Tuesday, December 23, 2008

"Sooner or later, he just might have to stand for something."

Ouch. Apparently, the fallout over Obama's choice of Rick Warren to perform to invocation at his inaguration has yet to subside, and many of Obama's committed supporters are damn near close to having buyer's remorse:

Not that he was planning to attend, but Barack Obama should know that my sister's inauguration night party -- the one for which she was preparing Obama Punch -- has been canceled. The notice went out over the weekend, by e-mail and word of mouth, that Obama's choice of Rick Warren to give the inaugural invocation had simply ruined the party. Warren is anti-gay, and my sister, not to put too fine a point on it, is not. She's gay.

Richard Cohen explains further, why his sister has called the party off:

Obama has chosen above all other religious figures to represent him in this most solemn moment. He likens my sister's relationship -- three children, five grandchildren, so loving as to be envied and so conventional as to be boring -- to incest or polygamy.

The conventional thing to say is that Obama has a preacher problem -- first the volcanic Jeremiah Wright and now the transparently anti-gay Warren. But the real problem has nothing to do with ministers and everything to do with Obama's inability or unwillingness to be a moral leader. Sooner or later, he just might have to stand for something.

OK, then. Now, I come at this issue from a different perspective, and I happen to have a much more positive view of Warren than most involved here. I'm an evangelical Christian myself. I've discussed my views on gay marriage elsewhere, and yet I understand why people have taken issue with many of Warren's statements here. I think many of his statements are problematic, to be polite. That being said, I don't see Warren as the raving bigot many others see him as, and I don't think Obama does either.

There's no doubt that Obama (and most of his supporters) and Warren, on many key social issues don't end up in the same place, but I think Obama has made it clear that he is going to try to build bridges to various constituencies that haven't exitsed in a long time. Most of the political moves Obama has made regarding his new administration have been basically those of a pragmatic centrist liberal. This is good news in my book, although there is something to be said of the limits of pragmatism. Pragmatism only gets you so far, and there is a difference between cautious moderation and self-serving political calculation. I'm saying he's anywhere near that point yet, but a lot of his supporters voting him into office expecting a sweeping revolution. This is the view they imposed upon him, not so much what he promised, although he did not do that much during the campaign to dispel those notions, and frankly used them to his benefit. I voted for a centrist, so I'm not upset, although some lefties are starting to feel like they've been hosed.

I'm also not disappointed, because what I've seen from the President=elect so far hasn't fallen below my expectations. I voted for Obama, because I liked most of what he brought to the table. I did not however, fall in love with him to the extent that others did. Like I've said before, we may have elected a new kind of politician, but we still elected a politician.

HT: Simon

UPDATE: Mileage is your own, and I'll have to check this out as far as Warren's views on torture and global warming are concerned, but as Sara Robinson explains here, it's not just gay marriage that's the issue here.

UPDATE#2: Via Pat (with clear-headed wisdom as usual), comes this spot-on defense of Rick Warren, from that crazy, closeted right-winger named....Melissa Etheridge. Read it folks. Like I told you, things aren't always what they seem at first:

I told my manager to reach out to Pastor Warren and say "In the spirit of unity I would like to talk to him." They gave him my phone number. On the day of the conference I received a call from Pastor Rick, and before I could say anything, he told me what a fan he was. He had most of my albums from the very first one. What? This didn't sound like a gay hater, much less a preacher. He explained in very thoughtful words that as a Christian he believed in equal rights for everyone. He believed every loving relationship should have equal protection. He struggled with proposition 8 because he didn't want to see marriage redefined as anything other than between a man and a woman. He said he regretted his choice of words in his video message to his congregation about proposition 8 when he mentioned pedophiles and those who commit incest. He said that in no way, is that how he thought about gays. He invited me to his church, I invited him to my home to meet my wife and kids. He told me of his wife's struggle with breast cancer just a year before mine.

Not the hate-monger you might have been expecting, huh? Now, as noted earlier, others may still take issue with Warren's pro-life views, or his supposed squishiness on global warming, or his supposed endorsement/non-rejection of torture. I choose to take those with a grain of salt at this point. At this point, Obama has embraced someone with whom he disagrees. Wow, who knew he'd get so much heat for living up to his campaign promises?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

"If we are to have a liberal President, it's better for it to be Obama, for so many reasons."

Ann Althouse elaborates on why she voted for Obama, and yet is in the running for Grande Conservative Blogress Diva. Interesting.

BTW, I made my case here. My reasons aren't the same as hers, but similar in many ways.

Also, if I had to make a choice as to the Grande Conservative Blogress Diva, I'd pick Althouse, Shay from Booker Rising, or a few others I had in mind, but I'm a moderate liberal Democrat, so I'm not sure how much weight that carries.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Illnois Governor Rod Blagojevich Faces Corruption Charges

In case you haven't heard, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is facing federal corruption charges for numerous pay-to-play political games, with the culmination being an attempt to sell off President-Elect Obama's vacated Senate seat. No I'm not fucking with you. This dude tried to sell off the Senate seat of the President-Elect of the United States. You keep thinking that no one can out-crook the last super-crook, and then along comes this scumbag.

Keep in mind, Blagojevich was already under investigation, for three years, by Patrick Fitzgerald (yep, that guy). He knew about what happened to George Ryan. I mean, in the wake of all the scandals that we've seen in the last few years, how do you say to yourself, "Hey, let's do more dirty shit. Let's sell Obama's Senate seat?" This is just mind-blowing.

There's a round up of blogger reactions over at Sully's place. This one from Kathryn Jean Lopez caught my eye:

This Illinois Senate-seat news is outrageous and shameful. That said, it warms my heart. Finally, a political scandal you can talk to your children about. No room at the Mayflower. No myspace page. No Gay-American announcement. Just good and evil and money and power corrupting.

Well, there's always a bright side, I guess...

BTW, there is no mention of Obama being directly involved in this thing in the complaint, and absent any evidence to the contrary, I'm convinced he had nothing to do with this, except of course in that it was his seat being offered up.

ADDED: Just to be clear, while there is no evidence revealed yet that Obama was involved in this crooked deal, the investigation isn't over yet, and while I don't believe Obama was involved, Michael Scherer has a point here:

To be clear, the bugging and wire tapping of Blagojevich suggests that Obama was not playing in the corruption scheme. The complaint states, "Blagojevich said he knew that the President-elect wanted Senate Candidate 1 for the open seat but 'they're not willing to give me anything except appreciation. [Expletive] them.' " But that is not the operating factor here. U.S. Attorney investigations often end with indictments far from where they start. (See the cases of Valerie Plame and Jack Abramoff.) And Fitzgerald is going to continue to follow the facts, which means many more questions for people close to Obama. So regardless of Obama's innocence, this will continue to be a burden for the president-elect and those around him. Politics, like life, is not fair.

Nope. (HT: Instapundit)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

For Veteran's Day

I found this gem, from Whitman's Leaves of Grass:


The last sunbeam
Lightly falls from the finish’d Sabbath,
On the pavement here—and there beyond, it is looking,
Down a new-made double grave.


Lo! the moon ascending!
Up from the east, the silvery round moon;
Beautiful over the house tops, ghastly phantom moon;
Immense and silent moon.


I see a sad procession,
And I hear the sound of coming full-key’d bugles;
All the channels of the city streets they’re flooding,
As with voices and with tears.


I hear the great drums pounding,
And the small drums steady whirring;
And every blow of the great convulsive drums,
Strikes me through and through.


For the son is brought with the father;
In the foremost ranks of the fierce assault they fell;
Two veterans, son and father, dropt together,
And the double grave awaits them.


Now nearer blow the bugles,
And the drums strike more convulsive;
And the day-light o’er the pavement quite has faded,
And the strong dead-march enwraps me.


In the eastern sky up-buoying,
The sorrowful vast phantom moves illumin’d;
(’Tis some mother’s large, transparent face,
In heaven brighter growing.)


O strong dead-march, you please me!
O moon immense, with your silvery face you soothe me!
O my soldiers twain! O my veterans, passing to burial!
What I have I also give you.


The moon gives you light,
And the bugles and the drums give you music;
And my heart, O my soldiers, my veterans,
My heart gives you love.

Never forget.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Once A Starbucks Republican...

Now a Scoop Jackson Democrat. Read on, this is good:

The Democrats are on the right track. They got their problems, and the biggest ones have names like Pelosi and Boxer, but all in all their approach fits my political persuasion. We need to start thinking about public policy again, something that Barack Obama has preached. It isn't about big government or small government, but good government. I think Mike Bloomberg said it best during the financial crisis when he said the question is not do we bailout companies or do we not, but which ones and why.

So why not be an independent? Because it isn't practical. I will continue to vote for Republicans when I see fit, but we are a two party country. The way I see it is that you are either on one side or the other.

Why Scoop Jackson Democrat? Senator Jackson was from Washington State. He was a fiscally responsible, pro national defense, anti-communist social justice crusader who cared deeply about protecting the environment. In other words... my kind of Democrat. The emergence of Obama and other politicians like Jim Webb, Jon Tester, Steny Hoyer, Harold Ford, and many of the pro-gun, fiscally conservative moderates in the Democratic Party, has replaced what was once the Nelson Rockefeller wing of the Repbulican Party. The loss of Congressman Chris Shays was symbolic somewhat... he was the last of a dying bread within the GOP.


Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Obama has won the Presidency!

OK, it's not quite official yet, but he just won Ohio, and he's got 200 electoral votes. McCain's got no real chance, at this point.

More to come.

UPDATE: Victory. Obama has won it. 338-153.

McCain has conceded, and was a class act.

Monday, November 03, 2008

The Case for Barack Obama (Or At Least, Why I'm Voting For Him)

This isn't really a secret at this point, but I am voting for Obama tomorrow. I guess this is the official endorsement. I put this off to the end for a variety of reasons, mainly due to a lack of time, but I'm not worried about it being too close to Election Day to influence any votes, as it's clear most here have made up their minds already, and I don't suspect I'll be changing them. No big deal. In effect, this is the answer to the question, "Why are you voting for this guy?"

First off, let's get some preliminaries out of the way. I'm a moderate liberal Democrat, who generally comes from the center-Left, DLC/hawkish end of the Party. I'm pro-life, I think the MoveOn-Kos wing of the party has too much influence, and while I've disagreed with most of his policies, I don't have a pathological contempt for Bush.

Ok, so why Obama? To put it bluntly, I think on most of the core issues that are facing the country right now, I think Obama is best equipped to deal with those issues, meaning he has the policy vision, and temperament to lead. I like the guy. What I saw him in 2004, and in the early days of this campaign, I see in him now. He's got skills. You may not agree with Obama's economic and fiscal policies, but he has been pretty consistent throughout on the key issues, and not just on the economic crisis. McCain on the other hand, has been all over the place. McCain is not Bush, and I do agree that the Dems have used the McCain as Bush meme a bit too much, but with the exception of earmark reform and talks about a spending freeze, he really hasn't clearly laid out how his economic approach will be different than the standard GOP platform. If you're for that platform, that's fine, but a lot of us Dems see things differently. On the recent economic crisis, McCain has been all over the place. First he said everything was fine, the he recognized the crisis, then he was against the bailout, then for it. He suspends his campaign, and tries to postpone the debate, in what has to be called one of the most ill-executed moves in a while. He tries to paint Obama as being on the sidelines, but Obama always argued that one could deal with the crisis and run the campaign. At the meeting with Bush, Obama was engaged, but McCain didn't say much. McCain suspended his campaign, but sat back in the meeting, and when it came time to actually do what he suspended his campaign to do, he didn't get it done. Surely, the bill eventually passed, but it was a more bloated one. What's my point here? While Obama was consistent on the issue, McCain shifted positions several times on this, and then tried to paint Obama has the big spender, while voting for the bill that he once opposed, not mention adding another $300,000 plan to buy bad mortgages. Again, mileage is your own, but I think Obama showed real leadership.

What about foreign policy, you may ask. Let's be clear. I, for all intents and purposes am a supporter of the Iraq war. Obama, for all intents and purposes isn't. I wish he was as I am on this, but he's not. I have noticed though, and I'm not the only one to notice this, that Obama has always left wiggle room on his support for ending the war. He has always resisted the more aggresive pullout approach from the MoveOn crew. In fact, although Obama does get a lot of support from the anti-war faction, if they're looking for a Carteresque dove, they're deluding themselves. Obama has always been on target about Afghanistan, and contrary to McCain's distortions, he has it right on Pakistan.

To be fair, McCain has consistently supported the surge, and did so when it wasn't popular. He has my utmost respect for that. If this election were just about Iraq, or if I genuinely felt that Obama would somehow surrender to terror, things would be different. Obama was wrong on the surge, and he has yet to openly admit that, but he has acknowledged its success, for the most part. On Israel, I'll say again that if I doubted for a second that Obama wasn't committed to Israel, I couldn't vote for him. As to Iran, he did prevaricate on preconditions, but I think he has come around to an acceptable position.

The McCain camp continues to bring up Obama's supposed vote to defund the troops. Obama dealt with this in the first debate, but the charge keeps coming up. The issue at hand was not funding the troops, but timetables. Obama voted for the timetables troop-funding bill, and McCain voted against it, because of tmetables. The non-timetables troop-funding bill Obama voted against, was because of timetables. I suspect Obama voted against it, knowing it would pass either way. I suspect he was trying to make a political statement, and made the same mistake Kerry made in 2004. Honestly, I would've voted against it, because I don't really support artificial timetables, but let's be clear: The issue at hand was timetables, not troop funding. Obama has a consistent record of voting to fund the war, despite his opposition to it, much to the chagrin of many anti-war Lefties.

On the Russia-Georgia conflict, overall I thought Obama handled himself fairly well, with the exception of one pernicious gaffe, which fortunately he has not repeated.

There is of course the question of experience, or rather Obama's lack thereof. compared to McCain. McCain has an impressive record, and is a veteran on the battlefield, and in Congress. He is a man of honor, and sacrificed immensely for his country. Obama doesn't have that resume. He just doesn't, and there's no getting around that, but I believe he does have the temperament, policy vision, and judgment on the key issues, moreso than McCain. Heck, maybe it's just that I agree with Obama more, but I don't think so.

Let me say though, that both these candidates have their flaws. Obama is hardly perfect, and has some issues. I am concerned about the possibility of an unfettered Democratic majority in Congress. The Pelosi-Reid era hasn't exactly lived up to its expectations, and while I don't doubt his sincere belief in bipartisanship, he doesn't have the record that McCain has. McCain has a clear record of bipartisanship, not to mention opposing his own Party, and Bush. Obama doesn't have that much of a legislative record, but he does have good relations with many Republicans (and not just the ones endorsing him), and he has worked with Republicans in the State Senate, as well as the U.S. Senate. He was President of the Harvard Law Review, let's not forget. My concern, to the extent that I am concerned, isn't that Obama won't work with Republicans, but whether he will be able to oppose his own party when necessary. Say what you want about Sarah Palin, she has opposed her own party. The thing is, I'm not really sure about her record of working with Democrats, though. McCain to his credit, has done both. Obama has resisted many of the impulses of MoveOn.org, and he did defy the Party leadership and campaign for Lieberman in 2006. Yeah, it's thin I know, but I'm willing to gamble. After all, how Left can Obama really go, with Blue Dogs in the House, and many Red-state Dems in the Senate?

Again, I'm concerned about the card check bill, and the possibility of the Fairness Doctrine coming back, but I'm willing to take the risk.

As to the negativity of the campaign, I freely cede that neither candidate has been pure. The Obama campaign has put out some questionable ads, and a few that were pretty sleazy. As I see it though, most of Obama's ads have been policy-based, while McCain's ads have been straight-negative for the last three months, and many were just straight up personal attacks. Obama has never questioned McCain's patriotism, or belittled his military service (at least not intentionally). The McCain crew and his supporters have gone personal on everything, and I may be the only one who feels this way, but in last few months, it's been over the top. True, many Obama supporters, and in certain instances Obama himself have brought up the race card, but it seems that they've gone after Obama on everything but race ("palling around with terrorists," real America vs. fake America, Obama is a liar, Obama is a socialist, etc), and it's gone beyond the pale, in my book. I will not lay that blame for the lunatic conspiracies (Obama as Muslim invader, phony birth certificate, Bill Ayers as ghostwriter of Obama's book, Obama's logo, etc) on the McCain campaign, but McCain and Palin have launched some beyond the pale attacks, and frankly it's beneath a man of McCain's character.

This is running long, so I'll wrap this up. As for Obama's alliances, at the end of the day, they don't bother me that much. He did flip on public financing, as I said before, that's the one typical politician move I cannot defend. At the end of the day, though, despite his weaknesses, I believe he is the man we need right now. He is not however, the Messiah. Many of his supporters are drunk with hero worship, but in the end, he's just a man, a mere mortal. If you're expecting him to heal the breaches of the universe, prepare to be disappointed. He may be running as a new kind of politician, but he's still a politician. He's run an impressive and historic campaign, but he's made mistakes.

I was technically undecided up until late September, although to be honest, I've leaned Obama's way most of the time. I've seriously considered backing McCain many times, and I think what took me so long was that I still contend that the choice is between two decent, patriotic men. I say one more time that McCain is an honorable and decent man, and despite my issues with his campaign, he still has my respect. As for Sarah Palin, my view of her has diminished over the last couple of months, but she still seems a decent person, and she does have a record.

Many will justify their votes against Obama because of the pro-Obama bias in the press, and the press has made quite the fool of itself this election cycle, but to borrow a phrase, you punish the press for its failures, not the candidate(s).

If Obama wins, he will be the first black President. As an American, and as a black man, that is a great thing for me, but that's not the reason I'm voting for him. The fact that he's made it this far is proof that the barrier has been torn down, and if Obama loses, it won't be because America is a racist country. It won't be because America didn't want a black man to be President, rather they didn't want this particular black man, for a variety of reasons. Will racism be out there? Surely, but I think most Americans won't stoop to that. Sue me, I'm an optimist.

And that's what I want to end this on. If Obama wins, this republic will survive. Yes, it will. If McCain wins, this republic will survive. If Obama loses, I'll be disappointed, but I'll get over it. If he wins, I won't gloat (although I fear others might).

And that's it. Go vote, if you haven't already.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Crazy Right-Wing Anti-Obama Conspiracy Roundup, 11/2/08

I'm not sure if it's desperation or just plain insanity, but just when you thought the anti-Obama conspiracies couldn't get any more farfetched, comes this one that suggests that Obama's book Dreams from My Father was ghostwritten by Bill Ayers, and an actual attempt to prove it (HT: Althouse):

Now, we see this about "Dr Peter Millican, a philosophy don at Hertford College, Oxford, [who] has devised a computer software program that can detect when works are by the same author by comparing favourite words and phrases." He's been contacted by "Robert Fox, a California businessman and brother-in-law of Chris Cannon, a Republican congressman from Utah" about running the test on Obama's book and Ayers's.

There's more:

Millican took a preliminary look and found the charges “very implausible”. A deal was agreed for more detailed research but when Millican said the results had to be made public, even if no link to Ayers was proved, interest waned.

Millican said: “I thought it was extremely unlikely that we would get a positive result. It is the sort of thing where people make claims after seeing a few crude similarities and go overboard on them.” He said Fox gave him the impression that Cannon had got “cold feet about it being seen to be funded by the Republicans”.

Uhm hmm. In a word, bogus. Ann also points to another meme that actually manages to out-wingnut this one. At first glance, I thought Zombietime was doing a parody, but he and many of his commenters are quite serious, and worked themselves into a frenzy. It's funny and tragic at the same time.

On a lighter, less insane note, McCain was on SNL last night. He was really good.

"When people say how excited they are about this election, I can now say, 'Maybe for you. But I lost my home.'"

Former Obama speechwriter Wendy Button has had with the Democratic Party, and is endorsing McCain:

I was dead wrong about the surge and thought it would be a disaster. Senator John McCain led when many of us were ready to quit. Yet we march on as if nothing has changed, wedded to an old plan, and that too is a long way from the Democratic Party.

I can no longer justify what this party has done and can’t dismiss the treatment of women and working people as just part of the new kind of politics. It’s wrong and someone has to say that. And also say that the Democratic Party’s talking points—that Senator John McCain is just four more years of the same and that he’s President Bush—are now just hooker lines that fit a very effective and perhaps wave-winning political argument…doesn’t mean they’re true. After all, he is the only one who’s worked in a bipartisan way on big challenges.

You know what? I'm for Obama, but I know how Wendy Button feels, to an extent. I've criticized the way the McCain camp and the GOP have conducted themselves as of late, but my Party, at the end of the day hasn't been much better. My view of Sarah Palin has diminished in last few weeks, but the level of contempt, and the lunatic wave of attacks on her by the press and the far-left is a disturbing thing. The Joe the Plumber narrative is not one I've really bought in to, but the way this guy was attacked by the press was just bizzare, and has only made him more of an issue.

Oh yeah, and Obama still refuses to admit he was wrong on the surge. Just sayin.'

HT: Simon

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Thoughts on Wealth Spreading

I found this interesting, from Michael Kinsley in Time:

Seven years ago, as Brokaw pointed out, McCain himself was sounding redistributionist, complaining about President Bush's tax cuts. Campaigning against Bush in 2000, he said that "when you ... reach a certain level of comfort, there's nothing wrong with paying somewhat more." Obama has said no more than this, except to set the "level of comfort" at $250,000, which is pretty comfortable. McCain is free to argue that Obama will raise taxes on people making less than $250,000. My bet is that whoever wins the election will be forced to. But his apparent belief that the very expression "spread the wealth" puts Obama beyond the pale is so out of touch that it's almost touching. It belongs on the golf courses of Arizona, not on the campaign trail.

Uh huh. For the record, let's look back to what McCain actually said when he voted against the Bush tax cuts in 2001 and 2003:

In 2001, just days before Bush's first tax cut passed, McCain lamented on ABC's "This Week" that, "I'd like to see much more of this tax cut shared by working Americans. . . . I think it still devotes too much of it to the wealthiest Americans."

And this:

Most of the economists view this as primarily benefiting wealthier Americans," McCain said on CNBC at the time. "There's a theory, I think, that's prevalent -- it was true in the 2001 tax cuts -- that if you give it to the wealthy people, then they will then, you know, create jobs, et cetera. The interesting thing to me is that most economists will tell you that it's the middle-income Americans that have been keeping the economy afloat."

Now look, people change their minds all the time, and it's clear that McCain has changed his mind on the Bush tax cuts. The debate on tax policy is one we still ought to have, but what vexes me is that Obama has basically made the same argument McCain did at the time, against the Bush tax cuts, and he's being called a socialist for it.

Friday, October 24, 2008

It's A Hoax

Ashley Todd has confessed to faking the story of her assault:

Ashley Todd -- who has a backward letter "B" scratched into her right cheek -- confessed to faking the story and will be charged with filing a false report, Assistant Police Chief Maurita Bryant said at a news conference Friday.

Todd, of College Station, Texas, admitted there was no robbery or attacker and said she had prior mental health problems, according to Bryant.

It's not yet clear whether Todd's face was mutilated by her, or if she had somebody else do it, because a police report states that she told them she can't remember.

It's clear that this woman has real mental issues, and ought to get the help she needs. It's a good thing that this was settled so quickly, but quite revolting that it happened at all. I initially believed the story, but after checking elsewhere, I also had doubts about the story. The media outlets, and the shameless partisans on both sides have made fools of themselves yet again. Matt Drudge has proved himself to be nothing more than a hack.

My friend Pat, over at Stubborn Facts, gives the clearest wisdom of the day on this:

Had Drudge not posted this story, nobody would have heard about it, on the national level, until it was vetted for a few days and the police had an opportunity to do their job. But because you, Matt, decided to drive some traffic to your site and post a screaming headline to inflame people on both sides of the aisle (for different reasons), we have yet another distraction to prevent us from engaging in a serious discussion about the relative merits of John McCain and Barack Obama. That the media has made plenty of pro-Obama distortions and leapt to conclusions way too fast that make McCain supporters look bad is not a good reason for McCain supporters to do the same thing. The wide-spread reporting of the "kill him!" that never happened doesn't mean we need wide-spread reporting of claimed insanities by the other side. We need the media to do its job responsibly all the way around.

True dat. If this had been a true attack it would be evidence that some crazy people exist in this world. The fact that it's a hoax is evidence that some crazy people exist in this world.

"...simply a pathetic attempt to further her need to remain in the public eye at the expense of demonstrably innocent individuals."

Crystal Mangum, the accuser in the Duke non-rape case is writing a book. The lacrosse players' families and attorneys are not amused:

Seligmann's father, Phil Seligmann, called Mangum's comments "simply a pathetic attempt to further her need to remain in the public eye at the expense of demonstrably innocent individuals."

"Her incoherent passages are not based on facts but are quite simply false ramblings," Seligmann said in a statement. "She ignores all of the verifiable facts of the case.

"No crime of any kind took place involving Ms. Mangum or any member of the Duke men's lacrosse team. We are presently evaluating all available legal options. If Ms. Mangum and those associated with her continue to slander Reade, we will have no choice and will not hesitate to utilize these options," he said.

There's more:

"If Crystal Mangum truly wants to heal, get on with her life and have others learn from her experiences, she would admit her lies and the damage they did," Joseph Cheshire said in an e-mail. "The fact that she will not do that makes all of her motives and self-possessed desire to explain herself another lie. This is about money and lies. Pure and simple."

As I see it, this woman falsely accused three innocent men of rape, and did real damage. She could've faced charges for her actions, but the prosecutors thought that she had mental problems, and spared her. The thing is, when you get a reprieve like that, you retreat from the limelight, and rebuild your life. You don't write a book about it, and try to make some money off of it. Colossally bad form.

Can you say backlash?

HT: Althouse

Right-Wing Douchebaggery Round Up, 10/24/08

First off, here's Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) expressing concern about whether Obama has anti-American views, followed by her calling for a press investigation into supposed anti-American politicians. When caught, she then denies the whole thing, and blames it all on Chris Matthews. Via TPM:

As stated, Bachmann is taking a big hit for this, and the former Republican Governor of Minnesota has endorsed Obama over this.

Next, there's this one, from Rep. Robin Hayes (R-NC):

Of course, he also tried to deny he said it, but there's that pesky audio again. Lastly, there's this one from GOP hack Brad Blakeman:

Forgive the source (it's MSNBC, I know) but Blakeman's words are what they are. I'll also point out again that Obama flipping on public financing is not something you want to bring up too much, but going after him for visiting his ailing grandmother is a new class of low.

Just wanted to share those, and point out how amazing it is that people from either side still try and deny making the statements they make, in the age of YouTube.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

"And Biden is the foreign-policy gravitas on the Democratic ticket, so his comments are actually even more disconcerting."

Kirsten Powers, on the double standard over Biden's gaffes, versus Sarah Palin's:

There were a few exceptions. On MSNBC's "Morning Joe," co-host Mika Brzezinski flipped incredulously through the papers, expressing shock at the lack of coverage of Biden's remarks. Guest Dan Rather admitted that if Palin had said it, the media would be going nuts.

So what gives?

The stock answer is: "It's just Biden being Biden." We all know how smart he is about foreign policy, so it's not the same as when Sarah Palin says something that seems off.

Yet, when Biden asserted incorrectly in the vice-presidential debate that the United States "drove Hezbollah out of Lebanon," nobody in the US media shrieked. (It was, however, covered with derision in the Middle East.) Or when he confused his history by claiming FDR calmed the nation during the Depression by going on TV, the press didn't take it as evidence that he's clueless.

Indeed. Michael Totten brought the Lebanon gaffe up, and let's not forget Biden's constitutional flub. I'm for Obama at this point, but I've got to call 'em as I see 'em, and frankly, the bias at work here is blatant, and disquieting.

HT: Althouse, who offers this up, which I agree with:

Even those who support Obama -- not all, but some -- are getting nauseated by the press bias. And it's not just the bias. I'm really queasy about that future Biden is foreseeing. He has access to all sorts of reports of threats that we can't be told. It's as if he's taunting us with his inside knowledge. There will be -- what? -- attacks? And is Obama already planning to respond in ways that they know will dismay us? Tell us more. Is it about Israel?

I don't think one needs to oppose Obama to be vexed by the pro-Obama bias in the press. In fact, as I've argued elsewhere, it gives a lot of the attacks on Obama more legitimacy than they would have otherwise, because when attacks on Obama are rejected by most of the public, it is seen by many as a left-wing media conspiracy, even when it's not, because a lot of the press is basically in the tank for Obama.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

About Sarah Palin's SNL Performance...

Alec Baldwin, on Palin's SNL appearance:

Saturday Night Live is a comedy show. It's not Meet the Press. It doesn't "ask the tough questions" or "set the agenda." It attempts, with varying degrees of success, to make people laugh. That's it. Whether they skewer and savage people in order to do so, they don't care. When you come on a show like that, you are prepared in advance to get worked over. Palin knew that. Palin came on to be a good sport. And she was. She was polite, gracious. (More so than some of the famous actors who come through there, believe me.)

However, I assume that, like Meet the Press, SNL feels an obligation to offer their special forum to any and all public figures and officials who are current. Headline making. And in SNL's case, would make for a hit show. Several people decried SNL for giving her a spot on the show. You're kidding, right? The woman is the Vice Presidential nominee of one of the two major parties in this country. Don't put her on SNL? With all of her exposure and the Tina Fey performance? What reality are you in?

Uh-huh. Spot on.

HT: Simon

"The problem with Gov. Palin is not that she lacks experience. It's that she quite plainly lacks intellectual curiosity."

Christopher Hitchens, on the weaknesses of Sarah Palin:

Nor is it snobbish, let alone sexist, to express doubts about someone who, as late as March 2007, could tell Alaska Business Monthly, "I've been so focused on state government, I haven't really focused much on the war in Iraq. I heard on the news about the new deployments, and while I support our president, Condoleezza Rice and the administration, I want to know that we have an exit plan in place." This statement deserves to be called mindless, because, first, it is made up of stale and received and overheard bits and bobs from everyday media babble and, second, because you cannot really coherently say that you support both the administration and an "exit plan." The same vaguely cunning wish to have everything both ways is to be found in her suggestion that both evolution and creationism be taught in our schools. In one way, this seems fair enough—if the Scopes trial is taught in history class, then the views of William Jennings Bryan and those of Clarence Darrow and H.L. Mencken must necessarily be given equal time.

Some predictable religion-bashing sprinkled in, but read the whole thing.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Far-Right Anti-Muslim Cranks Make A Scene at A McCain Rally,

and sensible, moderate McCain supporters strike back:

Good work by Daniel Zubari, and the McCainacs who stood up to the crank, and not only recognized the threat to decency and civil discourse in this country, but to their own candidate's electoral chances. Those knuckle-dragging know nothings claim to be pro-McCain, but as the decent McCain supporters asked, are they trying to sabotage the campaign?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"It therefore seems to me that the Republican Party has invited not just defeat but discredit this year"

Christopher Hitchens endorses Obama:

It therefore seems to me that the Republican Party has invited not just defeat but discredit this year, and that both its nominees for the highest offices in the land should be decisively repudiated, along with any senators, congressmen, and governors who endorse them.

I used to call myself a single-issue voter on the essential question of defending civilization against its terrorist enemies and their totalitarian protectors, and on that "issue" I hope I can continue to expose and oppose any ambiguity. Obama is greatly overrated in my opinion, but the Obama-Biden ticket is not a capitulationist one, even if it does accept the support of the surrender faction, and it does show some signs of being able and willing to profit from experience. With McCain, the "experience" is subject to sharply diminishing returns, as is the rest of him, and with Palin the very word itself is a sick joke. One only wishes that the election could be over now and a proper and dignified verdict rendered, so as to spare democracy and civility the degradation to which they look like being subjected in the remaining days of a low, dishonest campaign.

I think he's a bit unfair to Palin in some respects, but I think he may be on to something. Read the whole thing.

HT: Althouse

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Britain's Just Not What It Used To Be, Is It?

You know, Rich Horton of the Iconic Midwest, and I, don't see eye to eye on Obama, among other things, but let it never be said that he's not worth reading. Here's a doubtless ill-reported story that ought to make you cringe, unless you're an anti-semite:

So now Israelis are "nasty.

"Hmm...we don't normally label democratic states as "nasty regimes." I wonder what makes Israel different?

Oh.....thats right. It's full of Jews.

No....there's no anti-Semitism to see here.(In case you were wondering, the occasion for such a comment by the Labour MP was the supposed temerity of the British government to criticize a new Iranian law mandating death for "apostasy" from Islam. Nice, eh?)

Hnnh. Quite revolting. I started really becoming concerned that the powers-that-be in British society were well on they way to embracing totalitarianism a while ago, but it really is worse than I thought.

Seeing Through The Fog

My political dispositions ought to be well known by now, so I don't think I need to bring them up again, but I did want to briefly address the recent revelations in the much-discussed so-caled Troopergate scandal. One of the big problems with the Palinsanity that ensued in the weeks following her announcement as Veep, besides the general sleaziness of many of the attacks, was the problem of crying wolf, that Simon dealt with earlier.

Let me say that I still like Sarah Palin (although my opinion of her has diminished somewhat), and yet I've always had concerns about some of her policy positions, and certain aspects of her record. Surely, even the most committed Palinites have to recognize that there are valid criticisms that can be made about her. Many press outlets, and various anti-Palin outfits have made such fools of themselves over the past few weeks, that when legit stories come up, they are treated with an amount of skepticism they otherwise wouldn't be.

In case you didn't know, a 263-page report was released by Alaska lawmakers investigating the scandal, that basically accuses Palin of abusing her power, in firing Mike Wooten. The McCain-Palin camp has called it a partisan witch hunt, and have issued a "clarification," that they assume will put the issue to rest. The thing is, I'm not at all prepared to call it a witch hunt run by pro-Obama partisans, just because Palin says it's a witch hunt. I agree with Ann, that even Palin fans ought not dismiss this outright.

First off, let me clear two things up right away: I am not saying that this report is valid, or that Palin did in fact abuse her power. It should be noted that as the Governor she has the perogative to fire Wooten, for basically any reason, so there's no criminality involved here. However, there is an alleged issue of credibility at play.

The point is, with the MSM's predispositions regarding Palin, and the aforementioned history of unfair attacks, Palin can cry "partisan witch hunt" with much more credibility than she would've had otherwise, because there was (and in certain quarters still is) a partisan witch hunt going on. People are more inclined to believe she's the victim of unfair attacks, even when she's not, and the media's reputation becomes so damaged that everything that comes out, is treated with a grain of salt. Everything.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Much Has Been Said Of The Anger That Will Be On Display if Obama Loses,

but for my money, and I may be the only one here to think this way, considering recent events, I'm concerned about the anger that we'll see if he wins.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Happy Birthday, Constitution!

The Constitution is 221 years old today:

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Read the whole thing.

HT: Simon

Monday, September 15, 2008

Now That Was Good TV

Tina Fey nails it:

That was the highlight of the show, with all due respect to the icon Michael Phelps. I really don't see how anyone but Tina could have done it.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Seven Years Later, We Still Haven't Forgotten

Seven years ago today, America suffered the worst attack on her soil in history. Nearly 3,000 people were murdered by evil forces bent on our destruction. They declared war on us, and we ought to do every just and right thing we can to prevail over those who would seek to kill us, and threaten our way of life. We must challenge the ideology that drives them, and contend for the idea of human freedom. WE need to win the war, is all I'm saying.

BTW, think what you want, but this goes beyond the elction, whoever you're voting for.

God Bless America.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

More on The Speeches

I'll have more complete thoughts on the RNC speeches later in the day, but I'll just say for now that Palin did an impressive job, and despite my obvious disagreements with a number of her policies, I like her. I've noted here and elsewhere that the attacks on her by the press and the far-Left are unfair and unfortunate.

I do have one quibble though: What's so bad about being a community organizer? Now admittedly, it doesn't compare to McCain's military record, but I just don't see why Obama being a community organizer is such a point of derision. Palin and Giuilani attacked him on this.

More on that later, but over at Booker Rising, a bit of a mini-ruckus has been raised about my praising of Lieberman's speech Tuesday night. First off, I have not made up my mind yet who I'm voting for yet, although I have leaned various directions throughout this campaign, and I'm leaning a particular way now. I can't really be counted as a firm Obama supporter at this point, but I do like him a lot, and have said so in the past.

Nevertheless, I was attacked by various commenters, as well as Lieberman. No big deal, I can take it (and so can Lieberman), but in the midst of the ad hominem, a few valid points were brought out, namely the fact that Obama campaigned for Lieberman in 2006.

The fact is, he did, and Obama has always counted Lieberman as a mentor. Now, I don't think Lieberman backing the man who he believes is best equipped to lead the country is disloyalty, but Obama can count his support for Lieberman in 2006, against the anti-war forces in his party as an example of bipartisanship, and I'm surprised he hasn't brought it up. Of course, Obama and Lieberman have differed on key issues, namely Obama's opposition to the surge, and his support for premature withdrawal. An argument could be made that maybe Lieberman shouldn't have gone after Obama directly, but he was probably the only speaker that night that actually offered any praise for his Senate colleague, and with all respect to Obama, he did have a point. McCain has clearly more legislative experience than Obama, and a much more significant record of bipartisanship than Obama does.

The fact is, Lieberman made his choice because he believes it's right, and it's not as if he owes his party much of anything, seeing as how the leadership essentially sanctioned his being thrown under the bus. We Democrats owe him our Democratic majority in the Senate, as it is held together by Lieberman's own will. The Dems didn't take LIeberman's speech too well, though, and have already readied his excommunication. It was clear that Lieberman's position as the preserver of the Dem majority kept him the caucus, but it's apparent now, that if they get enough seats that they no longer need him, he's back under the bus.

It's a shame really. Obama could prove himself to be above all this, and stick his neck out for Lieberman, but I doubt it. Let it never be said that opposing your party isn't without consequences.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

"You may be thinking of voting for John McCain but you're not sure. Some of you have never voted for a Republican before"

Joe Lieberman made his plea for McCain tonight, and he was good:

Senator Obama is a gifted and eloquent young man who can do great things for our country in the years ahead. But eloquence is no substitute for a record - not in these tough times.

In the Senate he has not reached across party lines to get anything significant done, nor has he been willing to take on powerful interest groups in the Democratic party.

Contrast that to John McCain's record, or the record of the last Democratic president, Bill Clinton, who stood up to some of those same Democratic interest groups and worked with Republicans to get important things done like welfare reform, free trade agreements and a balanced budget.

And this:

Especially at a time of war, we need a president we can count on to fight for what's right for our country - not only when it is easy, but when it is hard.

When others were silent, John McCain had the judgment to sound the alarm about the mistakes we were making in Iraq. When others wanted to retreat in defeat from the field of battle, when Barack Obama was voting to cut off funding for our troops on the ground.

John McCain had the courage to stand against the tide of public opinion and support the surge, and because of that, today, our troops are at last beginning to come home, not in failure, but in honor!

Indeed. I'll tell you straight, that Lieberman damn near persuaded me tonight. It could be based on other things I've been feeling about the election in recent days, and the far-Left pile on Sarah Palin, but let me say that as far as my vote goes, Obama is lucky the election isn't being held tonight.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Powerful Speeches, Personal Attacks, and Palin

I've made my views on Obama;s speech well known elsewhere, but I wanted to share some quick thoughts on the speech, with particular focus on one of the big controversies raised by it. I liked the speech, and I thought he did a good job doing what he needed to do for his audience, and the moment. The use of the theatrics was well-executed-- it was grand and spectacular, but not too imperious. I remain amazed at how many people were there.

As for the substance, I thought he did a pretty good job making his case why the McCain policy agenda is too much of the same and bad, and why his (and the Democratic agenda) is good, and the change we need. Naturally, a lot of this depends on whether one agrees with the policies (and even I had issues with some his proposals), but he's speaking to a Democratic audience. Sure a lot of it was traditional Democratic fare, but it's a Democratic year, after all.

One of the prevailing memes from many on the right is that it was an angry speech, and not very inspiring. I think it was appropriate to attack McCain on policy, but pro-McCain forces contend that he attacked McCain personally, and accuse Obama of attacking McCain's courage and patriotism. I didn't see that at all, but this is the offending phrase:

"You know, John McCain likes to say that he'll follow bin Laden to the gates of Hell. But he won't even follow him to the cave where he lives."

FWIW, I don't think he should've used that line, but what I think Obama was doing was advancing the argument that the Iraq war was a distraction from the hunt for Bin Laden. It's a sloppy argument, and not one I agree with, but Obama was hitting at McCain's policy judgment. The thing is, the line is problematic for three other reasons, the first being that it ignores the reality of the Bin Laden situation, the second being that McCain has no authority as Senator to catch Bin Laden (nor does Obama), and third, it contradicts Obama's own wise point about impugning the motives of those with whom we disagree. McCain and Obama disagree on the best way to fight the GWOT, but it's bad form to even appear to imply that McCain doesn't want to go after Bin Laden. That's just as bad as suggesting that Obama puts his self-interest ahead of the country, or that he'd "rather lose a war, than lose an election."

I suspect Obama felt the need to play tit-for -tat, but it does hurt the speech somewhat.

I thought he closed out well with his change and post-partisan theme, although he still has the problem of lacking a real legislative record to back that up.

Oh, and then there's Sarah Palin, who was a surprising and impressive choice by McCain. The Obama camp may not have gone too negative last night, but their dismissive and almost haughty response to Palin is disappointing, and may only serve to drive away more Hillary voters. Is he really going to try to use the inexperience tag? Not good at all on that score.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Everything You Think You Know Is Wrong

At least when it comes to the truth of the Russia-Georgia conflict. This solid piece from Michael Totten:

TBILISI, GEORGIA – Virtually everyone believes Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili foolishly provoked a Russian invasion on August 7, 2008, when he sent troops into the breakaway district of South Ossetia. “The warfare began Aug. 7 when Georgia launched a barrage targeting South Ossetia,” the Associated Press reported over the weekend in typical fashion.

Virtually everyone is wrong. Georgia didn't start it on August 7, nor on any other date. The South Ossetian militia started it on August 6 when its fighters fired on Georgian peacekeepers and Georgian villages with weapons banned by the agreement hammered out between the two sides in 1994. At the same time, the Russian military sent its invasion force bearing down on Georgia from the north side of the Caucasus Mountains on the Russian side of the border through the Roki tunnel and into Georgia. This happened before Saakashvili sent additional troops to South Ossetia and allegedly started the war.

Read the whole thing, as it's much too lengthy to properly excerpt. Let me also add that this, among other reasons is why Obama's recent gaffe is so frustrating. I know it's his week and all, but I have to call 'em as I see 'em.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Biden is Obama's man.

Discuss. My thoughts forthcoming.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Obama's Labour Battalion?

Over at SF, Simon has a good post about new hubbub and faermomgering about the draft. Tully has an interesting comment, about Obama's plan for "National Service," and links to this quote:

"We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we've set. We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded."

At first glance, it sounds pretty creepy, however, I'm going to give Obama the benefit of the doubt and suggest that maybe things aren't quite what they seem. As I suggested there, perhaps this is just an inartful way of Obama promoting expanded civic volunteerism, as in the Peace Corps, or Americorps. Of course I could be wrong, as Tully is on onto something when he points out that such plans usually require some form of compulsion, not to mention that "civilian antional security force" gives me the creeps. Again, I do think that many have the tendency to project their own biases upon Obama's policies, and I suspect that at the very least, its a scheme that tries to appeal to America's compassionate nature (he has many of those), and at worst, a well-intentioned plan that may not work out in the real world, without some undesirable consequences (he has a few of those, too).

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

United By Opposition

I'm still intrigued by a post by my co-blogger Simon over at Stubborn Facts, about a David Brooks piece on McCain's new negative campaigning being a response to Obama's media coverage. I left a comment there that I think captures my view on this quite well, but this led me back to something I've been pondering for a while, that is the unifying force behind the conservative support for McCain. McCain has, and always will have dedicated support from moderate Republicans, independents, and even many moderate Democrats. I respect McCain a great deal, and I've said so before. Amongst the right-wing base of the GOP, the story has been different. The rifts betwen McCain and the GOP base are recent and well-known. Remember that it was only mere months ago that McCain appeared before the CPAC, to "heal the wounds," as it were.

Things have changed, however. I've no doubt that the right-wing distaste for McCain is still there, as a close reading of righty blogs will reveal, but for the most part, the conservative leadership has lined up behind McCain. Despite the rants of the likes of John Hawkins and Ann Coulter, most righties have decided on McCain, or rather they've settled for him. You see, that's the thing, while most of Obama's core supporters have enthusiatically embraced him (a few of them taking it to unseemly levels of hero-worship), most righties have merely settled on McCain. For many, if they had their druthers, would've chosen someone else.

If you check out most righty blogs nowadays, you'll notice that you see a whole lot of anti-Obama posts and ads, and less pro-McCain stuff. The reason why is simple: The right-wing base is full of zeal, but it's not in support for McCain, rather it's in total opposition to Obama. They hate his guts, and are willing to put aside their issues with McCain (well, most of them) to see Obama defeated. The right is unified by opposition to Obama.

Now to be fair, most righties are pretty upfront about this, and the Left is hardly different with regards to Bush, but a lot of Democrats really like Obama, and Obama has an easier time getting money from his supporters than McCain does.

Brooks' article mentions that McCain's numbers have gone up as he's gone negative against Obama, and a good reason for this is that McCain has helped to unify righties against Obama. Conservatives seem to think it's a a bad thing for McCain to have good relations with Democrats, so the fact that he's in full attack mode helps him among his base, although it might hurt him among moderates.

In 2004, a lot of Democrats had the mindset of Anybody But Bush, and now the GOP has the mindset of Anybody But Obama. They are unified by opposition.

About That Saddleback Forum Saturday Night...

OK, I'm pretty sure most watched, or at least heard about the Saddleback Forum at Rick Warren's church Saturday night, and the continuing controversies. I watched it, and just had some quick thoughts:

I thought Rick Warren did a good job. He was trying to create a civil discourse with both candidates, and I thought he did that to the best of his ability. As to the debate itself, I thought both did a good job, although as far as getting done politically what needed to get done, McCain did better than Obama. Despite the growing consensus in many quarters, I don't think Obama did that bad, although he did make some missteps. First off, let me say that McCain had some implicit advantages in some of the questions.

I don't mean that there was cheating or foul play afoot (I'll deal with that in a moment), but I think certain questions intrinsically favored McCain. The "gut wrenching decision" question is an example. I've no doubt that Obama wrestled with the decision to support the Iraq war, but that doesn't really compare with the decision to turn down early release from that Vietnamese prison camp. It just doesn't. There's really nothing Obama could've done to counter that, although I find myself wishing he had a better answer. In fact, Obama had no real legislative authority to effect the decision to go to war (Not that settling the moral question in one's heart and mind isn't a serious one), so the effect is diminished slightly. Some may balk at this, but I think he should've mentioned his decision to break with his former church. Surely it would've opened him up to more scrutiny by his opponents, but I take Obama at his word on his explanation of why he left Trinity.

The gay marriage answer was pretty good, although he did stumble through the last part. McCain does get a benefit on the gay marriage, abortion, and the question of judges, because his views on those issues are more in line with those of the audience. McCain is pro-life, and has a 20-plus year pro-life record. It's easier for him to explain that.

Staying on the abortion question, I think Obama's biggest gaffe was the obvious one, the "above my pay grade" answer, to Rick Warren's question. That was a sloppy mistake. I know what he was trying to say (it's up to God), but it came off as evasive, cold, and stupid. I think Ann Althouse hits the nail with her explanation:

Now, let's also look at Rick Warren's rhetoric. He asked, after a preface about abortion, "when does a baby get human rights in your view?" And, most obviously, his use of "baby" instead of "fetus" or at least "unborn baby" conveys a lot of opinion. But look at what else Warren is doing. He is not asking when does life begin?, a question that is much more susceptible to Obama's answer that only God knows. Warren is asking when do rights begin? That makes it a legal question. And Warren even appends the phrase "in your view."

So Obama's answer — that it's not for him to say — is inapt. Obama answered the question he expected to hear. But Warren had the wit to frame the question in terms of a legal opinion that Obama was fully equipped to give. When does the baby have legal rights?

Exactly. Warren was prepared, and asked a question Obama apparently wasn't ready for. Obama answered the question he either thought was asked, or thought should be asked, and missed it on this one. Warren himself expounds on Obama's answer(link via Althouse):

No. I think he needed to be more specific on that. I happen to disagree with Barack on that. Like I said, he's a friend. But to me, I would not want to die and get before God one day and go, 'Oh, sorry, I didn't take the time to figure out' because if I was wrong then it had severe implications to my leadership if I had the ability to do something about it. He should either say, 'No scientifically, I do not believe it's a human being until X' or whatever it is or to say, 'Yes, I believe it is a human being at X point,' whether it's conception or anything else. But to just say 'I don't know' on the most divisive issue in America is not a clear enough answer for me.

Nope, not clear enough at all.

However, as I saw it, those were his only major gaffes. I do think he had a different attitude about the debate than McCain did, that may count as a mistake. I do think some of his answers, particularly his foreign policy answers, were a but too abstract and philosophic, while McCain went directly to policy and specifics. When asked about evil, McCain went directly to 9/11 and al-qaeda. McCain mentioned Russia and Georgia. McCain sounded forceful on those answers. Obama's answers weren't bad, it's just that McCain seemed to keep the focus on the issues at hand. I still hesitate somewhat to call this a mistake on Obama's part, as both candidates have different approaches, and had different tasks during the debate. McCain saw this as his opportunity to shore up his evangelical base, and the talk from many righties is that they like what they saw. Obama had to make a good impression with evangelical voters, ans he may have hurt himself somewhat with the abortion answer, and the dis to Clarence Thomas.

Not that most conservatives were going to vote for Obama, anyway.

A quick point about the cheating controversy. I don't believe it. While it's apparently true that McCain wasn't in the "cone of silence," Rick Warren says he took real steps to keep McCain from hearing Obama, and I believe him. McCain says he didn't hear the questions, and I believe him as well. Also, I wonder what difference it would have made. I think those amongst the Obama circles who advance this story aren't helping, as it makes Obama look whiny and weak.

All in all, mistakes included, they both did a decent job. Besides, I think Ann is right when she points this out:

There were many other differences on display at the forum. Compare their answers on abortion and their efforts to put a number on "rich." It's this displaying of differences that matters far more than any conclusions about who won.


ADDED: Sully also misses the point, but Ross Douthat gets it right.

AND: This from Glenn Loury and John McWhorter, on why the dis to Clarence Thomas could be a major disaster.

Friday, August 01, 2008

On the Race Card, And Other Issues

Now I'm sure we're all aware of the latest bit of controversy between Obama and McCain, over cooments Obama made about the GOP and race. For a refresher, Obama said this:

"What they're going to try to do is make you scared of me," Obama said. "You know, he's not patriotic enough, he's got a funny name, you know, he doesn't look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills."

McCain took offense, and responded:

"I'm disappointed that Senator Obama would say the things he's saying," McCain told reporters in Racine, Wis. The Arizona senator said he agreed with campaign manager Rick Davis' statement earlier that "Barack Obama has played the race card, and he played it from the bottom of the deck. It's divisive, negative, shameful and wrong."

Obama's camp defended themselves this way:

"Barack Obama in no way believes that the McCain campaign is using race as an issue, but he does believe they're using the same old low-road politics to distract voters from the real issues in this campaign," said spokesman Bill Burton.

Let me say that I think Obama did make a mistake here, as McCain himself hasn't really brought up the issue of race, although Obama himself has, albeit in a different context. To be fair, Obama argued that the GOP would use race as an issue (and let's be clear, there's no other way to really interpret that "doesn't look like other Presidents" line), not that they did, although it's not really fair to make such a prediction without prior evidence. As to patriotism and attendant issues, Obama's on safer ground, at least with regards to the anti-Obama forces in general (less so with McCain specifically).

At the end of the day, on this issue, Obama played the race card.

Changing gears for a bit, there's been much talk about the campaign turning negative. It's a little disheartening, but not at all surprising, as I suspected for a while now that the idea of the candidates not going negative was a fairy tale. McCain has clearly decided to go negative, and if you ask me, it's personal now, as reflected by this now infamous ad, and this new one just put out.

First off, I'm not at all offended by these, but they are negative, decidedly personal, and ridiculous. The Spears-Hilton ad makes McCain look desperate. Some have suggested that there are racist overtones, but I don't see that at all. Rather, it's McCain basically saying Obama is an empty, vacuous celebrity with nothing to offer, like Britney and Paris. There are ways of making the argument I think McCain's trying to make, without taking it to that level. It makes him look silly, and frankly, a little petty.

But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.

Friday, July 04, 2008

"with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor."

Happy Birthday, America.

Here is the full text of that great Declaration:

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.

He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states:

For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing taxes on us without our consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:

For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:

For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these colonies:

For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:

For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

"It's not an easy decision, and especially because I support a robust system of public financing of elections"

Obama flips on his pledge on public financing for the general election.

But listing the Iraq war, healthcare, education and the economy as defining issues for November's election, Obama said: "This is our moment and our country is depending on us.

"So join me, and declare your independence from this broken system and let's build the first general election campaign that's truly funded by the American people."

With all due respect sir, you flipped on this. There's no getting around it. You flipped. I don't want to make any broad conclusions based on this, but these sorts of things may give some the impression that you have a problem keeping your word:

"Today, Barack Obama has revealed himself to be just another typical politician who will do and say whatever is most expedient for Barack Obama," McCain's communications director Jill Hazelbaker said.

"The true test of a candidate for president is whether he will stand on principle and keep his word to the American people," she said.

"Barack Obama has failed that test today, and his reversal of his promise to participate in the public finance system undermines his call for a new type of politics."

Like I said, I'm not prepared to condemn Obama as a phony, but when you set out to be a new kind of politician, these sorts of things don't help that image, and do more damage than they would otherwise. That's all I'm saying.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tim Russert, 1950-2008

The nation has lost a true legend today, as Tim Russert has died. He collapsed at his desk, and had a heart attack. He was only 58. Good Lord, this is sad news. Tim Russert was an icon of journalism. Straight-up, honest, decent journalism. I have vivid memories of Sunday mornings, watching Tim Russert do his thing. He was an icon. Tough but fair, never tearing people down, and called it right down the middle. I'll never forget his Election 2000 coverage, with his dry-erase board.

It's a sad day for the nation. RIP, Tim Russert. There's a special spot in Heaven for men like yourself.

The tributes on TV were great as well. Really inspiring.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Obama Clinches The Nomination...

It's pretty much official that Barack Obama is the Democratic nominee. Hillary has not conceded yet, and there's still talk of her being VP. More to come later, including two essays I'm working on, on the hawkish case for Obama, and the liberal case for McCain. More soon...

Monday, May 26, 2008

For Memorial Day

I posted this great poem by Henry van Dyke last year, and I think it's still worth revisiting. Just remember, during your cookouts, movie marathons, time with family, or however you choose to celebrate, that many brave men and women gave, and still give, to keep us free.

Thou warden of the western gate, above Manhatten Bay,
The fogs of doubt that hid thy face are driven clean away:
Thine eyes at last look far and clear, thou liftest high thy hand
To spread the light of liberty world-wide for every land.

No more thou dreamest of a peace reserved alone for thee,
While friends are fighting for thy cause beyond the guardian sea:
The battle that they wage is thine; thou fallest if they fall;
The swollen flood of Prussian pride will sweep unchecked o'er all.

O cruel is the conquer-lust in Hohenzollern brains;
The paths they plot to gain their goal are dark with shameful stains:
No faith they keep, no law revere, no god but naked Might; --
They are the foemen of mankind. Up, Liberty, and smite!

Britain, and France, and Italy, and Russia newly born,
Have waited for thee in the night. Oh, come as comes the morn.
Serene and strong and full of faith, America, arise,
With steady hope and mighty help to join th brave Allies.

O dearest country of my heart, home of the high desire,
Make clean thy soul for sacrifice on Freedom's altar-fire:
For thou must suffer, thou must fight, until the warlords cease,
And all the peoples lift their heads in liberty and peace.

Henry van Dyke April 10, 1917

Friday, May 16, 2008

When You Put It LIke That...

You know, I've always held that the meme that Obama is somehow less than supportive of Israel, or wants to appease terrorists in the Middle East is false and ridiculous. I still hold to that, but I must admit I find this disquieting:

It's time to engage in diplomatic efforts to help build a new Lebanese consensus that focuses on electoral reform, an end to the current corrupt patronage system, and the development of the economy that provides for a fair distribution of services, opportunities and employment.

Lee Smith explains what's wrong with Obama's analysis:

Obama's language is derived from those corners of the left that claim Hezbollah is only interested in winning the Shia a larger share of the political process. Never mind the guns, it's essentially a social welfare movement, with schools and clinics! – and its own foreign policy, intelligence services and terror apparatus, used at the regional, international and now domestic level. But the solution, says, Obama, channeling the man he fired [Robert Malley] for talking to Hamas, is diplomacy.

Yeah. Like I said, disquieting.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Real Moderates

I though this was interesting, from Michael J. Totten, on moderate Muslims, and the NYT's inability to showcase real moderate Islam.

First, for perspective, there's this from guest-blogger Lee Smith:

A Turkish Sufi, even if he tried to undermine the secular nature of a US ally, is less scary than the adolescent Pakistani mobs he is trying to educate; Tariq Ramadan, even if he is of two minds about stoning women to death for adultery, is less scary than bin Laden; Brooklyn's Reda Shata may have mourned the death of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, but he is less scary than Omar Abdul Rahman, the Brooklyn sheikh jailed for his role in the 1993 WTC attack. Unfortunately, it seems to be beyond the scope of the Times to recognize that this is how politics is typically waged in the Muslim Middle East, with the “moderates” serving as both arsonists and firemen, using the violence of the “extremists” against the established order and promising to rein them in.

Finally, one can only sympathize with American Muslims, those who may or may not be religious, but surely have no attachment to the obscurantist fanatics that drove them from the region, and must now be wondering what is wrong with the New York Times that the only Muslims that register with the paper of record are very scary ones, and less scary ones.

Michael Totten expands on this, with a piece in Commentary magazine, on authentic moderates, which he argues can easily be found, if one knows where to look:

A large number of Kosovo's Muslims are Sufis—the most peaceful and the least fundamentalist of all the world's Muslims. Sufis can be found in many parts of the Islamic world, but here in Kosovo they proudly proclaim that they are the most “progressive” of all.

Soft-imperial Wahhabis are trying to export their brand of Islam from the deserts of Saudi Arabia to this fertile green land. They have their work cut out for them with this crowd. Bosnia notoriously welcomed thousands of Salafist mujahideen fighters from the Arab world during Yugoslavia's violent demise. But the Kosovo Liberation Army brusquely told them to stay the hell out of their country—even while they faced an ethnic cleansing campaign directed from Belgrade.

Read the whole thing.

Happy Birthday, Israel

The modern state of Israel celebrates its 60th birthday today. By God's grace, and the hard work of many, Israel survives, and despite challenges, thrives, whether certain people like it or not.

HT: Fern, with more links.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

This blog now has a working site counter!


Obama Wins in Tarheelia, Indiana Still Too Close...

It's still unsettled in Indiana, although Clinton has a slight lead. Keeping tabs.

UPDATE: Hillary wins Indiana, but it may be a Pyrrhic victory.

Friday, May 02, 2008

John Conyers' Wife Gets Put In Her Place By An Eighth Grader

That eighth-grader is one Kierra Bell, who respectfully reminded President Pro-Temp of the Detroit City Council Monica Conyers (who is third in line to the mayoralty), that she is an adult, and ought to behave like one. This was priceless, and embarassing at the same time (HT: Pat):

What a fool, Mrs. Conyers is. What a fool. We need to pray for Detroit, my friends. I mean it.

Pat has the transcript, as well as links to the backstory.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Speaking of Nazi Imagery...

Here is this story about one aspiring Congressman named Tony Zirkle, along with a few rules to remember when seeking political office:

  • Don't show up at a white supremacist commemoration of Hitler's birthday.

  • Don't give a speech about white women being taken into sexual slavery in Israel to a white supremacist commemoration of Hitler's birthday while standing under a large portrait of Adolf Hitler.

  • Don't talk about sexually transmitted diseases supposedly being encouraged by pornography (or, as Zirkle likes to call it, the "porn dragon") from Jewish bookstores as "genocide" against the white race to a bunch of white power rangers wearing T shirts with portraits of Hitler on the back at a white supremacist commemoration of Hitler's birthday.

Good tips. Read the whole thing. It gets worse.

HT: Sully, and Megan McArdle

Ben Stein Has Lost His Mind

Maybe, as Tully suggests, it's because his problematic movie isn't doing so hot, or considering some of the faulty arguments he makes in his film, he really believes this, but this has got to be one of the revolting things I've ever seen:

Stein: When we just saw that man, I think it was Mr. Myers [i.e. biologist P.Z. Myers], talking about how great scientists were, I was thinking to myself the last time any of my relatives saw scientists telling them what to do they were telling them to go to the showers to get gassed … that was horrifying beyond words, and that’s where science — in my opinion, this is just an opinion — that’s where science leads you.

Crouch: That’s right.

Stein: …Love of God and compassion and empathy leads you to a very glorious place, and science leads you to killing people.

Crouch: Good word, good word.

Good word!? Come on Paul, you ought to know better. Stein ought to know better as well, but as Tully suggests in his post, it's all about coarsening the culture. Advance the idea that science is anti-God, yet rail against evolutionists who argue that belief in God is anti-science. The cultural divide deepens, and Stein wins more money. Oh yeah, and throw some Holocaust imagery for good measure, never mind the context. I guess anything goes in the culture war.

I mean, Stein has been known to advance absurd lies in the service of narrow ideological causes before, but this is just beyond the pale.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Considering Kosovo

Always-at-the-top-of-his-game Michael Totten is traveling to Kosovo, and doing his spot-on reporting from there. He has a good piece on Kosovo, and I found this excerpt fascinating:

Kosovo is the world’s newest country, and its unilateral declaration of independence is more controversial than the existence of Israel. It should be only slightly surprising, then, that many Kosovars, though most are Muslims, identify to an large extent with the Israelis. “Kosovars used to identify with the Palestinians because we Albanians are Muslims and Christians and we saw Serbia and Israel both as usurpers of land,” a prominent Kosovar recent told journalist Stephen Schwartz. “Then we looked at a map and woke up. Israelis have a population of six million, their backs to the sea, and 300 million Arab enemies. Albanians have a total population of eight million, our backs to the sea, and 200 million Slav enemies. So why should we identify with the Arabs?”