, and Penn.

Superdelegate/party leaders will know that they cannot alienate African-American voters by stealing the nomination away from Obama that he seems to have won, so voting for Hillary when she is behind in vote total and elected delegates is not an option.

Above and beyond that, they really just don't want a rerun of the Billary Show in the WH.

Obama cannot put together an electoral map in November that produces a winning number.

Solution - go to Obama and ask him to take the No. 2 slot with Al Gore as the nominee. Obama then releases his delegates to vote for Gore after the Superdelegates place his name in nomination.
I'm not sure that will ever develop, but as I pointed out last week, the Gore scenario is one which a fair number on the left would like to see develop. I think Pattericos scenario is as good as any, I simply don't think the DNC and the powers to be could afford to let it happen. While Patterico thinks they hold on to all the Clinton voters if it works out this way, I think they disillusion a huge portion of the Democratic vote by picking outside the two candidates for the top spot.

But given how this election season has gone, who the hell knows? My guess is, however, if a Hillary Clinton nomination would shock the right out of their McCain doldrums and turn them out at the polls in November, I'm pretty sure having the Goracle in the same position might turn out even more.

Permalink | Comments ( 31 ) | TrackBacks ( 3 ) | Category: Education

Judge says no to Marine recruit
Posted by: McQ
I've gotten a few emails concerning this story. Here's the gist:
Shawn Sage long dreamed of joining the military, and watching "Full Metal Jacket" last year really sold him on becoming a Marine.

But last fall, a Los Angeles Superior Court commissioner dashed the foster teen's hopes of early enlistment for Marine sniper duty, plus a potential $10,000 signing bonus.

In denying the Royal High School student delayed entry into the Marine Corps, Children's Court Commissioner Marilyn Mackel reportedly told Sage and a recruiter that she didn't approve of the Iraq war, didn't trust recruiters and didn't support the military.

"The judge said she didn't support the Iraq war for any reason why we're over there," said Marine recruiter Sgt. Guillermo Medrano of the Simi Valley USMC recruiting office.

"She just said all recruiters were the same - that they `all tap dance and tell me what I want to hear.' She said she didn't want him to fight in it."

Sage, 17, said he begged for Mackel's permission.

"Foster children shouldn't be denied (an) ability to enlist in the service just because they're foster kids," he said. "Foster kids shouldn't have to go to court to gain approval to serve one's country."

Mackel, a juvenile dependency commissioner at the Children's Court in Monterey Park, declined through a clerk to speak about any court case or comments she may have made in court.
Now, to begin with, there is the issue of guardianship and foster children. I'm no expert on the matter, but it seems to me that it would be the state who has taken the responsibility inherent in guardianship since the foster care program is a government run program. Whether you like that or not, that's what exists. And that means for minor children, it has the final say in matters pertaining to the child until that child reaches his or her majority.

However, that said, what we're talking about here has nothing to do with discharging legal responsibility, but instead denial of something simply because of the personal belief of the judge. Not law. Not precedent. Nothing more than her dislike of a particular war if the story is correct.

Some will argue that if this young man were under his parent's roof, they could indeed do precisely the same thing this judge did. That is, refuse to sign the recruiting papers because they disagree with the war.

Yes. That is their right as a parent. There is no legal obligation for a parent to be fair and impartial. When the child turns 18, he will do what he wishes as is his right. So, they will argue, the court, in this case, is doing nothing different than some parents would do. Here's where we disagree. The role of the court is to be fair and impartial in its application of the law. Its function isn't to rule by whim and personal prejudice.

Now, I don't know the law in this case or precedent, but I do know that if what is reported is true, and the only thing the judge cited as a reason for denying this young man the authority to sign up for a delayed-entry program with the Marines (note that he still wouldn't go until he was 18 under DEP, something he's going to do anyway in a year) was her prejudice against both the war and the military, then she has no legal foundation upon which to base her refusal.

I have no idea if this can be appealed, but it should be. And I have no idea if this is an elected judge or an appointed judge, but if elected someone should start a recall petition and if appointed, her performance in this case should be reviewed immediately.

We're either a nation of laws or a nation of men. Nations of men are ruled by whim. And this seems to me to be a classic case of just that.

Permalink | Comments ( 19 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Legal Affairs

Obama aide: give immunity to telecoms
Posted by: McQ
I only bring this up because it again points to a seemingly well-run campaign machine suddenly suffering a number of self-inflicted "inconsistent message" wounds.

First Goolsbee and the NAFTA gaff. Then Rice and the "not prepared for the 3am call" line. Yesterday Samantha Powers not only calls Hillary Clinton a "monster", but more importantly, hedges Obama's Iraq plan by saying he obviously wouldn't be bound by any promises he makes as a candidate concerning the war.

Now we have one of Obama's intelligence and foreign policy advisers, John Brennan, saying this in an interview:
Brennan: There is this great debate over whether or not the telecom companies should in fact be given immunity for their agreement to provide support and cooperate with the government after 9/11. I do believe strongly that they should be granted that immunity, because they were told to do so by the appropriate authorities that were operating in a legal context, and so I think that's important. And I know people are concerned about that, but I do believe that's the right thing to do. I do believe the Senate version of the FISA bill addresses the issues appropriately. [Director of National Intelligence] Mike McConnell, I think, did a very good job trying to articulate the distinctions between the old FISA law, the FISA understanding under the Protect America Act, and then the House and Senate versions.
Whether you agree or disagree with Brennan's point, the problem with his statement is that his boss, Barack Obama, has consistently opposed the concept of immunity:
"I have consistently opposed this Administration's efforts to use debates about our national security to expand its own power, whether that was on the Iraq war, or on its power grab to curb our civil liberties through domestic surveillance programs. It is time to restore oversight and accountability in the FISA program, and this proposal — with an unprecedented grant of retroactive immunity — is not the place to start."
He's also voted against it.

So, you say, this sounds like a policy disagreement between an advisor and a candidate. Yes, indeed it does. But it also will be used, in light of the Powers hedge and the NAFTA assurance as another sign of inconsistency between what Obama says and what he really means. Of course his vote against the FISA bill is a powerful argument that he does indeed believe what he says in this case, but when lumped in with all the other misfires lately, it simply adds to the growing impression of a rookie in over his head and a not-ready-for-primetime staff.

There's no question the Clinton campaign will use this at some point, it is only a matter of when and how. And, like the story below, it has already been filed away in Republican opo research.

Between Clinton and Obama and the charges and counter-charges, Reps have to be seeing a target rich environment developing for the general election.

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Hillary’s experience? Ireland says, not here
Posted by: McQ
Finally some examination and some information about this vast experience Hillary Clinton claims - like helping to bring peace to Northern Ireland:
Hillary Clinton had no direct role in bringing peace to Northern Ireland and is a "wee bit silly" for exaggerating the part she played, according to Lord Trimble of Lisnagarvey, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and former First Minister of the province.
But the hear Hillary Clinton, she was right in the middle of it:
"I helped to bring peace to Northern Ireland," she told CNN on Wednesday.
However, the real players disagree:
But negotiators from the parties that helped broker the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 told The Daily Telegraph that her role was peripheral and that she played no part in the gruelling political talks over the years.
Said Lord Trimble:
"I don't know there was much she did apart from accompanying Bill [Clinton] going around," he said. Her recent statements about being deeply involved were merely "the sort of thing people put in their canvassing leaflets" during elections. "She visited when things were happening, saw what was going on, she can certainly say it was part of her experience. I don't want to rain on the thing for her but being a cheerleader for something is slightly different from being a principal player."
Central to Clinton's claim is a 50 minute pre-arranged meeting which she describes thusly:
"I remember a meeting that I pulled together in Belfast, in the town hall there, bringing together for the first time Catholics and Protestants from both traditions, having them sitting a room where they had never been before with each other because they don't go to school together, they don't live together and it was only in large measure because I really asked them to come that they were there.

"And I wasn't sure it was going to be very successful and finally a Catholic woman on one side of the table said, 'You know, every time my husband leaves for work in the morning I worry he won't come home at night.

"And then a Protestant woman on the other side said, 'Every time my son tries to go out at night I worry he won't come home again'. And suddenly instead of seeing each other as caricatures and stereotypes they saw each other as human beings and the slow, hard work of peace-making could move forward."
The Belfast Telegraph, however, remembers it slightly differently. There is no record of a meeting in the Belfast Town Hall, but there is a mention of a meeting at the Lamp Lighter Café on the city's Ormeau Road:
The "Belfast Telegraph" reported the next day that the café meeting was crammed with reporters, cameramen and Secret Service agents. Conversation "seemed a little bit stilted, a little prepared at times" and Mrs Clinton admired a stainless steel tea pot, which was duly given to her, for keeping the brew "so nice and hot".

Among those attending were women from groups representing single parents, relationship counsellors, youth workers and a cultural society.
And, as the Telegraph article points out, when Clinton previously wrote about this meeting in her autobiography, she attached no real significance to it. Said Conall McDevitt, an SDLP negotiator and aide to Mr Hume during the talks:
"I've always had a theory that these people were already well networked. Maybe they needed a bit of bringing together and she [Mrs Clinton] was an ideal focus point." Once a peace deal was in place, Mrs Clinton supported women politicians and was always available if they visited Washington "to give them a pat on the back, give them moral support", he added.
McDevitt also added:
"There would have been no contact with her either in person or on the phone. I was with Hume regularly during calls in the months leading up to the Good Friday Agreement when he was taking calls from the White House and they were invariably coming from the president."
So much for that claim then. The question now becomes, how will the Obama campaign use this information? I'm sure it is already sitting in the opo research data for the Republicans.

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Florida "do-over": a fiasco in the making?
Posted by: McQ
Of all the options I've heard for allowing Florida Democratic primary voters to re-do their primary, this may rank right up there with the worst:
Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson tells NEWSWEEK he has spoken to the Florida Democratic Party about launching a soft-money fund-raising campaign for the benefit of a new mail-in primary, which would supercede the controversial Jan. 29 vote.
PACs, or lobbyist money, would be used to pay for a mail-in primary. Mail-in. No chance of fraud there, huh?

So the best the Dems can come up with is letting lobbyists pay for a potential fraudulent mail-in election which is most likely to be hotly condemned and contested by the loser? A Republican dream come true.

And, of course, right now there's a little problem about doing a mail-in primary. It's against the law.
But obstacles remain. McLaughlin notes what he calls "tiny" provisions in Florida law that prohibit a mail-in election to determine a nominee. But Florida's legislature is currently in session, and could weigh in on such procedural hurdles.
Perhaps the reason it is against the law is because the potential for fraud is so high. But hey, if we can get the lobbyists to pay for it, what's a law?

And, of course, there's the potential for Republicans to cause a little mischief, and obviously that would seem to be much easier in a mail-in vote than an actual, physical vote.

Yup, these same folks who are planning this little beauty also want to take over your health care. Encouraging, isn't it?

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Finger-lickin’ good
Posted by: McQ
PETA, as usual, is all up in arms over a Kentucky feel-good legislative measure to honor a home-grown business:
Animals rights advocates are squawking at a measure that would make fried chicken Kentucky's official picnic food.

State Rep. Charles Siler is sponsoring legislation to assign the designation to KFC's "finger lickin' good" chicken, first served by Colonel Harland Sanders in 1940.
Of course that won't do and PETA tells us:
"If the state legislature moves forward with this one, then they should change Kentucky's state bird from the cardinal to the debeaked, crippled, scalded, diseased, dead chicken," said Bruce Friedrich, PETA vice president.
Heh ... sounds yummy, huh? Think I'll go out and buy a bucket for lunch, just because. Thanks for reminding me, PETA.

Permalink | Comments ( 6 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Miscellaneous

California Home Schooling
Posted by: Dale Franks
The time has come for us to have another nasty public disagreement among the QandO bloggers. I am referring to McQ's post on In re Rachel L.

First, as a matter of judicial precedent, the Supreme Court held in 1925 in Pierce v. Society of Sisters (268 U.S. 510) that parental rights do not include a constitutional right to home school. Essentially, whether parents can home school is a matter for the state legislature to decide.

Now, if you make a religious claim, i.e., you require home or private schooling for religious reasons, then you can make a rights claim under Wisconsin v. Yoder (406 U.S. 205)

In terms of California law, the state supreme court held in 1953 in People v. Turner (121 Cal.App.2d Supp. 861, 865 et seq.)—a case in which the US Supreme Court denied certiorari—that there is no right under the California constitution to home school either, in a decision that follows closely the reasoning of the Court in Pierce.

Under §48220 children may be home schooled as long as the home "tutor or other person shall hold a valid state credential for the grade taught."

So, I'm not sure what all the uproar is about, at least in terms of the legal issues. The Supreme Court made this determination in 1925. California did so at the state level in 1953, and this court merely applied the 55 year-old precedent in Turner.

As far as I know, only the state courts of Michigan have held that there is a constitutional right for parents to home school, under the constitution of that state.

with that in mind, I am somewhat amused that this particular case is being used as evidence of some sort of new and horrific creeping liberalism. The California appellate court simply upheld an 83 year-old Supreme Court decision and a 55 year-old California ruling. The decision in In Re Rachel L. is neither new, nor novel.

I am also amused by the following exchange in the comments section of the previous post:

Q: "Oh, and by the way, which constitutional amendment says that parents have a right to home school their kids?"

A: "Which constitutional amendment says that you have a right to cultivate begonias?

What's your point?"

Since children are not property for parents to dispose of as they wish, what's yours?

Unless you are arguing that children are chattel, then you have already, in principle, granted that there should be limitations on parents' "right" to raise their children as they wish. Once you have done so, we're now simply quibbling over the details of those limitations.

Moreover, California does allow children to be home-schooled. At most, we're really just arguing about whether the conditions for doing so are too onerous for parents.

As a practical matter, this uproar is really a function of the fact that no one has really challenged the law for the past 50 years. It required a) a school district to push the issue, and b) a set of parents to object.

Now that it has happened, however, Governor Schwarzenegger has already publicly announced that he'll be pushing for a revision to §48220 of the education code to loosen the restrictions on homeschooling.

I think that's a good thing as a policy matter.

Permalink | Comments ( 26 ) | TrackBacks ( 1 ) | Category: Legal Affairs

Friday, March 07, 2008

Clinton, Canada, NAFTA and the Obama campaign
Posted by: McQ
This morning, after the resignation of Samantha Power, the Obama campaign held a conference call in which David Plouffe challenged reporters to check out whether or not the Clinton campaign had contacted the Candians and said she wasn't serious about her NAFTA rhetoric as he had heard.

You can hear the call here.

Most would call that a classic case of amateurish deflection.

And it seems even more amateurish when it turns out not to be true because in such a case, you've just refocused negative attention on your campaign again:
Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton never gave Canada any secret assurances about the future of NAFTA such as those allegedly offered by Barack Obama's campaign, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office said Friday.

With the NAFTA affair swirling over the U.S. election and Canadian officials skittish about saying anything else that might influence the race, it took the PMO two days to deliver the information.

After being asked whether Canadian officials asked for - or received - any briefings from a Clinton campaign representative outlining her plans on NAFTA, a spokeswoman for the prime minister offered a response Friday.

"The answer is no, they did not," said Harper spokeswoman Sandra Buckler.
Can you say "not ready for prime-time?"

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The Democratic Convention Conflagration
Posted by: Jon Henke
If a prominent Republican pundit acknowledged being privy to information about plans for riots and violence at the Republican Convention, I would think it would get some front-page attention.

So shouldn't some enterprising reporters - and perhaps some Secret Service or other security organizations - be looking into the things Rich Perlstein is hearing:

  • "Part of me is scared of a riot. Part of me isn't."

  • "We've already had planning meetings about it — we're going about it the same way that we would plan any decent military operation."

  • "I can't emphasize enough how potentially scary things could get — we've got folks working on the inside of the convention, and it's all done on a cell basis, so that folks only know what they need to know."


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The Emergence of "McCranky"?
Posted by: McQ
A lot of buzz about this video saying it shows John McCain throwing a bit of a temper tantrum.


Maybe its just me but if this is as heated as he gets on the campaign trail with reporters I'll be disappointed:

On the other hand, he has a temper and if he lets it go, he'll turn-off a number of people who don't want some cranky old coot answering that phone at 3am. Temperment, as far as I'm concerned, is important in the nation's chief executive. But this video of him telling a persistent reporter that a particular subject is closed doesn't particularly bother me. In fact, I rather enjoyed it.

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Mr. Huff-and-Puff now wants to cool things down
Posted by: McQ
Hugo "send 10 battalions to the border" Chavez is now asking for a cooling off period after it was he who stirred up the hornet's nest concerning a cross-border Colombian raid into Ecuador:
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called Friday for a cooling of tensions with Colombia and predicted a summit of Latin American presidents in this seaside capital "is going to be positive."


"People should go cool off a bit, chill out their nerves," Chavez told journalists at his hotel before leaving for the summit at the foreign ministry of the Dominican Republic. "I think the meeting today is going to be positive, because it is going to help the debate. We have to debate, talk, and this is the first step toward finding the road."
The man is a clown. Certainly a dangerous clown, but a clown nonetheless.

Permalink | Comments ( 1 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Foreign Affairs

Home schooling your children is unconstitutional in California
Posted by: McQ
Sounds like a constitutional amendment moment for California. The following is from the actual ruling of the Court Of Appeal Of The State Of California, Second Appellate District (HT: Ted Bezat):
In this dependency case (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 300), we consider the question whether parents can legally "home school" their children. The attorney for two of the three minor children in the case has petitioned this court for extraordinary writ relief, asking us to direct the juvenile court to order that the children be enrolled in a public or private school, and actually attend such a school.

The trial court's reason for declining to order public or private schooling for the children was its belief that parents have a constitutional right to school their children in their own home. However, California courts have held that under provisions in the Education Code, parents do not have a constitutional right to home school their children.

Thus, while the petition for extraordinary writ asserts that the trial court's refusal to order attendance in a public or private school was an abuse of discretion, we find the refusal was actually an error of law. It is clear to us that enrollment and attendance in a public full-time day school is required by California law for minor children unless (1) the child is enrolled in a private full-time day school and actually attends that private school, (2) the child is tutored by a person holding a valid state teaching credential for the grade being taught, or (3) one of the other few statutory exemptions to compulsory public school attendance (Ed. Code, § 48220 et seq.) applies to the child.
Essentially the ruling makes it a civil offense to home school your child unless the child is also enrolled in a private school full-time (and attends that school) or the parent has valid teaching credentials.

Certainly, this is a ruling the teacher's unions will love as it further strengthens their government enforced monopoly. It certainly wouldn't surprise me if they had a hand in writing the law as well.

The court cited a USSC case as the basis of their ruling:
The Supreme Court of the United States, in the case of Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510 [45 S.Ct. 571, 69 L.Ed. 1070, 39 A.L.R. 468], held that: 'No question is raised concerning the power of the state reasonably to regulate all schools, to inspect, supervise and examine them, their teachers and pupils; to require that all children of proper age attend some school, that teachers shall be of good moral character and patriotic disposition, that certain studies plainly essential to good citizenship must be taught, and that nothing be taught which is manifestly inimical to the public welfare.' [¶] Included in the laws governing the educational program were those regulating the attendance of children at school and the power of the state to enforce compulsory education of children within the state at some school is beyond question.
Of course the term "some school" is interpreted by the California court to mean a school of its definition, which obviously excludes home schooling, or so it is claiming. Frankly, I find that to be a rather tenuous finding. But when you have the all the guns, you get to define things however you like.

From their definition of "some school" (but not "home school") they conclude:
Full-time public school education for persons between the ages of six and eighteen is compulsory under California's compulsory education law (Ed. Code, 6 § 48200 et seq.),2 "and each parent, guardian, or other person having control or charge of the pupil shall send the pupil to the public full-time day school . . . and for the full time designated as the length of the schoolday by the governing board of the school district" (§ 48200).

Exemptions to compulsory public school education are made for, among others, children who (1) attend a private full-time day school (§ 48222) or (2) are instructed by a tutor who holds a valid state teaching credential for the grade being taught (§ 48224). These provisions of the Education Code (in their predecessor section numbers) were held to be constitutional in People v. Turner (1953) 121 Cal.App.2d Supp. 861, 865 et seq., ("Turner"), and an appeal to the United States Supreme Court from that decision was dismissed for want of a substantial federal question in Turner v. People of the State of California (1954) 347 U.S. 972 [98 L.Ed. 1112, 74 S.Ct. 785]. Turner was cited with approval in In re Shinn, supra, 195 Cal.App.2d at p. 694 ("Shinn").
And you simply have to love this if you have any love of freedom and liberty:
The Legislature has not amended the substantive aspects of the compulsory education statutes that were analyzed in Turner and Shinn. Like those courts, we find no reason to strike down the Legislature's evaluation of what constitutes an adequate education scheme sufficient to promote the "general diffusion of knowledge and intelligence," which Article IX, section 1 of our Constitution states is "essential to the preservation of the rights and liberties of the people." We agree with the Shinn court's statement that "the educational program of the State of California was designed to promote the general welfare of all the people and was not designed to accommodate the personal ideas of any individual in the field of education."
To include parents and their educational preferences.

Compliance with the law, obviously, is their only recourse, given the fact that they no longer have a right, either legal or constitutional (only moral) to school their children:
Because parents have a legal duty to see to their children's schooling within the provisions of these laws, parents who fail to do so may be subject to a criminal complaint against them, found guilty of an infraction, and subject to imposition of fines or an order to complete a parent education and counseling program. (§§ 48291 & 48293.)

Additionally, the parents are subject to being ordered to enroll their children in an appropriate school or education program and provide proof of enrollment to the court, and willful failure to comply with such an order may be punished by a fine for civil contempt.
Any wonder why freedom loving people are fleeing California?

Permalink | Comments ( 35 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Education

Basic global warming equations "totally wrong"
Posted by: McQ
Or so some researchers say:
Miklós Zágoni isn't just a physicist and environmental researcher. He is also a global warming activist and Hungary's most outspoken supporter of the Kyoto Protocol. Or was.

That was until he learned the details of a new theory of the greenhouse effect, one that not only gave far more accurate climate predictions here on Earth, but Mars too. The theory was developed by another Hungarian scientist, Ferenc Miskolczi, an atmospheric physicist with 30 years of experience and a former researcher with NASA's Ames Research Center.

After studying it, Zágoni stopped calling global warming a crisis, and has instead focused on presenting the new theory to other climatologists. The data fit extremely well. "I fell in love," he stated at the International Climate Change Conference this week.

"Runaway greenhouse theories contradict energy balance equations," Miskolczi states. Just as the theory of relativity sets an upper limit on velocity, his theory sets an upper limit on the greenhouse effect, a limit which prevents it from warming the Earth more than a certain amount.
So what's the story? How did they get the basic equations wrong?
They relied upon equations derived over 80 years ago, equations which left off one term from the final solution.

Miskolczi's story reads like a book. Looking at a series of differential equations for the greenhouse effect, he noticed the solution — originally done in 1922 by Arthur Milne, but still used by climate researchers today — ignored boundary conditions by assuming an "infinitely thick" atmosphere. Similar assumptions are common when solving differential equations; they simplify the calculations and often result in a result that still very closely matches reality. But not always.

So Miskolczi re-derived the solution, this time using the proper boundary conditions for an atmosphere that is not infinite. His result included a new term, which acts as a negative feedback to counter the positive forcing. At low levels, the new term means a small difference ... but as greenhouse gases rise, the negative feedback predominates, forcing values back down.
His theory was eventually published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal in his home country of Hungary.

The conclusions are supported by research published in the Journal of Geophysical Research last year from Steven Schwartz of Brookhaven National Labs, who gave statistical evidence that the Earth's response to carbon dioxide was grossly overstated. It also helps to explain why current global climate models continually predict more warming than actually measured.

The equations also answer thorny problems raised by current theory, which doesn't explain why "runaway" greenhouse warming hasn't happened in the Earth's past. The new theory predicts that greenhouse gas increases should result in small, but very rapid temperature spikes, followed by much longer, slower periods of cooling — exactly what the paleoclimatic record demonstrates.
So - peer reviewed, supported by other research, much better matches and explains historical records - but bucks the present scientific "consensus" driving the politics today.

Bottom line: It will most likely be ignored.

Permalink | Comments ( 23 ) | TrackBacks ( 1 ) | Category: Environment

Self-congratulations a little hollow?
Posted by: McQ
The Bush administration is doing a little self-congratulations on the fact that there have been no further attacks on the US since 9/11:
Islamic extremists have been targeting Europe instead of the United States because the Bush administration has made a domestic attack much more difficult through improvements in U.S. traveler screening and border security, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said yesterday.

"We have significantly reduced the risk of a major attack in the short term," Chertoff told a group of Washington Post reporters and editors before meeting with President Bush to mark the fifth anniversary of the Department of Homeland Security's creation.

"One of the reasons we're seeing more attacks in Europe is because they think it's easier," Chertoff said. He noted almost annual attacks since 2004 in Madrid, London and Glasgow and disrupted plots in Denmark, Germany, Italy, France and Portugal.
Well, it is "easier" to attack Europe since there is a Muslim base in Europe which is far greater and much more disenfranchised than is to be found in the US (well, except at Harvard).

The fact is that if you really look at the US and its borders, the fact that it hasn't happened here isn't because it is "easier" in Europe, but because the base of support needed in Europe already exists and is thus more easily exploited. In terms of getting into this country, there is no serious barrier to doing so for any determined terrorist as is demonstrated everyday with the continuing influx of illegal immigrants.

The fact that the culture already exists in Europe to carry out attacks doesn't mean that such a base isn't being built here as we speak. It simply means that the ability to attack is more advanced, at this moment, than is the one here. And that isn't a function, particularly, of anything the Bush administration has or hasn't done.

Permalink | Comments ( 16 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Security

Samantha "Monster" Power resigns from Obama campaign
Posted by: McQ
That was quick:
With deep regret, I am resigning from my role as an advisor [to] the Obama campaign effective today. Last Monday, I made inexcusable remarks that are at marked variance from my oft-stated admiration for Senator Clinton and from the spirit, tenor, and purpose of the Obama campaign. And I extend my deepest apologies to Senator Clinton, Senator Obama, and the remarkable team I have worked with over these long 14 months.
You can listen to the Clinton campaign conference call which called for Samantha Power's resignation here.

So now the Obama campaign is dancing to the Clinton tune? If so, the rest of the way just got more difficult for them as they can count on the same sort of demands to continue since it appears this one worked.

Before she went, however, she hedged Obama's "out of Iraq now" rhetoric. In a BBC interview she said:
"He will, of course, not rely on some plan that he's crafted as a presidential candidate or a U.S. Senator," she said at one point in the interview.
Seems almost NAFTAesque, doesn't it? His rhetoric now shouldn't be indicative of what he'd actually do then.
"What he's actually said, after meting with the generals and meeting with intelligence professionals, is that you - at best case scenario - will be able to withdraw one to two combat brigades each month. That's what they're telling him. He will revisit it when he becomes president," Power says.

The host, Stephen Sackur, challenged her:"So what the American public thinks is a commitment to get combat forces out in 16 months isn't a commitment isn't it?"

"You can't make a commitment in March 2008 about what circumstances will be like in January of 2009," she said. "He will, of course, not rely on some plan that he's crafted as a presidential candidate or a U.S. Senator. He will rely upon a plan - an operational plan - that he pulls together in consultation with people who are on the ground to whom he doesn't have daily access now, as a result of not being the president. So to think - it would be the height of ideology to sort of say, 'Well, I said it, therefore I'm going to impose it on whatever reality greets me.'"

"It's a best-case scenario," she said again.
Ya think? It's also a completely different scenario than he promises almost daily on the stump.

Will the real Barack Obama please stand up.

Permalink | Comments ( 3 ) | TrackBacks ( 3 ) | Category: Elections

Does the left really want to travel this road?
Posted by: McQ
Matt Yglesais starts a post about John Hagee, who recently endorsed John McCain, like this:
John Hagee has some odd ideas about Jews that, as a Jewish person, make me uncomfortable. Jews, as most people know, have suffered a lot of persecution over the years.
He then goes on to talk about Hagee's anti-semitism and it's possible effect (obviously implying that he will have some influence as it pertains to Israel if John McCain is elected) on foreign policy in the Middle East.

If Obama is the nominee, is this a road the left really wants to travel, given the argument which could be made by the right concerning his church of 20 years, it's links with Louis Farrakhan and the influence it may have on Obama's foreign policy?

Sauce for goose = sauce for gander. I think Obama would come out the loser in this one.

Permalink | Comments ( 15 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Elections

Political fund raising - here’s a twist
Posted by: McQ
While both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have raised vastly more money than John McCain, the RNC has raised much more money than the DNC, and that could become a critical factor in the general election.

Why? Because:
Such party money can play a vital role in presidential campaigns because candidates are barred from using money they raise for the general election until they are nominated at the conventions. So the party money is often used before then - as well as after - to finance advertisements, direct mail and, ultimately, get-out-the-vote efforts.
GOTV, obviously, has been a Republican strength in previous elections, and the monetary advantage they enjoy (the DNC has spent most of its money while the RNC has outraised the DNC by 37 million) is going to let the RNC be much more active in those areas listed (and especially GOTV) than the Dems.

It also points to another reason that there is going to be tremendous resistance on the part of the DNC to paying for "do-over" election in Florida and Michigan. With estimates of 15 to 25 million cost in each state, the DNC isn't really able to pay for those elections. And even chipping in would seriously erode what little money they have left.

Another, in a long line of reasons, that many Democrats would like to see this bruising Democratic primary come to an end and come to an end soon. They know, as in the case of John Kerry, once a nominee is selected, their party fund raising will pick up dramatically. But if they have to wait until the convention, it could be crippled in comparison to the RNC's.

Permalink | Comments ( 3 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Elections

Obama campaign: blood in the water?
Posted by: McQ
First we had NAFTA-gate where a senior advisor to Barack Obama is accused of telling the Canadians that Obama's anti-NAFTA rhetoric was political positioning which shouldn't be taken seriously.

Then Susan Rice, a foreign policy adviser to the Obama campaign said Obama wasn't ready to answer the 3am phone call.

Now we have Samantha Power, a senior foreign policy advisor to the Obama campaign, calling Hillary Clinton a "monster" in a foreign newspaper and causing enough embarrassment that Obama felt compelled to apologize.
A senior foreign policy adviser to Barack Obama was forced to apologize Thursday night for describing Hillary Clinton as a "monster" during an interview with a Scottish newspaper, a major embarrassment to the Illinois senator who promised voters he wouldn't engage in the politics of personal destruction.

During an interview with The Scotsman, Samantha Power, one of Obama's unpaid advisers, said Clinton would stop at nothing in her zeal to seize the lead from Obama.

"She is a monster, too - that is off the record - she is stooping to anything," Power said, hastily trying to withdraw her remark.
The cracks and seams are beginning to show as the campaign becomes more bruising and personal. The previously well-functioning, well-disciplined, stay-on-message campaign is showing the stress of the extended campaign with these stumbles. Such gaffes only reinforce the charge that Obama, et. al, are not ready for prime time. Expect the Clinton campaign to ratchet up the noise even more. They smell blood in the water and they'll not back off an inch now.

Permalink | Comments ( 3 ) | TrackBacks ( 4 ) | Category: Elections

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Bill Clinton blocks pardons document release
Posted by: McQ
Not that his refusal to do so should come as any surprise to anyone who has paid even passing attention to the Clintons over the years:
Federal archivists at the Clinton Presidential Library are blocking the release of hundreds of pages of White House papers on pardons that the former president approved, including clemency for fugitive commodities trader Marc Rich.

That archivists' decision, based on guidance provided by Bill Clinton that restricts the disclosure of advice he received from aides, prevents public scrutiny of documents that would shed light on how he decided which pardons to approve from among hundreds of requests.

Clinton's legal agent declined the option of reviewing and releasing the documents that were withheld, said the archivists, who work for the federal government, not the Clintons.

The decision to withhold much of the requested material could provide fodder for critics who say that the former president and his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, now seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, have been unwilling to fully release documents to public scrutiny.
Ya think!?!

Of course we're still waiting on John Kerry to release his military records from the last presidential election. Does this qualify as a trend?

Permalink | Comments ( 3 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Elections

Discriminating in a non-discriminating way
Posted by: McQ
I have to admit I'm confused by all of this:
Six times a week, Harvard kicks all the guys out of the Quadrangle Recreational Athletic Center at the request of the Harvard Islamic Society. This is to accommodate those female Muslim students whose faith won't let them work out in front of men.

In the old days, Harvard would have laughed if some Catholic or evangelical mother urged "girls-only" campus workouts in the name of modesty. Today, Harvard happily implements Sharia swim times in the name of Mohammed.

At Harvard, that's called progress.
So the lesson here is discrimination is sometimes ok, right?

Really that should come as no surprise. We do still have Affirmative Action, don't we?

But wait - isn't the whole point of not discriminating for any reason so that others won't feel excluded? Isn't inclusion one of the most important parts of the "progressive" ideology as taught by liberal academia?

See, that's where this all gets murky. On the one hand, we're told that discrimination is just bad. And history is dutifully trotted out to show us examples of this "badness."

On the other we see the same institutions which are telling us that discrimination is bad using discrimination routinely (AA) and abetting it in cases where favored minorities request it - such as the 'girls only' hours at the gym.

So when the "discrimination is bad" mantra meets the "girls only" gym hours, the confusion it creates is bound to be evident.

I mean, look at this:
When I asked Harvard spokesman Bob Mitchell about this new Sharia-friendly policy, he denied that they were banning anyone. "No, no," he told me, "we're permitting women to work out in an environment that accommodates their religion."

By banning all men from the facility, right?

"It's not 'banning,' " he insisted. "We're allowing, we're accommodating people."
Ah, so not "accommodating" everyone is actually "accommodating" someone and that's good?


This from an institution which is considered to be one of "higher learning".

Permalink | Comments ( 36 ) | TrackBacks ( 4 ) | Category: Education

Fencing in the Palestinians
Posted by: McQ
Egypt, like most other countries who have dealt with them, isn't too keen on giving them increased access:
Egypt is building a 10-foot-high concrete wall along its border with Gaza to prevent any new breaches after Palestinian militants blasted through the barrier in January to escape a blockade of their territory, an official said.

The new wall replaces a mixed barbed-wire, iron and concrete barrier which was breached in several places when militants blew it open with explosives, added the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to talk to the media.
No doubt it will be in place well before anything similar shows up on our southern border.

Permalink | Comments ( 3 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Foreign Affairs

Better late than never ...
Posted by: McQ
Daniel Ortega, President of Nicaragua, broke relations with Colombia today in a show of solidarity with the other tin-pot despots of the area:
Ortega announced his decision publicly after meeting with Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, who is on a multination tour in the region to rally opposition to Colombia's action, which killed the No. 2 commander of the Colombian FARC guerrilla group and 23 other Colombian guerrillas.

"We are breaking off relations because of the political terrorism being carried out by the government of Alvaro Uribe, not because of the Colombian people," Ortega said.
Yeah, because Ortega knows all about conducting attacks on a government from safe areas in another country and that's what "good revolutionaries" do. Can't have the Colombian government mucking that up, can we?

Permalink | Comments ( 0 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Foreign Affairs

The "Experience Factor" - here’s an answer
Posted by: McQ
And the answer to a number of right-wing fantasies as well:
IF AL GORE can pull himself away from saving the planet long enough, he might want to consider rescuing the Demo cratic Party from the clutches of utter self-destruction.


That leaves Al Gore as the only person with the experience to answer the red phone and force a peaceful end to this civil war.

The inconvenient truth is that the red phone is now ringing and Al Gore hears it. The only question is whether he has the guts to pick it up.
There is indeed a faction on the left who want a Gore presidency badly. And for a variety of reasons, one of which, of course, has to do with global warming and their belief that we're on an irreversible road to ruin unless we do something expensive and do it now. Al Gore would facilitate that. He'd also rescue the Democratic party from itself.

The only problem is you can't have two messiahs in the same religion.

Permalink | Comments ( 22 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Elections

Iran for Obama ...
Posted by: McQ
Oh, wait, that can't be true since all of the remaining presidential candidates are for "change". In fact, each and every one of them claim to be the only one who can actually bring it about.

But still, Iran can hope, right?
Iran's foreign minister said Wednesday his country hopes the next U.S. president will be a leader who can bring change.

Iran is not concerned about "people or parties" in the U.S. presidential election, Manouchehr Mottaki said at a news conference in Geneva.

But "whoever speaks of changes definitely would be more welcome," he said.
Ummm ... not that Iran plans on changing at all. But a more pliant American president would be a welcome change for them.

Permalink | Comments ( 18 ) | TrackBacks ( 6 ) | Category: Foreign Affairs

Recruiting station bombed in NY
Posted by: McQ
IEDs in Manhattan?
The New York City police issued a statement at 7:33 a.m. describing the source of the explosion as an "improvised explosive device" and putting the time of the blast at 3:43 a.m. The authorities are looking into a possible connection to two earlier bombings at foreign consulates in Manhattan, in 2005 and 2007. Subways and traffic are running normally through Times Square.
Apparently the attack was very similar to attacks on foreign consulates in previous years:
The authorities were looking into whether the explosion was connected to two earlier blasts that were similar in method and timing, the official said. At about 3:40 a.m. on Oct. 26, 2007, two dummy hand grenades that had been fashioned into crude bombs exploded outside the Mexican Consulate at 27 East 39th Street in Murray Hill, shattering windows. The building was not occupied and no one was hurt. At 3:55 a.m. on May 5, 2005, two crude but powerful explosive devices detonated outside the British Consulate at 845 Third Avenue in East Midtown, shattering windows and damaging a planter.
I wonder what Obama's buddy, Bill Ayers, was doing last night? OK, cheap shot, but so handy.

Permalink | Comments ( 5 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Security

Florida and Michigan
Posted by: McQ
Howard Dean, chairman of the DNC, was rather clear and emphatic about how the delegates from FL and MI may be seated at this year's Democratic convention:
"We're glad to hear that the Governors of Michigan and Florida are willing to lend their weight to help resolve this issue. As we've said all along, we strongly encourage the Michigan and Florida state parties to follow the rules, so today's public overtures are good news. The rules, which were agreed to by the full DNC including representatives from Florida and Michigan over 18 months ago, allow for two options. First, either state can choose to resubmit a plan and run a party process to select delegates to the convention; second, they can wait until this summer and appeal to the Convention Credentials Committee, which determines and resolves any outstanding questions about the seating of delegates. We look forward to receiving their proposals should they decide to submit new delegate selection plans and will review those plans at that time. The Democratic Nominee will be determined in accordance with party rules, and out of respect for the presidential campaigns and the states that did not violate party rules, we are not going to change the rules in the middle of the game.
Do-over or appeal. Now frankly, I'm all for a do-over. Since the main complaint was that both states moved their primaries up on the calendar against the express wishes of the DNC, that's now a moot point. So a do-over would be a great solution. And, as is obvious, the dynamic within the race has changed (and the field has slimmed), so both states would become battle royals. That means lots of mud and bunches of money spent.

Which reminds me of the two arguments I see emerging from all of this. One is that this is good for the Republicans. It gives John McCain the time necessary to shore up the Republican base, bone up on the economy, burnish his stump speech and raise money while the Dems bash each other's heads in and spend money on the primary they may need in the general election - all leading to a brokered convention and divided party.

Then there's the argument that the extended primary sharpens and hardens the Dem candidates, prepares them for the general election, keeps them and the party on the front page - while McCain and the Repubs fade to the back pages - and ends up with a possible dream ticket and a stronger party with momentum going into the general election.

I'd guess the truth of the matter is, as usual, somewhere in the middle. But I can't help feel this break for McCain is a good thing in preparation for the general election (if he uses it properly) and I also can't buy into the notion that an extended primary is "all good" for the Dems.

But back to FL and MI. What to do? Make is Super Tuesday III and lump them in with NC. Armageddon for Dems. Someone leaves that particular primary Tuesday the presumptive nominee. And those precious rules will have been followed and the people will have spoken.

Well, except for the fact that the final votes to put the eventual nominee over the top in delegates will still most likely come from the Super Delegates.

Heh ...

Permalink | Comments ( 7 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Elections

Delegate cost - in case you were wondering
Posted by: McQ
Caught this little factoid on one of the news shows last night and jotted it down - the cost of delegates so far using just the amount paid for TV ads:

Obama - $33,781 each

Clinton - $25,838 each

McCain - $9,289 each

In comparison, McCain has been downright frugal. It also, for whatever reason, reminds of the probable difference between their spending programs should each of them be elected president.

Permalink | Comments ( 5 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Elections

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

And So It Begins...
Posted by: Dale Franks
So much for "the audacity of hope"...
The Obama campaign is stepping up the rhetoric. Campaign Manager David Plouffe went so far as to call Hillary Clinton the "most secretive politician in America today."

..."I think that you know Sen. Clinton has talked a lot about disclosure in the last few days," Plouffe told reporters. "Sen. Clinton is the most secretive politician in America today. This has been a pattern throughout her career of the lack of disclosure."

Echoing Axelrod, Plouffe said the campaign would be more than willing to tangle with the Clintons, appearing to suggest that if needed they would raise issues like Whitewater that plagued the Clintons in the 90s.
"How will it end?"

"In fire."

Well, if we're lucky.

Permalink | Comments ( 7 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Politics

Does Obama now believe negativity pays?
Posted by: McQ
Senator Clinton certainly does and you can expect to see more red phones, more messiah talk and more lack of experience rhetoric.

So, Obama is at a cross-road. Does he attempt to remain above the fray, take the high road and spend the rest of the campaign on the defensive? Or does he take off the gloves, jump into the pit, and swing away?

Well, according to this, it's "no more Mr. Nice Guy":
Democratic Sen. Barack Obama on Wednesday blamed his primary defeats in Ohio and Texas on rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's criticism and news converage that he argued benefited her at his expense.

The presidential candidate said he planned to do more in the days ahead to raise doubts about his opponent's claims to foreign policy and other Washington experience. In a television ad that her campaign credits with helping her win, she portrayed herself as most prepared to handle an international crisis.

"What exactly is this foreign policy experience?" Obama asked mockingly. "Was she negotiating treaties? Was she handling crises? The answer is no."
Ah yes, the old "when is attending the funeral of a foreign leader the same as negotiating a treaty" question? Sounds to me that Obama has made his decision.
As to tactics ahead, Obama said that Clinton "made a series of arguments on why she should be a superior candidate. I think it's important to examine that argument."

"We're happy to join the debate, If that's the debate they want to have," Obama said, noting Clinton's efforts to portray him as lacking her level of experience. "In the coming weeks, we will join her in that argument."
Code words for negative campaigning or is he talking about real debate or a real argument? The next 7 weeks will tell the tale.

Permalink | Comments ( 6 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Elections

The FDA: government inteference in health care
Posted by: Jon Henke
Megan McArdle...
A number of liberals are angrily defending liability by arguing that the FDA is underfunded, incompetent, the victim of regulatory capture, and staffed by life bureaucrats more interested in preserving their jobs than protecting the public health. Quite possibly true. Only one question: if it doesn't keep us safe, and the liability system does, then why do we have the regulatory agency in the first place?
Here's another thing to think about: A few months back, many were outraged when a young girl, Nataline Sarkisyan, died after the administrator of her insurance plan, Cigna Healthcare, did not approve a liver transplant procedure until it was too late to save her life. Many Lefty bloggers (and Michael Moore) were outraged, though they got some of the facts wrong and the situation wasn't nearly as clear as they seemed to think.

This raises some more questions:

Do advocates of universal health care think cost/benefit resource allocation decisions will no longer happen under universal health care? Do those advocates believe nobody will ever be denied any medical care for any reason? If they disagree with those decisions when the government pays the bills, where will they take their business?

Finally: Cigna Healthcare denied one procedure that had a chance of extending a life. But the FDA routinely delays and denies thousands of medical treatments based on potential risks and uncertainties far less than in the case of Cigna and Nataline Sarkisyan. Far more people are denied treatments by the FDA, but where is the outrage from the Left over government interference and obstruction in the health care decisions?

As McArdle says, we already accept that the process is manned by imperfect people with perverse incentives. Yet we have given them a monopoly over decisions about our medical treatments. That is absurd and inconsistent with the kind of reaction we saw in the Cigna case.

Permalink | Comments ( 7 ) | TrackBacks ( 1 ) | Category: Health Care

Obama: Can’t close the deal
Posted by: McQ
Politics is perception, and while it is true that the delegate math still favors Barack Obama, the perception developing is he can't, for whatever reason, close the nomination deal.

Going into Texas and Ohio, he had the momentum of 11 straight wins and he outspent Hillary Clinton 2 to 1, yet still lost those two critical races. At a minimum that freezes the Super Delegate endorsements, at least for a while. But it also raises questions about Obama's ability to win the big one and, whether or not he may have crested in terms of popularity as people begin looking closer at his resume - or lack thereof.

Exit polls in both Texas and Ohio show late deciders overwhelmingly went for Clinton. That means she hit on something which resonated with those who made up their mind in the last three days. Was it the "red phone" ad? Is the experience factor finally beginning to get traction? Was the bad week Obama had with the press (especially the NAFTA-gate flap) something which dampened his momentum?

One thing I think the Obama campaign can expect for the foreseeable future is much less "friendly" press coverage. Apparently all the complaining by the Clinton campaign about soft coverage of Obama has received hit home.

After next Tuesday's Mississippi primary, there isn't another primary for 6 weeks (PA). It will be interesting to watch how each campaign wages the political war and spins the results. But I think the press honeymoon for Obama is over and the questions from the press will get even more pointed. And you can expect the Clinton campaign to play up the the "comeback kid" angle of their wins in Ohio and Texas and assert that Obama has lost momentum and can't close the deal, leaving Hillary as the natural pick for Democrats.

Permalink | Comments ( 19 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Elections

McCain to receive Bush’s endorsement
Posted by: McQ
Bush will meet McCain for lunch and officially back his nomination:
President Bush, who has refrained from a role in his party's presidential campaign until now, plans to welcome Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the party's putative 2008 nominee, to the White House tomorrow.

Bush's backing is a double-edged sword for McCain, who fought Bush in the 2000 Republican primaries and who critized the Bush administration for its early conduct of the war in Iraq and its treatment of suspected terrorists in captivity. McCain has aligned with Bush on the latest war strategy and has insisted that torture is illegal under any circumstances.

The president's endorsement represents a consolidation of the Republican Party for a candidate who greatly needs to convince the conservative base that he is conservative enough.
Meagan McArdle brings us the best line about the impending endorsement from the Economist:
"Fox News is also reporting the impending Bush endorsement. Tough break for Mr McCain, but I guess it's best to get bad news out of the way early in the campaign."
As McArdle notes, that's "weapons-grade snark" - and probably true as well.

OTOH, McCain now takes over the RNC and its organization, has access to much more money, and with Obama and Clinton still engaged in a primary fight, the time to build and deploy the enhanced organization he's going to need to be effective and win the general election.

Permalink | Comments ( 3 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Elections

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Hillary Takes Texas?
Posted by: Dale Franks
As I mentioned in the previous post, exit polling for the TX primary shows a 50-50 split between Clinton and Obama. So far tonight, the numbers are very close to that. BUT, that's just the primary. Tonight is also caucus night in Texas, and of the state's 228 delegates, 67 of them will be decided in the caucuses, which are starting to wrap up.

So, we could very well see Clinton eke out a narrow victory in the primary, and get hammered in the caucuses, giving Obama a sizeable majority of the state's delegates.

If so, then who do we say won Texas?

Permalink | Comments ( 2 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Elections

WooHooo - Hillary takes Ohio (updated) and Texas too!
Posted by: McQ
And she's now leading in Texas (at 11pm).

Oh, and McCain wrapped it up for the Republicans and Huckabee dropped out.

Now I'm sure you're thinking I've been in the beer or noting the title, that you've somehow come upon a QandO parody site (although we sometimes do a good enough job of parodying ourselves at times).

Nope. This is my fondest dream for tonight, because it keeps the Democratic primary alive and I think that is a good thing.

Last, but certainly not least, there have been accusations flying left and left (no, that's not a mistake) among the Obama and Clinton campaigns about voting and caucus irregularities. Then there was the Obama attorney crashing a Clinton conference call.

And now, as the governor of Ohio warms up the crowd for a Clinton speech, he's hollering for seating the delegates in Michigan and Florida.

Not to mention the possibility of the "Limbaugh effect".

I. Love. This.

UPDATE: Hillary is giving her Ohio speech, a 2.0 version of, wait for it - the "comeback kid".

UPDATE II: (12:45 am) Clinton projected to win in Texas! Wow, what a night. Firewall.

This is sort of the political equivalent of the groundhog seeing his shadow - we have 7 more weeks of primaries.

Permalink | Comments ( 1 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Elections

Podcast for 04 Mar 08
Posted by: Dale Franks
In this podcast, Bruce McQuain and Dale Franks discuss: Live election night coverage of the Vermont, Rhode Island, Ohio, and Texas Primaries. This is an unusually long podcast, as well, coming in at 1:22:14. Ultimately it's unstatisfying, too because there's no payoff. The election results were so delayed coming in, that we couldn't get a call for either Ohio or Texas.


The direct link to the podcast is here.

The intro and outro music is Vena Cava by 50 Foot Wave, and is available for free download here.

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don't forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don't have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here.

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Hugo’s excellent adventure
Posted by: McQ
Hugo Chavez is rattling sabers and denouncing his neighbor Colombia's incursion into Ecuador to take out a FARC camp to which the terrorists have fled.

And he's incensed, incensed I tell you, that Colombia violated the sovereignty of Ecuador by doing so.

Of course, he really has no comment on the 300 million in funding he's allegedly given the narco-terrorists who are waging a war against the Colombian government. Apparently, in Hugo-world, that isn't a violation of sovereignty nor should it be considered an explicit sign of support for those who murder, kidnap and traffic in cocaine all the name of "revolution". Remember, Hugo declared Paul Reyes, one of the FARC terrorists killed in the raid, to be a "good revolutionary".

And then there was this little bomb (no pun intended) dropped at a news conference:
Colombia says some documents suggest the rebels have bought and sold uranium.

"When they mention negotiations for 50 kilos of uranium this means that the FARC are taking big steps in the world of terrorism to become a global aggressor. We're not talking of domestic guerrilla but transnational terrorism," Gen. Oscar Naranjo said at an explosive news conference.
Of course it doesn't necessarily mean they were looking for a nuclear weapon, but it certainly could mean they were in the market for the makings of a dirty bomb.

But the master of bombast, Hugo Chavez continues to try to drown out the information the Colombians claim to have recovered during the raid:
"This could be the start of a war in South America," Chavez said.
Colombia, however, is keeping the pressure on Chavez:
But Naranjo said laptops show Venezuela's growing responsibility for the conflict.

The $300 million payment was mentioned in a Feb. 14 message in Reyes laptop, along with documents suggesting rebels discussed a possible arms transfer from Venezuela, and revealing close ties between Manuel "Sureshot" Marulanda, the top FARC leader, and Venezuela's government.

He quoted one message from Marulanda to Chavez saying "We will always be ready, in the case of gringo aggression, to provide our modest knowledge in defense of the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela."

"This implies more than cozying up, but an armed alliance between the FARC and the Venezuelan government," Naranjo said.

Naranjo said other documents show deepening ties between the rebels and Correa. Ecuador acknowledged that its internal security minister, Gustavo Larrea, met with a FARC emissary but said the intent was strictly humanitarian - to seek the release of hostages held by the rebel group.

Still another document in Reyes' laptop suggests the rebels sent Chavez money when he was jailed in 1992 for leading a coup attempt, Naranjo said. At the time, he was plotting the comeback that eventually led to his election as president in 1998.

"A note recovered from Raul Reyes speaks of how grateful Chavez was for the 100 million pesos (about US$150,000 at the time) ... delivered to Chavez when he was in prison," Naranjo said, without giving any more details.
Unsurprisingly, Venezuela just happened to have a laptop of its own and, interestingly, it just happened to have some incriminating evidence about Naranjo:
Venezuelan late Monday countered by displaying its own seized laptop in Caracas, saying it holds incriminating information tying Naranjo to drug traffickers.

Venezuelan Justice Minister Ramon Rodriguez Chacin said this laptop, belonging to Colombian drug lord Wilber Varela, who was found slain in Venezuela in January, held "important information and notes from the drug traffickers which involve General Oscar Naranjo in drug trafficking."

Rodriguez, who is Chavez's top law enforcement official, said both Naranjo and his brother, who is imprisoned in Germany on drug charges, have links to traffickers.
While all that may be true, that's not much of a denial concerning the 300 mil, is it? But when you can't deny the facts, attack whomever is providing those facts, eh?

Oh, and this, pointed out by James Taranto today in the WSJ Best of the Web - AP's description of FARC in the linked article:
The rebels, who have been fighting for more than four decades for a more equitable distribution of wealth in Colombia, fund themselves largely through the cocaine trade, while holding hundreds of kidnapped hostages for ransom and political ends. The drug trafficking and kidnappings haven't helped their reputation, which is why both [Ecuador's President Rafael] Correa and [Venezuela's President Hugo] Chavez have denied supporting them.
Rebels? Bad rep because of "drug trafficing and kidnappings? And that's why Hugo and Correa have taken pity on them and want to help out?

Of course they forgot to mention this:
. In February [2006], the FARC killed eight town councilmen in Rivera, Huila;

. In April, Liliana Gaviria, sister of former-President Cesar Gaviria, was killed by the FARC;

. In October, the FARC launched car bomb attacks in Bogotá, Villavicencio, and Fusagasuga,

. In November, the FARC attacked rural National Police post in Tierradientro, killing 17 police officers;

. In December, the FARC ambushed the military in Ocana, North Santander, killing 17 soldiers; and

. In December, the FARC killed 15 soldiers near La Julia (Meta).
Sweet, sweet misunderstood FARC - clearly only interested in a more equitable wealth distribution. Maybe they ought to start handing out that 300 mil if that's their real concern.

And adding to the fun, apparently W has mentioned that we will stand by the Colombian government in this little kerfuffle. That ought to lead our boy Hugo to new heights of rhetorical paroxysms.

Oh, joy.

Permalink | Comments ( 4 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Foreign Affairs

More "Silly Season" stuff
Posted by: McQ
I'm telling you, if you're in Texas or Ohio and you're a Republican, you need to be voting for Hillary today. Where else are we going to get this sort of fun among Democrats? Dale sends me a link to the following:

A controversial new Hillary Clinton attack ad is causing an Internet stir among critics who claim it deliberately darkens Barack Obama's skin color.

A posting on the liberal site shows side-by-side screen grabs of Barack Obama taken during a debate with Clinton in Cleveland last week. The screen grab used in the Clinton ad shows a clearly darker-skinned Obama, prompting some to wonder if it was done to highlight his race.

Clinton spokesman Jay Carson told FOX News that Obama's image was darkened, as part of a "saturation-desaturation" process typical in commercial production and sent in an example of a Clinton ad featuring the candidate and the original footage of Clinton delivering the campaign speech used in the ad. He said both candidates have done it in their ads, and that there was no ulterior motive behind doing so in the campaign's most recent ad.
Darkened-gate? You know some things just don't go with -gate but we sure are getting a load of off the wall nonsense here lately (who can forget the recent "NIG" pajamas in a Clinton ad? Oh, yeah, I can.).

So they saturated Obama a little bit too much eh? Heh ... I swear, this just gets more and more amusing as the days go by.

But it is raw meat to the KosKids:
One posting on the DailyKos site, though, charged that while darkening footage may be considered standard practice for political ads trying to "cast the target as sinister," it is "not an acceptable excuse."

"Even if you accept that as normal practice, it's still a dirty one, and it takes on a more charged meaning when you're using it to attack someone in your own party who's already fighting against a lot of racism in the false Muslim smears," the posting said. "This is, at best, the worst of politics as usual."
The "worst of of politics as usual"? Son, we're talking the Clintons here. You ain't seen nuthin' yet. However, another of the "worst of politics as usual" seems to me to be the Obama denial of contact with the Canadians. But hey, that had to do with a substantive concern and this has to do with race - so obviously race takes precedence.

Permalink | Comments ( 9 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Elections

Well here’s a surprise ...
Posted by: McQ
Or not. Russia and China not backing a US sponsored UN resolution?
Russia and China on Tuesday scuttled a Western attempt to introduce a resolution on Iran's nuclear defiance at a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency, diplomats said.
The question now becomes - why? Just the usual intransigence the wannabe superpowers display in order to be taken more seriously? Or is there an actual reason for their refusal to sign on to the sanction resolution?

Well, it appears, at least according to this article, that they felt shut out of the process of drafting the resolution:
The decision appeared to be the result of lingering unhappiness by the two world powers about not being informed earlier of plans for such a resolution.

Moscow on Monday had threatened not to back new U.N. sanctions against Iran unless the West gave up its resolution plans. Then on Tuesday it signaled that it was ready to back such a document if it was given substantial input in drafting it before deciding later in the day that it was against it after all, said the diplomats.

Asked why Russia and China were opposed, one of diplomats said Moscow decided to withdraw its support "on principle" and Beijing, which often takes a cue from Russia on the Iran nuclear dispute, followed suit. He, like others accredited to the IAEA, spoke on condition of anonymity because his information was confidential.
If true, then this is a failure of diplomacy. I'm not a big fan of the UN, don't see much usefulness there, but it isn't like we don't know how it works. If the votes of Russia and China are necessary to pass a resolution, why didn't we and our partners (Britain, France and Germany) include them?

If it isn't true, if we did try to include them and they refused the opportunity (certainly not unheard of) and are putting out false spin (again, certainly not unheard of) then it would appear the old East-West split seems to be reestablishing itself (and recent Russian rhetoric sure seems to reinforce that view).

And, of course, there's always the economic end of the puzzle. Iran is a very important trading partner with Russia and the third largest supplier of China's petroleum needs. Why jeopardize that when you've signed on to previous sanctions (demonstrating you are a 'team player') and aren't at all keen to further irritate Iran?

In fact, this again merely demonstrates that as a world body, the UN has extremely limited utility and, as usual, and unsurprisingly, despite the UN, nations are going to act, almost without exception, in their own best national interest. The fact that Russia and China are again on one side pushing back against the West should really come as no real suprise. Other than a little economic freedom, China is the same country it was before the USSR imploded, and Russia, it seems, is moving back in the authoritarian direction once again. The tradition of a previously shared ideology, trade and shared borders seem to make them natural allies. I say watch for more and more of this in the future. And, as suggested, don't be surprised when it happens.

Permalink | Comments ( 19 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Foreign Affairs

AGW Skeptics Meet
Posted by: McQ
And, apparently, roast Al Gore. To be expected, I guess (although viewing a film by Glenn Beck isn't a particularly good answer to the pot shots at Gore's film).

The most important quote to come out of the meeting Monday in New York, which was sponsored by the Heartland Institute, was that of Fred Singer:
"Our imperfect understanding of the causes and consequences of climate change means the science is far from settled," said Fred Singer, of the Science and Environmental Policy Project.

"Proposed efforts to mitigate climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions are premature and misguided. Any attempt to influence global temperatures by reducing such emissions would be both futile and expensive," he said.
An excellent statement of the skeptic's argument. Frankly I think everyone needs to step back, take a deep breath, and calmly revisit all the science on this subject, and include the skeptics in this examination as well. My guess is that won't happen because of the vested interests of those pushing the AGW theory (and that is all it is, btw).

In the meantime, the skeptics (heretics, "nazis", whatever we're being called today) need to keep themselves and their theories in the public eye. Otherwise, costly decisions are going to be made which, in my opinion, won't effect climate change in the least, but which could lead to economic consequences which could prove devastating to a good portion of the globe. The skeptics must keep this controversy visible and must demand a seat at the table if this is to be averted. The conference in NY is a good step in that direction.


Permalink | Comments ( 12 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Environment

The Middle East and the Obama factor
Posted by: McQ
Barry Rubin of the Jerusalem Post fairly neatly distills the real concerns about a possible Obama presidency - and what it will mean in the foreign policy arena - by concentrating in his area of expertise, the Middle East:
So let's sort it out. The first issue must be whom you trust to deal with the Middle East. The question is definitely not Israel, or even Arab-Israeli issues, in isolation. The next American president will face a lot of other problems, too, including, at a minimum: Afghanistan, attempts to take over states, Egypt's post-Mubarak president, Hamas, Hizbullah and Lebanon, Iranian expansionism and nuclear threat, Iraq, oil supply and prices, radical Islamist movements, the stability of relatively moderate Arab regimes, Syria and terrorism.

The overriding question is a struggle between a well-organized radical alliance (HISH: Hamas, Hizbullah, Iran, in Iraq both insurgents and radical Shi'ites, and Syria) and a relatively moderate though completely uncoordinated set of states. In addition, there are radical Islamist forces that don't work with the HISH bloc but seek revolution in their own countries. Failure to recognize that reality is extraordinarily dangerous.

Facing this very tough situation, it is hard to believe that Barack Obama has the experience, understanding or world view to manage the virtually continuous crisis the region faces. The critical point here is not whether he says the "right" things, but whether he understands things the right way.

Speaking as an analyst, my main concern is not whether or not Obama is elected, but that if he becomes president he will do the best possible job. The best-case conclusion - a combination of wishful thinking and sober assessment - is that sooner or later he will reach what I will call the default position for US Middle East policy.

In other words, he might start out convinced that he can persuade the Iranian and Syrian governments, along with other enemies of the United States, to play nice. Along the way, one hopes, he will learn that this does not work. The main problem is that they don't just object to US policies (or values even, at least if those stay confined to America) but that they rightly see the US as a barrier standing between them and a Middle East filled with Islamist states under their hegemony.

All presidents need to learn in office. In relative terms, though, both Hillary Clinton and John McCain are pretty much ready now. Obama is going to need two or three years. So the good news could be that Obama will eventually understand what needs to be done; and the bad news is what happens during his learning period.

Given current trends, it is quite possible that by the time he gains the needed comprehension, Iran will have nuclear weapons, Lebanon and Iraq will be satellites of Teheran, and Hamas will run the West Bank. In addition, conceiving of Obama as naive and appeasement-oriented - not my invention but an inevitable perception in the region - will embolden extremists and make relative moderates rush to cut a deal with what they will see as the winning side.
The major areas of focus for any president is foreign affairs and national security. You can talk about domestic issues and the economy until the cows come home, but that area of greatest impact and importance to any president are those two. Rubin very neatly points to the major concerns anyone should have with a president who is as woefully inexperienced in those areas as Barack Obama. There is indeed a very steep learning curve for the position, however, in the time it takes to learn the lessons which inevitably lead to the default US position (one Obama is sure he can change, btw, so he will obviously resist the trajectory) the damage done in the region could be irreparable and an increased danger to the national security interests of the US.

We're not choosing a community organizer here. We're giving the reigns to the most powerful political office in the world to someone who is going to be tested and tested mightily and often by other world leaders and factions. And based on his answers and ideas to date, I suggest we cannot afford the type of OJT a Barack Obama will need to bring him up to speed in those areas. Not if we're interested in actually enhancing our national security and improving our foreign policy instead of seeing both reduced to a reactive state driven by our avowed enemies.

Permalink | Comments ( 5 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Foreign Affairs

Comment section gliches
Posted by: McQ
If you're getting an error message after you hit "add comment", hit the back arrow and then hit "preview" - you should see your comment already added. If not feel free to hit "add comment" again, but I don't think it will be necessary.

In the meantime we will chase the gremlins causing this problem.

Permalink | Comments ( 0 ) | TrackBacks ( 1 ) | Category: Blogging

Monday, March 03, 2008

Live Podcasting of TX and OH Election Returns
Posted by: Dale Franks

Please be aware that McQ and I will be live-podcasting the election Ohio and Texas election returns on BlogTalkRadio, starting at 8:00pm Eastern/5:00pm Pacific.

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The Crest of the Obama Wave
Posted by: Dale Franks
Barack Obama, for most of this election cycle, has gotten a pass from the press corps, when it comes to hard questions. So much so that even the Saturday Night Live crew started to ridicule the press in their now-famous sketch from last week, which had membersof the media asking him such tough questions as, "Are you comfortable?" and "Can I get you anything?" and "Are you mad at me?"

There've been two reasons for this, I think, both of which are understandable. First, after winning in Iowa, the campaign for the Democratic nomination began to look like a horse race. And reporters love a horse race. It makes for better TV, it's a story that's easy for viewers to understand, and it's easier to report on, and a lot more fun to report on, compared to the drudgery of combing through the proceedings of the Illinois legislature, back issues of the Chicago Tribune and the like. Second, it's hard to ask tough questions about a platform that consists of having the audacity to hope for change. And Sen. Obama hasn't provided many details of his proposals to dissect.

But, all honeymoons come to an end, and it seems that reporters are starting to seriously question the guy.
Led by the Chicago press corps that has covered Obama for years, the candidate today faced a barrage of questions in what turned out to be a contentious news conference.

Questions centered on why his campaign had denied that a meeting occurred between his chief economic advisor and Canadian officials as well as questions on his relationship with Tony Rezko, a Chicago land developer and fast food magnate, now on trial for corruption charges.

...When did the meeting take place? Why did the Canadian officials reach out? Did Goolsbee not come forward right away and admit the meeting to Campaign Manager David Plouffe and Obama when both denied it last week? These are questions that went unanswered as the press conference was cut short.

Much of the back and forth, though, between reporters and Obama was about his relationship with Tony Rezko, with reporters demanding to know why new details were emerging from the case though Obama and his staff had claimed they had been forthright with all the details.

...A third reporter followed, asking Obama why information about fundraisers or other details had not been answered by the campaign. He raised the issue of how details were emerging in the case, like the fact that Obama and Rezko had toured the property that resulted in the questionable land deal between the two men.

...Toward the end of the press conference, the question of Goolsbee's meeting was raised again. Obama answered curtly and then walked out after a staffer called last question. The press erupted with shouts, but Obama continued to walk out.

...On the flight from San Antonio to Dallas, Obama, unsurprisingly, did not wander back to make small talk with the traveling press corps.
Maybe walking out works in Chicago. But this isn't the same game. It's not the same league. "It ain't even the same f***ing sport."

Having the controversy heat up just days before a make or break election for his opponent is interesting timing too.

Will it turn out to be unfortunate timing?

Tune in tomorrow to BlogTalkRadio for our live election returns call-in podcast.

Permalink | Comments ( 5 ) | TrackBacks ( 1 ) | Category: Politics

Ah, technology ...
Posted by: McQ
We can do this:

But we can't build a virtual fence on the border.

Go figure.

(HT: HotAir)

Permalink | Comments ( 12 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Technology

Quote of the Day
Posted by: McQ
Hillary Clinton provides it via Andrew Malcolm:
"I think that I have a lifetime of experience that I will bring to the White House. Sen. John McCain has a lifetime of experience that he'd bring to the White House. And Sen. Obama has a speech he gave in 2002."

So - does it seem that perhaps the Democratic nomination process is getting even more heated (if that's possible)?

You know it's bad when a candidate acknowledges a "lifetime of experience" for the opposing party's candidate over that of the rival for her party's nomination.

If she wins, that's one she can't take back, and, of course, McCain doesn't have to acknowledge the same thing for her.

Permalink | Comments ( 12 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Elections

Eco-Terrrorists fire homes near Seattle
Posted by: McQ
The irony, of course, is the eco-terrorists probably put more harmful elements into the environment by their criminal action than would have been produced throughout the entire life of the home:
Fire officials say explosive devices were found inside the homes set afire this morning in the "Street of Dreams" development near Woodinville, outside of Seattle.

Crews battled fires early Monday at four multimillion-dollar show homes in a suburb north of Seattle, and a sign with the initials of a radical environmental group was found at the scene, an official said.

The sign, which had the initials of the Earth Liberation Front, mocked claims the luxury homes on the "Street of Dreams" were environmentally friendly, according to video images of the sign aired by KING-TV.

"Built Green? Nope black!" the sign said.
And, of course, that absurd assessment helped these cretins rationalize their destructive and criminal behavior.

As far as I'm concerned, groups like ELF are terrorists in the clearest sense of the word. While we all have our opinions and disagreements concerning issues and policy, none of us act unilaterally and destructively to push our point. There is only one reason for this sort of behavior - intimidation. And that is one of the primary aims of any terrorist organization. It should be condemned by all thinking people in the harshest of terms.

When these sorry excuses for human beings are caught, they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. They should also count themselves lucky that no one was injured or killed trying to control their reckless and decidedly eco-unfriendly method of destructively expressing their juvenile agenda.

More here.

Permalink | Comments ( 19 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Terrorism

This creeps me out
Posted by: Billy Hollis
This video is not from the Obama campaign.

However, I'd bet you won't see independent supporters of John McCain making a video that features swooning zombies chanting his name. Unless it's a parody, I mean.

Folks, we are electing a president, not a messiah. The people in this video apparently believe the world is run by magic and you can somehow create exactly the world you want just by commanding it into place.

That's scary. It's the attitude of which authoritarian regimes are made.

Has our citizenry lost the independence of spirit that made this country special? How much of our voting population believes in the modern equivalent of medieval superstition: chanting for "change" and "protecting the environment" as if that's all it takes to make the world an ideal place?

I've said before that I do not intend to vote for McCain. I fear him too, because he has a "great man" complex and if he is elected, I fear there will be no effective opposition in Congress to whatever grand government programs he decides are some kind of historical imperative.

But if Obama's campaign keeps getting creepier, it might start looking like an even bigger threat.

There's one other aspect I'm wondering about. I've said before that the left in this country has lost its hold on reality. It's not hard to see: from the 9/11 conspirazoids to Michelle Obama's utterly incomprehensible view of American business, you can pick out any number of different degrees of separation from reality in today's left.

If Obama is elected, the reality will not match the mystical dreams of his leftist supporters. His grand designs will be opposed by a mostly-Republican coterie in Congress.

I have no idea what the left will do then, but if their apoplexy at George Bush is anything to judge by, it won't be pretty.

(Found via Ann Althouse)

Permalink | Comments ( 38 ) | TrackBacks ( 2 ) | Category: Politics

What it takes to be Commander-in-Chief
Posted by: McQ
Jon touched on what Wesley Clark finds as inadequate experience to be Commander-in-Chief. Unsurprisingly, the person who best fits that description happens to be John McCain.

However, here's what Clark finds to be a perfect resume for taking over as CiC (at least for this presidential go-round):
Mr. Clark said her seven years of Senate experience and her travels to 80 countries as first lady give her a leg up on the competition. "I think she's the most experienced and capable person in the race, not only for representing America abroad, but for dealing with the tough issues of national security," he said.
Hmmm ... so attending funerals and hanging out with the wives of other world leaders plus a few years in the Senate does it for Clark.

Frankly, I find the qualifications Gloria Steinem's outlined to be much more compelling [/sarcasm]:
And she claimed that if Clinton's experience as First Lady were taken seriously in relation to her White House bid, people might "finally admit that, say, being a secretary is the best way to learn your boss's job and take it over."
A secretary? From a "feminist" no less.

Are these people getting desperate or what?

Permalink | Comments ( 7 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Elections

Obama staffer says he was misquoted (update x 2)
Posted by: McQ
First there was the story. Then the denial of the story. Then CTV's avowal to stand by the story. Then the non-denial denial. Now that a memo has come out which details a discussion between an Obama staffer and Canadian governmental officials about NAFTA, it is down to arguing over implications.

So, let's clear the air. An Obama staffer did talk to Canadian governmental officials about NAFTA after a flat denial. And Canadian governmental officials (from their consulate in Chicago) documented the meeting and summarized the discussion.

But, says the Obama staffer, he was misquoted in the memo - of course:
Barack Obama's senior economic policy adviser said Sunday that Canadian government officials wrote an inaccurate portrayal of his private discussion on the campaign's trade policy in a memo obtained by The Associated Press.
Yes, it's as if we're arguing the definition of "is" again. Read this very carefully. He's reacting to a section of a memo from the Canadians obtained by AP:
Goolsbee disputed a section that read: "Noting anxiety among many U.S. domestic audiences about the U.S. economic outlook, Goolsbee candidly acknowledged the protectionist sentiment that has emerged, particularly in the Midwest, during the primary campaign. He cautioned that this messaging should not be taken out of context and should be viewed as more about political positioning than a clear articulation of policy plans."

"This thing about `it's more about political positioning than a clear articulation of policy plans,' that's this guy's language," Goolsbee said of DeMora. "He's not quoting me.

"I certainly did not use that phrase in any way," Goolsbee said.
Note carefully what he says. He claims he didn't use "that phrase" in any way. But he says nothing about whether he conveyed those sentiments in different words. He is being completely literal and using that as a backhanded way of denying the sentiment by implication. More on the memo:
Goolsbee "was frank in saying that the primary campaign has been necessarily domestically focused, particularly in the Midwest, and that much of the rhetoric that may be perceived to be protectionist is more reflective of political maneuvering than policy," the memo's introduction said. "On NAFTA, Goolsbee suggested that Obama is less about fundamentally changing the agreement and more in favour of strengthening/clarifying language on labour mobility and environment and trying to establish these as more `core' principles of the agreement."
Goolsbee's reaction?
Goolsbee said that sentence is true and consistent with Obama's position. But he said other portions of the memo were inaccurate.
Heh ... yup, they got the part that tracks with his new story correct, but that which doesn't, well they're the ones who are inaccurate. This from a guy who was in on the denial end of the story until the memo showed up.

And it gets worse:
He said he has been surprised that such a banal and trivial meeting with a low-level consulate official has created so much controversy and resulted in such an inaccurate depiction. He said he was invited to the consulate to meet the officials and get a tour.
The meeting was with Joseph DeMora, who works for the consulate, and included the consul general in Chicago, Georges Rioux, who will be glad to know he's considered a low-level consulate official by Goolsbee.

It was an "introductory" visit and it appears Goolsbee was a little full of himself and probably spouted off, "reassuring" a nervous Canadian consulate that they shouldn't concern themselves too deeply with that which was mostly campaign rhetoric.

Seems a perfectly plausible scenario dutifully recorded by a consulate functionary who has no reason to make anything up. Given Goolsbee's "truth index" to this point, I'm forced to go with the consulate version.

And for the Obama campaign, a black eye and significant charge of politics as usual - say whatever you have to say, depending on the mood of the crowd, to get those votes. That's a "change", isn't it?

UPDATE: The story is certainly being played up by the Clinton campaign. They recognize the political value of the story in countering the "change" rhetoric spouted by the Obama campaign:
[Howard] WOLFSON: ... And I think, look, what voters in Ohio care about today is the fact that they're learning that a key policy adviser to Senator Obama was telling one thing to the Canadians about Senator Obama's NAFTA position while Senator Obama was saying another thing to folks in Ohio.

[Joe] SCARBOROUGH: That broke over the wires last night, didn't it?

[Howard] WOLFSON: A major piece that broke overnight, you know. For days the Obama campaign has issued denials, half-denials, quarter-denials, evasive denials, and we now know that the gentleman who is Senator Obama's chief economics adviser, who was an integral part of his campaign, told the Canadians, you know, Senator Obama is going to say some is negative things about NAFTA, but that's just political rhetoric.
UPDATE II: Politico reports that Obama answered a question in Texas about the NAFTA kerfuffle:
Let me just be absolutely clear what happened, when I gave you that information, that was the information I had at the time. The Canadian Consulate in Chicago contacted one of my advisers, Austan Goolsbee, on their own initiative, invited them down to meet with them. He met with them as a courtesy. At some point they strated talking about trade and Nafta and the Canadian Embassy confirmed that he said exactly what I have been saying on the campaign trail.
Hmmm ... as I recall the "information" he had "at the time" flatly denied the meeting had taken place. Period.

So somebody fibbed. Was it this paragon of a consultant Goolsbee or someone else? It seems Obama doesn't really understand that it is about that point for which most of us want clarification. Who reported to him that there was no such meeting in the first place? And if it was Goolsbee, why should we believe him when he says he didn't try to reassure the Canadians that Obama's NAFTA talk was campaign rhetoric not to be taken seriously - especially when that was the impression he left on at least one Canadian consulate participant who wrote the memo saying as much?

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Wes Clark and John McCain
Posted by: Jon Henke
Wes Clark is suddenly down on the relevance of (some) military service for the Office of President.
In the national security business, the question is, do you have - when you have served in uniform, do you really have the relevant experience for making the decisions at the top that have to be made? Everybody admires John McCain's service as a fighter pilot, his courage as a prisoner of war. There's no issue there. He's a great man and an honorable man. But having served as a fighter pilot - and I know my experience as a company commander in Vietnam - that doesn't prepare you to be commander-in-chief in terms of dealing with the national strategic issues that are involved. It may give you a feeling for what the troops are going through in the process, but it doesn't give you the experience first hand of the national strategic issues.
That's funny, Wes Clark certainly seemed to think mid-level Officer experience and "physical courage" in the Vietnam War was quite important during the 2004 Presidential campaign.

Now, however, he's essentially arguing that Laura Bush would be more qualified on foreign policy than John McCain. Well, that's just...stupid.

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Hell’s Angels planned to off Mick Jagger?
Posted by: McQ
It is always nice to have a bizarre little story with which to start your week. How about this one - the Hell's Angels were so enraged with their treatment by Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones after the Altamont concert in CA in 1969 (they were in charge of security and are believed to have killed an 18 year-old concert goer) that they hatched a plot to kill Jagger. Yup, the boys decided to kill him at his Long Island home in New York.

And instead of getting there by land they chose to go by sea. The result was rather interesting:
The bikers planned to get there by boat, but were all tossed overboard in a storm. They survived but, according to the documentary, made no further attempts on Jagger's life.
Stick with your bikes, boys. The story is told in a audio documentary airing on BBC radio

Tom Mangold, the presenter of the program, claims the information was made public in an interview with Mark Young, a former FBI officer, for the BBC's "The FBI at 100" documentary.

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How to keep Hillary in the game ...
Posted by: McQ
I think the Republicans realize that keeping Hillary in the game - the primaries - is important to wearing the eventual winner - Obama - down and making him vulnerable. It keeps the charges and counter-charges flying and it opens avenues of attack that a Republican might not exploit originally, but will gladly follow if a Democrat first uses it.

But if she loses Texas and could possibly lose Ohio, how in the world do Republicans help extend her stay?

Oh, I know, let's do Florida over again!
Florida Governor Charlie Crist said he'd support a repeat of the Democratic presidential primary so the state's delegates can be counted at the party's national convention.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said he's open to the possibility. Primary elections are paid for by a state's taxpayers, so the offer from Crist, a Republican, is ``very helpful'' because money is an issue, Dean said.

``We're very willing to listen to the people of Florida,'' Dean said on CNN's ``Late Edition'' program today.


Crist said, ``I think it's very important though that those delegates are seated.

``I'm hopeful that the Democratic National Committee comes to the conclusion it's the right thing to do,'' he said on CNN today.
I'm coughin' up a lung here. That's not only transparent, that's laughingly transparant - but "money is an issue" and if Obama can cosponsor a bill to ensure McCain can be president if he wins, well the least Charlie Crist can do is offer to prolong, oh, wait, it was Obama, er, well anyway, let's do FL over again, shall we? Please?


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Gun porn
Posted by: McQ
Want a handly little flashlight along with a machinegun that'll fit in your back pocket? Well, I have just the thing for you:

(HT: Ace via Tom Scott)

Permalink | Comments ( 4 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Guns and Gun Rights

Chavez threatens Colombia
Posted by: McQ
Colombia, apparently, struck at a narco-terrorist camp inside Ecuador after tracking FARC spokesman Paul Reyes and other leaders there. Reyes and 16 other terrorists were killed.

Chavez reacted by sending troops to the Venezuela/Colombia border:
President Hugo Chavez on Sunday ordered thousands of troops to the border with Colombia after Colombia's military killed a top rebel leader.

Chavez told his defense minister: "Move 10 battalions for me to the border with Colombia, immediately." He also ordered the Venezuelan Embassy in Colombia closed and said all embassy personnel would be withdrawn.
He also called Colombia a "terrorist state". As for Ecuador:
Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa said Uribe had informed him of the raid but later announced that he was misled after Ecuadorean officials inspected a bombed rebel camp.

"The (Colombian) president either was poorly informed or brazenly lied to the president of Ecuador," said Correa, who called home the ambassador to Colombia for consultation and promised a diplomatic note of protest.
Sounds to me like Chavez got to Correa.

And you'll love this from Chavez:
"The Colombian government has become the Israel of Latin America," an agitated Chavez said, mentioning another country that he has criticized for its military strikes. "We aren't going to permit Colombia to become the Israel of these lands."
It may be nothing but the usual bluster and saber rattling from Chavez. But it certainly is an escalation in the tensions between Venezuela and Colombia.

And, of course, Chavez reserves the right to decide who is or isn't a "good revolutionary":
"We pay tribute to a true revolutionary, who was Raul Reyes," Chavez said, recalling that he had met rebel in Brazil in 1995 and calling him a "good revolutionary."
Murder and kidnapping are apparently the key to being labeled a good revolutionary in modern Venezuela. And why not - look who is el Presidente.

Permalink | Comments ( 14 ) | TrackBacks ( 1 ) | Category: Foreign Affairs

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Sometimes you can just over-analyze something
Posted by: McQ
And that seems to be the case with a bunch of feminists who got together to discuss Hillary, Barack, progressive politics and the state of feminism for The Nation. First noting that while they were "diverse" they were all "progressive" (yay for that), they all wondered why it was that the selection process for the Democrats was in such a state. Typically, they define the problem in terms they understand, whether applicable or not:
Rather, the concern that united us all was the "race-gender split" playing out nationally, in which the one is relentlessly pitted against the other. We did not want to see a repeat of the ugly history of the nineteenth century, when the failure of the women's movement to bring about universal adult suffrage metastasized into racial resentment and rift that weakened feminism throughout much of the twentieth century.

How, we wondered, did a historic breakthrough moment for which we have all longed and worked hard, suddenly risk becoming marred by having to choose between "race cards" and "gender cards"?
Well, the answer is very simple actually. Because that is the sort of identity politics to which "progressives" are prone.

To the rest of us out here, this isn't a big mystery. It has nothing really to do with race or gender. It has to do with one candidate being more attractive to "progressive" voters than the other. And had it have been the female instead of the black man, none of the soul searching and analysis about the "gender card" would be found anywhere, would it?

Nope - instead it would all be about racist America not ready for a black president.

However, the one part of the analysis that most "progressives" seem to continue to miss, at this point, is that these have been "progressive" primaries, not a general election. So any labeling that results stays with "progressives", not the rest of America. I wonder how that's going to sit when they finally realize it.

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Michelle Obama - do as I say ...
Posted by: McQ
Byron York at NRO brings us an interesting bit of advice from Michelle Obama given in Zanesville, OH.

First some background:
According to the U.S. Census, Muskingum County, where Zanesville is located, had a median household income of $37,192 in 2004, below both the Ohio and national averages. Just 12.2 percent of adults in the county have a bachelor's degree or higher, also well below the state and national averages. About 20 percent don't have a high school degree.
Got that? Blue-collar, below the national average in both household income and education.

Ms. Obama's advice?
As she has many times in the past, Mrs. Obama complains about the lasting burden of student loans dating from her days at Princeton and Harvard Law School. She talks about people who end up taking years and years, until middle age, to pay off their debts. "The salaries don't keep up with the cost of paying off the debt, so you're in your 40s, still paying off your debt at a time when you have to save for your kids," she says.

"Barack and I were in that position," she continues. "The only reason we're not in that position is that Barack wrote two best-selling books. It was like Jack and his magic beans. But up until a few years ago, we were struggling to figure out how we would save for our kids." A former attorney with the white-shoe Chicago firm of Sidley & Austin, Obama explains that she and her husband made the choice to give up lucrative jobs in favor of community service. "We left corporate America, which is a lot of what we're asking young people to do," she tells the women. "Don't go into corporate America. You know, become teachers. Work for the community. Be social workers. Be a nurse. Those are the careers that we need, and we're encouraging our young people to do that. But if you make that choice, as we did, to move out of the money-making industry into the helping industry, then your salaries respond." Faced with that reality, she adds, "many of our bright stars are going into corporate law or hedge-fund management."
First, the seeming out-of-touch discussion in an apparently depressed economic area about corporate jobs. Then the warning not to go there (as if most have that opportunity in the first place). And last, the claim that the jobs which are "needed" aren't the lucrative jobs that might be found in the corporate world (and the engine which drives the economy - believe it or not "corporate law or hedge-fund management" does not define the "corporate world"), but instead in service to the community in typically low paying jobs. That all on top of the complaining about not being able to pay of student loans (as if low paying service jobs would speed that process up).

Talk about a barrel of mixed and inconsistent messages.

And, of course, despite her claims that both she and her husband left lucrative corporate jobs in favor of lower paying community service jobs (saved by the fact that Barack wrote a couple of books which did well), she fails to mention her "community service" job wasn't exactly the typical sort that "teachers, nurses and social workers" can expect, nor was the pay. She also forgot to mention some other income streams:
What she doesn't mention is that the helping industry has treated her pretty well. In 2006, the Chicago Tribune reported that Mrs. Obama's compensation at the University of Chicago Hospital, where she is a vice president for community affairs, jumped from $121,910 in 2004, just before her husband was elected to the Senate, to $316,962 in 2005, just after he took office. And that does not count the money Mrs. Obama receives from serving on corporate boards.
Obviously that sort of work is reserved for her, not for Zanesville. For them, sacrifice is the word, service is the credo, and that will put them in great shape to become further dependent on government to 'do' something for them.

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Most Recent Numbers
Posted by: Dale Franks
Here's the current polling averages from RCP:

Total Delegates13841279
Pledged Delegates11931038
Popular Vote10,305,4039,379,822
Popular Vote (w/FL)10,881,61710,250,808
Popular Vote (w/FL & MI)10,921,69910,601,049
National RCP Average48.5%41.3%
Total Delegates1019254
National RCP Average56.8%27.0%
General ElectionDemocratsRepublicans
Obama vs. McCainObama 47.6McCain 43.3
Clinton vs. McCainClinton 45.5McCain 46.3

Actually, the averages make things look better for Hillary Clinton than they actually are, because they include polls from a couple of weeks ago, i.e., before Wisconsin. The most recent polling numbers show the same sort of slide towards Obama that we've seen time and time again over the last ten primaries.

The two most recent polls for Ohio, which ended on 2/28/08, show Clinton with a 2-point lead, i.e. within the margin of error. Rasmussen has Clinton ahead of Obama 47-45, and Reuters/C-Span/Zogby has her ahead 44-42. A 20-point Clinton lead in Ohio has dropped to just 2 points within the last three weeks.

Her 16-point lead in Texas two weeks ago has turned into a 6-point deficit according to Reuters/C-Span/Zogby, with Obama ahead 48-42. Rasmussen has Obama ahead by 4 points at 48-44.

Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, Clinton had a 14-point lead two weeks ago. But the most recent polls show her ahead by only 4 points in Rassmussen's polling at 46-42, and 6 points ahead in a Quinnipiac poll, at 49-43.

Time and time again, when you graph the poll numbers on a line graph over time, the line charts keep looking like an elongated X, as Clinton's numbers fall and Obama's rise.

This is not to say that she has no hope in Texas and Ohio—or, at least in Ohio, because of an interesting phenomenon that Jay Cost noted a few days ago. Clinton closes well. Among undecided voters, they tend to break for Obama, right up until election day, or a day or two prior. After that, they tend to break for Clinton.

Essentially, he theorizes that Hillary Clinton, having been nationally known for two decades, is the default candidate. Among those who simply can't make up their minds, the tendency seems to be to simply choose the default candidate on election day. In a neck-and-neck race like Ohio is turning out to be—and even in Texas, although that's less likely—that might be just enough to grant her the margin of victory.

It's about the only silver lining in an otherwise cloudy sky for her campaign. But, on average, 13% of the electorate are "day of election" deciders, and Clinton gets about 8% more votes than Obama does among them. Unfortunately, that translates into an increase of about 1% for the electorate as a whole, so for those "day of election" deciders to turn the election her way, it has to be close. Like, Florida 2000 close.

But, it's better than nothing, and, at this stage of the nomination race, she needs every percentage point she can get.

Note: Bruce and I will be podcasting the election results live via BlogTalkRadio on Tuesday, instead of doing our regular Sunday podcast.

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Saturday, February 09, 2008

Ann Coulter at CPAC, sadly
Posted by: Jon Henke
For whatever reason, though hopefully due to her past rhetoric, CPAC declined to invite Ann Coulter to speak on the agenda this year. It was the right decision.

Unfortunately, not everybody made that decision.
[An event featuring Ann Coulter] was held at the CPAC convention hall, but not sponsored by CPAC— largely because of controversial remarks she made at the convention last year about former North Carolina Senator John Edwards.

Instead, it was organized by Citizens United, Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute, Human Events, Young America's Foundation and Townhall.
It is difficult to take people on the Right seriously when they criticize outrageous comments from the Left, yet tolerate Ann Coulter. As Hackbarth points out, Coulter's popularity is "not something to be proud of."

I hate to write this, because many of those groups contain dear friends of mine, but they made a very poor choice.

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Opinions of convenience
Posted by: Jon Henke
A letter in today's New York Times, responding to Paul Krugman's Feb 1st column "The Edwards Effect", in which Paul Krugman wrote that John Kerry ran "a cautious campaign, without strong, distinctive policy ideas."
Paul Krugman ridicules John Kerry's 2004 campaign as "cautious" and "without strong, distinctive policy ideas."

Talk about a flip-flop that would even make Mitt Romney jealous: Mr. Krugman suggests that Mr. Kerry's policies weren't distinctive, but in 2004 when writing about health care policy he said, "The difference [from Bush] couldn't be starker."
How is it that so many of the same policies Mr. Krugman found "cautious" in 2004 have become "bold" in 2008?

Let me add a bit more of what Krugman said about Kerry's 2004 policy proposals.

  • In July 2004, Paul Krugman wrote that "John Kerry has proposed an ambitious health care plan", which was "a truly good idea".

  • In November 2004, Paul Krugman said of Kerry's health care policy, "I'm in love with one piece of it, and I think it is just brilliant ... actually a very smart idea."


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Today’s Voting
Posted by: Dale Franks
In case you didn't know, primary caucuses were held today in Washington a Democratic caucus Nebraska, a Republican caucus in Kansas, and a primary election in Louisiana.

Here is the situation as of 1848 PST:

LA (22% of precincts reporting):
Obama: 52%
Clinton: 39%

Huckabee: 47%
McCain: 38%
Romney: 8%
Paul: 5%

WA (Caucus):
Obama: 67%
Clinton: 32%
Uncommitted: 1%

McCain: 27%
Huckabee: 26%
Paul: 21%
Romney: 17%
Uncommitted: 9%

NE (Democratic Caucus):
Obama: 68%
Clinton: 32%

KS (Republican Caucus):
Huckabee: 60%
McCain: 24%
Paul: 11%
Romney: 3%

Once again, Obama scores very big in caucusing, which seems to be his strength. Tonight, though, he took away a solid blue state, WA, from Clinton, something he was unable to do on Super Tuesday.

Once again, however, in LA, Obama scored very well in exit polling, but in actual votes, the raw votes don't seem to be holding up as well as those exit polls. As a result, the race in LA is still too close to call. once again, the Bradley Effect seems to be taking place.

UPDATE: But, not enough of a Bradley Effect to lose him the state. Obama gets a clean sweep tonight.

And, in his victory speech—given at the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Virginia—he's going after John McCain. As if he already had the nomination in the bag.

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The Drought in Georgia
Posted by: mcq
How bad is it? Bad enough that the GA legislature is planning to pass a bill which moves the border with Tennessee 1.1 miles north in order to gain access to the Tennessee river:
Sen. David Shafer (R-Duluth) and Rep. Harry Geisinger (R-Roswell) introduced resolutions this week to, in essence, move the state line a mile north, running it right through a bend in the river. Then, the legislators say, Georgia could send billions of gallons of water to parched Atlanta without Tennessee's permission.

Shafer, Geisinger and others say an "erroneous" survey completed in 1818 and never accepted by the state of Georgia placed the border 1.1 miles below what Congress had earlier established as the boundary.

Nearly every Georgia legislator signed on to the resolutions (SR 822 and HR 1206), which direct Gov. Sonny Perdue to remedy the dispute with his Tennessee counterpart.

"While we know that this proposal is not a short-term remedy to our current drought situation, Governor Perdue is open to looking at all options as we plan for Georgia's long-term future needs," Perdue spokesman Bert Brantley said, adding that the governor hasn't scheduled talks with Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen.

Bredesen, busy dealing with the aftermath of this week's deadly tornadoes in his state, couldn't be reached for comment.

The resolutions also seek creation of a boundary line commission, made up of legislators from Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina (which shares a border with both states).

"Most people in the (Tennessee) Legislature understand this is a publicity stunt, but my constituents don't think that," said state Sen. Andy Berke, a Democrat whose district includes Chattanooga and the river. "They don't think this is an appropriate action for the Georgia Legislature to take even if it is in jest."

Shafer said it's no trifling matter. The correct boundary was set by Congress two centuries ago, and the error must be corrected.
Well, it "must be corrected" now mainly, or should I say, only because of the drought and the fact that it would give access to the state of GA.

It is another in a long line of government mismanagement stories. Not the border, but the fact that the problem GA now faces isn't something that blindsided it. We've known we've had the potential of a water shortage - without a drought - for decades. The state has done studies. It has put a plan together to build more and more reservoirs because the growth of the Atlanta MSA demanded it. And there is no rocket science involved here. Trend in growth and water resources available equals future shortage. Yes, the drought has moved it up much more quickly, but the problem is nothing, and I mean nothing, has been done to provide for future needs, drought or no drought. Not the first reservoir, nada.

And now we're reduced to border disputes in order to access water. Wars have been fought over less. It is just absurd to be at this particular point when the probability, not possibility, of water shortages have been known for 30 years.

Yeah, I want these guys running my health care.


Permalink | Comments ( 4 ) | TrackBacks ( 1 ) | Category: Government

More on the Dem Super Delgates
Posted by: mcq
You remember the scenario and effects I mentioned a day or so ago about Democratic Super Delegates (SD) deciding the nominee?

Here as some reactions to exactly that sort of an outcome from some pretty dyed-in-the-wool Dems:
Donna Brazile was quoted as saying, "If 795 of my colleagues decide this election, I will quit the Democratic Party. I feel very strongly about this," Brazile said.

And Chris Bowers of Open Left wrote this post, "How I Could Quit the Democratic Party", that makes the same argument.
I'll again point out that this has the potential to be a huge problem for Democrats and I'm just thrilled to death, frankly. The obvious possibility is that one or the other of the potential nominees will take a commanding lead which would all but preclude the SDs from trying to overturn it (or, in the case of Hillary, simply going with the trend). However I think it is going to remain a close race, and while I think there are structural problems with the Republican method of winner-take-all delegates, it appears, that the Dems have their own problems as well. When you have to strong candidates who are able to pull pretty equal numbers in delegates (because of proportional awarding), who wins the state doesn't mean as much as it might.

This is really something to watch because of its divisive potential. If the scenario comes to fruition, it is entirely possible John McCain may stumble his way into the presidency after all.

Permalink | Comments ( 12 ) | TrackBacks ( 1 ) | Category: Elections

Friday, February 08, 2008

The Rep Veep Sweepstakes
Posted by: mcq
On the McCain side, er, Republican side, and beside the obvious picks of Huckabee and Giuliani, and the others he ran against, who else might be the VP pick? Well Jon, at Exurban League has applied a little science of his own to sort through the possibilities:
That leaves governors and movement conservatives. Since this is still a big group, I'll briefly list their strengths based on the Key Qualities mentioned in the last post:

P = Presidential
S = Standard-bearer
I = Ideological balance
G = Geographic advantage
E = Experiential diversity
D = Diversity (Ethnic/Gender)

Let's see how it shakes out...

* Gov. Tim Pawlenty (Minn.): P, S, I, G, E; Supported RomneyMcCain, yet couldn't deliver in the primary.
* Gov. Charlie Crist (Fla.): P, S, G, E; Many say Crist won Florida for McCain. However, Crist is unmarried and is the victim of a few ugly rumors on that front (it's sad that this matters, but the Clintons won't play softball).
* Gov. Haley Barbour (Miss.): P, S, I, E; A very shrewd political operator and successful executive
* Gov. Bobby Jindal (Louisiana): S, I, G, E, D; This guy's a rising rock star who would provide both regional and ethic diversity. However, he is very new to the job. Look for him on a short list in '12 or '16.
* Gov. Mark Sanford (S.C.): P, S, E; Also unmarried.
* Gov. Sarah Palin (Alaska): S, I, D; Very successful, very popular and very fine, but she too is a bit of a newbie.
* Fmr. Gov. Bill Owens (Colo.): P, S, I, E
* Fmr. Gov. Frank Keating (Okla.): P, S, I, E
* Fmr. Rep. John Kasich (Ohio): P, S, I, G
* Steve Forbes: P, I, E
* Fmr. Secy. Bill Bennett: P, I, E
* Fmr. Spkr. Newt Gingrich: P, S, I
* Fmr. Lt. Gov. Ken Blackwell (Ohio): S, I, G, D
* Fmr. Rep. Chris Cox (Calif.): P, S, I
* Fmr. Rep. J.C. Watts (Okla.): S, I, D
* Fmr. Sen. Phil Gramm (Texas): P, I
* Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson: P, D
* Fmr. Lt. Gov. Michael Steele (Md.): D
And that leads him to this short list:
Based on all the discussion above, here are who I believe are the Top Seven early picks in the GOP Veepstakes:

1. Pawlenty
2. Crist
3. Giuliani
4. Barbour
5. Blackwell
6. Cox
7. Romney
Yeesh, about as inspiring as McCain.

Who would be your pick?


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The Dem Veep Sweepstakes
Posted by: mcq
Kevin Drum talks "veep" on the Dem side, based on Lee Sigelman's calculations:
Assuming that neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama chooses the other as their running mate, who would be their top choice? Lee Sigelman has applied ScienceT to this question and concludes that the first pick for both candidates is.....

Ohio governor Ted Strickland.

The implicit electoral cynicism of this choice is pretty overwhelming, but still, I guess I'll buy it. A lot of people assume that one of the primary also-rans is the most likely choice, but in fact winning nominees rarely choose one of their erstwhile competitors. Kerry did it in 2004 and Reagan did it in 1980, and then you have to go all the way back to 1960 to find another example. That's a grand total of three times in half a century.

FWIW, Sigelman figures that Obama's top three choices are Strickland, Sam Nunn, and Jim Webb. Clinton's top three are Strickland, Sam Nunn, and (in a tie) Jim Webb and Mark Warner.
OK, I throw this up here for fun because no one to include Kevin Drum or Lee Sigelman have any idea of who the Dem veep pick might be (since, first, it depends on who wins the nomination, and that's not clear yet). But even so, I was a bit surprised to see Sam Nunn's name appear on the short list for each. But there are so many more choices to be had for strategic reasons. Like Wes Clark. Southern, national defense bona fides out the wazoo, a perfect VP pick for either candidate. And then there's the whole "if Obama wins he'll pick a woman, if Hillary wins, she'll pick a black" school of thought.

One thing I'm pretty sure of though, is that if Obama wins, Hillary won't be his pick and if Obama wins, Hillary will be sitting it out as well. And while they may be a Democrat dream ticket, I don't think there's any love lost between the two and I doubt that either one would care to play second fiddle to the other.

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McCain and Huckabee?
Posted by: Jon Henke
I've heard some people speculating about the possibility of John McCain picking Mike Huckabee for his VP spot. I don't see a McCain/Huckabee ticket happening, for a variety of reasons.

First, it's just hard to see how Huckabee helps McCain. Huckabee certainly does nothing to appease the portion of the base that is upset at McCain. Indeed, he'd only entrench those disputes. If McCain thought the base was miffed at him on immigration and taxes, he should check the reviews Huckabee got in November and December of 2007.

What's more, Huckabee won't swing a State for McCain. If Obama is the candidate, Arkansas goes for McCain, anyway. If Hillary is the candidate, Arkansas goes for Hillary. Huckabee isn't the marginal factor there.

Finally, the McCain's camp has to know how much the Clinton Arkansas machine can throw against Huckabee: ethics issues, pardons, taxes, immigration, past comments on social issues, long-forgotten sermors, and pretty much everything else Huckabee did in the Clinton machines back yard. The media didn't pay much attention to those issues during the Republican Primary, but that would change for the general election and Huckabee would be an ongoing anchor on the ticket.

So, I just don't see how a Huckabee Veep works for McCain, and I very much doubt he's considering it. It seems to me that McCain needs to pick somebody that will both reassure the base on McCain's trustworthiness and make them start thinking of the post-McCain candidate - somebody who the base could be excited about in, say, 2012.

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Economic Concepts
Posted by: Jon Henke
Max Borders created these very, very good explanations of free market economic concepts. I particularly like the illustrations of the differences between hierarchal and network systems.

Part 1

Part 2


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Biofuels, lethargic sun and rushing a solution
Posted by: mcq
A new study says Ethanol may cause more problems than it is purported to solve:
The widespread use of ethanol from corn could result in nearly twice the greenhouse gas emissions as the gasoline it would replace because of expected land-use changes, researchers concluded Thursday. The study challenges the rush to biofuels as a response to global warming.
The key point in the paragraph is found in the last sentence when it mentions "the rush to biolfuels". To parse it even further, we have the key word "rush". Like in, "what's the rush"? Have we actually put together all the variables and looked closely at what the impact of biofuels will really be. This study says no.
The researchers said that past studies showing the benefits of ethanol in combating climate change have not taken into account almost certain changes in land use worldwide if ethanol from corn - and in the future from other feedstocks such as switchgrass - become a prized commodity.

"Using good cropland to expand biofuels will probably exacerbate global warming," concludes the study published in Science magazine.

The researchers said that farmers under economic pressure to produce biofuels will increasingly "plow up more forest or grasslands," releasing much of the carbon formerly stored in plants and soils through decomposition or fires. Globally, more grasslands and forests will be converted to growing the crops to replace the loss of grains when U.S. farmers convert land to biofuels, the study said.
Of course the Renewable Fuels Association is sure the study is simplistic pap.

But is it?
During the recent congressional debate over energy legislation, lawmakers frequently cited estimates that corn-based ethanol produces 20 percent less greenhouse gases in production, transportation and use than gasoline, and that cellulosic ethanol has an even greater benefit of 70 percent less emissions.

The study released Thursday by researchers affiliated with Princeton University and a number of other institutions maintains that these analyses "were one-sided" and counted the carbon benefits of using land for biofuels but not the carbon costs of diverting land from its existing uses.

"The other studies missed a key factor that everyone agrees should have been included, the land use changes that actually are going to increase greenhouse gas emissions," said Tim Searchinger, a research scholar at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and lead author of the study.

The study said that after taking into account expected worldwide land-use changes, corn-based ethanol, instead of reducing greenhouse gases by 20 percent, will increases it by 93 percent compared to using gasoline over a 30-year period. Biofuels from switchgrass, if they replace croplands and other carbon-absorbing lands, would result in 50 percent more greenhouse gas emissions, the researchers concluded.
Widely divergent claims on both sides of the issue.

And the Princeton study says what it is claiming isn't true about all ethanol based fuels:
"We should be focusing on our use of biofuels from waste products" such as garbage, which would not result in changes in agricultural land use, Searchinger said in an interview. "And you have to be careful how much you require. Use the right biofuels, but don't require too much too fast. Right now we're making almost exclusively the wrong biofuels."
Sounds to me like sound advice. Slow down, consider all the factors which will be required to make biofuels and reject those which will increase the emission levels due to those cumulative factors (transportation, land use, etc). The problem, however, is that the political train has pretty much left the station (see mandates for ethanol in new Energy bill) and the easiest and fastest way to meet them is to produce the product that the study says is the worst polluter.

Sounds like government in action to me. And you want to give them your health care too?

Oh, and then there is our apparently lethargic sun and the possible consequences of that situation:
Tapping oversees the operation of a 60-year-old radio telescope that he calls a "stethoscope for the sun." Recent magnetic field readings are as low as he's ever seen, he says, and he's worked with the instrument for more than 25 years. If the sun remains this quiet for another a year or two, it may indicate the star has entered a downturn that, if history is any precedent, could trigger a planetary cold spell that could bring massive snowfall and severe weather to the Northern Hemisphere.

The last such solar funk corresponded with a period of bitter cold that began around 1650 and lasted, with intermittent spikes of warming, until 1715. While there were competing causes for the climatic shift-including the Black Death's depopulation of tree-cutting Europeans and, more substantially, increased volcanic activity spewing ash into the atmosphere-the sun's lethargy likely had something to do with it.
Likely to have something to do with it? The sun has a lot to do with our temperature and climate. Hardly a small variable and now scientists are seeing this period of lethargy and know what that means.

So, again, what's the rush?


Permalink | Comments ( 11 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Environment

Thursday, February 07, 2008

How does he not get whiplash?
Posted by: Dale Franks
You know, people's views—political, religious, whatever—often change over time. The light of experience and the accrual of wisdom often cause one to think a second time about one's views, and perhaps come to different conclusions. Usually, however, these changes occur much slower than, say, a single day.

My previous post mentioning Hugh Hewit points out how, in 12.5 hours, he went from arguing "McCain can't be considered a frontrunner by any conventional standard" to "Senator McCain has a clear path to the nomination." Today, he's done it again.

Yesterday, a 5:36pm PST, in an amazingly prescient post entitled, Like Reagan In '76, Romney Is Staying In, Mr. Hewitt argued:
As I wrote below, the GOP needs to keep the MSM focused on the issues that unite the GOP, and the best way to do that is by a series of contests throughout the spring, from Virginia to Pennsylvania and beyond. Each state that has a primary scheduled deserves the attention of the big three candidates, and the results will help even the frontrunner Senator McCain calibrate his message and provide opportunities for him top assure the base in each state he travels to of his determination to run as a conservative even as independents see him on the nightly news.
Today, at 1:10pm PST, less than 20 hours later, he wrote:
Because he is a very good man, a great conservative and an extraordinary patriot he is standing aside to allow Senator McCain's national campaign to commence. There were excellent reasons for Romney to stay in the hunt, including the opportunity to score some impressive victories in places like Ohio, which might have served Romney well in any future campaign.

Romney's decision to "stand aside," and especially the reasons he gave just now in his CPAC speech underscore the qualities I found so compelling in him, and confirm for me my decision to support him made many months ago.
How do you make such radical course changes in the space of less than a day? And if you do, how in the world do you expect anyone to take you seriously as either a commentator or analyst? I guess if Mr. Hewitt is on your side, he can come up with a plausible argument in your favor no matter what you do.

I suppose that makes him a fantastic lawyer, though.

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McCain provides all the ammo an opponent needs
Posted by: mcq
Republicans - be prepared to hear this a lot over the next 200 days:
"It appears as though Senator McCain will be the Republican nominee," Mrs. Clinton said, speaking to hundreds of students at a suburban high school here. "And I have the greatest respect for my friend and my colleague Senator McCain. But I believe that he offers more of the same, more of the same economic policies, more of the same military policies in Iraq."

She added that Mr. McCain "said recently he could see having American troops in Iraq for 100 years," while she wanted them to start coming home "in 60 days."

Mrs. Clinton referred to Mr. McCain later in her speech, suggesting that she is more qualified to help the country out of a recession. "Senator McCain has said he doesn't know much about the economy," she said.
No one is worse for John McCain than John McCain. Just watch.

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Why is it the state’s business how and when Gloria decides to go?
Posted by: mcq
Again, it is a question of ownership and who has the final say about your life:
After reading the Personal Health column on Nov. 27 on preventing geriatric suicide, Gloria C. Phares, a 93-year-old retired teacher in Missouri, wrote:

"I was healthy until 90, and then Boom! Atrial fibrillation; deaf, can't enjoy music or hear a voice unless 10 inches from my ear; fell, fractured my thigh and am now a cripple; had a slight stroke the day after my beloved husband died after 61 years of marriage.

"I've lived a happy life, but from here on out it's all downhill. Is there any point in my living any longer? I'm not living - just existing. I very much want to die, but our society doesn't let me. Oh for a pill to ease myself out and end my pain, pain, pain."
Why shouldn't that be Mrs. Phares decision? Why doesn't she have that option?

Obviously she can find a way to kill herself. The question is why shouldn't she have the option of choosing a graceful way (even an assisted way) to end what she has come to consider something she'd rather not prolong?

Permalink | Comments ( 61 ) | TrackBacks ( 1 ) | Category: Freedom and Liberty

Dem nominations: to be decided by Super Delegates?
Posted by: mcq
As the Democratic nomination process trundles on, it is becoming increasingly clear that the delegate count could be insufficient by convention time to give either Obama or Clinton a clear win. It could all come down to the "Super Delegates" (SD). And, as you know, SDs are not bound to the results of their state's primaries. They're usually made up of establishment and elected Democrats and number 800. SDs have been a vital part of the Clinton campaign's calculations since the beginning. The reason becomes clearer with each primary, and Clinton claims a lead among SDs.

Why? Because Hillary Clinton is the establishment Democratic choice for their candidate for president.

Now, imagine the nightmare for the Democrats if as the convention approaches, Obama has a lead in delegates but not enough for an outright win. Imagine the SDs kick it over to Hillary's side.

Tell me something, anything, which could then be said that wouldn't have people believing that the Clintons had managed a backroom deal to give her the nomination? The alienation of black Americans would only be the tip of the iceberg if that sort of scenario plays out. The claims of crooked politics within the Democratic party would have a devastating effect on what appears to be an energized electorate. I think it would wreak unbelievable and unavoidable havoc. Voters are not impressed by arcane nominating rules and primary nominating tricks.

If we see Obama leading in delegate count going into the convention and he gets the rug pulled out from under him by SDs, I think you'd see many of his followers choose to sit home in November (or perhaps lodge a protest vote with a Nader or McKinney) believing John McCain an acceptable alternative to their candidate being screwed over by the establishment Democratic party and Hillary Clinton.

I would love to see this particular scenario personally - Howard Dean is deserving of just such a bit of fun.

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Feb 23 may be a key day in Iraq
Posted by: mcq
That's the day on which the cease fire ordered by Moqtada al Sadr is due to expire. Per the Arab Times, al Sadr has been getting pressure from some quarters of his organization not to renew the cease fire:
Influential members within the movement loyal to Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr have told him they do not want his Mehdi Army militia to extend a ceasefire when it expires this month, Sadr's spokesman said on Monday. The US military says the Shi'ite cleric's announcement on Aug. 29 to freeze the activities of the feared Mehdi Army for six months has been vital to cutting violence. A return to hostilities could seriously jeopardise those security gains. Sadr has been gauging the mood among senior figures and five main committees had reported back with their views on the truce, Sadr's spokesman Salah al-Ubaidi, one of the cleric's senior officials in the southern holy city of Najaf, told Reuters.

Ubaidi said one of those committees, made up of Sadrist legislators in Baghdad, had recommended not renewing the ceasefire, citing problems with the authorities in Diwaniya, 180 km (112 miles) south of Baghdad.

"The parliament committee said they don't want the ceasefire to remain. They want it lifted because of oppressive acts by security forces in Diwaniya," he said without elaborating.
Recent statements from Sadr's camp have indicated growing unhappiness that followers were being targeted by Iraqi forces.
According to Ubaidi, one of two things will happen on Feb. 23:
He said Sadr would issue a statement around Feb 23 if he had agreed to extend the ceasefire, declared following clashes between his supporters and police during a pilgrimage in the southern city of Kerbala. Silence would mean it was over.
Obviously you have to hope he extends the ceasefire, but should he choose not too, his followers are going to find themselves confronted with an entirely new security situation, a population which has and is attempting to return to some level of normalcy and a much improved Iraqi army. I would also guess, and it is certainly nothing more than conjecture on my part, that al Sadr would become an instant target for a whole range of groups who would be quite thrilled if he was sent to check out the supply of virgins remaining in heaven. I'd also bet he understands that. With his past disappearing acts (he doesn't hit me as a particularly courageous guy) and his runs to Iran, I'd figure if Feb.23 is a day of silence, he'll be practicing it somewhere across the border.

Permalink | Comments ( 11 ) | TrackBacks ( 4 ) | Category: Iraq

Romney suspends campaign
Posted by: mcq

This reminds me of those announcements you see on restaurant signs saying "closed for remodeling" when in fact, the place is out of business.

Suspending a campaign at this stage is tantamount to saying "I quit". At this time of the campaign season, it is about momentum and sustaining it. Obviously Romney isn't gathering the victories he needs to take the nomination at this time, and part of that is a structural, winner-take-all problem with Republican primaries. But nothing can kill whatever momentum is left will go away later. So instead of suspending the campaign, why not just say, "I withdraw"? Is he expecting to move to bring some tidal wave of support begging him not to leave?

Ain't gonna happen.

He's on CNN right now: Romney is saying he's doing it for both the party and the country. In effect, he's saying he's done. So he can say "suspended" all he wants, in truth, it's a one man race and McCain is the presumptive nominee. I wonder if Huckabee will drop out now?

So, Republicans, get ready to say "all hail John McCain" and while you're at it, give Mike Huckabee a pat on the back too because he's as much to blame or a reason for McCain's success (depending how you look at it) that Romney is gone.

Oh, and how interesting does McCain's speech to CPAC become now?

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Even Flowbee
Posted by: Jon Henke
Allahpundit is pointing and laughing at Pearl Jam's new "Barack Around the Clock" (no, really) song. I'm going to take his word for it, on the theory that everything Pearl Jam has done since Ten has been self-indulgent pap. If, as PJ O'Rourke argued, earnestness is just stupidity sent to college, then Pearl Jam is a Public Service Announcement from the Berkeley Glee Club.

I point that out as an excuse to revisit this...

"I'll keep the mohawk until we stop killing people abroad."
- the musician Eddie Vedder, quoted about his hair in Rolling Stone, April 11, 2002
Here's the current picture of Vedder...

Vedder Hair = Peace on Earth!

Permalink | Comments ( 18 ) | TrackBacks ( 2 ) | Category: Humor

The Senate and the stimulus package
Posted by: mcq
As if to emphasize the point of Jon's post below, the Senate fight over the stimulus package has been interesting:
By a single vote, Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked an expansive fiscal stimulus package championed by Democrats, as partisan rancor engulfed the effort to inject a quick burst of spending into the slowing economy.

The package needed 60 votes under Senate rules to move forward but failed 58 to 41, with 8 Republicans joining 48 Democrats and 2 independents in support of it. The majority leader, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, switched his vote to no from yes at the last second, a parliamentary move that lets him control the next steps on the bill.

The political brinkmanship in the Senate stood in marked contrast to the House, where Republicans and Democrats led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi took just a week to reach a deal on an economic stimulus package with President Bush, and just four more days to pass the bill.
Interesting, but instructive. Here we have the House acting to move quickly on legislation and the Senate is the volatile and deeply partisan side of the legislature. As I recall it is supposed to be the the "saucer" in which we "pour legislation to cool it". Instead, exactly the opposite has happened, further delaying what both parties claim is a critical bill in need of being passed rapidly.
The measure was opposed by Republican leaders who said the Democrats added too many costly provisions, including an extension of unemployment benefits, tax credits for the coal industry and increased subsidies for home energy costs.

The total cost of the Senate plan came to about $204 billion over two years, or about $40 billion more than the House version.
The parliamentary tricks have been interesting as well. Harry Reid, as noted, changed his vote so he would have a say in how the bill proceeds. He and his staff have apparently working the phones trying to nail down one more Republican vote. Meanwhile Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has drawn the line on acceptable additions with a comment about the Senate Democrats thrown in to keep the spirit of bipartisanship alive in the Senate [/sarcasm]:
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, had called for the Senate simply to adopt the House package with two changes: payments for Social Security recipients and disabled veterans, and a stipulation that illegal immigrant workers not receive payments. Mr. McConnell renewed that demand on the Senate floor just before the vote and chided the Democrats.

Praising House Democrats and Republicans for their stimulus deal, Mr. McConnell said, "Then, in an apparent jolt of nostalgia for last year, Senate Democrats decided to co-opt a bipartisan proposal produced by the House to put together a carefully crafted political document."
Next move? Harry Reid.

As for the presidential candidates (btw, it is shaping up as if a Senator will become the next president, despite cw that says they always lose out to candidates with executive experience), McCain was there but didn't vote, and, of course Clinton and Obama voted for the Democratic version.

Said McCain of his non-vote:
Aides to Mr. McCain said that he would have sided with the Republican leaders and that his vote was not needed.
I'm not a fan of "stimulus packages" in general, and especially those funded on debt or printing money. But it appears our politicians are bound and determined to pass one. The larger point, as mentioned at first, is the power of the minority party to put a brake on the excesses of the majority party, especially if it is in charge of both the executive and legislative branches. For Republicans, the Senate may be the only center of power they end up enjoying, and, if they remain as effective as they have in this last Congress, may be enough to frustrate the Dems ability to go forward with their agenda should they win the White House in November.

Permalink | Comments ( 13 ) | TrackBacks ( 1 ) | Category: Government

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Delegate Races
Posted by: Dale Franks
Well, all the shakeout from Superdupercalifragilistic Tuesday finally seems to have shaken itself out. The delegate count as it now stands:

DEMOCRAT (2025 needed)
Clinton: 823
Obama: 741

REPUBLICAN (1191 needed)
McCain: 680
Romney: 270
Huckabee: 176
Paul: 16

Clinton and Obama are, for all intents and purposes, in a dead heat. A couple of things have gotten clearer, though, about the Democratic race as a result of the action yesterday.

1. Clinton wins blue states. Obama wins red states. The vast majority of the remaining contests are red state contests, although Washington state comes up in 3 days. This may be good news for Obama.

2. There is clearly a Bradley Effect when it comes to Obama. McQ and I have touched on this a few times in the podcast. Essentially, Obama polls better than the actual election results. When it comes to Obama, pollsters might as well be asking, "Will you vote for the black guy, or should we just go ahead and fit you for your robes and hood right now?" People respond differently in public than they do in the privacy of the polling booth. I think this also explains why Obama does so much better in caucus states than voting states. It is also an interesting commentary on the state of racial matters in America, as well, but that really goes beyond the scope of our discussion here.

3. Absentee voting matters. Early voters are not affected by late surges like the one Obama seems to have enjoyed recently. Those votes reflect the electorate's state of mind at a time other than election day. And they may matter a lot, especially in a state like California, where something like 2 million absentee ballots were cast. One really has to wonder how the election might have turned out if there was no early voting.

On the Republican side, McCain is now more than halfway to the nomination. How close is the race to actually being over? Well, let me put it this way: Hugh Hewitt's first post today explains to all of us, in detail, why we need to get behind John McCain come fall. In about 12 1/2 hours, Hewitt has gone from "McCain can't be considered a frontrunner by any conventional standard" to "Senator McCain has a clear path to the nomination." In a later post, Mr. Hewitt relegates Romney's role as a candidate to helping "the frontrunner Senator McCain calibrate his message." When you've lost Hugh Hewitt, it's really time to turn out the lights. Unless, of course, keeping them on can help John McCain.

Hugh Hewitt is a very strong supporter of John McCain.

Unsurprisingly, I think Mr. Hewitt is wrong. Not in supporting John McCain—although I certainly don't—but in his estimate of the good it does for McCain to keep having to fight off Huckabee and Romney in their losing bids. It seems to me that a far better use of that time and money would be for Mr. McCain to hammer on both Obama and Clinton—and the Democrats in general—for whatever sins he thinks he can lay at their feet.

It's really hard to see how either Romney or Huckabee lay out a convincing path to nomination for their supporters, other than to needle Mr. McCain so mercilessly that it goads him into attempting to publicly throttle them in a fit of apoplexy. Outside of that, it's hard to see what either of those two gentlemen offer their supporters in terms of eventual victory at the Convention.

An interesting rumor, by the way, is that McCain is eying Joe Lieberman (D-CT) as his running mate.

Permalink | Comments ( 9 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Elections

Against single Party dominance
Posted by: Jon Henke
In light of the possibility that a Democrat could win the Presidency in November, giving them control of the White House and both houses of Congress, it's worth pointing out what Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean said in 2005...
We need more than one party in charge. And the vote on Tuesday is going to be critical to decide whether American democracy still allows those of us who didn't vote for the president to have any say in running the country whatsoever.
Someday, the Democrats will be back in charge again. Do we want a Democratic Party that's in charge of everything? Well, you know, I suppose it's my job to say yes. But the truth is, as an American, it's better when parties share power. It's better when even those people who didn't win the election have something to say.
[There] is a culture of corruption and abuse of power in Washington. This is what happens when one party is in charge of everything.
Perhaps reporters should ask him if he still believes that.

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Freezing Harry
Posted by: mcq
The one and only reason to be for John McCain:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said the possibility of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) becoming president "sends a cold chill down my spine."
I'd love to see Harry chattering and shaking on Jan. 20th of next year.

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Chicago Auto Show [UPDATES]
Posted by: Jon Henke

I'm in Chicago today with a client and a few bloggers for the Chicago Auto Show. I'll be blogging periodically from my Blackberry, so I probably won't be uploading pictures today, but I'll try to get those up soon. In the next few days, I anticipate some cool footage and photos from other bloggers of the new cars being shown here - including the new Dodge Challenger. Which is, frankly, awesome.

I have warned people here that I'm bringing an oversize coat, on the chance that I'll be able to smuggle out a Viper. However, in light of some of the other cars being show here....I think I'm going to need a bigger coat.

More soon, including some links to pictures.

Note: here's the Auto Show website. Lots of pictures to be found there. Cool.

UPDATE:. Details and pictures for the Dodge Challenger are available here. It's a real throwback - all about classic lines and horsepower. There is also a Dodge Challenger blog.

Here's the post announcing the Challenger debut, and disclosing the Dodge Challenger's specs.

Heading to the Mazda section to see if they have an RX-8, and then to the Audi section to check out the R8, which I'm told is remarkable. NOTE: it is...

UPDATE: in the comments,MarkM suggests I take a look at the Vette, which is a "Viper chewer upper." I'm not taking sides (I'm holding out for one of each), but I will say that the GM exec this morning said the new Corvette could top 200 mph and was the fastest car GM had ever produced for the public.

Here are the specs I was just given for the new Vette lines:
Corvette Coupe tops at 186 mph
Z06 198 mpg
ZR1 over 200 mph

The ZR1 is the fastest production vehicle GM has ever built.
Naturally, they do not encourage you to try that at home. But it might be nice to have a bumper sticker that says "my other car can do 200 MPH".

UPDATE: Iowahawk is here now, and we're over at the Jeep display. Jeep didn't just bring their autos....they brought a whole indoor Jeep course, complete with mulch for off-road feel, sections with uneven terrain and multiple steep inclines to test the handling. It's a popular section. Now, if they'd let me use the Jeep Course to test drive the Challenger...


Ok, I'm back from the show. Lots of interesting pictures to post or link, as I get them. One of my highlights requires a bit of backstoy: My wife and I made a deal last year. Her priority was getting something practical, like a minivan. My priority was getting anything but a minivan. I agreed to get the Chrysler Pacifica she decided she really wanted (and which we both like a great deal), and she agreed that I could get the car I really wanted: the Mazda RX-8. It's a sports car....but it has four seats, so it's not unreasonable for a guy with two kids! I haven't gotten it yet. But I can. And seeing/sitting in one today brought me that much closer.

Iowahawk has written that the RX8 is "a hit with bloggerati auto-motorists everywhere" - "that rare breed of automobile that causes you to roll down the window, giddily thrust your head out and proclaim, "whee! I am driving jauntily with my head out of the window."" So, if I get an RX8, do I get to race Instapundit?

I think I could take him.


Here are some links to other blogger coverage:

Shop Floor's Carter Woods posts a picture of the Challenger unveiling and points out that there are also quite a lot of fuel efficient and alternative fuel vehicles being produced, as well. But whether Congress approves or not, people do want a Challenger now and then...
...this show, like others, places a big premium on fuel efficiency and environmental responsibility.

Thing is, auto companies, like everybody else, have to make products that people want to buy — vehicles that meet people's needs. In Washington, members of Congress and their staffs can eschew that responsibility, even though they are through their policymaking effectively designing cars. So their dictates lead to vehicles no one wants.

Would be a good thing for some Inside the Beltway folks to meet a Challenger buyer. Or, heck, drive one themselves.
The Weekly Standard's Brian Faughnan has some pictures and points...

  1. On the difficulty of meeting Congressional mandates and consumer demands...
    [Troy Clarke, President of General Motors North America] says that when it comes to cars, the American people vote with their dollars. He says that GM (and all other automakers) must make cars that people want to buy — not the ones that they'd like to sell. The automakers can't just mass produce the most fuel-efficient car in the market and force them on consumers (which seems to be what many in Washington would like). Rather, they need to respond to challenges like energy security and global warming while giving drivers what they want.

    Clarke relates the tale of a focus group in Los Angeles in which the participants expressed a strong desire for a 'green vehicle.' When the facilitators teased out what they wanted more precisely, the general consensus was for a Chevy Tahoe that gets 45 miles to the gallon.

  2. On the cruelty of CAFE standards...
    Come 2020, new fuel economy standards will require automakers to sell a fleet that meets a sales-weighted standard of 35 miles per gallon. So for every one car sold that gets 22 MPG, they better sell multiple cars that get 37 or 38. Ultimately, the best way for the manufacturers to do that is to raise the price of that 22 mpg car to make sure only a few can afford it. Maybe the profits from that Dodge Challenger will subsidize the sale of the latest hybrid. Or maybe Detroit will just bank the higher profit.

  3. On the "beauties" of the car show...well, he has a photo. You can also see a Toyota Prius in the picture.

Permalink | Comments ( 19 ) | TrackBacks ( 1 ) | Category: Personal

Whistling Past the Graveyard
Posted by: Dale Franks
Hugh Hewitt, at 9:14, PST:
It is stunning that Fox cannot call Arizona for John McCain. In the very unlikely event that McCain loses his home state, I don't think his campaign could recover any more than Romney could survive a loss in Massachusetts or Huckabee a loss in Arkansas.

Given the Rush blast, the Dobson declaration, and Huck's strength in the south, McCain can't be considered a frontrunner by any conventional standard.
Yeah. Right.

Unless "by any standard", you mean, "by any standard other than the delegate count".

McCain has 47% of the vote in Arizona.

Perhaps Hugh should've titled his book, A Mormon Running the Commerce Department.

Note the price of the actual book has been reduced from 28 bucks, to a bit south of 10. I suspect it could go lower.

UPDATE: Most recent delegate count:

DEMOCRAT (2025 needed)
Clinton: 811
Obama: 720

REPUPBLICAN (1191 needed)
McCain: 616
Romney: 269
Huckabee: 170

Permalink | Comments ( 0 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Elections

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

OK. Then I’ll Liveblog It.
Posted by: Dale Franks
I'm a bit late getting started, so I've missed the early action in the Northeast. So, I'll start by summing up where we are so far.

1755: For the Dmeocrats, it's a real battle. Clinton has taken AR, MA, TN and OK, while Obama won IL and GA. lots of very close races there.

McCain, on the other hand, pretty much swept the Northeast, winning NJ IL, CT, and DE. but also there are some surprise Huckabee wins shaping up, including his win in WV early today, and AR tonight. Ronmey takes MA, of course.

1904: Romney is getting creamed. Apparently, it takes more than being a Vulcan with nice hair to attract votes. He's missing something. Maybe it's just that he strikes most people, including me, as an empty suit.

Huckabee is the real surprise so far. He's leading in GA, AL, MN, and MO, currently. Apparently, reports of his political death were premature.

1911: Overall, it's been Clinton's night so far, with victories in AK, MA, NJ, NY, OK, and TN. Obama's only taken AL, DE, GA, and IL. However, he's narrowly ahead in CT, KS, ID, MN and ND, while Clinton is only ahead in MO. Very few precincts are reporting in those states, but clearly Obama has some strength as the voting moves west.

What with the proportional delegate assignment for the Democratic Party, this looks like a fight all the way to the convention for the Dems.

1922: So far, the delegate counts for the Dems stand at Clinton 299, Obama 219. On the Republican side it's McCain 332, Romney 135, Huckabee 54. Republicans require 1191 delegates to capture the nomination, Democrats require 2025.

2006: OK. California's pools are now closed. This will be an interesting race. Obama has been surging in California, despite it being Clinton country. Hillary has really been the big winner tonight, in terms of states, if not overwhelmingly the delegate count. Obama has won nine states, but they've tended to be the small states, while Clinton has won the big states. So, she's still ahead by 74 delegates. But 74 delegates, when you really need 2025 to get the nomination, is pretty small potatoes. The democratic race is still essentially even steven, with 24 states remaining over the next 7 weeks or so to push for victory.

2013: Obama gets 65% of the caucus vote in Colorado.

2017: Obama wins the Idaho caucus, too. meanwhile, on the Republican side, McCain appear to be carrying Arizona handily.

The first returns from California are coming in. Only 1% of returns have been counted, and those are probably not from heavily urban precincts, but the early, early picture is:

Clinton: 57%
Obama: 33%

McCain 48%
Romney: 23%
Huckabee: 11%

2029: Missouri is a real nail-biter for the republican side. Huckabee is ahead by about 400 votes, with 88% of precincts reporting. Obama is behind by about 21,000 votes against Clinton, but that's with St. Louis mainly still uncounted. Obama, of course, is expected to do well there, so that last 12% of precincts might be the most important 12% for that state.

2041: St. Louis must be weighing in, in Missouri. Clinton's lead is now down to 9,000 votes. McCain, however, has pulled ahead of Huckabee by 2,500 votes.

2047: Apparently, some of the people in Obama's camp are saying that it's possible that Obama, winning 11 of the 22 primaries today, along with a strong showing in states where he lost, may end up giving him a very slight lead in the delegate count.

I think that may be a little overstated.

2055: 94% of precincts are reporting in MO, and Clinton's lead over Obama has stretched again, to 13,000 votes. McCain's lead, also lenghtened to 4,000 votes. No one is willing to call that one yet.

Meanwhile, in California, with 13% reporting, it's a blow-out so far for Clinton and McCain.

2059: Updated delegate counts:

Clinton: 299
Obama: 225

McCain: 389
Romney: 135
Huckabee: 93

2102: Missouri's nail-biter continues. 96% of precincts reporting. Clinton ahead by 4,000 votes, McCain ahead by 7,000. I think, at some point very soon, the Republican side will get called for McCain.

2104: And no sooner do I write the above, than AP calls it for McCain in MO. Meanwhile, Clinton's lead is down to 3,000 votes.

2113: Apparently, the runaway McCain and Clinton leads in California are solid enough for Fox to go ahead and call the state for them already. That's a big win for both of them.

Meanwhile in MO, the Dem race continues with Obama taking the lead with 98% of returns in, and going ahead by 4,926.

2124: Updated delegate counts:

Clinton: 332
Obama: 269

McCain: 475
Romney: 151
Huckabee: 93

2133: Finally, MO gets called, and it goes to Obama.

2137: Well, it's beddie-bye time for me, so I have to sign off. As I go,the updated delegate counts are:

Clinton: 668
Obama: 557

McCain: 514
Romney: 177
Huckabee: 122

Overall, despite Clinton's wins in big states—by big margins—Obama won more states, winning 12 states to Clinton's 8. It may not be a big win, and certainly not a pretty one, but it was a win tonight for Obama. Hillary will no doubt tout the difference in the delegate count, But Obama will be able to claim that he won more states, and more of the heartland. Clinton may have blunted his momentum, but she didn't stop it. With 20+ more state primaries and caucuses to go, this race looks like it will be slog all the way to the convention. Clinton remains alive, because of the distribution of delegates on a proportional basis. That may be just enough to secure the nomination for her if the remaining primaries go the way they did tonight.

The plus for Obama is that he demonstrated his appeal across the breadth of the country, while Clinton showed, again, that she's really the candidate of the coastal elites in California and the Northeast. The remaining states move more into the heartland, where Obama's greatest strength was tonight. If Hillary can't do better in the heartland than she did tonight, she's in trouble.

On the Republican side, McCain is now unquestionably the presumptive nominee. He is almost halfway to the nomination already. Unless his campaign totally collapses, it is increasingly difficult to construct a scenario in which Romney can lay out a path to the nomination. It is even more so for Huckabee, despite his surprising strength in some places. One wonders now if it is Huckabee who's taking votes away from Romney, or vice versa.

Absent McCain being found in bed with a dead girl or a live boy, the only remaining question in this race appears to be who his opponent will be.

2300: One final note. The actual numbers of voters bodes ill for the republican candidate, whoever he may be, come November. In many states across the country, Democrats out numbered Republican voters by huge margins. In MN, for example, caucus attendance was 175,000 people. This far surpasses the previous record attendance of 75,000 people who gathered during the Vietnam War.

Democrats are excited. They are motivated. And they are voting. Republicans are not. this not only speaks volumes about the regard that Republicans have for the current crop of candidates, it is an indication that the November electorate may contain a larger than usual leftward tilt.

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So much for live blogging the Super Tuesday returns
Posted by: mcq
On a little post surgery ER run (nothing serious) so my attempt to live blog Super Tuesday is out the window. First time I've had to log on and a few hours here awaits (it is obviously the flu season as the place is packed).

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What has value when copies are free?
Posted by: Billy Hollis
In Nashville, we often talk about the problems faced by music labels and other content providers in an age when copies are effectively free. The music execs put off facing the inevitable for a long time, but they can't do that any more. This article in The Economist recounted a typical example of why:
IN 2006 EMI, the world's fourth-biggest recorded-music company, invited some teenagers into its headquarters in London to talk to its top managers about their listening habits. At the end of the session the EMI bosses thanked them for their comments and told them to help themselves to a big pile of CDs sitting on a table. But none of the teens took any of the CDs, even though they were free. "That was the moment we realised the game was completely up," says a person who was there. {Emphasis mine}
So now we're past the denial phase, and entering the "what do we do next?" phase.

Of course, it's not just music. Publishing is right behind music. I'm writing a book right now, and so I'm all too familiar with the changing economics of the publishing industry. Many of my colleagues have gone to self-publishing with e-books, because they make just as much money with less effort and more control. Right now, the cachet of having a real, bound book in a bookstore still carries some weight. That probably won't last more than another ten or fifteen years.

Via GeekPress, I saw this quite thought-provoking post on the problem.

The author, Kevin Kelly, has brought together and clearly delineated several ideas on what people still value. The basic idea is that when copies become free, people will still pay for various attributes of content that are more intangible. Kelly calls these "generatives", and he lists and discusses eight of them. Some of them are related to convenience, and others to various emotional aspects of relating to content. For example, he thinks consumers gain emotional satisfaction by paying directly to creators:
Patronage — It is my belief that audiences WANT to pay creators. Fans like to reward artists, musicians, authors and the like with the tokens of their appreciation, because it allows them to connect. But they will only pay if it is very easy to do, a reasonable amount, and they feel certain the money will directly benefit the creators.
Having paid for and downloaded music directly from a couple of my favorite bands, such as Porcupine Tree, I can attest to that analysis. I liked the idea that they were getting something in exchange for the pleasure I derived from their music.

I know plenty of our readers work in the world of supplying intellectual property or content of various kinds. I think you'll find his discussion very worthwhile.

As a side note, I have a business relationship with some people in the music industry (which of course is not unusual in Nashville). Right now, they're very open to ideas about what they should do next. If any of our readers care to offer their own ideas, I'd love to hear them.

After all, since I'm usually just a token geek, I need something to sound interesting at their cocktail parties.


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Berkeley waves the white flag
Posted by: mcq
Who says pressure doesn't work:
A week after blasting the Marines as "unwelcome intruders" in Berkeley, two City Council members want the city to back off the declaration that ignited the wrath of the nation's right wing and inspired a Republican senator to try to sever Berkeley's federal funding.

Council members Betty Olds and Laurie Capitelli on Monday proposed that Berkeley rescind its letter to the U.S. Marine Corps that stated that the downtown Berkeley recruiting center "is not welcome in our city," and publicly declare that Berkeley is against the war but supports the troops.

The City Council will vote on Olds' and Capitelli's two proposals at its meeting next Tuesday.

"I think we shouldn't be seen across the country as hating the Marines," said Olds, who voted against last week's proposals. "If you make a mistake, like we did, you should admit it and correct it and move on."
Yeah, well, while bailing on their previous position certainly will reduce the outrage and pressure, I certainly don't buy that their position suddenly changed to the point that they no longer "hate" the Marines.

Not everyone agrees, of course:
The council appears split on the idea of backing down. Some council members said the original proposals inadvertently insulted veterans and those currently serving in the military. Others said Berkeley should stand by its convictions.

"People are used to Berkeley taking a stand for peace, but you have to do it intelligently," said Councilman Kriss Worthington, who voted against sending the letter calling the Marine Corps unwelcome. "You don't want to slap one group in the face and then, the next minute, slap the other group. I think we have an obligation to be thoughtful and sensitive and not be counterproductive to the cause of peace."
Right. Let's not discriminate against the Marines, let's tell all service people we hate them - in a thoughtful and sensitive way, of course, because that is what is important.

The Code Pinkos, of course, are disappointed:
"I hope they're not acting out of intimidation," said Code Pink spokeswoman Medea Benjamin. "Berkeley is a city of peace, and a recruiting station does not fit Berkeley's values."
"Berkeley values". Give me a break.

As Winston Churchill once said:
"We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm."
The Marines wish you pleasant dreams, Berkeley.

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Posted by: mcq
Today is surgery blogging as the significant other has some foot surgery. I'm sitting in the waiting room on the hospital's WiFi network blogging for QandO - ain't technology grand?

In between my nursing duties tonight (no, not that kind of nursing, wise guy) I'll be live-blogging the Super Tuesday results as I can.

On a completely different topic, as you all know we get comment spam, which I take as a personal affront and against which I wage a lonely one-man war. Dale has kindly given us the ability to close comments which allows me to prevent further comment spam in a thread. FYI, the spammers can't automate their spamming, but instead have to do each comment individually. So this allows me to cut them off at the pass, so to speak, before they can inundate a particular blog post with spam. I tell you all that to let you know if you suddenly see a comment section closed, its most likely because the spammers have struck.

Also, starting Wednesday, I'll be doing a little guest blogging at Right Wing News as John Hawkins goes to CPAC and gets to listen to John McCain try to make nice-nice with the conservative wing of the party. It might end up being the most important speech of his political career.

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Monday, February 04, 2008

Romney, Bain and Clear Channel
Posted by: Jon Henke
This is absurd...
Speaking at a news conference in Oklahoma, Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee floated the idea that the reason the vast majority of America's conservative talk radio hosts aren't endorsing him or John McCain is because Mitt Romney's investment firm owns a significant share of Clear Channel Communications, the nation's largest radio syndication company.

"Some suggest that the fact that Bain Capital owns a major stake in Clear Channel is on Sean's network, maybe there's a correlation. I don't know."
Matt Sheffield and Allahpundit point out some of the obvious flaws with this argument - e.g., Hannity works for ABC, not Clear Channel, and Bain bought Clear Channel way back in 2006.

There are more reasons to point and laugh, though.

This Bain/Clear Channel conspiracy theory was floated last year by FireDogLake, Lew Rockwell, Rochester Turning, and MyDD, where Chris Bowers professed to "fear for American Democracy". Huckabee now joins that illustrious group, despite the fact that Romney left Bain Capital many years ago.

What's more, the Clear Channel stations who run these syndicated shows have very little power over the hosts of those shows. Hannity, et al, can always run their show on another station in that market, but a talk radio station cannot easily replace a popular talk show. There's just very little market leverage for Clear Channel to accomplish that kind of thing.

So, to recap: a company that Romney is no longer associated with is alleged to be trying to control the opinions of talk show hosts on networks that his former company does not own with stations over which the talk show hosts have the upper hand.

Permalink | Comments ( 9 ) | TrackBacks ( 2 ) | Category: Media

Candidates want more of what is in your wallet
Posted by: mcq
The Bush budget has been submitted and for the first time it crosses the 3 trillion dollar mark - and people wonder why we're feeling a bit pinched? It's not just the economy folks.

That being said, perhaps this is a good time to review what the presidential nominees are promising in terms of spending, if they get the nod to occupy the Oval Office. As you can imagine, none of the major tier candidates are talking about less spending although, there are stark differences:
"The eight candidates proposed a combined total of 189 items that would increase federal spending, 24 items that would decrease it, and 238 items whose budgetary impacts are unknown — in addition to dozens of sub-items further detailing program components. The four respective frontrunners in the two parties (John McCain, Mitt Romney, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama), proposed overall fiscal policy agendas whose net effect would raise annual federal outlays between $6.9 billion and $287.0 billion.

"The top-tier GOP candidates often portrayed as "conservative" (Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee) actually called for significantly larger spending hikes ($19.5 billion and $54.2 billion, respectively), than the so-called "moderate conservative" (John McCain, $6.9 billion).

"Among Democrats, Barack Obama, often described as ideologically more "moderate" than Hillary Clinton, actually has the larger agenda of the two ($287.0 billion vs. $218.2 billion).

"Defense-related spending items received the highest proposed spending increases among Republican candidates. Huckabee and Romney, for example, offered $67.2 billion and $40.6 billion, respectively. Among Democrats, Clinton's biggest boost goes toward health care ($113.6 billion) and Obama's for economy, transportation, and infrastructure ($105.0 billion).
A couple of points - I don't believe John McCain would limit himself to $6.9 billion any more than I believe the estimate of $113.6 billion by Clinton for health care spending. They're estimates, and you can bank on them being sunny estimates which will be found later be gross underestimates.

What I'm instead interested in is the fact that not one of them proposed spending less money (in fact, the only candidates that have are Rudy Giulaini and Ron Paul). Oh sure, some proposed spending less money than others, but every single one of them has proposed a spending increase (even John McCain who claims that he wants to see spending cuts).

While they all talk a good game about fiscal responsibility, their spending plans certainly hint that such an issue isn't really that high on their priority list.

I guess, going back to the previous Clinton era, that all depends on how you define "fiscal responsibility" doesn't it? And "change". And many other words and phrases being tossed around by the political class these days. It would be nice if someone would pin them down on some of these catch phrases, wouldn't it?

As Steve Adcock says:
Washington downsizing is not a priority. The idea that throwing money at a problem and hoping that it magically goes away remains alive and well in America. Clearly, none of the front runners feel much personal responsibility related to spending the taxpayer's money wisely, and none of them deserve the opportunity to lead the free world.
Grab your wallets.

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A deep sigh seems appropriate when surveying the possible nominees
Posted by: mcq
Says Obama about his support of licenses for illegal immigrants:
ABC News' Teddy Davis Reports: Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., told ABC's David Muir Saturday that his support for driver's licenses for illegal immigrants will not block his path to the White House because he and G.O.P. frontrunner John McCain share substantial overlap on immigration.

"I think they will pounce on any issue that has to do with immigration," said Obama, referring to Republicans, "but my position has been very similar to John McCain's, who's may be the likely Republican nominee, and if he wants to try to parse out this one issue of driver's licenses, an issue of public safety, my response is that we have to solve the overall problem and this driver's license issue is a distraction."
Now, on licenses, his position isn't similar to McCain's according to the article, however, on balance, the Obama and McCain positions on illegal immigration aren't that dissimilar.

Ed Morrissey brings us his take on the surprise chat between John McCain and Hillary Clinton on yesterday's Fox News Sunday:
Part of the conservative complaint against McCain is his deference to Democrats while treating conservatives much more harshly. That got put on full display yesterday, as the two exchanged not just pleasantries but assurances that a general-election contest between the two would be "respectful". Republicans may want someone less inclined to put the gloves on against Hillary than taking them off against fellow Republicans.

Both candidates got taken by surprise, but Hillary hasn't got Democrats wondering if the Clintons can fight hard enough against Republicans.
It appears, given the probability of a McCain nomination and either of the Democrats as their nominee that the choice for small/less intrusive government voters will be lacking.

If it is McCain/Clinton, it's hard to decide who the less attractive candidate may be. If it is McCain/Obama, I don't think McCain will come off well against Obama. McCain is not a great speaker (in fact, as he stumbles and bumbles along, he reminds me a bit of Bush), and that particular stark difference may be enough, in the minds of uncommitted voters, to overshadow the supposed stark difference in issues - especially with the "change" mantra so popular and seemingly powerful at the moment. As most will decide, when they listen to McCain, he is anything but change when compared to Obama. And, given the "respectful" pledge above, I have to wonder, as does Ed Morrissey, if McCain will actually go after either of the possible Dem nominees effectively. I get the impression he's more worried about being in good standing with his Democratic colleagues than doing what is necessary to win.

No such qualms with Clinton, despite her pledge. Push polling and whatever subrosa plot which might be effective in yielding enough votes for her to overcome her negatives will be considered and used. I couldn't help but believe that McCain was getting sandbagged in that brief exchange yesterday.

Bottom line, as this is shaping up I see no one on either side to be excited about. Except for minor differences, none of the three even begin to reflect my philosophy about government.

I know what Obama and Clinton plan, and I have no confidence that McCain is really that much better of a choice even knowing that. But the field pretty much describes what politics has devolved into over the past decades - picking the lesser of two evils. Frankly, I'm just sick and tired of doing that.

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UK: myths, reality and the reason ...
Posted by: mcq
So we're not alone with a percentage of the population which thinks the moon landing was faked and professional wrestling is real:
Britons are losing their grip on reality, according to a poll out Monday which showed that nearly a quarter think Winston Churchill was a myth while the majority reckon Sherlock Holmes was real.

The survey found that 47 percent thought the 12th century English king Richard the Lionheart was a myth.

And 23 percent thought World War II prime minister Churchill was made up. The same percentage thought Crimean War nurse Florence Nightingale did not actually exist.

Three percent thought Charles Dickens, one of Britain's most famous writers, is a work of fiction himself.

Indian political leader Mahatma Gandhi and Battle of Waterloo victor the Duke of Wellington also appeared in the top 10 of people thought to be myths.

Meanwhile, 58 percent thought Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's fictional detective Holmes actually existed; 33 percent thought the same of W. E. Johns' fictional pilot and adventurer Biggles.
Possible reason - bigger wine glasses (seriously, drunkenness is a result of glasses being too big or so say some)?

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Of "lead-pipe cinches" and such (update)
Posted by: mcq
Apparently The Corner's Michael Graham is voting for John McCain tomorrow:
I am so confident of both a Patriots win today and a Romney win in Massachusetts on Tuesday that I made this pledge on the air Friday: "If the NY Giants beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl, I will vote cast my Super Duper Tuesday primary vote for (shudder) John McCain."

So when I say "Go, Pats!" I really, REALLY mean it.

I also think they are even more of a lead-pipe cinch to win the Super Bowl than McCain is to win the GOP nomination. Either way, I'm putting my vote where my mouth is.
I imagine it's a little quiet in Bean Town today, and as if he needs it, McCain has picked up another vote. Probably even quieter around the Graham household.

More on America's one true blood sport, presidential politics, in a while.

UPDATE: Michael Graham says he prepares his crow with a recipe he got from Mike Huckabee:
I use a popcorn popper and fry it like squirrel.
He goes into a little bit more detail in a post entitled "Me and My Big Mouth". Good for a chuckle.

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Sunday, February 03, 2008

Random Superbowl Notes
Posted by: Dale Franks
This was probably the most exciting Superbowl finish in recent memory. Most of the game was a brutal defensive slugging match, but that 4th quarter, when the Pats finally just took to the air, and the Giants responded in kind, was a real nail-biter.

Now, the least-talented Manning has The Ring. Of course, it now seems that being the least-talented Manning is kind of like being the ugliest Miss Universe. Incidentally, I don't know why I keep referring to Peyton Manning as Walter Payton. But, we miss you, Sweetness.

The game was won—truly one—with that last third-down conversion of the Giants with about 1 minute left in the game. Manning was as good as sacked, but somehow twisted away from the Pats' defensiveman, and launched the ball downfield for the conversion, to get it to the Patriots' 25-yard line. If that sack had come off, it would've been over, I think.

Could Bill Belichick be more of an jerk? Walking off the field before the last play was a huge "no class' move. Then, in the post-game interview, he was surly and uncommunicative, an interviewer's nightmare. Nice show of sportsmanship, ass. You're supposed to be a professional. If you can't exhibit some minimum amount of class, then go coach some podunk high school team where no one cares how you act.

If the Tom Brady that showed up in the 4th quarter had been there in the first, this would've been a blowout victory for the Patriots. He didn't. It wasn't.

I'm a little tired of this God stuff. "How do yo feel about this victory?" "Well, first, I want to thank God for giving us the victory." Why is it always God running the show when you win, but not when you lose? Just once, I'd like to see this interview: "Well, you guys played hard to tonight but you just couldn't pull it off. What are your thoughts about today's game?" "Well, Jesus screwed us today, Troy. We did everything we could, but Jesus just stacked the deck against us. I'm converting to Buddhism as a result of this travesty." God may know when the littlest sparrow falls, but that doesn't mean he's out there throttling the poor birds himself. By the same token, he isn't actively trying to beat the spread in Vegas. I suspect God has more important things to do than slipping on the Motorola headphones to transmit his preferred game plan to the Holy Spirit for execution down on the field.

Confidentially, I'm giddy with delight that the Pats lost, even though I don't like either team. I want that perfect season for the '72 Dolphins to be a singular achievement.

Tomorrow, morning, thousands of New England listeners to WBCN will be calling in to curse Opie, and his sports jinx.

Maybe, if the Cowboys learn how to tackle in the next 7 months, I'll be watching them in the Superbowl.

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Podcast for 03 Feb 08
Posted by: Dale Franks
In this podcast, Bruce McQuain and Dale Franks discuss the week's political events. This podcast pre-empts our regular live podcast, due to the Super Bowl, which we will be watching, instead of doing the live podcast.


The direct link to the podcast is here.

The intro and outro music is Vena Cava by 50 Foot Wave, and is available for free download here.

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don't forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don't have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here.

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Taxes - for revenue or behavior control?
Posted by: mcq
Look, I'm not a fan of taxation at all. And my acceptance of some taxation is conditional based on the realization that some level of government functions (legitimate government functions as outlined in the Constitution). I have no tolerance for taxation to fund illegitimate usurpations of power nor do I have any for this sort of nonsense:
In 2002, Ireland passed a tax on plastic bags; customers who want them must now pay 33 cents per bag at the register. There was an advertising awareness campaign. And then something happened that was bigger than the sum of these parts.

Within weeks, plastic bag use dropped 94 percent. Within a year, nearly everyone had bought reusable cloth bags, keeping them in offices and in the backs of cars. Plastic bags were not outlawed, but carrying them became socially unacceptable - on a par with wearing a fur coat or not cleaning up after one's dog.
Other than the obvious reasons, another reason this bothers me a lot is it is motivated by thinking like this:
It will take a big nationwide effort to accomplish a similar feat in the United States, but we can do it. It can't be a haphazard mishmash of rules, taxes, or appeals for voluntary compliance. We need a unified plan to eliminate this unnecessary blight, and soon.
We've seen anecdote after anecdote which warns us that such thinking and acceptance of such thinking is on the rise. Government, it seems, is the solution for everyone with a priority that they cannot be achieved by persuasion. And, of course, taxation as a tool of behavior control is just another way of approaching such problems.

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Venezuela: not enough revenue from oil? Sell cocaine...
Posted by: mcq
Hugo Chavez is definitely a socialist, but when it comes to revenue to prop up his faltering socialist paradise, he's not so ideologically hidebound that he'll pass up an easy and quick opportunity to generate revenue - regardless of the possible consequences:
The varied testimonies I have heard reveal that the co-operation between Venezuela and the guerrillas in transporting cocaine by land, air and sea is both extensive and systematic. Venezuela is also supplying arms to the guerrillas, offering them the protection of their armed forces in the field, and providing them with legal immunity de facto as they go about their giant illegal business.

Thirty per cent of the 600 tons of cocaine smuggled from Colombia each year goes through Venezuela. Most of that 30 per cent ends up in Europe, with Spain and Portugal being the principal ports of entry. The drug's value on European streets is some Ł7.5bn a year.

The infrastructure that Venezuela provides for the cocaine business has expanded dramatically over the past five years of Chávez's presidency, according to intelligence sources. Chávez's decision to expel the US Drug Enforcement Administration from his country in 2005 was celebrated both by Farc and drug lords in the conventional cartels with whom they sometimes work. According to Luis Hernando Gómez Bustamante, a Colombian kingpin caught by the police last February, 'Venezuela is the temple of drug trafficking.'

A European diplomat with many years of experience in Latin America echoed this view. 'The so-called anti-imperialist, socialist and Bolivarian nation that Chávez says he wants to create is en route to becoming a narco-state in the same way that Farc members have turned themselves into narco-guerrillas. Perhaps Chávez does not realise it but, unchecked, this phenomenon will corrode Venezuela like a cancer.'
Corruption has always been a way of life, unfortunately, in many Central and South American countries. Chavez stands to rewrite the book in that regard with his "narco-state" policies and his turning a blind eye to the level of corruption it promises an already benighted country.

Permalink | Comments ( 3 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Foreign Affairs

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Berkeley - longing for the good old days
Posted by: mcq
Dale covered this a couple of days ago, but it is unfortunate for any vet of the Vietnam era to see the same verbiage still lives among the anti-war crowd:
"You guys are just cannon fodder!" the chained protesters shouted at three teenage boys who walked past the office and said they wanted to go inside. "They want to train you to kill babies!"
Oh, and I love this as well:
"I guess they've never heard of free speech," Councilwoman Dona Spring said. "I've had a lot of nasty phone messages today, threatening me with things like saying, 'I'll take you out.' But they can go ahead. I don't feel scared."
Of course what's obvious is the other end of free speech - taking responsibility for what you say as well as the consequences - isn't supposed to be a part of this. But you've got to love the "I'm not scared" maturity level on display.

As for the Marines? They're, as usual, the only adults in this little drama:
"It's just another protest," said Marine Corps Capt. Richard Lund, head of the recruiting office.
Yup, just another day at the office watching aging hippies make fools of themselves once again.

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A little of what could have been instead of what is
Posted by: mcq
Of course getting in the race early and giving it a little more "go" that it got might have helped, but still:


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The Horse Race
Posted by: Dale Franks
Super Tuesday is getting closer, and by Tuesday night, we may have a very good idea of who the nominees for the respective parties will be.

Or not.

In any event, both Rasmussen and Gallup are conducting daily tracking polls for both nominations, and, with time running short, here is how they look. Each poll result shown below is based on a running average of the latest few poll results, to smooth out the variations. Starting with the Republican race, Gallup shows the following results:

Republican Tracking Poll from Gallup

Rasmussen, conversely, shows a little different picture.

Republican Tracking Poll from Rasmussen

Note that while Gallup shows McCain with a clear lead in the race, the Rasmussen poll shows Romney and McCain now tied at 30%.

This is an interesting variation in the two polls, and, of course, as to which one is right I have no idea. It's interesting that the Rasmussen poll shows a lot more movement towards Romney than the Gallup poll does, because the Rasmussen poll uses a 4-day moving average for each day, vice Gallup's 3-day moving average. I'd expect the Gallup poll to show movement more quickly than Rasmussen for that reason alone.

Clearly, the two companies are talking to very different populations with this magnitude of variation in the results. With the poll results being so varied however, they're pretty much useless for predictive purposes.

Personally, I'd expect to see the results that Rasmussen shows. Since Florida, all of the major talk radio figures—Rush, Laura Ingraham, Michael Graham, Michael Reagan, et al.—have been coming out for Romney, and expressing disdain for McCain. I'd expect that focus on McCain's negative points to have an effect on the average Republican voter. So, Gallup's huge McCain bump seems kind of counter-intuitive to me.

Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, Gallup reports the following results:

Democratic Tracking Poll from Gallup

Rasmussen reports as follows:

Democratic Tracking Poll from Gallup

There's much more consonance between the two polls on the Democratic side. The percentages are off, but the results are very similar, in that Clinton has seen a noticeable uptick since Edwards left the race, while Obama's more modest uptick has stalled out.

While all this is interesting, however, it ultimately means nothing, since fully 1/3 of the electorate for both parties still haven't made a final decision on who to vote for. this is liable to make the actual elections themselves much more fluid on Tuesday.

But, both polls indicate that the nomination is still Hillary Clinton's to lose.

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Venezula: Cash and carry sign of cash flow problems
Posted by: mcq
Is Venezuela having a little cash flow crunch?
Venezuela's state-run oil company PDVSA is seeking a $1 billion up-front payment for several large shipments of fuel oil, El Universal newspaper reported on Saturday, in what may be a new sign of cash flow problems.

Under the deal, Venezuela is selling the fuel relatively cheaply but wants payment next week, the newspaper said.

PDVSA wants to find buyers for eight very large crude carrier cargoes of fuel oil by Feb. 6 and expects payment the following day.

President Hugo Chavez uses PDVSA as the financial engine of his socialist revolution, drawing down capital for social projects, and analysts say the company is facing a cash crunch despite high crude prices.
So, everything seems to be going according to the "socialism doesn't work" script, doesn't it?

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Joining the 21st Century
Posted by: mcq
Well, I finally did it. I'm sitting the parking lot of Circuit City with my new wireless USB device sending this winging away over the airwaves to QandO. Somehow, now that I'm this mobile, I doubt that life will again ever quite be the same. And, at this time, I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

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California Voting Summary
Posted by: Dale Franks
Once again, it's time to look over the California voting guide and see what's what. A number of propositions are on the ballot, so let's take a look at them.


Proposition 91: Transportation Funds
Vote: No
Summary: The purpose of this proposition is to prevent the state from using money from the gas tax for bein g used in the general fund. As it happens, this proposition was actually promulgated a while back, and just now made it onto the ballot. In the interim, the Governor and the legislature put in a legislative proposition 1A on the ballot which did essentially the same thing. That proposition passed by a 77% approval. So, even the original proponents are urging people to vote no, since this has already been accomplished.

Proposition 92: Community College Funding, Governance, & Fees
Vote: No
Summary: This proposition would provide a separate funding line for community colleges in the education budget, reduce fees from $20 to $15 per credit hour. Ultimately, this would impose an additional mandate of $300 million per year to K-12 education, while, at the same time, reducing fee revenues from community colleges by about $70 million. It also expands the governing board. Oh, basically it does a whole bunch of crap that either a) doesn't need to be done, or b) spends money that doesn't need to be spent.

Proposition 93: Legislative Term Limits
Vote: No
Summary: Ostensibly, this law will reduce the total amount of time a person may serve in the state legislature from 14 years to 12 years, and allow a person to serve a total of 12 years either in the Assembly, the Senate, or a combination of both. That would be a reduction from the current 14-year limit. contains a "transition period" for current politicians, allowing them to serve for another 12 years after passage. Basically, it's a scam for current politicians to avoid being term-limited out. Most of the newspapers in California have called the proposition a fraud. It would also actually lengthen terms, since you can serve 12 years in a single house, instead of the current 6-year limitation for the Assembly and 8-year limitation in the Senate.

Propositions 94, 95, 06, and 97: Indian Gaming
Vote: Yes
Summary: These four propositions are actually a bloc of propositions, which would allow an expansion of casino gaming—about 3,000 slot machines apiece, specifically, for four different tribes. Let the tribes have casinos. Oh, there's the usual wingeing from the California Teacher's Association, like "Why do they promise more education revenues when NOT ONE PENNY OF IT IS GUARANTEED TO OUR SCHOOLS?" We're forgetting The Children, don't you know. Unions are against it. So are tree-huggers. "Oh, it's unfair! It doesn't make the tribes pay enough money to the state! Waaaah!" Cry me a river.


So, not a lot of really important stuff on the ballot, but, I couldn't let the election go past without running through the propositions.

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Friday, February 01, 2008

No Fat people or dogs allowed
Posted by: McQ
The new "whites only" sign. And naturally, the story is from Mississippi. From the "Junkfood Science" blog:
It has actually happened. Lawmakers have proposed legislation that forbids restaurants and food establishments from serving food to anyone who is obese (as defined by the State). Under this bill, food establishments are to be monitored for compliance under the State Department of Health and violators will have their business permits revoked.
The "representatives" responsible for this travesty are:
Representative W.T. Mayhall, Jr., a retired pharmaceutical salesman with DuPont-Merk. Its co-authors are Bobby Shows, a businessman, and John Read, a pharmacist.
And it is a bi-partisan effort, two of them being Republicans and one a Democrat.

You can read the body of House Bill 282 at the link above.

But here's the summary:
An act to prohibit certain food establishments from serving food to any person who is obese, based on criteria prescribed by the state department of health; to direct the department to prepare written materials that describe and explain the criteria for determining whether a person is obese and to provide those materials to the food establishments; to direct the department to monitor the food establishments for compliance with the provisions of this act; and for related purposes.
So Sandy Szwarc, of the Junkfood Science blog, actually tracked down one of the authors, Mayhill, and asked him if this was a tongue-in-cheek attempt to gain attention for the problem. The answer?
He said that while, regrettably, he doesn't believe his bill will pass, this is serious. He wrote it, he said, because of the "urgency of the obesity crisis and need for government action." He hopes it will "call attention to the serious problem of obesity and what it is costing the Medicare system."
And yes, Mayhill claims to be a Republican — most likely a John McCain Republican.

And although I'm pretty sure this won't pass, it still pretty much points out, given the authors, that the era of limited government, if it ever really lived, is now indisputably dead.

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Let’s get something straight about McCain
Posted by: Billy Hollis
Jonah Goldberg joins the ranks of the "McCain's not that bad" apologists with this posting at The Corner.

What I find interesting thing about that post is what it doesn't say: nowhere in it is campaign finance reform mentioned.


Continue reading "Let’s get something straight about McCain"

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Superbowl inspiration
Posted by: McQ
A great human interest story concerning a military vet and double amputee, the NY Giants and friendship over the years.

Do yourself a favor and read it. It helps put what is going to happen this weekend in AZ in perspective.

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Follow the Money - part XVII
Posted by: McQ
A whole different sort of voting going on out there:
Sens. Clinton of New York and Obama of Illinois continued their fundraising dominance in the fourth quarter of last year. Clinton brought in $26.8 million, while Obama raised $22.8 million.

Compare that to the GOP candidates, none of whom came close to matching either Democrat.

McCain, the Arizona senator who has emerged as the front-runner, raised $6.8 million, but had to take out a loan to keep his campaign afloat. Romney, the wealthy former Massachusetts governor, brought in $9 million in contributions, but loaned his campaign twice that amount. Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor, raised $6.6 million. And topping the field with an impressive $19.7 million raised in the fourth quarter was Paul, the libertarian-leaning Texas congressman, though he barely registers in polls.
Check out the Paul numbers vs. the Republican "front runner". Has to give you a chuckle. And, of course each of the Dems have raised 4 to 5 times the money raised than McCain. The only Rep close is Paul, who manages much more money than percentage of primary votes.

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McCain: For those of you with short memories
Posted by: McQ
A reminder of he who would characterize others as having newfound "conservatism":
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was close to leaving the Republican Party in 2001, weeks before then-Sen. Jim Jeffords (Vt.) famously announced his decision to become an Independent, according to former Democratic lawmakers who say they were involved in the discussions.

In interviews with The Hill this month, former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and ex-Rep. Tom Downey (D-N.Y.) said there were nearly two months of talks with the maverick lawmaker following an approach by John Weaver, McCain's chief political strategist.

Democrats had contacted Jeffords and then-Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.) in the early months of 2001 about switching parties, but in McCain's case, they said, it was McCain's top strategist who came to them.


Daschle said that throughout April and May of 2001, he and McCain "had meetings and conversations on the floor and in his office, I think in mine as well, about how we would do it, what the conditions would be. We talked about committees and his seniority . [A lot of issues] were on the table."
Of course, Mr. "Straight Talk" denies it completely:
Absolutely not so, according to McCain. In a statement released by his campaign, McCain said, "As I said in 2001, I never considered leaving the Republican Party, period."
Uh, huh, and Mitt Romney wants timetables and withdrawal from Iraq.

Hardly the story of a staunch conservative and man of ideological principles is it? Instead its the story of someone who hasn't flirted with going over to the other side because he lost an election. And now he denies everything in the face of the remembrances of many others. Funny what politicians try to get away with, isn't it?

(HT: Joel C.)

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Invitation to disaster?
Posted by: mcq
Maybe it's just me, but this does not give me a warm and fuzzy feeling:
4,000 PA "security men" will provide security for U.S. President George Bush's visit to Ramallah Thursday. The PA gunmen will spread out in the roads leading to the place where Bush and PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas will meet.
Of course "PA" stands for Palestinian Authority. And George Bush is the head of the government most Palestinians think stand in the way of their getting what they truly want - an end to Israel.

So, does this sound like a good idea to you?

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Stray Voltage
Posted by: mcq
Random stuff that caught my attention.

First let's dispense with the Diebold theories.

Then we need an explanation of the dismal performance of the polls as they pertain to Clinton and Obama.

MoDo asks if Clinton is going to cry herself to the White House. It's MoDo - what do you expect?

And Jesse Jackson Jr., Obama's national campaign co-chair says her tears were fake. It's JJJr - what do you expect?

The woman who asked the question that brought the tears seemed to feel they were genuine. Of course she went on to vote for Obama.

A state appeals court in California refused today to revive a ban on handgun possession in San Francisco saying it conflicted with state law? State law? How about the 2nd Amendment? Oh, yeah, that too.

SCOTUS blog says it seemed the SC Justices went out of their way today either to "scuttle a major test case over voters' rights" or "to soften the impact of a tough state requirement for a photo ID before a voter may cast a ballot at the polls."

Rasmussen says 80% believe voters should produce photo IDs to vote.

Speaking of third parties, 52% of New Yorkers think Mayor Michael Bloomberg would make a good president, but only 34% would vote for him. Uh, if he's a 3rd party candidate, that ain't bad.

A new scientific study has documented immediate improvement in Alzheimer's disease within minutes of administration of a therapeutic molecule.

And on the energy front - Got oil? Yeah, but it costs a hundred bucks a barrel. China's solution? More coal please.

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