Friday, October 31, 2008

History repeating, or Godwin's Law?

Via several sources, including three of John Ray's blogs, a German woman remembers:

A German Lady Remembers and Speaks

Lori Kalner

In Germany, when Hitler came to power, it was a time of terrible financial depression. Money was worth nothing.

In Germany people lost homes and jobs, just like in the American Depression in the 1930s, which we have read about in Thoene's Shiloh books.

In those days, in my homeland,

Adolph Hitler was elected to power by promising "Change."

It's not over yet

There's still this little formality of an election coming up.
Bill Whittle at National Review Online says, among other things:
  If we are mark'd to lose, we are enow
  To do our party loss; and if to live,
  The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
  God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
  Let he which hath no stomach to this fight,
  Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
  And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
  We would not vote in that man's company
  That fears his fellowship to vote with us.
  This day is call'd the eve of Elect-ian.
  He that votes this day, and comes safe home,
  Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,
  And rouse him at the name of Republican
  He that shall live this day, and see old age,
  Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
  And say 'To-morrow is the fourth of November'
  Then will he strip his sleeve and show his hands,
  And say 'With these I moved yon levers on election day.'
  Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
  But he'll remember, with advantages,
  What votes he did cast that day.  
  We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
  For he to-day that shares his vote with me
  Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
  This day shall gentle his condition;
  And gentlemen and lady pundits now-a-bed
  Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
  And hold their book deals cheap whilst any speaks
  That voted with us upon election day.

Access to government records

If Joe the Plumber were Jawad the Suspected Terrorist, civil liberties activists would stampede the halls of Congress on his behalf. Liberal columnists would hyperventilate over the outrageous invasions of his privacy by Ohio state and local employees. The ACLU would demand the Big Brother snoopers' heads. And Democrat leaders would convene immediate hearings and parade him around the Beltway as the new poster boy/victim of unlawful domestic spying.

But because peaceful American citizen Joe Wurzelbacher is an outspoken enemy of socialism, rather than an enemy of America, the defenders of privacy have responded to his plight with an impenetrable cone of silence.

Vote for McCain

I had a former neighbor tell me yesterday that she was unsure whether to vote for McCain because she was "sick of the war." Unfortunately, this isn't a choice, like whether to have pancakes or French toast. We are at a war with Islamofascism, they have not been decisively beaten (nor is it likely to happen in our lifetime), and we do not have the option of resigning from war with them. We can only fight them closer to home.

Marriage is a privilege, not a right

It seems to me, a large part of the confusion over same-sex marriage (SSM) rests on the belief that marriage is a right. It isn't. As I've mentioned elsewhere, marriage confers a great deal of power and privilege on the married couple -- power and privilege not available to unmarried couples.

But as long as marriage is characterized as a "right", it's very easy to argue that it should be extended to more and more of the population, even if they don't meet the traditional standards.

Eugene Volokh offers an essay on the slippery slope leading from hate crime, anti-discrimination, and civil union laws to SSM.

Now this tendency is often pooh-poohed when the initial legislative decision takes place — and of course that makes sense, because the decision's backers want to argue that the decision is quite narrow. Thus, for instance, consider:

Editorial, A Vote Against Hate, Louisville Courier-J., Feb. 3, 1994, at 6A, arguing that the claim that a hate crime law "would lead to acceptance of gay marriages" was "arrant nonsense."

Editorial, A Gay-Protection Forum, Boston Globe, Oct. 15, 1989, at A30: "Nor does passage of the bill [that bans sexual orientation discrimination in various commercial transactions] put Massachusetts on a 'slippery slope' toward [same-sex marriage or domestic benefit] rights."

Phil Pitchford, Council Members Wary of Partner Registry, Riverside Press-Enterprise (quoting Riverside Human Relations Commission member Kay Smith): "Those that truly have a problem with homosexuality will see [a domestic partnership proposal] as part of the 'slippery slope' [toward same-sex marriages] .... But, this legislation needs to be looked at on the face value of what it is, and it really does very little."

Yet consider how the California Supreme Court used the legislative enactment of these sorts of laws as part of its basis for deciding that the right to marry should be seen as encompassing same-sex marriage:

There can be no question but that, in recent decades, there has been a fundamental and dramatic transformation in this state's understanding and legal treatment of gay individuals and gay couples. California has repudiated past practices and policies that were based on a once common viewpoint that denigrated the general character and morals of gay individuals, and at one time even characterized homosexuality as a mental illness rather than as simply one of the numerous variables of our common and diverse humanity. This state's current policies and conduct regarding homosexuality recognize that gay individuals are entitled to the same legal rights and the same respect and dignity afforded all other individuals and are protected from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation, and, more specifically, recognize that gay individuals are fully capable of entering into the kind of loving and enduring committed relationships that may serve as the foundation of a family and of responsibly caring for and raising children.

Similar arguments were made by

the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and the Vermont Supreme Court, when they decided that their state constitutions should be read as recognizing a right to same-sex marriage (Massachusetts) and same-sex domestic partnership benefits (Vermont).

It seems to me, in light of this, any states that want to avoid having SSM enacted into law by their supreme courts might do well to avoid enacting any provision for domestic partnerships, and to repeal any such provisions that are already on the books. (A marital equivalent of "shoot, shovel, and shut up" as a way of dealing with the Endangered Species Act.) Decisions such as the ones that have mandated recognition of SSM may have the ironic effect of scuttling any domestic partnership laws that might be in the pipeline.

Gay genes?

Other evidence does indeed show that homosexuals tend to be "gender atypical" in areas beside their choice of sexual partner. Gay men often see themselves as being more feminine than straight men do, and, mutatis mutandis, the same is true for lesbians. To a lesser extent, homosexuals tend to have gender-atypical careers, hobbies and other interests.

Personality tests also show differences, with gay men ranking higher than straight men in standardised tests for agreeableness, expressiveness, conscientiousness, openness to experience and neuroticism. Lesbians tend to be more assertive and less neurotic than straight women.

There are also data which suggest that having a more feminine personality might indeed give a heterosexual male an advantage. Though women prefer traditionally macho men at the time in their menstrual cycles when they are most fertile, at other times they are more attracted to those with feminine traits such as tenderness, considerateness and kindness, as well as those with feminised faces. The explanation usually advanced for this is that macho men will provide the sperm needed to make sexy sons, but the more feminised phenotype makes a better carer and provider—in other words an ideal husband. And, despite all the adultery and cuckoldry that goes on in the world, it is the husband who fathers most of the children.

As far as masculinised women are concerned, less research has been done on the advantages that their appearance and behaviour might bring. What data there are, however, suggest they tend to have more sexual partners than highly feminised women do. That may, Dr Zietsch speculates, reflect increased competitiveness or a willingness to engage in unrestrained sexual relations (ie, to behave in a male-like way) that other women do not share.

Dr Zietsch and his colleagues tested their idea by doing a twin study of their own. They asked 4,904 individual twins, not all of them identical, to fill out anonymous questionnaires about their sexual orientation, their gender self-identification and the number of opposite-sex partners they had had during the course of their lives. (They used this figure as a proxy for reproductive fitness, since modern birth-control techniques mask actual reproductive fitness.)

The rules of attraction

Their first observation was that the number of sexual partners an individual claimed did correlate with that individual's "gender identity". The more feminine a man, the more masculine a woman, the higher the hit rate with the opposite sex—though women of all gender identities reported fewer partners than men did. (This paradox is normal in such studies. It probably reflects either male boasting or female bashfulness, but though it affects totals it does not seem to affect trends.)

When the relationships between twins were included in the statistical analysis (all genes in common for identical twins; a 50% overlap for the non-identical) the team was able to show that both atypical gender identity and its influence on the number of people of the opposite sex an individual claimed to have seduced were under a significant amount of genetic control. More directly, the study showed that heterosexuals with a homosexual twin tend to have more sexual partners than heterosexuals with a heterosexual twin.

According to the final crunching of the numbers, genes explain 27% of an individual's gender identity and 59% of the variation in the number of sexual partners that people have. The team also measured the genetic component of sexual orientation and came up with a figure of 47%—more or less the same, therefore, as that from previous studies. The idea that it is having fecund relatives that sustains homosexuality thus looks quite plausible.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Devil in Dover

That's the title of a new book by Lauri Lebo.

In *The Devil in Dover*, Lebo traces the compelling backstory of this pivotal case described by some as a perfect storm of religious intolerance, First Amendment violations, and an assault on American science education. In a community divided across unexpected lines, the so-called activist judge, a George Bush–appointed Republican, eventually condemned the school board's decision as one of "breathtaking inanity."

Lebo follows the story through its surprising twists, pondering whether this was a national war playing out in a small town or a small-town political battle playing out on the national stage. As a "local girl" with a fundamentalist Christian father, Lebo provides an account that is both fascinating and moving, as she thoughtfully probes one of America's most divisive cultural conflicts—and the responsibility journalists have when covering such a controversial story.

Palin's IQ

Well, not really about her IQ, but it is about her intelligence and character.
In the meantime, welcome, Wendy Button, a former speechwriter for Obama who has announced she'll be voting for McCain.  Zowie.  This woman can write.  On Palin:

Governor Palin and I don't agree on a lot of things, mostly social issues. But I have grown to appreciate the Governor. I was one of those initial skeptics and would laugh at the pictures. Not anymore. When someone takes on a corrupt political machine and a sitting governor, that is not done by someone with a low I.Q. or a moral core made of tissue paper. When someone fights her way to get scholarships and work her way through college even in a jagged line, that shows determination and humility you can't learn from reading Reinhold Niebuhr. When a mother brings her son with special needs onto the national stage with love, honesty, and pride, that gives hope to families like mine as my older brother lives with a mental disability. And when someone can sit on a stage during the Sarah Palin rap on Saturday Night Live, put her hands in the air and watch someone in a moose costume get shot—that's a sign of both humor and humanity.

Hat tip:  Todd Zywicki of the Volokh Conspiracy.
Hat tip: NRO corner.

It's a fine time to think of that.

Jennifer Rubin at Commentary Magazine's "contentions" blog discovers some second thoughts on the part of the Washington Post editorial board.
In a spasm of buyer's remorse, the Washington Post editors seemed troubled that, if their endorsee Barack Obama wins, we'll have one-party rule. Who knew? This disturbs the Post because the Democrats might not listen to the other side if they run everything. No, it's true! And that may even be a bad thing...
Their point:
...we don't believe either party has a monopoly on policy wisdom. We liked Mr. Bush's insistence on accountability in education, tempered by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's reminder that you couldn't fix urban schools without some money. We don't support the Democrats' plan to allow unionization without secret ballots, but we agree with them that National Labor Relations Board rules have tipped too far toward management. And so on. We like to think, in other words, that a process in which both parties play a role can sometimes lead to better outcomes and not always to dead ends.
Her addition:

It's worse than that, of course. It is not just that Republicans won't to get to shape legislation, it is that the Democrats will push through a raft of extreme and damaging legislation–abolition of secret ballots for union elections, protectionist legislation, and the Freedom of Choice Act (invalidating any restriction on abortion including limits on public funding).

But that's the rub. An Obama presidency will have a Democratic Congressional majority to push it to its logical and ideological extreme on every issue. The only issue will be how large a majority. You really can't both decry the dangers of undivided government and support Obama's candidacy. Well, you can, I suppose. But people will figure out quite easily that you must not really be too serious about the former.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It's not nice being green

Brendan O'Neill comes clean about his secret greenness.
Earlier this year, I wrote an eco-satirical column under the pseudonym Ethan Greenhart, in which I (or rather, Ethan) called upon Greens everywhere to pray for an economic downturn. The column argued that nothing would benefit our human-ravaged planet more than a "big, beautiful, stock-crashing, Wall Streetburning, consumer-baiting, home-evicting, bank-busting recession."
We need something to stop humans "raping the planet," I said, tongue pressed ferociously against my cheek, and "the recession might just be the chemical castration for the job." A recession could be the "antibody Gaia so desperately needs to deal with her human itch," since it would force people to buy less and live more humbly.
The column said recession would be a just punishment for the "lunatics" of humankind, before the arrival of the "final big disease" — that glorious moment when a rampant sickness will "reduce the human population to sustainable levels" and "end industrialism . . . just as the Plague contributed to the demise of feudalism."
I was going too far, right? Yes, there are super-aloof Gaia worshippers who, caring little for the living standards of their fellow men, argue that a recession would be a good thing – and, sure, they deserve a few satirical darts tossed their way. But surely no right-minded Green (assuming such a thing exists) would celebrate the depletion of mankind by a "preferably painless but speedily contagious disease"?
You'd be amazed.
"No matter how cynical I get, I can't keep up."  -- Darkovan proverb

Sarah Palin's IQ

She has one.  This from Elaine Lafferty, former editor of Ms. Magazine:
It's difficult not to froth when one reads, as I did again and again this week, doubts about Sarah Palin's "intelligence," coming especially from women such as PBS's Bonnie Erbe, who, as near as I recall, has not herself heretofore been burdened with the Susan Sontag of Journalism moniker. As Fred Barnes—God help me, I'm agreeing with Fred Barnes—suggests in the Weekly Standard, these high toned and authoritative dismissals come from people who have never met or spoken with Sarah Palin. Those who know her, love her or hate her, offer no such criticism. They know what I know, and I learned it from spending just a little time traveling on the cramped campaign plane this week: Sarah Palin is very smart.
Now by "smart," I don't refer to a person who is wily or calculating or nimble in the way of certain talented athletes who we admire but suspect don't really have serious brains in their skulls. I mean, instead, a mind that is thoughtful, curious, with a discernable pattern of associative thinking and insight. Palin asks questions, and probes linkages and logic that bring to mind a quirky law professor I once had. Palin is more than a "quick study"; I'd heard rumors around the campaign of her photographic memory and, frankly, I watched it in action. She sees. She processes. She questions, and only then, she acts. What is often called her "confidence" is actually a rarity in national politics: I saw a woman who knows exactly who she is.

About that recession...

This from Randall Hoven at The American Thinker:
The message blasted at us day after day by the Obama campaign and its public relations machine, otherwise known as mainstream media, is that we are in a recession, we have been for essentially the last eight years, and the US is unique in this because of the failed policies of George W. Bush.
We are not in recession.  The economy of the last eight years has been fine.  And we are doing better than our European know-it-alls who favor an Obama victory.  At least that's what the most recent economic data show.
A standard definition of recession is two consecutive quarters of negative real growth.  However, the last two quarters of data, January through June, were both positive and in fact the most recent quarter was fairly strong at +2.8%.  The preliminary estimate of GDP for the third quarter (July through September) is scheduled to come out this Thursday, October 30.  So far, we have had zero consecutive quarters of negative growth.  If Thursday's number indicates negative growth, that will still be only one quarter in a row.
And how does this compare with our better, wiser European counterparts?  Unlike the US, which showed positive growth of 2.8% in the second quarter of 2008, Europe's GDP declined 0.2% .  In particular, France's GDP declined 0.3%  and Germany's declined 0.5% .
Now tell me, if George W. Bush is the problem, why has Europe's economy declined while the US's hasn't?  Is Europe leading the world in laissez-faire economics and deregulation -- is that the problem?
If there was a failure to regulate hedge funds, Credit Deposit Swaps, etc., then that failure was worldwide and not something dreamed up by George W. Bush.  If you haven't noticed, banks are failing around the globe, virtually every stock market around the globe is in decline (usually more than US markets), and Iceland is essentially bankrupt.
Iceland.  Tell me again how George Bush destroyed Iceland's economy.
It is possible that this Thursday's real GDP growth estimate for the third quarter will be positive.  What will everyone say then?  If it is, that will mean a full year of recession talk coming from the media with absolutely zero real data to back it up.  Even if the number indicates negative growth, it would not necessarily mean recession, since that would be only one quarter so far.  And if we are in recession, then it started very recently, and after the recession in Europe.
Here's a tip: stop imitating Europe.  A government should not need to spend 40% of a country's GDP, for example.
Frankly, I'm surprised our economy has done as well as it has for as long as it has.  Virtually everything the government has done to "help", hurt.  Stock markets are down about 30% since the bailout was passed, for example.
Or is it since an Obama victory looks likely?

Proposition 8

Laer at Cheat-Seeking Missiles looks at how a defeat for Proposition 8 could lead to an Islamist take-over in California.

You know the old saying, "Gays and Islamofascists don't mix."  Funny, yes, but there really is a nexus:  If California's Prop 8 fails and gay marriage remains the law of the land here, look for the Golden State to become the address of choice for America's Islamofascist population.


Muslims, and particularly Islamists, have a way of using local laws - laws they dislike for not being Sharia - to their advantage.  For example, Mark Steyn writes about some welfare law wrangling that's gone on in the UK:

You can't (for the moment) marry multiple wives within the United Kingdom, but if you contract a polygamous marriage in a jurisdiction where polygamy is legal, such as certain, ahem, Muslim countries, your better halves (or better eighths?) are now recognized as eligible for British welfare payments. Thus, the concept of "each additional spouse" has been accepted both de facto and de jure.


Charles Krauthammer explained the logic in a 2006 WaPo column, Pandora and Polygamy:

In an essay 10 years ago, I pointed out that it is utterly logical for polygamy rights to follow gay rights. After all, if traditional marriage is defined as the union of (1) two people of (2) opposite gender, and if, as advocates of gay marriage insist, the gender requirement is nothing but prejudice, exclusion and an arbitrary denial of one's autonomous choices in love, then the first requirement — the number restriction (two and only two) — is a similarly arbitrary, discriminatory and indefensible denial of individual choice.

This line of argument makes gay activists furious. I can understand why they do not want to be in the same room as polygamists. But I'm not the one who put them there. Their argument does.

He concludes the piece with what I forsee as the rallying cry of CAIR as it begins to hurl petrodollars by the barrel at California legislators in the days that would follow the rejection of Prop 8:

[D]on't tell me that we can make one radical change in the one-man, one-woman rule and not be open to the claim of others that their reformation be given equal respect.

Todd Zywicki, writing at Volokh, made a similar if more inscrutable point:

Here's my thought–the definition of marriage as one man and one woman seems somewhat arbitrary, which is why it is difficult to justify. The primary justification I can see is a Hayekian one of prudential deference to tradition unless there is an extremely strong case for rejecting it. I would distinguish this from what I would understand as a Burkean objection, which I would read as tradition being prescriptive, rather than prudential. But whether this is an accurate distinction is probably a debate for a different day.

So the question is, if you get rid of the "man-woman" prong as largely arbitrary, why does this not lead to getting rid of the "one-one" prong as well? It seems like the new line is just as arbitrary as the old one.

Indeed.  And California is just the place for this to happen.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

How to increase voter turnout

Slate Magazine has a piece on the results of some empirical studies in politics. One technique that seems very effective is sending text messages to cell phones. 

On the surface, these texts don't seem that different from robo-calls—they're both automated messages and both easy to ignore. But for reasons that aren't completely understood, text messaging is different: We pay attention to short messages that pop up on our phones.

These conclusions arise out of work by Donald Green and Alan Gerber, two political scientists at Yale whose book, Get Out the Vote: How To Increase Voter Turnout, is considered the bible of voter mobilization efforts. Green and Gerber are the product of a wave of empiricism that has washed over political science during the past decade. Rather than merely theorizing about how campaigns might get people to vote, Green, Gerber, and their colleagues favor randomized field experiments to test how different techniques work during real elections.


These findings create an obvious difficulty for campaigns: It's expensive and time-consuming to run the kind of personal mobilization efforts that science shows work best. Green and Gerber estimate that a door-canvassing operation costs $16 per hour, with six voters contacted each hour; if you convince one of every 14 voters you canvass, you're paying $29 for each new voter. A volunteer phone bank operation will run you even more—$38 per acquired voter. This is the wondrous thing about text-messaging: Studies show that text-based get-out-the-vote appeals win one voter for every 25 people contacted. That's nearly as effective as door-canvassing, but it's much, much cheaper. Text messages cost about 6 cents per contact—only $1.50 per new voter.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Neat cookbook!

The authors of this book attempt to provide a unified theory of flavor as a guide to preparing recipes and whole menus. I found it a neat book.

While we're at it, here are some other books I strongly recommend.

"Rubber Hose Cryptanalysis"

Cryptographers use this term to refer to breaking a cipher by beating the key out of someone who knows it.  Apparently, despite assurances that "torture doesn't work", Rubber Hose Cryptography (RHK)does work. 
According to comments allegedly made by Howard Cox, a US Department of Justice official in a closed-door meeting last week, after being frustrated with the disk encryption employed by Yastremskiy, Turkish law enforcement may have resorted to physical violence to force the password out of the Ukrainian suspect.

Mr Cox's revelation came in the context of a joke made during his speech. While the exact words were not recorded, multiple sources have verified that Cox quipped about leaving a stubborn suspect alone with Turkish police for a week as a way to get them to voluntarily reveal their password. The specifics of the interrogation techniques were not revealed, but all four people I spoke to stated that it was clear that physical coercion was the implied method.

Well, since professional interrogators assure one and all that "torture doesn't work", and RHK apparently does work, maybe it's not torture.

Political speeches

Here's an interesting exercise:
According to IQ tests, we're getting smarter.  But when I was reading Warren Harding's "Return to Normalcy" speech, it seemed way over the heads of a modern audience.  The anomaly inspired me to plug Harding's words into an online grade level applet.
The result: The average estimated grade level required to understand Harding's speech was 16.06 years.
By way of comparison, Obama's 2008 acceptance speech had an average estimated grade level of 9.64 years - and McCain's was 7.72!
If you adjust for the fact that average education levels are much higher in 2008 than they were 1920, these numbers are just weird.  Harding was talking at least a standard deviation over the head of his median voter.  Obama and McCain are talking at least a standard deviation below the head of theirs.
If I didn't know better, I'd assume that there's been a drastic expansion of the franchise since 1920.  It looks like we've gone from a world where only Harvard grads could vote, to one where all you need is passing grades in kindergarten.

Is Marriage a Fundamental Liberty?

According to Dafydd at Big Lizards, no.
I don't care what the Supreme Court (U.S. or California) says: Any claim that marriage is a fundamental right or liberty contradicts itself. For the most obvious examples, if it were a fundamental right, then how could it be illegal for a brother to wed his sister? Shouldn't "strict scrutiny" apply to laws against consanguineous marriage, polygamy, polyandry, and even marriage with minors? After all, even kids have freedom of speech under some circumstances. Yet no court has ever even hinted at any such ruling. Any court that has ruled marriage a fundamental liberty is confused, contradictory, biased, bewitched, bothered, and bewildered.

Now we have Proposition 8 to vote upon a week from Tuesday. By a strange twist of fate, Proposition 8 reads: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." If it passes, then the only option available to judicial activists will be -- to declare the California constitution unconstitutional under the California constitution -- a circumlocution that would be unprecedented and breathtaking in its absurdity.

If it fails, then we may as well conclude that the people have consented to same-sex marriage. I will think it a wretched decision; but the people have the right to make wretched mistakes.

I will accept the decision of the voters. Will the Left? Somehow, I doubt they will extend us that courtesy... and if they did, it would be unique in the annals of their own history. If Proposition 8 passes -- it currently leads in the polls -- then look for a jaw-dropping series of legal maneuvers to once again silence the tongues of the people, in preference to the vision of the anointed.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Projection from the Left

The Left, famous for bringing us the "BusHitler" sign, may be projecting its own inclinations onto the leaders on the right.  I've seen this linked elsewhere, but I'll link to Clayton Craymer on this go-round.
The progressives spent a lot of time comparing Bush to Hitler over the last few years--and now, they are comparing McCain to Bush. So what would you call a group that wanted to engage in the murder of millions of people? Confederate Yankee found a clip from a 1982 documentary in which an FBI informant discusses his involvement with William Ayers' organization, Weather Underground (both the text and the video are over there):
I asked, "well what is going to happen to those people we can't reeducate, that are diehard capitalists?" and the reply was that they'd have to be eliminated.

And when I pursued this further, they estimated they would have to eliminate 25 million people in these reeducation centers.

And when I say "eliminate," I mean "kill."

Twenty-five million people.

I want you to imagine sitting in a room with 25 people, most of which have graduate degrees, from Columbia and other well-known educational centers, and hear them figuring out the logistics for the elimination of 25 million people.

And they were dead serious.
Zombietime (one of my favorite reporters from Progressive Pervert Central, San Francisco) has dug up copies of Prairie Fire, written by Ayers and Dohrn and others while they were underground, and scanned in pages from it. Read it, and you will see that there is nothing implausible about the idea that these lunatics were prepared to kill 25 million Americans who couldn't be "re-educated."

Oil Tax

An idea that keeps coming up.  Now David Frum proposes it.
Politicians like to talk of reaching energy independence by inventing some sci-fi substitute for the internal combustion engine. Much more likely, however, is that the world will move off oil gradually, by investing in step-by-step improvements in automobile efficiency: hybrid cars first, more futuristic developments later. There is only one stimulus that can drive this kind of change: price. Today's lower prices, welcome though they are, threaten to halt the progress away from oil.

The answer is to prevent the cost of oil to the consumer from declining any further. Let consumers pocket and benefit from the decline to US$65. Then impose a stand-by excise tax on any further declines. If oil goes to US$64, the government taxes $1. If the decline continues to $63, $2. And so on.

Consumers will continue to substitute away from oil. Manufacturers will be induced to continue investing in efficiency. Homebuilders will continue to shift to smaller, more centrally located development. Revenues to the governments of producing nations will be squeezed. Revenues to the governments of consuming nations will rise — and those governments should use the new tax to cut other taxes, especially taxes on work, saving and investment. I'd nominate the corporate income tax as the first tax to cut — and ideally eliminate.

FauxBama Donations

Apparently Obama's campaign site is still accepting donations from fake names and fake addresses.

As readers may recall, a couple of days ago it became clear that the Obama website had intentionally disabled all the basic credit-card-processing security checks and thereby enabled multiple contributions from donors with fake names. The excuse offered in the New York Times story was that, ah, yes, the Obama gang may appear to accept contributions from "Mr Fake Donor" of "23 Fraudulent Lane", but all those phony baloney contributions are picked up by their rigorous offline checking procedures. As many Obama supporters wrote to point out, simply because you get a message saying "Thank you for contributing to the Obama landslide, Mr S Hussein of 47 Spider-Hole Gardens (basement flat), Tikrit!" is no reason to believe any real money is actually leaving real accounts.

The gentleman who started the ball rolling made four donations under the names "John Galt", "Saddam Hussein", "Osama bin Laden", and "William Ayers", all using the same credit card number. He wrote this morning to say that all four donations have been charged to his card and the money has now left his account. Again, it's worth pointing out: in order to enable the most basic card fraud of all - multiple names using a single credit card number - the Obama campaign had to manually disable all the default security checks provided by their merchant processor.

The reader adds:

Last night on Sheppard Smith's 3pm-ET show this issue was brought up briefly and they cited the Obama campaign falsely claiming that this sort of thing happens at the McCain site and that they catch these errors later in the processing. Well, it took three days to process my donations and they all skated through their rigorous screening.

And it doesn't happen at the McCain site. This reader tried donating under "John Galt" and "Saddam Hussein" to the McCain campaign and they rejected it.

This should be Journalism 101. I'm not the guy who made Obama's fundraising a story. The media did that when they ran hundreds of puff pieces marveling at his record-breaking cash haul, and in particular the gazillions of small donors. Isn't the fact that his website has chosen to disable basic fraud protection procedures at the very least a legitimate addendum to those stories?

Oh, sorry, I was waiting for the chirping crickets. But evidently Mr C Cricket is over at Obama Central charging 20 bucks to his MasterChirp.

When anything can be shown on video

Jonathan Wilde at The Distributed Network discusses the increasingly available technology that can be used to show anyone doing anything you can imagine. Examples include a McCain/Obama dance-off and Nike's "what if" ad series.  People have valid concerns about universal surveillance.  Pretty soon, everyone will be on camera every moment they spend outside their home or any other private space.
One point that is raised is that in conjunction with the ability to remake video reality to suit your imagination is:
As Reason magazine showed the true power of ubiquitous surveillance technology on its June cover, the "What if?" commercial holds special significance within the larger context of the societal ramifications of bleeding-edge special effects technology. As the June issue focused on the benefits rather than drawbacks that come with the 'databasification' of society, the "What if?" commercial shows another reason why the future will not be a dystopian world of panopticon horrors. As the power of special effects technology grows, the fraction of verifiable information surveillance technology can produce falls.
"The camera doesn't lie" is no longer a truism.  "Photoshop" is now a verb, and "fauxtography" has made an appearance in newspapers.
One can imagine a hypothetical court trial in which the defendant "caught on tape" provides his own videotape in which the person seen committing the crime is none other than the judge himself. Or even John Kerry. When individuals take full advantage of the tools provided by cutting edge technology, an honest legal system would gain very little from simple video footage. Just as today, the usual forms of evidence will be necessary to make a conviction. The existence of easily falsifiable video evidence makes eyewitness accounts, fingerprints, fiber traces, entry and exit points, tracks, plausibility, and a logical explanatory chain of events all the more important. How can the evidence incriminating you hold up in an equitable court if it can be easily created on Photoshop or a future Pixar for Windows? When the billions of prying eyes produce evidence of guilt, who is going to believe it if just as convincing phony evidence can be created by hand?

Point of No Return

Mark Steyn, writing at NRO, reminds us that we're liable to get what we vote for.
I agree with Thomas Sowell that an Obama-Pelosi supermajority will mark what he calls "a point of no return". It would not be, as some naysayers scoff, "Jimmy Carter's second term", but something far more transformative. The new president would front the fourth great wave of liberal annexation — the first being FDR's New Deal, the second LBJ's Great Society, and the third the incremental but remorseless cultural advance when Reagan conservatives began winning victories at the ballot box and liberals turned their attention to the other levers of the society, from grade school up. The terrorist educator William Ayers, Obama's patron in Chicago, is an exemplar of the last model: forty years ago, he was in favor of blowing up public buildings; then he figured out it was easier to get inside and undermine them from within.

All three liberal waves have transformed American expectations of the state. The spirit of the age is: Ask not what your country can do for you, demand it. Why can't the government sort out my health care? Why can't they pick up my mortgage?

In his first inaugural address, Calvin Coolidge said: "I favor the policy of economy, not because I wish to save money, but because I wish to save people." That's true in a more profound sense than he could have foreseen. In Europe, lavish social-democratic government has transformed citizens into eternal wards of the nanny state: the bureaucracy's assumption of every adult responsibility has severed Continentals from the most basic survival impulse, to the point where unaffordable entitlements on shriveled birth rates have put a question mark over some of the oldest nation states on earth. A vote for an Obama-Pelosi-Barney Frank-ACORN supermajority is a vote for a Europeanized domestic policy that is, as the eco-types like to say, "unsustainable".

More to the point, the only reason why Belgium has gotten away with being Belgium and Sweden Sweden and Germany Germany this long is because America's America. The soft comfortable cocoon in which western Europe has dozed this last half-century is girded by cold hard American power. What happens when the last serious western nation votes for the same soothing beguiling siren song as its enervated allies?

Peggy Noonan thinks a President Obama will be like the dog who chases the car and finally catches it: Now what? I think Obama will be content to be King Barack the Benign, Spreader of Wealth and Healer of Planets. His rise is, in many ways, testament to the persistence of the monarchical urge even in a two-century old republic. So the "Now what?" questions will be answered by others, beginning with the liberal supermajority in Congress. And as he has done all his life he will take the path of least resistance. An Obama Administration will pitch America toward EU domestic policy and UN foreign policy. Thomas Sowell is right: It would be a "point of no return", the most explicit repudiation of the animating principles of America. For a vigilant republic of limited government and self-reliant citizens, it would be a Declaration of Dependence.

If a majority of Americans want that, we holdouts must respect their choice. But, if you don't want it, vote accordingly.

OSC on Journalists

Here's the link to OSC's piece on journalism today:

If you at our local daily newspaper continue to let Americans believe --and vote as if -- President Bush and the Republicans caused the crisis, then you are joining in that lie.

If you do not tell the truth about the Democrats -- including Barack Obama -- and do so with the same energy you would use if the miscreants were Republicans -- then you are not journalists by any standard.

You're just the public relations machine of the Democratic Party, and it's time you were all fired and real journalists brought in, so that we can actually have a daily newspaper in our city.

Voter Fraud at the Spectator

The American Spectator has a piece on voter fraud.
The problem of voter fraud today is thoroughly revealed in a recent book by Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund, Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy (Encounter Books). One of the best features of that book is that it reveals what really happened in Florida in 2000: The Democrats tried to steal the election for Gore, but failed.
After all the shouting was over, a consortium of major news organizations conducted their own thorough Florida recount. Despite well-developed Democrat mythology, supported by an idiotically irresponsible HBO movie on the controversy, the New York Times reported the results as follows: "A comprehensive review of the uncounted Florida ballots from last year's presidential election reveals that George W. Bush would have won even if the U.S. Supreme Court had allowed the statewide manual recount of the votes that the Florida Supreme Court had ordered to go forward."

But Fund shows that only widespread Democrat vote fraud made the election as close as it was. The highly liberal Palm Beach Post conducted an investigation concluding that the county had illegally allowed 5,600 convicted felons to vote. Felons, of course, vote overwhelmingly for Democrats, apparently seeing them as soul mates. By contrast, Democrat lawyers won a motion to disqualify 1,420 military ballots because they didn't have a foreign postmark (which most likely resulted because the ballots were sent back through the U.S. military rather than foreign post offices). Those serving in the U.S. armed forces overwhelmingly vote Republican.  


Today, these same vote fraud schemes are being conducted nationwide under the auspices of the far left extremist group ACORN, the Left's equivalent of the John Birch Society. ACORN is a rogue organization growing out of the 1960s that openly flouts the law as a matter of strategic policy, engaging in physical intimidation, trespass, threatening behavior, even outright violence. It has taken over meetings, throwing out speakers, invaded and occupied businesses, demanding payoffs, and seized unoccupied homes and apartments, forcibly claiming the right to stay.

These same attitudes have been carried over to its so-called voter projects, where ACORN has been caught breaking the law all over the country for years now. ACORN has hired more than 13,000 workers this year to register new voters in 21 states, producing 1.3 million new registrations nationwide. ACORN workers have registered voters in the name of Fruto Boy Crispa, Stormi Bays, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and the starting lineup of the Dallas Cowboys, in Nevada. In Ohio, where ACORN has conducted a massive voter registration drive this year, 200,000 new registrations have been found with mismatches with state records. Batches of ACORN registration applications are often submitted in the same handwriting, including the supposed voter signatures. A voter registration form ACORN submitted in Connecticut was in the name of a 7-year-old girl. In other places, ACORN has submitted illegal registrations for felons, or even prison inmates, and in the names of pets.

Rejecting valid military votes, counting out-of-state votes

From the OpenMarket blog:

Virginia Officials Illegally Discard Military Votes, Allow Out-of-State Votes

Posted by Hans Bader

In Virginia's liberal Fairfax County, officials are illegally discarding absentee ballots cast by members of the military based on a technical requirement that is preempted by federal law.  Meanwhile, people who live out-of-state are being allowed to vote (some people have boasted of being registered to vote, and voting, both in Virginia and another state) in Virginia elections, contrary to state law, based on instructions from liberal state voting officials and false claims by liberal advocacy groups.

The Washington Examiner reports on October 24 that "Fairfax County elections officials are rejecting about 200 overseas ballots, many of them from members of the military, saying the voters failed to observe a minor technicality in filling out their absentee forms."  As retiring Congressman Tom Davis notes, that technicality "violates federal law" through its "disparate treatment of overseas voters." 

"The State Board of Elections last week instructed county officials to adhere to the letter of the [state] law," even though it is preempted by contrary federal law.  Officials at the State Board of elections are appointed by liberal Governor Tim Kaine.

Meanwhile, that same Board of Elections ordered Norfolk registrar Elisa J. Long to ignore state law by allowing college students not domiciled in Virginia to register and vote in Virginia elections.

The military votes in Fairfax County are being discarded by long-time Democratic operative Rokey Suleman, who became the Fairfax County registrar (a supposedly non-partisan position) after long being "active in Ohio Democratic politics."   Suleman earlier sent staffers into the Fairfax County jail to register criminals to vote.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Now he's "the J Word"

When a writer for a newspaper is ashamed to be called a "journalist"...  (Hat tip: LGF)
The traditional media is playing a very, very dangerous game.  With its readers, with the Constitution, and with its own fate.

The sheer bias in the print and television coverage of this election campaign is not just bewildering, but appalling.  And over the last few months I've found myself slowly moving from shaking my head at the obvious one-sided reporting, to actually shouting at the screen of my television and my laptop computer.

But worst of all, for the last couple weeks, I've begun — for the first time in my adult life — to be embarrassed to admit what I do for a living.  A few days ago, when asked by a new acquaintance what I did for a living, I replied that I was "a writer", because I couldn't bring myself to admit to a stranger that I'm a journalist.


For many years, spotting bias in reporting was a little parlor game of mine, watching TV news or reading a newspaper article and spotting how the reporter had inserted, often unconsciously, his or her own preconceptions.  But I always wrote it off as bad judgment, and lack of professionalism, rather than bad faith and conscious advocacy. ....

what really shattered my faith - and I know the day and place where it happened - was the War in Lebanon three summers ago.  The hotel I was staying at in Windhoek, Namibia only carried CNN, a network I'd already learned to approach with skepticism.  But this was CNN International, which is even worse.  I sat there, first with my jaw hanging down, then actually shouting at the TV, as one field reporter after another reported the carnage of the Israeli attacks on Beirut, with almost no corresponding coverage of the Hezbollah missiles raining down on northern Israel.   The reporting was so utterly and shamelessly biased that I sat there for hours watching, assuming that eventually CNNi would get around to telling the rest of the story . . .but it never happened.

But nothing, nothing I've seen has matched the media bias on display in the current Presidential campaign.  Republicans are justifiably foaming at the mouth over the sheer one-sidedness of the press coverage of the two candidates and their running mates.  But in the last few days, even Democrats, who have been gloating over the pass - no, make that shameless support - they've gotten from the press, are starting to get uncomfortable as they realize that no one wins in the long run when we don't have a free and fair press.  I was one of the first people in the traditional media to call for the firing of Dan Rather - not because of his phony story, but because he refused to admit his mistake - but, bless him, even Gunga Dan thinks the media is one-sided in this election.

Now, don't get me wrong.  I'm not one of those people who think the media has been too hard on, say, Gov. Palin, by rushing reportorial SWAT teams to Alaska to rifle through her garbage.  This is the Big Leagues, and if she wants to suit up and take the field, then Gov. Palin better be ready to play.  The few instances where I think the press has gone too far - such as the Times reporter talking to Cindy McCain's daughter's MySpace friends - can easily be solved with a few newsroom smackdowns and temporary repostings to the Omaha Bureau.

No, what I object to (and I think most other Americans do as well) is the lack of equivalent hardball coverage of the other side - or worse, actively serving as attack dogs for Senators Obama and Biden.  If the current polls are correct, we are about to elect as President of the United States a man who is essentially a cipher, who has left almost no paper trail, seems to have few friends (that at least will talk) and has entire years missing out of his biography.  That isn't Sen. Obama's fault:  his job is to put his best face forward.  No, it is the traditional media's fault, for it alone (unlike the alternative media) has had the resources to cover this story properly, and has systematically refused to do so.

Nanotech paper

Instapundit reports on a development that may result in super strong paper -- stronger than steel.
My only thought right now is, this will require a major rewrite of the rules for "Rock, Paper, Scissors."



1980 2006
Highest Federal Income Tax Rate 70% 35%
Share of Taxes Paid by Top 5% 37% 60%
Share of Taxes Paid by Top 25% 73% 86%
Share of Taxes Paid by Bottom 50% 7% 3%
The question that I have for Obama and the Democrats is what percentage of taxes should the top five percent pay?

Worrying about Obama

Jennifer Rubin and Thomas Sowell find plenty to worry about.

Thomas Sowell, interviewed by Peter Robinson, walks us through the world view and policy stances of Barack Obama. He provides perhaps the best summation to date:

There is such a thing as a point of no return," he says. If Obama wins the White House and Democrats expand their majorities in the House and Senate, they will intervene in the economy and redistribute wealth. Yet their economic policies "will pale by comparison to what they will do in permitting countries to acquire nuclear weapons and turn them over to terrorists. Once that happens, we're at the point of no return. The next generation will live under that threat as far out as the eye can see. . .This man [Obama] really does believe that he can change the world. And people like that are infinitely more dangerous than mere crooked politicians."

And that really is the nub of it. It is not just the radical substantive ways in which Obama may re-orient domestic and national security policy; it is that as an ideological extremist, Obama's methods may well be equally extreme.

That is why the gushing over Obama's "temperament" is so misplaced. If his apologists would care to look, his "thugocracy" is already on full display. When you label your opponents "racist," set up Truth Squads, invoke the Justice Department to investigate the opposition's campaign rhetoric, and associate with voting fraud racketeers you are telling voters, "Anything goes." You are saying, "Our mission is so grand that any means are justified." This is not the stuff of petty corruption, but of systematic contempt for legal restraint and for political criticism.

So for those who are uneasy about Barack Obama, but think a term or two won't be any big deal, they might think again. Just as Sowell warns, once Iran has nuclear capability, there's no turning back. Once Russia has gobbled up another former Soviet state or two, good luck getting them out. The record of rolling back new accretions to government is not promising. But most importantly, once opposition is cowed and criminalized, there's little to constrain the state. Perhaps the slogan for Republicans in 2012 will be "It's the freedom, stupid."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Who're you Colin islamophobic?

This sums it up nicely:

Today, two Reuters stories on Muslims and the election cite Powell's following comments:

Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer is no, that's not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion 'He (Obama) is a Muslim and might be associated with terrorists.' This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

How right he is. In America, we shouldn't be protecting bigots and paranoids in high places. If Colin Powell is aware of such sentiments lurking in the halls of power, he owes it to the country that this be exposed. Instead, he names no one, casts general aspersions on the GOP, and punishes a man he readily admits "is as non-discriminatory as anyone I know."

The knock against Powell on the Left is that, during the build-up to the Iraq War, he went against his better judgment and left out details he knew would poke holes in the WMD case against Saddam. And as Bret Stephens recently pointed out, during the Valerie Plame affair, Powell "knew all along that the original leaker was his own deputy, Richard Armitage, a fact the two of them didn't publicly reveal for years." Now, he's withholding the names of dishonest or malicious politicians in whom the public has placed their trust, while, once again, going along with popular sentiment. Three makes a trend.

If Colin Powell is really interested in cleaning up the nastiness in his own party, it's not too late for him to name names. But if he's merely looking to disown an unpopular war, he'll stick with his self-righteous silence.

So let's hear it.  Name names, get specific, "tell the truth and shame the devil".  (OMG! It's been years since I've actually heard that line, never mind used it!)

Fwd: Tony Ciccarone -- do the math!

Laer at Cheat-Seeking Missiles writes:

I don't know who Tony Ciccarone is, but I like his alternative bailout plan.  Too bad no one listened.

The Tony Ciccarone bailout Plan

I'm against the $85,000,000,000.00 bailout of AIG.

Instead, I'm in favor of giving $85,000,000,000 to America in a We Deserve It Dividend.

To make the math simple, let's assume there are 200,000,000 bonafide U.S. Citizens 18+.

Our population is about 301,000,000 +/- counting every man, woman and child. So 200,000,000 might be a fair stab at adults 18 and up..

So divide 200 million adults 18+ into $85 billon that equals $425,000.00.

My plan is to give $425,000 to every person 18+ as a We Deserve It Dividend.


You (and Tony) are off by a factor of $1000.  Each person gets $425.

It's easy to lose track when doing math on numbers with lots and lots of zeros.  Let's use scientific notation.

$85,000,000,000 is 85 * 10^9 or 85e9

(The "^" means "raised to the power of", or "multiplied by itself that number of times."  So 10 to the ninth power means ten times itself nine times -- one billion. Another way to think of it is, "how many zeros after the decimal point".)

200,000,000 is 200 * 10^6 or 2 * 10^8 (2e8)

Dividing 200 million into 85 billion gives us 85e9 ÷ 2e8. 

Take the part before "e":  85÷2 = 42.5

The numbers after the "e" are exponents.  When dividing exponents, you subtract the numbers.

[anything]e9 ÷ [anything]e8 = [something]e1. 

In this case, [something] is 42.5.  42.5e1 is the same as 42.5 * 10^1; 10^1 = 10.

42.5 * 10 = 425.

Less than the "stimulus check" earlier this year.

AVS Credit Checks

Apparently the Obama Campaign has noticed.
NR reader "Borat Oblama" writes:
I tried to donate $5 in the name of "Borat Oblama" from "Madeuptown, USA", using a legit credit card number, and got a screen saying the card didn't match the address.
Apparently they've been shamed into reinstating the security checks.
Pity we didn't figure this out in August. That 600 mil he's got in the bank might be a lot lighter. Meanwhile, a gentleman from a credit card processing company elucidates:
So let's lay out a hypothetical situation. You're in a business that takes payments. You expect some level of outright credit card fraud. Those transactions will be charged back, and you will owe fees on them, unless you use AVS [Address Verification Service] to prevent them. You also have a substantial number of customers who for whatever reason wish to remain anonymous. Your anonymous customers won't do business with you if you use AVS, but you're confident that this set of customers will not dispute their charges. The calculus is simple. If the revenues you expect from anonymous customers exceeds the fees you expect to pay from cardholder disputes leading to chargebacks, then the smart business decision is to turn off AVS.
Now if it's against the law for customers to do business with you anonymously, then facilitating anonymous transactions goes beyond just being a business decision. But if the consequences of looking the other way are no more than having to refund the money several months down the road, then maybe you're happy to take the money as an interest free loan in the meantime.
And as near as I can tell, the "interest free loan" option is all we can expect to see in the way of enforcement.


Here's a report on an unexpected source of x-rays -- Scotch tape!
Just two weeks after a Nobel Prize highlighted theoretical work on subatomic particles, physicists are announcing a startling discovery about a much more familiar form of matter: Scotch tape.

It turns out that if you peel the popular adhesive tape off its roll in a vacuum chamber, it emits X-rays. The researchers even made an X-ray image of one of their fingers.


In the new work, a machine peeled ordinary Scotch tape off a roll in a vacuum chamber at about 1.2 inches per second.

Rapid pulses of X-rays, each about a billionth of a second long, emerged from very close to where the tape was coming off the roll.

That's where electrons jumped from the roll to the sticky underside of the tape that was being pulled away, a journey of about two-thousandths of an inch, Escobar said.

When those electrons struck the sticky side they slowed down, and that slowing made them emit X-rays.

So is this a health hazard for unsuspecting tape-peelers?

Escobar noted that no X-rays are produced in the presence of air. You need to work in a vacuum — not exactly an everyday situation.

"If you're going to peel tape in a vacuum, you should be extra careful," he said. But "I will continue to use Scotch tape during my daily life, and I think it's safe to do it in your office. No guarantees."

On reflection, it's not too unexpected.  Standard x-ray tubes work by slamming electrons into an anode.  This causes them to slow down very abruptly, and this deceleration converts some of their energy to x-rays.  (Any time you accelerate charged particles, you get electromagnetic radiation, and deceleration is only acceleration in the direction opposite the direction you're going.)

What's unexpected is that the amount of deceleration and the quantity of electrons would be enough to yield a significant amount of x-rays. X-ray tubes use anodes made of tungsten, to provide the maximum decelerating force. Tape, being plastic, is nowhere near as dense as tungsten, and so would not be expected to generate as much x radiation.
Why does it matter that the tape's in a vacuum?  Because in a broom, the bristles would get in the way!
More to the point, if the roll of tape isn't in a vacuum, it's surrounded by air molecules. I've peeled tape off a roll in the dark, and noticed a glow where the tape is peeling off.  It seems to me the air molecules are acting to slow down any electrons that actually are moving from the roll to the tape. As long as the speeds are kept low, the amount of deceleration possible is reduced, and you don't get x-rays.  You get visible light, and maybe some ultraviolet, but nothing more energetic than that.

Hitler's Candidate

Among the donors to Obama's campaign are Adolf Hitler, John Galt, Nodda Realperson, Doodad Pro, and many others.  It seems Obama has turned off the verification systems on his credit card processing software.
It appears that Obama's fundraising apparatus has deliberately disabled a key piece of security software that would prevent "Adolf Hitler" from giving to his campaign.
Here's how "Mr. Hitler" did it:
Courtesy of my (real) CC number and expiration date, the Obama campaign has just received a $19.45 donation from mister Adolf Hitler, whose occupation is "Dictator" at the company "National Socialist Party of Ger" (I got cut off). I captured screenshots to prove this.
No verification required. The listed address wasn't even close to my real address.
While I hate to think I'm giving any money at all to these bastards, its worth it to prove once and for all that they are engaged in fraud. I will verify whether my card gets charged and report back.
What happened when some of these folks tried to donate to the McCain campaign using the same bogus information? They were rejected, of course.
Another GOP tester of Obama's system gave money using his overseas credit card. It passed with flying colors. For contrast, anyone donating to Hillary Clinton's campaign from a bank overseas would have had to fax a copy of their passport in order to have the donation accepted.
Obama has raised mind boggling $605 million dollars for the primary and general election campaigns. If these safeguards were not in place, we are probably looking at the most massive lawbreaking in the history of United States election. It will make Nixon's puny efforts pale in comparison. And not even Bill Clinton could have come up with this kind of gargantuan scheme (he is probably jealous).
The FEC couldn't possibly investigate this before election day. So whatever penalties are handed out to Obama - be he president or not - won't come until long after he doesn't need any of that money.
And so therefore, why not?

Osama wants a vote

Also from the NY Post, L.A. Police Chief William Bratton comments on rumors that Obama Bin Laden may be planning an "October Surprise".  Just thinking about the notion, I have to wonder what Osama could possibly do that would be in his interest.  It seems to me that any move he makes that brings him to public attention would work against the election of the candidate most likely to call off the dogs.  But maybe what I think is in Osama's best interest isn't what Osama thinks is in Osama's best interest.
If Bin Laden wants to engineer a late-October surprise in 2008, an attack on a significant American economic target may be one of the most tempting opportunities he has had in recent years. One of his goals on 9/11 was to undermine our markets; he has bragged of what he calls the "success of the bleed-until-bankruptcy plan." Given our current financial turmoil, Bin Laden may believe that a strike against the U.S.could push our economy over the edge.

Bin Laden is likely to believe that a President John McCain - who has jokingly sung of bombing Iran and who championed the troop surge in Iraq - is more likely to engender Muslim anger and resentment than would his opponent. Indeed, international polls, including those in Muslim countries, show striking support for Barack Obama.

Put simply: Bin Laden probably realizes it could become markedly more difficult to paint the United States as the "Great Satan" with a new President who is admired internationally. The remaining 14 days before the elections should be seen as a time of high threat, and state and local police should be on high alert. With so much at stake in these elections, Bin Laden will probably attempt to make his opinion count.

So Obama may think he's better off having an obvious enemy to point at, and will take steps to make sure such a figure remains in the White House.
In "The Usual Suspects", Kevin Spacey notes, "The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist." When I look to the comments on this piece, I see a number of people claiming that Osama Bin Laden doesn't exist -- if, indeed, he ever did.
Excuse me while I hurl. How many times are we going to roll out the old Osama Trick? He's been dead for years. My biggest fear comes frome the current administration and their handlers. Bush has done what Osama couldn't deam of.
Bin Laden, Bin Laden, Bin Laden, Stop complaining about the man that Bush allowed to get away, and John McCain said, he knows where he is and how to get him, but won't tell unless you give him the White House. Bin Laden did not affect the election in 2004. Bush was re-elected because people who wanted him in office had henchmen who put out a phony tape/message in order to continue their control over the American people and maipulate voting. The war on drugs The war on terror The war on illegal immigration All games and lies, to manipulate, control, and viloate the constitutional rights of American citizens. We became the USRA (United Socilist Republic of America) a long time ago, and most certainly in 2002 when Bush took our families and fellow Americans into a phony war and keep us there using fear. When American citizens demand their constitutional rights, or protest the war, the administration covert operatives drop a phony Bin Laden tape or message into the mmedia here or the media in one of our allied countries to keep us in line, take away our rights, and keep us in fear. Keeping us at war with anyone or anything is very profitable for companies that are connected to the small group of very rich very powerful people that really run this country. Thank you 
roflmao with brooklyn i was thinking the same thing. honestly though i think bin laden is dead and the bush administration has been using look alikes to make those tapes that come out every few months. i mean if saddam had 5 look alikes to fool his enemies why not bin laden 
The funny part is we dont even know if he is alive Regardless Obama is a joke 

Political hate

James Kirchik, assistant editor at The New Republic, writes in the New York Daily News:

In his endorsement of Barack Obama last week, former Bush administration Secretary of State Colin Powell said that "I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, 'He's a Muslim and he might be associated [with] terrorists.' "

This is a serious accusation to level, and Powell ought to have had the courage to name names.

Nonetheless, the notion that the McCain campaign, and conservatives more broadly, have stooped to an unprecedented level of "sleaziness" with negative, nasty and mendacious campaign tactics has become the accepted media narrative over the past several weeks. "Smear" is the word you most often hear nowadays next to "Republican." But while it may be true that some in the conservative fever swamps have resorted to ugly tactics, they don't hold a candle to the left's rhetoric over the past eight years.

Liberal pundits are attempting to outdo one another in describing just how unscrupulous conservatives have become. In The New Yorker last week, Hendrik Hertzberg referred to McCain-Palin rallies as "blood-curdling hate-fests." Frank Rich went one step further in The New York Times, decrying the "Weimar-like rage" of the Republican Party base, evidenced by a few attendees at a Sarah Palin rally who shouted "terrorist" and "off with his head" when she mentioned Barack Obama. Rich's fellow Times columnist Paul Krugman remarked that attendees at GOP gatherings have been "gripped by insane rage" at the prospect of an Obama presidency. Ascribing the oafish behavior of a handful to an entire political party, The Nation magazine slams the "GOP's machinery of hate" in an editorial patronizingly entitled, "Waiting for the Barbarians."

If my inbox is to be believed, there are certainly people on the right who believe that Barack Obama is a secret Muslim lying in wait to foist jihad upon the United States. And there are people who oppose him because of his name or his race. But one has to have been asleep during the Bush years to think that nuttery is exclusively a conservative phenomenon.

What about the left's conspiracy theories? A not insignificant portion of liberals in this country believe that a small group of Jews, er, the "neocons," took control of the government following 9/11 to fight wars on behalf of Israel. Is not this slander as odious as the Internet rumors about Barack Obama?

Time columnist Joe Klein fits the profile of the liberal hypocrite beset with disappointment over McCain's alleged degradation. He recently apologized to readers for writing earlier that John McCain was "honorable." This from a man who just a few months ago alleged that "Jewish neoconservatives" were disloyal Americans because their "plump[ing]" for war in Iraq and now Iran "raised the question of divided loyalties: using U.S. military power, U.S. lives and money, to make the world safe for Israel."

Rich's use of the term "Weimar-like rage," ironically in a column decrying Republican scare tactics, is but one example of the left's careless usage of Nazi allegories to describe people and policies they don't like. Since 9/11, major anti-war rallies have included people holding signs and puppets comparing President Bush to Adolf Hitler. Leftist writer Naomi Wolf, who has expressed fears that the feds were monitoring her children's letters from summer camp, recently published a book titled, "The End of America," which likens the Bush administration to a fascist junta.

MSNBC's Keith Olbermann spews over-the-top, hateful rhetoric in his "Special Comments" on a regular basis. He has said that the Bush administration threatens America with a "new type of fascism," referred to the GOP as the "leading terrorist group in this country" on the fifth anniversary of 9/11, and has said that Fox News is "worse than Al Qaeda" and "as dangerous as the Ku Klux Klan ever was."

Have the journalists now bemoaning the low tactics of the McCain campaign and its supporters never set eyes upon the wildly popular Huffington Post? That Web site hosts countless angry rants, many examples of which are too vulgar to document in a family newspaper. In 2004, Nicholson Baker wrote a novel imagining the assassination of President Bush. Last week, Fox's "Family Guy" depicted Nazis donning McCain-Palin buttons.

If these fringe (and most of them are hardly fringe) individuals don't speak for American liberalism writ large - as most "respectable" liberals will tell us when confronted by the examples enumerated above - then the stray hecklers at McCain-Palin rallies cannot represent American conservatism.

By imputing the crazy views of a few right-wing extremists to all conservatives, Obama supporters cut off legitimate concerns about their candidate's positions and qualifications for office. Anyone troubled by the Democratic presidential candidate's years-long association with unrepentant terrorist William Ayers and his dismissal of that individual as "a guy who lives in my neighborhood" becomes a right-wing lunatic. Anyone who raises the Rev. Jeremiah Wright is answered with an eye roll.

To be sure, the McCain campaign has made its fair share of exaggerations and distortions about its opponent's record. But nothing he or his surrogates have done is any more egregious than the lies, hysteria and ad hominem attacks that have poured from the mouths and keyboards of the left. So pardon me for being a little skeptical about the pundit class' selective indignation over gutter-ball campaign tactics. It would have been nice if they paid attention the last eight years.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Apparently not a real Chinese Curse

But Joe the Plumber is finding out what it's like when "powerful people know your name."

Another empty "gotcha"

A form of argument I've seen lots of times is "quote mining".  A person offers a quote that sounds devastating.  Usually, for example, a Creationist or Intelligent Design / Intelligent Origin Theorist (ID/IOT) will cite some Great Expert saying that evolution didn't happen.  In the middle of an interview or debate, no one has the time to run and look up the context of the quote, and the chance that anyone will have it on hand is vanishingly small, so history records this Great Expert quoted as saying "evolution didn't happen".
Now we have some quote mining used against Sarah Palin.

A bit more on CNN's "quote" from National Review in its story on Sarah Palin.  In the CNN interview with Palin, aired today, reporter Drew Griffin said to Palin:

GRIFFIN: Governor, you've been mocked in the press, the press has been pretty hard on you, the Democrats have been pretty hard on you, but also some conservatives have been pretty hard on you as well.  The National Review had a story saying that, you know, I can't tell if Sarah Palin is incompetent, stupid, unqualified, corrupt or all of the above.


Actually, no one wrote the "quote" that Griffin read to Palin.  But I began a recent magazine piece (unfortunately not available on the web, but hopefully coming soon) on Palin this way:

Watching press coverage of the Republican candidate for vice president, it's sometimes hard to decide whether Sarah Palin is incompetent, stupid, unqualified, corrupt, backward, or — or, well, all of the above. Palin, the governor of Alaska, has faced more criticism than any vice-presidential candidate since 1988, when Democrats and the press tore into Dan Quayle. In fact, Palin may have it even worse than Quayle, since she's taking flak not only from Democrats and the press but from some conservative opinion leaders as well.

Yes, there are legitimate concerns about Palin's lack of experience. Who wouldn't, at the very least, wish that she had more time in the governor's office on her résumé? But a look at Palin's 20 months in power, along with interviews with people who worked with her, shows her to be a serious executive, a governor who picked important things to do and got them done — and who didn't just stumble into an 80 percent job-approval rating.

So my question to Griffin, and perhaps to his producer, is: Do you think you accurately portrayed the story you cited in National Review?

I imagine some quote miners honestly believe the context they carefully excised really didn't matter after all.  Maybe they'll buy my share of the "profits" from the Mortgage Crisis Bail-Out.