Friday, August 20, 2010
Odd traffic from Pandagon.net
I have only the cheap and free version of Sitemeter, and although TypePad also offers some metrics, I don't spend much time even when I've been blogging recently checking stats to see which other websites are referring traffic here. I notice sometimes when folks have linked me; I'm sure I miss noticing others. But the last couple of days I've been getting hits from pandagon.net a leftie site that I gather is quite popular, but not one which I frequent. So I took a look, and found that I'd been linked as part of a post by someone named Jesse Taylor in a post entitled "Ten Questions Nobody Ever Asked About George W. Bush," thusly:
6.) Where are George W. Bush’s MBA projects and papers?
That's a link to a post about Obama that I wrote during the 2008 election season specifically, on June 23, 2008. My post was triggered by a widely remarked article by Jeffrey Ressner and Ben Smith on the Politico website in which they reported on Obama's tenure at Harvard Law and, in particular, on the Harvard Law Review. They'd said:
One thing Obama did not do while with the review was publish any of his own work. Campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said Obama didn't write any articles for the Review, though his two semesters at the helm did produce a wide range of edited case analyses and unsigned "notes" from Harvard students.
The thrust of my long-winded rejoinder was to say: Gee, based on what I know about law reviews, from my own admittedly different perspective as an editor at a competing one a few years before Obama's time, the assertion that Obama hadn't written or published any student work seemed extremely odd and improbable for someone who went on to become the head (editor-in-chief or, as at HLS, "president") of his or her law review.
I was right, and Ressner and Smith were wrong, although it appears that the reason they were wrong was that they'd been misled by the Obama campaign for reasons no one has ever adequately explained: As I explained on August 22, 2008*, in a prominent update to my June 23rd post, Ressner's and Smith's own subsequent reporting revealed "Obama's lost law review article" actually a student casenote. I wrote at greater length about the apparent contradictions from the Obama team on this subject. My criticisms put me in company with, for example, such right-wing observers of the Obama campaign as Noam Scheiber at The New Republic.
I'm not sure what to make of this new link from Mr. or Ms. Taylor, then other than as a general, and pathetic, example of the current Obama apologists' annoying whining about political problems of The One's own making, and especially of their need to continually re-invoke, somehow, Booooosh. As for their premise that George W. Bush's life was never put under a microscope, obviously those folks slept through the 2004 election and the entire TANG/Rathergate controversy. Silly libs.
Oh, wait Mr. or Ms. Taylor apparently wasn't asleep for all of 2004. Google-searching my own site, I'm reminded that he or she linked me in October 2004 from a pandagon.net post entitled The Hollow Echos of Jackboots. Sweet!
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Beldar predicts that Blagojevich won't be impeached until convicted in court
This post may may make some people in Illinois mad at me. I'll have to risk it.
Prof. Ann Althouse is having fun ridiculing Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's efforts both before the press and before the Illinois Supreme Court. Madigan is trying to persuade that court to effectively remove Gov. Rod Blagojevich from office based on an argument that he's "disabled" due to the allegations that have been made against him in the pending federal indictment being prosecuted by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. Earlier, Prof. Althouse wrote: "Given that ‘conviction on impeachment’ is one of the specified reasons for inability to serve, using this procedure as an alternative to the impeachment process looks like an abusive power grab." Prof. Glenn Reynolds adds: "I agree with Ann Althouse. The way you get rid of a crooked governor is via impeachment. Why play games here? If the case is so obvious, that shouldn’t take long."
I agree with both Prof. Althouse and Prof. Reynolds. Even though it would remove the reins of power from the hands of a crook, using the "disability" provision of the Illinois constitution in lieu of impeachment would be legally, politically, and intellectually illegitimate.
But picking up on Prof. Reynold's point about impeachment, the question about whether Blagojevich is "obviously crooked" becomes "obvious to whom?" and "under what standard of obviousness?"
That Blagojevich is a banal, petty crook has been "obvious" to anyone who cared to see such things long before he was indicted and arrested. Under a practical, common-sense standard, that should have been obvious to the voters of Illinois who nevertheless elected and then re-elected him.
But elections have consequences. Among them is the fact that once a crook is elected, constitutional niceties must be observed to remedy the situation.
With respect to Gov. Blagojevich's liberty, he's guaranteed all of the process due under federal law to anyone accused of such crimes, and Fitzgerald — who wants a conviction that will stand up against any appeals — will ensure that he gets it. But another consequence of Blogojevich's election is that the people of Illinois will have to be punished with him as their governor until political pressure can induce him to resign, or he's duly impeached and convicted by the Illinois legislature.
The people of New York elected as their governor a habitual liar and whore-monger, but he at least had the decency to resign when caught. The people of Illinois elected someone far worse, and one of the respects in which he is worse is that when confronted with his crime, he hasn't had the decency to resign.
To impeach and remove Blagojevich from office, the Illinois legislature would have to act without benefit of the actual proof of these allegations which Fitzgerald will use, in due course, in court. Legislators would have to display the political courage and common sense to say, in so many words: "Even though these are so far only alleged crimes rather than crimes proved in court to the satisfaction of a jury backstopped by trial and appellate courts, we are going to use the discretion granted us by the Illinois state constitution to accept a lower, lesser burden of persuasion and proof than do the federal courts in criminal matters, and we're going to hold Gov. Blagojevich responsible for these alleged crimes now." They will have to listen to Blagojevich's fervent, hypocritical pleas that he's presumed innocent until proven guilty, and then they will have to say boldly in response: "True, but that's in court, and this isn't a court. We're already sufficiently convinced that you're guilty."
The political legitimacy of such an impeachment would be, and should be, subject to close scrutiny — by the voters who will, in due course, consider whether they wish to re-elect legislators who voted for such an impeachment. For that is the procedural check on legislatures which abuse their impeachment powers — a theoretical check, but one sufficiently effective that their impeachment powers remain very rarely used, and almost never abused. (That's the realpolitik reason, and probably the only reason, why Nancy Pelosi hasn't tried to impeach Dubya, even with Democratic majorities in both the House and the Senate.)
The ability to discern right and wrong is so uncertain among the voting public of Illinois, however, that incumbent legislators can safely figure that they won't be punished at the polls if they join Blagojevich's pious pleas of "innocent until proven guilty." Indeed, they may still more fear a backlash (either at the polls or, more likely, from other corrupt Illinois politicians, of which there will be no shortage even when Blagojevich is history) from doing the right thing by voting for legislative impeachment and conviction.
Indeed, the harshest criticism that can be leveled at the people of Illinois is the old truism that people generally get the government they deserve. To get a government sufficiently principled that its legislators will have the courage to impeach and remove an elected governor who's not yet been convicted in court, the public must first have voted for honest legislators who act according to principle. I frankly doubt that enough of those have been elected in Illinois.
Thus, my prediction is that an insufficient number of Illinois state legislators will have the courage necessary to impeach Blagojevich before he's convicted in federal court. That's likely to be many months from now. And that, too, is a consequence of awful electoral decisions made by the people of Illinois. It's a pathetic, tragicomic circus, worthy of the ridicule of decent people when viewed from almost any angle.
Yes, it's terribly unfair to the minority of Illinois citizens who've been outvoted by peers who preferred the likes of Blagojevich and the ethically challenged legislators who won't yet impeach him. Those good people — who number in the millions, but not sufficient millions — have my sympathy and respect.
But everyone who voted for these clowns is going to be stuck with them, and they richly deserve the government they've got. For them, I have no sympathy and no respect.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Minnesota court of appeals affirms Craig conviction
I wrote quite a bit last year about Sen. Larry "Wide Stance" Craig (R-ID)'s pathetic attempts to withdraw his guilty plea for disorderly conduct in a Minneapolis-St. Paul airport restroom, and after reading the trial judge's opinion rejecting that attempt last October, I concluded that for purposes of any appeals, Sen. Craig was already toast. However, by continuing his appeals, Sen. Craig managed to stave off any Senate action to unseat him, and he's now served out all but the last few days of the balance of his term.
Thus, today's decision by the Minnesota Court of Appeals — which affirmed Sen. Craig's conviction and the trial court's refusal to reconsider it — is a belated epilogue to the melodrama of the Larry Craig story. Craig may, for appearances' sake, seek further review in the Minnesota Supreme Court or even the Supreme Court of the United States (since he insists that he, or the ACLU on his behalf, has raised federal constitutional issues). But today's decision — which the appellate court didn't even consider significant enough to warrant marking for publication in the bound volumes of appellate precedent — is plenty solid enough to survive further attacks, just as was the trial court's.
Were I to struggle to extend my metaphor from last October, then, I supposed I'd have to say that Sen. Craig is now merely stale crumbs of toast.
Previous posts on the Craig matter, oldest to most recent:
- The answer to the "Why was this a crime?" crowd on the Craig matter
- Craig "reconsidering" resignation; and his chance to withdraw his guilty plea is probably better than Beldar first presumed
- Has Larry Craig hired the part-time prosecutor who filed the complaint against him?
- Craig swears that on the date of his arrest, he "decided to seek a guilty plea to whatever charge would be lodged" against him
- In letter forwarding proposed plea, prosecutor Renz repeatedly reminded Craig of his right to counsel and warned that plea would result in "a conviction for Disorderly Conduct appearing on [his] criminal record"
- ACLU files silly brief in support of Craig's plea withdrawal
- Prosecution moves to strike ACLU amicus brief supporting Craig's motion to withdraw guilty plea
- Of pleas and piñatas: No surprises in prosecution's response to Craig's motion to withdraw guilty plea
- Craig plans to ditch hearing, but Renz should object to his affidavit as hearsay and force Craig to take the stand
- Just "one procedural question" for prosecutor Renz as he opposed Sen. Craig's motion to withdraw his guilty plea
- Is Craig's strategy "winning by losing," counting on colleagues and constituents to confuse "innocent until proven guilty" with "guilty (pending further appeals)"?
- Minnesota trial court rejects Craig's motion to withdraw guilty plea
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
There was nothing "culpable" about the 2003 Texas redistricting
I'm angered to read the following passage in a very silly and badly informed article called The End of Gerrymandering, and in particular, I'm dismayed to read it in the Weekly Standard:
But Republicans have not been without culpability, especially in recent years. The mainstream media has naturally sought to highlight this, especially the "DeLay Plan" to gerrymander Texas to the GOP's advantage mid-decade without even waiting for a new census. This occurred in 2003, when the Texas legislature, newly controlled in both houses by Republicans, redrew lines established by a court in 2001 after legislative deadlock. The gerrymander, which created several more GOP-leaning seats in the Texas delegation, ultimately was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. Incoming Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, then chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, opined: "Every redistricting is a partisan political exercise, but this is going to put it at a level we have never seen. That's the gift that the Supreme Court and Tom DeLay have given us."
I have several questions for the authors, Christian Whiton and Larry Greenfield: Why do they think it was appropriate for the citizens of our nation's second most populous state — a state that has trended Republican since the early 1990s, and been solidly Republican for more than a decade — to continue to live with a pro-Democratic gerrymander from the 1990s that no longer remotely reflected Texas' majority-Republican status? Why should we have to continue to submit to a Congressional district map that was specifically designed to give, and in fact gave, Democrats a majority of Texas' seats in Congress when not a single Democrat could win election to a statewide post? Why should we pretend that a three-judge federal court — one whose judges candidly and expressly recognized their own lack of political legitimacy, since it was comprised of unelected judges holding life tenure from the single branch of the state or federal government least responsive to small-d democracy — was entitled to have its decision (which made the least possible changes necessary to the 1990s pro-Democratic map to accommodate Texas' new seats due to the 2000 Census) written into stone?
Why, in short, are Christian Whiton and Larry Greenfield swallowing hook, line, and sinker the most incredibly misleading anti-democratic clap-trap of the disingenuous Hard Left (viz: Rahm Emanuel!), describing as "culpable" a readjustment of Texas' districts to closely reflect modern-day Texans' own voting patterns?
What Rahm Emanuel meant was that Tom DeLay and the Supreme Court had given lying Democrats like him a fact-pattern that they could continue to twist, in order to mislead people into thinking that a legitimate democratic process reflecting the wishes of a majority of Texas voters, as expressed through their elected state legislators and governor, was instead a racist and improper one.
I expect better of the Weekly Standard's editors than to print this kind of drivel. The byline tells us that "Christian Whiton is a State Department political appointee. Larry Greenfield serves on the Resolutions Committee of the California Republican Party. The views expressed are their own." But that frankly doesn't excuse the fact that this piece goes out of its way to insult the citizens of Texas and their duly elected state leaders.
Far outside the Beltway, here in Texas, we don't see a problem with our own elected officials — rather than even very good federal judges — drawing our Congressional district map. Culpable? No, that's democracy. That's why America has a Census every ten years, and that's why redistricting is supposed to be done by the combined action of state legislatures and state governors thereafter. Indeed, the voters of Texas reacted to the Dems' 2001 stonewalling in the state legislature by electing more Republicans, who as a result were able to break the Dems' attempts to stonewall and boycott in 2003. There's nothing wicked about voters punishing a party which was badly abusing even its minority status; rather, it's a text-book example of the success of representative democracy.
(The rest of the Whiton and Greenfield piece expounds the great virtues of the new system just passed into law for California that is supposed to make redistricting "nonpartisan." That's about as clever, and is about as likely to be effective, as passing a constitutional amendment requiring state legislators or state governors to be "wise." Redistricting is inherently a political exercise. Moreover, Supreme Court precedent and civil rights legislation, most prominently the Voting Rights Act of 1965, make it impossible for states to redistrict in a random, apolitical fashion anyway: Even if they try to avoid partisan issues, the law's assumptions (among them the repugnant proposition that only Democrats can represent blacks and hispanics) and repercussions will require them to consider the political effects of their actions. I have no confidence that the new California plan will work; indeed, California seems to me and many of my fellow Texans to be most useful as the political laboratory for testing out the most conspicuous failures that the other 49 states can then observe and avoid. (See point #5 here.) But I wish them luck in what I nevertheless believe to be an impossible and unrealistic task, and I would thank those like Whiton and Greenfield who believe otherwise to withhold their insults to the State of Texas at least until the day — indeed the decade, or two — in which the new California plan has proven itself to be an even arguably viable alternative.)
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Beldar's reaction to rumors of Hillary for SecState
Per the AP:
Hillary Rodham Clinton, meanwhile, was expected to decide soon whether to take the job [of Secretary of State in the Obama Administration], which associates said she believes is hers if she wants it. Transition officials for President-elect Barack Obama said the former first lady had not formally been offered the job and other candidates have been vetted. But several Clinton associates said Obama has told her she is his top pick.
My first reaction was to immediately review the line of presidential succession, to count how many Secret Service teams will need to be beefed up once Hillary is formally in line for succession to the Oval Office. The answer is four: Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi (as Speaker of the House), and Robert Byrd (as President Pro Tempore of the Senate).
Biden and Byrd would have to get used to spending lots of time in lonely, undisclosed locations, I suspect — never in the same room with the other two.
On the merits: As always, I'm disappointed to see either Clinton taken seriously for any serious responsibility because they are completely amoral, and their effectiveness is overrated. But there are worse alternatives for this job, and worse alternatives who've already been proposed for other offices. And again, as always with the Clintons, there is the small, cold comfort that their overwhelming ambition to retain power will probably compel Hillary to triangulate to some extent, rather than being an utter captive to the MoveOn.com/dKos Hard Left Dems.
Obama, by contrast, is wimping out big-time if he's seriously considering this appointment. In his own mind, he excuses that, probably, by thinking he's Lincoln and Hillary will be one of his Team of Rivals. Rivals he can find, but he's no Lincoln, and the point of Doris Kearns Goodwin's excellent book about Lincoln's cabinet was in part that only a Lincoln can succeed in riding herd over a team whose members are pulling in different directions. Since my priority is the future of the Nation rather than the specific success of Obama's particular administration, I'm somewhat more reassured by the Clinton triangulation likelihood than I'm distressed by the Obama emasculation likelihood.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Twisted dollop of evil scum Bill Ayers claims his and Weather Underground's bombs were mere "protests" and never terrorism, but that U.S. gov't "murdered" thousands every month
I know that when John McCain called Bill Ayers just "some washed up old terrorist," he was trying to minimize Ayers' significance and deprive him of any current relevancy.
But that was just another of McCain's well-intentioned misjudgments.
Ladies and gentlemen, friends and neighbors, there is evil in the world, and Bill Ayers was, and remains to this very day, a twisted dollop of evil scum. Perhaps he hasn't set off a bomb in the previous few years — although I wouldn't bet the ranch on that, and he still refuses to rule out future violence — but he's as totally inappropriate a candidate for the phrase "washed up" as Adolf Eichmann was just because he hadn't gassed any Jews in the previous few years before his trial and execution in 1962.
Proof: In a post-election interview yesterday with ABC News, this piece of excrement had the nerve — one might say, "the audacity" — to simultaneously contend that the bombings he and his comrades in the Weather Underground did were "not terrorism because [they didn't] target people, to kill or injure," but that "thousands of people were being murdered every month" by the lawful, elected, democratic government of the United States of America. That's a despicable, intentional, unforgivable, scurrilous lie, immediately followed by another.
It is a terrible mistake to try to minimize great evil. Ayers already lacks legitimacy; he cannot be further delegitimized or marginalized by wishful, inaccurate thinking like that represented by McCain's dismissive language.
I can excuse, barely, Chris Cuomo of ABC's "Good Morning America" for speaking to this vile bastard without overtly judgmental statements: Sometimes journalists arguably have to sheer away their own humanity to expose evil to public view.
But anyone else who could sit in the same room with Bill Ayers without complaint, without speaking out about his continued depravity, has deliberately chosen to ignore evil — and by ignoring it, to perpetuate and implicitly defend it. That this worm has taken Barack Obama's election as his cue to crawl from his hole and spew his nasty lies is one of the sickest and saddest things I've ever seen happen in America.
And to the extent John McCain's characterization of Ayers was a suggestion that nobody ought to care anymore, then even McCain had lost his own moral compass.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Regarding the Obama camp's leaks about confidential talks with the POTUS
On January 20, 2009, Barack Obama will become the 44th president of the United States. We call him the "president elect" in recognition of that fact, and it's an important fact. Indeed, since the passage of the Twentieth Amendment, being "president elect" has had constitutional significance.
But until he takes the oath administered by Chief Justice John Roberts on January 20, 2009, Barack Obama is also still the junior senator from Illinois — complete with a goofy pretend seal of office (you'd think he would have learned, but no; and he even chose his tie color to match it) for his temporary new job, and with the apparent political maturity of an eighth grader.
Permitting his staff to leak details of his private discussions with the current President of the United States — completely apart from the fact that those details were given a political spin which both the White House and the Obama transition team were then at pains to deny within hours — is like peeing in the pool, and then bragging about it.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Beldar on Brooks on conservatism
My subject in today's post is David Brooks' column in yesterday's New York Times on the future of conservativism. And here on my blog, I am going to give that column every bit of the thoughtful discussion, and exactly as many hyperlinks, as it deserves, given the current credibility of its author on this subject and the source of its publication.
Thank you for your careful attention.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Meanwhile, in the Oval Office
Ann Althouse is right: This photograph of Dubya and Obama in the Oval Office is "[a]rtfully composed and deeply historic." It's flattering to both men, and although it cannot soothe all or even most of my worries about the impending Obama Administration, it's nevertheless reassuring in many important ways.
Professor Althouse's link to the photo, this one, contains a claim by the Associated Press that it owns the copyright to the photo, and a stern warning that it "may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed." Poppycock. Perhaps the Associated Press and the mainstream media consider the presidency a gift that they have bestowed upon Barack Obama, and they certainly did their best to determine the election's outcome. But their photographers didn't take this photo — it was made instead by White House Photo Director Eric Draper — and the Associated Press doesn't own or have any rights the image whatsoever. The AP's just flat-out lying again, in other words.
This photo belongs to America — and it, and all that it signifies, is a gift from us to the world.
Note that the leather chair between the flags is empty, as are the small guest chairs on either side of the desk. George W. Bush, a/k/a Chimpy McBusHitler and all sorts of other vile names, has no need or wish to play status games with the next occupant of this office.
More importantly: There will be no tanks on the Mall. There will be no manufactured crisis to justify the 101st Airborne seizing the Metro stations while Dick Cheney directs the suppression of the Obama Transition Team from a bunker in an unspecified location. There won't even be any "O" keys pried off computer keyboards. The barking moonbats who've been saying for years that we're already living under a Dubya-imposed military government would be ashamed if they had the decency necessary for that emotion.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
No to Gorelick for AG
The Democratic Party's ethical standards have now plummeted significantly below those which prompted Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards to joke in 1983 that "The only way I can lose this election is if I'm caught in bed with either a dead girl or a live boy."
It appears that we have no example extreme enough to provide an answer yet to this critical question: How badly do you have to screw up to stop getting promoted, much less destroy your career, in the Democratic Party?
Oddly enough, one of the first series of posts I wrote when I began blogging in August 2003 was to defend Jamie Gorelick — a Clintonista liberal Democratic Washington lawyer — from charges that she was ethically disqualified to serve on the 9/11 Commission because the law firm she had just joined, then known as Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering, also had prominent Saudi clients (whom she did not personally represent, but some tiny percentage of whose fees would flow to her through the law firm partnership). I continue to believe that her law firm's Saudi clients were not a legitimate source of serious objection to her service on the 9/11 Commission.
But I didn't know then — nobody much outside the Clinton Administration knew — that she had been the principal builder of the "wall" between domestic and foreign intelligence that, more than any other single factor, made possible the success of the 9/11 attacks. Now that was a huge, glaring, substantive, and disabling conflict of interest. And her decision on that matter while in office showed such incredibly bad judgment on a crucial matter of mixed legal and national security concerns that it ought to have disqualified her from ever serving in any future president's cabinet.
Then there's the little fact that from 1997 to 2003, she was the vice chairman of Fannie Mae.
And yet: The New York Times says Jamie Gorelick is under serious consideration to become Barack Obama's attorney general (h/t InstaPundit). The NYT allows how "Some conservative bloggers have already begun trying to derail Ms. Gorelick’s possible nomination as attorney general, pointing to her experiences at both Fannie Mae and the Sept. 11 commission." To that, my response is to jump up and down with both hands waving frantically as I shout, "Damned right we are! Damned right!"
Short of appointing an actual member of al Qaeda, I cannot imagine a more offensive symbolic repudiation of the Global War on Terror — nor a more enthusiastic embrace of the chronic mismanagement, cronyism, and graft which led to this fall's credit crisis — than the appointment of Jamie Gorelick as attorney general.
When Obama choose an amoral, souless Hard Left hitman like Rahm Emanuel to be his chief of staff, I was willing to grant that such is his right for such a position, and I didn't even grumble. Indeed, because Emanuel is likely to be effective in doing his principal's wishes, that simply means that Barack Obama himself can be held strictly accountable for his administration's successes and failures: Emanuel is a switchblade, and every political corpse he leaves behind him (some of whom will also be Democrats, although of which flavors we do not yet know) will be stacked in a large pile directly at Barack Obama's feet.
But the prospect of Jamie Gorelick heading up the Department of Justice is worth filibustering, if anything or anyone is. She's not "change you can believe in," she's "change guaranteed to cause even more cosmic calamities" because she's done that consistently in the past.
Visualizing Obama's victory
A new reader I've known for a long time emailed me with this link to a series of fascinating maps (with explanations for how they're prepared) created by Mark Newman, the Paul Dirac Collegiate Professor of Physics at the University of Michigan. I'll reproduce one of the most interesting (and, arguably, meaningful) here:
So what do you think Obama's victory looks like? A large bird, taking wing and headed for the left, as viewed from behind? If so, is it eagle, phoenix, or buzzard?
Here, by contrast, is the analogous map for Bush's 2004 victory:
It makes me think for some reason of a profile-shot, attacking from right to left, of the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Perhaps Obama found the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch to use against McCain.
Saturday, November 08, 2008
A plea to John McCain: Find and expose the anonymous sources telling lies about Sarah Palin and use the McCain temper to "make them famous"
In the many hours I spent online doing background research on Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin before I wrote my first post about her on June 8, 2008, I read many dozens of newspaper stories about her, dating back to her time as mayor of Wasilla in the late 1990s, in the state's largest newspaper, the Anchorage Daily News, as well as in some of the smaller Alaska newspapers. I was specifically looking for negatives: I knew that the Democrats would be too, in the (then unlikely) event that Gov. Palin became a serious possibility as the GOP Veep nominee.
The single most frequently recurring theme was that Sarah Palin's political opponents underestimated her. In every campaign, her opponent attacked her as inexperienced. None of them argued, however, that she was stupid. The closest any opponent ever came to that was one of her two opponents in the 2006 gubernatorial race, Andrew Halcro, who claimed that she didn't immerse herself in the minutia of policy detail in which he himself reveled. Halcro is a wonk, and an annoying, patronizing twerp, and a sore loser, and the people of Alaska recognized that by leaving him an embarrassing distant third in that race, with less than 10% of their votes. But even Halcro didn't claim that Sarah Palin was stupid.
Nor did anyone else of consequence make that claim during Gov. Palin's first year-and-a-half as governor. She was criticized for having "sharp elbows," for holding political grudges, and for disfavoring those who'd crossed her — complaints leveled by losers left behind in the wake of every successful politician, because that's the loser-side view of being held accountable for ones actions and positions. But dim? Provincial? Uneducated? Nobody in Alaska had ever seriously charged Sarah Palin with being an airhead — not even the political enemies she'd left bleeding in the dust.
Because she was relatively unknown outside Alaska, however — and, very frankly, because she is an attractive woman who could therefore be easily tagged with the most cruel and sexist of stereotypes, the airhead — from the day John McCain announced her as his vice presidential nominee, her political opponents simply began manufacturing lies about her, many of which were designed to reinforce that airhead stereotype.
It did not surprise me that partisans opposed to the GOP ticket would believe these lies. But it very much surprised me that some smart centrists and even nominal conservatives did too.
I'll give you an example — one that makes me sick at heart. I've read Dr. James Joyner's blog, Outside the Beltway, regularly since before I started blogging myself in 2003. I regarded him as one of the most articulate, knowledgeable, and reasonable right-of-center bloggers around. I was tickled to be invited to participate by telephone in his podcast immediately after the Palin announcement in late August, and I agreed with him and the other participants that Gov. Palin was an exciting choice. Some time shortly after that, however, something changed Dr. Joyner's mind about Gov. Palin. And he now seriously purports to believe, for example, that Gov. Palin "couldn't even name a newspaper she read." That's not an isolated or snarky comment; that's consistent with everything he's written about Gov. Palin for weeks in perfect seriousness. And it's no different than if he were to insist that really, seriously, Joe Biden can't count to four because he claims "J-O-B-S" is a three-letter word. People joked about "Bush Derangement Syndrome," and about "Palin Derangement Syndrome" as its successor. But at some point this kind of thing stops being a joke and becomes a genuine cognative disability — an inability to process and deal in a rational fashion with objective data because of a bias that is so intense that it blocks out reality.
I can't explain it. I just hope it's a temporary, acute problem rather than something long-term or possibly organic, like the sort of brain tumors or lesions of which Dr. Oliver Sachs writes in his book, "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat." I'm not being at all snarky here. Rather, I'm entirely serious, because I have considered Dr. Joyner a friend, and I am genuinely concerned for his mental health. He, Andrew Sullivan, and others in their camp are completely persuaded that they can see a degree of ignorance in Gov. Palin which is utterly inconsistent with anyone's ability to function as the governor of any state, but to which hundreds of thousands of Alaskans were absolutely blind for many years despite a much better opportunity to assess Gov. Palin first-hand. That kind of thinking represents a break with reality, one that's not funny at all, but genuinely sad.
The latest of the deliberate liars — the people who are inventing stuff out of whole cloth, maliciously and without any pretense of a factual basis, without any regard for their utter implausibility — are the cowardly, sniveling pieces of garbage who've been masquerading as "campaign aides" for the McCain-Palin campaign. They are the worst kind of traitors in politics. Like the scumballs who invented the list of books that Sarah Palin had supposedly wanted burned when she was mayor of Wasilla — and who included in the list Harry Potter books that hadn't even been written when Gov. Palin was mayor — these anonymous assassins don't even bother to come up with plausible lies: Why bother, when mainstream publications like Newsweek will uncritically regurgitate them to millions without doing the most basic fact-checking?
It's time for this to end. It's time for the liars to be identified to the public and held accountable.
To Carl Cameron and others at Fox News: Shame on you for granting these people anonymity. There is no basis in journalistic ethics for you to do that. Shame on you for reporting this garbage at all.* With the exception of a few there like Greta Van Susterin who've refused to buy into this nonsense, you are rapidly eroding such credibility and respectability as your network had earned among Americans disgusted with the mainstream media in general. Stop what you're doing immediately.
To Sen. John McCain: Although you were far from my first choice as the GOP nominee, I've spent hundreds of hours working on your campaign's behalf, as have many others who were thrilled by your selection of Gov. Palin as your running mate.
I never thought I would have cause to label you, of all people, as a coward or dishonorable. You're acting in a cowardly and dishonorable fashion, however, by permitting people identified with your campaign to make these anonymous attacks on Gov. Palin. Identify them. Make them famous. If what they say is true, then make them back it up. If it is not — and I believe it is not — then expose them as liars so that no GOP politician will ever again dare hire these sniveling worms. They have no honor, but they are besmirching yours. And your silence is compounding this problem with every hour that passes. It's time, and past time, finally, for your long-suppressed temper to be unleashed, because you finally have targets who deserve the worst public tongue-lashing you can deliver.
To any and every potential GOP leader, including Mitt Romney: If I ever learn that you are knowingly employing any of these traitors, I will oppose your candidacy for any office, and do everything within my power to persuade others to oppose you too. Gov. Romney, you need to be heard on this matter too, immediately and forcefully, regardless of whether those responsible are in fact, as is being widely reported, former or prospective aides of yours.
UPDATE (Sat Nov 8 @ 2:05pm CST): It's helpful for other campaign aides to go on record, by name, denying these things (see, e.g., here, here, and here). But that's not remotely adequate. McCain needs to be personally involved — on the record, on video that will be carried by the national media. The exposure and discrediting of these traitors needs to replicate as closely as possible the opening scenes with Chuck Conners in "Branded" — except these people are not innocent, and none of them is a real man:
UPDATE (Sat Nov 12 @ 4:30pm CST): I embrace and adopt the sentiments of Allahpundit and Michelle Malkin: John McCain has failed this test of his own character.
The would-be commander-in-chief surely still had the clout to summon the top twenty-five or so campaign aides into a room for a "Come to Jesus" meeting, a "we aren't any of us leaving this room until I know who leaked those comments" meeting, a "you aren't any of you ever going to work in politics again until we find out who's to blame for this" meeting.
Instead, he goes on Lenno and shrugs his shoulders, minimizing the whole episode. That didn't make anyone famous. That affirmatively encouraged this crap to continue, not just in this campaign but in future ones.
I practice a profession in which secrets are important. I understand the concept of fiduciary duty. I've employed people, professionals and staff alike, who — simply by virtue of working for me — have been made subject to the same bright-line, absolute standards that I'm subject to. Very, very rarely, someone in my employment has breached that trust — and my reaction has been ruthless and thorough and instantaneous. Yes, there have been a few times when I've enjoyed firing someone, and have gone out of my way to make sure that anyone who cared to make future inquiries about hiring that person would find out exactly why they were fired.
McCain's background as a military officer ought to have acquainted him with high ethical standards and the need for their consistent and vigorous enforcement. He almost flunked out of the Naval Academy at the end of every year he spent there, based on conduct demerits, but he never once had an Honor Code violation.
Senator, this was an Honor Code violation by someone on your staff. And you just blew it off. There was no shame in losing the election. But there is definitely shame in this.
Friday, November 07, 2008
Yard sign, remodeled
Dave from Sugarland sent (and gave me permission to republish here) a photo of his yard sign — which is not the product of vandalism, but rather, of his intentional remodeling:
Simple. Energy-conscious (re-cycling). Works for me.
Thursday, November 06, 2008
Thanks and farewell [to HH.com] from Beldar
This, in all probability, is the last of my teaser posts here noting a guest-post of mine at HughHewitt.com.
It's been great to have the traffic at Hugh's place. It's been frustrating to have no control over the comments there, however, which are sometimes indistinguishable from things you'd read from the more immature posters and commenters at dKos.
I'm grateful to Hugh for the chance to guest-post there, but it's good to be "home." Thanks to those of my regular readers here who've read what I wrote there, and by all means, I encourage you to continue visiting there for Hugh's views too. To anyone who's visiting here for the first time, by all means put up a bookmark, syndicate my XLM feed in your aggregator if you'd like, and pull up a chair.
[Copied here for archival purposes on November 6, 2008, from the post linked above at HughHewitt.com.]
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
I first became personally acquainted with my gracious host here, Hugh Hewitt, during the 2004 presidential campaign as part of the exposure of the phony Killian Memos relied upon by CBS News' "60 Minutes" program during Rathergate. CBS executive vice president Jonathan Klein had derided the bloggers who were writing daily about the forgeries and CBS News' then-still-ongoing efforts to defend the indefensible — famously saying that "you couldn't have a starker contrast between the multiple layers of checks and balances [at CBS News and "60 Minutes"], and a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas writing what he thinks."
I was another one of those pajamas-wearing bloggers, and Hugh appreciated the irony that CBS News had nevertheless thought enough of me some years earlier to employ me (without pajamas) as its own lead counsel before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, when I successfully defended a summary judgment in CBS News' favor in a defamation lawsuit based on another of its national broadcasts. That led to Hugh and me trading some emails about common judicial clerkship and law firm experiences, plus a couple of occasions on which I was a telephonic guest on Hugh's show, and we've stayed in touch by email at least occasionally since then.
Still, I was very surprised when Hugh asked me in September of this year to guest-blog here through the election. He offered, and I accepted, because this blog would put my writing in front of more eyeballs. And we both had hopes that that might, in turn, do some good for our side in particular, and for the country in general — especially given my early interest in, and consistent support of, Gov. Sarah Palin on my own blog. This has been a volunteer effort, motivated by mostly by principle (and just a little by ego, since even those of us who blog in our pajamas like to have our stuff actually read by more people).
Despite the outcome of the election, I'm personally satisfied that I did all I could to try to counter the relentless and unconscionably vile smears against Gov. Palin that were made by the Obama campaign, its allies on the Hard Left, and their allies in the mainstream media. My only regret, in fact, is that I spent more than a week pondering Hugh's invitation before accepting it — and then Hurricane Ike left me without power and internet access for another week almost immediately after I had started guest-posting here.
The reason for my delay in accepting was simply a desire to maintain absolute editorial control over everything I wrote, without even an appearance of being beholden to any one else's view. And although I've had other, similar offers from high-traffic sites that I also admire and respect, I knew from being a regular reader of this blog over the last several years that Hugh's views and my own naturally run parallel most of the time anyway. Hugh is a partisan, of course, but a joyous one rather than a bitter one. I shoot for that same quality, although with less consistent success.
I knew that I could take Hugh at his word that he wouldn't edit or otherwise attempt to influence what I wrote, and he's kept his word most scrupulously. It ought to go without saying (but in lawyerlike fashion I'll not neglect to say again anyway) that everything I've written here should be taken as representing my own views, and ought not necessarily be imputed to Hugh or the fine folks of Townhall.com just because they've made it possible for you to read my views here.
In hindsight, I wish I had had the benefit of the higher traffic here during the first days after Sen. McCain announced that he had chosen Gov. Palin, because I think that's when a lot of the lies and invective against her first began to stick. But I've only myself, and then a hurricane, to blame for the delay.
Of course, in the best of all possible worlds, Sen. McCain would have secretly made his pick back in late June or July. His aides could have started helping Gov. Palin prepare for a more aggressive, less defensive national roll-out on the QT, and we'd all have been better able to respond more effectively to the tsunami of lies that were unleashed against her. But we don't live in the best of all possible worlds, and I am confident that given her success in Alaska, her fabulous speech at the GOP convention, her performance at the Veep debate, and her strong finish in the campaign, Gov. Palin's future in national politics remains very bright indeed.
(Were I advising her, then assuming the GOP holds on to Ted Stevens' seat and his motion for new trial is denied, forcing his resignation, I'd advise Gov. Palin to appoint a short-term replacement who has disclaimed any intention to run in the resulting special election, and then to run herself for that seat. That would be better than appointing herself, which would likely not sit well with Alaska Republicans who are still upset that Gov. Palin's predecessor, Frank Murkowski, appointed his daughter Lisa to his own seat in December 2002. Lisa was re-elected in her own right in 2004, but changes in Alaska law since then, as a direct reaction to dismay over this appointment, now require a special election within 90 days after a temporary appointment by the governor. Besides striking another blow in the ethical clean-up of Alaska, Gov. Palin taking over Stevens' seat would put her in a better position for a national campaign in 2012.)
Of the future of conservatism and the GOP, I'm skeptical of too-glib arguments too close to this electoral defeat. However, I'll hazard a few points anyway:
Of the five major GOP candidates in the primary, Sen. McCain was my fourth choice. I disagreed with him on a great many issues, and there were times throughout the campaign that I nearly bit off my own tongue to hold back a snarky criticism. But he's always had my respect for his service to this country, and he earned more of it with this campaign (in particular, with his selection of Gov. Palin). Although, as he is the first to concede, he made his share of mistakes in this campaign, I am grateful to him for his efforts.
I do not think that we necessarily need a whole-scale reform of the current GOP primary system, which is front-loaded to produce an early winner and to avoid the kind of sturm-und-drang that afflicted the Democrats until June because of their dreadful proportional voting and caucus schemes. It's unfortunate, but true, that the race for the 2012 GOP presidential primary started yesterday. I think it's unlikely that we'll have such a splintered field by the time the primary votes start coming in.
I'm also of the strong view that we need a committed conservative at the top of the next GOP presidential ticket. Nominating a "centrist" lets the Democrats morph into whatever they need to be in response, which is how Barack Obama — of all people, Barack Obama! — was able to campaign credibly (at least in the eyes of the gullible) as a middle-class tax-cutter. We cannot become the party of political triangulation, because the Dems already have a corner on that market, and it would corrode our hearts anyway. Let them either compromise their principles to campaign more effectively against us, or better yet, let them run on their own real principles (tax, spend, and run-away-home) and let the American people have a clear choice.
That said, I'm equally persuaded that we cannot become rigid and intolerant as a party or a political movement, particularly with respect to hot-button social issues. I will give you a specific example of where we need to be on that:
The first veto that Gov. Palin exercised after being elected was of a law passed by the Alaska Legislature that would have attempted an end-run around an Alaska Supreme Court decision which compelled the state to offer benefits to same-sex domestic partners equal to those the state offered to opposite-sex married couples. Gov. Palin disagreed with that court decision, and indeed, she had said she would support an amendment to the state constitution to overturn it. Although she opposes social bigotry toward gays and is personally tolerant toward them, Gov. Palin had also campaigned in 2006 as opposing either legislation or a state constitutional amendment that would permit same-sex marriage. But she was unwilling to subvert the Rule of Law and separation-of-powers doctrine to reach a politically and socially conservative result by signing into law the Alaska Legislature's disingenuous end-run of the state supreme court ruling, even though (quite arguably anyway) the court had overstepped its own bounds in its interpretation of the state constitution to reach the politically and socially liberal result.
Clear and consistent on our own principles; committed to democracy and democratic institutions operating within their proper spheres; unwilling to rig the game just to reach desired results; and personally tolerant and respectful of those with opposing views. That's complicated conservatism, perhaps, but it's not squishy or internally inconsistent or driven by political expediency.
One of the ironies of my profession as a courtroom lawyer — a/k/a my "day job" — is that things that are awful for my clients sometimes, quite perversely, turn out to be great for me personally. So it is with this election: I'm convinced that without Gov. Palin on the ticket, Barack Obama might well have even carried the State of Texas, because his energized supporters certainly turned out in large numbers in the state's more urban areas. And as a direct result, almost all of the incumbent GOP state-court civil and criminal judges in Harris County were narrowly defeated. The GOP nominees held on in the state-wide races, so the Texas Supreme Court's philosophy isn't likely to change. But tort reform is effectively dead at the trial court level in Harris and Dallas Counties, and although I'm more often on the defense side (typically representing small businesses) than otherwise, my profession is likely to see boom times soon as a result.
So while I'll return to blogging at my own site, beldar.org, it probably won't be with the frequency that I've written here in the last several weeks, and I'll likely also return to writing somewhat more often about legal and non-political topics. By all means, feel free to visit me there. (Maybe Hugh will even see fit someday to add me to his blogroll, wink-wink, nudge-nudge.) My regular audience there is much smaller, and dissenting views are welcome in the comments — although I don't permit as much incivility and subject-changing as the folks who moderate comments at Townhall.com. Mine is a simple, noncommercial site and I pay for the bandwidth, so I refuse to subsidize those whose main goal is to make personal attacks on the host (me) or other commenters.
To all who've taken the time to read what I've written here, whether you found it persuasive or not, and especially to my gracious and generous host, Hugh Hewitt — thanks very much.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Congratulations to President-elect Obama
Okay, with this post, I'm caught up again on cross-posting here for the guest posts I've made so far at HughHewitt.com. If you're reading down the page from this post, keep in mind that the teasers here for posts since late October were all done in the wee small hours after I already knew the disappointing election results. And I've also copied and posted at the foot of each teaser post here the full text and photos from those guest posts, just for archival purposes.
[Copied here for archival purposes on November 5, 2008, from the post linked above at HughHewitt.com.]
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
[As always, I'm speaking here only for myself, not necessarily for Hugh — but with thanks for his generous invitation to me to guest-post here during this election season, and thanks to all of the many additional folks who've read my blogging as a result (of all of which, more later in a more sentimental but less consequential post tomorrow).]
Congratulations to you, Sen. Barack Obama, junior senator from Illinois, on becoming the President-elect of the United States of America.
Congratulations to your supporters, and to the entire United States on this historic occasion.
Mr. President-elect, you have been, and will remain even more frequently, in my prayers.
I pray that you will succeed in bringing America into a post-racial future. In that regard, I pray that you will take to heart the prescription of Chief Justice John Roberts: The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race. You are uniquely positioned to help us achieve that, and I pray that you will find the path to do so.
I pray that you may acquire wisdom — wisdom beyond your tender years, your thin experience, and your inconsequential legislative achievements — wisdom as a public servant in office, rather, that is at least commensurate with the skill you've shown as a campaigner, which has been a genuine marvel.
I pray for your health, because, with due respect, I regard the prospect of your Vice President-elect having to step into your shoes with genuine panic. Let's hope that he can continue to be Crazy Uncle Joe, less of a danger to the nation as Vice President than as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
You have said, at times, that you recognize that your greatest flaw is pride. I pray that your prayers for help in overcoming that flaw will be answered. You are surrounded, unfortunately, with an entourage who share that very flaw. Between now and January, I hope you will find time to read modern American history, and in particular, histories about John F. Kennedy, who you resemble in so many ways. Kennedy's youthful arrogance and ignorance nearly incinerated our planet — a fact of which you seem to be unaware, and that frightens me more than anything else about the prospect of your presidency. Mr. President-elect, you must learn history, so that you can avoid at least its most conspicuous mistakes — like those John Kennedy made in Vienna 1961 when he, as a young and presumably naive president, was tested and found completely wanting.
I pray for your family, that they may continue to give you strength and comfort and perspective. If you will do your best for your own beautiful young daughters, then I have grounds to hope that will also be good for mine.
God bless you and keep you, sir. I have been among your harshest critics, in good faith I hope, and I will continue to speak out when I think you're wrong. I pray for the grace, though, to acknowledge those times when you are right, and for the decency to accord you with the full respect that is due to anyone who holds the office upon which you are about to embark.
You will be my president too, and while I am filled with trepidation, I congratulate you as sincerely as I am able, and I wish the very best for you and our great country.
Congrats to U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) on his re-election
I'll blog more about state-wide Texas races, probably, but I wanted to go ahead and congratulate Sen. John Cornyn before the wider audience at HughHewitt.com.
[Copied here for archival purposes on November 5, 2008, from the post linked above at HughHewitt.com.]
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
I haven't blogged at all this election season — not on my own blog, and not as a guest-blogger here — about my home-state senator John Cornyn.
I would not want that to be interpreted as a lack of support for him in any way, but rather a reflection of my absolute confidence that he would win re-election anyway, and my further considered judgment that his opponent, while a decent enough fellow, was awfully boring and not an example of a first-string candidate from the Democrats.
(My old friend and former Texas Law Review colleague, Bill White, currently mayor of Houston and before that, a cabinet deputy in the Clinton administration, would have been a far more credible candidate, but I think he had better sense than to try in even this tough year for GOP candidates nationwide.)
Sen. Cornyn is among the best examples of a genuine "public servant" ever to come from the great State of Texas. Indeed, I thought of him when Gov. Palin, in giving her acceptance speech at the GOP convention, referred to elected officials as needing "a servant's heart." He was a fine state district judge in San Antonio, a fine Justice on the Texas Supreme Court, and a fine Texas Attorney General.
As the junior U.S. Senator from Texas, John Cornyn has reflected the views of his constituency with dignity and grace. I was particularly proud of him during the debate on so-called comprehensive immigration reform, a subject into whose details he dove with remarkable enthusiasm and growing expertise, and with more subtlety — including sensitivity to Texas' large and proud Hispanic population, in a state still fiercely proud of the fact that its independence from Mexico was won by Anglos and Hispanics fighting side-by-side and arm-in-arm — than most of even his other border-state Senate counterparts (including, conspicuously, Sen. John S. McCain, with whom Sen. Cornyn not infrequently clashed on this issue).
I'm proud of Sen. Cornyn. I'm proud to be among his supporters. I'm proud to have voted for him. And I look forward to his steadfast presence — and, when necessary, his votes against invoking cloture — in the coming United States Senate.
In 9pm EST calls, NM switches to blue
And it got worse for my team from then on.
[Copied here for archival purposes on November 5, 2008, from the post linked above at HughHewitt.com.]
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
One switch, with the additional states now being called at 8:00 p.m. CST: New Mexico for Obama.
Brit Hume just gave millions of conservatives a short heart spasm by saying, mistakenly, that Fox is also calling Ohio for Obama, but then he retracted that. None of the other networks have called Ohio yet either.
UPDATE (Tue Nov 4 @ 8:22 p.m. CST): Fox News is calling Ohio for Obama. I'm not channel-hopping, but the other networks' websites have
n't made that call yet also just made that call (except for CNN, curiously enough).
It's not over. And it's clearly not the blow-out that the Dems wanted. I don't think they're going to get to 60 in the Senate. But things do look grim, unless the exit polls turn out to be so very badly off that either Ohio or Pennsylvania turn to red instead.
UPDATE (Tue Nov 4 @ 8:32 p.m. CST): To heck with the networks. I'm gonna go way out on a limb and call Texas for Palin, er, McCain-Palin. Just 'cause I live there.
UPDATE (Tue Nov 4 @ 8:43 p.m. CST): CNN's in line with the others on Ohio now, and the networks are all ignoring the end of the fat lady's song, whether wisely or not. Bill Kristol says he thinks Obama will try to make early moves to indicate that he won't govern from the far left; I do not share that belief, and think, with great respect, that that's the most wishful of thinking.
If this plays out the way it looks now, Obama will have a better claim to a mandate than Clinton did in 1992, but not much, if any, more of a mandate than Bush-43 in 2004, based either on Electoral College or popular vote totals.
UPDATE (Tue Nov 4 @ 8:45 p.m. CST): Ha! Hume says Texas is still too close to call, although he doesn't think there's a lot of doubt. "I don't think Obama ever went there," he says. Oh, no, Brit, you're badly wrong on that, and you should know better: Barack Obama squeezed Texans, especially the plaintiffs' personal injury trial lawyer bar, for many, many millions, but those were at champagne dinners, not at Reliant Stadium.
Too soon IMHO to call Pennsylvania
When I wrote this guest-post, it was. But it's not anymore.
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
You will perhaps forgive me if I remain, for a while longer, skeptical of
Obama Broadcasting Company's MSNBC's call of Pennsylvania for Obama already. They may turn out to be right. But right now, they're mostly guessing. I hope no one who's yet to vote will put their faith in the thrills racing up and down any portion of Chris Matthews' anatomy. Note that other networks, including even CNN, are still treating that race as too close to call.
In a close Senate race, if Fox News is correct in calling Kentucky for Mitch McConnell, I suspect that the Senate Minority Leader's seat has just been saved by the Governor of Alaska. Who'da thunk that a year ago?
The fat lady is only mid-song, folks. Hang in there.
UPDATE (Tue Nov. 4 @ 7:20 p.m. CST): Michael Barone is explaining on Fox News that they don't have any precinct data yet for Pennsylvania, and that there are large variations in something called the "WPE" and the exit polling. ABC, however, has joined NBC on this one, or may even have preceded it, based (apparently) on exit polling. I do not trust exit polling, period.
UPDATE (Tue Nov. 4 @ 7:30 p.m. CST): Now Fox joins NBC and ABC on Pennsylvania. I'm discouraged, but not yet persuaded, re this state.
UPDATE (Tue Nov. 4 @ 7:59 p.m. CST): Barone just clarified Fox News' call for Pennsylvania a half hour ago by explaining that was when they'd finally received the "WPE," which he says is the "Within Precinct Error." With that, he says they're confident that the results in Pennsylvania are outside the margin of error of the exit polling. I respect Barone a lot, and when he says they think the odds that they're wrong are "250 to 1," as he just did, I'm sure he doesn't make that statement lightly. But with due and genuine respect to him and all the other "experts," I think I'll wait to see some more actual voting totals before I give up on PA.
And the overall map so far still looks like 2004. But new results are about to be announced.
Don't fixate on a video of a tough black guy with a stick in Philly, 'cause he's not what's threatening our rights
If there's evidence of widespread and consequential voter fraud, I haven't seen it yet, but I remain very concerned about the clear evidence of widespread fraud in voter registrations because I don't think people commit that crime unless they intend those registrations to count for something.
I'm more concerned, though, about Obama's illegal, and deliberately invited, campaign contributions, which I think casts an ethical shadow over his upcoming administration.
This late-Election Day guest post at HughHewitt.com was intended to express these concerns.
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
Lots of conservative blogs and websites that I'm browsing today have the same video that's posted at Hot Air, or something similar, which suggests that there are a few tough-looking black guys with nightsticks and paramilitary uniforms intimidating potential voters — presumably, I suppose, white ones who would otherwise have voted McCain-Palin. I pick Ed Morrissey's post because he, in typical level-headed fashion, merely says: "Hopefully, this kind of thing will be kept to a minimum today." Others are making a bigger deal.
Friends and neighbors, one or two such guys, at one polling place in one state, is not a meaningful piece of information. It makes a great video clip precisely because it plays on some very ugly stereotypes.
I am untroubled by anecdotal events like these, which are obvious and easily remedied.
Instead, I am deeply troubled by the fact that it's Election Day, and yet Barack Obama has still not identified — much less fired — whoever it was in his senior campaign staff who ordered that his website's credit card anti-fraud protections be turned off.
Those hundreds of thousands of small credit card transactions zipping across fiber optic cables around the world make lousy video clips. But the Obama-Biden campaign has given us no credible explanation for why those safeguards were turned off (other than the obvious explanation, i.e., to facilitate illegal and fraudulent contributions). Nor has it given us any credible reason to believe that those transactions didn't accumulate into millions, and even tens of millions, of dollars in fraudulent and illegal campaign contributions.
Racial fears, nightsticks, tough guys with huge biceps — that's actually 19th and early 20th Century stuff. I'm much worried about bits and bytes, about ISO credit card protocols and pre-paid, untraceable credit cards bought by the case offshore.
Next to that — but frankly, right now it's a distant second — I'm worried about fraudulent voter registrations and fraudulent ballots.
Bob Caro's fabulous book about Lyndon Johnson's ramrodding of the little-remembered Civil Rights Act of 1957, "Master of the Senate," quotes LBJ's explanations as to his focus on voting rights ahead of other attacks on Jim Crow laws. Without an effective right to cast a meaningful vote, no other rights mattered. With it, all other rights could be protected. LBJ's threading of a legislative needle in 1957 became the precedent for, and necessary precondition to, the better known and more substantive Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965. It is inconceivable that Barack Obama could be receiving tens of millions of votes today but for those landmark reforms.
But voting rights are under attack again. Not based on race. Not with uniformed officials wielding fire hoses and barely restraining Dobermans, nor with literacy tests or poll taxes. But through garden-variety fraud grown to gargantuan levels and fed with a Niagra of cash.
Win or lose today, my conservative friends, the elimination of financial campaign fraud and voter fraud must become central issues around which our politics revolve, and they must remain such way until we get this fixed. Nothing except national defense is as important.
Brilliant sunlight; instant, continuous, and absolute disclosure; rigorous sourcing back to individuals, through layers of dummy organizations and aggregators — these things, and not dollar limits (which can never work), are the financial reforms we must insist upon. Rigorous and verifiable pre-election registration — again with transparency and online accountability — plus picture-ID presentation at the polls.
If we do not achieve reforms to protect our voting rights, we'll lose not just them, but, eventually, all of our rights.
UPDATE (Tue Nov 4 @ 7:45 p.m. CST): Please note that you ought not attempt to further confirm the fact that the Obama campaign's anti-fraud software is turned off. It is turned off. The Obama campaign has publicly admitted that it is turned off. There have been hundreds of "test donations" in phony names which more than establish this. And even if done exclusively for purposes of confirming these reports, submitting a donation with a phony name or address is, arguably, technically, campaign finance fraud on the part of the test-contributor. Please don't break the law further.
On the other hand, I've been asked by readers whether anyone's "doing anything about this." The answer to that, so far as I know, is still "No." Hence my post. If this becomes, as some predict, just something that's the subject of a ceremonial slap on the hand and even a multi-million dollar fine for the Obama campaign many months from now, that will be a disgrace and a positive incentive for further fraud in the future. Someone needs to be fired. Someone probably needs to go to prison. We need a convincing and satisfactory answer to the questions: "What did Barack Obama know? And when did he know it?" And laws definitely need to be changed.
Cotton candy beginning to hit the network airwaves
If the exit polls were wrong, they weren't wrong enough to matter. I still think they're evil.
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
The news networks are beginning to announce and chew enthusiastically over the very first and most preliminary exit poll results, which are on things like "late deciders" or "new voters."
Because I'm a political junkie, I can't not listen to this stuff. But I can simultaneously mock and deride it.
This is me, mocking and deriding it.
Exit polling data is like cotton candy, folks — mostly air, along with spun sugar and some artificial dye. It will give you a bellyache if you consume it too enthusiastically. Its only real purpose is to sell advertising for the networks until they have some actual votes to report, and it's as unreliable as a rain gauge at the bottom of the ocean.
(Did you know that rain gauges are also called "pluviometers" and "udometers"? That is, I guarantee you, more useful information than anything you're about to hear from these exit polls.)
For Pete's sake, don't cancel your own trip to the polls based on anything you hear from anyone.
Marinucci claims SF Chron didn't report Obama's promise to "bankrupt" coal industry and cause "skyrocketing" electric rates because readers weren't interested
My team lost the election, but in this follow-up guest-post about Obama's promise to bankrupt the coal industry and make electric rates skyrocket over at HughHewitt.com, I believe I thrashed the San Francisco Chronicle soundly.
I suspect they've gotten over it already, huh?
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
On Sunday, November 2nd, like many other bloggers, I wrote a long post that included a lengthy quotation from an interview that Sen. Barack Obama gave to the San Francisco Chronicle's editorial board in January 2008, in which Sen. Obama promised that under his cap and trade policy, "if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can. It’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted." And in that same interview, Obama also promised that "[u]nder my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket."
In the wee small hours of Monday morning, I followed up on that post with another which noted that — in response to a question being raised by Gov. Palin on the campaign trail as to why the tape of this interview was just now surfacing — Chronicle Political Writer Carla Marinucci was righteously asserting that her newspaper had never "hidden" the interview. I pointed out, however, that in neither the front-page news story that Ms. Marinucci had written about the interview on January 18, 2008, nor in a follow-up op-ed about the interview from Chronicle Editorial Page Editor John Diaz, had the Chronicle seen fit to give anyone the slightest hint that buried within the 52 minutes and 336MB of the interview one might find a promise to bankrupt the nation's coal industry or cause national electric rates to skyrocket.
This, I argued, reflected abysmal judgment as to what portions of the interview were newsworthy. I asserted that "anyone working for a junior high school newspaper would have instantly realized the newsworthiness of these quotes if he or she were not completely 'in the tank' for Obama."
After posting my critique, I emailed Ms. Marinucci with a copy of it. I wrote to her that "I’d be pleased to republish any response you might have, or reconsider with any additional facts you believe I’ve missed."
Yesterday afternoon, Ms. Marinucci sent me this reply, which (in a later email) she specifically authorized me to reprint here in its entirety for your thoughtful consideration:
Simple answer. This was an editorial board meeting to decide the endorsement for the Democratic primary in California, at the time a heated contest between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
There were lots of issues that California voters wanted to hear from these candidates as they made their decision, but coal was not one of them. The industry doesn't exist here. We wrote about what our readers wanted to hear about regarding the choice between Obama and Clinton at that time: their positions on the war, jobs, tech, the environment, etc.
This response, while gracious, is utterly unpersuasive. In fact, it's so preposterous as to be even more damning than her earlier "we didn't hide it" defense.
The last I heard, California still uses electricity — and some 56 percent of America's electricity is generated from coal. Indeed, it was a series of rolling electrical brownouts and blackouts in California from 2001-2003 which led directly to the mid-term removal of Gov. Gray Davis in the special election won by present Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. For Ms. Marinucci to suggest that the Chronicle's readers aren't interested in supplies, sources, and prices of electricity is far beyond ludicrous. It's like suggesting that Boston wasn't interested in taxes on tea in the 1770s.
Moreover, while I can appreciate that there is presently no coal mining industry to speak of in the fabled hills of and around San Francisco, the San Francisco Chronicle — founded in 1865, presently owned by the Hearst Corporation, and still "the largest newspaper in Northern California and the second largest on the West Coast" — aspires to be a national publication. I've listened to the full interview now, and I can assure you that almost none of the questions asked in it were specific and particular to the concerns of San Franciscans or even northern Californians.
In fact, the long response from Sen. Obama which contained the promise to bankrupt the coal industry was prompted by a question (at 25:10 in the videotape) that was indeed on one of the specific topics — "the environment" — which Ms. Marinucci acknowledges her paper's readers wanted to hear about:
Q: Senator, you introduced a bill promoting coal-to-liquid fuels, and then you said you'd only support them if they emitted fewer greenhouse gases than gasoline. Now: All the scientific evidence points to coal being dirtier than pretty much anything else. So how are you going to square your support for coal with the need to fight global warming?
Indeed, in the long block-quoted segment in my Sunday post that I obtained from ABC News' Jake Tapper and his Political Punch blog, there was an ellipsis in the transcript. Viewing the video, I've confirmed that what that transcription omitted was a repetition of this question:
OBAMA: ... So what we have to do then is figure out how can we use coal without emitting greenhouse gases and carbon. And how can we sequester that carbon and capture it. If we can’t, then we’re gonna still be working on alternatives. But —
Q: Alternatives including coal?
OBAMA: — let me sort of describe my overall policy. What I’ve said is that we would put a cap and trade policy in place that is as aggressive if not more aggressive than anyone out there....
If there is a place on the globe more fixated on the notion of man-made global warming than San Francisco, I haven't seen or heard of it. These questions about relying on coal to generate electricity certainly reflect that, regardless of whether coal is mined in northern California. And Sen. Obama's answers almost certainly would have been not only of keen interest, but entirely acceptable, to the liberal majority who subscribe to the Chronicle. Could the Chronicle's table-full of writers and editors all have collectively missed that?
No, gentle readers, it is entirely implausible that Ms. Marinucci and the Chronicle failed to recognize the newsworthiness of these promises by Obama — not just to their own readers, but to all Americans (and arguably to the entire world). And that brings us back to the question of why they didn't report something that was so incredibly newsworthy, and why — after it was found and then made much of by others, including the GOP candidates for POTUS and VPOTUS — they've offered such lame excuses.
And there's only one plausible answer left to that question: Carla Marinucci and her fellow writers and editors at the San Francisco Chronicle deliberately buried these quotes because they knew that in other parts of the United States, they would hurt the electoral prospects of Barack Obama — the candidate they wanted to see win not only the Democratic primary, but also the general election. These are "journalists" who've violated their sacred trust. And you simply can't trust them any more, if you ever did.
Dow-Jones at 9633.01 as I write this
Okay, this is me, grasping at straws in yet another Election Day guest-post at HughHewitt.com.
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
Barack Obama wants you to believe that John McCain was simply insane when he insisted that the "fundamentals of the American economy are strong." Yet the Dow-Jones average is back within striking distance of 10,000 again — which ought to be a huge relief to those who've been fretting over their 401k and other retirement accounts.
That's not to say that all is rosy on the economic front. But we're not in another Great Depression — and the greatest threat on the horizon is that a tax increase could turn a short and relatively mild recession into something worse in 2009.
Ayers casts his vote at same polling place as Obama
I really, really, really don't like Bill Ayers. It bothers me that he can vote. He should still be in prison.
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
I'm sure someone had the job this morning of making sure that they were never in the same room, or otherwise capable of being captured within the same camera viewfinder, at the same time.
Ayers has the legal right to vote only because law enforcement screw-ups prevented him from being prosecuted for and convicted of the multiple felonies to which he's confessed. He remains, however, a twisted dollop of evil scum — a description that I'm quite proud will be forever associated with his name in major online search engines.
A hiss for Prof. Philip Busse, and a cheer for old St. Olaf!
Sign-stealers of either party are criminals, and I was glad to see one such criminal who'd bragged of his crimes on the Huffpo actually pay a price.
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
Hoorah for St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, for demanding and getting the resignation of Philip Busse, a visiting professor who'd bragged online about stealing and destroying McCain campaign signs. "Busse likened his thefts to an act of civil disobedience and said that stealing the signs was 'one of the single most exhilarating and empowering political acts that I have ever done.'" Let's hope he'll have some time to contemplate his skewed values from the unemployment line, if not from the county jail. (H/t Power Line.)
(Yes, I'd say the same thing of someone who'd similarly bragged about stealing and destroying Obama signs. I just haven't seen any comparable reports of that having happened.)
Election Day news before the polls close is among the least important news of the entire election season
This was sort of a "pay no attention to any of the men behind the curtain" post, again designed to try to encourage people not to be discouraged. More GOTV.
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
Long, long ago, when I was in high school in the early 1970s in the small town of Lamesa on the prairies at the bottom of the Texas Panhandle, I had a job as a news announcer and disc jockey at the local radio station, KPET-AM. And believe it or not, I learned something in that job that is an important lesson for us all even today. It is this:
Radio stations — and their more modern cousins, TV stations and cable channels — always have to fill the airtime with something, even when there's nothing meaningful to report.
All day long today, the mainstream media will be spewing continuously. And because they, and we, are keyed up — it's Election Day! Finally! — there's naturally some sense, moment to moment, that what they're saying must be especially important, or insightful, or poignant, or something.
That's a dangerous illusion.
In fact, for a large portion of the day today, the flow of news and analysis coming your way today — whether from mainstream American news media, new media like the cable channels, and even bloggers — is almost certain to be among the most speculative, least well-informed, and overall most insipid stuff you'll ever see, read, or hear! [Edit: Except, of course, for Hugh's radio show this afternoon! — Beldar, Thu Nov 4 @ 9:00 a.m. CST.]
If you haven't voted, go do that now — the lines are huge everywhere, that's the only objective fact that the news coverage everywhere can observe and agree upon.
And then remember that despite the importance of the day, the importance of what you're going to be reading, seeing, and hearing during this day can't possibly match up.
Be skeptical, and let not your heart be troubled.
Thoughts on the eve of Election Day
I wanted to help get out the vote, and specifically to encourage folks not to be discouraged by early reports if they were negativev. This was the first of my guest-posts at HH.com dedicated to that.
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
The major networks called Florida for Al Gore in 2000 while tens of thousands of voters had yet to vote in the westernmost part of that state which is situated within the Central time zone. The people who made those disastrous decisions at their respective networks that night mostly didn't get fired. They're mostly still there.
In the early afternoon of Election Day four years ago, conservative pundits all over the internet were thoroughly panicked. They were buying into the mainstream media's exit polling and general meme of "It's Kerry!"
They, and the mainstream media, had completely failed to anticipate the record-shattering rank-and-file turnout of traditional conservatives, and of independents and moderates who were persuaded that Kerry was too far to the left to be entrusted with the reins of government during wartime.
As I wrote that evening, my hero of that day was Hugh Hewitt, whose calm reassurance was a sharp contrast to the hysteria at places like NRO's The Corner.
The GOP base was dispirited in the 2006 congressional elections. Now, victory is in sight in Iraq, and our ticket is headed by the GOP leader from the Senate who has most steadfastly supported that victory. The economy is more troubled, but we know better than to seek the sort of remedies — higher taxes, more government programs — that the Democrats always prescribe. And in Sarah Palin, we have a candidate on our ticket who's emblematic of the 21st Century conservatism we'll need going forward — one which may leave the George Wills and Peggy Noonans and David Brookses perplexed, but which energizes common-sense middle-Americans like no Republican politician since Ronald Reagan. The 2006 results, in this context, mean nothing.
This year, however, the mainstream media is at least 10 times as skewed toward Obama as they were for Kerry in 2004 or Gore in 2000. And all of their models are based on assumptions — foremost among them that young voters and newly registered voters who have no history of actually voting will nevertheless break decisively, overwhelmingly, for one side only. They will cling to those assumptions until the bitter end because they fit with their own profound subjective desires. The mainstream media therefore won't begin to report races as even being "close" until the McCain-Palin ticket has a substantial lead.
I would be stunned if the mainstream media maintain anything remotely approximating objectivity tomorrow. And remember, even sources like Fox News that are trying to be report what's happening in an honest fashion are largely going to be confined to the same raw data sources and spin doctors as the other networks — garbage in, garbage out.
I am not pessimistic. Nor am I filled with a false and foolish confidence, because my team are the underdogs — what an utter non-surprise that is! Every plausible scenario for a McCain-Palin victory this year has included a gut-wrenching Election Day. One day out, we are fortunate indeed that this is by no means a lost cause, and that our side has a real fighting chance.
And right now, in fact, my predominate feeling is of curiosity: I'm intensely curious to see whether the American public will demonstrate again that profound seriousness of purpose it demonstrated in 2004, or whether too many of its members will be seduced by visions of hopey-changitude.
Pay no mind to exit polls, nor to any press coverage until the polls are closed in at least all of the continental 48 states. Most important of all: Wherever you live, treat your own vote as if it might decide the election.
I'll be posting here during the day and into the evening, as, I'm sure, will be Hugh. But after you've voted, and after you've done your best to help get out the vote for your team, don't be reluctant to just turn off the TV news and walk away from the computer for a few hours tomorrow. In fact, it might be a great night for dinner out, a movie, or a good book.
ChiTrib's Kass seeks fresh answer to question whether Obama would fire U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald
Of everything I've written in the last couple of months, what I cross-posted at HH.com under this title is a post I think I might have occasion to refer back to again.
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass asks a question that Hugh Hewitt has frequently asked here and on his radio show during the past few weeks: Would a new President Obama fire Patrick Fitzgerald, the U.S. Attorney who indicted and convicted Tony Rezko, and who's continuing his probe into related criminal activities in Obama's hometown? Kass writes (h/t InstaPundit; links in original):
Readers keep asking me the same question: Will the next president keep Patrick Fitzgerald as the U.S. attorney in Chicago?
I really can't say. What are political promises worth from politicians with debts to pay?
But here's what I do know. There is no story more important to the people of Chicago and of Illinois than the future of Fitzgerald, who has systematically hunted down the corruption.
Corruption the Chicago Way doesn't only waste money and burden taxpayers. This isn't only about isolated instances of graft and amusing, earthy rapscallions. That is a cartoon. The reality is that Illinois political corruption is an infection that spreads. The people either are numbed and deny it, or they feel pressured to suck up to their overlords. That's not American. That's positively Medieval.
"If we lose him, we lose everything," said a Chicago FBI agent wise in the ways of Chicago politics and its symbiosis with the Chicago mob. "I can't imagine it happening. He's the guy who pulls the trigger on all these investigations. If it happens, if they get rid of him, forget it."
Kass goes on to write in more detail about how definitive Sen. McCain has been in his commitment to keep Fitzgerald on the job, with quotes that leave no doubt and no wiggle-room.
Unfortunately, however, both of the links in the block-quote just above are busted as of when I write this, and I can't find on the Tribune or elsewhere (and neither do I recall having seen) any independent confirmation that Sen. Obama has ever made the promise which Kass attributes to him. Of the original making of that promise — which Kass clearly at least suspects that Obama might be pressured to break — Kass writes:
Back in March, Obama visited the Tribune's editorial board. He said that if elected president, he would keep Fitzgerald in place.
"I still think he's doing a good job," said Obama. "I think he has been aggressive in putting the city on notice and the state on notice that he takes issues of public corruption seriously."
I have no reason to doubt Kass' description. But the promise he describes appears to have been only verbal and before a small (albeit important) audience.
More significantly, that promise was made before Rezko was convicted on June 4, 2008. Rezko still hasn't been formally sentenced, and there are rumors that Rezko may be cooperating now with Fitzgerald in hopes of obtaining a more lenient sentence. Just last Thursday Fitzgerald's office announced the indictment of "William F. Cellini, an Illinois Republican Party leader, ... for his alleged role in the fraud scheme that led to the conviction of [Rezko.]" And Kass also makes the excellent point that there are other big political fish in Illinois besides Rezko — some of whom, like mayoral brother Bill Daley and U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel, might be potential Obama Administration appointees — who could find themselves in Fitzgerald's net, if he's allowed to continue casting it.
Thus, what Kass credits Obama as having said to the Tribune in March — before Obama even had the Democratic nomination wrapped up — is now so stale as to be long past the normal "expiration date" of anything said by the Obama campaign. This question needs a fresh answer, made on the record and without wiggle room.
Even with only a day left until the election, I have no doubt that word will get to Sen. Obama of Kass' column. But I will be stunned if Obama either answers it, or permits any reporter close enough access to even ask it. And without such a fresh answer, I suspect Sen. Obama's "promise" to the Tribune from last March isn't worth even as much as Mr. Kass' busted hyperlink.
SF Chron insists that buried and unremarked Obama promises to bankrupt coal industry and bring skyrocketing electric rates weren't "hidden," but offers no explanation why they weren't newsworthy
Personally, I felt like this post made the San Francisco Chronicle look like they were totally in the tank for Obama.
It occurs to me now that that's never really been in dispute, though, has it?
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
On the subject of the bombshell quotes from Barack Obama about "bankrupting" the coal industry and making electric rates "skyrocket" — about which I wrote at my usual tedious length on Sunday evening, and an audio excerpt of which Hugh has since posted separately — the San Francisco Chronicle is now furiously trying to cover its collective fanny in a spectacularly unconvincing fashion.
"Political Writer" Carla Marinucci of the S.F. Chronicle righteously asserts that the audio which contained these quotes has been posted at its website since January 2008, and I have no reason to doubt that. She then offers up the Chronicle's come-back to a question from Gov. Palin on the campaign trail:
''Why is the audiotape just now surfacing?'' Palin asked the crowd, according to a report from CBS News. Someone in the crowd shouted, ''Liberal media!'
Let's be very clear: the Chronicle did not, and has never, hidden any interview, audio or video, of Obama from its readers.
But Ms. Marinucci's firey and "very clear" response is to an accusation that Gov. Palin didn't make, and Ms. Marinucci utterly failed to answer the very clear question which Gov. Palin did ask.
The very clear fact is that Ms. Marinucci, along with staff writer Joe Garofoli, wrote a lengthy news article about the interview on January 18, 2008, in which they and their editors necessarily had to have made the editorial decision not to even mention either Sen. Obama's statement that his plan would "bankrupt" those building new coal-fired plants or that it would cause electric rates to "skyrocket." Ms. Marinucci claims that the Chronicle "promoted" the story of its interview with Obama, and that's true enough — the story she wrote did appear on page A1, where it would make the most favorable impression possible for Barack Obama in his then-fierce battle against Hillary Clinton — but a Google News search of that newspaper for that day reveals six total returns mentioning Obama, exactly none of which also include the words "coal" or "bankrupt" or "skyrocket."
Ms. Marinucci didn't just "bury her lede." Rather, in metaphoric terms, she took it out onto the Golden Gate Bridge, shot it in the back of the head, and pushed it off into an unmarked watery grave in hopes that the corpse would never float to the surface.
Then two days later, editorial page editor John Diaz wrote a puff piece about the interview entitled Obama's Straight-Ahead Style. Its online version did contain a link to the tape (h/t InstaPundit), and it includes this sentence: "He demonstrated depth on an assortment of issues: mortgage securities, coal, California air-pollution laws." What a lovely and informative journalistic choice of words! As Mr. Diaz sees things, a deliberate policy decision to bankrupt an industry and cause electric rates to skyrocket merely demonstrates a candidate's "depth," but is not worthy of further comment. (I would have chosen, I think, a two-word formulation instead, as in: "He demonstrated deep insanity on an assortment of issues ....") Technorati indicates that the Chronicle never again linked to that video, nor to the .mp3 audio version linked today by Ms. Marinucci.
Cumulatively, that constitutes awful, indefensible journalistic judgment — the current national interest in these quotes proves that conclusively, but anyone working for a junior high school newspaper would have instantly realized the newsworthiness of these quotes if he or she were not completely "in the tank" for Obama.
Leaving these quotes buried in a fifty-three minute, 336MB video is not, in my own judgment, quite as bad as the Los Angeles Times' making (and then hiding behind) an unethical promise to a source not to release a videotape of another newsworthy event (the Khalidi dinner). But certainly when we see how the Chronicle's top writers and editors used such pathetic and compromised judgment in picking and choosing what to report as newsworthy from the Obama interview, the public has even more reason to doubt that the LA Times has been forthcoming, fair, and complete in its reporting on the videotape it's still concealing entirely.
Once upon a time (in 1930s, to be a bit more specific), when a pair of comic book authors named Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster needed an identity and a "day job" for the alter ego of their crime-fighting super hero, they dreamed up "Clark Kent," a mild-mannered reporter for the Daily Planet. If they were making such choices today, such idealists would do better to cast Superman's alter ego as a used car salesman, a carnival barker, or even an investment banker than as a reporter for any mainstream media source. "Truth, Justice, and the American Way" has been sacrificed for "Spin, Bias, and Obama's The One." With all too rare exceptions, there's nothing "professional" left in the profession of journalism, folks. Lois Lane would probably be in the tank for Obama — foreshadowing lots of future rescues that are going to be needed if he's elected — but I think Clark Kent might weep for his disgraced profession.
Are you now, or have you ever been, a straight-ticket GOP voter in North Carolina?
In North Carolina, straight ticket voting doesn't cast a vote for president. This surprised me. I've since learned that there were lots of warnings on the ballot and at the polls, so my warning was probably superfluous.
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
Or do you even know someone who fits the title of this post? If so, here's an important reminder, courtesy of Geraghty the Indispensable at NRO's Campaign Spot:
Under a quirk in North Carolina law, casting a straight-ticket ballot does not automatically include a vote for any party's ticket in the presidential election! Instead, you have to manually and separately cast that vote, or your ballot won't be deemed to have cast any vote for anyone for president and vice president.
According to the Charlotte Observer, there's good reason to believe that many folks who've cast straight ticket ballots in the past didn't realize that — and the percentages for whom no effective vote was cast in the past might be determinative in a close race this year:
Unlike in many states, a straight-party vote in North Carolina does not cast a vote for president. A ballot expert says the split makes it more likely that voters – especially new voters – will leave polling places without voting for president.
The split between presidential and straight-party votes has brought national attention to North Carolina this year because the margin between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain is expected to be close.
An unusually high percentage of people in the state who voted in the past two national elections failed to mark a presidential selection.
In an analysis of past election returns, Justin Moore, who received his graduate degree in computer science at Duke University, found that 3.15 percent of voters in North Carolina didn't vote for president in 2000, and 2.57 percent didn't cast a presidential vote in 2004.
Now that is an awesomely important factoid to pass along as promiscuously as you can if you live in North Carolina, or even if you know someone who does. (I've got a former client from there who I'm emailing right now.)
The Palin plus
I liked and linked Byron York's NRO article about how Sarah Palin was playing in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Alas, not quite well enough, as it turned out, but without her, those states would have been Obama blow-outs.
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
Byron York's latest piece about how Gov. Sarah Palin's being received in Ohio and Pennsylvania rings true to me. Key sentence:
Following Palin around Ohio and Pennsylvania in the last days of the campaign, you meet a lot of Republicans [who] don’t hate McCain — they have too much respect for what he’s done in his life — but they felt a distinct shortage of enthusiasm for his candidacy until he picked Palin.
I haven't been traveling, but I've sure met a lot of Texas Republicans whose exact sentiments are captured by that sentence.
By contrast, every person I've spoken with who's been opposed to Sen. Palin — when I've had at least three minutes to probe their reasoning — has relied on falsehoods about her manufactured by the Hard Left and spread by their mainstream media stooges (e.g., rape kits, book-burning, dinosaurs-and-cavemen, blah-blah). And inevitably, they are completely clueless about the details of the rascals she threw out of power to get into office and her accomplishments once there. I try to fill them in, to which the usual reaction is a raised eyebrow and silence.
Then I ask them which of Barack Obama's two pieces of legislation that he actually wrote as a Senator has made more difference — the one for aid to the Congo or the one to ban exports of elemental mercury? And I ask whether it troubles them that he hasn't managed to get anything else he's actually written and been the principal sponsor for enacted into law.
At that point, I'm inevitably confronted with a counter-argument about George W. Bush. Like clockwork.
Now, I could take the further time to respond to most of their arguments about Bush, but at this point, it's just not worth the effort — not for those folks. They're completely invested in the irrational, and rational arguments cannot dissuade them, but only enrage them. Mind you, I'm not saying they're stupid — many of these folks are extremely bright. They are, however, being willfully naive, and they've been deliberately deceived, and no one can cure them of those problems without their cooperation.
Obama quotes: "[I]f somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can. It's just that it will bankrupt them," and electricity rates will "necessarily skyrocket"
You know, you just can't be unhappy that gasoline prices have fallen and that the whole subject of foreign energy dependence seems less urgent as a result. Except that that ended up hurting the McCain-Palin campaign. Energy was the #1 domestic issue in the spring and early summer. Then the Dems started backpedaling on offshore drilling, and the credit markets went into the toilet. By the time anyone figured out that Obama has promised to bankrupt the coal industry, that wasn't nearly as scary as it would have been a few months earlier.
My bet, though, is that the Dems will continue to screw the whole subject of energy up royally, and it will be a fabulous issue for Gov. Palin to run on in 2012!
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
It has already become painfully clear that Harvard-trained lawyer Barack Obama is even more inclined to lie by parsing words than Yale-trained Bill Clinton was. Clinton, you will recall, famously denied having had "sexual relations" with "that woman, Ms. Lewinsky," based on his secret mental reservation to the effect that anything short of genital-on-genital penetration wasn't "sexual relations." Then he argued that he hadn't lied under oath about that subject because "It depends on what the meaning of 'is' is."
Now Barack Obama has been caught in a very similar and equally sleazy episode of parsing: He's all in favor of using America's vast reserves of coal to help solve our national addiction to foreign oil — so long as we don't actually burn any of it. And anyone who wants can build new clean-coal fired electrical generating plants! It's just that Obama has sworn to tax and fine them into bankruptcy if they do (ellipsis in original, boldface mine; h/t DRJ at Patterico's):
“I voted against the Clear Skies Bill. In fact, I was the deciding vote -- despite the fact that I’m a coal state and that half my state thought that I had thoroughly betrayed them. Because I think clean air is critical and global warming is critical.
“But this notion of no coal, I think, is an illusion. Because the fact of the matter is, is that right now we are getting a lot of our energy from coal. And China is building a coal-powered plant once a week. So what we have to do then is figure out how can we use coal without emitting greenhouse gases and carbon. And how can we sequester that carbon and capture it. If we can’t, then we’re gonna still be working on alternatives.
“But ... let me sort of describe my overall policy. What I’ve said is that we would put a cap and trade policy in place that is as aggressive if not more aggressive than anyone out there. I was the first call for 100 percent auction on the cap and trade system. Which means that every unit of carbon or greenhouse gases that was emitted would be charged to the polluter. That will create a market in which whatever technologies are out there that are being presented, whatever power plants are being built, they would have to meet the rigors of that market and the ratcheted-down caps that are imposed every year.
“So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can. It’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted. That will also generate billions of dollars that we can invest in solar, wind, biodiesel, and other alternative energy approaches. The only thing that I’ve said with respect to coal — I haven’t been some coal booster. What I have said is that for us to take coal off the table as an ideological matter, as opposed to saying if technology allows us to use coal in a clean way, we should pursue it, that I think is the right approach. The same with respect to nuclear. Right now, we don’t know how to store nuclear waste wisely and we don’t know how to deal with some of the safety issues that remain. And so it’s wildly expensive to pursue nuclear energy. But I tell you what, if we could figure out how to store it safely, then I think most of us would say that might be a pretty good deal.
“The point is, if we set rigorous standards for the allowable emissions, then we can allow the market to determine and technology and entrepreneurs to pursue, what the best approach is to take, as opposed to us saying at the outset, here are the winners that we’re picking and maybe we pick wrong and maybe we pick right.”
That long quote comes from ABC News' Jake Tapper, as taken from a January 2008 interview Sen. Obama gave to the San Francisco Chronicle. (Something about being in that city apparently releases some of his inhibitions and permits him to accidentally tell the truth in between his carefully constructed and lawyerly word castles.) You can see a video clip with a recording of Obama's voice along with some pertinent statistics in the video at Gateway Pundit.
Obama is saying as clearly as it's possible to say that the taxes and penalties he's going to slap on both the coal and nuclear industries will bankrupt them based even on their very best current technology. He's only open to those fuels if there are magical new developments which let us release the energy in coal without releasing carbon dioxide or make spent nuclear fuels completely danger-free. That would require rewriting the basic laws of chemistry and physics — and as brilliant as The One is, he hasn't posted his plan to restructure the universe at a sub-atomic level on his website yet.
And contrary to Team Obama's protestations now, Gov. Sarah Palin was not taking Obama's remarks out of context this weekend, but giving them an absolutely fair interpretation — indeed, Gov. Palin was playing a recording of Obama's own words:
Palin told supporters to listen to the audiotape. “You’re going to hear Sen. Obama talk about bankrupting the coal industry,” she said. The Alaska governor also pointed to comments that Democratic vice-presidential candidate Joe Biden made to an environmental activist, promising no more coal-fired power plants in America. Biden was videotaped, likely without his knowledge.
“In an Obama-Biden administration, there would be no use for coal at all, from Wyoming to Colorado, to West Virginia and Ohio,” Palin said.
Tapper was wrong, though: The long quote above is not "the entirety of Obama’s remarks," and indeed, it is far from the only controversial thing Obama said on the subject of coal and energy in that interview. Ed Morrissey at Hot Air has yet another video clip and transcript from that same interview (boldface Ed's):
The problem is not technical, uh, and the problem is not mastery of the legislative intricacies of Washington. The problem is, uh, can you get the American people to say, “This is really important,” and force their representatives to do the right thing? That requires mobilizing a citizenry. That requires them understanding what is at stake. Uh, and climate change is a great example.
You know, when I was asked earlier about the issue of coal, uh, you know — Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket. Even regardless of what I say about whether coal is good or bad. Because I’m capping greenhouse gases, coal power plants, you know, natural gas, you name it — whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was, uh, they would have to retrofit their operations. That will cost money. They will pass that money on to consumers.
They — you — you can already see what the arguments will be during the general election. People will say, “Ah, Obama and Al Gore, these folks, they’re going to destroy the economy, this is going to cost us eight trillion dollars,” or whatever their number is. Um, if you can’t persuade the American people that yes, there is going to be some increase in electricity rates on the front end, but that over the long term, because of combinations of more efficient energy usage, changing lightbulbs and more efficient appliance, but also technology improving how we can produce clean energy, the economy would benefit.
If we can’t make that argument persuasively enough, you — you, uh, can be Lyndon Johnson, you can be the master of Washington. You’re not going to get that done.
A federal government completely controlled by Pelosi, Reid, and Obama can't change the laws of physics, but it damned sure can and will change the tax code, and it damned sure can — and here's Obama's promise that it will — tax and fine entire industries into bankruptcy. Obama thinks doing that to the coal and nuclear energy industries — as based on what he perceives to be the inadequacies of their very current best technologies — would be a good thing in the "long term." The problem is, friends and neighbors, that our economy can't survive the shocks on the "front end" that Obama admits his program will guarantee.
This, gentle readers, is madness masquerading as policy. This is a millimeter-thin patina of "reasonableness," achieved only by lawyerly word games, and it's being used to disguise a plan to radically transform our entire economy as part of some enviro-utopian pipe-dream.
Your very worst fears and nightmares about Barack Obama's policy ambitions are true. The only "dream" here has been the notion that Obama is any kind of moderate.
UPDATE (Sun Nov 2 @ 10:15 p.m. CST): Hugh has now posted an embedded video above which is the same as what I linked to earlier from Gateway Pundit. And apparently the story of this interview first broke in a post on Newsbusters, an update to which links this San Francisco Chronicle article, based on the interview, as proof that nobody at that most sanctimonious of mainstream media outlets bothered to notice the newsworthiness of, or otherwise bring any attention to, Obama's promise to bankrupt the coal industry as it currently exists.
[Further material originally posted here as another update has now been moved to a new post.]
Working the phones from home for McCain-Palin
Phoning from home is fun, I argued in this Nov. 2nd guest-post at HughHewitt.com.
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
I've cast my own vote. I've blogged on just about every topic relating to the election that I can think of. I've chatted up those of my own friends whose votes might have been up for grabs.
So tonight I made a couple of dozen phone calls as a McCain-Palin volunteer. And I feel better as a consequence.
Maybe you didn't realize how easy it is to do that kind of volunteer work from home. Just go to the McCain-Palin website, register there, and click on the big green "Make Calls" button on the right to get started.
I had plenty of left-over minutes in my cell-phone plan so that the calls didn't cost me anything. And I was particularly pleased that I was able to choose to call voters in Pennsylvania, a swing state, just by selecting that state from the drop-down menu on the McCain-Palin campaign website.
The website is pretty simple to use, and it provides separate short scripts to use depending on whether you reach someone in person or you can only leave a recorded message. When I get an answering machine or voicemail, I use exactly the script the campaign prescribes, which includes a call-back number.
But as in past years when I've done volunteer calling, when I reach a live person, I end up deviating from the script more than following it. The less robotic and more "amateur volunteer" these calls are, the more effective.
And people don't want to be preached at if they've already made up their minds, so after identifying myself as a volunteer and confirming that I've got the right household, I ask straight-away if they've already voted absentee or in early voting, and if not, whether they've already decided whether to vote — and if so, whether they mind telling me for whom.
If they seem reluctant, I never press for more details — but I take that as my cue to try to deliver some advocacy. In those cases, here's what I used, instead of the prepared script from the campaign: [# More #]
You know, the McCain-Palin campaign trusts in Pennsylvanians' common sense to see that only John McCain has ever actually fought for us to keep our country safe. And he and Gov. Palin are the only candidates whose stated goal is an actual victory over the terrorists.
Sen. Obama, on the other hand, already has promised to raise taxes during a recession. Pennsylvanians already know that tax increases will devastate the economy and destroy new jobs.
So the only question is how far down the income ladder Obama, Pelosi, and Reid will push their tax increases. Can I share with you just one quote which might help you apply your common sense?
On Friday, one of the leading Democrats campaigning for Sen. Obama, New Mexico Gov. Frank Richardson, said, quote, "What Obama wants to do is, he is basically looking at $120,000 and under among those that are in the middle class," unquote. That suggests to me that regardless of whatever else he may say now to get elected, Sen. Obama is going to treat small business owners and other folks netting $120,000 or more as being rich, and when he soaks them with new taxes, they're going to have to start laying people off.
I sort of envy you, (Mr./Ms.) ____, because your vote will probably count for much more than mine will here in Texas, if Pennsylvania turns out in 2008 to be like Florida was in 2000. And that's why Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin have asked me to call you this evening — to find out if they can count on your vote next Tuesday. Can they?
These are all targeted calls — meaning that the McCain-Palin campaign already has some reason to believe that these individuals might be open to persuasion. And in fact, in a large majority of the calls I made, I never got into the "script" because I got a quick assurance that they were already planning to vote McCain-Palin — in which case I just ended the call by thanking them profusely, and by reminding them to go to the polls early because large crowds are expected and their state may be the key to the entire election.
I don't want to overstate the impact of these calls. Out of the two dozen calls I placed, I figure there's at least a small chance I might have reminded/persuaded someone to go vote who might otherwise have let it slide. And that, by itself, made doing this worth my time, in my estimation.
But I spoke to one woman tonight who said that while her husband is a strong McCain supporter, she had just re-registered this year for the first time since she'd voted for JFK in 1960. But she still hadn't decided whether to vote, or if so, for whom. I ended up chatting with her for a good five minutes, and by the end of that time she said she thought she'd go vote again this year. If indeed she turns out to be a one-vote net gain for McCain-Palin in Pennsylvania, then my time this evening will have been spectacularly well spent.
I'll probably spend another couple of hours making these calls tomorrow evening. Care to join me?
Mainstream media, drunk with Obamamania, refuses to expose Obama as a lapdog for Pelosi and Reid
Okay, one of the Obama lines that most threatened to make my head explode was the one about McCain voting with Bush more than 90% of the time. The fact of the matter is that that's an exaggerated number if we talk about voting with party leadership including during the Clinton and Bush-41 years; and most of the times McCain voted against Bush-43, I disagreed with McCain. But regardless of all that, Obama practically let Harry Reid keep the keys to his secret Senate voting buzzer, because Obama never, ever stood up to his own party leadership on anything important, and he voted with Reid far more slavishly than McCain voted with either the GOP leadership or any GOP president.
In a fair world, when a candidate repeats a misleading factoid as often as Obama repeated this one, a giant hand would come down from the sky and slap him, really hard. That's kind of Monty Pythonesque, I know. But it would be an improvement.
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
One thing that frustrates me as we approach Election Day is the degree to which the mainstream media ignores even the thin legislative record that first-term Senator Barack Obama has managed to compile.
In Sunday's Washington Post, for example, we read:
Obama seized on a rare campaign appearance by Vice President Cheney to drive home his theme that electing McCain would represent a continuation of the failed policies of the Bush administration. Speaking in Laramie, Wyo., Cheney declared that McCain is "the right leader for this moment in history," and Obama responded to the endorsement at a rally here in Pueblo.
"I'd like to congratulate Senator McCain on this endorsement because he really earned it," Obama said. "He served as Washington's biggest cheerleader for going to war in Iraq and supports economic policies that are no different from the last eight years."
What you will not find in this story is any mention of the fact that it is Obama, not McCain, whose career voting record conclusively proves that he's been a virtual slave to his party leadership.
That's the kind of information that — when reported by mainstream media outlets at all — appears mostly on their lower-traffic blogs, as with this entry from CNN on October 2, 2008, in the process of confirming the accuracy of a claim made by Gov. Palin during the vice presidential debate (boldface mine):
Congressional Quarterly examined Obama's votes in the Senate. According to the analysis, Obama has indeed voted with the Democratic Party 96 percent of the time.
CQ — a non-partisan and highly respected journal of Congressional affairs — says Senator John McCain has voted in line with the Republican Party 86 percent of the time. McCain's total number of votes is much larger, since he has been in the Senate since 1986, while Obama is in his first term.
Congressional Quarterly also looked at what it deemed to be "key" votes. That analysis found Obama voted with his party on 29 out of 30 votes, which came out to 97 percent of the time. For McCain, CQ said there have been 335 "key" votes over the years, and that he voted with his party on 266 of them — 79 percent of the time.
Every single time Obama harps on McCain's voting record as paralleling the GOP leadership's or Bush's preferences, an honest reporter would point out that Obama's voting record even more closely parallels his own party leaders'. But that doesn't fit the hopey-changitude meme, and so Obama's hypocrisy goes on largely unexposed.
The Obama Sequence: $250k, $200k, $150k, now $120k, next ... ?
This wasn't a bad title for a November 1st cross-post.
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
When a Hard Left tax-and-spend Democrat from Chicago promises you a middle-class tax cut, you have to be awfully gullible to believe him.
When that candidate and his own team keep dropping the border-line — from $250k to $200k to $150k, and now as low as $120k — between the "rich" who won't get a tax cut and the "middle class" who supposedly will, then you have to be completely drunk with hopey-changitude to keep believing him (links in original, boldface mine):
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin charged that Sen. Barack Obama’s tax plan is “so phony that it's already starting to unravel,” continuing an argument made by her running mate Sen. John McCain this week that the Obama campaign’s level for who will receive tax cuts is creeping downward.
“Now, his whole tax plan, really, it is, it's so phony that it's already starting to unravel, and we're gonna call it the way that we see it,” Palin said at an afternoon rally in York, Pa. “It seems like every few days, we're getting a new definition now of middle class, according to their plan, whose taxes he says he won't raise on the middle class.”
Palin pointed to a comment made by Obama supporter Gov. Bill Richardson in a radio interview this morning, in which the New Mexico governor cited $120,000 as the income level where Americans would receive a tax cut under Obama’s plan.
"What Obama wants to do is he is basically looking at $120,000 and under among those that are in the middle class, and there is a tax cut for those," Richardson said. Palin pounced on the remark, adding it to Sen. John McCain’s attack earlier this week after Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Joe Biden cited $150,000 as the income level where Americans would receive a tax cut.
“And just this morning, Gov. Bill Richardson, a top surrogate for the Obama campaign, he who is working so hard to get Obama elected, Richardson, said Obama's tax plan would define middle class as $120,000 a year and under,” Palin said. “So now, we're down to less than half the original income level and, just give it a little more time, and Barack Obama will be back to raising taxes on folks earning $42,000 a year. We can't let this happen.”
A spokesperson for Richardson responded that he misspoke, meaning to say that those making less than $250,000 would not see a tax increase.
Uh, yeah, Richardson "misspoke." Because, ya know, "two hundred" sounds so much like "one hundred," and, uh, "fifty" sounds so much like "twenty." (Richardson, you will recall, was the guy Pres. Clinton put in charge of securing nuclear waste, among other weighty matters, as Secretary of Energy. I've never thought he was the sharpest tool in the shed, but can anyone believe he doesn't even understand the difference between $250k and $120k?)
If Obama can't keep Biden and Richardson in line, what possible chance does he have to stand up to the likes of Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank, Chuck Schumer, and Harry Reid? In addition to the additional $4 trillion that Obama wants to spend, they'll have their own priorities.
The obvious truth is that Biden and Richardson can't be bothered to memorize the phoney numbers floated on the current campagn website because as insiders, they already know those numbers have no correspondence to what will actually start happening come January 2009 if Obama wins. "Changed circumstances," we'll hear then, "require changes in our plans, and after all, we campaigned on a promise to spread the wealth, didn't we?" We've seen this same farsical movie before, in 1993 after Bill Clinton ran on a platform promising a middle class tax cut, but instead pressed Congress for and got a $241 billion tax increase.
"So shut up and pay your new taxes," we'll hear. "It's patriotic."
Look, friends and neighbors, Barack Obama has already broken the biggest financial promise he's ever made, when he decided to reject the public financing he swore he'd take. Not only did he break that promise, he then proceeded to raise and spend hundreds of millions of additional dollars, including millions of dollars in illegal, untraceable contributions gathered through an internet scam based on turned-off anti-fraud software.
Now Obama, his own Veep nominee, and one of their principal campaign surrogates are all over the lot on something as simple as the financial break-point for his tax cut. They can't keep a promise or tell a straight story, but yet they insist that you must trust them with your tax dollars.
The old saying is: "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." But what's the old saying for "Fool me over and over and over and over again"?
Oh yeah, I forgot: It's "Change We Can Believe In."
In prioritizing economic versus security issues for purposes of casting your vote, keep in mind that the Marines pay more attention to the POTUS than do macro-economic trends
At last, I'm into November. Hoo-rah for file maintenance!
In hindsight, I like this guest-post title at HH.com less than I did at the time. Too long, too long. Nevertheless, the premise is correct: Come Inauguration Day, every Marine in Washington will snap perfect salutes to the new Commander in Chief, who will deserve them by virtue of the office he holds. The Dow-Jones average is likely to be less deferential.
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
Given the rather startling photograph on the left, why is it that George W. Bush is not being hailed right now — triumphantly by the GOP, reluctantly by the Democrats — as a genius for definitively and dramatically solving the single most acute economic problem that was facing most Americans this past summer, when gasoline prices at the pump were topping $4 per gallon?
The answer any truthful macro-economist will give you is: George W. Bush didn't have anything much to do with that fall in gasoline prices at the pump. And neither did Congress.
The precipitous fall in gasoline prices in September and October was the result of world-wide economic forces outside either of their control and, indeed, mostly explainable even by economists only through guesswork. The simplest classical economic answers can only hint at part of the price change: worldwide demand for refined gasoline, while diminished at the margin by this summer's high prices, hasn't dropped by anything close to half, and worldwide supply, while increased at the margin by those same high prices, hasn't grown to anything close to double either. Although the cumulative long-term decisions made by governments are certainly one factor in such worldwide economic price trends over time, the role played by any government — be it in Washington or Riyadh or Caracas — in this particular pricing spasm was inconsequential over this time-frame.
Friends and neighbors, it's simply a fact that the general public and the popular press give politicians both too much credit and too much blame for both short-term and long-term economic changes. It wasn't FDR and the New Deal who ended the Great Depression, it was World War 2. It wasn't Bill Clinton who grew the gross domestic product in the 1990s and thereby swelled tax revenues to balance the budget briefly, it was the integration into the national and world economy of the information revolution most clearly symbolized by the personal computer on which you're reading this internet blog post.
I'm not saying that governments don't affect economies. They do, especially at the margin and over long periods of time. Only bad and thoroughly intrusive governmental policy applied across a wide number of variables over a period of decades could have screwed up our health care system to its current point of ridiculousness, to pick a prominent example. The current economic crisis in the housing market, to cite another example, is an acute problem — like a mutli-hundred-billion-dollar bowel inflammation — which was directly caused by well-intended but stupid government attempts to legislate away basic economic laws by pretending that people who really can't afford expensive home mortgages could actually afford them if we just tweaked the terms of their adjustable rate mortgages enough and the real estate market always kept booming. (Yes, it was a government-run Ponzi scheme.)
And really bad government — a government that taxes its most productive people and their capital at confiscatory marginal rates, for example, of the sort we had by the conclusion of the fiasco known as the Carter Administration — can really screw things up. Indeed, the single thing at which government is most effective is taking away money from law-abiding, tax-paying citizens.
So by all means, in deciding how to cast your own vote, or in discussing with undecided friends how they ought to cast theirs, factor in whatever economic concerns you may have for what they're worth. They are important.
But as you do that, just keep in mind that photograph above and to the left. And if you're unwilling to give George W. Bush and/or the Pelosi-Reid Congress credit for that dramatic drop in gas prices at the pump — and indeed they don't deserve that credit — then discount, too, the economic wonders that you expect your preferred political ticket to accomplish if elected.
Gentle readers, if we're not safe on American soil from the sort of suicide bombings that are routine in much of the middle east, it doesn't matter nearly so much what the latest LIBOR index is. If instead of the leader of the free world and its only remaining superpower, America becomes a vacation cruise ship of touchy-feely cultural relativism drifting from Kum-bay-yah recital to recital, while our enemies infiltrate us and exterminate our allies like Israel, then it doesn't matter whose health insurance legislation you think you like better.
I earnestly commend to you Fred Kagan's op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal, entitled Security Should Be the Deciding Issue.
And I remind you that just like our current one, our next commander-in-chief, whoever he turns out to be, is virtually certain to get immediate and vigorous compliance with the orders he snaps off to his military adjutants, whereas those gasoline price signs and a whole lot of other important economic facts of life are mostly, at least in the short and middle terms, going to do exactly what they were already gonna do anyway.
Top One Reason Why McCain Might Win
Ay-yay-yay. This one doesn't hold up as well with hindsight, but it was a sincere guest-post at HH.com at the time, on October 31st.
I would argue, however, that as a matter of hypertext markup language elegance, finding an occasion to use a single-element ordered list, and then converting that opportunity into reality, was no small aesthetic victory. (But not a large one either.)
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
J-Pod has 10 Reasons Why McCain Might Win, and it's a nice list, worth a glance at least.
With due respect to him, however, I have a better list. It has precisely one item on it:
We haven't had the election yet. So anyone who tells you — based on public opinion polls or science or guesswork or magic or anything else — that he or she knows what the outcome is going to be is lying to you.
Throughout this weekend and all day on Monday, there will be zillions of words communicated — spoken, read, printed, downloaded, whatever — about the result of the upcoming election. Every one of them is nothing better than a guess. We've seen in past elections that notwithstanding the best modern polling techniques, all sorts of polls — including "exit polls" on the very day of the election — have been badly off.
I am not one of those who argues every four years that "This year's election is the most important ever!" I don't know whether that will turn out to be true or not. I am confident, however, that there has never been an election remotely like this one. And you know that too, if you'll just take a snapshot poll of your own common sense.
Treat your own vote as if it might decide the election. Encourage your friends to do that too. Take responsibility. And don't let someone else — anyone else, and especially not some smug know-it-all newspaper or TV reporter, or three-quarter-in-the-bag pollster — persuade you to waste or squander the most precious aspect of your heritage as an American.
WaPo editorial finally admits that Ayers is vile, but defends Obama, Khalidi, and LAT on pure faith
Halloween was, in hindsight, a good day, and in particular a good day to fisk the Washington Post, as I did in a guest-post at HH.com. (The real target, though, was the LA Times. Whatever, peas in a pod.)
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
I'm a fan of the art of the backhanded complement. Giving someone praise subtly and indirectly can be more effective.
I am not a fan, however, of the backhanded condemnation, of which the Washington Post's editorialists today provide us with a superb and absurd example in the course of a spirited defense of Rashid Khalidi (boldface mine):
In the past couple of days, Mr. McCain and his running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin, have likened Mr. Khalidi, the director of a Middle East institute at Columbia University, to neo-Nazis; called him "a PLO spokesman"; and suggested that the Los Angeles Times is hiding something sinister by refusing to release a videotape of a 2003 dinner in honor of Mr. Khalidi at which Mr. Obama spoke. Mr. McCain even threw former Weatherman Bill Ayers into the mix, suggesting that the tape might reveal that Mr. Ayers — a terrorist-turned-professor who also has been an Obama acquaintance — was at the dinner.
For the record, Mr. Khalidi is an American born in New York who graduated from Yale a couple of years after George W. Bush. For much of his long academic career, he taught at the University of Chicago, where he and his wife became friends with Barack and Michelle Obama. In the early 1990s, he worked as an adviser to the Palestinian delegation at peace talks in Madrid and Washington sponsored by the first Bush administration. We don't agree with a lot of what Mr. Khalidi has had to say about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over the years, and Mr. Obama has made clear that he doesn't, either. But to compare the professor to neo-Nazis — or even to Mr. Ayers — is a vile smear.
At last! At last the Washington Post recognizes — backhandedly — that today's Bill Ayers, and not just the Bill Ayers of the 1960s and 1970s, is such a twisted dollop of evil scum that comparing a mere terrorist sympathizer to him is a "vile smear" of the sympathizer!
But "terrorist sympathizer" Khalidi has indeed been, by anyone's most charitable definition. And one may make a reasonable case that he's been a terrorist enabler as well, in the sense of providing encouragement, advice, intellectual support, and a fig-leaf of social legitimacy to murderous thugs like Yassir Arafat.
The Washington Post's editors are entitled to their own opinion of Khalidi. What they are not entitled to, however, is to chide John McCain or Sarah Palin — or you or me — for wanting the American public to be given access to the best actual evidence of what was said at this dinner attended by Ayers, Khalidi, and would-be POTUS Barack Obama.
The WaPo concedes that "[i]t's fair to question why Mr. Obama felt as comfortable as he apparently did during his Chicago days in the company of men whose views diverge sharply from what the presidential candidate espouses." Yet the WaPo's editors are eager to reach a conclusive judgment on the unimportance of this tape without ever having watched it.
The WaPo insists — with no basis more solid than hope — that Sen. Obama "is a man of considerable intellectual curiosity who can hear out a smart, if militant, advocate for the Palestinians without compromising his own position." But others of us, including many supporters of Israel and some substantial number of as-yet-undecided American voters, distrust what Sen. Obama says is his position, and we may well interpret his placid silence when confronted with those outrages as tacit approval. Some of us who are less phlegmatic by nature than Sen. Obama may find ourselves offended and, indeed, outraged by what was said at that dinner.
Given what the WaPo editors admit — which is that "Listening to Mr. Khalidi can be challenging" even when he's speaking on the record for international distribution — it's not at all hard to imagine that he or his good friends may have said very vile things indeed at this dinner. And some of them may well be so vile that they actually might deter someone previously inclined to vote for Obama from doing so.
What's on this tape may move tens of thousands of votes in a battleground state like Florida. A national election might hang in the balance. Can we imagine Ben Bradlee, Carl Bernstein, and Bob Woodward being equally complacent, willing to place their full reliance on someone else, when it came to reviewing the Nixon White House tapes?
As for the WaPo defending the Los Angeles' Times' journalistic ethics: No promise should ever have been made to the LAT's source that the tape wouldn't be shown. Indeed, it was the making of that promise by the LAT's reporter which was the unethical act: Journalists aren't ethically free to bargain with their sources about what news they will and won't report. Doubling down on an unethical act by blind enforcement of that promise isn't ethical behavior, it's compounding the original sin. And in any event, given that the LAT has already reported that a tape was made, and that they have it, and some of what's on it, no promise of confidentiality to the LAT's source can possibly be impaired by the LAT releasing at least (a) an audio version of the entire tape and (b) a transcript.
Whatever else it may become known for in history, this election will surely top any predecessor in cosmic irony: The Washington Post has morphed from a righteous instrument through which truth is exposed into a besotted apologist for another paper's transparent and unethical cover-up, so that they may jointly save the bacon of their mutually preferred candidate (who once again can't quite seem to "close the deal" on his own). Instead of telling truths, the Post's editors savage and ridicule those like Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin for merely asking that the truth be exposed — so that the American public can decide for itself the significance of that truth. Their editorial finishes with this snide comment:
We did ask Mr. Khalidi whether he wanted to respond to the campaign charges against him. He answered, via e-mail, that "I will stick to my policy of letting this idiot wind blow over." That's good advice for anyone still listening to the McCain campaign's increasingly reckless ad hominem attacks. Sadly, that wind is likely to keep blowing for four more days.
Alas, the only "wind" here is the flatulence escaping from the corpse of American journalism, a once-great institution, now eagerly turned great prostitute, that has bled out all its credibility while scrambling after a basket of Obama hopey-changiness.
Obama is at least badly misleading in minimizing the number of SCOTUS "hard cases" in which judicial philosophy is determinative
Obviously, the reason McCain-Palin lost was because I didn't blog on October 30th. I returned to duty on Halloween with a guest-post at HughHewitt.com about judges.
The election is over. This is still, however, problematic.
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
Over at NRO's The Corner, Ed Whelan argues that in a televised interview yesterday with NBC News' Brian Williams, Sen. Barack Obama was "lying" when he claimed that differing judicial philosophies would only matter "less than one percent of real hard cases."
I've listened very carefully to the video clip — preparing my own transcription from it, which I reproduce just below, but you can also compare the Chicago Tribune's version if you'd like — and I can anticipate how the Obama campaign would respond to Ed's charge. I'm less certain than Ed that Obama was deliberately lying, but I'm certainly convinced that what Obama said was badly misleading.
(NB: I'm not 100% sure that the liniked video clip wasn't actually recorded substantially earlier in the campaign — although clearly (from the NBC News captions and text crawls) it was at least re-broadcast yesterday — because I can't find any reference to this interview on the MSNBC website, nor elsewhere besides the Tribune transcript I've linked. For what it's worth, the Tribune also reports the interview as having taken place yesterday. But if so, I don't have any good explanation — other than an odd and gross misspeaking — for Obama's closing words about Sen. McCain having the same sorts of conversations with potential Supreme Court Justices "if [McCain] ends up being the nominee.")
Here's my transcript:
WILLIAMS: Senator, a question about the Supreme Court. Everyone running for President always says, especially on the narrow issue of abortion rights, "No litmus test."
WILLIAMS: It's said on both sides of the issue. And if that's true, if you're not going to call a future Justice into the Oval Office, if you're successful in this endeavor, and bring up the subject, how then do you also avoid surprises? I don't think George H. W. Bush-41 ever dreamed that in Justice Souter, he was appointing a dependable liberal vote.
WILLIAMS: And Eisenhower for years called Justice Brennan his biggest mistake in office. Two surprises that just come to mind.
OBAMA: Right. Well, look, I think that what you can ask a judge is about their judicial philosophy. And as somebody who taught constitutional law for ten years, and who actually knows a lot of potential candidates for the Supreme Court on the right as well as on the left — because I've taught with them or interacted with them in some way — I can tell you that how a Justice approaches their job, how they describe the task of interpreting the Constitution, I think can tell you a lot.
And so my criteria, for example, would be, that if a Justice tells me that they only believe in the strict letter of the Constitution, that means that they probably don't believe in a right to privacy that may not be perfectly enumerated in the Constitution, but that, you know, I think is there. I mean, the right to marry who you please isn't in the Constitution. But I think that all of us assume that if a state decided to pass a law saying, "Brian, you can't marry the woman you love," that you'd think that was unconstitutional.
Well, where does that come from? I think that it comes from a right to privacy that may not be listed in the Constitution, but is implied by the structure of the Constitution.
So I can have that conversation with a judge. Now, a conservative who is listening to me right then says, "See, he wants to allow the court to legislate!" No, ninety-nine percent of cases, the Constitution is actually gonna be clear. Ninety-nine percent of cases, a statute or a Congressional intent is going to be clear. But there are going to be 1 percent, less than 1 percent, of real hard cases —
WILLIAMS: Second Amendment, last term —
OBAMA: Second Amendment, last term, is a great example, where the language of the Second Amendment is not perfectly clear. I believe that the Second Amendment is actually an individual right. I think that's the better argument.
And so, I can have those kinds of discussions with a Justice without getting to the particulars of, "Is Roe versus Wade, as currently outlined, exactly what you believe?" Or "Do you agree that the D.C. gun law should have been overturned?"
And I think Senator McCain, if he ends up being the nominee, could have those same conversations as well.
Of this, Ed writes (links in original):
As I explained months ago (when Obama used a figure of 95% for the same general proposition):
As Obama ought to know, the unanimity rate on the Supreme Court is nowhere near 95%. According to the Harvard Law Review’s statistics for the past three terms, cases with dissents accounted for 64.4% (2006 term), 45.7% (2005 term), and 62.0% (2004 term) of all cases. Indeed, last term, cases dividing 5-4 accounted for over a third of all cases, and the three justices that Obama cited as justices he likes — Breyer, Ginsburg, and Souter — agreed in the disposition of non-unanimous cases only 61%, 60%, and 63% of the time, respectively.
Obama, far from being an idiot, is very intelligent. And, “as somebody who taught constitutional law for ten years” (as he tells us in the interview), he surely knows that what he is saying is false. In other words, the only plausible conclusion is that he’s lying — and he’s doing so in order to distract attention from the terrible impact that his appointment of hard-left judicial activists would have.
I can think of two ways that the Obama campaign might seek to rebut Ed's charge.
First, they might point to the vast number of decisions by the Supreme Court in which, in fact, there is no indication of disagreement among the nine Justices: the denial of petitions for writs of certiorari. That's the procedural mechanism by which the SCOTUS may mostly choose its own docket using its discretion pretty much however it sees fit. (There are only a very few types of cases in which the SCOTUS simply must hear cases on their merits, either because it has "original jurisdiction," as in lawsuits between States, or because Congress has granted litigants a nondiscretionary "appeal as of right," as in certain rulings from three-judge panels in Voting Rights Act cases.)
But if Obama intended to include all of those "cert petitions" into the mix for purposes of his 1% estimate, that's still extremely misleading: When each Justice votes to grant or deny each cert petition, he's not expressing an actual opinion on the merits of whether the lower court (typically either a state supreme court or one of the federal courts of appeals) was correct. Rather, the Justice is deciding whether that particular case is "cert-worthy" — worth taking up because, for example, there has been a split among the federal courts of appeals or an especially important issue is involved. There are hundreds and hundreds of cert petitions each year in which, for example, Justice Scalia may think that the lower court was right and Justice Stevens thinks that the lower court was wrong on the merits — but they both agree that the case isn't "cert-worthy," and so the losing side's petition asking the SCOTUS to grant a writ of certiorari (and thereby agree to hear the case) is denied.
Second and, I think more likely, the Obama campaign might argue that even though Brian Williams began the discussion by asking specifically about Supreme Court nominees, Obama was responding by describing all federal judicial appointments — intending to describe in his answer not just Supreme Court Justices, but federal district court and court of appeals judges as well. If one includes all of their cases, then there certainly are fewer "hard" cases in which judicial philosophy is likely to be critical. And that's evidenced by the relative infrequency of dissents among the three members of the appellate panels in which the federal courts of appeals typically hear cases. So if Obama had mentally shifted gears — if he'd switched, without indication, to discussion all of the federal judicial appointments a president gets to make, and not just SCOTUS appointments — then he may have been unclear and misleading, without necessarily telling a deliberate lie.
Whether Obama was knowingly lying or simply being obtuse, however, there's no real doubt that Ed's fundamental point is correct: At the Supreme Court level (and that's what Brian Williams was asking about), philosophical differences among potential appointees are going to be crucial in most cases — simply because by definition, the Supreme Court is the final forum in which the Constitution and laws of the United States are interpreted and applied, and because its docket consists almost entirely of the very hardest and most important cases from across the country. At a minimum, Obama is guilty of trying to underplay the importance of him making these picks as compared to John McCain. And thus, I agree that Obama was being very misleading in this interview.
(Jonathan Adler also has a very good article on NRO today about the potential importance of the next president's nominations for those lower courts, with which I agree entirely; I commend it to you wholeheartedly. What kind of judges the new president appoints to those courts arguably has a greater impact on folks' day-to-day lives than the SCOTUS appointees, and it certainly has a greater impact on federal court litigants. Prof. Adler argues, and I agree, that given the current membership on the SCOTUS and the current and likely vacancies in the lower courts, Obama, if elected, would probably have more influence on the lower courts than on the SCOTUS in his first term. In any event, those appointments are hugely important, even though the appointments themselves and the confirmation process for them often largely escapes public notice.)
A final point that disturbs me about this interview:
Sen. Obama is correct that by virtue of having attended Harvard Law School and been president of its law review, and then having been a part-time lecturer at another very good law school (the University of Chicago) for several years, he's rubbed elbows with a great many law professors with reputations vast and stellar. But with due respect to them, and to my host here (for Hugh Hewitt also teaches constitutional law), the very last thing that the United States Supreme Court needs is more law professors. And yet, as Sen. Obama's remark here confirms, law professors are almost certainly going to be the kind of SCOTUS Justices whom he would appoint.
Justice Alito, at least, had some experience as a trial court practitioner as an assistant U.S. Attorney early in his career. But other than him, there's no member of the Supreme Court with broad or deep experience in actually preparing and trying either civil or criminal cases. And while law professors-turned-SCOTUS-Justices may have gained some seasoning and real-world experience as judges on either the trial court bench or, more frequently, at the federal court of appeals level, that still leaves them many levels removed from the nitty-gritty day-to-day experience of the actual practicing lawyer.
Again and again, I read SCOTUS opinions written by brilliant just-graduated law clerks for smart Justices, in which it's painfully obvious that none of them have the slightest clue about, nor much interest in, what's happening in the real world. They create elaborate multi-part balancing tests and procedural gavottes with shifting burdens and subtle formulations — stuff that is worse than useless in the real world because it's not only impossible to implement, it's impossible to use as a basis for predicting how the SCOTUS will rule the next time an issue comes up. It's not too much to ask that at least one member of the U.S. Supreme Court actually have been a practicing lawyer representing private clients in real lawsuits that have actually gone through to verdict. But there's little doubt that in the Age of Obama, law professors would become the most elite of the new elites. And that should frighten anyone who has either common sense or a wallet.
UPDATE (Fri Oct 31 @ 2:40 p.m. CST): Ed has posted a pair of updates (here and here) to his original post in which he elaborates and also responds to a post from Matthew Yglesias. Yglesias doesn't mention the word "certiorari" or directly reference "cert petitions," both of which are admittedly inside-baseball terms through which SCOTUS-watchers and legal pundits communicate, but he does argue that "the Supreme Court has absolute discretion over which cases to hear" (which is nearly, but not quite, correct), so it's clear that Yglesias is advancing the first defense I posited above. It's a weak defense for the reason I mentioned above: cert decisions are emphatically not decisions on the merits, they're screening decisions, and it's inapt for either Obama or Yglesias to suggest that they say much of anything about the importance of judicial philosophy or who's making judicial appointments. Treating Obama's percentage terms as being based on cert petitions, to state it another way, is to impute to Obama a very poor understanding of what the SCOTUS actually does, and I think the odds of Yglesias being right in that imputation are extremely remote.
Yglesias goes on to say:
Meanwhile, in his eagerness to call Obama a liar, Whelan is completely misrepresenting what Obama is saying — he’s not, at all, denying that judicial philosophy is important. He’s just making the point that the cases where it comes into play are a minority of the total docket that sits before the federal judicial system.
This is Yglesias making the second defense I suggested above, and I disagree with that one, too. Any reasonable member of the public watching the Brian Williams clip would conclude that Obama was indeed minimizing the importance of judicial philosophy, and specifically at the Supreme Court level.
As Ed and I both pointed out, Brian Williams was explicitly asking about appointment of SCOTUS Justices. I will admit that it's theoretically possible that Obama — mid-answer, and despite the clear question — spaced out and suddenly shifted from talking just about "hard cases" on the Supreme Court to talking about the entire federal judiciary's caseload. If so, however, Obama ought to have corrected himself by now in public, because he left his listeners believing that he was still answering Williams' question about the SCOTUS.
Moreoever, as Ed points out, the 99% figure is pretty close to the 95% figure he'd used in a previous interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN and in a speech to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund when he was unquestionably talking only about the SCOTUS and its docket.
No, in my mind, there's no doubt that Obama was being misleading. The only question is whether — as Ed thinks — Obama knew exactly what he was doing and was conscious that what he was saying was false (Ed correctly chides me by email for calling this a "deliberate lie" in the opening paragraph of my original post, which was indeed both a redundancy and a misquote), or whether instead Obama was being unintentionally (but negligently) misleading because he was spacing out. If he was spacing out, it certainly was on a topic for which there's no very good excuse for him to have done that. And it certainly had the effect — which Ed believes to have been a deliberate purpose to begin with, consistent with his other speeches on the topic — of minimizing the difference between the voters' choice of Obama or McCain.
I can't entirely rule out the "spacing out" hypothesis, but it seems unlikely to me. I think it's more likely that Ed's probably right that Obama was just deliberately lying. In any event, however, on matters like this one, given that we're talking about a Harvard-trained lawyer and self-styled "law professor," his misleading of the public — whether deliberate or merely grossly negligent — is just about as culpable either way.
On almost all of the cases the SCOTUS chooses to hear, the difference in judicial philosophy between the kind of future Justices a President Obama is likely to pick and the kind a President McCain is likely to pick will be huge, and increasingly outcome determinative. Some of us are extremely distressed about having to rely on the none-too-reliable Mr. Justice Anthony "Sweet Mysteries of Life" Kennedy as the last semblance of a bulwark against unchecked judicial activism; we're none too thrilled about the idea of a President Obama replacing either Justices Stevens, Ginsburg, or Souter with younger clones likely to be on the bench for another two-to-three decades; and we're absolutely terrified at the thought that Obama might have a chance to replace Justice Scalia. We also know beyond any doubt that even though Obama may have met and worked with some conservative law professors, that ain't gonna be who he picks. He's likely to pick a Cass Sunstein — relying on GOP senators like John McCain to confirm based on objective credentials just like they did Ginsburg — but who's going to be as ideologically driven with a hard-leftist "positive rights"/activist agenda as Brennan and Marshall combined.
Obama's 30-minute ads bought not only with broken promises, but also with broken laws
October 29th having been a busy blogging day, which included a guest-post at HughHewitt.com decrying the fact that Obama was spending millions of dirty money on TV advertisements, I now feel free to confess that I slept through the Obama 30-minute infomercial. And although I'd recorded it on my digital video recorder, I ended up zapping it even before the election.
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
The McCain-Palin campaign correctly points out that Sen. Barack Obama's "30-minute prime-time address [tonight will be] a 'gauzy, feel-good commercial' that was 'paid for with broken promises.'" But for Obama's undisputed and indisputable violation of his solemn oath to accept public campaign financing, there's no way he could have spent hundreds of millions of dollars, including this hugely expensive cross-network TV buy.
But "paid for with broken promises" is the most charitable characterization. The Obama-Biden campaign deliberately has solicited and received hundreds of thousands of credit card transactions of $250 or less, whose details the campaign won't make available for outside review even though in the aggregate they amount to hundreds of millions of dollars — via a fraud-friendly credit card system (a) which accepts transfers from untraceable pre-paid credit cards, and (b) whose basic anti-fraud measures have been deliberately crippled. The Obama-Biden campaign might just as well have set up dumpsters all over the world into which illegal donors could dump shopping bags full of cash donations made in unmarked small bills.
I suddenly had an epiphany. I know now exactly what happened after that bell over the door tinkled again while the jukebox was playing "Don't Stop Believin'" in the diner, just before the picture cut to black and the sound abruptly stopped: That was Barack Obama walking in the door — coming to hire Tony Soprano and his crew to run his internet finance operations.
If you watch the infomercial, ask yourself: How many minutes of it were bought with illegal money? A third of it? Half?
Best blog comment of the week
WTG Karl, for a comment at Patterico's that made me LOL. That's what I said in an October 29th guest-post at HH.com.
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
The Politico today:
It is not our impression that many reporters are rooting for Obama personally. To the contrary, most colleagues on the trail we’ve spoken with seem to find him a distant and undefined figure.
The Politico, April 21, 2008:
The difference seems clear: Many journalists are not merely observers but participants in the Obama phenomenon.
(Harris only here: As one who has assigned journalists to cover Obama at both Politico and The Washington Post, I have witnessed the phenomenon several times. Some reporters come back and need to go through detox, to cure their swooning over Obama’s political skill. Even VandeHei seemed to have been bitten by the bug after the Iowa caucus.)
(VandeHei only here: There is no doubt reporters are smitten with Obama’s speeches and promises to change politics. I find his speeches, when he’s on, pretty electric myself. It certainly helps his cause that reporters also seem very tired of the Clintons and their paint-by-polls approach to governing.)
All this is hardly the end of the world. Clinton is not behind principally because of media bias; Obama is not ahead principally because of media favoritism. McCain won the GOP nomination mainly through good luck and the infirmities of his opposition. But the fact that lots of reporters personally like the guy — and a few seem to have an open crush — did not hurt.
For a mostly online publication, these guys have not really caught onto that whole “the Internet will fact-check your ass” thing.
From Karl, commenting at Patterico.com (yes, it's .com again).
Obama campaign's deliberate invitation to pre-paid credit-card fraud is the sort of flesh-eating political bacteria that may doom any Obama presidency
On October 29, I had a guest-post at HH.com of which I was, and remain, very proud. Unfortunately, it raises questions that have not been answered since then.
Someone inside the Barack Obama campaign, high up enough to make important fund-raising decisions, made the deliberate call to turn off the standard anti-fraud protections for the credit card processing software on the campaign website.
That guy, or those guys, need to be in prison.
What did Barack Obama know, and when did he know it?
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
Fully $100 million of the record-breaking $150 million that the Obama campaign collected in September alone came over the internet via credit card donations. The Obama campaign has deliberately turned off the anti-fraud mechanisms available for internet credit card transactions. They have no clue how many millions or tens of millions of dollars have been donated to them in violation of federal election law. And now it turns out that the Obama campaign cheerfully takes even contributions from untraceable pre-paid credit cards, a/k/a "the pseudo-credit cards you use when you want to conceal illegal activity."
This newest disclosure about the pre-paid credit cards, along with belated mainstream media confirmation of what the right hemisphere of the blogosphere has been screaming about for a week now (that someone in the Obama campaign deliberated turned off the normal default-value anti-fraud mechanisms that are standard for processing credit card charges among honest people), comes in Tuesday's Washington Post.
But it didn't even make the front page. (It's buried on page A02; emphasis in quotes below mine.)
Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign is allowing donors to use largely untraceable prepaid credit cards that could potentially be used to evade limits on how much an individual is legally allowed to give or to mask a contributor's identity, campaign officials confirmed.
Faced with a huge influx of donations over the Internet, the campaign has also chosen not to use basic security measures to prevent potentially illegal or anonymous contributions from flowing into its accounts, aides acknowledged. Instead, the campaign is scrutinizing its books for improper donations after the money has been deposited.
The Obama organization said its extensive review has ensured that the campaign has refunded any improper contributions, and noted that Federal Election Commission rules do not require front-end screening of donations.
In recent weeks, questionable contributions have created headaches for Obama's accounting team as it has tried to explain why campaign finance filings have included itemized donations from individuals using fake names, such as Es Esh or Doodad Pro. Those revelations prompted conservative bloggers to further test Obama's finance vetting by giving money using the kind of prepaid cards that can be bought at a drugstore and cannot be traced to a donor.
The problem with such cards, campaign finance lawyers said, is that they make it impossible to tell whether foreign nationals, donors who have exceeded the limits, government contractors or others who are barred from giving to a federal campaign are making contributions.
"They have opened the floodgates to all this money coming in," said Sean Cairncross, chief counsel to the Republican National Committee. "I think they've made the determination that whatever money they have to refund on the back end doesn't outweigh the benefit of taking all this money upfront."
The Obama campaign has shattered presidential fundraising records, in part by capitalizing on the ease of online giving. Of the $150 million the senator from Illinois raised in September, nearly $100 million came in over the Internet .
Credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discovery) are the only way you can donate to Barack Obama's campaign via his internet website.
The whole "back-end screening" farce is insulting to anyone with a second-grade education. The Obama campaign cannot possibly have any objective measurement to even roughly estimate how many mistakes and how many episodes of deliberate fraud they're catching versus how many they're simply missing, even if one is naive enough to presume their good-faith best efforts.
Moreover, everything the Obama campaign has yet said about this entire issue utterly ignores the key questions: (1) Who ordered the anti-fraud protections turned off? And (2) why hasn't Barack Obama already fired every such person, and exposed them for criminal prosecution as aiders and abettors of national and international campaign contribution fraud?
Juan Proano, whose technology firm handled online contributions for John Edwards's presidential primary campaign, and for John F. Kerry's presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee in 2004, said it is possible to require donors' names and addresses to match those on their credit card accounts. But, he said, some campaigns are reluctant to impose that extra layer of security.
"Honestly, you want to have the least amount of hurdles in processing contributions quickly," Proano said.
Sen. John McCain's campaign has also had questionable donations slip through.
Dan Pfeiffer, Obama's communication's director, said that "no organization can fully insulate itself from these problems. The McCain campaign has accepted contributions from fraudulent contributors like 'A for You,' 'Adorable Manabat,' 'The Gun Shop,' and 'Jesus II' and hundreds of anonymous donors."
But R. Rebecca Donatelli, who handles online contributions for the McCain operation and the RNC, said security measures have been standard in the GOP nominee's fundraising efforts throughout the campaign. She said she was "flabbergasted" to learn that the Obama campaign accepts prepaid cards.
Those submitting phony names along with contributions to the McCain campaign have managed to trick the system despite the anti-fraud measures used by merchants, meaning, for example, that they've matched up legitimate addresses for the card-numbers being used. That necessarily limits the scale of the fraud.
But when you take the approach endorsed by Juan "Let the Crooks Donate Too!" Proano, with the "least amount of hurdles in processing contributions quickly," then you invite crime. You put up a neon sign saying "We Can't Catch You When You Cheat!"
Where is the principled, honest Democrat of national prominence who will step up to a public microphone and say — "Not me! I will no longer stand silent while my party's presidential nominee continues to shelter the person or people who made the decision to encourage this fraud!" (See my previous post on this subject, For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? Still no takers.)
This is beyond disgraceful. This is beyond being a mere matter for partisan criticism.
This isn't even a "cancer" on the Obama campaign, because even the worst cancers don't move this fast and aren't this virulent.
This is an infectious disease, an antibiotic-resistant acute contagion of corruption, a type of flesh-eating political bacteria that will — best case for Democrats, unless immediately disinfected starting today by their candidate himself — rob their would-be president elect of any political legitimacy even before Election Day, much less before the inauguration. In both scope and consequence, this bodes to make Watergate look like a playground fist-fight among kindergartners.
To paraphrase a young Tennessee lawyer named Fred Thompson who was then assisting Senator Howard Baker (R-TN) and the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities: What did the wanna-be president know, and when did he know it?
Brave Rachael Larimore, the only one of 62 Slate.com personnel who even weakly supports McCain
Well. Here I am in the wee small hours of the morning after election day. I'd gotten behind in my cross-posting here for my new posts at HughHewitt.com. And now, Barack Obama is the President-Elect, and I'm doing ... file maintenance.
The good news is that up to the point of this post, I've now copied to this blog all of my posts from there, tacking them on to the foot of what were originally my teaser posts here. That's a lot of work done, although it's pretty mindless cut and paste stuff.
The bad news is that I still have a bunch of posts to cross-post here, and I have to find some teaser line at a time when I'm feeling blue and definitely not too witty.
Anyway, on October 28 I had a guest-post at HH.com in which I argued that Slate.com ought to just quit pretending it's anything but an instrument of the Democratic Party.
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
Of itself, in the online page linked as "About Us" from the footer on the bottom of every page, Slate.com tells us the following:
Slate is a daily magazine on the Web. Founded in 1996, we are a general-interest publication offering analysis and commentary about politics, news, and culture. Slate's strong editorial voice and witty take on current events have been recognized with numerous awards, including the National Magazine Award for General Excellence Online. The site, which is owned by The Washington Post Company, does not charge for access and is supported by advertising revenues.
That, friends and neighbors, is an example of lying by omission.
Oh, I'll agree that Slate.com has a "strong editorial voice" and a "witty take on current events." In Mickey Kaus in particular, Slate has one of the smartest and most honest bloggers of the center-left, and I could easily list another half-dozen names who regularly contribute at Slate.com whose work I've enjoyed reading from time to time, and quite a few of them besides Mickey have also been very gracious in exchanges I've had with them via email or public postings. Slate.com has long been a fertile source of blogging topics for me because I can almost always find something there (a) with which I profoundly disagree and (b) which makes an easy target for mocking conservative snark. It's a online barrel of reliably liberal fish to shoot at.
And I do give Slate.com credit for handing all of us the unarguable empirical proof of the publication's true orientation: It's just published a comprehensive survey of its own staff and regular contributors in which it asked each of them to reveal who "they're voting for on Election Day and why." Here's the result:
Barack Obama: 55
John McCain: 1
Bob Barr: 1
Not McCain: 1
Noncitizen, can't vote: 4 [but 3 of those prefer Obama and the 4th voiced no preference]
The one McCain voter is Deputy Managing Editor and Copy Chief Rachael Larimore. I'm unsurprised that someone with her job title would be the sole McCain voter, since hers is a practical job. She writes:
This is a difficult election for me. But voting for John McCain is an easy choice. He's a man I admire, I agree with many of his policy positions, and, since I am a moderate but loyal Republican, I feel a kind of kinship with him. Barack Obama is an exciting candidate, and I wish I could share the enthusiasm so many Americans feel for him, but I feel like his worldview is Carter-esque, and I fear his economic policies will be, too.
However, I also think an Obama presidency can be a boon for Republicans, and not just because of the havoc a Democratic White House and a Democratic Congress could wreak. I don't hate President Bush like so many do, but even I can say his presidency has been a disappointment. And the Republican-led Congress was a disaster, as McCain pointed out, not in so many words, in his convention speech. I'm hopeful that an Obama victory would be a wakeup call as well as an opportunity — an opportunity for those who believe in limited government, individual freedoms, and free markets (yes, even in this crisis) to regain their influence, to take back the party from the religious right and social conservatives that have gained so much influence. So regardless of what happens on Nov. 4, I won't be too upset. But neither will I be too excited.
Bravo for Ms. Larimore, for the courage of her convictions, such as they are! But note that she writes with disdain of "the religious right and social conservatives," which some would say makes her a "RINO" (Republican in name only). Me, I'm a big-tent Republican glad to have Ms. Larimore in the party. But regardless of her particular degree of fervor, from this survey we can we confirm that Slate.com doesn't believe in tokenism: They don't bother to employ even a single self-identified social conservative, nor a single person who will be thoroughly pleased and excited if McCain wins.
Now, don't misunderstand me. There's nothing inherently wicked in Slate.com being a thoroughly liberal publication, top to bottom, which reports and comments on matters of public interest from an unmistakeably liberal point of view and with an undeniably liberal slant. There's plenty of room on the internet for self-avowed partisans — I'm one, and so is my host here, Hugh Hewitt. We hang a lantern on our pre-existing biases because we believe that it's important for readers assessing our credibility to know of those biases up front. Once those biases have been disclosed, then our readers (or in Hugh's case, listeners too) can evaluate the persuasiveness of our reasoning and, indeed, our advocacy, and make up their own minds accordingly.
But it is misleading for Slate.com to describe itself as a "general interest" magazine. And more importantly, by omitting to continuously self-disclose its consistent tilt, Slate.com pretends that it is something other than a publication of the political left, heavily skewed toward candidates of the Democratic Party. Just like its parent organization, The Washington Post, Slate.com pretends to an editorial balance, neutrality, and open-mindedness that it simply lacks.
No one — least of all Slate.com's own management — should be remotely surprised by the results of its internal election survey. It's fine for Slate.com to promise a "witty take on current events," but for it to continue to pretend to be anything but partisan is an unfunny joke.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Palin's public call on Stevens to "do the right thing" may mean "publicly commit to resign if the trial judge upholds the jury's verdict"
My latest guest-post at HughHewitt.com hazards a guess as to what Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is saying privately to just-convicted U.S. Senator Ted Stevens. It involves a resignation letter.
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
I was amazed earlier this year, in trying to educate a friend about the record of Gov. Sarah Palin as a reformer who'd taken on her own party's most powerful politicians in Alaska, when he poked a finger in my chest and said, "Yeah, but what about Don Young and Ted Stevens?" He was referring to the remaining two senior and powerful members of the "Alaska GOP Troika" that had dominated Alaskan politics for many years before 2006. "They're still representing Alaska in Congress!"
I calmly pointed out to my friend that Gov. Palin had already defeated the third member of the Troika, former Gov. Frank Murkowski, in the 2006 GOP gubernatorial primary, and that she then went on to win the general election and take over the Governor's Mansion in Juneau. "She can only defeat them at the polls one at a time," I said, "because even as terrific and courageous a reformer as Sarah Palin is, they just won't let her run for Governor, Congressman, and both Senate seats all at once!"
Over a year ago, in September 2007 — long before he was indicted, or before she was on anyone's mind as a vice presidential nominee — Gov. Palin publicly called upon Sen. Stevens to come clean and explain for Alaskans in much more detail the series of transactions between him and an Alaska energy company, VECO, that had come into serious question. Relations between them have been cool and distant since then. And Gov. Palin has been very circumspect and scrupulously appropriate in declining comment on the charges against Stevens since his indictment.
In response to Sen. Stevens' conviction today on seven counts of making false statements on ethical disclosure forms, however, Gov. Palin has issued the following statement on the Alaska gubernatorial website:
October 27, 2008, Anchorage, Alaska – Governor Sarah Palin today released the following statement on the felony convictions of U.S. Senator Ted Stevens:
“This is a sad day for Alaska and for Senator Stevens and his family. The verdict shines a light on the corrupting influence of the big oil service company that was allowed to control too much of our state. That control was part of the culture of corruption I was elected to fight. And that fight must always move forward regardless of party or seniority or even past service.
“As Governor of the State of Alaska, I will carefully monitor this situation and take any appropriate action as needed. In the meantime, I ask the people of Alaska to join me in respecting the workings of our judicial system. I'm confident Senator Stevens will do what is right for the people of Alaska.”
Several points ought to be noted on this.
First, even though the jury has found Stevens guilty on all seven counts, that verdict has not yet been reflected in a formal judgment of conviction. (To answer the silly question posed by ABC News' Jake Tapper on his blog, that means that yes, Stevens can still vote for himself next week, but I don't think one vote is going to decide the election.) The trial has been anything but smooth, however, with prosecutors having to admit to repeated blunders throughout. So there are obvious and non-trivial grounds for Stevens' very capable legal team to urge in seeking a new trial rather than the entry of a judgment of conviction. (Please don't mis-read me here: I think it's more likely than not that the jury verdict will indeed be upheld, both by the trial judge and on appeal. And I'm personally unpersuaded by Stevens' defense and impressed by the evidence, at least as summarized by the press, which the prosecution presented. But I do believe in due process, and Stevens hasn't yet had all the legal process that's due to him under the Rule of Law.)
Second, keep in mind that these were convictions in federal court for violations of federal laws, but the Double Jeopardy Clause does not prevent Stevens from also being prosecuted for violations of Alaska state law based on the same or similar conduct. As such, it would still be inappropriate for Gov. Palin to be commenting in depth on the merits of Sen. Stevens' guilt or innocence under either state or federal laws: Doing so could jeopardize any future state prosecution of Sen. Stevens under Alaska state law.
Third, it's reasonable to assume that what Gov. Palin is saying to Sen. Stevens in private is more pointed than anything she's permitted to say for public consumption. And indeed, the last sentence in Gov. Palin's public press release today — "I'm confident that Senator Stevens will do what is right for the people of Alaska" — is what we might call "pregnant with implication." Here's my guess as to what Gov. Palin saying privately, because it's what I would say to him if I were in her position:
"Ted, for now, I'm going to continue to be restrained and appropriate in what I say in public. But you owe it to your party, and to the people who've voted for you in years past, not to take everything down with you in flames.
"Accordingly, now — before Election Day — you need to hand to me, as the Governor of Alaska, a formal, irrevocable letter of resignation which is automatically effective as of the instant that your post-verdict (pre-appellate) motion for new trial in the federal district court is denied (even though you may still have appellate avenues open at that point to challenge that judgment).
"Having made that commitment and signed that binding letter, Ted, then you can again ask the voters of Alaska to give you their votes — and they, in turn, can vote for you secure in the knowledge that one of either two things will happen: (a) The jury's verdict will be overturned, your presumption of innocence will be restored, and you'll have another day in court. Or else: (b) As Governor of Alaska, either I or perhaps Sean Parnell (as my successor) will appoint a qualified, honest Republican who will carry forward the Republican Party's best policies and ideals in the U.S. Senate seat you have occupied for so long."
With due respect to my friends at RedState.com, the response of principled conservatives to corruption in our own party ought to be to work to replace the corrupt actors with honest Republicans — not to endorse Democrats! Character is critical, but party policies are too, and we ought not throw the baby out with the dirty bathwater. Or to use a different metaphor: There are more ways to skin this cat, which I agree needs skinning, and there are better ways for Sen. Stevens and the voters of Alaska to "do the right thing" without handing the Democrats a larger legislative majority in 2009.
Bill Ayers claims he and other former radicals are "good guys" who are being "demonized"
We all think we're "good guys," I suppose, but some of us — in particular, those among us who are unrepentant, unrehabilitated domestic terrorists and radical "educators" — are actually twisted dollops of evil scum. So I say in another guest-post at HughHewitt.com.
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
According to ABC News:
... Bill Ayers is staying mum, and working hard to duck reporters and the campaign spotlight in the final week before the election.
He told a journalism student attending a education justice symposium in New York Sunday he and other former radicals were being "demonized" by Fox News. "We're nice guys, right?"
Asked by the student, if he repudiated the actions of the Weather Underground, which carried out a series of 1960's robberies and bombings that killed at least six people, Ayers walked away without answering.
Good for the journalism student! He's already shown himself to be better suited for his profession than at least 90% of the so-called 'professional journalists" working for the mainstream media during most of this campaign year, who ought to have been pressing Ayers and his friend Barack Obama on their associations at least since the Democratic primaries.
As for Ayers' claim that he and "other former radicals" are "good guys" who are "being 'demonized,'" I will be precise: Ayers is indeed a demon, or as close to one as any human being has ever become. He's a twisted dollop of evil scum. He is, by his own boast, guilty as hell but free as a bird, and he ought to still be in prison. The notion that he's been "rehabilitated" is an utter joke; and the notion that respectable people can maintain their own honor or integrity while collaborating with him on his radical education projects is a travesty.
Former editor-in-chief of "Ms." magazine reports on her first-hand exposure to Sarah Palin
In a guest-post at HughHewitt.com this evening, I linked to a pro-Palin analysis from a surprising source.
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
I did not much expect to be linking to Tina Brown's new hybrid, The Daily Beast, in this election season. But then again, former Ms. magazine editor in chief Elaine Lafferty — a pro-choice Democrat — probably didn't anticipate that after spending time with Sarah Palin on the campaign trail, she'd be writing the post I'm linking to: Sarah Palin's a Brainiac.
An excerpt (emphasis by Ms. Lafferty):
Now by “smart,” I don't refer to a person who is wily or calculating or nimble in the way of certain talented athletes who we admire but suspect don't really have serious brains in their skulls. I mean, instead, a mind that is thoughtful, curious, with a discernable pattern of associative thinking and insight. Palin asks questions, and probes linkages and logic that bring to mind a quirky law professor I once had. Palin is more than a “quick study”; I'd heard rumors around the campaign of her photographic memory and, frankly, I watched it in action. She sees. She processes. She questions, and only then, she acts. What is often called her “confidence” is actually a rarity in national politics: I saw a woman who knows exactly who she is.
Follow the link; it's short, and I assure you that it's worth your time to read the whole thing.
Bravo to Ms. Lafferty — bravo to her for having the intellectual flexibility and honesty to recognize that one can be simultaneously a feminist and pro-life, and bravo to her for speaking out on what she's perceived based on first-hand exposure (instead of merely repeating the tired, nasty, and fantasy-based ranting of closed-minded anti-Palin bigots on the left).
Conversations with Molly
My Monday afternoon guest-post at HughHewitt.com is about a conversation I had with my youngest daughter this afternoon regarding spreading the wealth.
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
"Grades come out tomorrow," said my daughter Molly, an eighth grader, when I picked her up at school this afternoon.
"Great," I answered, "How d'ya think you're gonna do?"
"Pretty well," Molly said confidently.
"What will probably be your best grade?" I asked.
"Guitar," she said, "That will probably be a 97 or a 98."
"Cool," I said. "You really have been successful. But I think you should tell your Guitar teacher that you want to give six or seven of those points to some of your classmates who haven't practiced so hard or don't have the talent you have."
She looked up at me, startled. "What?"
"That class is easy for you, and you have lots more points than you need for an A. They need those points more than you do," I explained.
"Then they should have worked harder!" she protested. "Yeah, I'm sort of talented, but I worked hard to get those grades! I earned them!"
"So you're telling me that you think it's fair for you to get to keep all of those good grades, both the part that comes from your having worked harder than your classmates, and the part that comes from the musical talent you inherited from me and your mom. Is that what you're saying?"
"Show me your lunchbox," I said. She looked at me strangely again, but found it on the floorboard and held it up.
I pointed at the "Barack Obama" sticker on its side, which she got from my ex. "That guy," I said, "wants to use the tax laws to take away more of the money that wealthy people have, whether they got it by working harder or because their parents worked harder to be able to give it to them. He says other people need that money more. He thinks we need to spread the wealth around.
"What I was saying when you first got in the car," I continued, "is just that we should spread your grade wealth around. You disagreed. Good for you. I don't really think your Guitar teacher should do that anyway. But let me ask you another question."
"Okay," she said, listening thoughtfully.
"Let's say even though you object, your Guitar teacher decides to spread your grades around to the other students in your class. Do you think you'll work as hard to get top grades during the next nine weeks?"
"No way!" she said.
I just pointed at the sticker on her lunchbox again. We spent the rest of the short drive to her mom's house in contemplative silence.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Obama's 2001 appearance on a Chicago PBS radio program shows him focused on building a "coalition of power" to bring about redistribution of wealth which even the Warren Court couldn't achieve
I don't have any doubt that Barack Obama wants to redistribute America's wealth. Unfortunately, I can't agree with National Review's Katheryn Jean Lopez that this excerpt from a 2001 PBS radio broadcast proves that. Ultimately, the broadcast is still pretty scary, though, which is the distinction I try to maintain in my latest guest-post at HughHewitt.com.
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
Since Sen. Barack Obama's comment in a rope-line interview with Joe the Plumber about his belief that it's good to "spread the wealth," Republicans have been looking for more examples of such comments.
At the beginning of the Bush-43 Administration, while John Ashcroft's nomination as Attorney General was a hot topic in the news and among legal pundits in particular, Gretchen Helfrich of Chicago Public Radio, WBEZ-FM, hosted an hour-long panel program on January 18, 2001, as part of her "Odyssey" series. The title of this particular program was The Court and Civil Rights, and the participants were law professors Susan Bandes from DePaul and Dennis Hutchinson from Chicago, along with senior instructor Barack Obama from Chicago.
Unfortunately, I think K-Lo has in some ways made more of this audio than can actually be supported. It is not the kind of clear and unambiguous slip-up that Obama made when talking to Joe the Plumber in the rope-line. Fairly considered in context, this radio program demonstrates Obama's recognition that the Warren Court failed to redistribute America's wealth. It should, however, be deeply troubling to conservatives on a more fundamental level: Even back in 2001, Barack Obama was already focused on building a "coalition of power" in the executive and legislative branches that could indeed bring about a national redistribution of wealth which even the most activist courts couldn't achieve on their own.
Here's my transcription of the edited excerpt that K-Lo linked, interspersed with my comments about the context: [# More #]
OBAMA: You know, if you look at the victories and failures of the civil rights movement and its litigation strategy in the courts, I think where it succeeded was to vest formal rights in previously dispossessed peoples. So that I would now have the right to vote. I would now be able to sit at a lunch counter and order and, as long as I coud pay for it, I would be okay. But the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, uh, and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in the society.
And uh, to that extent, as radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, uh, it wasn't that radical. It didn't break free from the essential constraints that were placed, uh, uh, by the founding fathers in the Constitution, at least as it's been interpreted, and [the] Warren Court interpreted it in the same way that — that generally, the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. [It] says what the states can't do to you. It says what the federal government can't do to you.
But it doesn't say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf.
Uh, and that hasn't shifted, and one of the, uh, I think, the tragedies of the civil rights movement was, um, because the civil rights movement became so court-focused, I think that there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and, and — activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributive change. And uh, in some ways we still suffer from that.
This discussion came up in the context of a comment by Prof. Hutchison to the effect that 1970s attempts to use federal due process rights to force face-to-face hearings before cutting off welfare benefits — instead of their intended effect of forcing the payment of more welfare benefits — had ended up forcing more money to be spent on face-to-face administrative hearings. Then state-senator and con-law lecturer Obama was agreeing with Prof. Hutchinson that the Fourteenth Amendment's due process clause had largely failed as a potential instrument of wealth redistribution through federal court litigation.
But K-Lo is stretching too far to say that Obama was "also lament[ing] that the Warren Court was not liberal enough." He did say that it was not as liberal as some people have claimed, which is true. And his only explicit point —a correct one, I think — was simply that even during the Warren Court's most activist civil rights decisions, it was still generally refusing to get into the subject of redistribution of wealth. Nevertheless, he also seemed very sympathetic — as with the "we still suffer from that" remark — to the idea that redistribution of wealth is a fine goal, even if it wasn't one that the Warren Court itself had pursued. And there's no other way to read his statement that the failure of courts to achieve that goal during the days of blockbuster civil rights lawsuits was a "tragedy."
Continuing on with the audio excerpt:
HELFRICH: Let's talk with Karen. Good morning, Karen, you're on Chicago Public Radio.
KAREN: Hi, um, the gentleman made the point that the Warren Court wasn't, uh, terribly radical. My question is — um, with economic changes. My question is: Is it too late for that kind of reparative work economically and is that the appropriate place for reparative economic work to take place?
HELFRICH: You mean the Court?
KAREN: The courts, or would it be legislation at this point?
OBAMA: You know, maybe I'm showing my bias here as a legislator here as well as a law professor, but you know, I'm not optimistic about bringing about major redistributive change, uh, through the courts. You know, the institution just isn't structured that way.
You know, just, um, look-it, with very rare examples, during the desegregation era, the Court was willing, for example, to order, you know, changes that cost money to a local school district. And the Court was very uncomfortable with it. It was hard to manage. It was hard to figure out. You start getting into all sorts of separation of powers issues, you know, in terms of the Court monitoring or engaging in a process that essentially is administrative and — and takes a lot of time.
Um, you know, the Court's just not very good at it. And politically, it's just, it's very hard to legitimize opinions from the, uh, the Court in that regard.
And so I think that, athough you can craft theoretical justifications for it legally, and I think any three of us sitting here could come up with a rationale for bringing about economic change through the courts ....
My first concern, upon listening to the five-minute excerpt, was that it might have taken Obama's statements out of context. But I've listened to the entire hour. It's the sort of thing that probably bored 99% of even a PBS audience, including a large number of lawyers. But whoever edited down the excerpt didn't take anything directly out of context except, arguably, for the concluding sentence, which cuts off in the middle. The conclusion is:
... I think that as a practical matter our courts are just poorly equipped to do it.
There's one additional short passage, from earlier in the broadcast, that's arguably on the same topic:
OBAMA: There's one other interesting level in which the results of the civil rights movement have changed what's happened, at that is at the state level. I.e, you now have state supreme courts and state constitutions and state laws that in some ways have adopted the ethos of the Warren Court. So, uh, uh, uh, a classic example would be something like public education, where after Brown versus Board of Education, a major issue ends up being redistribution — how do we get more into the schools. And how do we actually create equal schools and equal educational opportunity. Well, the Court in a case called San Antonio Schools versus Rodriquez in the early seventies basically slaps those kind of claims down and says, You know what? We as a court basically have no power to reexamine issues of redistribution and wealth inequality with respect to schools. That's not a race issue, that's a wealth issue, and we can't get into this.
HUTCHINSON: The federal Constitution doesn't provide any warrant for intervention.
OBAMA: Exactly. So but what's interesting is that suddenly, a whole bunch of folks start bringing these claims in state courts, under state constitutions that call for equal educational opportunity. And you see state courts with mixed results, being more responsive to it. The reason I think that's relevant is not to say that I'm not worried about the lack of protections coming from the Supreme Court, but it is to say though that you've got a cultural transformation that changes how states think about the protection of individual rights in ways that didn't exist prior to the Warren Court, and that, I think, is an important legacy to keep in mind.
This, again, is an indisputably correct observation about trends in the law — a trend that one might infer Obama agrees with. But in fairness, that's an another inference rather than something he's stated in so many words.
So what, if anything, to make about all of this?
First: Obama is a bright and clever fellow, articulate and well-spoken, and familiar with both the broad outlines and a fair amount of detail on the subject of constitutional law. In this respect, he is a vastly more impressive legal scholar than, for example, Joe Biden, who in countless Senate Judiciary Committee hearings and most recently in the vice presidential debates has proved himself to be entirely worthy of his law school class rank (76th out of 85). That is not at all inconsistent, however, with Sen. Obama being a hard-core leftist: Among the smartest and most genial law professors I had was Mark Tushnet, then an avowed Marxist and still among the most radical members of America's legal academy.
Second: As with the examinations he wrote for his Chicago Law School classes, Obama usually displays a good educator's gift of flagging controversial issues for discussion without necessarily committing as to his own views on those issues. I wish that I could agree with K-Lo that in this program, Obama "unequivocally embraced 'redistribution' of wealth several times." But that's a bit too strong a statement. Indeed, in fairness, he clearly expressed skepticism — "as a legislator here as well as a law professor" — for the notion that it ought to be the courts which accomplish that redistribution of wealth. Still: Obama seemed very receptive to the notion that redistribution of America's wealth would be a good idea, and his use of the word "tragedy" is strong evidence that he supports that goal, even if it's not practical for it to be accomplished by the courts.
Third: That he does not see the federal courts as the preferred means of redistributing wealth does not at all mean that he's a judicial conservative or anything like that. To the contrary, the SCOTUS Justices who he's pointed to as models, in the mold of whom he'd choose additional federal judges, are those who are most activist, in the tradition of the Warren Court at its most politically and judicially liberal. The precise danger of appointing more federal judges and, particularly, Supreme Court Justices like Justice Ginsburg is that they'll take the huge issues on which there is the most fierce political debate among the electorate and in the legislative and executive branches — issues like abortion rights and gay marriage — and stake out positions there which (a) can't be undone without constitutional amendments or massive changes in the courts, and which (b) will then force the legislatures and state agencies to come in behind them and do the "administrative fill-in" to thoroughly implement those newly decreed "constitutional rights."
Fourth: This entire broadcast is entirely consistent with my worst fears about Obama. He understands precisely how to advance a hard-line liberal agenda in each brach of government. Redistribution of wealth is something best suited to a hard-left president and Congress to accomplish, working hand-in-glove. And for the giant leaps — the things which not even a left-of-center executive and legislature can accomplish — the president gets to appoint activist judges.
The reason for conservatives and moderates to be concerned about Barack Obama is not simply that he's a hard-left liberal — it's that he's an ambitious and talented hard-left liberal. He's seen where the Warren Court fell short. Barack Obama is now literally only days away from, in his words from this radio program, possibly "put[ting] together the actual coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributive change." Of that, we ought to all be duly terrified.
On this 41st anniversary of John McCain being shot down over Hanoi
My last guest-post of Sunday evening at HughHewitt.com marks the 41st anniversary of John McCain's last mission over Hanoi.
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
Today marks the 41st anniversary of the day John McCain was shot down over Hanoi. He'll be the first to tell you that he got shot down because he screwed up on that day — he committed the human mistake of losing situational awareness because he was so concentrating on his target — and then he had a long, uncomfortable time to reflect on and learn from that mistake.
During the Democratic primary season, Joe Biden's funniest line, a barb directed at former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, was to the effect that in every sentence then-candidate Guiliani delivered, you could be sure to find three things: a noun, a verb, and 9/11. Sen. John McCain's opponents have tried to use a variation of that line about him, but with "POW" in place of "9/11." And there was a time earlier this year when I thought that the McCain campaign was in danger of living up to that stereotype.
But both Sen. McCain and his campaign aids reined in that particular rhetoric. Did you notice that no direct reference whatsoever was made to Sen. McCain's time as a prisoner of war in either the first, second, or third presidential debates? Would you ever have predicted that in, say, June of this year or last year?
While being very much a 21st century politician, however, Gov. Sarah Palin is old-school when it comes to respecting our military and its heroes. It's with obvious reverence and appreciation that she has made one of her own campaign stump-speech lines, from the Republican National Convention onward, that "Of the four candidates on top of the two tickets, John McCain is the only one who has ever actually fought for you." This line has the elegance and power that comes from brutal, literal truth combined with simplicity. I'm glad she repeats it.
I too am old-school, and my inclination is to honor and glorify Sen. McCain on this anniversary for his bravery, his toughness, his steadfastness, and his selfless refusal to accept the early release offered because he was the son and grandson of admirals. Old-school or not, corn-ball or not, these demonstrated qualities are not unimportant factors, I would submit, in evaluating his character to become commander in chief.
But John McCain himself actually has a very different take on the significance of his time as a POW. And I'm reasonably sure that he'd rather that you or I note this anniversary, if we choose to note it at all, in a markedly different way than what first occurred to me. Consider what John McCain wrote in his memoir of his early life (including his time as a POW), "Faith of My Fathers":
In prison, I fell in love with my country. I had loved her before then, but like most young people, my affection was little more than a simple appreciation for the comforts and privileges most Americans enjoyed and took for granted. It wasn't until I had lost America for a time that I realized how much I had loved her.
I loved what I missed most from my life at home: my family and friends; the signs and sounds of my country; the hustle and purposefulness of Americans; their fervid independence; sports; music; information — all the attractive qualities of American life. But though I longed for things at home I cherished most, I still shared the ideals of America. And since those ideals were all that I possessed of my country, they became all the more important to me.
It was what freedom conferred on America that I loved the most — the distinction of being the last, best hope of humanity; the advocate for all who believed in the Rights of Man. Freedom is America's honor, and all honor comes with obligations. We have the obligation to use our freedom wisely, to select well from all the choices freedom offers. We can accept or reject the obligation, but if we are to preserve our freedom, our honor, we must choose well.
I was no longer the boy to whom liberty meant simply that I could do as I pleased, and who, in my vanity, used my freedom to polish my image as an I-don't-give-a-damn nonconformist. That's not to say that I had shed myself entirely of that attribute. I had not, and have not yet. But I no longer located my self-respect in that distinction. In prison, where my cherished independence was mocked and assaulted, I found my self-respect in a shared fidelity to my country. All honor comes with obligations. I and the men with whom I served had accepted ours, and we were grateful for the privilege.
McCain explains how what came to matter most to him was how his fellow prisoners measured his character. "My self-regard became indivisible," he writes, "from their regard for me. And it will remain so for the rest of my life." And the realization changed him:
This is the truth of war, of honor and courage, that my father and grandfather had passed on to me. But before my war, its meaning was obscure to me, hidden in the peculiar language of men who had gone to war and been changed forever by the experience. So, too, had the [Naval] Academy, with its inanimate and living memorials to fidelity and valor, tried to reveal this truth to me. But I had interpreted the lesson, as I had interpreted my father's lesson, within the limits of my vanity. I thought glory was the object of war, and that all glory was self-glory.
No more. For I have learned the truth: there are greater pursuits than self-seaking. Glory is not a conceit. It is not a decoration for valor. It is not a prize for being the most clever, the strongest, or the boldest. Glory belongs to the act of being constant to something greater than yourself, to a cause, to your principles, to the people on whom you rely, and who rely on you in return. No misfortune, no injury, no humiliation can destroy it.
This is the faith that my commanders affirmed, that my brothers-in-arms encouraged my allegiance to. It was the faith I had unknowingly embraced at the Naval Academy. It was my father's and grandfather's faith. A filthy, crippled, broken man, all I had left of my dignity was the faith of my fathers. It was enough.
Now, I don't doubt that Barack Obama loves America, nor that his own very different experiences and such challenges as he's faced have shaped his character. But gentle friends, I have also read Barack Obama's book, "Dreams from My Father." And in it, you will search in vain for any chapters containing feelings or epiphanies about America that are remotely comparable to what I've just quoted here.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Even the higher marginal tax rate that you don't pay directly can still push you, and everyone, into poverty
My lastest guest-post tonight at HughHewitt.com is about taxes and spreading the wealth. I argue that "those higher taxes cannot possibly be crafted so that they just affect rich old Peter over there — not by a smart Harvard economics professor, and not even by Barack Obama."
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
Wealth grows out of work done at the margin. New jobs are created out of work done at the margin and the investment dollars that work generates.
Someone living paycheck to paycheck is contributing to the economy, but he or she isn't going to be the guy or gal who's actually helping to grow the economy in a significant way. But when you have someone who's making it okay — who's getting by — and he's considering whether to do the additional work needed to generate that marginal dollar, his decision whether to do the work or not is going to relate in a very big way to what happens to that dollar.
Harvard economics professor Greg Mankiw looks carefully at how the candidates' respective tax plans will affect that marginal dollar, and his analysis is clear enough that I'll forgive him for speaking of himself in the third person (h/t InstaPundit):
Let's suppose Greg Mankiw takes on an incremental job today and earns a dollar. How much, as a result, will he leave his kids in T years?
The answer depends on four tax rates. First, I pay the combined income and payroll tax on the dollar earned. Second, I pay the corporate tax rate while the money is invested in a firm. Third, I pay the dividend and capital gains rate as I receive that return. And fourth, I pay the estate tax when I leave what has accumulated to my kids.
Mankiw makes a couple of reasonable assumptions about pre-tax return rates and the length of time for his investment before his kids get it, and then he runs the math, which returns these conclusions (emphasis mine):
If there were no taxes, so t1=t2=t3=t4=0, then $1 earned today would yield my kids $28. That is simply the miracle of compounding.
Under the McCain plan, t1=.35, t2=.25, t3=.15, and t4=.15. In this case, a dollar earned today yields my kids $4.81. That is, even under the low-tax McCain plan, my incentive to work is cut by 83 percent compared to the situation without taxes.
Under the Obama plan, t1=.43, t2=.35, t3=.2, and t4=.45. In this case, a dollar earned today yields my kids $1.85. That is, Obama's proposed tax hikes reduce my incentive to work by 62 percent compared to the McCain plan and by 93 percent compared to the no-tax scenario....
From this, Prof. Mankiw concludes that if Obama's tax plan becomes law, he's unlikely to do the extra work to earn that extra dollar. He'll spend the time trying to make good memories with his kids instead of trying to make money for them to inherit.
When you rob Peter to pay Paul, it's not some zero-sum game. Peter's been the guy working harder. When you systematically rob him to pay Paul — when you "redistribute the wealth" — then Peter figures it out, and he stops working harder. He stops creating more wealth at the margins. And eventually, you've guaranteed that Peter and Paul will both slip into destitution.
Democrats stare at me perplexedly. "Dyer!" they say, "You don't make a quarter million a year! The Obama tax increases won't hit you! And what kind of idiot are you, that you don't want the hand-out from Barack Obama's tax cuts and the give-aways from Obama's new social programs?"
I'm the kind of idiot who (a) would still like to make a quarter-million some day, who (b) doesn't think Peter should be penalized with a higher tax rate for his success, and who (c) wants his kids to have a chance to land the jobs where they can make that much or more in the businesses created by Peter after he decided to keep working a little harder to make the extra dollars to invest (i.e., risk) in starting those businesses. I won't take his damn bribes — even if I trusted Obama to deliver them, which I don't — because it hurts all our futures to have high taxes. Even when you're not taxing me directly with those higher rates, those higher taxes will still affect me. "Spreading the wealth" ultimately makes us all poorer. Those higher taxes cannot possibly be crafted so that they just affect rich old Peter over there — not by a smart Harvard economics professor, and not even by Barack Obama.
Most of us want to become Peter; most of us realize it's unfair to penalize Peter for being successful; but regardless, we all need Peter.
Actually, I am Bill too, but not THAT Bill
My latest guest-post at HughHewitt.com links a funny ha-ha piece from Iowahawk that's also funny-sad (when you drill down through the links). And yes, Bill Ayers is still a twisted dollop of evil scum.
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
To counterbalance all of the "I am Joe" hoopla given to Joe the Plumber, Iowahawk has posted a stirring, link-filled defense of Bill Ayers that's not to be missed. (H/t DRJ at Patterico.NET, where Patterico.COM is still in exile.) Sample paragraph about the twisted dollop of evil scum:
I AM BILL. I grew up in a simple little gated community just like yours, with white picket fences and where all the aux pairs and gardeners know your name. When my dad came home from a hard day's work as a CEO, he was never too tired to help me with my homework or tousle my hair for winning the Lake Forest Academy essay contest on Hegelian Dialectics. Yes, he was a simpleminded bourgeois technocrat of the capitalist war machine, but he made sure I got the tuition and tutors and sailing lessons and allowance I needed to make it on my own. I wish he was still alive so I could tell him how much I really planned to kill him last.
Good stuff — wicked satire that's close to the bone.