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October 31, 2008

Coffee Snorters: Halloween Edition

Great moments in journalism:

In the search for Fudgie, firefighters took the family cooker and gas pipes to pieces.

They also dropped a mini-camera coated with chocolate underneath the floorboards.

They then hoped to suck out the furry rodent using a vacuum cleaner with a sock over the nozzle.

Kind of leaves you with tears in your eyes, doesn't it?

The Yumminess factor, or why an Obama presidency may not be quite the foreign policeh disaster we've all been anticipating:

The fact is, physical attraction is a potent weapon — a superpower, if you will, like seeing through walls and dresses. So if you have it, why not use it?

Seriously, if Palin's good looks were able to mesmerize McCain into choosing her, imagine what she can do to Ahmadinejad, who only sees hot chicks when he orders porn at hotels near the U.N. If her shapeliness can achieve what Stingers cannot, I say hooray.

And look, aren't the Democrats making the same case for Obama — that he's so yummy, he can sit down with just about anyone, without preconditions and convince them through his sheer adorability that the U.S. is now 200 percent more cuddly?

Hey... it could work. I never get tired of that.

I think it's the red dress. I have one just like it.

More evidence of the mind-body link? Or just junk science? VC reports. You decide:


Looking to improve your romantic odds? Get your date a steaming cup of coffee.

That's the implication of a new study by researchers who wanted to see if there was any connection between physical and emotional heat.

To their surprise, they found that people who held a cup of hot coffee for 10 to 25 seconds warmed to a perfect stranger. Holding a cup of iced coffee had the opposite effect.

If you want to make a good impression, advised study author Lawrence E. Williams, a University of Colorado at Boulder assistant professor of marketing, a fresh cup of coffee "may bias the situation in your favor."

The study, to be published today in the journal Science, is the latest to show how physical properties such as distance or temperature can unconsciously influence emotional reactions. In a previous experiment, for example, people who were asked to plot remote points on a graph expressed distant feelings about relatives afterward.

"Our mental processes are not separate and detached from the body," said John A. Bargh, a Yale University psychologist and co-author of the current study.

The findings raise the potential for manipulation beyond matters of the heart. Williams said it was not hard to envision marketers using warm cookies to make connections with customers -- and prime them to buy.

By the same token, Bargh said, shoppers who want to resist pushy salespeople could improve their chances by carrying an icy can of soda in a pocket.

This is a shocker:

The FBI is investigating [ACORN's] voter registration efforts in several states, amid allegations that almost a third of the 1.3 million cards it turned in are invalid. And yesterday, a former employee of Acorn testified in a Pennsylvania state court that the group's quality-control efforts were "minimal or nonexistent" and largely window dressing. Anita MonCrief also says that Acorn was given lists of potential donors by several Democratic presidential campaigns, including that of Barack Obama, to troll for contributions.

The Obama campaign denies it "has any ties" to Acorn, but Mr. Obama's ties are extensive. In 1992 he headed a registration effort for Project Vote, an Acorn partner at the time. He did so well that he was made a top trainer for Acorn's Chicago conferences. In 1995, he represented Acorn in a key case upholding the constitutionality of the new Motor Voter Act -- the first law passed by the Clinton administration -- which created the mandated, nationwide postcard voter registration system that Acorn workers are using to flood election offices with bogus registrations.

Ms. MonCrief testified that in November 2007 Project Vote development director Karyn Gillette told her she had direct contact with the Obama campaign and had obtained their donor lists. Ms. MonCrief also testified she was given a spreadsheet to use in cultivating Obama donors who had maxed out on donations to the candidate, but who could contribute to voter registration efforts. Project Vote calls the allegation "absolutely false."

She says that when she had trouble with what appeared to be duplicate names on the list, Ms. Gillette told her she would talk with the Obama campaign and get a better version. Ms. MonCrief has given me copies of the donor lists she says were obtained from other Democratic campaigns, as well as the 2004 DNC donor lists.

In her testimony, Ms. MonCrief says she was upset by Acorn's "Muscle for Money" program, which she said intimidated businesses Acorn opposed into paying "protection" money in the form of grants.

Acorn insists it operates with strict quality controls, turning in, as required by law, all registration forms "even if the name on them was Donald Duck," as Wade Rathke told me two years ago. Acorn whistleblowers tell a different story.

"There's no quality control on purpose, no checks and balances," says Nate Toler, who worked until 2006 as the head organizer of an Acorn campaign against Wal-Mart in California. And Ms. MonCrief says it is longstanding practice to blame bogus registrations on lower-level employees who then often face criminal charges, a practice she says Acorn internally calls "throwing folks under the bus."

Gregory Hall, a former Acorn employee, says he was told on his very first day in 2006 to engage in deceptive fund-raising tactics. Mr. Hall has founded a group called Speaking Truth to Power to push for a full airing of Acorn's problems "so the group can heal itself from within."

Posted by Cassandra at October 31, 2008 08:10 AM

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Comments

Anyone looking at ACORN with a jaundiced eye and any investigation experience immediately asks the question: Motive, Opportunity, Means.

ACORN and BHO raise red flags on each of those significant questions. What should logically follow is: Who, What, When, Where, How, Why. But of course you need our fourth estate for that. Interesting that the people who actually had a chance to ask that question before the elections just got kicked off the Obama plane because their news organizations came out for McCain/Palin.

Those who vote for BHO will find out what is behind BHO's dazzling smile. I remember in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" when the Arc was opened the beautiful sirens were let loose then devoured those they embraced. After their beauty seduced the naive who had no idea of the power they had, their true nature was manifest.

Posted by: vet66 at October 31, 2008 10:12 AM

Acorn insists it operates with strict quality controls, turning in, as required by law, all registration forms "even if the name on them was Donald Duck," as Wade Rathke told me two years ago.

And even if the address was 1313 Mockingbird Lane.

On all of 'em...

Posted by: BillT at October 31, 2008 10:14 AM

"The Yumminess Factor"? Not enough gravitas. I suggest the Tingle Doctrine, but it could only apply to Palin or Obama. I cannot imagine McCain or Biden relying on it to any effect.

Posted by: george at October 31, 2008 03:18 PM

Biden gets my Spidey Senses tingling -- does that count?

Posted by: BillT at October 31, 2008 04:40 PM

I want to suck your blood.

Posted by: Count Barney at October 31, 2008 05:30 PM

You wouldn't like it.

O negative has a heady nose, redolent of asphodel and garlic, with a lingering aftertaste some have likened to a rowan stake through the tongue...

Posted by: BillT at October 31, 2008 06:58 PM

I'm trying to remember what I am.

A-, I think.

Posted by: The Ghotht of Thamfir at October 31, 2008 08:09 PM

That was my average in the Theodicy course I took in 1967.

Okay, *now* try to pin the blame for that vampire post on me...

Posted by: BillT at November 1, 2008 04:20 AM

> They also dropped a mini-camera coated with chocolate underneath the floorboards.

Idiots. Chocolate is for women traps. You want to pull a rodent to a trap, there's only one substance: peanut butter and honey.

Posted by: OBloodyhell at November 1, 2008 05:58 AM

> To their surprise, they found that people who held a cup of hot coffee for 10 to 25 seconds warmed to a perfect stranger. Holding a cup of iced coffee had the opposite effect.

I would lay odds that hot chocolate would be the perfect substance for this, not coffee.

Posted by: OBloodyhell at November 1, 2008 06:02 AM

> By the same token, Bargh said, shoppers who want to resist pushy salespeople could improve their chances by carrying an icy can of soda in a pocket.

Temperature really doesn't matter if you just throw it at them...

Posted by: OBloodyhell at November 1, 2008 06:03 AM

That made me laugh out loud :p

Posted by: Cassandra at November 1, 2008 06:10 AM

"...there's only one substance: peanut butter and honey."

Ummmm............OBH? Been watching the Spanish Inquisition have you? Or Unkle Joe Biden?

Posted by: DL Sly at November 1, 2008 02:17 PM

Mix peanut butter and honey, and you get one single substance -- hamster bait. Well, actually, it's not really *bait* as such, any more than flypaper is bait, because you've gotta smoorge it on a plumber's snake and whip it around under the floorboards until it connects with the tailless rat.

When you hear the muffled *squeak!* just yank the whole thing and Bob's yer uncle.

Bob, of course, is a whole different substance entirely, as is your uncle, but

*whap!*

OW! What?!?

Posted by: BillT at November 1, 2008 02:42 PM

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