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January 31, 2008

Get on Message, Bill

Bill Clinton has been accused of hurting his wife's political campaign in a variety of ways, to include hogging the limelight, sheer nastiness and below-the-belt rhetoric, and just reminding everyone every day that he will be going back to the White House too, if Hillary gets elected.

Now, just as Democrats have begun to once again use the economy as a political hammer to George Bush's head, (after ignoring for six years the high growth, low inflation, low unemployment prosperity) and have begun using the 'R' word again, here comes Bill Clinton to confuse matters.

Now "recession" is not an undesirable but inevitable result of Republican economic policy as much as it is a goal to be pursued by all. And a noble, even an earth-saving goal at that. Talk about moving the goalposts just as your own team's kicker approaches the ball. From Jake Tapper of ABC, quoting WJC:

"We just have to slow down our economy and cut back our greenhouse gas emissions 'cause we have to save the planet for our grandchildren."

At a time that the nation is worried about a recession is that really the characterization his wife would want him making? "Slow down our economy"?

Clinton goes on to say that the U.S. and Europe and Japan and Canada.... "the rich countries", can't do it alone.

"But if we did that, you know as well as I do, China and India and Indonesia and Vietnam and Mexico and Brazil and the Ukraine, and all the other countries will never agree to stay poor to save the planet for our grandchildren.

So, if the poor countries join us in the effort to cut emissions they will "stay poor", admits Clinton. But...

The only way we can do this is if we get back in the world's fight against global warming and prove it is good economics that we will create more jobs to build a sustainable economy that saves the planet for our children and grandchildren. It is the only way it will work.

So, if I've got this right, we will intentionally slow down our economy so we can then transform it, while in a recessionary state, into a sustainable one, so we won't have to force ourselves to intentionally slow it down again anytime soon...you know...to save the planet for our children and grandchildren. And it turns out, all we have to do to effect this transformation...the one that "will create millions and millions and millions of jobs", is of course to "vote for her. She'll give it to you. She has the right energy policy." Why had no one thought of this before?

Just one more, slightly incoherent quote from the slick one:

"And guess what? The only places in the world today in rich countries where you have rising wages and declining inequality are places that have generated more jobs than rich countries because they made a commitment we didn't. They got serious about a clean, efficient, green, independent energy future…

I'm sure there must be some statistical, factual basis for this assertion somewhere, (because Bill wouldn't lie) although I'm aware that most all of the European Kyoto signatories are failing to meet their emissions cuts commitments, and many are still actually increasing their CO2 emissions at rates higher than those in the U.S.

Wait a minute. He didn't say any of these unspecified countries have actually reduced their greenhouse gas emissions. He just said they had made a commitment to do it, that we hadn't. Now they have rising wages and declining inequality. They're not reducing emissions, but they're well intended. Why can't we follow the lead of our European friends and do better at meaningless posturing while continuing to pursue our own country's best economic interests?

Of course, we can do better. And it's easy. Bill's bottom line message is this: "Vote for her. She'll give it to you." Because she just has so much to give.

To paraphrase Jonah Goldberg; Why mess with the pursuit of happiness when you can elect to have it delivered?

January 29, 2008

Taliban Ascendant

If you haven't caught the PBS Frontline show Return of the Taliban yet, I'd recommend it highly. The whole one-hour show is available online at the link, if you can't wait to see it on your PBS channel.

On location in the tribal areas of northwest Pakistan, the program gives some sense of just what we're up against in that mountainous Afghan border region where both the British and the Russians eventually gave up on pacifying the locals. There is some gruesome footage early in the show attesting to the depravity of the Taliban, and the whole program conveys the logistic and political difficulties of governing in an area where Osama bin Laden is a hero, and crowds rally in the streets to cries of "Bush is a dog!"

Pakistani government officials lie through their teeth to the Frontline reporter when pressed on the details of attacks on terrorist leadership, claiming credit for the Pakistani military, when the evidence proves that they were the work of U.S. missiles. And even George Bush seems to not believe what he's saying in his public appearances with Musharraf, that "Pakistan is our ally in the War on Terror."

The hell they are.


Here's the full text of the President's State of the Union speech.

January 28, 2008

A Perfect Match

This is priceless. (via The Corner)

Old Wine, New Bottle

Bill Clinton's dismissal of Barack Obama's victory in South Carolina with a pointed reference to Jesse Jackson's wins there in the 80's has the Clinton campaign under fire from liberals and conservatives alike. I've assembled a sampling of center-right commentary from the last couple of days, and there seem to be a few recurring themes. To a man, the commentators quoted below acknowledge that the admirable tone of Obama's campaign has been the polar opposite of Jackson's tired race-baiting, and that Obama's electoral accomplishments already dwarf those of the Reverend.

And behind a sort of barely-concealed glee at seeing leftists hoist by their own identity-politics petard, is another kind of satisfaction, from watching decent liberals come to be disgusted by what they see in what has always been Clintonism. Starting with the Wall Street Journal op-ed...

The Clinton Race Gambit - WSJ.com

Asked by a reporter why it took "two" Clintons to beat Mr. Obama, Mr. Clinton replied that "Jesse Jackson won South Carolina" in 1984 and 1988. And he added that both Rev. Jackson and Mr. Obama had run "a good campaign here." Hmmm. The reporter hadn't mentioned Jesse Jackson, but Mr. Clinton somehow felt it apposite to refer to him anyway. He thus associated Mr. Obama's landslide victory with that of a black candidate who never did win the Democratic nomination, much less the Presidency, and who had run overtly as an African-American candidate in contrast to Mr. Obama's explicit campaign theme of transcending race. [Barack Obama]

Anyone who thinks this was accidental has spent too much time with Sid Blumenthal.


It's going to be fascinating to see if Democrats and the press let the Clintons get away with this. Imagine if Mitt Romney had made the Jesse Jackson comparison. Democrats would have immediately denounced the remarks as "racist," or as a part of some Republican "Southern strategy."

James Taranto, reacting to Jesse Jackson's quote that he didn't "read anything negative into Clinton's observation"...

In Mr. Clinton's defense, it may be said that Obama has some things in common with Jackson as a presidential candidate. Like Jackson (at least in South Carolina), he won an overwhelming number of black votes--78%, according to CNN exit polls--presumably in part because of ethnic pride. As for the white vote, one can argue that Obama's glass is half empty (less than 1 in 4 whites went for him) or half full (Obama's 24% was much better than the estimated 5% to 10% Jackson got in the 1988 caucuses, according to the New York Times). Also, in this columnist's opinion, Obama, like Jackson, is too liberal and too inexperienced to make an ideal president.

Given all this, and given that Jackson himself is taking the high road, shouldn't we refrain from making a big deal of Mr. Clinton's remark?

Absolutely not. Jackson is impossibly compromised in this matter, because at the root of Mr. Clinton's comment is the recognition that Jackson stands for something loathsome--something that Obama has repudiated.

Jesse Jackson is not a racial healer but an ambulance chaser. He has made his career exploiting black insecurity and white guilt, seizing on racial disputes and misunderstandings to profit financially and enhance his own status. If racial disharmony disappeared tomorrow, Jackson would be out of a job.

In this sense--the sense that is most important to Jackson's political identity--Obama is Jackson's opposite. He has emerged as a national political figure, and a plausible prospective president, by calling for unity, not by seeking to take advantage of division.

When Mr. Clinton likens Obama to Jackson, the clear message to white voters is that a black candidate cannot be better than Jackson, cannot be relied upon to put the interests of the country above those of his race or himself. This is a truly bigoted notion--and it is one that Jackson cannot protest, for to protest it would be to acknowledge the truth about himself.

Bill Kristol in the New York Times: (I just like the way that sounds)

What do Jesse Jackson’s victories two decades ago have to do with this year’s Obama-Clinton race? The Obama campaign is nothing like Jackson’s. Obama isn’t running on Jackson-like themes. Obama rarely refers to Jackson.

Clinton’s comment alludes to one thing, and to one thing only: Jackson and Obama are both black candidates. The silent premise of Clinton’s comment is that Obama’s victory in South Carolina doesn’t really count. Or, at least, Clinton is suggesting, it doesn’t mean any more than Jackson’s did.

But of course — as Clinton knows very well — Jesse Jackson didn’t win (almost all-white) Iowa. He didn’t come within a couple of points of prevailing in (almost all-white) New Hampshire. Nor did he, as Obama did, carry white voters in rural Nevada. And Saturday, in South Carolina, even after Bill Clinton tried to turn Obama into Jackson, Hillary defeated Obama by just three to two among white voters

So Bill Clinton has been playing the race card, and doing so clumsily. But why is he playing any cards? He wasn’t supposed to be in the game. But just as Hillary was supposed to be finding her own voice, Bill decided to barge in, and to do so with a vengeance. This has been no favor to Hillary.

Christopher Hitchens:

How can one equal Bill Clinton for thuggery and opportunism when it comes to the so-called "race card"? And where does one even start with the breathtaking nastiness of his own conduct, and that of his supporters, in the last week? Barack Obama carries South Carolina having made no sectarian appeal to any specific kind of voter, and the best Clinton can say is that this is no better than Jesse Jackson managed to do. Really? Did Jackson come south having already got himself elected the senator from Illinois? And, come to think of it, was Jackson so much to be despised and sneered at when he was needed as Clinton's "confessor," along with Billy Graham, during the squalor of impeachment?

Hitchens recalls a couple prominent examples of Clinton's history of exploiting racial division, including the execution of the severely mentally impaired Ricky Ray Rector, and notes that...

...all this was forgiven by credulous liberals who were sure that they had discovered a New Democrat who was a Southerner to boot.

Many of these same people do not like it now that they see similar two-faced tactics being employed against "one of their own." Well, tough. And many of the most prominent and eloquent black columnists—Bob Herbert, Colbert King, Eugene Robinson—are also acting shocked. It's a bit late. I have to say that Bob Herbert shocked even me by quoting Andrew Young, who said that his pal Clinton was "every bit as black as Barack" because he'd screwed more black chicks. How is Hillary Clinton, or Chelsea Clinton, supposed to feel on hearing that little endorsement? One gets the impression, though, at least from the wife, that anything is OK as long as it works, or even has a chance of working.

Indeed, many on the Left, including former Clinton supporters and apologists are expressing revulsion and surprise at this latest Clintonian smear. The WSJ editorial linked above finishes like this:

This primary contest has been a rolling revelation for many Democrats and the media, as they've been shocked to see the Clinton brand of divisive politics played against one of their own. Liberal columnists who long idolized the Clintons are even writing more-in-sorrow-than-anger pieces asking how Bill and Hillary could descend to such deceptive tactics. Allow us to answer that lament this way: Our readers aren't surprised.

UPDATE 1/28: A bit off topic, but regarding the endorsement of Obama by Ted Kennedy today, I thought Peter Wehner eloquently noted the irony dripping from Teddy's bemoaning of the "politics of personal destruction."

UPDATE 1/20: Daily Observer has a sample of the criticism of Clinton from the left.

January 27, 2008

Obama and Israel

Barack Obama is being advised by a number of people with track records of anti-Israel pronouncements and actions. Drawing attention to that reality may force Obama to be more forthcoming on the subject. Among those doing that is Ed Lasky at American Thinker:

One seemingly consistent theme running throughout Barack Obama's career is his comfort with aligning himself with people who are anti-Israel advocates. This ease around Israel animus has taken various forms. As Obama has continued his political ascent, he has moved up the prestige scale in terms of his associates. Early on in his career he chose a church headed by a former Black Muslim who is a harsh anti-Israel advocate and who may be seen as tinged with anti-Semitism. This church is a member of a denomination whose governing body has taken a series of anti-Israel actions.

As his political fortunes and ambition climbed, he found support from George Soros, multibillionaire promoter of groups that have been consistently harsh and biased critics of the American-Israel relationship.

Obama's soothing and inspiring oratory sometimes vanishes when he talks of the Middle East. Indeed, his off-the-cuff remarks have been uniformly taken by supporters of Israel as signs that the inner Obama does not truly support Israel despite what his canned speeches and essays may contain.

Now that Obama has become a leading Presidential candidate, he has assembled a body of foreign policy advisers who signal that a President Obama would likely have an approach towards Israel radically at odds with those of previous Presidents (both Republican and Democrat). A group of experts collected by the Israeli liberal newspaper Haaretz deemed him to be the candidate likely to be least supportive of Israel.

Writing at contentions, Noah Pollock identifies one of those advisors as Harvard professor Samantha Power:

Power is an advocate of the Walt-Mearsheimer view of the American relationship with Israel. In a recent interview published on the Harvard Kennedy School’s website, Power was asked to explain “long-standing structural and conceptual problems in U.S. foreign policy.” She gave a two-part answer: the first problem, she said, is “the US historic predisposition to go it alone.” A standard reply, of course. The second problem, though, should give us pause:
Another longstanding foreign policy flaw is the degree to which special interests dictate the way in which the “national interest” as a whole is defined and pursued . . . America’s important historic relationship with Israel has often led foreign policy decision-makers to defer reflexively to Israeli security assessments, and to replicate Israeli tactics, which, as the war in Lebanon last summer demonstrated, can turn out to be counter-productive.

So greater regard for international institutions along with less automatic deference to special interests–especially when it comes to matters of life and death and war and peace–seem to be two take-aways from the war in Iraq.

Power is not just assenting to the Israel Lobby view of American foreign policy, but is also arguing that Israel had something to do with the Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003–an appalling slander, and a telling one.

My excerpts don't do either piece justice. Click and read it all. More from Lasky here.

UPDATE 1/28: It's only fair to point out that there are those who believe Obama has been co-opted by the "Israel lobby", and is far too pro-Israel already. This site, tellingly called Electronic Intifada, is one example.

And a letter that Obama wrote to U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Zalmay Khalilzad has been circulating in recent days. It may or may not have been timed (the version I saw was not dated) and publicized to counter some of the voices that have been critical of his circle of advisors. Here's the text:

Dear Ambassador Khalilzad,

I understand that today the UN Security Council met regarding the situation in Gaza, and that a resolution or statement could be forthcoming from the Council in short order.

I urge you to ensure that the Security Council issue no statement and pass no resolution on this matter that does not fully condenm the rocket assault Hamas has been conducting on civilians in southern Israel...

All of us are concerned about the impact of closed border crossings on Palestinian families. However, we have to understand why Israel is forced to do this... Israel has the right to respond while seeking to minimize any impact on civilians.

The Security Council should clearly and unequivocally condemn the rocket attacks... If it cannot bring itself to make these common sense points, I urge you to ensure that it does not speak at all.


Barack Obama
United States Senator


David Horowitz answers his critics.

January 26, 2008

Standing Pat

When the temperature hits single digits in January, it's baseball time. The Indians have had a quiet offseason, but Peter Gammons says it's because Mark Shapiro and his staff have laid the groundwork in previous years for a young, talented team, pushed and fed by a strong farm system. As tough as the Tigers lineup looks now with Cabrera, Gammons says they still have an unproven pitching staff.... but he likes the Tribe's pitching.

The Indians, meanwhile, will start the season with seven starting pitchers. Can they count on C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona combining for 38 wins and a 3.15 ERA again? Probably not. But, remember, they left the city limits of Winter Haven, Fla. last spring thinking Cliff Lee and Jeremy Sowers were their second and third starters based on being a combined 21-15 in 2006 (Sowers was second in the AL in ERA in the second half), and both ended up at Triple-A Buffalo after they combined to go 6-14, 6.32.

Both Lee and Sowers are a lot better than that. Jake Westbrook is better than 6-9 and Aaron Laffey demonstrated consistent sink, athleticism and an ability to hold runners in his September and October stint. Adam Miller believes his arm and finger problems are behind him. But with Sabathia likely headed into free agency at the end of the season, Miller likely will be groomed to take his extraordinary talent into the rotation in 2009.

Joe Borowski is always going to scare Cleveland fans (that 5.07 ERA might have something to do with it), but he still had 45 saves and bounced back from virtually every derailment. With Rafael Betancourt, Jensen Lewis, Rafael Perez, Aaron Fultz and Kobayashi, the bullpen is deep and versatile.

Remember, Travis Hafner's home runs and OPS dropped from 42 and 1.098 in 2006 to 24 and .836, and Grady Sizmore's OPS dropped from .908 to .852 last season. This year, they will have Asdrubal Cabrera in the lineup from the start of the season. And don't forget, they finished the Yankees' season in New York last October and had the Red Sox down 3-1 in the ALCS before Josh Beckett slammed the door of momentum in their faces.

David Pinto's Baseball Musings uses something called the Lineup Analysis Tool to predict each team's 2008 offense. Cleveland's given runs per game is 5.6 (which would have been second in the league in 2007), Detroit's 5.58, Boston's 5.78 and the Yankees' 5.89.

Fortunately, Mark Shapiro is far from dead. He along with several of the other Indians front office executives, Chris Antonetti, Mike Chernoff, John Mirabelli and Ross Atkins and that very well put together organization are working on who and what will be in place when Sabathia leaves, or Casey Blake starts to age.

This winter's quiet is testament to all the work the Indians have done the previous seven years, with all that is in place to repeat as the winningest team in baseball.

One thing that Shapiro has tried to pull off is acquiring a power-hitting corner outfielder without giving up too much young talent in return. Who can blame him for holding back so far when the asking price usually starts with Adam Miller? My fond hope is that Ben Francisco, who arrived with such a splash last season, will grab on to the left field job in the Spring, and not let it go. Jason Michaels stays as the fourth outfielder. Then with talented young outfielders like Jordan Brown (#2) and Nick Weglarz(#6) coming up through the system, maybe Shapiro can focus his attention on other things.

Check out Baseball America's ranking of Tribe prospects. And here's a detailed look at a ranking of theTop 50 Indians prospects, a must for hardcore Tribe fans. Lots more at the home page Cleveland Indians Minor League Insider. I ended up there via The DiaTribe, a blog written by Paul Cousineau. If there's a better Indians blog, I haven't found it.

UPDATE 1/27: Terry Pluto's take in the Sunday PD.

January 23, 2008

Recommended 1/23

I missed it several days ago when the story of The Lost Archive appeared in the WSJ. 450 rolls of film containing photos of early manuscripts of the Quran, long thought lost in WWII bombings in Germany, have surfaced, and are causing controversy among scholars, including resistance by some to their being examined at all.

Media Matters, an organization formed by Hillary Clinton and funded by leftist sugar daddy George Soros, has finally discovered Chris Matthews' sexism, now that he has been critical of the junior senator from N.Y. Matthews has folded like Superman on laundry day under pressure from the Clinton machine. And he's disappointed, because he so wanted to be liked by these people.

With an assist from John Kerry, Barack Obama is attempting to counter an email that has been widely circulated in recent weeks claiming that Obama is, or has been a Muslim. Kerry has suggested that the charge is analogous to the notorious "Swiftboating" that hurt his electoral prospects in 2004. While it appears Obama has not ever been a practicing Muslim, he might do well to avoid the Kerry comparisons, because despite the popular perception, most of the charges made against Kerry by the Swiftboat Veterans in 2004 have not been disputed, much less discredited. (via IP)

Ed Morrissey is staying on top of the documents from the 1994 Health Care Task Force that are gradually being released via a Judicial Watch inquiry. (see CQ posts here and here) They are reminders of the kind of arrogance and media manipulation that were hallmarks of the first Clinton administration. See also Cal Thomas on this issue.

Frank Gaffney cites a recent case that illustrates the potential dangers that the Law of the Sea Treaty poses for U.S. sovereignty.

January 22, 2008

Echoes Reverberate

Buckets of bandwidth have been used up already in reaction to the New York Times feature story on the "deadly echoes" of war now playing out on the streets of the heartland as Iraq veterans return home. The paper has devoted 7000 words (in Part 1 alone) to a roundup of violent misdeeds by Iraq veterans (121 in all), generating lots of "human interest" but precious little context or meaningful analysis, much less any linkage between military service and violent behavior.

And it hasn't taken long for the back-of-the-envelope number crunching to begin, prompted in part by the outrage of people whose experiences with returning Iraq veterans doesn't resemble the portrait of gut-wrenching death and heartbreak in the Times story. Ralph Peters was among those digging down for some numbers early on:

The Times did get one basic fact right: Returning vets committed or are charged with 121 murders in the United States since our current wars began.

Had the Times' "journalists" and editors bothered to put those figures in context - which they carefully avoided doing - they would've found that the murder rate that leaves them so aghast means that our vets are five times less likely to commit a murder than their demographic peers.

Click and read the basis for Peters' calculation, but whatever you do, don't miss Iowahawk's brilliant riposte (I heard it called too real to be true parody) to the Times piece. The product of the time and research of one blogger in a few days would appear to compare favorably to that of the nine reporters the Times had working on "Deadly Echoes". See also a follow-up post by Iowahawk.

Mark Steyn is trenchant and funny, as ever:

As usual, the Times stories are written in the fey more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger tone that’s a shoo-in come Pulitzer time: “Individually, these are stories of local crimes, gut-wrenching postscripts to the war for the military men, their victims and their communities. Taken together, they paint the patchwork picture of a quiet phenomenon, tracing a cross-country trail of death and heartbreak.”

“Patchwork picture,” “quiet phenomenon”… Yes, yes, but exactly how quiet is the phenomenon? How patchy is the picture?” The New York Times found 121 cases in which veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan either “committed a killing in this country, or were charged with one.” The “committed a killing” formulation includes car accidents.

Thus, with declining deaths in theater, the media narrative evolves. Old story: “America’s soldiers are being cut down by violent irrational insurgents we can never hope to understand.” New story: “Americans are being cut down by violent irrational soldiers we can never hope to understand.” In the quagmire of these veterans’ minds, every leafy Connecticut subdivision is Fallujah and every Dunkin’ Donuts clerk an Abu Musab al-Zarqawi with an annoyingly perky manner.

Bob Owens pulled together lots of the relevant violent crime statistics writing here at PJM, and also at his own blog. Interesting too, that Bob is also busy these days writing the final chapter in the story of a previous media attempt to propagandize with a misleading (okay, utterly fictional) portrayal of the degradation of the U.S. soldier by the ravages of war. See recent Beauchamp document dumps here, here, and here.

John Dilulio at the Standard has more numbers.

And I'll wrap it with an excerpt from Ralph Peters follow-up column The New Lepers

The purpose of Sunday's instantly notorious feature "alerting" the American people that our Iraq and Afghanistan vets are all potential murderers when they move in next door was to mark those defenders of freedom as "unclean" - as the new lepers who can't be trusted amid uninfected Americans.

In the more than six years since 9/11, the Times has never run a feature story half as long on any of the hundreds of heroes who've served our country - those who've won medals of honor, distinguished service crosses, Navy crosses, silver stars or bronze stars with a V device (for valor).

But the Times put a major investigative effort into the "sensational" story that 121 returning vets had committed capital offenses (of course, 20 percent of the cases cited involved manslaughter charges stemming from drunken driving, not first- or second-degree murder . . . ).

Well, a quick statistics check let the air out of the Times' bid to make us dread the veteran down the block - who the Times implies has a machine gun under his bathrobe when he steps out front to fetch the morning paper. In fact, the capital-crimes rate ballyhooed by the Gray Lady demonstrates that our returning troops are far less likely to commit such an offense.


To a darkly humorous degree, all this reflects the Freudian terrors leftists feel when confronted with men who don't have concave chests. But it goes far beyond that.

Pretending to pity tormented veterans (vets don't want our pity - they want our respect), the Times' feature was an artful example of hate-speech disguised as a public service.

Plus one of Iowahawk's posters:


January 21, 2008

Bill Has a Dream Too

How could he have slept through that?

via Bearing Drift Ohio

January 20, 2008

Special Flower

Matt Labash, whose October piece on political operative Roger Stone I thought was some of 2007's best journalism, is revisiting Stone for the lowdown on his latest venture, a new anti-Hillary 527 group called Citizens United Not Timid. I haven't spent any time at the group's website, but Labash says there's not much by way of a substantive message that the group wishes to impart to voters. They're just hoping the acronym goes viral. And it just might.

January 18, 2008

The 2008 Edge Question

With the new year comes the new Edge question, and the answers of lots of smart people.

"What have you changed your mind about? Why?"

I read this every year. It's humbling. Pack a lunch.

January 16, 2008

Recommended 1/16

Democrats aren't worried about budget deficits anymore if their "stimulus package" proposals are any indication. Rubinomics, RIP, from the WSJ.

A postmortem on the Ron Paul controversy by libertarian writer/blogger Robert Bidinotto.

People dying stupidly: The 2007 Darwin Awards nominees

A rather depressing report from Foreign Policy on the indoctrination of French and German students on the evils of free markets, capitalism and entrepreneurship: Europe's Philosophy of Failure

A YouTube video illustrating the immigration problems we face if current trends continue: Immigration Gumballs

Worst. Blogging. Clichés.

January 15, 2008

It's About the Beer

I know....wrong beer slogan. Watch anyway.

(via The Corner)

Putin's Pseudo-Stability

A few days after I tried to roundup some reaction to Time's selection of Vladimir Putin as its Person of the Year, French philosopher/author André Glucksmann's thoughts were translated for City Journal, and it has taken me this long to land on it.

...one must lack both heart and mind to coronate as the guarantor of world security an autocrat whose profession of faith is “once a Chekist, always a Chekist,” and whose historical intelligence assaults us with the notion that “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century is”—guess what: the two world wars? Auschwitz? the gulag? wrong!—“the dissolution of the Soviet Union.” True, one must credit Putin with sincerity for daring to make such a public declaration in April 2005; but Time, detecting in it a promise of stability, deserves credit only for absurdity.

In justifying its choice for Putin’s pseudo-stability, Time falls for the Kremlin’s propaganda: all is in order in the Potemkin village. Upon learning of the assassination of Paul Klebnikov, editor-in-chief of Forbes Russia, Anna Politkovskaï¡ wrote: “It is undeniable that stability has returned to Russia—a monstrous stability, such that no one demands justice . . . such that only a fool would still dare to claim the protection of the forces of a regime riddled with corruption. ‘An eye for an eye’ has replaced the rule of law in people’s minds, as in their acts. The president himself provides the example.” Anna is unable to appreciate Time’s choice; she was assassinated on November 7, 2006.

Hitch on Hillary

Christopher Hitchens:

What do you have to forget or overlook in order to desire that this dysfunctional clan once more occupies the White House and is again in a position to rent the Lincoln Bedroom to campaign donors and to employ the Oval Office as a massage parlor? You have to be able to forget, first, what happened to those who complained, or who told the truth, last time. It's often said, by people trying to show how grown-up and unshocked they are, that all Clinton did to get himself impeached was lie about sex. That's not really true. What he actually lied about, in the perjury that also got him disbarred, was the women. And what this involved was a steady campaign of defamation, backed up by private dicks (you should excuse the expression) and salaried government employees, against women who I believe were telling the truth. In my opinion, Gennifer Flowers was telling the truth; so was Monica Lewinsky, and so was Kathleen Willey, and so, lest we forget, was Juanita Broaddrick, the woman who says she was raped by Bill Clinton. (For the full background on this, see the chapter "Is There a Rapist in the Oval Office?" in the paperback version of my book No One Left To Lie To. This essay, I may modestly say, has never been challenged by anybody in the fabled Clinton "rapid response" team.) Yet one constantly reads that both Clintons, including the female who helped intensify the slanders against her mistreated sisters, are excellent on women's "issues."


During the Senate debate on the intervention in Iraq, Sen. Clinton made considerable use of her background and "experience" to argue that, yes, Saddam Hussein was indeed a threat. She did not argue so much from the position adopted by the Bush administration as she emphasized the stand taken, by both her husband and Al Gore, when they were in office, to the effect that another and final confrontation with the Baathist regime was more or less inevitable. Now, it does not especially matter whether you agree or agreed with her about this (as I, for once, do and did). What does matter is that she has since altered her position and attempted, with her husband's help, to make people forget that she ever held it. And this, on a grave matter of national honor and security, merely to influence her short-term standing in the Iowa caucuses. Surely that on its own should be sufficient to disqualify her from consideration?

Nothing I can add to that except to say read it all.

January 14, 2008

Spin City

A site called funtasticus.com has a selection of advertisements , some funny, some with political content, and others with adult themes. At first glance I thought some of them might be parodies instead of actual advertisements. I guess I'm still not 100% sure. Worth a look.

I'm thinking maybe an executive somewhere rejected the Honda hybrid ad below as just a bit beyond the bounds of good taste. Then again, maybe I'm just reading the wrong magazines.


Jena Revisited

A guilty plea by the lead defendant and the passage of time to wade through the facts have depleted the ammunition of the apologists for the so called Jena Six. Don't miss Charlotte Allen's thorough examination of the Jena incident and its aftermath.

January 12, 2008

The Last Fanatic

Fake movie trailer that's making a move at YouTube...

(via contentions)

What Time Is It?

It's Israeli Double Standard Time.

Ms Magazine refuses to run an ad depicting three women who have risen to positions of political power in Israel, above the heading "This is Israel". You'd think this would be a shining example of the empowerment of women that the magazine would celebrate and promote. You'd be wrong. Meryl Yourish writes:

"...Ms. magazine refused to run an ad with three pictures of Israeli women in high positions: A Supreme Court judge, the vice president of the country, and the speaker of the Knesset, Israeli’s parliament. The American Jewish Congress was told this was going to “set off a firestorm.” Really? Portraying powerful women in a Mideast nation is a bad thing?

Apparently, when that nation is Israel, and the magazine is Ms., the answer is: Yes."

(via IP)

January 10, 2008

Recommended 1/10

Michael Totten's latest - The Rings on Zarqawi's Finger

FPM's John Perazzo on white America's 20th century track record of electing blacks to public office, and the left's track record of denial of what it means.

James Taranto defends Ike from a Hillary slam on civil rights legislation, including a quote from LBJ that rather 'qualifies' the credit he gets for passing the 1964 act.

The 12 Best Films You Didn't See in 2007

Thomas Sowell - Myths of '68

Hillel Halkin on why the failure of Annapolis may be a desirable end - The Peace Planners Strike Again

January 8, 2008

Paul Unmasked?

I haven't concerned myself much with the Ron Paul campaign to this point, other than to note the way he attracts "9/11 Truthers" and more recently, his unwillingness to disavow the support of some neo-Nazi type groups along with their money. And his appeal to young people has been disturbing to me because I find his brand of isolationism to be often dangerously irresponsible, however principled it may sound to young idealists.

Now a report by James Kirchick in The New Republic rips off Paul's libertarian mask by revealing excerpts from Paul's old newsletter, and what's beneath that mask is truly ugly. The excerpt below from Kirchick is copied as is from Allahpundit's post at Hot Air, which has other worthwhile links, including an interview of Kerchick by John Gibson.

[W]hoever actually wrote them, the newsletters I saw all had one thing in common: They were published under a banner containing Paul’s name, and the articles (except for one special edition of a newsletter that contained the byline of another writer) seem designed to create the impression that they were written by him–and reflected his views. What they reveal are decades worth of obsession with conspiracies, sympathy for the right-wing militia movement, and deeply held bigotry against blacks, Jews, and gays. In short, they suggest that Ron Paul is not the plain-speaking antiwar activist his supporters believe they are backing–but rather a member in good standing of some of the oldest and ugliest traditions in American politics…


...Paul’s campaign wants to depict its candidate as a naïve, absentee overseer, with minimal knowledge of what his underlings were doing on his behalf. This portrayal might be more believable if extremist views had cropped up in the newsletters only sporadically–or if the newsletters had just been published for a short time. But it is difficult to imagine how Paul could allow material consistently saturated in racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, and conspiracy-mongering to be printed under his name for so long if he did not share these views. In that respect, whether or not Paul personally wrote the most offensive passages is almost beside the point. If he disagreed with what was being written under his name, you would think that at some point–over the course of decades–he would have done something about it.

In these post-Beauchamp days, unfortunately, anything carrying the TNR brand has to be viewed with a certain amount of skepticism, (especially when they promise that some documentation will be appearing on their web site 'soon'.) And Allahpundit wonders how a guy could have served 30-some years in Congress with this kind of stuff in his background, but I suppose we won't have to wait long to sort it all out.

Here is Ron Paul's statement on the TNR story, claiming it is "old news" and that he was not editing the newsletter called the "Ron Paul Political Report", and he doesn't agree with the views expressed in it. I'm thinking maybe he didn't subscribe to his own newsletter. Yeah, that's the ticket.

If that's the case, I suppose he should tell all of his white supremacist supporters that they've got it all wrong, that there's been a terrible mistake, and that he's not their guy after all. I can see the time coming (if it's not past time already) for the GOP to give this guy the John Bircher treatment, and read him out of the party altogether. Talk about a tainted brand.


I watched Barack Obama's speech tonight after the HRC victory in New Hampshire, and have now seen a few of his campaign addresses. And while there's no denying his commanding presence and his wonderful voice, so far I have somehow avoided being blinded by the dazzling light of his very being. That said, I'm not about to go all Bill Clinton on him.

Especially off-putting to me tonight was this disingenuous promise: "We will end the war, and bring our troops home." Our next president may well be able to do one or the other of those two things, but he clearly will not be able to do both of them.

Hard To Argue With This

You've seen enough of the "Best of..." and "Top Tens" of 2007. Now, from Cracked Online, a refreshing change:

2007: Seven Things We Should Pretend Never Happened

After reading it all, I can offer a hearty "Amen".

(via Galley Slaves)

Only One President

All three aspired to the presidency. Now it's quite possible that only one will ever make it. One of my favorite political writers, Noemie Emery, examines the unique three-way political and personal relationship between Bill and Hill and Al. Great stuff.

January 7, 2008


They're stereotypes for a reason I guess.

Bucks Climbing Uphill

Ohio State has a game tonight, although I've been doing my best to put that fact out of my mind for the last several days. I've decided to go with the theory that 2007 was the year for finishing second for my teams (OSU football, OSU basketball, Indians, Cavs ) and the calendar has now changed all that. I was confident last year, and predicted a double digit win for the Bucks. 'Nuff said about that. At least most of the experts were wrong along with me.

This year I think the Buckeyes have the superior team, but since they're playing the game in LSU's backyard, the Superdome crowd factor is the first of what I think are three keys to the game for Ohio State.

1) If it's easy to tell early in the game that the Buckeye fans are out in numbers (and in volume) in the crowd, and the home field advantage for LSU is minimized somewhat, it will be a huge lift for the Bucks.

2) OSU's fortunes will ride on the performance of QB Todd Boeckman. He was erratic in the last couple of games of the regular season, and the hope is that he has benefited from a month of intense mentoring from one of the best quarterback coaches in the college game, Jim Tressel. Chris Wells will surely break one or two long runs as the huge OSU line wears down the LSU front over the course of the game, so even if the Tigers sell out to stop the run, Beanie will eventually get his yards. But Boeckman's ability to throw the ball well in the early part of the game is crucial to a positive start and some confidence for him and for the Buckeyes.

3) Jim Tressel and defensive coordinator Jim Heacock must have a Plan B this time around. Last year, Tressel stubbornly stuck with his flawed offensive game plan, as Florida defensive ends, safeties and linebackers crashed off the corners all night long and harassed Troy Smith into a horrible performance. He had a large part of his offensive plan built around creative uses of Ted Ginn Jr., who was out for the game after the opening kickoff. On defense, Heacock forgot that pressure on the quarterback is the key to disrupting an offense, and dropped seven or eight men into zone coverages and got chewed up by Leak's passing and the gifted group of Gator WR's.

All this was evident by the end of the first quarter, but not even with the Bucks down 10 at the half did Tressel see any need to change tactics. And never once since the game was over (to my knowledge) has Tressel acknowledged that he was seriously out-coached and out-prepared by his Florida counterparts. One hopes that the Debacle in the Desert has been tormenting him like it has tormented Buckeye fans for a year now, and that he has prepared them differently this time around.

By that I mean that last year's team, by all accounts from people who were with the team before the game, was ridiculously overconfident, and the TD on the opening kickoff mad matters even worse. Tressel had allowed the team's fans to mingle and party with the players in Glendale in the days leading up to the game. Florida largely isolated their players from those influences. The Buckeyes hadn't lost a game. They came in sporting the Heisman Trophy winner and had been No. 1 wire to wire, so when they got socked in the mouth by Florida, they were rattled, and never recovered.

But back to 2008. This time we're the underdogs, and the team nobody expects to win. People close to the program who have observed the December practices say the team is hungry and the intensity level at practice has been very high. Something tells me that this time around the Buckeyes will show that they want it a little more than the Tigers do. I think both OSU lines will eventually come to dominate the game, and the superior running game and the overall superiority of the defense of the Buckeyes will be enough to win the second national championship of the Tressel era. I look for a game under 45 total points, with the Bucks on top about 26-17.

The wild card in the whole picture is the 50-day wait between Michigan Week and the BCS game for Ohio State, a full two weeks more inactivity than LSU has had. It's impossible to tell in advance what kind of effect that will have. The OSU team that showed up in Glendale last year was certainly not the same group that went 12-0 between September and November. And getting his team to come out sharp from the opening kickoff of this year's game may be Tressel's biggest challenge.

Oh yeah, and remembering that the game isn't over after the opening kickoff will be important too.

UPDATE 1/7: Question for bloggers...Ever have a post you just want to take down about 24 hours after you post it?

January 4, 2008

Where's the Love?

John Hawkins roundup of the 40 Most Obnoxious Quotes of 2007.

Fred's Last Words?

Lots of pundits think Fred is dead, the CW saying that he started too late, and showed too little physical energy and not enough "hunger" for the job along the way. Frankly, the idea of a candidate who is motivated more by a call to duty and service than by political ambition is refreshing. I thought his YouTube video message to Iowa voters was worth passing along.

Barone's Theory

In a piece written before the Iowa results were in, Michael Barone has identified a phenomenon he calls The 16-Year Itch.

Every 16 years--in 1976, 1992 and now in 2008--American voters have seemed less interested in experience and credentials and more interested in a new face unconnected to the current political establishment. What can explain this 16-year itch?

The first explanation is that voters are responding to public policy failures. The insiders have screwed up; let's take a chance on an outsider.


Voters make pretty much the same decisions time and again for 14 years. Then in the 16th year decide they are disgusted with the results.

Why 16 years? Political scientists like to come up with generalizations about voting behavior for all time. The problem is that we don't have the same electorate over time. Political scientists have developed rules for predicting presidential elections based on macroeconomic trends at a time when most voters remembered the trauma of the Great Depression. Most voters today don't and those rules no longer work.

One such rule predicted that Al Gore would get 56% of the vote in 2000, which was 8% off. Your barber or hairdresser could have come closer.

My thought is that, over a period of 16 years, there is enough turnover in the electorate to stimulate an itch that produces a willingness to take a chance on something new.

Over time, the median-age voter in American elections has been about 45 years old. This means that the median-age voter in 1976 was born around 1931--old enough to have experienced post-World War II prosperity and foreign policy success, and then to have been disgusted by Vietnam and Watergate.

The median-age voter in 1992 was born around 1947 (the same year as Dan Quayle and Hillary Clinton, one year after Messrs. Clinton and Bush, one year before Mr. Gore). These voters came of age in the culture wars of the 1960s. They experienced stagflation and gas lines of the 1970s, and the prosperity and foreign policy successes of the 1980s. Mr. Clinton persuaded these voters to take a chance on change by promising not to radically alter policy. They rebuked him when he tried to break that promise, then for 14 years remained closely divided along culture lines as if the '60s never ended.

The median-age voter in 2008 was born around 1963, so he or she missed out on the culture wars of the '60s, and on the economic disasters and foreign policy reverses of the 1970s. These voters have experienced low-inflation economic growth something like 95% of their adult lives--something true of no other generation in history. They are weary of the cultural polarization of our politics, relatively unconcerned about the downside risks of big government programs, and largely unaware of America's historic foreign policy successes. They are ready, it seems, to take a chance on an outside-the-system candidate.

January 3, 2008

An Iowa Caucus Insider

Over the last few weeks I've had a chance to chat at some length with one of the Precinct Chairmen for tonight's Iowa Caucuses. Our company has a business relationship with this individual, and one of my associates in the office put us together on the phone when I expressed an interest in picking the brain of one of the insiders in this unique exercise in American democracy.

I wasn't conducting an on-the-record interview, and didn't get permission to use his name in this space, so I'll just call him DJ, and will try to paraphrase his comments as best I can from memory, using direct quotes sparingly.

DJ is a die-hard Republican from the western part of the state, where farming and cattle industries predominate. He lives in a county where George Bush won in 2004 with a higher percentage of the popular vote than in any other county in the U.S. He has been active in party politics since the 1980 election and the Reagan landslide, a year he cites as the one with a higher GOP caucus participation in Iowa than in any election since.

What comes through immediately in a conversation with DJ is that he's a political junkie who is proud of the Iowa Caucus, and of the role it plays in our political process. He refers to it as "democracy at its finest", describing the unruly and emotion-charged scenes in the schools and churches and municipal buildings all over the state with an animation that betrays his love of it.

And for his particular precinct, one of some 400 in the state, DJ is the man. It is he who will officiate, and do the counting of the show of hands for each candidate, and it is he who will call in the vote totals at evenings' end. In a normal election year, DJ gets about 300-400 registered Republicans to come out on caucus night for the three-hour political free-for-all. In 1980, he says, they drew about 800 people... such was the discontent with the Jimmy Carter "malaise", and the enthusiasm for Reagan. He expects upwards of 600 tonight. By way of contrast, in this part of the state, DJ says, "now, the Democrats could probably all meet around somebody's kitchen table." In the eastern part of the state, the reverse is largely the case.

All attendees here must be registered Republicans. No crossover voters in the Iowa Caucus. When I asked him if they check everyone's ID, he replied "We don't have to. We know them all by name." Not everyone gets to say his piece at the caucuses. One individual is designated to stand up and make the case for each one of the candidates, and to persuade as many people as possible of his or her merits. A fair amount of argument, discussion and back-and-forth inevitably goes on...hence the three-hour event...and then the votes are taken.

My questions for DJ centered on his own impressions of the specific candidates, and what he felt to be the overall sentiment of Iowa voters, especially the Republicans. Say what you will about the process itself, and debate if you wish whether it should have such an out-sized influence on our selection of presidential candidates, but Iowa voters certainly have more face time with the candidates than the rest of us ever will. DJ has met both Romney and Huckabee. He shook Obama's hand, and has seen Thompson, Edwards and several others in person at one time or another in recent weeks.

DJ is a Huckabee man. In fact, he is the designated Huckabee spokesman...(a 'huckster' perhaps?) for the precinct. His comments about Huckabee sound much like what all of us have by now heard about him - he's real...he's authentic..you get the sense that he's sincere and honest...he's believable. But DJ had just got done telling me how Iowa caucus voters are notorious for being at the extremes of their respective parties. How about the popular notion that Huckabee is hardly a conservative, save for his pro-life stance, I asked. I got the idea that DJ had not been forced to defend the conservative bona fides of his preferred choice too often (this was three weeks ago), and he fell back on the authenticity and "straight-talk" talking points. Fair enough.

I asked him about the perception of Iowa by many U.S. citizens as a state swimming in Ethanol subsidies and billions of federal tax dollars for farmers, and the opposition to same by voters in both parties in the rest of the country. He replied that most man-on-the-street Iowans aren't big on the Ethanol industry because they claim that many of those dollars don't stay in the state. The benefits accrue to a small percentage of the people, and the pandering of politicians to regular Iowans on the issue of Ethanol is misplaced or unnecessary.

He had wondered why Romney had not caught fire with Iowans, given his credentials and his spending and time commitments in the state. Could he be coming off a little too scripted and rehearsed? Thompson, he said, had appeared "old and tired", and this was before the three week long Thompson push to the finish line. During our last conversation, just yesterday, DJ predicted the statewide order of finish among the Republicans as Huckabee first, Romney second, and McCain third. We'll see how keen his sense of statewide sentiment is.