Thursday, October 30

U.S. Jury Convicts Son of Ex-Liberian President

MIAMI (AP) -- A federal jury on Thursday convicted the son of former Liberian President Charles Taylor in the first case brought under a 1994 U.S. law allowing prosecution for torture and atrocities committed overseas.
Next up: convicting the son of an Ex-American President for torture and atrocities committed overseas.

Hey look

...finally someone drew a picture of the U.S.S. Obamacon. Yeah, the rowboat.

From the what-the-hell dept.

"There was another time in history when people, when the bell tolled. And the question was whether or not they were going to hear it. The time was during Nazi Germany with Adolf Hitler. You see he brought crowds of clergy together to assure them that he was going to look after the church. And one of the members, bold and courageous, Reverend Niemand (sp?) made his way to the front and (inaudible) said "Hitler, we are not concerned about the church. Jesus Christ will take care of the church. We are concerned about the soul of Germany." Embarrassed and chagrined, his peers quickly shuffled him to the back. And as they did Adolf Hitler said, "The soul of Germany, you can leave that to me." And they did, and because they did bombs did not only fall upon the nation of Germany, but also upon the church and their testimony to this very day. Let us not make that mistake folks. Let us hear the bell! Vote on Proposition 8!" - Brad Dacus, spokesperson for Proposition 8 in California.
Gay families with the dignity of equal rights are comparable to Nazi bombs?

Welcome to the World of Homophobia. Please check your sanity at the door.

Everyman watch

Marty knows he's getting soft, but these are still some nice photos.

The Economist endorses Obama, trashes McCain

Because you just know it's full of socialists.......
"....the Candidate McCain of the past six months has too often seemed the victim of political sorcery, his good features magically inverted, his bad ones exaggerated. The fiscal conservative who once tackled Mr Bush over his unaffordable tax cuts now proposes not just to keep the cuts, but to deepen them. The man who denounced the religious right as "agents of intolerance" now embraces theocratic culture warriors. The campaigner against ethanol subsidies (who had a better record on global warming than most Democrats) came out in favour of a petrol-tax holiday. It has not all disappeared: his support for free trade has never wavered. Yet rather than heading towards the centre after he won the nomination, Mr McCain moved to the right.

Meanwhile his temperament, always perhaps his weak spot, has been found wanting. Sometimes the seat-of-the-pants method still works: his gut reaction over Georgia--to warn Russia off immediately--was the right one. Yet on the great issue of the campaign, the financial crisis, he has seemed all at sea, emitting panic and indecision. Mr McCain has never been particularly interested in economics, but, unlike Mr Obama, he has made little effort to catch up or to bring in good advisers (Doug Holtz-Eakin being the impressive exception).

The choice of Sarah Palin epitomised the sloppiness. It is not just that she is an unconvincing stand-in, nor even that she seems to have been chosen partly for her views on divisive social issues, notably abortion. Mr McCain made his most important appointment having met her just twice.

Ironically, given that he first won over so many independents by speaking his mind, the case for Mr McCain comes down to a piece of artifice: vote for him on the assumption that he does not believe a word of what he has been saying. Once he reaches the White House, runs this argument, he will put Mrs Palin back in her box, throw away his unrealistic tax plan and begin negotiations with the Democratic Congress. That is plausible; but it is a long way from the convincing case that Mr McCain could have made. Had he become president in 2000 instead of Mr Bush, the world might have had fewer problems. But this time it is beset by problems, and Mr McCain has not proved that he knows how to deal with them.
So Mr Obama in that respect is a gamble. But the same goes for Mr McCain on at least as many counts, not least the possibility of President Palin. And this cannot be another election where the choice is based merely on fear. In terms of painting a brighter future for America and the world, Mr Obama has produced the more compelling and detailed portrait. He has campaigned with more style, intelligence and discipline than his opponent. Whether he can fulfil his immense potential remains to be seen. But Mr Obama deserves the presidency.

Photo of the day

Something fishy

Election officials in Chicago want to know how voter registration materials were sent to "Princess Nudelman." Her owner, Beth Nudelman, wrote back to say that Princess would not be voting this year because she is dead and was a goldfish.

Wednesday, October 29

Obama's primetime infomercial

"American Stories, American Solutions"

A+ for production values. Basically a recap of the DNC, which was a great convention but got forgotten in the wake of Palinmania.

This may remind some people what Obama's candidacy is about.

NYT gives some context.

TNR says money well spent.

AP checks the spin against facts.

Eve Fairbanks has a more sentimental take:

The performance was scripted, so I won't extrapolate too broadly on Obama's actual character from it, but the person he presented himself as tonight was a listener, a gatherer of stories, a reporter, somebody who's interested in the pure, gritty texture of his interlocutors' lives, and not merely in the way their lives happen to illustrate his abstract positions. At one juncture, he gave a shout-out to a woman he'd met in Iowa whose son had recently deployed. The reminiscence didn't even entirely have a point. Its goal was to telegraph that he was listening, even to the random people on the trail who -- unlike, say, Joe the Plumber -- were never destined to become symbols.

Obama never mentioned McCain. But McCain was present, his signature stubborn bullheadedness brought out in the contrast. I hadn't thought about it much before, but McCain really doesn't relish this kind of from-the-trail detail, doesn't relish talking about people he's met, at all. His fundamental pitch is that he's capable of forcing the moral right -- which he's uniquely able to perceive on account of his unusual experiences early in life -- on a morally-benighted world that either doesn't know what right is, like the simple child at Passover, or doesn't desire it (the venal members of his own party, the countries that "don't like us very much," etc).

Obama's opposing pitch, tonight, was that he's a kind of flypaper, absorbing the world and its ideas to arrive, later, at a more aggregate understanding of how to proceed. Actually, in spite of all the celebrity crap and the speech in Berlin and the 100,000+ crowds and the hymn and all that "messianism" we've been chewing over for 18 months -- much of which truly rubbed me the wrong way -- his final argument was totally and persuasively humble. It recalled the "Team of Rivals" leadership style. And it ceded no ground to McCain's critique that such a political style, one that depends on listening to others, is weak or naive. The supremely serene Obama was neither on defense nor on offense tonight.

The whole thing came to a head at the very end:

Everybody here's got a story. Everybody here's got a story of a grandparent or great grandparent who worked in a coal mine ... I'm reminded every single day that I'm not a perfect man. I will not be a perfect president ... But I will listen to you when we disagree ... and most importantly, I will open the doors of government and ask you to be involved in your own democracy again.

Delivered over a montage of black and white photos that subtly recalled the imagery of the civil rights era, this part just killed. "I will listen to you when we disagree": Who, after the last eight years, doesn't pine for some of that.

Is there any hope for this man?

Reason assesses Obama from a libertarian perspective.

They also polled their staff:
Peter Bagge: Barr; Obama if close
Ronald Bailey: Obama
Radley Balko: Barr
Drew Carey: "Anybody but McCain/Palin"
Tim Cavanaugh: Obama
Shikha Dalmia: Nobody
Brian Doherty: Never votes
Nick Gillespie: Barr, if he votes
Katherine Mangu-Ward: Never votes
Michael Moynihan: Won't vote
Charles Oliver: Won't vote
Bob Poole: McCain
Damon Root: Probably nobody, maybe Barr
Jacob Sullum: Barr
Jesse Walker: Barr
David Weigel: Obama
Matt Welch: Probably Barr
Cathy Young: Probably Barr

By my count that's three definitely for Barr, three definitely for Obama, one definitely for McCain. Five won't-votes, four probably-Barrs, one probably-nobody, and one "anybody but McCain/Palin." What does it all mean?
It seems emblematic of Obama receiving more libertarian support than McCain. The July poll referenced in the first link shows Obama leading McCain among libertarians 53 to 38. That's a +15 Obama lead which is roughly double the current national spread.

I'm guessing his lead has improved more among libertarians since July.

Grassroots campaigning

In Texas, here's what a lady did when her yard sign was stolen.


Obama discusses radical redistribution of toys

Fun stuff. TPM reads into the seriousness.

Pizza Poll: Dems like variety, Republicans like size

Somehow, Dominos surveyed 300,000 customers...
-- Spend more per order than other consumers.
-- They rely on credit cards to pay more than other consumers.
-- They tend to order two large pizzas at a time, and they're usually
specialty pizzas.
-- They are more likely to order online, and more likely to pick up their

-- Rely on delivery more than Republicans.
-- Pay cash more than other consumers.
-- Like more variety with their orders, opting for side items, chicken and
beverages more than Republicans.
Going by this poll, I guess I'm still a Republican. All of the reportedly Republican traits apply to my pizza ordering, and none of the Dems'.

Charles meets Barack

Charles Alexander, 86, is an Obama volunteer in Boulder, Colorado. He won a raffle to meet Barack at a rally in Denver on 26 October. This is a beautiful ad:

If at first you don't succeed...

VIENNA - A 65-year-old Austrian man was charged with drunk driving and had his driving license and car keys taken away from him on Sunday after driving while over the alcohol limit in the northern city of Linz.

He then went home, picked up his spare car keys, went back to the abandoned car and drove to police headquarters whilst still drunk to explain why he was unhappy with the charge.

"When the driver tried to show police officers what had happened the first time, they detected he was still under the influence of alcohol," police said in a statement. The driver was charged a second time.
(H/T Adam Smith Institute)

Posted without apparent irony

... And I'm Here to Help You [Mark Krikorian]

If we do end up with an Obama Administration and a filibuster-proof Democrat majority in the Senate, this will be their motto:

Capitol demotivator

Surely the same motto couldn't possibly apply to the last 10 years of Republican control?

Tuesday, October 28

Don't just blame the media, blame the aides too

From "Diva" to "Whack Job" [Rich Lowry]

McCain aides continue to go viciously negative—on their vice presidential candidate. Mike Allen has a McCain aide calling Palin a "whack job." This is part of the problem with Palin getting assigned aides with no loyalty to her. I've never been a "Free Sarah Palin" type. I'm in the Krauthammer school that the McCain campaign probably let her do big high-stakes media interviews too soon and should have waited while she was more fully briefed-up. But the mishandling of Palin that's been evident over the last week—from the clothes fiasco that wasn't her doing to the sniping at her from within the campaign—has been appalling.

I'm sure Sarah Palin's being an appalling choice for VP has nothing to do with it. So of course, let's blame the aides.

After all, a candidate who doesn't have enough loyal aides when she begins to campaign and needs more than a month to get "briefed-up" before interviewing with the national media would be an excellent President in a pinch...

Welcome to the post-boomer world

Good cinematography. And Goodbye to All That.

Stay classy X

Bomb Obama? Really?

The crucial space vote

God bless America.

The Palin effect

TPM takes stock.

United by fear

The Daily Show interviews at both Obama and Palin rallies:

Campbell Brown had a good interview afterwards explaining how she tries to do real journalism as a CNN anchor and not impose the artificial balance of letting two sides speak for equal time regardless of who's more right.

Politico has the same approach:

There have been moments in the general election when the one-sidedness of our site — when nearly every story was some variation on how poorly McCain was doing or how well Barack Obama was faring — has made us cringe. As it happens, McCain's campaign is going quite poorly and Obama's is going well. Imposing artificial balance on this reality would be a bias of its own.

Monday, October 27

Pennsylvania republican apologizes for anti-Obama email

Judge Newman refers to Mr. Rudnick as a “McCain campaign worker” in her statement, but she said in a follow up e-mail exchange that she was doing so loosely; Mr. Rudnick was officially on the Pennsylvania GOP payroll, he said last week.

Because of my preoccupation with preparing legal challenges for significant issues relevant to proper election procedures, I did not pay close enough attention to an e-mail which was drafted by a worker for the McCain campaign.

I regret that I did not carefully review the final draft before it was released with my signature, as well as the signatures of two other prominent supporters of Senator McCain.

Some of the language was inappropriate and intemperate.

I apologize to anyone who was offended by this misguided e-mail.

I am supporting Senator John McCain for President, and I hope you will not allow a stray e-mail message to alter your opinion in this important Presidential election.
I like this. Obviously he wouldn't have apologized if there hadn't been blowback, but still: he admitted that it was "inappropriate" and apologized. That's more than can be said for much of the rest of the McCain campaign.

Top ten reasons conservatives should vote for Obama

From Andrew Sullivan:

10. A body blow to racial identity politics. An end to the era of Jesse Jackson in black America.

9. Less debt. Yes, Obama will raise taxes on those earning over a quarter of a million. And he will spend on healthcare, Iraq, Afghanistan and the environment. But so will McCain. He plans more spending on health, the environment and won't touch defense of entitlements. And his refusal to touch taxes means an extra $4 trillion in debt over the massive increase presided over by Bush. And the CBO estimates that McCain's plans will add more to the debt over four years than Obama's. Fiscal conservatives have a clear choice.

8. A return to realism and prudence in foreign policy. Obama has consistently cited the foreign policy of George H. W. Bush as his inspiration. McCain's knee-jerk reaction to the Georgian conflict, his commitment to stay in Iraq indefinitely, and his brinksmanship over Iran's nuclear ambitions make him a far riskier choice for conservatives. The choice between Obama and McCain is like the choice between George H.W. Bush's first term and George W.'s.

7. An ability to understand the difference between listening to generals and delegating foreign policy to them.

6. Temperament. Obama has the coolest, calmest demeanor of any president since Eisenhower. Conservatism values that kind of constancy, especially compared with the hot-headed, irrational impulsiveness of McCain.

5. Faith. Obama's fusion of Christianity and reason, his non-fundamentalist faith, is a critical bridge between the new atheism and the new Christianism.

4. A truce in the culture war. Obama takes us past the debilitating boomer warfare that has raged since the 1960s. Nothing has distorted our politics so gravely; nothing has made a rational politics more elusive.

3. Two words: President Palin.

2. Conservative reform. Until conservatism can get a distance from the big-spending, privacy-busting, debt-ridden, crony-laden, fundamentalist, intolerant, incompetent and arrogant faux conservatism of the Bush-Cheney years, it will never regain a coherent message to actually govern this country again. The survival of conservatism requires a temporary eclipse of today's Republicanism. Losing would be the best thing to happen to conservatism since 1964. Back then, conservatives lost in a landslide for the right reasons. Now, Republicans are losing in a landslide for the wrong reasons.

1. The War Against Islamist terror. The strategy deployed by Bush and Cheney has failed. It has failed to destroy al Qaeda, except in a country, Iraq, where their presence was minimal before the US invasion. It has failed to bring any of the terrorists to justice, instead creating the excrescence of Gitmo, torture, secret sites, and the collapse of America's reputation abroad. It has empowered Iran, allowed al Qaeda to regroup in Pakistan, made the next vast generation of Muslims loathe America, and imperiled our alliances. We need smarter leadership of the war: balancing force with diplomacy, hard power with better p.r., deploying strategy rather than mere tactics, and self-confidence rather than a bunker mentality.

Those conservatives who remain convinced, as I do, that Islamist terror remains the greatest threat to the West cannot risk a perpetuation of the failed Manichean worldview of the past eight years, and cannot risk the possibility of McCain making rash decisions in the middle of a potentially catastrophic global conflict. If you are serious about the war on terror and believe it is a war we have to win, the only serious candidate is Barack Obama.

I approve this message.

Vive la résistance

Some three dozen workers at a telemarketing call center in Indiana walked off the job rather than read an incendiary McCain campaign script attacking Barack Obama

That 2001 show

McCain is rolling with it!. As I noticed earlier, the quotes are truncated.

Andrew's take is here. Yes, this is really all McCain has left. He follows up.

Daniel Drezner is here, also quoting David Bernstein who listened to the whole radio program:
It’s true that most Americans, when asked by pollsters, think that it’s emphatically not the government’s job to redistribute wealth. But are people so stupid as to not recognize that when politicians talk about a “right to health care,” or “equalizing educational opportunities,” or “making the rich pay a fair share of taxes,” or “ensuring that all Americans have the means to go to college,” and so forth and so on, that they are advocating the redistribution of wealth? Is it okay for a politician to talk about the redistribution of wealth only so long as you don’t actually use phrases such as “redistribution” or “spreading the wealth,” in which case he suddenly becomes “socialist”? If so, then American political discourse, which I never thought to be especially elevated, is in even a worse state than I thought.
Ben Smith has the Obama camp's push-back.

The reality of human suffering

A liberal is dissatisfied with conservative and libertarian apathy.

It's a thought-provoking read; I need time to mull it over.

UPDATE: Pete Suderman responds ahead of Conor.

Sunday, October 26

Obama on redistribution in 2001

This is from Chicago Public Radio. You can watch a video here, complete with alarming noises, but I prefer the transcript:
MODERATOR: Good morning and welcome to Odyssey on WBEZ Chicago 91.5 FM and we’re joined by Barack Obama who is Illinois State Senator from the 13th district and senior lecturer in the law school at the University of Chicago.

OBAMA: If you look at the victories and failures of the civil rights movement and its litigation strategy in the court, I think where it succeeded was to vest formal rights in previously dispossessed peoples. So that I would now have the right to vote, I would now be able to sit at the lunch counter and order and as long as I could pay for it I’d be okay.

But the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society. And to that extent as radical as people tried to characterize the Warren court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, at least as it’s been interpreted, and the Warren court interpreted it in the same way that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. It says what the states can’t do to you, it says what the federal government can’t do to you, but it doesn’t say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf. And that hasn’t shifted. One of the I think tragedies of the civil rights movement was because the civil rights movement became so court focused, I think that there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributed change and in some ways we still suffer from that.

MODERATOR: Let’s talk with Karen. Good morning, Karen, you’re on Chicago Public Radio.

KAREN: Hi. The gentleman made the point that the Warren court wasn’t terribly radical with economic changes. My question is, is it too late for that kind of reparative work economically and is that that the appropriate place for reparative economic work to take place – the court – or would it be legislation at this point?

OBAMA: Maybe I’m showing my bias here as a legislator as well as a law professor, but I’m not optimistic about bringing about major redistributive change through the courts. The institution just isn’t structured that way.

You just look at very rare examples during the desegregation era the court was willing to for example order changes that cost money to a local school district. The court was very uncomfortable with it. It was very hard to manage, it was hard to figure out. You start getting into all sorts of separation of powers issues in terms of the court monitoring or engaging in a process that essentially is administrative and takes a lot of time.

The court’s just not very good at it and politically it’s very hard to legitimize opinions from the court in that regard. So I think that although you can craft theoretical justifications for it legally. Any three of us sitting here could come up with a rationale for bringing about economic change through the courts
This is a pretty fishy edit. Notice, for instance, how the second paragraph doesn't follow directly from the first. They've cut stuff out that could provide some context. It may be a discussion related to slave reparations, but it's difficult to tell without listening to the full interview.

The above is showing up on many right-leaning sites, so I'm going to suppose it'll get dug into and we'll figure out the context.

Endorsement watch

Fmr Sen. Larry Pressler (R-S.D.) is the latest on board the U.S.S. Obamacon.
"I just got the feeling that Obama will be able to handle this financial crisis better, and I like his financial team of [former Treasury Secretary Robert] Rubin and [former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul] Volcker better," he said. "McCain's handling of the financial crisis made me feel nervous."

Pressler, who said that he had never voted for a Democrat for president before, added, "I feel really badly. I just hate to go against someone I served with in the Senate. I voted and I got it mailed and I dropped it in the mailbox and it tore at me to do that."
That sounds like a real emotion. Yet still, the Corner will be arguing that he jumped on the bandwagon because of the polls in 5, 4, ...
He joins a growing list of Republicans who have thrown their support to Obama in recent days. Last Sunday former Secretary of State Colin Powell endorsed Obama on NBC's "Meet the Press." On Thursday Obama picked up the support of former Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson, who was joined on Friday by former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld.

Like some of Obama's other Republican supporters, Pressler said he had concerns about his party's fiscal policy, particularly the war in Iraq, that went beyond the presidential campaign.

"We have to be a moderate party. We can't be for all these foreign military adventures. We have to stop spending so much money. My God, the deficit is so high!" he said. "The Republican Party I knew in the 1970s is just all gone."

Despite his support for Obama, however, Pressler emphasized that he intended to stay in the GOP and described himself as a "moderate conservative."

"I'm not leaving the Republican Party. We're going to reform it," he said, but added: "In the general election, if you have disagreements, you should not vote the party line."

Methinks the lady doth protest too much

Two and a half minutes about her clothes? I suppose it's an improvement over palling around with terrorists.

UPDATE...then this from CNN:
Ensuring that news of the Republican National Committee's sartorial spending spree will remain in the headlines for at least one more news cycle, Sarah Palin on Sunday sounded off on the $150,000 wardrobe that was purchased for her in September, denouncing the report as "ridiculous" and declaring emphatically: "Those clothes, they are not my property."

A senior adviser to John McCain told CNN's Dana Bash that the comments about her wardrobe "were not the remarks we sent to her plane this morning." Palin did not discuss the wardrobe story at her rally in Kissimmee later in the day.

Photo of the day

Do Marxists read the Wall Street Journal?

Don't be fooled, it must be a clever disguise!

Jesse Jackson, Jr.

The new Senator from Illinois?

Yglesias makes jokes:
I think the obvious solution is to give the job to Chicago’s 1997 Person of the Year — William Ayers.

Saturday, October 25

The Obama temptation

One of the most amusing rants to come out of NRO this election cycle:

The Obama Temptation [Mark R. Levin]

I've been thinking this for a while so I might as well air it here. I honestly never thought we'd see such a thing in our country - not yet anyway - but I sense what's occurring in this election is a recklessness and abandonment of rationality that has preceded the voluntary surrender of liberty and security in other places. I can't help but observe that even some conservatives are caught in the moment as their attempts at explaining their support for Barack Obama are unpersuasive and even illogical. And the pull appears to be rather strong. Ken Adelman, Doug Kmiec, and others, reach for the usual platitudes in explaining themselves but are utterly incoherent. Even non-conservatives with significant public policy and real world experiences, such as Colin Powell and Charles Fried, find Obama alluring but can't explain themselves in an intelligent way.

There is a cult-like atmosphere around Barack Obama, which his campaign has carefully and successfully fabricated, which concerns me. The messiah complex. Fainting audience members at rallies. Special Obama flags and an Obama presidential seal. A graphic with the portrayal of the globe and Obama's name on it, which adorns everything from Obama's plane to his street literature. Young school children singing songs praising Obama. Teenagers wearing camouflage outfits and marching in military order chanting Obama's name and the professions he is going to open to them. An Obama world tour, culminating in a speech in Berlin where Obama proclaims we are all citizens of the world. I dare say, this is ominous stuff.

Even the media are drawn to the allure that is Obama. Yes, the media are liberal. Even so, it is obvious that this election is different. The media are open and brazen in their attempts to influence the outcome of this election. I've never seen anything like it. Virtually all evidence of Obama's past influences and radicalism — from Jeremiah Wright to William Ayers — have been raised by non-traditional news sources. The media's role has been to ignore it as long as possible, then mention it if they must, and finally dismiss it and those who raise it in the first place. It's as if the media use the Obama campaign's talking points — its preposterous assertions that Obama didn't hear Wright from the pulpit railing about black liberation, whites, Jews, etc., that Obama had no idea Ayers was a domestic terrorist despite their close political, social, and working relationship, etc. — to protect Obama from legitimate and routine scrutiny. And because journalists have also become commentators, it is hard to miss their almost uniform admiration for Obama and excitement about an Obama presidency. So in the tank are the media for Obama that for months we've read news stories and opinion pieces insisting that if Obama is not elected president it will be due to white racism. And, of course, while experience is crucial in assessing Sarah Palin's qualifications for vice president, no such standard is applied to Obama's qualifications for president. (No longer is it acceptable to minimize the work of a community organizer.) Charles Gibson and Katie Couric sought to humiliate Palin. They would never and have never tried such an approach with Obama.

But beyond the elites and the media, my greatest concern is whether this election will show a majority of the voters susceptible to the appeal of a charismatic demagogue. This may seem a harsh term to some, and no doubt will to Obama supporters, but it is a perfectly appropriate characterization. Obama's entire campaign is built on class warfare and human envy. The "change" he peddles is not new. We've seen it before. It is change that diminishes individual liberty for the soft authoritarianism of socialism. It is a populist appeal that disguises government mandated wealth redistribution as tax cuts for the middle class, falsely blames capitalism for the social policies and government corruption (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) that led to the current turmoil in our financial markets, fuels contempt for commerce and trade by stigmatizing those who run successful small and large businesses, and exploits human imperfection as a justification for a massive expansion of centralized government. Obama's appeal to the middle class is an appeal to the "the proletariat," as an infamous philosopher once described it, about which a mythology has been created. Rather than pursue the American Dream, he insists that the American Dream has arbitrary limits, limits Obama would set for the rest of us — today it's $250,000 for businesses and even less for individuals. If the individual dares to succeed beyond the limits set by Obama, he is punished for he's now officially "rich." The value of his physical and intellectual labor must be confiscated in greater amounts for the good of the proletariat (the middle class). And so it is that the middle class, the birth-child of capitalism, is both celebrated and enslaved — for its own good and the greater good. The "hope" Obama represents, therefore, is not hope at all. It is the misery of his utopianism imposed on the individual.

Unlike past Democrat presidential candidates, Obama is a hardened ideologue. He's not interested in playing around the edges. He seeks "fundamental change," i.e., to remake society. And if the Democrats control Congress with super-majorities led by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, he will get much of what he demands.

The question is whether enough Americans understand what's at stake in this election and, if they do, whether they care. Is the allure of a charismatic demagogue so strong that the usually sober American people are willing to risk an Obama presidency? After all, it ensnared Adelman, Kmiec, Powell, Fried, and numerous others. And while America will certainly survive, it will do so, in many respects, as a different place.

It's all just one big conspiracy, man. The Bolsheviks are controlling our minds!

TPM's response is classic:
Dark Night of the Soul

Barack Obama is noted for his powerful intellect, but I don't think he gets nearly enough credit for the mental dexterity it takes to be simultaneously an Islamic theocrat, atheistic communist and national socialist while posing as a center left candidate. Those must be the compartmentalization skills they taught him at that Manchurian madrasah in Indonesia.

The fact that Obama embodies the worst nightmares of so many on the political right says far more about them that it does him. In this piece at The Corner, Mark R. Levin, bristling over normally rational conservatives like Colin Powell and Charles Fried falling under Obama's demagogic spell, pushes ajar the door to his inner psyche, where the horrors are of the communist-cum-Nazi variety. Levin doesn't go in much for the Obama as closet Muslim nightmare. I'm sure it's just a failure of imagination.

UPDATE: Conor Friedersdorf takes Levin to task with an impressively serious rebuttal.

The Bachmann effect

A new blog, here's their description:
This blog is dedicated to exposing political comments that are racist, fear-mongering, hate-mongering or divisive. The goal is to expose these comments along with a link to the political opponent's fund-raising web page so that the general public can fight against this type of campaigning and remove it from our political system forever. We also aim to expose lies and general ignorance, again with links to opponent's fund-raising page.
I support this message within reason, but that blog seems a little shrill. For instance:
This woman is so biased she is not capable of delivering any news, fairly. It was a joke watching her! Fire her or at the very least give her a job fetching coffee for the staff!

Quotes of the day

Local news:
POYNETTE, Wis. -- A Poynette pastor is going to trial for allegedly spanking his 12-year-old son with a paddle.

Jurors will be asked to decide if the spanking amounted to child abuse, WISC-TV reported.

The criminal complaint said that the 44-year-old father spanked the boy twice, leaving purplish bruises about four inches wide.
"Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.

Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell." --Proverbs 23:13-14

Israelis for Obama

This was uploaded last month:

Simplistic and starry-eyed, but the theme of hope is still moving.

Neocon parody of the day

"The fundamentals of the economy really are strong! The problem is that the liberal media isn't reporting the good news."

Factoid of the day

If the current FiveThirtyEight projection holds, Obama will win 10 Bush '04 states.

Breakin' up

Palin goes rogue! I sorta predicted this.

The latest lengthy "Obama-speaks-to-you-reassuringly" ad

Via Klein:

The triumph of hope over fears of liberalism

Ken Adelman explains his unexpected endorsement that caused a bit of a fuss last week:
Granted, McCain's views are closer to mine than Obama's. But I've learned over this Bush era to value competence along with ideology. Otherwise, our ideology gets discredited, as it has so disastrously over the past eight years.

McCain's temperament -- leading him to bizarre behavior during the week the economic crisis broke -- and his judgment -- leading him to Wasilla -- depressed me into thinking that "our guy" would be a(nother) lousy conservative president. Been there, done that.

I'd rather a competent moderate president. Even at a risk, since Obama lacks lots of executive experience displaying competence (though his presidential campaign has been spot-on). And since his Senate voting record is not moderate, but depressingly liberal. Looming in the background, Pelosi and Reid really scare me.

Nonetheless, I concluded that McCain would not -- could not -- be a good president. Obama just might be.

That's become good enough for me -- however much of a triumph (as Dr. Johnson said about second marriages) of hope over experience.
NRO's Goldberg isn't impressed:

Ken Adelman's "Explanation" [Jonah Goldberg]

My heart bleeds that he's been forced to explain himself to friends and the like. What a burden. I just wish he'd offer something that approached an intellectually defensible explanation. Because this ain't it.

Salvaging what we can

In Sunday's WaPo, David Frum re-sounds the alarm:
There are many ways to lose a presidential election. John McCain is losing in a way that threatens to take the entire Republican Party down with him.

...Gov. Sarah Palin connected with neither independents nor women. She did, however, ignite the Republican base, which has come to support her passionately. And so, in this last month, the McCain campaign has Palinized itself to make the most of its last asset. To fire up the Republican base, the McCain team has hit at Barack Obama as an alien, a radical and a socialist.

Sure enough, the base has responded. After months and months of wan enthusiasm among Republicans, these last weeks have at last energized the core of the party. But there's a downside: The very same campaign strategy that has belatedly mobilized the Republican core has alienated and offended the great national middle, which was the only place where the 2008 election could have been won.

I could pile up the poll numbers here, but frankly . . . it's too depressing. You have to go back to the Watergate era to see numbers quite so horrible for the GOP.

McCain's awful campaign is having awful consequences down the ballot. I spoke a little while ago to a senior Republican House member. "There is not a safe Republican seat in the country," he warned. "I don't mean that we're going to lose all of them. But we could lose any of them."

In the Senate, things look, if possible, even worse.

...I'm not suggesting that the RNC throw up its hands. But down-ballot Republicans need to give up on the happy talk about how McCain has Obama just where he wants him, take off their game faces and say something like this:

"We're almost certainly looking at a Democratic White House. I can work with a Democratic president to help this state. But we need balance in Washington.

"The government now owns a big stake in the nation's banking system. Trillions of dollars are now under direct government control. It's not wise to put that money under one-party control. It's just too tempting. You need a second set of eyes on that cash. You need oversight and accountability. Otherwise, you're going to wake up two years from now and find out that a Democratic president, a Democratic Senate and a Democratic House have been funneling a ton of that money to their friends and allies. It'll be a big scandal -- but it will be too late. The money will be gone. Divided government is the best precaution you can have."

It's the only argument we have left. And, as the old Washington saying goes, it has the additional merit of being true.
Eyes wide open.

I'll be scouring the congressional races in 2010, looking for (relatively) honorable Republicans who stand a chance at picking up a Dem seat. But for this cycle, I think the whole party deserves a bluebath.

However, one sad feature of a large Democratic victory is that it is excising Republicans from moderate areas of the country. We're going to be left with a bunch of Dobsonite wingnuts.

If there's a silver lining, it's that we'll have a lot of potentially vulnerable Dem seats that -- by virtue of there being fewer incumbents -- we'll be in a position to support libertarian-leaning ones for in the primaries.

Come volunteer for Florida's real-ness


From the real-er part of Virginia

An anecdote:
Last week, Julie Hensley made one of her thousands of phone calls on behalf of Barack Obama. A woman answered. As Hensley ran through her short script, the husband impatiently broke in.

"Ma'am, we're voting for the nigger." And hung up.

Hensley wasn't having it. "I went and made a couple other calls but chafed over this absurdity," she told us, "so I called them back, as I still had a couple questions for the wife." This time the man answered, asked pointedly who she was, and when she replied he hung up again.


A couple hours later during a pause in her dials, her phone rang. She recognized the number. "This is going to be good," she remembers thinking, getting ready to scrap.

It was the husband. He was calling for the woman on whom he'd hung up. She then got something she didn't expect -- an apology. Calmly, Hensley told the man she'd accept his apology on one condition -- he had to tell her who he was voting for.

"Oh, I don't normally talk about it but I feel like I owe you," the man said. "I am voting for Senator Obama." He asked if Hensley would like to speak to his wife, as he'd interrupted the original call. Hensley mentioned that she had been surprised when he'd called to apologize. Apparently the husband and wife had been talking the entire couple hours since the original call. "Did she get upset with you?" Hensley asked.

"What do you think?" the man replied.

Friday, October 24

Stay classy IX

"Vote McCain, not Barack Hussein!"

Ten worst ads of 2008

Politico has the laughs.

Real socialism

Don't miss this hilarious interview with Socialist Party USA's candidate for the presidency.

Blame the media IV

Jon Swift's post on Election Year blogging is a must read. Long, but must read.

Stay Classy VIII

Via TNR, in Missouri:
NIXA, Mo. — A Republican official in a southern Missouri county says a flyer showing a picture of Barack Obama and the phrase, "In Ahla We Trust" has been removed from party headquarters.

The flyer that was available at the Christian County Republican office Thursday asserts that Obama is a Muslim, a false claim that has followed the Democratic senator during his presidential campaign. Obama is a Christian.

In addition to the mispelled "In Ahla We Trust," the fake $100 bill is printed with the words "socialist," "food stamps," and communist symbols.

Gen Y will get it

Via Ezra Klein, some excellent No on Prop 8 ads:

The messaging of these ads is pretty interesting: They're aimed more at turning out supporters than convincing opponents. The message is fairly clear: You can be a troglodyte, or you can step forward into the future. There's the chance that the ads will turn off as many voters as they'll turn on, but the Prop 8 opponents are making a simple bet: That when activated, their base is bigger. It's not a bet I've seen gay marriage proponents make before, and it suggests that their polling and data shows the issue changing rapidly enough that they feel able to run a campaign that attempts to win, rather than just tries to avoid losing.

Weekend update

Not bad, not bad:


Blame the media III

Now they're writing comedic parables:

Sarah Palin and the Pope [Lisa Schiffren]

So, Sarah Palin's advisors decide that it is time for her to meet a bunch of serious world leaders. They head to Europe, where, first up, she has an appointment with the Pope. The Pope and some of his Cardinals invite her for a boat ride on the Tiber. As they are sitting in the gondola talking, a wind starts up and blows the Pope's hat into the water. Palin looks around and realizes that no one is going to do anything about it, so she calmy rises, takes off her her high heels, and steps off the side of the boat. Instead of diving into the water, however, she walks across it, to the hat, picks it up and walks back across the water to the boat. She climbs in, hands the Pope his hat and continues discussing whatever it was they had been talking about. The Cardinals are open mouthed in astonishment at what they have just seen. The news media, in nearby boats are busy discussing among themselves how to report it. Headlines the next day at the New York Times, The Washington Post and the networks all blare: New Revelation: Sarah Palin Can't Swim.

Do they really believe that this is the reason their hero is failing? Is it like how in 2005 the only problem with Iraq was that the media "wouldn't report the good news" ?

Republicans have taken the art of denial to surprising levels. It goes like this:

1. Media reports reality
2. Republicans don't like reality
3. Republicans deny reality and attack the messenger

Now it's true that the media leans left. This will always be the case, because educated people like the journalists themselves lean left. But there is no "vast media conspiracy" to systematically portray an anti-Republican reality that can be meaningfully blamed for their many ills.

Thursday, October 23

Quote of the day

"The use of campaign funds for items which most Americans would consider to be strictly personal reasons, in my view, erodes public confidence and erodes it significantly." --Sen. John McCain, May 1993

Well it's 2008 now, I guess he's changed his mind. Because, quote: "She needed the clothes."

Tinklenberg leads 47-44

In an election for United States House of Representative from Minnesota's 6th Congressional District today, 10/23/08, 12 days until votes are counted, DFL candidate Elwyn Tinklenberg has the nominal lead in an effectively tied race with Republican incumbent Michele Bachmann, according to a SurveyUSA poll conducted exclusively for KSTP-TV in Minneapolis. Today, it's Tinklenberg 47%, Bachmann 44%, Independence Party candidate Bob Anderson 6%. Results are within the survey's 4.0 percentage point margin of sampling error.

...hoosier daddy?

Indiana goes blue. This is McCain's worst polling day of the year.

The odds of a landslide 375+ EVs are now 50-50.

Shocking editorial

Today, the New York Times endorsed Barack Obama for President.

How will the McCain camp deal with this enormous setback?
Senator John McCain of Arizona has retreated farther and farther to the fringe of American politics, running a campaign on partisan division, class warfare and even hints of racism. His policies and worldview are mired in the past. His choice of a running mate so evidently unfit for the office was a final act of opportunism and bad judgment that eclipsed the accomplishments of 26 years in Congress.

Palin haunts dreams!

As we might have guessed:

If the polls were closer to even, I'd be horrified too.

Unforced error

TPM on the Michele Bachmann debacle:

Seems there's a whole blog dedicated to ridding us of her: Dump Bachmann

Joe Klein Obama interview

This is interesting stuff: the article, full interview transcript.

To my mind, Obama's grasp of the issues really comes through. There's almost no comparison with a typical McCain-Palin pander-with-self-righteousness-fest.

One commentator:

Head fake in Pennsylvania

TNR reader Rick Rosenthal has a theory:
Both Nate and Noam have tried to make sense of John McCain's odd-seeming decision to turn Pennsylvania into the battleground state. Here, smart reader Rick Rosenthal offers his (decidedly optimistic) theory of what's really going on:
Apparently McCain drew less than 500 people to a rally in suburban PA two days ago. Then he went to Western PA and flubbed the attack lines against John Murtha's comments so that the sound bite was completely incoherent. On Monday he drew crowds of about 2000, then 15 people at an airport rally (yes, that is correct--no zeros), and then his third rally of the day was described as "sparsely attended." (Maybe they should try raffling off a car next time.) In Florida today, McCain is going to a factory in the morning, unable to draw a crowd even in a Republican area of the state. McCain is demanding that he campaign with Palin again, so he can draw a crowd, so they are back together today, wasting valuable candidate time and resources.

Now the Obama campaign is doing a major head fake in PA. They "accidentally" leaked an "internal" poll showing Obama up by only 2 percent in PA. I guarantee you that no such poll exists and that this was done both to motivate volunteers in the state (and maybe elsewhere) and prevent them from getting too complacent and also to sucker the McCain campaign into spending more time there. Ed Rendell has asked Obama to come back and campaign in the state-another major ruse. They know that McCain makes most of the decisions for his campaign and that they can goad him into spending more time in PA by pretending that it is close there. Let's see if Obama actually returns to PA before November 4th, but I sincerely doubt it. They are brilliant.

After denial comes anger

Republican hacks don't like their failed hero's "shamnesty".


Cute babies!

Governator on Governness action


BROWN: Do you think [Palin is] qualified to be president?

SCHWARZENEGGER: I think that she will get to be qualified.

BROWN: She will get there? What do you mean? She's not ready yet?

SCHWARZENEGGER: By the time that she is sworn in I think she will be ready.

Nancy Pfotenhauer does her best

I don't envy having to defend Palin on this one.

There's Matthews living up to the "Hardball" name.

I wonder how seriously he's considering that PA Senate bid for 2010...

Wednesday, October 22

What it means for some III

Evantsville, Indiana:
For me the most moving moment came when the family in front of me, comprising probably 4 generations of voters (including an 18 year old girl voting for her first time and a 90-something hunched-over grandmother), got their turn to vote. When the old woman left the voting booth she made it about halfway to the door before collapsing in a nearby chair, where she began weeping uncontrollably. When we rushed over to help we realized that she wasn't in trouble at all but she had not truly believed, until she left the booth, that she would ever live long enough to cast a vote for an African-American for president.

Bachmann's national funding pulled

A Republican source has confirmed to Election Central that the NRCC is indeed pulling all its advertising for Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), whose antics since her McCarthyist rant on Hardball have quickly put this once-safe incumbent in serious danger. Several hundred-thousand dollars worth of TV time had previously been reserved on Bachmann's behalf, but now it has all been cancelled.

Bear in mind that Bachmann was heavily favored to win re-election before this whole mess happened, but since then her Democratic opponent has received $1.3 million in online donations and another $1 million in commitments from the DCCC. The national party is now directing its attention to other races.

Bachmann could still potentially win, as this district voted 57%-42% for George W. Bush in 2004. But she's now on her own. It's a rare thing for a national party to totally cut off an incumbent, so this should give you an idea of just how unpopular Bachmann is among Washington Republicans right now.
Good for the party.

22 October in 100 seconds

"Are you a Muslim?"

Obama economic adviser Austan Goolsbee pokes fun at one of McCain's economic advisors:

In case you don't get it: he's parodying the obviously discredited email rumors that Obama is a Muslim, and using it to make the point that obviously neither of them are socialists.

More Virginia

Following their brave trip to unreal, anti-America NoVa, the FiveThirtyEight crew went on to Richmond, which is currently under a liberal anti-American occupation. They spoke with the occupation's unreal governor and lived to tell the tale.

TPM explains the Palin effect

Everything fits the narrative now: Most Independents are driven away. Intellectual conservatives like Republican-leaning newspapers, Andrew Sullivan, Colin Powell, David Brooks, Christopher Buckley, David Frum, and yours truly have concluded that Palin is unacceptable. Whether we like Obama or not, the salient point is that we simply cannot vote for McCain-Palin. (Though Frum, being an NROite, still has to support McCain)

The people left supporting Palin are:

1) The Base that will always vote Republican. This includes strictly anti-choice, anti-condom Dobsonites, Iraq war lovers, etc.
2) Republican officials due to party loyalty or being invested in having another Republican presidency or needing her coattails for re-election
3) Republican hacks in the conservative media like NRO, Rush Limbaugh, Hugh Hewitt...

There are very few PUMAs left, so that's mostly it. And it's not enough to win.

Don't cry for me Argentina

They say history repeats itself. They also say something about broken records. Well.....

I liked this comment:
Argentina is very intriguing.

It is relatively well educated, and collectively stupid. Perhaps it is groupthink in Buenos Aires and the provinces, perhaps a false sense of entitlement that refrains people from lowering their expectations in face of harsh realities.

We used to joke, before the first collapse, that Argentinians, with their dollarized economy, were like kids "playing americans".

Now Argentina is going into the ICU yet once again. Yet once again they ignored inflation and will pay a steep price.

But this time even the Americans are playing Argentinians--ignoring the fuel of inflation that they've created and are bound to live with for a long time.

Vive la résistance


Reading McCain's Ayers slime from a script into the phone was too much for one young woman, reports West Virginia's Charleston Gazette:

Chaylee Cole, a student at Fairmont State University, lost her part-time job in Weston last Friday after refusing to make telephone calls attacking Barack Obama...

"I was working at the call center," Cole said. "We got a campaign ad talking about how Obama had been part of terrorist attacks on the Capitol, the Pentagon and a judge's home and had ties with Bill Ayers.

"Last Thursday, I told them I did not want to read it," Cole said. "They said, 'Either you read it or you go home.' I told them I wasn't going to read it."

A man in Wisconsin also quit his call-center job over the Ayers call, local news there reports.

Straw feminism

This one is good for a chuckle. They really have no idea what they're dealing with, do they?

Yesterday, Palin explained that Democrats' efforts to get women voters was "a little presumptuous" because she herself is a woman. Huh? Does she really think many women will vote for her because she's a woman? Is that her expectation? ... *sigh*

I don't envy his inbox

A Refreshing Change -- David Frum's Diary

A reader writes:

I wonder if you are aware to the extent of the alienation and frustration (at you, Peggy Noonan, David Brooks, Doug Kmiec, Chris Buckley, etc…we’re still cutting Krauthammer some slack) that has recently occurred among those (of us) who would normally be your customers?

We have a strong feeling that there now exists a “Heartland conservatism” - in the Reagan tradition - and an “East Coast conservatism” that is seen as increasingly “elite” and out of touch with our values. The message you are trying to send to us, to change our message, we are reflecting back at you (all). Here’s the problem, our numbers area far, far greater.

Most of this alienation and frustration, I believe, has been exasperated by the very public criticism, from “conservatives”, of Gov. Palin, who “out here” is very well liked. We “get” her David, but we don’t “get” you (all) anymore, it’s that simple.

David, if you alienate “your base”, who will be left to buy your books?

For weeks now, I've been hearing that my views of this election are motivated by my squalid and selfish personal ambitions. So it's very refreshing to be chastised now for foolishly disregarding my self-interest!

But I do admire his honesty.

To the reader's point, I will say this: Some people care about voting for someone who they "get" and who "shares their values" more than they care about electing a competent statesperson. Frum and I aren't part of this group (though we differ on McCain's competence -- Frum is still voting for him despite the Palin pick)

Of course, Palin doesn't share my values, so it's easier for me to say that. Were a virtual clone of me nominated, I suppose I might be tempted by such identipolitik, but I'd like to think I would resist it.

The bitter backstory behind Powell's defection

I did not know this.

If accurate, this is proof positive that Dobson and Palin are destroying the Republican party, something I've long felt (in the case of Palin, since she was nominated). Congratulations, Christian fundamentalists.

Fighting sleazy fire with anti-sleaze fire

Part of a recurring theme in the Obama camp?

The new praetorianism

68 Percent [Kathryn Jean Lopez]

That's how many active-duty military men and women support McCain over Obama, according to the Military Times. That deserves some serious consideration.

I was wondering how to best respond to such nuttery, and then I found this. A good take.

For a less rigorous exposé: "Would you like to know more?"

Tuesday, October 21

India rears its head

What shall we do?? I'm pretty sure Sarah Palin can't see India from Alaska! We're doomed : (

Palin apologizes for "real" and pro-America remarks

Here's what she originally said, for comparison:
We believe that the best of America is in the small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call real America, being here with all of you hard-working, very patriotic, very pro-America areas of this great nation.

This is where we find the kindness and the goodness and the courage of everyday Americans, those who are running our factories and teaching our kids and growing our food and are fighting our wars for us, those who are protecting us in uniform, those who are protecting the virtues of freedom.
The apology, of sorts, is at 18:30:
No, I do not want that misunderstood. When I go to these rallies, and we see the patriotism just shining through, these people’s faces and the Vietnam veterans wearing their hats so proudly, and they have tears in their eyes as we sing our national anthem and — it is so inspiring.

And I say that this is true America. You get it, you understand how important it is that in the next four years we have a leader who will fight for you. I certainly don’t want that interpreted as one area being more patriotic or more American than another. If that’s the way it has come across, I apologize.
Really? This isn't very satisfying. Taken with the recent Pfotenhauer, Bachmann, and Robin Hayes incidents, I'm getting a clear vibe from some Republicans that they don't consider some parts of America to be as patriotic, "real", or relevant as redder areas. They're retreating into this neo-McCarthyism as their polls sink because they have nothing else to offer besides personal and tribal attacks.

Today John McCain himself, campaigning in Pennsylvania, said on the stump:
"I couldn't agree with you more on the fact that Western Pennsylvania is the most patriotic, most God-loving, most patriotic part of America."
So McCain is saying that today, but we're supposed to believe that Sarah Palin honestly never meant to indicate the red crowds she visits are more patriotic and real than the rest of America? Come on. This doublespeak fools no one.


By the way, is it just me or is CNN's the first interview in which Sarah Palin seemed more competent than the person interviewing her? In all the previous interviews, if you asked me who I'd prefer as VP, I'd have said the interviewer would be better at the job than Palin. But this CNN guy was weak by comparison.... yeah, it's partly his fault, but it also seems like Palin is getting better with practice.

Nothing says Main Street

...quite like Saks Fifth Avenue. $150,000 for clothes...really, RNC? I'm glad they don't get my money.

At least it wasn't $300,000 for a single outfit.

UPDATE: Ambers reports that Republicans are disgusted. Good. I'm glad to see somebody still has a sense of shame...

Communist country

On the road, FiveThirtyEight makes a daring tour of unreal America.

From the over-the-top dept.

Next thing you know they'll be sayin' he was wrapped in swaddling clothes and will come riding back to DC on a donkey.

21 October in 100 seconds

Why Powell matters

Andrew finds another Muslim-American perspective:
"Over the past two years, we have witnessed a discourse which has consistently demeaned Muslims as less than American. In turn, American Muslims have been in hiding, resorting to our usual mix of self-pity and helplessness. The joke in Muslim circles is that if we really want Obama to win, then we would best off endorsing McCain. No one wants our endorsement. No one wants to meet with our leaders. No politician wants to be seen as Muslim-friendly. We have brought this upon ourselves.

If nothing else, this episode has shown us that we have to get more involved politically, that until we speak up, organize, and get our act together, and rid ourselves of our obsessions with our own victimization, not to mention our fixation with Palestine (at the expense of more pertinent issues for America like health care and education), we will be a political joke.

Anyway, Powell did us the service of telling us about a brave, courageous man – Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan. I hadn't heard of him before yesterday. When I heard Powell's words, I was moved in a way I haven't been since Obama's speech on race in March. Powell's statement was one of those rare acts of moral courage that we so rarely see from our politicians. In March, Obama spoke to what makes America a truly exceptional country. And, yesterday, Powell did the same."
Know hope.

Check out his endorsement again, or if you missed it. The part about Kareem is very moving.

Home news

Wisconsin's Capital Times:
Former Republican state Sen. Barbara Lorman has endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, denouncing Republican candidate John McCain's negative campaign.
Welcome to the fold.

It's okay

He's proud of it:

These people have no shame

Bachmann: I didn't say what I said.

Palin: attacks Obama for supporting her own position.

Donations at work

With the money he's raised, El cuts a TV ad in MN-06:

If I was made of money I'd donate to this man's opponent as well. The "real Americans" line of attack is horrifying.

TPM's new daily take

A less guarded Obama

Video from before he entered "presidential candidate mode."

Poll shock

The race is 51-49 among likely toddlers. What'll Drudge link to next?

More about "real" America

Jon Stewart and Jason Jones eviscerate Nancy Pfotenhauer, Sarah Palin, and Michele Bachmann's neo-McCarthyism.

It's especially good starting at 3:40.
Sarah Palin: "We believe that the best of America is in the small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call real America, being here with all of you hard-working, very patriotic, very pro-America areas of this great nation.

This is where we find the kindness and the goodness and the courage of everyday Americans, those who are running our factories and teaching our kids and growing our food and are fighting our wars for us, those who are protecting us in uniform, those who are protecting the virtues of freedom."
I guess Kareem Khan and his mother, seen below on her son's headstone --

-- aren't part of real America, because he was born in New Jersey and she lives in Maryland, all part of the same unreal block as Northern Virginia.....

The nerve of these people, it just makes you want to cry.

All you need to know about Fireproof

Whew, now I don't have to sit through it anytime soon.
The overriding problem is Caleb’s Internet porn habit. “That’s the kind of man you’ve become,” Catherine shouts at him. “There is nothing honorable about it.” Caleb can save lives every day, but he will never be a decent human being as long as he follows the Way of the Masturbator.

After Catherine makes an appointment with a divorce lawyer, Caleb turns to his father for advice. To Caleb’s surprise, the older man reveals that there was a time when he and Caleb’s mother were on the verge of divorce, until “the Lord did a work on us.” Caleb is an agnostic and has no patience for Christianese. Still, he accepts as a gift a book of spiritual advice called The Love Dare, which his father promises can save his marriage if he follows it for 40 days.

Since real men never back down from a dare, Caleb finds himself checking off the book’s marital-rescue boxes: “Say nothing negative,” “Do one act of kindness.” Halfway through, he gets to “Watch out for parasites”—addictions that can hollow out a relationship from the inside. Chastened, he not only deletes his Explorer bookmarks but smashes his entire computer with a baseball bat, just in case God hates spreadsheets and Minesweeper too. On the now empty desk, Caleb leaves Catherine a note that says, “I love you more.” If he hadn’t destroyed the computer, he could have instead sent her a real-life pornography addiction e-card.

Eventually Caleb learns the real lesson of The Love Dare, which is that you can not truly love your spouse until you love Jesus. He learns this in a park where there happens to be a giant wooden cross under which to fall on his knees. In the Christian movie racket, this is known as the Billy Graham scene, having been codified in the films Graham produced in the 1950s. This is followed by a montage of Caleb praying in various light-infused settings.

Cheesy? Heavy-handed? Yes, and intentionally so. In films like this, an evangelistic and ministerial mission do much more than a good script to assure commercial success. Not only has Fireproof made a handsome profit, but The Love Dare, a book which did not even exist until it was created as tie-in to the movie, is now at the top of The New York Times bestseller list. A Fireproof Your Marriage study kit and other products are also selling briskly.

But in making evangelism—and acceptability to the most insular Christian audiences—a priority, Christianese films all but guarantee artistic failure. Art demands an honesty that the evangelical bubble would find intolerable. Committed to promoting an unambiguous message that God solves all problems, Fireproof never portrays Christians doing anything untoward, or even experiencing any sorrow. Caleb’s parents’ marital struggles pre-dated their Christianity. When Caleb’s best friend reveals that he divorced his first wife, he not only says it was before he found the Lord, but adds that after he did, he would have gotten back together with his ex had she not already remarried. In the perfect world of Fireproof, good Christians do not have bad marriages, any more than they drink, gamble or swear.

And unlike in real life, when Christians in Fireproof share the Gospel they never search awkwardly for the right words and they always find a fertile target. In this respect, the film validates every pep-talk promise of The Way of the Master. At the end of Fireproof, after Caleb has been transformed by Jesus, he no longer even needs to open his mouth to proselytize. “Something has changed in you,” Catherine tells him, “and I want what happened to you to happen to me.” They are words straight out of every starry-eyed fundamentalist’s wet dreams.

Indeed, it’s possible Fireproof is so obsessed with stamping out pornography because it recognizes the competition. Fireproof is a porn version of Christianity—a ludicrously contorted, heavily airbrushed fantasy of the real thing, and ultimately every bit as unsatisfying.
You might think a number of Hollywood-style movies are "porn versions" of real-life as well, insofar as they depict unrealistic scenarios -- such as pretty people with better dialog than what more ordinary people would actually say in real heroic or tragic situations.

But of course porn doesn't have good dialog. A more accurate analogy is to think of such Hollywood movies as being like a good sermon. Not a "porn version", but a "heightened quality" version of the world as we wish it to be.

Fascists for McCain-Palin?

Family Guy goes there.

But actually the neo-Nazi hate groups seem to be quiet.

It's all because of Jewish money, you see.....LIEBERMAN!!!

Standing athwart politics yelling checkmate

While we're on the subject of types of chess and stop motion video, why not put the two together?

Conquering race

TNR profiles Axelrod's rise as Obama's message man.
"David just does a Vulcan mind meld with his candidates."


"There are very few people who happen to be white who are sensitive and willing to give their all and commit themselves to candidates of color," says Dennis Archer, the former mayor of Detroit and one of the many black mayoral candidates who relied on Axelrod's services. "Some come in with a pejorative sense and treat the candidate in a pejorative way, and you don't have the full, committed respect that David has displayed."
Worth reading in full.

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