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October 31, 2008

Stupid Halloween Thread...

...that we blame on BillT and spd...

What is your blood type?

WK-AN482_vampir_D_20081029134858.jpgThe Japanese think your blood type correlates with your personality. Based on what they have to say about The Princess, I think they've been smoking wacky weed.

Finally, spd sent me this wonderful piece about vampires:

... a few indispensable qualities reside at the heart of the vampire's appeal. Vampires are always good-looking, excruciatingly so; the word that Bella Swan, the protagonist of the "Twilight" series, most often uses to describe her adored undead boyfriend Edward is "perfect." Washboard abs are a must. Vampires are also invariably well-dressed, whether in period costume or the pricey designer outfits sported by the blood-sucking boyfriends in Gossip-Girl-style gothics like Richelle Mead's "Vampire Academy" or Melissa de la Cruz's "Blue Bloods," both set in exclusive prep schools. Above all else, vampires are rich. (The source of vampire wealth is obscure, since few of them appear to be gainfully employed. The assumption seems to be that anyone who's been around for 300 years must be in a position to take full advantage of the miracle of compound interest.) In short, they uncannily resemble the heroes of traditional romance novels.

The fusion of the romance and vampire genres isn't as unlikely as it might seem. The archetypal romantic hero owes a lot to two characters from Victorian literature: Mr. Rochester in "Jane Eyre" and Heathcliff in "Wuthering Heights." The two sisters who wrote those novels, Charlotte and Emily Brontë, were, like most literary women of their time, great admirers of Lord Byron, whose stormy, passionate heroes (based on his own bad self) served as patterns for Rochester and Heathcliff.

In turn, one of the earliest stories in which a vampire is depicted as a decadently attractive aristocrat is "The Vampyre" (1819), by John Polidori, Byron's physician, who achieved a minor literary notoriety by writing thinly veiled portraits of his former employer. Both the classic romance hero and the suave vampire are handsome yet dangerous, mysteriously worldly and a little cruel, but gifted in erotic persuasion.

I got thinking about it, and I had to laugh. I grew up on vampire movies. But true to form, I never liked movies where the vampire was ugly. He had to be suave and debonaire - a gentleman's vampire: the kind of guy you would never date in a million years but secretly dreamed about in typing class.

That, I think, is the magic of Halloween for me: entertaining all sorts of idiotic ideas that make no sense in real life. Because we all have dangerous fantasies, dark fears, monsters hiding under the bed. I always hated parents who didn't like Halloween. It's a marvelous holiday. It allows children to drag both their fantasies and their fears out in the open and cut them down to size.

It gives adults a chance to be childlike again, and God knows we need a bit of play in our lives.

Now that my children are gone, I miss it.

And you people are way too quiet.

Posted by Cassandra at 07:51 PM | Comments (63) | TrackBack

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 08:10 AM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

October 30, 2008

Another One Bites .... Oh, Nevermind

I suppose the "You Can No More Win a War Than You Can Win an EarthQuake" t-shirt he had on last time I saw him should have been my first clue:

After all, this is America. It isn’t like anything bad is going to happen here, at least once we end injustice, poverty and racism. That socialism thing? Come on. There aren’t any commies any more. Even when there were, Che was cool-looking. So Obama hung around with people who said they like terrorism, God Damn Amerika, all that. Hello, freedom of speech? Is there something wrong with saying stuff? It’s not like Obama is some kind of Manchurian candidate who is going to let the Mongol hordes in. Or the Muslim ones. And don’t start up with the “Hussein” thing again. He’s no scary Muslim … not that there’s anything wrong with that. He’s a regular old Christian. Just ask Rev. Wright.

Sure, he has a nice easy smile, but he also looks very determined, strong-jawed yet thoughtful, as if he’s very seriously pondering, “Why do they hate us?” Don’t laugh, that’s not funny. There is absolutely nothing in the record to indicate that President Obama wouldn’t slap the cuffs on any jihadis when the evidence is there that they plan to attack America, or already have, and that the Obama Justice Department won’t throw the book at them in a major way. He’s personally going to invade Pakistan, or not, depending. And he’s got some stern words for a lot of dictators he intends to deliver face-to-face, mano a mano. Nuke-happy mullahs, watch out: There’s a new community resource officer in town, and you’re about to be read your Miranda rights.

Unfortunately, America is still a fetid swamp of frothing racism, as the New York Times, the AP and even many credible media outlets have taken pains to point out. So maybe it is time for America to take the next step. Some people might say, yeah, OK, Obama’s black, but he’s not experienced enough. Community organizer, state senator, showed up on the national scene five minutes ago, no executive experience. I think you have to ask yourself, does that really matter? The issue, when you’re trying to end racism, isn’t whether he’s up to running the country and the world or not, or whether all his friends are left-wing wackjobs, or whether his ideas make any sense, or even whether he actually believes anything he says. It’s whether he’s black or not, and that’s pretty well been established. OK, biracial, same difference. What do you think the last 40 years of affirmative action have been all about? Anyway, Obama has a stodgy old white geezer in the jump seat to make sure he doesn’t do anything too radical or, I dunno, too young or too black, I guess. At least I think that’s why he picked Old Hairplugs.

So I was thinking, maybe it’s time to do what all the other guys are doing. Colin Powell, Ken Adelman, Douglas Kmiec, Christopher Hitchens … OK, he’s just going back where he came from … Charles Fried, Francis Fukuyama, Chuck Hagel, Bruce Bartlett kind of, Bill Weld, Lincoln Chafee, Scott McClellan, Christopher Buckley … damn, there’s a lot of them. Looking at that very long list of august names, considering where we stand at this important portal in history, I think the question anyone at all progressively minded should be asking is … hey Condi, why don’t you grow a set?

There's plenty more where that came from, sheeples. Drink... drink deeply.

Posted by Cassandra at 11:13 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Kickin' It, Old Style

Posted by Cassandra at 07:09 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

October 29, 2008

XXXXOOOOO, AFE

I never felt magic crazy as this
I never saw moons knew the meaning of the sea
I never held emotion in the palm of my hand
Or felt sweet breezes in the top of a tree
But now you're here
Brighten my northern sky.

Posted by Cassandra at 01:48 PM | Comments (19) | TrackBack

Obama to Revive FDR's 2nd Bill of Rights

Sacre bleu, mes amis! Seldom since the halcyon days when the Editorial Staff revealed Clarence Thomas' role as dread Lord of the Constitution-in-Exile Conspiracy have we been so entertained! For those new to VC and our thankfully obliterated law archives, a trip in the Wayback Machine - back to 2005 - may be in order:

Alert readers will no doubt recall that just a few short months ago, Jeff Rosen was madly flogging the Constitution-in-Exile Conspiracy.

The fiendish members of this plot took the backward view that judges ought to try reading the actual verbiage penned by our Founding Fathers instead of haring off to nations like, say... France in search of a hand-rolled Gauloise and a Derrida primer (the better to deconstruct the Commerce Clause whilst staving off that annoying sense of anomie that comes from eating one too many confits).

Membership in this clandestine Brotherhood must have been an awfully well-kept secret, for the arcane and conspiratorial nature of the plot was such that the rank and file apparently went about their business for decades, blissfully unaware they were engaged in a desperate struggle to overthrow the Republic. But Evil will brook no delay. The Cause marched on. Sans soldiers, sans leader even... That is, until Gonzalez v. Raich reared its ugly head:

The most radical dissenting opinion was written by Thomas. Thomas has proved to be the most reliable ally of the movement to resurrect what some conservatives call the Constitution in Exile, referring to limitations on federal power that have been dormant since the New Deal.

The Editorial Staff found the epic struggle between the Constitution-in-Exile and Constitution in 2020 folks to be extremely diverting. Not that the CIE folks were ever aware they were engaged in a grudge match for the soul of the nation, mind you. Rethugs can be so absent-minded. But they make such good boogeymen.

The cause of all this progressive angst was a long-forgotten FDR speech in which he outlined a truly sweeping set of revisions to American law: a second bill of rights meant to bring about "economic justice" for all. In 2005, a conference was held at Yale University to discuss whether FDR's vision of economic justice might be resurrected and enshrined in the United States Constitution. Not inaptly, it was called The Constitution in 2020 and the rights it wished to enact are popularly known as FDR's Second Bill of Rights.

The short version (aka the Economic Bill of Rights) can be found here. FDR proposed his second Bill of Rights during a State of the Union Address on January 11, 1944. In that address, he told the nation the Constitution/Bill of Rights had "proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness." He proposed a second Bill of Rights to be enacted through the federal legislature rather than enshrined in the Constitution. This new Bill of Rights would guarantee the following government benefits by statute:

* A job with a living wage
* Freedom from unfair competition and monopolies
* Homeownership
* Medical care
* Education
* Recreation

Is any of this beginning to sound familiar? It should:

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.

I believe Orin has deftly put his finger on the crux of the issue I raised the other day regarding John McCain's troubles at the polls:

What McCain needs to offer voters is a positive vision of what life in America would look like if he were elected President. The election needs to be framed, not as a choice between a dangerous Socialist and an American hero, but as a choice between two competing plans for America's future: one rooted in the stability of over two hundred years of American innovation and industry (but informed by 21st century idealism) and one based on the European model: redistribution of the wealth and more government.

It's a simple choice, really. In 20 years, what do you want America to look like?

Do you want it to continue to look like America? A land of opportunity where immigrants from all over the world flock, attracted by the lure of the American dream? A land where representative democracy was born and continues to improve, but where individual rights and initiative are still respected?

Or do you want America to look more like France and Germany? Do you think Congress did such a good job of protecting your interests while the mortgage crisis simmered for nearly 20 years that you want to expand its power over your life?

What is your vision for America?

Calling Obama a Socialist proves nothing germane to most voters while allowing the Obama camp to claim they're the victims of a smear campaign or are being targeted by ignorant racists. The truth is that voters don't care about political labels. They want to know two things about a candidate:

1. Can I trust this person to make good decisions that protect my interests?

2. How will the vote I cast on election day directly impact my life?

I didn't have time, the other day, to explore the more interesting aspects of this passage but I think it's important to do so now.

In that post I touched on the fact that many voters have either an exceedingly poor grasp of the issues or appear to be disregarding them entirely. This was well illustrated by the Howard Stern video, in which McCain's talking points were erroneously attributed to Obama, even to the point of giving him Sarah Palin as a running mate. Disturbingly, none of this made any difference. Obama supporters cheerfully swallowed it all - pro-life stances, opposition to stem cell research, even the much hated Palin as VP.

Some of the cognitive dissonance may be attributable to information overload. A lot may be due to apathy. But much may also be attributable to the profound distrust most of us have come to feel for the media. It is not unlikely that many would-be voters simply tune out most of what they see and hear, figuring the vast majority of it is biased information. Frankly, unless they have time to do extensive fact checking on their own, this may not be an irrational decision.

The problem, though, becomes one of seepage. Voters can only filter out so much. If one is surrounded by a barrage of mass media continually grinding out a fairly consistent message, some portion of that message must permeate whatever barriers one thinks have been constructed against bias; especially if only one side of the story is being told.

Information that is never heard cannot be filtered, compared and contrasted with opposing information, weighed, even eventually discounted and discarded. It never has a chance, and this does an enormous disservice to voters who are willing to entertain both sides of an issue. It never enters the universe of available data: the pool of possible alternatives. This is what is so wrong with media bias; not that the press openly favor one candidate, but that in so doing they close off entire avenues of inquiry, becoming the very type of authoritarian gatekeepers they claim the Fourth Estate exists to protect the public from.

Who is able to hold the media accountable? If a federal shield law is enacted, soon no one will be able to. They will be completely above the law: a completely unaccountable and unchecked (not to mention unelected) virtual fourth branch of government. But not to worry. They have our best interests at heart and unlike every other human being on the planet, power will not corrupt them.

In the meantime, thanks to the fascists at FauxNews we have the transcript of Mr. Obama's full remarks from 2001 to consider. We can, if we can manage to stop screaming, "Fox News sux! They're all Nazi babykillers!" long enough, always check it against the tape of Mr. Obama speaking for accuracy, if not for typos:

... the supreme court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth and sort of basic issues of political and economic justice in this society and to that extent as radical as people try to characterize the warren court it wasn't that radical 40;30 it didnt break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the constituion at least as it has been interpreted and the warren court interpreted it generally in the same way that the constitution is a document of negative liberties 40:43 says what the states cant do to you says what the federal govt cant do to you but it doesnt say what the federal govt or state govt mst do on your behalf and that hasnt shifted and i think one of the tragedies of the civil rights movement was that 41:01 the civil rights movement becaem so court focused i think there was a tendency to lose track of the political and organizing activities 41:12 on the ground that are able to bring about the coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributive change 41:20 and in some ways we still suffer from that

Now many people have argued (incorrectly, I believe) that Mr. Obama was threatening to use the courts to redistribute wealth in this passage.

I believe it's quite plain Obama meant nothing of the sort. He has no real issues with redistributing wealth. He simply believes the courts are ill suited to this purpose, as when one uses the courts one fails to leverage the "coalitions of power" possible through legislative avenues. As soon as I read this I thought of FDR's Second Bill of Rights, as FDR, too, envisioned a legislative implementation of economic justice. This is why I wrote the post I wrote yesterday. It's why I argued that there is no point in calling Obama a socialist.

I sat on the post I wanted to write for a few days. Not literally, because that would have been painful, but figuratively. Because as always I did not wish to be irresponsible or unfair to Mr. Obama. There is more than enough of that on the Internet these days. I'm tired of seeing conservatives make asses of themselves. But I was quite sure this was what Mr. Obama was talking about. And now he was come right out and said it in so many words:

U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D. Toledo) whipped the crowd up before Mr. Obama took the stage yesterday telling them that America needed a Second Bill of Rights guaranteeing all Americans a job, health care, homes, an education, and a fair playing field for business and farmers.

I have been cautious about this. And I still believe there is little point in throwing labels about.

But this is what the man has said. A second bill of rights. It is consistent throughout his history. I really don't see what more one needs - look at his tax policies, as I did in my prior post.

And as the Heritage Foundation has pointed out, Mr. Obama has not been honest with the American people about his tax policies:

The print ad on your Website as well as your ad entitled “Try This” reference a quote from policy analyst Rea Hederman. In fact, Mr. Hederman never said what is quoted there. Rather, the words you quote are from a New York Sun reporter who interviewed Mr. Hederman and summarized his views erroneously.

That the reporter’s summary is erroneous is evident from the actual quotes from Mr. Hederman presented in the article, which make it quite clear that Mr. Hederman believes your tax plan would be bad not only for the country, but for the middle class. By omitting the direct quotes from Heritage that are contained in the article and attributing to Heritage a conflicting statement not made by its analyst, the advertisement appears to be an intentional attempt to mislead.

Surely there can be no doubt within your campaign as to how Heritage truly views your tax plan. When one of your economic advisors, Jeffrey Liebman, made this same misrepresentation in a September 4, 2008 letter to The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Hederman promptly sent a corrective and very public letter. It appeared in the September 16 issue of The Wall Street Journal under the title: “A Bad Plan That Is Less Bad Is Still Not A Very Good Plan.” In it, Mr. Hederman strenuously decried Mr. Liebman’s blatant misrepresentation and set the record straight.

The Heritage Foundation believes that your advertisements’ use of its name is not only not a fair use of its intellectual property, but is an intentional attempt to mislead and misinform voters. As a responsible candidate, you should insist that your campaign cease to run these false advertisements immediately.

I truly believe that if a great many Obama voters understood what this man was proposing, they would withdraw their votes.

The question is: do they?

Posted by Cassandra at 06:28 AM | Comments (31) | TrackBack

October 28, 2008

Self Absorbed

God hath given you one face and you make yourselves another.

- Hamlet, 3. 1

Fascinating thought: does Botox make us more beautiful, but less human - and humane?

Mimicking faces is a deep instinct in humans—babies start doing it days after birth. And our ancestors were probably making these faces for millions of years. Earlier this year, Marina Davila Ross of the University of Portsmouth and her colleagues reported the first observation of other apes quickly mimicking faces. When orangutans play with each other, they sometimes open their mouths in the ape equivalent of a smile. Observing 25 orangutans at play, Ross found that when an orangutan sees another orangutan make an open-mouth expression, it tends to do the same in less than half a second.

We do not mimic faces simply as a side-effect of looking at other people. Experiments show that mimicry actually helps us understand what other people are feeling. Harvard University psychologist Lindsay Oberman and her colleagues demonstrated this effect with little more than a pen.

Oberman had volunteers bite down on a pen and then look at a series of faces. They had to pick the emotion they thought the faces were expressing. The volunteers could recognize sad faces and angry ones with the same accuracy as test subjects who did not have pens in their mouths. But they did a worse job of recognizing happy faces.

Biting a pen, it just so happens, requires you to use the same muscles you use to smile. Because the smiling muscles were active throughout the experiment, Oberman’s subjects apparently couldn’t feel themselves start to mimic happy faces. Without that feedback, they had a more difficult time recognizing when people were happy.

Oberman and a growing number of other psychologists believe that we empathize by mimicking faces. By putting ourselves in other people’s places, we understand what they’re feeling. To investigate how facial mimicry helps us empathize, Leonhard Schilbach of the University of Cologne and his colleagues recently made a brain-scanning breakthrough. They had volunteers watch movies of computer-animated people turning toward them and smiling while scientists scanned their brain activity and tracked their facial muscles. Later the researchers examined the muscle recordings to pinpoint the precise instant when the volunteers mimicked the faces. Then they looked at how the brains of the volunteers were acting at that instant.

During unconscious facial mimicry, Schilbach discovered, several regions of the brain become active. One of those, the left precentral gyrus, becomes active when people get the urge to move their facial muscles (such as when a song makes them sad). Other regions (the right hippocampus and the posterior cingulate cortex) become active when we have emotional experiences, helping to retrieve emotional memories. Another part of the brain that becomes active during facial mimicry (the dorsal midbrain) relays emotional signals to the rest of the body, bringing on the physical feelings that go along with emotions, like a racing heartbeat.

When humans mimic others’ faces, in other words, we don’t just go through the motions. We also go through the emotions.

I will never forget sitting in my senior history class one day. Shortly after class, the teacher approached me and said something a bit odd.

He said, "It's very distracting, having you sit in front. The number of expressions that flit across your face is really quite amazing - I can see your mind is racing a mile a minute."

I guess I do that when I'm trying to understand things. Also, I'm not always terribly good at hiding what I'm thinking.

This weekend, I got yet another coupon from the local 'surgical arts' clinic here in western Maryland. They must target 'women of a certain age'. I was laughing about it with my husband: every time I get one of those durned things, it becomes a little more tempting to ring them up and say, "Sure - take 10 years off my face. Make me look young again." I always think how nice it would be for my husband to see a younger, prettier version of me. That sort of thing seems to be so important to men, though of course he never says so.

But I always stop and think that whatever lines are on my face are my history. They are the story of my life - every emotion I've felt, every tear I've cried, every time I've laughed out loud has etched a tiny trace into my face for everyone to see. Perhaps that's a foolish way of looking at it. Be that as it may, I can never quite bring myself to pick up the telephone.

Maybe this is why.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:50 AM | Comments (49) | TrackBack

CBS Ruthlessly Outs "Out of the Closet"!!!

Quelle horreur! The tally of economic crimes committed by this moose-loving populist continues to mount!

Sarah Palin attempted to squash sartorial criticism this weekend when she told a crowd her favorite store's a consignment shop, not fancy stores like the ones the RNC patronized when picking her campaign duds.

We're not sure if the comment changed any minds about Palin's $150,000 wardrobe, but it spurred CBS Early Show's crack team to track down the store, Anchorage's Out of the Closet.

Does that name sound familiar? It should - that's the name of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation's chain of thrift shops, all of which benefit the group's good cause.

Well, the AHF is not amused by this coincidence and has sent the store a cease and desist letter that demands they find a new name. And it's all Palin's fault!

We'd say we're shocked, but we're... ummm...

Nevermind.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:06 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Oba-compensation, Anyone?

Is it just us, or has the transformational nature of The One's candidacy awakened a truly touching protective instinct amongst his followers; one that suggests a willingness to swallow any story, rationalize away the flaws all candidates suffer from, concoct the most ludicrously tortured interpretations for easily verifiable quotes?

We can understand declining to address certain issues. This can happen for several reasons and we have done this ourselves on many occasions. A writer may (privately) honestly believe his or her candidate dorked up, yet not wish to fuel the outpouring of scorn and derision being somewhat justly heaped upon their boy's head. So be it - there is no rule which says openly partisan bloggers must address every brouhaha which lights up the news cycle. We'd never get anything else done.

We may, likewise, not even be aware of a controversy until it has become stale, or if we do see it other stories may interest us more. After all, most bloggers only post a few times each day and yet there are literally hundreds of news items hitting the airwaves. We pick and choose.

But to stretch one's convictions to the breaking point to excuse that which (had it been said or done by anyone else) would have merited swift condemnation? To pose a flimsy excuse which can't withstand even the most casual inspection? *That*, in our view, if it is not intellectually dishonest, begins to slide into the dangerous territory of Oba-compensation and when otherwise intelligent writers succumb, the malady becomes even more depressing. Exhibit one, Chris Hitchens (no friend to religion) continues to stun with an almost Sully-esque descent into deliciously selective peevishness:

Videos taken in the Assembly of God church in Wasilla, Alaska, which she used to attend, show her nodding as a preacher says that Alaska will be “one of the refuge states in the Last Days.” For the uninitiated, this is a reference to a crackpot belief, widely held among those who brood on the “End Times,” that some parts of the world will end at different times from others, and Alaska will be a big draw as the heavens darken on account of its wide open spaces. An article by Laurie Goodstein in the New York Times gives further gruesome details of the extreme Pentecostalism with which Palin has been associated in the past (perhaps moderating herself, at least in public, as a political career became more attractive). High points, also available on YouTube, show her being “anointed” by an African bishop who claims to cast out witches. The term used in the trade for this hysterical superstitious nonsense is “spiritual warfare,” in which true Christian soldiers are trained to fight demons. Palin has spoken at “spiritual warfare” events as recently as June. And only last week the chiller from Wasilla spoke of “prayer warriors” in a radio interview with James Dobson of Focus on the Family, who said that he and his lovely wife, Shirley, had convened a prayer meeting to beseech that “God’s perfect will be done on Nov. 4.”

This is what the Republican Party has done to us this year: It has placed within reach of the Oval Office a woman who is a religious fanatic and a proud, boastful ignoramus. Those who despise science and learning are not anti-elitist. They are morally and intellectually slothful people who are secretly envious of the educated and the cultured. And those who prate of spiritual warfare and demons are not just “people of faith” but theocratic bullies. On Nov. 4, anyone who cares for the Constitution has a clear duty to repudiate this wickedness and stupidity.

Those who were secretly wondering what Hitchens thinks of Pentecostals need wonder no more. For the record, the Editorial Staff incline to the Anglican Communion. And yet we are not quite ready to bind those who care to practice spiritual warfare to the stake.

At least not yet. Abe Greenwald neatly identifies Hitchens' logical nonsequitur:

You’ve been given your mandate, intellectual America! Fight clerical ignorance by electing a president whose spiritual mentor preaches that H.I.V. was invented by the U.S. government. Stand up to bullying stupidity and toxic envy by casting your vote for the two-decade-long member of Jeremiah Wright’s “God damn America” Trinity United Church — an institution that readily supported Louis Farrakhan and that furnished Hamas-supporters with a forum to spew anti-Israel fantasies. And don’t forget to demonstrate your love for the Constitution by putting in the White House a man who laments the “essential constraints” the document places on the judiciary’s ability to spread wealth around.

At the risk of being accused of bludgeoning Hitchens to death with an endangered clue bat, anyone who "cares for the Constitution" might also find a clear duty to reject a candidate who believes "heart and empathy" are more important qualities for a Supreme Court Justice than upholding the Constitution:

We need somebody who's got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it's like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it's like to be poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old. And that's the criteria by which I'm going to be selecting my judges

- Barack Obama

But doubtless Hitchens can find a way to oba-compensate for that, too.

Exhibit two: Joan Walsh of Salon, who apparently can't be bothered to read a transcript or listen to the interview in question before making up transparently silly excuses for her candidate out of whole cloth. We suggest you put down your coffee before reading this one:

Obama's interview with Chicago's WBEZ was specifically about the civil rights movement, and the best ways to remedy the conditions of black people after slavery and Jim Crow. When Obama talks about "redistributive change," it's in the context of what needed to be done for Americans who were slaves, who owned nothing; in fact, they were owned. Anyone who's honest knows that the legacy of African-American family poverty can be traced back to slavery and Jim Crow. Obama is not ranting wildly about income distribution in the interview; he's talking calmly and thoughtfully about the array of strategies needed to erase that legacy.

Even a cursory look at the transcript suffices here. Obama is answering questions about Brown vs. Board of Education and the Warren court. The Civil War ended in 1965 err... 1865. Brown was decided in 1954. So, approximately 90 years transpired between those two events. (Ed. note moved due to incoming: Thanks, Bill, but as everyone knows the Civil War *really* ended when Barney Frank rammed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 down the throats of a militantly racist Rethug Congress. Ppphhhhttthh :p).

A generation is normally considered to be 25 years. One can neatly fit three generations into this time span with quite a bit left over, so the claim that "when Obama talks about "redistributive change," it's in the context of what needed to be done [by the 1950s Warren court] for Americans who were slaves, who owned nothing; in fact, they were owned fails the logic as well as the truthiness test.

Last up, sadly, is Megan McArdle:

Ms. McArdle is a remakably generous woman, who chooses to believe the best about the Obama campaign:
The Obama campaign screwed up massively; it should not be possible to charge something to a credit card without matching the name to the name on the credit card. Most responsible web processors also require that you provide a fair amount of other information, to ensure that people aren't using stolen cards. And beyond that, last time I looked it was mandatory to get correct names to ensure that people aren't violating the campaign finance laws. I don't support those laws, to be sure. But as long as they are the law, all the campaigns have to abide by them.

Wondering if we can't prosecute the person who exposed the campaign's error smacks of police state tactics. Yes, I still support Obama, and I have no reason to think that the error was deliberate.

"Error"? She is aware that the campaign has disabled all the normal safeguards that "responsible web processors... require," and is ignoring the "mandatory" requirement to collect correct names "to ensure that people aren't violating the campaign finance laws."

Setting up credit card transactions over the web is a fairly standard process. There are plenty of shopping cards and software modules in existence with the defaults preset to validate transactions to the standards we all have come to expect in online transactions. And that's just for credit card sales. For the campaign of a candidate for the Presidency of the United States (who happened to head up the Harvard Law Review) to feign ignorance of the most basic requirements for validating campaign contributions is inexcusable. By Ms. McArdle's own admission, the Obama campaign is neither "a responsible credit card processor" nor is it "complying with campaign finance laws", yet "she continues to support Obama"!

*sigh*

This shouldn't have to be said, but the de minimus standard here is not appropriate here; not for a man who is asking us to place him in charge of the world's largest superpower. Is it appropriate to expect anything of Mr. Obama? Or is that, too, racist and ugly - a personal attack? What logical or ethical standard are we allowed to apply to this transformational candidate, or does he somehow "transcend" the standards applied to every other candidate for the same office?

"If John McCain had given to white supremacist groups and people said, 'Hey, the majority of funding didn't go to supremacist groups' -- that wouldn't even cut the ice," Kurtz said.

At the risk of being accused of being sexist (a charge we expect to neatly avoid by virtue of the well-known truism that 'tis well-nigh impossible for blacks to be racists nor womyn, purveyors of chauvinist oinkitude) we must reluctantly pronounce all three of these folks Guilty of the unpardonable sin of Opining While Female.

Yes, we realize Chris Hitchens is technically male but when a man has his naughty bits Brazilian-waxed and then proceeds to flail about in a veritable La Brea tarpit of Sullivanian pique, he can be said to have earned the hairy eyeball.

Deal with it. It's going to be a long 4 years, should Obama win on Nov. 4th.

Entertaining, though.

Posted by Cassandra at 05:15 AM | Comments (24) | TrackBack

October 27, 2008

Yet Another Mystery Solved!!!!

No wonder there have been so few reports of actual voter fraud stemming from fraudulent voter registrations!

We can all relax. The Obama campaign is watching this issue very closely:

If you have been watching ON THE RECORD at 10pm eastern, you know about Palestra.net — the college news network. But here is the BIG NEWS: the student journalists Tiffany Wilson and Shelby Holliday (not professionals) are AGGRESSIVE in pursuing voter fraud in Ohio and have uncovered ACTUAL voter fraud. They are also not afraid.

As a result of their journalism, votes already cast for President have had to be withdrawn.

So what is the students’ reward for exposing crime??? An intimidating letter from the Senator Obama campaign lawyer to one of the students?? See below and then you tell me…

From: Rosenberg, Thomas
Date: Sun, Oct 26, 2008 at 2:32 PM
Subject: At least in today’s blog you spelled my last name right
To: tiffany

In other words, I am going to read what you write and watch what you say. Hopefully you will be fair and impartial as you told me you would be.

Thomas L. Rosenberg
Roetzel & Andress, LPA

Columbus, OH 43215
trosenberg@ralaw.com

As the NY Post details, as a result of Palestra.net's intrepid efforts both the McCain and Obama campaigns were reminded of the requirements for legal voting in the state of Ohio. As a result, two McCain campaign workers who had registered in Ohio were investigated. It was determined both had lived in the state for 6-8 months prior to registering to vote and were in full compliance state law.

A dozen Obama workers have withdrawn their ballots in response to a letter sent by the Franklin County prosecutor. Thom Rosenberg, attorney for the Obama campaign in Ohio, said there are in the neighborhood of 700 Obama campaign workers in the state of Ohio. Shelby Holliday followed up with several out of state Obama campaign workers who did not withdraw their absentee ballots, yet whose Facebook pages show no ties to the state of Ohio. Though the Franklin Country prosecutor asked these workers to do the right thing and the Obama campaign has asked its out of state workers to comply with state law, not all have complied, and now their votes will be counted, even if it is eventually shown that they are fraudulent.

The Obama workers in question have suddenly made their Facebook pages unavailable. Their names, however, have been turned in to the Franklin Country prosecutor for investigation. Alarmingly, one Obama worker was turned in by his host family, who received an absentee ballot in the mail and realized that he was not qualified to vote in their state. Oddly though, when Palestra inquired about the case, they were told state officials "knew nothing about it".

Fortunately, should anything happen to fall through the cracks, we can be sure our friends in the Netroots will investigate the reports as thoroughly as they "investigated" Joe the Plumber:

...as a full-time employee who is paying rent and paying taxes, Smith registered to vote and then proceeded to voted early in Knox County, Ohio, his new home county. Because he arrived in the county so recently (even though it was before the 30-day residency cutoff, as stipulated by state law), the Rethuglicans have decided to call this voter fraud:

Imagine that! Just because this poor guy registered to vote in Ohio but doesn't satisfy the legal requirements to vote in Ohio, the bad, bad partisans "have decided" to call it voter fraud!

*cough*

As opposed to what it is.

Actual voter fraud, as defined by Ohio law. The nerve of some people.

After all, he pays his taxes. Though not, we imagine, to Ohio. It's amazing what a well-organized community can accomplish when they put their minds to it:

Palestra.net, a student journalist-run affiliate of Fox News, which is owned by The Post's parent firm, News Corp., found that Obama campaign worker Jacob Smith, a Florida native, moved in with a host family in Howard, Ohio, on Sept. 28 or Sept. 29 - and registered and voted on Oct. 1.

Baker said he wouldn't comment on individual cases. McCain's campaign didn't respond to a request for comment. But Don Schutte, Smith's host, said he was "kind of dismayed" after learning his guest had registered as a resident of his home.

Posted by Cassandra at 02:46 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Applied Economics

Sadly, I happen to agree with every single thing Grim says here.

The problem is that labeling Obama a socialist is (I believe) counterproductive for the reasons cited in my prior post, and also for another rather startling reason: many, many Americans happen to agree with Obama that redistributing the wealth is a worthy policy goal.

Many, many Americans believe - as Paul Krugman does - that income inequality is the single biggest problem facing America today, and if you doubt how easily that position can be made to sound entirely reasonable and desireable, click here for a real eye-opener:

AS IS my custom in early September I made my annual pilgrimage to France – this time to the north coast of Brittany.

As always I was struck by the cleanness, the sense of order and the general air of comfort and material wealth.

This contrasts markedly with my first impression of the country when I visited on a school- organised exchange in 1954.

To a 13-year-old from the North of England, the country looked run down and the people looked poor.

Now everyone looks as if they have money in the bank, or even under the bed, and enough to spare for luxuries – and this includes the elderly.

France is an innately rich country. But part of its formula for the good life is its adoption of the so-called Rhenish or social model of capitalism, which facilitates the redistribution of wealth through the social security system to the poor, the unemployed and the retired.

In the global league table of wealth distribution, France fares rather better than the UK and the other so-called Anglo-Saxon economies, which have adopted a more market-driven model.

This is why, in my earlier post, I talked of two competing visions for America. What Obama, with his talk of "hope" and "change", continually glosses over is these two visions are diametrically opposed. You cannot unify people who see America's future in completely different terms, except possibly by alerting them to the possibility that an idea which sounds wonderful in the abstract may affect them in concrete ways they may find unacceptable:

Today on my way to lunch I passed a homeless guy with a sign that read "Vote Obama, I need the money." I laughed.

Once in the restaurant my server had on a "Obama 08" tie, again I laughed as he had given away his political preference--just imagine the coincidence.

When the bill came I decided not to tip the server and explained to him that I was exploring the Obama redistribution of wealth concept.

He stood there in disbelief while I told him that I was going to
redistribute his tip to someone who I deemed more in need--the
homeless guy outside. The server angrily stormed from my sight.

I went outside, gave the homeless guy $10 and told him to thank the
server inside as I've decided he could use the money more. The
homeless guy was grateful.

It's easy to be in favor of redistributing the wealth... so long as it doesn't decrease the amount of money in your wallet.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:26 AM | Comments (25) | TrackBack

Why John McCain Is Losing: It's That Vision Thing, Again

Where there is no vision, the people perish.

Proverbs 29:18

It's been interesting watching the implosion of the Republican party from a distance. As election day draws closer the hysteria mounts as conservative pundit after conservative pundit goes wobbly at the knees or jumps ship entirely. It is unseemly, this mad scramble to be the first to say, "I told you so" before the votes are even decently counted.

It is almost as though you and I - We the Ordinary People - ceased to matter somewhere along the way. Like shushed children expected to be seen but not heard, we sit on the sidelines while the grown-ups chide us for being energized by moose-loving populists or argue heatedly over what went wrong and who is to blame. Charles Krauthammer's endorsement of John McCain, while unsurprising, was at least clear-sighted when so many appear bemused by the transformational and trance-like nature of The One's candidacy:

Today's economic crisis, like every other in our history, will in time pass. But the barbarians will still be at the gates. Whom do you want on the parapet? I'm for the guy who can tell the lion from the lamb.

Krauthammer makes a good point, but you don't win elections by giving voters reasons to reject the front runner. This is a negative, rather than a positive appeal: it does nothing to make your man look Presidential. If you're serious about winning over undecided voters, you must also give them something to vote for.

There are a million factors causing the McCain/Palin ticket to lag behind in the polls right now, but none of them (contrary to the premature expostulations of the conservative punditocracy) are deal killers. What's behind the seemingly inexplicable flight of pro-life 'conservatives' like Douglas Kmiec, who blissfully jettisoned their core beliefs to support Obama, and the downright goofy behavior of Joe and Jane Sixpack, is something far more basic: the almost overwhelming need of human beings to believe in something larger than themselves:

This is the common thread which binds the illogical defections of the so-called conservative intelligentsia to the lemming-like, "don't confuse me with the facts" rush of average Joes and Janes to the Obama brand. They truly don't care about the issues. Or at least, the issues are not the determinative factor in their decision. If they were, we wouldn't see ardent pro-lifers willfully ignoring Obama's stance on abortion or lifelong Republicans regretfully asserting that Obama's intelligence and temperment outweigh his opposition to nearly every issue they care about.

What these ultimate swing voters want is what the McCain campaign has signally failed to give them so far: inspiration. Confidence. Something they can believe in. And this insight offers the Republican ticket one last hope for victory in November, because for all the hype and hyperbole that surround The Lightworker this race has remained remarkably close. Moreover, the Obama platform would likely prove fundamentally unacceptable to many voters if they could be induced to pay attention to a few carefully selected points.

What John McCain needs is a slight change of tactics. The key to his current problems (and to victory in November) lies here:

... McCain ... never articulated a governing philosophy, Hamiltonian or any other. In Sunday’s issue of The Times Magazine, Robert Draper describes the shifts in tactics that consumed the McCain campaign. The tactics varied promiscuously, but they were all about how to present McCain, not about how to describe the state of country or the needs of the voter. It was all biography, which was necessary, but it did not clearly point to a new direction for the party or the country.

What McCain needs to offer voters is a positive vision of what life in America would look like if he were elected President. The election needs to be framed, not as a choice between a dangerous Socialist and an American hero, but as a choice between two competing plans for America's future: one rooted in the stability of over two hundred years of American innovation and industry (but informed by 21st century idealism) and one based on the European model: redistribution of the wealth and more government.

It's a simple choice, really. In 20 years, what do you want America to look like?

Do you want it to continue to look like America? A land of opportunity where immigrants from all over the world flock, attracted by the lure of the American dream? A land where representative democracy was born and continues to improve, but where individual rights and initiative are still respected?

Or do you want America to look more like France and Germany? Do you think Congress did such a good job of protecting your interests while the mortgage crisis simmered for nearly 20 years that you want to expand its power over your life?

What is your vision for America?

Calling Obama a Socialist proves nothing germane to most voters while allowing the Obama camp to claim they're the victims of a smear campaign or are being targeted by ignorant racists. The truth is that voters don't care about political labels. They want to know two things about a candidate:

1. Can I trust this person to make good decisions that protect my interests?

2. How will the vote I cast on election day directly impact my life?

Notice that both these questions boil down to, "How does this affect ME?" This is the connection that has been missing so far. John McCain needs to provide voters the information Barack Obama has been hiding. He needs to persuade them that he has a better plan than Obama, and you don't do that by running down the other guy. You do that by selling your own plan and your ability to implement it.

Instead of negative commercials, he might try something like this:

"Barack Obama says I want to scare you. I don't want to scare anyone, but I believe with the economy showing signs of a serious slowdown both candidates owe the American people a full and honest accounting of how our economic recovery plans would impact the average family.

This is important information. Without it, it's awfully hard to cast an informed vote.

My plan and Barack Obama's are fundamentally different because they are based on two competing visions of what makes America great. On November 4th, you will be asked to choose the vision that matches what you want for yourself, your family, and for the future of this country.

My vision - like my plan - is based on the idea that people are most productive when they are allowed to keep the fruits of their hard work. All governments tax income to some degree. They do this to provide benefits to their citizens. But there is a trade off here - tax too little and government cannot provide essential services like national defense and social security. Tax too much and the wealthy hide their assets or take their business - and their tax dollars - to a more tax-friendly environment. What makes America special - and what continues to attract immigrants to our shores in great numbers - is the promise that in America, hard work is rewarded.

In other words, we have the right balance. You don't hear much about the Swedish dream, the French dream, or the German dream. That's because these nations all tax individual income heavily. They engage in something called "redistribution of the wealth".

There is nothing wrong with this idea, if this matches your vision of what makes a country great then you should vote for Barack Obama on November 4th. But what this means to you as a wage earner is that as you work hard and move up the economic ladder, more and more of your earnings are seized by the state and given to those who make less than you do. This has never been the American way. What you are being asked to decide is, do you want it to be the way of the future?

Barack Obama claims his plan will reduce taxes for 95% of working families. Let's examine that claim and compare his plan with mine:

GR2008061200193.gif

Please note two things about this comparison:

1. Unlike Senator Obama's plan, my plan lowers taxes across the board: for every single category of taxpayers. Certainly, taxes are decreased less for the lowest income brackets. This is because wage earners in these brackets currently pay little or no taxes. In order to reduce their taxes further, it would be necessary to give them money earned by other wage earners. Taxes are reduced more for the top income brackets. Because they currently pay more taxes than other wage earners, their taxes can be reduced more.

2. The Obama tax plan dramatically raises taxes on the two highest income brackets and "distributes" the wealth to the lowest income brackets. The Obama campaign claims this isn't simply welfare under another guise because although the lowest income brackets pay no income tax, these "wealth transfers" would offset the Social Security taxes they do pay. In reality, the Obama wealth transfers would be larger than any payroll taxes paid for most low income workers, resulting in a direct transfer of income from high wage earners to lower wage earners.

Protecting your savings and investments:
with the financial markets in turmoil and many Americans' investsments rapidly dwindling, the last thing America needs right now is a destabilizing and recessionary increase in the capital gains tax as proposed by Barack Obama. This is potentially a huge issue. McCain should be urging Americans to vote their pocketbooks:

With the Dow Jones dropping each day by hundreds of points, this election is being held against a backdrop of economic fear unlike any since the Depression. Almost every reputable economist agrees that it would be catastrophic to add to the economy's woes by raising the capital gains tax. But Obama is on record as favoring an increase from 15% to 20% and suggested during the primaries that he would consider hitting 28%.

McCain should jump on the issue and challenge Obama to agree to a two-year moratorium on increases in the capital gains tax. If Obama agrees, McCain will score points for leadership. If Obama refuses, or ignores the challenge, McCain can attribute much of the drop in the market to the fear of increased capital gains taxation once Obama takes over. After all, its pretty obvious that if you keep 85% of your capital profits right now but stand only to keep 80% or 72% once Obama takes over, it's prudent to unload now. This pressure to sell is exactly what the markets do not need, and McCain can hammer the point home.

McCain can say that Obama's refusal to join in supporting a moratorium on capital gains taxation increases shows his commitment to class warfare - and that big government exceeds any concern he might have for stock market stability or the value of 401Ks or retirement pension funds.

McCain has already scored mightily with his invocation of Joe the Plumber and, polls show, he won the third debate by using the issue of taxes and small businesses. By early this coming week, his advertising will have achieved sufficient levels of frequency to have an impact on the polling.

What McCain needs to offer is the vision of a safe, prosperous, and free America with an experienced leader who has a plan that will protect our already battered pocketbooks. He should call on our national pride and stay away from anything that smacks of divisiveness or fear mongering. What many conservatives don't understand is how their arguments are perceived by those to the left of them on the political scales.

Like it or not, there is an almost paranoid fear of strong beliefs in this country. We heard it in Colin Powell's endorsement, and have heard it over and over again in the strong reactions to Sarah Palin.

We are a country in love with moderation, and to be electable a President must be able to project strength and conviction without looking intolerant or mean spirited. It doesn't matter whether conservatives agree these labels are merited or pertinent. What matters is that a large portion of the country think this way, and without swing voters the Republican party doesn't have the votes to win a national election. Perceptions matter, and this has always been a problem for Republicans, who must contend with the almost irrational fear that anyone with a strong belief system feels superior to others and secretly wishes to force their way of life on the rest of the country:

The Obama campaign has been extremely adept at exploiting two deep seated fears in swing voters:

1. The fear that Republicans are not inclusive and tolerant, and
2. The fear generated by the economic crisis.

If McCain wants to win in November, he needs to provide these voters with a positive, confident image of a strong, prosperous and free America where citizens of all socio-economic groups can succeed, and he needs to show specifically why his plan will result in more opportunity, more economic growth, and increased incentive for Americans to be productive and succeed.

labor.gif

The favorable climate for businesses and individuals in America is what has kept us competitive in the global market and kept our permanent rate of unemployment far lower than the double digit rates seen in Europe. Every American understands that when you raise the cost of doing a thing (whether it's running a business or going after the American dream), you make it harder to achieve and less attractive.

That's the kind of message that wins elections in tough economic times.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:03 AM | Comments (24) | TrackBack

October 26, 2008

Where is Patterico???

I am still catching up with my email (and am consequently late to this party) but apparently Patterico has had his domain hijacked (start here and work backwards).

I don't really know what to say about this. I'm not overly prone to indulging in conspiracy theories. On the other hand, this sort of thing makes my blood run cold:

Public records requested by The Dispatch disclose that information on Wurzelbacher's driver's license or his sport-utility vehicle was pulled from the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles database three times shortly after the debate.

Information on Wurzelbacher was accessed by accounts assigned to the office of Ohio Attorney General Nancy H. Rogers, the Cuyahoga County Child Support Enforcement Agency and the Toledo Police Department.

It has not been determined who checked on Wurzelbacher, or why. Direct access to driver's license and vehicle registration information from BMV computers is restricted to legitimate law enforcement and government business.

Paul Lindsay, Ohio spokesman for the McCain campaign, attempted to portray the inquiries as politically motivated. "It's outrageous to see how quickly Barack Obama's allies would abuse government power in an attempt to smear a private citizen who dared to ask a legitimate question," he said.

Isaac Baker, Obama's Ohio spokesman, denounced Lindsay's statement as charges of desperation from a campaign running out of time. "Invasions of privacy should not be tolerated. If these records were accessed inappropriately, it had nothing to do with our campaign and should be investigated fully," he said.

I'm sure it was a complete coincidence... just like the queries on his outstanding liens, the information on his ex-wife, his plumbing license, etc.

All of which had exactly zero to do with the fact that a candidate for the presidency decided to engage him in a conversation and got a bit more than he bargained for. Since when does the press have the right to "vet" ordinary citizens who offend their political sensibilities?

One might be able to chalk stories like this up to chance ... if they weren't becoming so commonplace, and if journalists themselves weren't coming forth themselves to say things are getting completely out of hand. to the point where they're embarrassed to admit what they do for a living:

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.

... 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.

Why, for example to quote McCain’s lawyer, haven’t we seen an interview with Sen. Obama’s grad school drug dealer - when we know all about Mrs. McCain’s addiction? Are Bill Ayers and Tony Rezko that hard to interview? All those phony voter registrations that hard to scrutinize? And why are Senator Biden’s endless gaffes almost always covered up, or rationalized, by the traditional media?

The absolute nadir (though I hate to commit to that, as we still have two weeks before the election) came with Joe the Plumber. Middle America, even when they didn’t agree with Joe, looked on in horror as the press took apart the private life of an average person who had the temerity to ask a tough question of a Presidential candidate. So much for the Standing Up for the Little Man, so much for Speaking Truth to Power, so much for Comforting the Afflicted and Afflicting the Comfortable, and all of those other catchphrases we journalists used to believe we lived by.

Apparently we can look forward to at least 4 years of this nonsense if Obama is elected in November. It's a frightening thought to anyone who has any notion that it's their Constitutional right as American citizens to question their elected public servants.

Incidents like this are a warning shot across the bow of anyone who thought progressives meant any of that "dissent is the highest form of patriotism" tripe they've been spouting for the last 8 years.

In the meantime you can access Patterico's site at http://patterico.net.

Posted by Cassandra at 02:13 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Well Good Morning

We are back.

We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, among which we must account the dearth of bloggitudinal fare here at VC lately. The Editorial Staff were otherwise occupied.

green_dress.jpgDon't ask us what this photo has to do with Mimosas, or with not having written anything for several days, because we could not tell you to save our lives. We spent yesterday (in part) looking at vintage clothing - something you perhaps did not need to know about the Editorial Staff: we have a mad passion for vintage clothing, though we rarely purchase anything because it is so rarely in good condition. However, the oddest things come up when one Googles "Mimosa", and green *is* just about our best color.

Among the odd items we saw on our travels was a 195x edition of The Lucky Bag (the Naval Academy yearbook). The Unit's father in law graduated that year, so naturally we stopped to leaf through the yearbook. It was an oddly touching reminder of a vanished world.

Can you imagine midshipmen showing up in suit and tie? Page after page of neatly attired young men and women, invariably putting their best foot forward, regardless of their social station? Men were always in collared shirts and wool worsted pants with neatly shined shoes, women wearing hats, lipstick, high heels and stockings with coats that coordinated with their outfits.

The Unit and I often comment, when we go to the airport, that people can't even be bothered to get out of their sweatpants or worst jeans when they fly. Look at an old film from the early sixties and you'll see people in suits and coordinated outfits, having made an effort to look their best for travel in public.

The end of an age... and perhaps the subject of a future post. Anyway, it was a lovely dress and it caught our eye: graceful, feminine and calculated to accentuate the best of the female form while not revealing more than needed to be revealed: alluring and beguiling without being cheap and tawdry. This, we think, is a lost art. There is something to be said for leaving something to the imagination. In a world of 24/7 online porn and in your face pop tarts who keep defining decency down, feminine mystery and the subtle charm of the reserved offers something truly special: the possibility that perhaps not everything in life is for sale or worse - free to all comers.

At any rate, being now fortified with our customary Sunday morning beverage of choice, the obscenely large Mimosa, we expect to be making very little sense in no time at all.

Thank you for your patience.

Posted by Cassandra at 10:21 AM | Comments (19) | TrackBack

October 23, 2008

Coffee Snorters and other Assorted Musings

The media's asymmetrical warfare campaign against the McCain campaign continues. When was the last time you heard Joe Biden being "vetted" by NBC on the deeply germane question of how the Vice President would handle an unspecified, hypothetical foreign policy issue? Come to think of it, when was the last time you heard anyone in the media asking the Democratic Presidential candidate the kind of questions Sarah Palin gets asked routinely?

Someone? Anyone? If you're having trouble thinking of Biden encounters with the press this may help explain your confusion:

Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden was nearly the invisible man. His had just one large moment, the vice presidential debate, which also offered his only positive or neutral contribution. Aside from that week, the limited coverage he did receive was far more negative than Palin’s, and nearly as negative as McCain’s.

Biden hasn't held a press conference since September 7th. Some might be tempted to say that if your point man is so gaffe-prone he has to be quarantined from the press six weeks right before election day, maybe he's the one whose readiness for office the media ought to be questioning?

Either way, the American people get the message. Loud and clear.

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Posted by Cassandra at 10:41 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Prayers Requested

As has been our practice in the past, the Editorial Staff would like to request those of you who are so inclined to offer prayers for Madelyn Dunham. If you are not religiously inclined, good thoughts are also appreciated.

Posted by Cassandra at 10:32 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 22, 2008

Connecting the Dots

We can't wait to see The Lightworker's review of Bill Ayer's latest Magnum Opus:

20081022AyersBook-sm.jpg

White supremacy and its troubling endurance in American life is debated in these personal essays by two veteran political activists. Arguing that white supremacy has been the dominant political system in the United States since its earliest days—and that it is still very much with us—the discussion points to unexamined bigotry in the criminal justice system, election processes, war policy, and education. The book draws upon the authors’ own confrontations with authorities during the Vietnam era, reasserts their belief that racism and war are interwoven issues, and offers personal stories about their lives today as parents, teachers, and reformers.

Hey! Maybe they can get Jeremiah Wright - or better yet, Father Pfleger - to do the foreward!

That memory hole just keeps growing... and growing .... and growing. But cheer up, boys and girls.

November 4th is right around the corner.

Posted by Cassandra at 11:36 PM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

Curiously Refreshing

And good for him.

Posted by Cassandra at 01:40 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Perhaps It Sounded Wittier In The Original Phrench?

Thanks to brave truth tellers like the NY Times, ordinary Americans are by now well aware that John "Foregainst" Kerry (D North VietNam), the highly nuanced Junior Senator from Massachusetts who graduated from Yale University, is just oodles smarter than that arrogant, pretzel-snorting upstart who inexplicably breezed past him in 2004 and usurped his rightful place in the Oval Office. But sometimes, a lofty IQ comes with its own perils...

...one of which is that your sophisticated brand of bonhomie may not be accessible to the common people without the aid of an "interpreter":


Last time it was a “botched joke.” This time it was borrowed.

Gaffe-prone Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) is explaining himself again after joking that GOP presidential contender John McCain wears “Depends.”

The 2004 Democratic presidential candidate, addressing a business summit in Cambridge yesterday, was talking about the media’s “silly questions” to presidential candidates when he cracked his “joke,” his spokeswoman said.

“Barack got asked the famous boxers or briefs question,” Kerry said, PolitickerMA reported. He said Obama successfully parried the question.

“Then they asked McCain and McCain said, ‘Depends,’ ” Kerry said, referring to the brand of adult diapers. Kerry spokeswoman Brigid O’Rourke defended the Bay State senator, saying he was recycling an old joke: “The point he was making was that the press asks silly questions and jumps on ridiculous things - as evidenced by this very story.” Kerry was forced to apologize in 2006 when he “botched” a joke that poor students end up “stuck in Iraq.”

We here at the VC Editorial Staff understand the Good Senator's dilemma. Why, we ourselves run into the same sad difficulty all the time!

L'humeur potty is a rarefied and extremely attenuated form of the comedic art not always immediately conducive to the production of loud guffaws and boisterous merriment in low fellows of dubious academic achievement or cranial capacity, such as the company in which we - sadly - all too often find ourselves these days.

This is just more confirmation that we need to return to the days when only the true elite dared to participate in government. You know - our intellectual and moral betters. We need to keep the hoi polloi - the riff raff - out.

Yessir. Back to the basics - back to the days of Baberaham Lincoln - real, old-time conservatism, when we knew what we stood for.
And if there is anything we don't understand, our betters can explain things to us ordinary folk. Or something to that effect.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:46 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

It's "Name That Code Word" Time!!!!

In a rapidly-failing economy, the race for dwindling economic resources may well go to the Hating Haters Who Hate err .... that's not it. Let's try again: the race may well go to the Swift Boaters swift. In that spirit, the Editorial Staff in its much vaunted half vastity hath waded into the fevered swamps of Memeorandeum to fetch the peasantry a Shiny Thing:


The "socialist" label that Sen. John McCain and his GOP presidential running mate Sarah Palin are trying to attach to Sen. Barack Obama actually has long and very ugly historical roots.

J. Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI from 1924 to 1972, used the term liberally to describe African Americans who spent their lives fighting for equality.

Those freedom fighters included the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who led the Civil Rights Movement; W.E.B. Du Bois, who in 1909 helped found the NAACP which is still the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization; Paul Robeson, a famous singer, actor and political activist who in the 1930s became involved in national and international movements for better labor relations, peace and racial justice; and A. Philip Randolph, who founded and was the longtime head of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and a leading advocate for civil rights for African Americans.

McCain and Palin have simply reached back in history to use an old code word for black. It set whites apart from those deemed unAmerican and those who could not be trusted during the communism scare.

Shame on McCain and Palin.

Now we found ourselves somewhat confusicated by this, so we decided to avail ourselves of a few online references:

Main Entry: so·cial·ist Listen to the pronunciation of socialist Pronunciation: \ˈsō-sh(ə-)list\ Function: noun Date: 1827

1: one who advocates or practices socialism
2 capitalized : a member of a party or political group advocating socialism

This page collects several definitions, but cleverly omitted any reference to skin color (though Frenchness *was* referenced).

How conveeeeeeeeeenient.

Thus, since we can find no mention whatsoever of skin color in any online reference to Socialism, we may consider it proven that Socialist is indeed a surreptitious "code word" for "Black". Otherwise, of course, they'd mention it.

Right?

It occurred to the Editorial Staff in the course of our research that should Obama be elected in November, this could become another one of those growth industries: a veritable recession-proof career like the one we wrote about yesterday. We propose, consequently, that the Villainry seriously consider retraining in the soon-to-be-lucrative field of "Codespotting".

Many commonly used words are, in fact, "code words" which have long and very ugly historical roots, or dangerous double meanings audible only to the highly nuanced ear of the recently empowered Progressive. Faithful interpretation of our Constitution (especially the First Amendment, which grants all Americans freedom of expression, but only correct expression which does not create a hostile environment or run counter to the prevailing narrative - in which case it must not be discussed and SHAME ON YOU for asking inappropriate questions).

Did you think you were living in a country with a free press?

To assist the Villainry in this endeavor, the Editorial Staff have assembled a few examples of "code words" for your edification:

Feminist = Ugly, man hating Lesbian
Democrat = Unpatriotic al Qaeda sympathizer
White Male: Fascist, Gaia raping oppressor

We leave you to fill in the gaps.

Posted by Cassandra at 06:43 AM | Comments (47) | TrackBack

Obama's Change Gets Personal

Reporters hardest hit:

Obama campaign selling Chicago election night coverage packages to news outlets

The Obama campaign is putting a hefty price tag on the best camera and reporting positions for news organizations covering Barack Obama's outdoor election night activities in downtown Chicago. If a reporter wants access to the file center--which will be the best place to find Obama officials and spokesmen--be prepared to write a check for $935. The cheapest place a reporter could stand on a riser with a view is $880.

That $935 covers one reporter in a heated file tent, power, cable tv, internet and food. I am told by an Obama spokesman who did not want his name used that this just covers costs and they are not turning a profit on this. The planners could have built in more al a carte options for Grant Park coverage.

This is an outrageous pay to play plan that caters to national elite outlets with deep pockets.

I am not asking for a free ride--news outlets pay for plane seats, other transportation organized by the campaign, hotel rooms, plus associated costs for filing centers.

But this Election Night list is pricey and does not take into account some reporters won't need power, cable, internet or food but will crave the access more than the food. As I was talking to this unnamed spokesman about this enormously expensive set-up, he did say--that a news outlet could rotate people in and out of the tent on that one credential. Great.

A general media area will be created where a reporter could watch for free, but the set-up is separate, unequal and clearly second class when it comes to getting top access to campaign people.

Fish. Barrel.
Sometimes the comedy just writes itself.

Posted by Cassandra at 06:22 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

October 21, 2008

The Silent Scream of Martha Raddatz

"Surprising Political Endorsements" by U.S. Troops...

McCain Ahead 68%-23%:

Among the US military, according to the Military Times poll. Figuring that the undecicdeds and so forth break very strongly for Obama, that's easily a 7-3 split.

McCain leads 76%-17% among white servicemembers.
McCain leads 63%-23% among Hispanic servicemembers.

Active Duty break for McCain 67% to 24%.
Retirees break for McCain 72% to 20%.

Servicemen for McCain, 70-22%.
Servicewomen for McCain, 53%-36%

Grim has more - I did not cite his entire post. Nonetheless, Martha Raddatz must be suffering the torments of the damned.

Could it have been the sample size? She has the profound sympathy of the entire Editorial Staff.

Truly. You have no idea.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:38 PM | Comments (24) | TrackBack

Politics of Fear, II

I would like to comment on something that was just said on the Politics of Fear post:

ENOUGH with the call to get behind the next far left, usa hating socialist politician and give him our support. HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MINDS? I am not advocating violence, I am advocating resistance in every possible manner. I do not want to be "nice" and "support" a man that is bent upon destroying my country....and believe me, his intents will cause this country to be unrecognizable.

I think that there is resistance, and resistance.

If you are talking about principled opposition to his policies, of course. There is nothing wrong with writing or speaking out about what you think is wrong with them from a philosophical or economic standpoint and doing so in the most vigorous terms.

Nothing whatsoever. Comity does not require that we muzzle ourselves, if Barack Obama is elected in November.

What I am suggesting, however, is that an usual degree of self restraint is needed for two reasons, and I'm going to be frank here:

1. The past eight years have been long and contentious. In my opinion, the far Left have gone way overboard in their opposition to this administration.

They have gone past what I'd consider principled political opposition into some rather deranged behavior which we have allowed to go on way too long:

As long as a politician is popular in his pursuit of policy priorities affecting the American people, his status as a good or bad man by our own lights is irrelevant. Any personal outrage we might feel about his private conduct is more a reflection of our own intolerance and prejudice than of any failing in the officeholder. That was Phase I.

Phase II followed almost immediately. It's the converse of Phase I. If we disapprove the polices and positions of a politician and regard them as, in some sense, immoral according to our own ideology, then absolutely everything about that politician is fair game for attack, including private and personal matters that would be exempt from rebuke in a politician whose politics we approved. That's how it came to pass that George W. Bush, his wife, daughters, extended family, and all members of his administration and party were acceptably in the eyes of the public subjected to almost inconceivably vile, vicious, and pornographic libel from brand new institutions like Moveon.org that were founded for the express purpose of mounting such assaults. As Phase II intensified, two additional effects surfaced. The MSM learned, much to its delight, that any prohibition which once existed against a clearly political double standard was also gone. Republicans could be pilloried, judged -- in advance of trial or any legal proceeding -- guilty of, yes, sexual misconduct that would never be -- and had never been -- career ending for Democrats, and there would be no public outrage.

So far, at least two Republicans have been destroyed and reduced to lewd punchlines for ultimately unproven allegations of homosexuality while Barney Frank continues to hold office and MSM respect despite having dalliances which involved obviously illegal conduct -- one with a page who ran a prostitution ring from Frank's house and the other a Fannie Mae executive who was as involved with subprime mortgage shenanigans as he was with Barney Frank. Phase II embodied the elegant simplicity of dividing the world in two. Democrats who committed lascivious private acts were protected by the natural right of privacy all well intentioned people share. Republicans were not protected because any such acts made them hyopcrites. The final flowering of Phase II was the MSM discovery that they, too, could trade in rumors, abusive characterizations, and an unabashedly obvious double standard without receiving any real rebuke from anyone. Hence the MSM-orchestrated gang rape of Sarah Palin that's been ongoing since her nomination.

In the current election cycle, we have advanced to Phase III, which is the direct opposite of Phase I. If a politician with whom we agree has a reputable private life, then it's acceptable and even necessary to overlook all and every evidence that he is profoundly, politically and/or morally corrupt. Obama looks nice, he sounds reasonable, he presents himself as a selfless idealist, and his family is handsome and untainted by scandal. Therefore, it is appropriate to give him a complete pass on his two decade-long alliance with black-nationalist racists posing as religious leaders, his ties to organized crime figures in Chicago, his associations with avowed marxists and anti-American revolutionaries for whom he funnelled funds to other dubious organizations during the only part of his career that can be said to involve action of any sort, his incredibly suspect fundraising practices as a presidential candidate, his McCarthyite alacrity for demonizing all opponents and critics as racists, AND his tacit acceptance of the -- dare I say the word? -- outrageous leftist abuse of Sarah Palin's motherhood, her womanhood, and basic human dignity (even including her private parts) since the Republican Convention

Worse than all this, the MSM are blatant activists in all three phases of the "death of outrage." Even ten years ago, Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews would have been run out of their profession for the appalling misconduct they have committed during the past two years. Polls indicate that a majority of the public is aware that the MSM is heavily biased toward Obama and against the Republicans. Yet they have been taught to feel no outrage, at least not sufficient outrage to declare that they will not vote for a party which thinks it's acceptable to make jokes about a mother's vagina and her Down Syndrome baby.

Now we're likely to have a situation in which, for the first time, we have a black man as President of the United States.

No matter what he does, the mere fact of his race will bring some very ugly tensions to the surface and will make it easy for his opponents to be accused of all sorts of nastiness on the slightest of excuses. Therefore, their behavior needs to be beyond reproach.

Also, his policies (which already rely on the threat of class warfare and resentment) will aggravate other tensions. What I'm trying to say is that it is unlikely that conservatives will win any converts by being in your face with their arguments.

Instead, they might actually try appealing to the intelligence and self respect of the American people. These qualities do exist, and as time wears on the inevitable consequences of some of Mr. Obama's policies, should he be elected, will begin to reveal themselves as the perverse incentives they create begin to encourage unintended consequences I believe will be unacceptable to the American people.

We can act like buffoons and overplay our hand (in which case we will only be disregarded) or we can make compelling, well reasoned arguments with logic and restraint and let our character and the force of our arguments speak for themselves.

Posted by Cassandra at 11:11 AM | Comments (19) | TrackBack

O Nigger...Nigger, Where Is Thy Sting?

O death, where is thy sting?
O grave, where is thy victory?

- Corinthians


What's Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!

What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title.

- Romeo and Juliet

Gin up the Outrage-O-Meter, peoples! The Reichthuglican racists who are hell bent on depriving The One of his rightful place at the right hand of His Heavenly Father in the Oval Office are at it again:

So a canvasser goes to a woman's door in Washington, Pennsylvania. Knocks. Woman answers. Knocker asks who she's planning to vote for. She isn't sure, has to ask her husband who she's voting for. Husband is off in another room watching some game. Canvasser hears him yell back, "We're votin' for the n***er!"

Woman turns back to canvasser, and says brightly and matter of factly: "We're voting for the n***er."

This is just too funny.

Almost as amusing, in fact, as trying to tease out some semblance of coherent thought from Colin Powell's endorsement of The Lightworker. But I digress...

Talk about undermining your own narrative.

What is it, exactly, that we're supposed to believe here? That these ignorant, racist Pennsylvanian voters hate and fear "niggers" so much that they're willing to put one in charge of the United States of America?

O "nigger", where is thy sting? When you insist on trivializing a painful symbol of America's racial past by constantly injecting it into every aspect of popular culture it loses some of its moral authority, doesn't it?

Especially when you keep reminding everyone how fragile your feelings are, and how they must never even spell the term in front of you lest you be crushed by it even as you brandish your ability to say it over and over and over again. So exactly what is the "lesson" here?

Methinks that one positive aspect of an Obama presidency, should that happen in November, is that a lot of narratives are going to get deflated very, very fast. Pretty stupid argument: "We're going to vote for the black guy because he's all... like hopey and changey, even though we're racists and racists won't give people of other races a fair chance in life unless some massively expensive and intrusive government program forces them to."

You just go on believing that. I'd be horrified, but I'm too busy trying to figure out whether I'm supposed to be afraid, shocked, or whether all this constant finger pointing and fearful searching out of the last vestiges of horrible racism in Amerikka in the name of unity is doing anything to bring us together as a country?

Or is it driving us farther apart?

Change we can believe in.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:06 AM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Michelle Obama and the Whiny Culture of Entitlement

Yesterday, emjay asked:

Any thoughts on Politico.com's top story today about Michelle Obama establishing military families as her special cause and the primary focus of her tenure as First Lady if Obama wins?

I believe I have already commented on this subject.

There have been many days when the Editorial Staff might have contemplated slitting our wrists but for the thought that hope is on the way. We hear tell that come the Revolution under an Obama administration affordable, safe and sanitary child care will drop gently from fluffy little clouds, much like manna from the heavens, rescuing arithmetically challenged military spouses everywhere from the tragic realization that after paying for gas, clothing, Longaberger basket binges, lunch, taxes and other expenses their net take home pay asymptotically approaches el numero Zed. This is a gender-sensitive way of saying that when you do the math, working starts to look a lot more like a hobby than a necessity.

In case the Princess was too subtle in her expository remarks, let's try another few whacks with the clue bat.

What do I think about Michelle Obama making military families her pet project? Not much, actually, for the same reasons I don't think much of this.

It all just feeds the whiny culture of entitlement that is taking over this country. Everything is someone else's fault. No one is responsible for their own choices. Adults can actually read posts like the linked one above and not manage to tease out the salient facts:

Reservist Jensen was called up for duty in Kuwait in January, and his pregnant wife chose to move out of state to live with relatives until his deployment ends next fall.

Choice. It's what's for dinner. And this is where it gets *really* interesting:

Over the next few weeks, landscapers will lay sod, install a sprinkler system, and even a flag pole.

Lieutenant Jensen heads to the middle east in two weeks.

I wrote about this situation earlier here. So now we have a few more data points:

1. Jensen apparently bought the property "about a year ago", knowing he had one year to comply with the HOA he knowingly bought into.

2. He was mobilized 5 months ago.

3. His wife CHOSE to vacate their family home, leaving it unoccupied even though the landscaper had defaulted on the landscaping job leaving them in breach of contract with the HOA, and knowing that under their HOA, they cannot rent the property. What did she think was going to happen? Were the Lawn Fairies going to come and take care of the place for the duration of his deployment?

This was not a small yard. It is a 2.5 acre lot. Let me point something out here.

When the Unit and I were first married there was no way in hell we could have afforded that size house and a 2.5 acre lot. If we had purchased one, we would have made certain we had the means to take care of it. When we bought our first house I moved into it all by myself with a 3 year old and and infant. My husband was at Fort Sill. I had no neighbors. None. Whatsoever. I spent the next 3 days lying on our sofa throwing up (migraines are lovely) while my 3 year old massaged Cheerios and brown sugar into our brand new carpets :p

I had no phone. Our road was unpaved. I also had no lawn. I put one in. Miraculously, I survived the experience without FEMA or hugs from Michelle Obama. It never occurred to me that any of this was any different from what many, many other people (including civilian families) experience every single day. In other words, it's just life. Some years are easy, others are challenging but none of this is particularly tragic. We learn from our experiences and in the fullness of time we accumulate a lot of funny stories.

Or we start feeling sorry for ourselves:

Tammy Linton is a 34-year-old Air Force veteran whose husband spent two tours in the Middle East. Despite all her training as an operating room nurse, Linton says her military commanders couldn't supply even basic child care for her 2- and 8-year-old boys. "I'm a registered nurse and got a position on the trauma team and I had to give up that job because I couldn't get child care."

Lady, I have news for you. Civilian wives work too. Do their husband's bosses find them child care?

It is not the responsibility of your husband's commanding officer to get you a babysitter. Get off your rear end and stop complaining. What in the world makes you think you are entitled to a handout from your fellow taxpayers?

Good Lord!

Elaine Guishard's husband is a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy. The mother of two teenagers is also a breast cancer survivor who has no assurances that her healthcare will continue if her husband leaves the service.

Here's another one.

I'm terribly sorry that this woman has had to go through the ordeal of cancer - something that (again) is hardly limited to the military community. But I'm just wondering: how many civilian employers continue to provide free health insurance to their employees once they go on to other jobs?

I'll tell you: none. Zip. Zilch. El numero zed. Again, what makes you so special? D'oh! My bad... it's that oozing sense of entitlement.

Beth Robinson is pregnant, has an 18-month-old toddler and has multiple sclerosis. Her husband, and high school sweetheart, has 13 years in the U.S. Marine Corps. He served in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, and has returned to Iraq twice and Afghanistan once since 2006. Within the next year, he's likely to be deployed again to the Middle East.

Once again, this is really heartbreaking. But why is your husband still doing this? Even more interesting question, if your health is so precarious and your husband has been deployed so much, what in the heck are you doing engaging in back to back pregnancies? This sounds like a self-induced crisis to me. The Naval Hospital supplies free birth control as well as family planning advice.

Yes, I realize this sounds heartless, and I am in no way unsympathetic to your plight. But honestly: is there no recognition here that adults should perhaps take some thought for the circumstances in which they find themselves and adjust their decisions and behavior accordingly?

How much sense does it make, if you know your health is already precarious and your husband is deployed (and deployable) to get pregnant again so soon and then blame the military for your situation?

Michelle Obama doesn't help military wives already dealing with admittedly difficult situations to cope:

To a woman, their struggles focused on housing, healthcare and basic child care -- all topped off with a big dollop of deployment. "I don't think that many Americans that are not in the military understand just what you've laid out," Obama tells the women. "And that's one of the reasons we're doing this. I don't think people understand all that goes into serving the country, and going to war."

"What you're asking for, it isn't extra; it's the basics that you need to survive. And we should be at the point where you're not just talking about survival, you're talking about thriving. We need families that thrive."

That is utter nonsense. Every military family has the basics they need to survive. There isn't one of those examples which cited a "basic need" or "survival". They all involved people making voluntary choices or people facing the same circumstances or challenges faced by civilians. Some are exacerbated by war, but then again (as I'm about to illustrate) in many cases their lives are no more difficult than those of many of their civilian counterparts and in many cases due to the excellent support systems provided by DoD, they are far, far easier.

On Saturday I attended Honor Their Service's last Operation Fresh Air at Leesylvania State Park in Virginia. It's a day of fishing and fun for our wounded vets from Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

I spent quite some time talking with a young man - an Army veteran - about moving from place to place. Like me, he grew up moving all the time.

In fact, he moved far more frequently than I ever did - every single year and sometimes twice a year. The difference is, he was a civilian. He has actually moved less since joining the Army than he ever did as a civilian and he agreed with me that the military provides a robust and comprehensive support system for military families.

There is nothing like that for civilian families like his. But Michelle Obama and Amanda McBreen will tell you that poor military families have to do it all "alone". What a bunch of hogwash.

As a Navy junior and a Marine wife of 29 years, I can testify to the fact that not only do we NOT have to do it alone, but the military of today is light years ahead of what my mother and mother in law had to contend with. With programs like Key Volunteers and Family Services, with oodles of extra pay and benefits that didn't exist when I was a child, being in the military is a piece of cake compared to the days when young officers' wives used to double up in tiny cramped efficiency apartments over noisy bars just to make ends meet. They couldn't afford to own a car or their own washer and dryer. They had no one to turn to when they had a pay or personal problem.

And they would never have dreamed of reneging on a contract or pushing off your responsibilities onto others. Culture can actively encourage industry, virtue and self reliance. It can also, unfortunately, reward self-destructive behaviors which undermine both individual and social well being. It is one of the great paradoxes of human behavior that often, in trying to help people, we unintentionally make things so easy that we obscure the connection between bad decisions and the negative consequences which inevitably result from them. With these painful consequences removed many people never learn from their mistakes - they go on making one bad decision after another and leaving others to foot the bill.

It is hard to see how this kind of "change" represents an improvement. What military spouses - male or female - need most is the tools to deal with the challenges they face.

Military life is not for everyone and the federal government cannot remove the very real trade offs military couples face. If we are at war, some military spouses will deploy frequently. That is a fact. And military families will have to decide how they are going to adjust to this. This is a family decision, not a government one.

It should include the right to leave the military, subject to the agreement signed by the servicemember. The military, like every other employer, must compete in the marketplace for good employees. If it continues to ride its people hard and put them away wet, they will leave. But that's not a bug: it's a feature and it doesn't require the intervention of the federal government.

Or Michelle Obama, for that matter. That's just this Marine wife's take.

Posted by Cassandra at 07:26 AM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

...And Exactly *Where* Was OSHA on This One?

Asleep at the wheel, that's where... But then that's just typical of the Bush administration, isn't it? The Shrub is out back in the Rose Garden helping Barney the White House terrier shred what little remains of the Bill of Rights while Karl Rove dances the hornpipe on Keith Olbermann's unmarked grave. Meanwhile, honest securities traders are being exposed to the horrors of negligent lap dancing.

I tell ya. This kind of traveshamockery will never happen in an Obama administration:

Securities trader Stephen Chang could well create new law with his lawsuit in New York. There are copious cases on medical malpractice, legal malpractice, but now he would like to create a law of stripper malpractice after lap dancer negligently swiveled and hit him in the face with the heel of her shoe. This is only the latest addition to a growing number of cases in the area of stripper jurisprudence.

Chang expected better at the Hot Lap Dance Club near Madison Square Garden in Manhattan. It was 1 am and Chang was looking for some good, wholesome, and competent lap dancing. Instead, when the dancer swung around , her heel caught Chang and forced him “to sustain serious injuries” — injuries he did not pay to experience.

Chang may have gotten off light. The club claims to have “hand picked” performers with “killer bodies.”

Well, Obama did say he would create thousands of new jobs! And clearly this issue screams for urgent Executive Branch intervention. We are seeing the murderous results of 8 years of failed Rethuglican policeh. Hopefully with a more enlightened administration and the benefit of federally funded training and education, our children can prepare themselves for a variety of safe, rewarding, and recession-proof careers.

Posted by Cassandra at 06:10 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

October 20, 2008

Oh Dear God....

Is nothing sacred?

Drinking a lot of coffee reduces the size of many women's breasts, a Swedish researcher finds.

Helena Jernstrom, an oncologist at Lund University in southern Sweden, said that the effect is the result of a gene that about half of women possess, The Local reported.

"Drinking coffee can have a major effect on breast size," she said.

Jernstrom became interested in the subject because of research that has shown that large-breasted women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer, while downing at least three cups of coffee a day reduces cancer risk. She decided to look for a correlation directly between drinking coffee and breast size and found one.

And up next on "I want that job" : when the "Friendly Skies" become a little too friendly...

...the scanners, which are to be used on domestic passengers at Melbourne Airport for the next six weeks, will show the "private parts" of travelers but will blur their faces to protect their privacy, the Daily Mail reported Wednesday.

*sigh*

Posted by Cassandra at 07:18 AM | Comments (37) | TrackBack

October 17, 2008

The Politics of Fear

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

- The Litany against Fear
Dune

Never frighten a little man. He'll kill you.

- Diaries of Lazarus Long

I woke at 3 a.m. this morning with that feeling again.

We've all felt that way: irritated and slightly paranoid. It's what happens when you drink one too many cups of coffee and haven't gotten quite enough sleep. Couple that with information overload and the ceaseless drip-drip-drip.... Chinese water torture bloviation of the chattering classes building from a sybilant whisper in the back of your mind to a staccato drumbeat that bids fair to drown out the pounding of fingers on the keyboard in front of you. That's a pretty fair representation of my state of mind at 3 a.m. this morning.

I've been struggling to make sense of this election. In many ways the experience is reminiscent of learning to swim as a small child. Despite my best dog paddle, my head keeps slipping underwater and a feeling of overwhelming weariness, of deadening weight is slowly overtaking my arms and legs. I don't know how long I can keep going through the motions. But my brain tells me if I don't keep moving, my lungs will fill up with water and I will drown.

Not a good feeling. But on the other hand, what a relief to stop struggling! Because I am tired of fighting. If only someone would reach down and pull me out of the water.

I hate what I see happening to my country. America the beautiful, land that I love. Last night I saw both the best and the worst of this election. It's been a long week at work and I've been kind of tired. My husband works too hard. I worry about him. Last night I worked late. About 7:30, I got ready to go to the grocery store

As I opened the front door, a tiny wren flew into the house!

I spent the next 20 minutes or so trying to guide this frightened little bird out of my living room without accidentally breaking one of its fragile wings. Not the easiest of tasks, especially in the dark. I had turned the inside lights out, and my deck and porch lights on, in hopes the lights would attract the little guy to one of the open doors, but he was too scared. It didn't help to have Sausage the Weiner Beast from Heck running back and forth while the wren flapped madly over my head. I could see frenetic thought bubbles forming just over Sausage's fruit batty ears... "Dinner tiiiiiiiiiiiiiime!"

By the time I finally ushered the wren out into the night, got to the store, and pulled back into my driveway it was about 9 pm. I turned on the TV while I unpacked my groceries, made dinner, and waited for the spousal unit to bestow his magnificence upon me. To my utter delight, John McCain and Barack Obama were speaking at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial dinner in NYC. What an unexpected treat.

McCain was the guest of honor at the Marine Ball in DC a few years ago. He's an incredibly funny guy. I think he could have had a career in stand-up comedy. His timing is impeccable.

But the best thing about the evening was watching the genuine delight and enjoyment on Obama's and Hillary Clinton's faces. It's not often people on opposite sides of the political aisle put down the knives for a moment and simply laugh at each other's foibles. McCain's humor was quite pointed. He poked fun at some very painful episodes, but did so in a way that wasn't mean because he took care to poke fun at himself. Obama was funny too; self-deprecating and quick witted. I loved watching his face when he thought he'd made a particularly witty joke. It was open and childlike; not guarded the way it usually is. Rare. Human.

That was the good side of politics; when politicians are confident enough to reveal their weaknesses and even to poke fun at them. When they aren't afraid of being laughed at in public. It takes a strong person to expose yourself - and your faults - in front of your political opponents.

But this morning I awoke to the dark side of politics, the side that left me perplexed and sad for most of this week. It is typified by three incidents, which I will cover in more depth:

1. Factually disproven but un-retracted media reports of Republican Rage/Bigotry which all serve to feed the narrative that McCain and Palin are "fueling dangerous emotions and/or hate speech".

2. The vicious, dishonest, and pointless trashing of "Joe the Plumber".

3. Increasingly irrational behavior by both far right conservatives and far left progressives which contradicts their stated values and is (I believe) rooted in fear.

First, to the "Hate Rally that Wasn't" astroturfing. I use this term quite deliberately, though it doesn't fit literally. Let me explain why.

Astroturfing, strictly speaking, is a formal propaganda campaign undertaken under false pretenses: a carefully orchestrated campaign designed to intentionally create the impression of a spontaneous, grassroots phenomenon when in reality events have been carefully staged to further a political agenda. Think of the Romans seeding a crowd with fake peasants who yell out the same phony rallying cry to whip up the masses at just the right moment and you won't be far off.

Perhaps someone can tell me how much that scenario differs from this one:

1. One man - one man! - yells out "Kill him!" at a McCain rally, referring to a white, domestic terrorist named Bill Ayers. Despite the fact that the Secret Service and several other journalists who were on the scene corroborate the man was referring to Bill Ayers and not Barack Obama, the NY Times and Associated Press go on to say he threatened Barack Obama. This, of course, becomes the dominant narrative and launches a Secret Service investigation.

2. The next thing we know, it's happening in Scranton too!...not. Republicans are such racist haters.

3. Lookee! More evidence that Republicans are ignorant racists! What do you mean she never said that? What do you mean the transcript was altered? The media would never lie to us!

4. Then there's the Multiplicative Theory of Hating Haters Who Hate. They must teach this one at the Columbia School of Journalism; a fine technique of literary license whereby if the political end is judged sufficiently worthy to justify any and all means, a single incident may be endlessly pluralized. Don't try this at home, folks. Leave it to professionals like Frank Rich, Mary Mitchell, Jeffrey Feldman, Adam Clymer, John Lewis, E. J. Dionne, Dana Milbanks... oh, and one Barack Obama.

Why is it acceptable for the press to outright fabricate accounts of things that never happened in order to gin up outrage less than 30 days before a national election? In the past week I've seen this happen over and over and over again. It truly alarms me. Blog posts are written and then pulled with no explanation. This is erratic and unprofessional behavior that would get any other person fired, but it doesn't seem to apply to paid journalists. What code of ethics are they following?

I'm baffled. They lie and get away with it and there is no accountability and no retraction and yet my liberal friends can't understand why I distrust the media.

Do I think there was an intentionally orchestrated attempt here to make voters think Republicans are ignorant racists? No. That's silly. But the effect is the same. What I see is a failure on the part of paid professionals to adhere to even minimal standards of fact checking or objectivity. After all, as several people have pointed out, nouns don't pluralize themselves, do they?

And there is plentiful evidence of anti-conservative rage out there. When well known comics talk about having a female VP candidate gang-raped by her black brothers and this generates not a murmur of protest, no discussion about disturbing or negative racial stereotypes, you have to wonder what is going on.

I guess it didn't fit the narrative of conservatives engaging in racist fear mongering, did it? I'd love to show you the videotape, but Mr. Obama's campaign managed to pressure YouTube into removing it. Not exactly the kind of support for the First Amendment I like to think my next President will engage in, but entirely consonant with the Obama Truth Squad's attempts to shut down Stanley Kurtz on WGN in Chicago. If you plan to vote for Mr. Obama on November 4th, this ought to give you pause:

The Republican V.P. nom would be "gang-raped by my big black brothers" if she enters Manhattan, Bernhard said. Palin is said to be making a campaign stop in New York next week.

I don't think the press are intentionally doing anything. I think all of this is more akin to a giant, Freudian slip. It's just that with election day so close, some of them - not all, but some - just can't resist the temptation to tweak the news around a bit.

It's a shame, because every day a great many honest journalists do their job and these folks ruin it for the rest of them. There is no excuse in the Internet age for getting a transcript wrong like Anna Marie Cox did. I'd like to think that was not intentional, but how do you slip in the word "terrorist" when it was not there? That little old lady didn't say it. Watch the tape. She didn't say "I'm scared of Obama". She said "I don't trust him".

Those are two very different things. And one or two incidents at a few rallies where there are, in the aggregate, literally tens of thousands of people don't spontaneously multiply. That takes professional help. The kind professional journalists with a narrative are so good at supplying. And it needs to stop.

And one more thing. At the third and final debate, John McCain asked Senator Obama to repudiate the racially divisive, over the top statement John Lewis made comparing him to George Wallace, a well known racist. Obama replied that he had already done so.

Politifact fact-checked this statement and rated it false. But what was even more fascinating was what happened next:

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McCain: I'm not going to stand for somebody saying that because someone yelled something at a rally -- there's a lot of things that have been yelled at your rallies, Sen. Obama, that I'm not happy about either.

In fact, some T-shirts that are very...

Obama: John, I...

McCain: ... unacceptable. So the point is -- the point is that I have repudiated every time someone's been out of line, whether they've been part of my campaign or not, and I will continue to do that.

But the fact is that we need to absolutely not stand for the kind of things that have been going on. I haven't.

Obama: Well, look, Bob, as I said...

Schieffer: I mean, do you take issue with that?

Obama: You know, here's what I would say. I mean, we can have a debate back and forth about the merits of each other's campaigns. I suspect we won't agree here tonight.

What I think is most important is that we recognize that to solve the key problems that we're facing, if we're going to solve two wars, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, if we can -- if we're going to focus on lifting wages that have declined over the last eight years and create jobs here in America, then Democrats, independents and Republicans, we're going to have to be able to work together.

And what is important is making sure that we disagree without being disagreeable. And it means that we can have tough, vigorous debates around issues. What we can't do, I think, is try to characterize each other as bad people. And that has been a culture in Washington that has been taking place for too long.

Notice that not only did Barack Obama mislead the public about having repudiated John Lewis' racially inflammatory condemnation of the McCain/Palin ticket (which, as it turns out, is based on several incidents which were either manufactured out of whole cloth, distorted, or exaggerated by the press), but he then went on to ignore McCain's point about the T-shirt and the ugly abuse of Sarah Palin. This is interesting, since Mr. Obama said early in his campaign that family members were "off limits". Not only Palin, but her young children have been subjected to extremely vile harassment and threats by his supporters. In addition, Mr. Obama ran an ad which unequivocally framed John McCain as dishonorable, using words like "vile, disgusting, dishonorable, disgraceful, sleazy".

It worked. This, added to the outright lie about 100% of McCain's ads being negative (previously cited in this post), has been continually repeated by Mr. Obama. So much so that the mantra was eventually adopted by the press, giving it even more exposure even though it is patently false. I suppose I should not have been shocked when even Fred Hiatt of the Washington Post took up the cry on Monday. And today, the editorial page of the post cites two main reasons: Barack Obama's "calm, unflappable demeanor" and John McCain's dirty campaign" as their reasons for endorsing him for President despite their severe reservations about many of his policies.

It's incredible what the media can ignore when they want to.

How can they, for instance, rationalize away the destruction of Joe the Plumber? Grim explains better than anyone else I've seen the issues involved.

The media are trying to claim he's unlicensed, although his company is, and he is enrolled in the apprentice program -- and not eligible to complete the apprenticeship until next month. The union -- Local 50 of the Plumbers, Steamfitters and Service Mechanics, which has endorsed Obama -- is making noises unsupported by the law (see the comments), in order to convince the media that he's not one of their plumbers and shouldn't be allowed to work. Union leadership has never been known to make dubious, politically-motivated claims before (or self-interested ones -- for example, putting out the notion that no plumber unaffiliated with them was legitimate) so I am sure we can trust them.

Obama stopped by this guy's house while Joe was playing football with his kids. Obama picked this guy to ask a question. And then the Senator broke a key rule: he gave an honest answer.

So now the Alinsky playbook kicks in: Joe must be destroyed. He must be shown to be a liar ("He's not a plumber. He works for a plumber."), a criminal (He's not licensed! Whether or not he could be yet!), a thug (Sammy Davis Junior!), and possibly a Republican plant (indeed, planted years in advance in a neighborhood Obama would pick at random in which to campaign, presumably under the influence of some sort of mind control ray! That was probably how they got him to answer the question honestly, too). Union muscle is brought in, democratic officials in the government, the media, the liberal bloggers, everyone focuses on wrecking this guy's life.

Not figuratively speaking, either. That American Dream of his, to buy the company and build it? He needs to be out of a job instead.

Joe's us, folks. Look hard. There's some rule you haven't followed, or that someone can plausibly claim to the ignorant that you might not have followed. You're a hypocrite. A criminal. You'd better watch your step. You'd better keep your head down, eyes on your work. If you want to continue to have work, you know what I'm saying?

The incredible malice that has been aimed at this guy is just unbelievable. And where is Barack "family members are off limits" Obama, who (after all) walked into this guy's front yard in the first place? These people are going after everyone around him. No one is safe from their hate. Even his ex-wife.

Dare to question The One and all the power of the mainstream media and the Nutroots will be unleashed upon you. Nice. Don't think anyone in our crusading freethinking press will come to your aid. Their respect for free speech and the importance of checking facts before printing them in major newspapers (or slandering innocent people based on unverified information) is reserved for Democrats.

Unless of course you dig up some really juicy dirt. Wow... that's just brilliant detective work, Sully. I can't wait to ring up my little brother and tell him he's not 'truly' a man since he's been going by his middle name all his life too. The big fraud. His wife's a Democrat. I wonder... will she divorce him?

Congratulations, Andrew. That's textbook Phase II behavior. You're certifiable:

If we disapprove the polices and positions of a politician and regard them as, in some sense, immoral according to our own ideology, then absolutely everything about that politician is fair game for attack, including private and personal matters that would be exempt from rebuke in a politician whose politics we approved. That's how it came to pass that George W. Bush, his wife, daughters, extended family, and all members of his administration and party were acceptably in the eyes of the public subjected to almost inconceivably vile, vicious, and pornographic libel from brand new institutions like Moveon.org that were founded for the express purpose of mounting such assaults. As Phase II intensified, two additional effects surfaced. The MSM learned, much to its delight, that any prohibition which once existed against a clearly political double standard was also gone. Republicans could be pilloried, judged -- in advance of trial or any legal proceeding -- guilty of, yes, sexual misconduct that would never be -- and had never been -- career ending for Democrats, and there would be no public outrage.

This is what I'm seeing from so-called "progressives" over at TPM Cafe. They will excuse anything - even the most vicious, venal attacks against a 7 year old child - because they disagree with her mother. The sins of political disagreement will be visited on future generations without mercy or quarter. If this represents progress, hope, or change, God help this country because it will touch off an endless round of nastiness we won't see the end of in my lifetime. You don't go after people's children and expect them to stand for it.

Pathetic.

Finally, there is the irrationality on both sides of the fence. On my side there are all the conservatives who suddenly seem to think it makes sense, less than 30 days before a national election, to grab the reins for themselves.

GET A FREAKING GRIP PEOPLE. GROW UP.

If we lose, we lose. The Republic will survive even this. If John McCain cannot win on his own, he does not need to be President. If the conservative coalition is that fragile, if the election is that close, if he cannot manage his campaign well enough to overcome the juggernaut that is The One, maybe he needs to lose.

I realize it is difficult to accept with grace, but grace is a quality we all need to cultivate at times. It would do us good. Work on it.

For the past eight years, a seething cauldron of inchoate rage has been simmering in this country. We all know that. Yes I think it's irrational and frankly stupid. But it also must be reckoned with. Emotions and perceptions are real, and if you dam them up for too long, they explode. Perhaps the pendulum just needs to swing back the other way for a while; to right itself. America is a great nation; a stable nation with a well tested and balanced infrastructure. Barack Obama is not The Under Toad.

And for all the soi disant Reality Based Community out there who keep bravely wading into the rat-infested sewers of humanity hoping for proof that confirmation bias works as well in real life as it does in the laboratory... buck up!!! If you look long enough and hard enough to find fear, suspicion and prejudice, your prayers will be answered!

But is that really all that surprising?

Good nightshirt. If you took your camera into downtown DC and went looking for anti-white prejudice, what do you think you would find? But you're not interested in doing that, are you? Your zeal for finding "racism" is oddly one-sided. Why is that?

If you went diving into the comments section at the Daily KOS or the DU, you'd find enough hatred and bigotry to light up New York City for the next decade. But you're not interested in that kind of ignorance or bigotry, are you?

These are human failings, not Republican failings. All of us, whether we are black, Asian, white, or pink with purple polka dots, are capable of these things. The very fact that you go looking for them says something about your wish to amplify fear and suspicion: to divide this country instead of uniting it. You are expressly ignoring what your own candidate has asked you to do.

Why is that? This is against your values. And it's wrong. And you know that in your heart, don't you? It won't make things better. It will only make them worse.

This is not the politics of change. It's the politics of fear and divisiveness - of the pointed finger.

We can do better than this.

On November 4th, whoever wins, this country needs to get behind the new President and pull together. We face difficult challenges. I would so love to see a nation of adults instead of a nation of squabbling children, working in concert to overcome the problems we face.

Whoever wins. On both sides. I think the comity I saw at the Alfred E. Smith dinner is a very good place to start. Perhaps we all need to take a very deep breath, learn to poke a little fun at ourselves, and start over.

How about it? It will take courage. I would like to think we still have it in us.

Posted by Cassandra at 04:46 AM | Comments (43) | TrackBack

October 16, 2008

Perception

Chamberlain: "Buster, tell me something. What do you think of Negroes?"

Kilrain: "There are some who are unpopular,"

"Well, if you mean the race, well, I don't really know."

"I have reservations, I will admit. As many a man does. As you well know. This is not a thing to be ashamed of. But the thing is, you cannot judge a race. Any man who judges by the group is a peawit. You take men one at a time, and I've seen a few blacks that earned my respect. A few. Not many, but a few."

Chamberlain: "To me there was never any difference."

Kilrain: "None at all?"

Chamberlain: "None. Of course, I didn't know that many. But those I knew...well, you looked in the eye and there was a man. There was the divine spark, as my mother used to say. That was all there was to it...all there is to it.

Kilrain: (smiling) "Colonel, you're a lovely man."

"I see at last a great difference between us, and yet I admire ye, lad. You're an idealist, praise be."

"The truth is Colonel, that there's no divine spark, bless you. There's many a man alive no more alive than a dead dog. Believe me, when you've seen them hang each other.... Equality? Christ in Heaven. What I'm fighting for is the right to prove I'm a better man than many. Where have you seen this divine spark in operation, Colonel? Where have you noted this magnificent equality?

The Great White Joker in the Sky dooms us all to stupidity or poverty from birth. No two things on earth are equal or have an equal chance, not a leaf nor a tree. There's many a man worse than me, and some better, but I don't think race or country matter a damn.

What matters is justice.

'Tis why I'm here. I'll be treated as I deserve, not as my father deserved. I'm Kilrain, and I God damn all gentlemen. I don't know who me father was and I don't give a damn. There's only one aristocracy, and that's right here --" [taps his skull with a thick finger]

"And you, Colonel laddie, are a memeber of it and don't even know it. You are damned good at everything I've seen you do, a lovely soldier, an honest man, and you got a good heart on you too, which is rare in clever men. Strange thing, I'm not a clever man meself, but I know it when I run across it. The strange and marvelous thing about you. Colonel darlin', is that you believe in mankind, even preachers, whereas when you've got my great experience of the world you will have learned that good men are rare, much rarer than you think. Ah ... don't you worry about ministers. The more you kill, the more you do the world a service."

Chamberlain: "What has been done to the black is a terrible thing."

Kilrain: "True. From any point of view. But your freed black will turn out no better than many the white that's fighting to free him. The point is that we have a country where the past cannot keep a good man in chains, and that's the nature of the war. It's the aristocracy I'm after. All that lovely, plumed, stinking chivalry. The people who look at you like a piece of filth, a cockroach, ah."

"I tell you, Colonel, we got to win this war."

"What will happen, do you think, if we lose? Do you think the country will ever get back together again?"

Chamberlain: "Doubt it. Wound is too deep. The differences.... If they win there'll be two countries, like France and Germany in Europe, and the border will be armed. Then there'll be a third country in the West, and that one will be the balance of power."

Kilrain: "They used to have signs on tavern doors: Dogs and Irishmen keep out. You ever see them signs, Colonel?"

Chamberlain nods.

Kilrain: "They burned a Catholic church up your way not long ago. With some nuns in it."

Chamberlain: "Yes."

Kilrain: "There was a divine spark."

Posted by Cassandra at 06:35 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

78

Happy Birthday Dad

german-shorthaired-pointer.jpg

In my world, you will always be the king.

Posted by Cassandra at 10:51 AM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

Caring and Sharing with Obama

care.jpgWhile we're all drinking happy juice in the warm afterglow of Juicy Obamaliciousness, let me throw one more thought out there. We are becoming a more caring and sharing society.

Every day, in every way, America just keeps getting better and better. Since 1980, the share of federal income tax revenue paid by the top 10% of tax payers in the US has increased by over 20%.













taxes.gif

Have a listen to this audiovisual guide to understanding Obama's tax plan for sharing the wealth and contemplate your navel to this soothing thought. If The Club for Growth can be believed:

caring_and_sharing.gif

According to the Tax Foundation, a non-partisan, non-profit research organization that has monitored tax policy at the federal, state and local levels since 1937, in 2006 the wealthiest 1% of U.S. taxpayers paid more taxes than ever before:

The basic story that comes from this newly available data for tax year 2006 is that the share of income (as measured by AGI) and the share of taxes paid by the top 1 percent of tax returns are once again at all-time highs.

Kind of undercuts the Obama mantra of harmful tax cuts harshing the national mellow, doesn't it? They also have a handy-dandy summary of the candidate's tax plans that makes it very easy to compare the basic elements of both plans.

Now, in the interests of fairness (and because The Princess has been having An Earnest Conversation for the last few years weeks via email [don't hit me!!!!] with an old high school friend who is a Democrat and will vote for Obama, the gist of which is that all politicians lie like Big Dogs in order to get elected, but also that each of us secretly thinks Our Dude lies less than The Anti-Christ Other Dude) the Blog Princess will now cite a Balanced Thrashing of Both Candidates on Tax Policeh:

Key graf on the McCainster: (yes, the Editorial staff howled when we heard this too)

Early in the debate, John McCain once again voiced his concern over the rising national debt and claimed that he could balance the budget in his first four years in office. But given that his tax policies contain major tax cuts that will not pay for themselves (especially in 2011 and 2012 after Bush tax cuts expire), it is a pretty safe bet that Sen. McCain is not going to be balancing the budget in 2012. We definitely know that neither Obama nor McCain is going to balance the budget in the first year or two of his administration.

Ya think?

On to the main attraction. The Lightworker gets schooled, old-style:

Throughout the debate, Sen. Obama repeatedly showed an unfortunate ignorance of one of the fundamental principles of taxation: all taxes are paid by people. On multiple occasions, Obama claimed that businesses or corporations "can afford" to pay higher taxes. But such a statement is just ridiculous. Companies have no "ability to pay" taxes. Does the corporation's building pay the tax? How about its fax machine or water cooler? No. People pay the taxes. Here is one such example of why Sen. Obama would get an F in public finance:

Then Exxon Mobil, which made $12 billion, record profits, over the last several quarters, they can afford to pay a little more so that ordinary families who are hurting out there -- they're trying to figure out how they're going to afford food, how they're going to save for their kids' college education, they need a break.

What Sen. Obama doesn't understand or doesn't want to tell the American public is that when Exxon Mobil writes that check to Uncle Sam, some PERSON is paying the price for that. In the short-run, that person could be a shareholder, a worker, or a consumer. But the fact that Exxon Mobil has a lower after-tax profit means that some PERSON is worse off. For example, Exxon Mobil would likely reduce its dividend payment, or its share price could fall, and that hurts every PERSON who was invested in Exxon Mobil at the time the tax was enacted.

As they say, read the whole thing. I laughed until tears were running down my face. And they call econ the dismal science...

Posted by Cassandra at 08:53 AM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

Obama's 95% Shell Game: One Step Towards Socialism

I am an Italian working in US. I am sorry to say, but the strategy Obama is proposing (on economy, education and health) is a statist solution, not respectful of the freedom of the Americans. This is not the competitive America I met (and decided to work for) when I came here.

The America that fights for the solutions even when it is a bad time, but fights and does not expects from the state any help that letting us be free and work in a democratic Nation.
Freedom over all!

Sincerely,
Gian Luca


In a grimly ironic note, the best comment on last night's debate came from a foreigner. Sometimes it takes an outsider to tell us the ugly truth: we have strayed from what made America great. Scare us with a credit crunch and we are willing to vote away financial independence for a place at the government feeding trough and the illusion of security. That is what Barack Obama is offering us and we are about to grab it with greedy, grasping hands, never bothering to look too closely at the fine print.

Well, Joe the Plumber did the math. He wasn't fooled by Obama's smooth bromides, and neither am I.

Some of you may remember that during the last debate, Obama tried to invoke a bit of faux patriotism with the reference to the way his father came to America during the 1960s:

OBAMA: Well, let me just make a closing point. You know, my father came from Kenya. That's where I get my name.

And in the '60s, he wrote letter after letter to come to college here in the United States because the notion was that there was no other country on Earth where you could make it if you tried. The ideals and the values of the United States inspired the entire world.

I don't think any of us can say that our standing in the world now, the way children around the world look at the United States, is the same.

And part of what we need to do, what the next president has to do -- and this is part of our judgment, this is part of how we're going to keep America safe -- is to -- to send a message to the world that we are going to invest in issues like education, we are going to invest in issues that -- that relate to how ordinary people are able to live out their dreams.

And that is something that I'm going to be committed to as president of the United States.

I recall that moment vividly because my husband, who had been snoozing in his leather chair up until that point, fairly leapt to his feet and yelled, "Yeah you bonehead, but your father DIDN'T STAY HERE! NEITHER DID YOUR MOTHER! She beat feet as soon as she could. Kind of undermines your point about how America has lost its supposed moral superiority, now doesn't it? Your parents could have stayed here, but they preferred to live somewhere else. Meanwhile, we can't keep a virtual flood of illegal immigrants out of our country."

Another point about his father that you won't hear Senator Obama make, either anywhere in either of his two autobiographies or in his public remarks, is that his father was a socialist. Amazing that he could write two entire books, one entitled "Dreams of my Father, and never mention this fact:

As a Nairobi bureaucrat, Barack Hussein Obama Sr. advised the pro-Western Kenyan government there to "redistribute" income through higher taxes. He also demonized corporations and called for massive government "investment" in social programs.

..."Theoretically," he wrote, "there is nothing that can stop the government from taxing 100% of income so long as the people get benefits from the government commensurate with their income which is taxed."

...As Obama's father saw it, taxes couldn't be high enough, so long as the collective benefited. "Certainly there is no limit to taxation if the benefits derived from public services by society measure up to the cost in taxation which they have to pay," he said. "It is a fallacy to say that there is this limit, and it is a fallacy to rely mainly on individual free enterprise to get the savings."

His son is also pushing massive taxes and "investments" in social programs — at the expense of free enterprise. Sen. Obama wants to raise the top marginal income-tax rate to at least 39%, while increasing Social Security taxes on those with higher incomes by completely removing the payroll cap. That means many entrepreneurs would be paying 12.4% (6.2% on employer and 6.2% on employee) on Social Security payroll taxes alone, plus the 2.9% on Medicare taxes, for a total federal tax rate of 54%.

So much for lowering taxes, creating more jobs and stimulating the economy! How can you create jobs when you tax the daylights out of the very sector of the economy which provides them? We already have the second highest corporate tax rate in the world, but Obama isn't satisfied - he wants to tax those evil corporate profits even more! Only by eliminating the specter of profit from business can he... ummm... discourage entrepreneurs from... umm... err...

Nevermind.

How does Senator Obama think entrepreneurs are going to respond when he makes it MORE EXPENSIVE for businesses to hire more workers?

You do the math. Go ahead - it's not a complicated problem, even if you never did too well in arithmetic in school. This is just common sense: tell me who will get fired first?

Obama keeps flogging his tax plan; he keeps telling us he will cut taxes for 95% of working families. This is arrant nonsense. Let's run the math, because it's truly alarming:

INCOME REDISTRIBUTION

The Tax Foundation estimates that under the Obama plan 63 million Americans, or 44% of all tax filers, would have no income tax liability and most of those would get a check from the IRS each year. The Heritage Foundation's Center for Data Analysis estimates that by 2011, under the Obama plan, an additional 10 million filers would pay zero taxes while cashing checks from the IRS.

What Barack Obama wants to do, under the guise of the tax system, is tax the income of wealthier wage earners and give it to the nearly half of Americans who currently pay no taxes at all. This is not "tax relief". It's welfare.

Or more honestly stated, it is legalized highway robbery. He is not just giving them the taxes that were with held from their paychecks back, but part of the taxes that were with held from YOUR paycheck too! This is money that YOU earned! By what right does he do this?

Easy. You - the average American - are about to vote him into office. Because you are economically illiterate, which is a nice way of saying you haven't paid your attention bill.

JOB GROWTH:

The Heritage Foundation compared the Obama and McCain tax plans:

job_growth.gif

Center for Data Analysis (CDA) analysts used an analytical tool that permits taxpayers and policy­makers to see the side-by-side economic effects of the two plans...

Jobs respond more to McCain's plan than to Obama's. Job growth over the 10-year forecast horizon is more than twice as high under McCain's plan than under Obama's. Total employment grows an average of 915,800 jobs under Obama, and by 2,126,000 under McCain. Both plans encourage job creation in each year of the forecast, but McCain's approach leads to sig­nificantly larger job growth, and sooner. By 2018, McCain's plan, which makes the Bush tax reduc­tions permanent and lowers the tax rate on cor­porate profits, creates an additional 3,426,500 jobs. Senator Obama, however, raises taxes on many of the economy's key investors and busi­ness owners. Job growth under his plan for that same year is lower, at 1,576,200.

A STRONGER ECONOMY:

GDP.gifOverall economic activity more vigorous under McCain's plan. Senator McCain's plan yields consistently higher forecasts of economic output than does Senator Obama's. Increases in gross domestic product (GDP) under McCain are, on average, nearly three times higher than under Obama. The growth rate of the economy increases a full half percentage point in 2011 and 2012, when taxes will increase under cur­rent law. Under McCain's plan, the average annualized GDP growth rate increases by 0.3 percent. The Obama plan also leads to higher rates of economic growth as a result of making some parts of the Bush tax reductions perma­nent. The economy as measured by GDP grows modestly more than does the CBO baseline: Growth rates are 0.1 percent higher on average for the 10-year period. By 2018, GDP is $320.7 billion (after inflation) higher under the McCain plan than under Obama's.

MORE MONEY IN YOUR POCKET:

More after-tax spending potential under McCain than under Obama. Using the same model to evaluate both plans, our analysis shows that a family of four will have an average of $5,138 more in disposable income under McCain's plan, and $3,631 more under Obama's. This average increase in disposable income is the combination of lower taxes on the average family, higher employment, and increased growth under both plans. By 2018, family-of-four disposable income under McCain is forecast to be $9,750 (after infla­tion) higher than baseline. This same family unit would see its inflation-adjusted disposable income surpass the baseline by $5,620 under Senator Obama's plan.
ECONOMIC DISINCENTIVES

Barack Obama's tax plan punishes Americans for working harder and achieving the American Dream:

ED-AI343_1taxcr_NS_20081008232813.gif

Because Mr. Obama's tax credits are phased out as incomes rise, they impose a huge "marginal" tax rate increase on low-income workers. The marginal tax rate refers to the rate on the next dollar of income earned. As the nearby chart illustrates, the marginal rate for millions of low- and middle-income workers would spike as they earn more income.

Some families with an income of $40,000 could lose up to 40 cents in vanishing credits for every additional dollar earned from working overtime or taking a new job. As public policy, this is contradictory. The tax credits are sold in the name of "making work pay," but in practice they can be a disincentive to working harder, especially if you're a lower-income couple getting raises of $1,000 or $2,000 a year.

Wake up, America.

If you're anything like me and you've been working hard all your life, you're about to watch it all get handed to someone else, courtesy of Barack Obama.


Posted by Cassandra at 08:48 AM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

October 15, 2008

*snort*

Well that's a shocker...

You Are Hot Sauce
You are the life of any party, because you're so good at bringing people out of their shell.
You have a knack for helping people happily embrace their true selves.
You are ambitious, driven, and fearless. You love taking risks.

Your taste in food is 100% adventurous.
You're up for sampling any exotic cuisine or someone's kitchen experiments.
You live for trying new things, and you get sick of eating the same food (even if it's very delicious).
What Condiment Are You?

Via Fausta, who was Catsup. We brunettes ... ¡tan picante!.

Posted by Cassandra at 07:50 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Wow

This is positively brilliant.

Go now. Read the whole thing - I'm not even going to excerpt it. You just need to read it.

Posted by Cassandra at 06:54 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

John McCain and our National Respect Deficit

Fred Hiatt thinks the presidential race is suffering from a respect deficit. Naturally, he blames John McCain:

... as the McCain campaign grew uglier last week -- casting Obama as dangerous, dishonest and un-American -- it was tempting to imagine the campaign McCain might have waged if he had based it on the respect for his opponent, and for the process, that he had long professed.

...imagine if McCain had selected for his running mate not a partisan attack dog but someone with deep knowledge of the economy and a record of reaching across the aisle.

Imagine if McCain himself had decided to respond to this crisis as an American first, a candidate second.

Last week, McCain was asking darkly, "Who is the real Senator Obama?" Imagine, instead, if he had followed his own advice from the spring, when he repudiated a state party attack ad that he said "distracts us from the very real differences we have with the Democrats." Imagine if he were challenging Obama on those policy differences.

I can understand Mr. Hiatt's confusion and anger. You see, I feel it too. Here I sit less than one month from the election, watching as my country is slowly torn to pieces. Is this the change I was promised? If so, it hasn't left me feeling terribly hopeful for the future.

A few short months ago, Barack Obama informed us that as a biracial candidate, he is uniquely qualified to understand and heal the divisions between black and white America. If that were true I might be happy to support him. But the reality his candidacy has ushered in is a divisive and disturbing one. Instead of healing and unity, when I open my newspaper or turn on my television set, I find myself bombarded by ugly accusations; hurtful and divisive fear mongering, and partisan mud slinging.

Fred Hiatt blames John McCain for this.

But John McCain has yet to call me a racist either openly or by implication. He has not insulted my intelligence or my values. He doesn't lie to me by commission and by omission every single day. No, it is Barack Obama, his supporters, and the media who entered this race as unpaid political consultants on his behalf who do so.

I don't enjoy being told I'm a racist for continuing to vote the way I have voted all my life simply because this time the Democratic candidate happens to be half black. If I were to change my voting pattern simply on account of his skin color, that would be racial discrimination. I see no reason to engage in that kind of behavior. I certainly will not do so in response to threats or browbeating.

It is an insult to not just my intelligence but that of every American to imply that if I don't vote for a man whose ideology is profoundly distasteful to me, there is only one rational explanation. that I hate blacks. It is even more insulting to continually make that accusation while ignoring a much more startling, but related phenomenon. According to many of the same polls, 90% of African Americans will vote for Barack Obama. If it is germane that some small fraction of whites may NOT vote for Obama (ostensibly due to skin color) why is it not germane that a very large number of blacks will vote for him because he is black, or that a significant number of whites also support him in large part from a laudable, if foolish, desire to get past the perception that whites prefer to vote for those of their own race? All of these groups are voting - at least partly - based on skin color. Is that really a good reason to vote for a President? Why is it news only when it suits a certain agenda, or when it appears to harm Mr. Obama, but not if it helps him?

And if Barack Obama is truly qualified to hold the office of President by virtue of his achievements and character, for what conceivable reason would questions about his qualifications, background, or associations be off limits? A truly qualified candidate’s attributes should stand up to strict public scrutiny, shouldn't they? What does it say when a candidate ducks questions about his record or associations? When have similar questions ever been off limits for white candidates applying for the same job? Isn't it patronizing to hold Senator Obama to a lower standard than previous candidates for the same office? Would going too easy on him not tend to indicate a lack of confidence in his abilities and qualifications, rather than respect for his abilities?

During a previous election, George Bush was tarred and feathered by the media for merely speaking at Bob Jones University. That far more trivial and incidental "association" was deemed substantial and damning enough to merit continual and ongoing media coverage, a public mea culpa and vehement denunciation by the likes of Jesse Jackson and the mainstream media, yet Fred Hiatt seems to think Obama's association with a domestic terrorist who (contrary to the media's dishonest characterization, was involved in murderous acts of domestic terrorism, at least according to Salon, that Bushie rag) is unworthy of mention:

... by the spring of 1970, he was a fugitive terror suspect, fleeing federal charges that he'd planned bombings and incited riots in various Midwestern cities. Three Weathermen had blown themselves up while building a bomb in a Greenwich Village townhouse, no more than a mile from where Rudd is sitting today. To the group's everlasting shame, that bomb was intended for an officers' dance at Fort Dix, N.J., where it presumably could have killed not only military personnel but their civilian dates and whoever else might have been in the building.

In the wake of the townhouse explosion, authorities finally grasped that the Weathermen, although small in scale and limited in capacity, were earnestly dedicated to the violent overthrow of the United States government. Like two dozen or so other core members, including such movement stars as Bernardine Dohrn, Bill Ayers, David Gilbert, Kathy Boudin, Cathy Wilkerson and Brian Flanagan, Rudd lived "underground," moving from city to city under assumed identities and holding a series of menial jobs, for more than seven years.

Dubbed the Weather Underground, the group carried out several more bombings in the 1970s, including high-profile attacks on the U.S. Capitol mailroom and New York police headquarters. Perhaps the Weathermen's greatest achievement, such as it was, came in September 1970, when they helped LSD guru Timothy Leary escape from a California prison and flee the U.S. with a forged passport. Leary lived in Eldridge Cleaver's Black Panther compound in Algeria until the two had a falling out, but was ultimately recaptured by U.S. agents in Afghanistan. In a final twist not mentioned in Green and Siegel's film, once Leary was back in prison he reportedly ratted out his Weather Underground allies to the FBI in exchange for early release.

As misguided and counterproductive as the Weather Underground's activities may have been, after the townhouse bombing the group never again planned attacks against human beings. Their post-1970 bombings were symbolic in nature and happened at night when the buildings were empty.

Which begs the question: why won't heinous racists like mccain_supporter.jpgthis gentleman, obviously a bigot and a hater, stop trying to distract us from the REAL issue - the economy? Why do they implore John McCain to ask more disrespectful, divisive and racist questions about the postracial candidate's completely irrelevant past? Why can't they stop hating on Barack Obama?

"We have the good Reverend Wright. We have [the Rev. Michael L.] Pfleger. We have all of these shady characters that have surrounded him," Harris bellowed. "We have corruption here in Wisconsin and voting across the nation. I am begging you, sir. I am begging you. Take it to him."

Why am I racist and disrespectful to ask precisely the same questions about a man whose resume places him solidly in the bottom 6th percentile of presidential candidates chosen by a major political party in the past 150 years that I would ask of any candidate, white or black? Why am I supposed to show this man more deference
because he is less qualified than just about any candidate in modern history, when Sarah Palin (the Governor of Alaska, who has more experience than Barack Obama, but is running for a lesser position) has already been subjected to harsher scrutiny than the man who is campaigning for the job of leader of the free world under the rather flimsy pretense (stoked at every possible opportunity) that it's just possible John McCain might die while in office?

Maybe Fred Hiatt can explain this to me. After all, he is a professional journalist - one of the intelligensia. You know, one of those smart folks David Brooks says Republicans look down on, as he politely tells us we're all a bunch of uneducated, backwoods rubes:

Conservatives are as rare in elite universities and the mainstream media as they were 30 years ago. The smartest young Americans are now educated in an overwhelmingly liberal environment.

"no American politician plays the class-warfare card as constantly as Palin."

What utter nonsense. It isn't the Republicans who have been playing the class warfare card. Did Mr. Brooks happen to listen to anything that was said at the Democratic Convention? Whether it was race, class, or gender warfare, it was all on display, front and center. Even the invocations to Almighty God commanded our Maker in no uncertain terms that He was to implement the DNC's policy prescriptions for affordable housing and child care, economic justice, and a speedy withdrawal of our noble, childlike murdering troops from Iraq and Afghanistan so they can be redeployed to Darfur where we have no discernible national security interest.

I'm still trying to figure out this man. Obviously though, he's a racist:

me.jpgI'm glad I'm not this woman, because I'd sure hate to be accused of being obsessed withcharacter assassination:

"I don’t know him."

"I don’t know him."

"I didn’t know him."

"I had nothing to do with them."

If I had asserted in one of my autobiographies that I chose my friends and associates carefully and people began to examine the character of my friends and found nothing but thieves, terrorists and racist demagogues, I might be tempted to disclaim them also.

The thing I find so amazing, however, is how easily Barack Obama denies the persons with whom his ties are deep, meaningful and long-standing. How easily does Obama abandon his friends! Is there no such thing as loyalty in that crowd? Perhaps it’s a natural lack.

Many observers find Obama's associations terrifying and they should. But his reactions (besides the all-purpose racist cudgel) to any controversy stemming from these associations are even more terrifying—and more indicative of Obama’s character.

I would hate to be the person who made this video , because only a hate-obsessed bigot would bother to catalog the serial evasions, half-truths, and outright lies Barack Obama engaged in to the press and the American people regarding Jeremiah Wright:

1.“I don’t think my church is particularly controversial.”
2. I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Rev. Wright that have caused such controversy.
3. This is a church that I have been a member of for some 20 years. This is a well established, typical historically African American church on the South side of Chicago with a wonderful set of ministries and what I have been hearing and had been hearing in church was talk about Jesus and talk about faith and values and serving the poor.
4. For some…nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course.
5. Olbermann: Did you know that these statements were made before the video tape appeared?
Obama: You know, frankly I didn’t. I wasn’t in church during the time that these statements were made… now I..
6. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in the church? Yes.
7. I did not hear such incendiary language…uh….myself personally….uh….either in conversations with him or when I was in the pew. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely.
8. Had I heard those in the church, I would have told Rev. Wright.that I profoundly disagreed with him, that they didn’t reflect my values, and that they didn’t reflect my ideals.
9. Just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagree.
10. ..and had I heard or known about some of these statements I would have been very clear about it.
11. But the remarks that caused this recent firestorm weren’t simply controversial. They weren’t simply a religious leader’s efforts to speak out against perceived injustice.

Was Wright's preaching controversial? Did Obama hear it, and did he disagree with it? Would have have set his friend and mentor straight in no uncertain terms, had he only heard the highly inflammatory, profoundly disturbing, divisive and unacceptable, yet utterly unremarkable and ordinary sermons about Jesus Christ that he was fully aware of and disagreed with but missed because he was never in church when they occurred?

It depends on which side of his mouth Obama was speaking out of that day.

But of course it is disrespectful to call him on this.

Dishonorable, almost.

One wonders what kind of campaign would have made Fred Hiatt happy?

If only John McCain had told the truth:

If only he had not insulted our intelligence with divisive race baiting and misleading guilt-by-association ads:

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., has launched a new Spanish-language TV ad that seeks to paint Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., as anti-immigrant, even tying the Republican to his longtime conservative talk-radio nemesis Rush Limbaugh.

As first reported by the Washington Post, Obama's ad features a narrator saying: "They want us to forget the insults we’ve put up with…the intolerance…they made us feel marginalized in this country we love so much."

The screen then shows these two quotes from Limbaugh:

“…stupid and unskilled Mexicans”
—Rush Limbaugh

"You shut your mouth or you get out!”
—Rush Limbaugh

The narrator then says, “John McCain and his Republican friends have two faces. One that says lies just to get our vote…and another, even worse, that continues the policies of George Bush that put special interests ahead of working families. John McCain…more of the same old Republican tricks


There are some real factual problems with this ad, which is titled “Dos Caras,” or two faces.

First of all, tying Sen. McCain – especially on the issue of immigration reform – to Limbaugh is unfair.

Limbaugh opposed McCain on that issue. Vociferously. And in a larger sense, it’s unfair to link McCain to Limbaugh on a host of issues since Limbaugh, as any even occasional listener of his knows, doesn’t particularly care for McCain.

Second, the quotes of Limbaugh’s are out of context.

Oddly the WaPo's "fact checker" didn't bother to check any of these facts - not that there is no "relationship" between Limbaugh and McCain, nor that Obama's ad grossly distorted the Limbaugh quotes (in fact, twisting their meaning 180 degrees around until they appeared to mean the opposite of what he had actually said).

Dishonest? You betcha. But that's hardly the only Obama ad to take tiny quotes out of context and distort their meaning to smear John McCain. Perhaps Fred Hiatt would find this Obama ad more to his taste:

Ann Althouse looks at the latest Obama ad, which seems to have taken the low road:

"What's happened to John McCain? He's running the sleaziest ads ever. Truly vile."

"Dishonest smears that he repeats, even after it's been exposed as a lie. Truth be damned. A disgraceful, dishonorable campaign... It seems deception is all he has left."

The ad is an unsettling pastiche of cut and paste smears taken from various unseen sources, in many cases using only a word or two. There is no context, no proof, and no defined accusation one can directly refute.

Just a litany of slurs: faceless, anonymous, and very, very ugly. Althouse comments:

It seems likely that the viewer is just supposed to accept the assertion that there have been sleaziest ads, smears, and a lie, mainly because the names of newspapers appear on screen next to quotes.

... I think quite a few voters, like me, will feel very skeptical about generic assertions and quotes taken out of context. We American voters are competent ad watchers, and I don't think this will work on us.

... This ad screams its negativity. The ominous music. The string of very ugly words: sleaziest... vile ... dishonest smears ... lie ... damned ... disgraceful ... dishonorable ... deception. And yet the ad seeks to inspire outrage about McCain's negativity. But we're not watching McCain's ads. The example of sleaziness is the one before our eyes now.

John McCain wasn't my candidate.

I wanted Mitt Romney. I thought he would have made a fine president.

But I'll take McCain head and shoulders over Barack Obama. And regardless of what he and David Brooks seem to think, I may just be a RINO/conservative housewife with a bachelor's degree, but I'm not stupid and I'm not a racist. I don't want a president who "organizes the community" to shout down those who inquire too closely into his background.

Funny thing about that term: "community organizer". It keeps cropping up in the oddest places. Like here:

TO discover the roots of to day's economic crisis, consider a tale from 1995.

That March, House Speaker Newt Gingrich was scheduled to address a meeting of county commissioners at the Washington Hilton. But, first, some 500 protesters from the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) poured into the ballroom from both the kitchen and the main entrance.

Hotel staffers who tried to block them were quickly overwhelmed by demonstrators chanting, "Nuke Newt!" and "We want Newt!" Jamming the aisles, carrying bullhorns and taunting the assembled county commissioners, demonstrators swiftly took over the head table and commandeered the microphone, sending two members of Congress scurrying.



And here:

Well, I’ve known [convicted terrorist] Kathy [Boudin] since 1967 or 1968, when she was one of the great community organizers in S.D.S...

Maybe someone should check some of these connections out.

Or would that be .... disrespectful?

Posted by Cassandra at 08:02 AM | Comments (40) | TrackBack

October 14, 2008

Tuesday Night Tune

How long said she can a moment like this
Belong to someone
What's wrong, what is right, when to live or to die
We must almost be born

So if you should ask me what secrets I hide
I'm only your lover, don't make me decide

The perfume that she wore was from some little store
On the down side of town
But it lingered on, long after she'd gone
I remember it well

CWCID: Maggie's Farm

Since I'm remembering tonight, here's another few that are dear to my heart:

Posted by Cassandra at 07:13 PM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

Graduation Day

“... for the first time in our history, we are not doing things for one man, but we are doing it for all the people of Iraq. He is saying the US has showed us how, and we must not forget when we thank God every day, we must also ask him to bless the US.”
Make it count. So many, Iraqi and American, are watching from a land they can never return from.

Make it count.

Posted by Cassandra at 05:22 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Dear John Letter Advice from a Marine Wife

Ymar asks me a question:

Cass, what did you think about the dislike people have for Dear John letters sent to servicemen deployed?
Here is the young woman's letter:
DEAR CHUCK Z: I need your advice on how to break an engagement with my fiance, whose tour of duty in Iraq has been extended four more months. He has been there eight months, and during his absence, I met someone else I would like to start dating.

I didn't want to stress out my fiance, and I wanted to wait until he returned to talk to him, but now I feel too guilty, so I need to address it soon. Please help me.

-- FEELING GUILTY, MEMPHIS, TENN.

Oh dear. Not knowing anything about this young woman or her fiance, their ages, or their relationship, I can only go on what is in her very brief note.

Consequently, my answer will confine itself to what I see there. It will also (unsurprisingly) not please many of you. As I have often remarked, I don't always see life the same way as everyone else.

This young woman's letter seems to have elicited a lot of very angry responses. A brief survey of just the first few comments yields the following rather embarrassing (if you like to think military people are better than this, and I do) invective:

- 'you chose to bang the WalMart cashier' (stay classy, there...)
- you go and spit out those little "Code Pink" babies, my newest neice [sic] will need someone to beat up in Pre-School. (wow)
- Die, Bitch!
- get lost you friggin wh0re - your use of the phrase "someone else" is clearly code that the new person is female. Other wise you would have said "another guy: (*sigh* A deep thinker, here)

This is all quite interesting, because unless some of these learned commenters subscribe to The Psychic Hotline, I'm not really sure where they get off calling this woman a whore. In her short note, she states that during her fiance's 8 month absence:

... I met someone else I would like to start dating

How did we jump the shark from thinking about dating someone to being a whore and churning out Code Pink babies? Was the political orientation of either the woman or the man she is thinking about dating... after she breaks off her engagement to the aforementioned soldier ever specified? And where does Uncle Jimbo get off calling her a "dirty hoor"?

The truth is, no one involved here knows anything about this situation.

To be honest, I find it rather remarkable and refreshing, in this day and age that the young woman in question (if we take her letter at face value, and I see no reason not to) won't so much as go out with a young man she clearly has strong feelings for until she has spoken to her fiance and broken off their engagement.

I find it refreshing that she clearly did not want to simply write him a Dear John letter, but was willing to wait until he arrived home - that she wanted to do this face to face, rather than take the coward's way out and just send him an impersonal note. Notice that it was not until his tour of duty was extended for another 4 months that the problem arose.

And I think the commenters are being completely unreasonable and immature.

From time immemorial, young men going off to war have asked young women to marry them. Often these proposals are ill advised. Emotions are unusually intense in the immediate run-up to a deployment. It's all too easy to be swept away, to confuse the fear of losing someone you care about to death for a more lasting feeling: the kind of love stable marriages are built on. How many guys have leveraged this rush of emotion to get laid - often several times, by several different girls - before shoving off, with no intention of committing themselves? It happens all the time.

Some men also use that feeling - consciously or unconsciously - to cement a weak relationship and win the girl who might not otherwise have settled down with them.

It would have been the easiest thing in the world for this woman to simply brush off her soldier with a brusque letter, yet she didn't.

It would have been the easiest thing in the world to just take up with the man she is now interested in, and yet it appears that she wants to wait until she has broken off her engagement. Does this make her a slut and a dirty whore? In my book, this makes her a fallible human being who is honest enough to want to do the right thing.

Most separated people I know begin having sex with other people even though they are not divorced, and they have sworn before God not to do so. This young woman has not even begun dating, and yet she is being called a whore. This is what she gets for being concerned enough about her fiance to turn to the military community for advice? If this is their idea of being ambassadors for our values, they just did a bang up job of showing them we are a narrow minded, classless and judgmental group of people with serious attention deficit disorder.

Here is my advice to her as a Marine wife of nearly three decades:

Dear "Feeling Guilty":

You say you have met someone else and would like to start dating, and that you feel guilty. Let's start there.

I think you are being given a golden opportunity to search your heart. Please take it.

If I am interpreting your letter correctly, 8 months have passed since you have seen your fiance. That is a very long time for a young person - much more so than it is for someone my age. As you get older, time seems to fly by much faster than it does for the young.

I don't know how long your relationship had endured before he left, nor how closely the two of you have kept in touch during his deployment. Obviously these will be important factors in your deliberations. But it strikes me that you have waited to break off your engagement, and also that (again, if I can trust your letter) that you have not started dating this other man. Are you unsure of your feelings for your fiance? Or are you, perhaps, just unsure of your willingness to endure long deployments in the future? These are important questions. Is it really this new man who attracts you, or are you just lonely? Or perhaps bored?

The heady rush of a new relationship never lasts. Those feelings are intoxicating. You will never feel so attractive - so wanted and cherished, so alive - as you do when someone is actively pursuing you. It's hard for an established relationship to compete with that giddy roller coaster ride, isn't it? Especially when your partner is halfway around the world.

And men are often lousy at communicating their love and appreciation once they settle down. Hunters by nature, they value what is within their grasp less than what lies just out of their reach. They think that just the fact that they send a paycheck or come home from work or fix the car communicates their love adequately. Because they speak a different language, they don't understand how deeply we need to hear the words, how much we hunger for tenderness.

We are little better. For all our vaunted sensitivity, we don't see how deeply they need our respect and admiration; how very much they want to be heroes in our eyes. And so they should be, for they would die to protect us. How often do we impatiently brush aside their gifts, not realizing their worth?

What you need to think over carefully is this:

Why did you agree to be this man's wife? What were your reasons? Do they still hold?

Compared to a lifetime, four months is not that much time. I would say, hold off. Unless you are certain you no longer love your fiance, use this time to center yourself. More than anything else, a woman must know what SHE wants out of life first. Only then can she give herself fully to a man. Use the next four months to map out the rest of your life. What do YOU want? Does your future include your fiance? Are his values compatible with yours? Can you see yourself growing old with him?

What about the other man? If your feelings for him are genuine (and his for you are the same) he will wait. A man who truly cares for you as a person will not push for a relationship - especially a sexual one. The important thing is that you need to understand where you are going with your life first, and it sounds as though your romantic relationships are driving the bus rather than the other way around.

Whoever you marry, it is important to realize that your relationship will have its ups and downs. Every marriage is like a dance: you will have moments when you and your partner are close and moments when he (or you) swing away and it seems that you are headed in different directions. The important thing is that somehow, you work to remain connected. Sometimes you may be locked in a tight embrace and sometimes you may only feel the slightest squeeze of his fingers as you pass in the hallway or the back of his thigh in the middle of the night under the sheets.

But always, you should know that he is there; a part of you. I'd like to tell you that you will never feel the pull of attraction to another man, but that is not true.

I'd like to tell you that you will never look into his eyes and feel anger, or frustration, or even regret but those things are not true either. What I can tell you is that marriage is not a feeling.

It is a decision you make anew every morning when you rise up and make the coffee and every night when you decide to either turn your back on your spouse or roll over and make love even though you're tired. It is rolling over into that warm place on the other side of the bed in the instant after he leaves it, just to be closer to him.

It is an act of faith. Either way, I wish you well.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:33 AM | Comments (41) | TrackBack

Sacre Bleu!!!

See the night sky on the day you were born.

Also:

Unbeknownst to the ancient astrologers, the Earth continually wobbles around its axis in a 25,800-year cycle. This wobble—called precession—is caused by the gravitational attraction of the Moon on Earth's equatorial bulge.

Over the past two-and-a-half millennia, this wobble has caused the intersection point between the celestial equator and the ecliptic to move west along the ecliptic by 36 degrees, or almost exactly one-tenth of the way around. This means that the signs have slipped one-tenth—or almost one whole month—of the way around the sky to the west, relative to the stars beyond.

For instance, those born between March 21 and April 19 consider themselves to be Aries. Today, the Sun is no longer within the constellation of Aries during much of that period. From March 11 to April 18, the Sun is actually in the constellation of Pisces!

What does this mean?

The table below lists the dates when the Sun is actually within the astronomical constellations of the Zodiac, according to modern constellation boundaries and corrected for precession (these dates can vary a day from year to year).

You will most likely find that once precession is taken into account, your zodiac sign is different.

Nancy Reagan must be having a fit.

Posted by Cassandra at 07:43 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

October 13, 2008

Coffee Snorters: Blonde Moment Edition

Sacre bleu! This is an outrage!

A Connecticut judge has given the brush-off to a blonde woman's lawsuit claiming L'Oreal Inc. ruined her social life when she accidentally dyed her hair brunette with one of its products.

Charlotte Feeney of Stratford says she can never return to her natural blonde hue, a shock that left her so traumatized she needed anti-depressants.

She says she suffered headaches and anxiety, missed the attention that blondes receive and had to stay home and wear hats most of the time.

If you need me, I'll be at the bar.

In the corner. Wearing a hat.

Motherhood may make you smarter:

Motherhood can supercharge the female brain, leading to lifelong improvements in mental skills and giving protection against the degenerative diseases of old age, researchers have found.

The findings challenge the popular belief that having a child harms mental acuity.

While there may be a decline in powers during pregnancy, this is more than offset by improving abilities after the baby is born. This, the researchers believe, equips women for the greater demands of life with a child.

“Pregnant women do undergo a phase of so-called baby brain, when they experience an apparent loss of function,” said Craig Kinsley, professor of neuroscience at the University of Richmond, Virginia.

“However, this is because their brains are being remodelled for motherhood to cope with the many new demands they will experience.

“The changes that kick in then could last for the rest of their lives, bolstering cognitive abilities and protecting them against degenerative diseases.”

... His studies, carried out on animals including rats and primates, show mothers become much braver, are up to five times faster at finding food and have better spatial awareness than those without offspring.

...he compared the brains of mother animals with those of nonmothers, he found physical changes related to these new-found skills.

In particular, nerve cells in crucial areas known to be linked to parenting had grown larger and developed more connections with neighbouring cells. This appeared to give the creatures more “computing” power. They also grew new sets of brain cells that Kinsley calls “maternal circuits”.

“Although most studies have so far focused on animals, it is likely women also gain long-lasting benefits from motherhood. Most mammals share similar maternal behaviours controlled by the same brain regions,” he said.

Another study found rats that had given birth were protected against degenerative diseases, with lower levels of a protein called APP, which in humans is linked with Alzheimer’s disease.

Interesting, but related concept. The credit crunch may make force baby boomers to grow up... finally:

WHEN Wendy Postle’s two children were younger, saying “yes” gave her great joy. Yes to all those toys. The music lessons. The blowout birthday parties.

But as her son and daughter approached adolescence, yes turned into a weary default. “Sometimes it was just easier to say, ‘O.K., whatever,’ than to have the battle of ‘no,’ ” said Mrs. Postle, a working mother who lives in Hilliard, Ohio, a middle-class suburb of Columbus.

This year her husband’s 401(k) savings are evaporating. Medical bills are nipping at the couple’s heels. Gas prices are still taking a toll. Mrs. Postle recently decided that although she and her husband had always sacrificed their own luxuries for Zach, 13, and Kaitlyn, 15, the teenagers would now have to cut back as well.

“No” could no longer be the starting gun of family fights. It would have to be an absolute.

“I tried to tell Kaitlyn, ‘We’ll get the Hollister jeans at a thrift store,’ ” Mrs. Postle recalled. “She got angry and said: ‘That’s gross! Other people wore them!’

Indulged. Entitled. Those labels have become hot-glued to middle-class and affluent teenagers born after the last major economic downturn, in the late 1980s. They were raised in comparatively flush times by parents who believed that keeping children happy, stimulated and successful, no matter the cost, was an unassailable virtue. A 2007 study by the Harrison Group, a market research firm in Waterbury, Conn., found that nearly 75 percent of parents caved in to their children’s nagging for new video games, half within two weeks.

But as the economy totters, many families have no choice but to cut back, which may lead to a shift in their thinking about money and permissiveness. Last week a semiannual survey of 7,000 15- to 18-year-olds by Piper Jaffray, an investment bank and research firm, showed that annual discretionary spending by teenagers, whose money comes from allowance, gifts and part-time jobs, had dropped 27 percent to $2,600, from its spring 2006 peak of $3,560.

“Parents are suddenly saying ‘no’ and their kids are saying, ‘What do you mean?’ ” said Robert D. Manning, an economist at the Rochester Institute of Technology and author of “Credit Card Nation.”

These are difficult conversations. Panicked, stressed parents are struggling to explain and impose restraints, just when teenagers are expecting more spending money, not less. Many adolescents respond with anger at what they see as a bait-and-switch world, fear for their families and confusion about budgeting.

Family therapists, teachers and parents tell anecdotes about teenagers who are badly rattled by the news, in denial, or both. A daughter is shaken as her mother calls for an emergency family meeting. The son of a Wall Street financier whose fortune has collapsed tauntingly tells his father he can take care of himself: he will sell more marijuana.

“It is an unbelievable shock to affluent families that their lifestyles are gone for good,” Dr. Manning said, “and their children are ill prepared for it.”

Who were they expecting to prepare their children to live in the real world?

Santa Claus?

It never ceases to astound me how many parents buy their children's love with material things. This is so unnecessary. What children really want from their parents is love and most importantly, the gift of time. They may not always respond the way we'd like them to, but when we care enough to set limits and to share our values with them, they are genuinely grateful for the security of knowing where the boundaries lie.

I know I have told this story before, but when my oldest boy outgrew his first bicycle, he wanted a 10-speed. We could easily have afforded to buy him one for his birthday or for Christmas, but I decided it would be a better idea to make him earn the money for a used bicycle and have him take it to the bike shop and fix it up. I wanted him to appreciate that there is a relationship between money, material possessions, and work: that the things we enjoyed didn't just magically appear without effort, as so many of his friends seemed to take for granted.

I also wanted him to experience frustration.

That's right: I wanted him not to get what he wanted right away.

I think kids get things too easily these days. I remember wishing and hoping and planning and waiting for things when I was a child. Many things that I wanted, I never did get. It didn't kill me. There was a line in that Mitt Romney CPAC speech the other day "Dependency is death to initiative." I wanted to teach my son that if you want something, you don't wait around for someone else to give it to you. You go out and find a way to earn it for yourself. You get creative, if you can't afford it.

I taught my kids to shop at thrift stores, even though we came from an upper middle class background. They loved combing over old things and finding bargains they could clean up. Recently, one of my sons and his wife found a solid walnut dining room table and chairs online for $200. It was in mint condition. It's gorgeous - all they had to do was rent a U-Haul and drive a few hours to pick it up. All we had to do was recover the seats with new fabric and it looks fabulous.

My sons grew up watching me fix up old things I'd bought for next to nothing - our house is furnished with what I like to call 'early yard sale', but what our movers usually dub 'antiques'. I don't argue with them. If you have a good eye for design, you can find lovely pieces that people get tired of. All they need is new upholstery or some stain and a coat or two of oil finish and they're as good as new. Often better, as new furniture is rarely as sturdy or well made as older pieces tend to be.

I often think that our affluence, in addition to making us complacent, has made us lazy and somewhat self-centered. In giving in to our children's material demands, how many of us were really just satisfying our own desire to be left to our own devices? The sad truth is that it's always easier to give money and things than time and always easier to say "yes" than to teach a child why "no" is the right answer.

But it's not always the right thing - for us, or for our children.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:04 AM | Comments (34) | TrackBack

October 12, 2008

Sunday Time Waster

I can never resist these things. Go ahead. You know you want to:

1. The end of the world is coming, if you can save only one kind of animal, which one will you pick? a. Rabbit b. Sheep c. Deer d. Horse

2. If you had to be an animal which one would you choose?
a. Dog
b. Cat
c. Horse
d. Snake

3. If you have the power to make one species disappear forever, which one will that be?
a. Lion
b. Snake
c. Crocodile
d. Shark

4. If one of the following animals could speak which would you prefer it to be?
a. Sheep
b. Horse
c. Rabbit
d. Bird

5. On an isolated island you can only have one of the following as your companion, which one would you choose?
a. Human
b. Pig
c. Cow
d. Bird

6. If you had the ability to tame all animals, which would you prefer as a pet?
a. Dinosaur
b. White tiger
c. Polar bear
d. Leopard

7. If you could be an animal for 5 minutes which of the following would you prefer to be?
a. Lion
b. Cat
c. Horse
d. Pigeon

Answers (and what they mean) here.

Here's are two more quick but fun ones:

Drawing test

Picture test

Posted by Cassandra at 11:19 AM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

October 11, 2008

Heh...

poll.gif Sorry guys, but I deleted the poll. It was turning my entire blog green. Speaking of tingly...

A one of a kind Obama rally and fundraiser as only San Francisco could produce. This event will include: top-notch DJs, all-night dancing, sensual/political performances, and features an O's for Obama guided breath-gasm experience by Destin Gerek, the Erotic Rockstar. Because Change is C O M I N G ! ! !

As The Unit would say, "Oh baby, oh baby, oh baby..."

...how many people know how to have a rip-roaring, full-body, high vibrational energetic breath orgasm all while fully clothed and without even touching their sex organs?

Not too many, but hundreds more WILL after the 24th.

I'm here to help you have an experience OUTSIDE of what you already know. Something that perhaps, you didn't even know you were capable of experiencing. All this while promoting Obama for President."

An Obama presidency - transformational in so many ways. What was that Michelle said a while back? Obama is going to make you work...

And it's educational too.









Posted by Cassandra at 01:47 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Men Get Catty

In this week's edition of "Guys Are Sensitive", a disturbing new trend: Dudes, And The Cats Who Love Them:

2008_10_thomjd.jpg

If the New York Times' Sunday Styles were a hairdo, it would be a wig. If it were on the menu, it would be a meringue. If it were a retail outlet, it would be Spencer's Gifts. As a mélange of fashion notes, celebrity reporting, personal essays, and piffle, Sunday Styles resembles the old-fashioned supermarket tabloids in that it knows that it's a stinking pile of entertaining trash and makes no apologies for it.

So bestowing a "Bogus Trend of the Week" award upon Sunday Styles is a tad like berating Slobodan Milosevic for tracking mud across your nice, clean linoleum floor. The section exists to advance the bogus. Yet sometimes Sunday Styles promotes premises so flimsy that somebody must shout stop, if only to restore the section to its honest awfulness.

That moment arrived last Sunday (Oct. 5) in "Sorry, Fido, It's Just a Guy Thing," in which writer Abby Ellin revealed that more and more guys—single, straight guys!—are digging pussycats. Here's the nut graf:

Mr. Fulrath is one of a growing number of single—and yes, heterosexual—men who seem to be coming out of the cat closet and unabashedly embracing their feline side.

Full disclosure: while the denizens of Villa Cassandranita could not be accused of having a bad cattitude, neither The Unit nor the blog princess are personally owned by a cat.

There could be many reasons for this. One may well be that the Resident Canine is himself, although quite feisty, no larger than a cat himself: a mere 15-16 pounds soaking wet. For this reason, he could be expected to take an Extremely Dim View of opening up the house to recklessly unsanctioned occupation by a foreign power one suspects would have the ardent approval of the EU. Also there is the Sneeze Factor. The Princess, though not unfond of felines, is also allergic to them.

But the Princess loved the Fray's deft lampooning of the NY Times' patented "statistical" approach to trendspotting. One only wishes journalists were so adept at Noticing this kind of thing when it comes to subjects like the war in Iraq, where the Times employs exactly the same kind of "analysis" to arrive at spurious "conclusions" the folks over at Slate find much more to their liking:

How to write a bogus trend story: Start with something you wish were on the rise. State that rise as a fact. Allow that there are no facts, surveys, or test results to support such a fact. Use and reuse the word seems. Collect anecdotes and sprinkle liberally. Drift from your original point as far as you can to collect other data points. Add liberally. Finish with an upbeat quotation like "My cat takes priority over the new relationship. Realistically, unless there's something absolutely amazing about [the woman I'm dating], he wins."

It works so well with things like the violence in Baghdad, or casualty reports.

Pick any arbitrary point on a 4 year time line at random ... say the lowest monthly casualty rate! ... even though it happens to be at an odd interval.

Choose as your other endpoint the highest casualty rate ... even though that month's fatalities include 9 soldiers killed as the result of a truck running off the road and into a ditch.

Conclude that the "trend" is a 40% increase in "violence" (now traffic accidents are "violence"? Don't traffic and training accidents, tragic though they may be, happen even back in the United States?

Fail to provide any charts that allow the reader to see what you have done, to assess the rise and fall of "violence" over the entire 4-year span of the war, or that provide any context whatsoever.

Don't bother to factor in how many troops we had in country (sure this matters when assessing the casualty rate - citing unnormalized casualty rates results in an inherently skewed analysis if what you're trying to report on is individual "risk" - which the Times proceeded to announce was "worse than it has ever been").

Above all, don't even think about reporting on our soldiers and Marines purchased with their deaths. After all, when you report on a football game, an unbiased reporter only reports half the score, right? That's how you know which team is winning. It only stands to reason that the unbiased reporter reports only how many Americans are dying.

Not how many weapons caches we've secured, how many insurgents we've killed or captured, how many provinces have been turned over to Iraqi control, etc.

Half the score. And timely updates like that important classified memo from Thomas Ricks that let us know Anbar Province was "irretrievably lost".

That worked out so well. Well worth the price of breaking the law to bring truthiness to the American people.

Posted by Cassandra at 11:45 AM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

October 10, 2008

Hmmmm....

I was going to write about this, but instead I believe I'll turn it into a Friday discussion question (which may be an exercise in frustration, since my brain seems to be diseased, but let's give it a try anyway). What do these two stories have in common?

Peter Cook wouldn't be considered such a "scumbag pervert" if ex-wife Christie Brinkley had said "thank you" more often, the notorious teen-skirt-chaser said.

In an unbelievable chat with Barbara Walters set to air Friday on ABC's "20/20," Cook says he cheated on Brinkley because the supermodel didn't give him the emotional support he needed at home.

"I was seeking a connection I could not find in my own marriage," Cook said.

"I wanted a little acknowl edgement, a little attention, a little thank-you every now and then for my efforts, for the amount of time I took to care for her and my family, for the wealth I was building. Just the tremendous amount of work I was putting into my family."

And story #2:

Burke Jensen moved to Kennewick about a year ago, bought a nice house in the country south of the city and began to settle into a new job at Energy Northwest.

Then came the call five months ago to serve his country in Kuwait.

So Jensen, who says he is an involuntarily mobilized reservist, headed off, leaving behind a pregnant wife, a young son and a 2.5-acre lot with not a spot of landscaping.

Now, Lt. Jensen is being told to get an irrigation system and landscaping on his property as soon as possible or face legal action from the Oak Hill Country Estates Homeowners' Association.

"I really don't give a [expletive] where he is or what his problem is," said Chick Edwards, owner and developer of the 47-lot subdivision at the south end of Oak Street in Kennewick.

"It doesn't matter to me," said Edwards, who insists Jensen has violated terms of the homeowners-association covenants requiring that landscaping be completed within one year after an occupancy permit is issued for a home.

"[Jensen] doesn't have the right to walk away from his obligation," said Edwards, who as the developer is the only member of the homeowners association. "I have most of the property still, so I am the homeowners association," he said.

Jensen's situation is complicated by the fact his wife chose to return with her son to stay with family on the East Coast for the duration of her pregnancy, leaving the home unoccupied.

Jensen's attorney, Tony DeAlicante of Redmond, Ore., said Jensen had paid a landscaper thousands of dollars to design and install an irrigation system and hydroseed the large lot this summer.

But DeAlicante said it appears the landscaper may have abandoned the job with the irrigation system only partially completed and no seeding done.

DeAlicante said Jensen also would like to find a renter for his home, but Edwards said that would be a commercial use not allowed by the homeowners association.

"He's not going to rent it," said Edwards. He said an attorney who has reviewed the covenants agrees.

A stuffed marmoset by parcel post to the perceptive reader who can spot the hidden connection between these two stories (MikeD, you are disqualified! :)

Posted by Cassandra at 03:35 PM | Comments (75) | TrackBack

Iraqi Ambassador Confirms Obama Meddled In US Negotiations

I covered Barack Obama's Logan Act violations earlier, but they have now been confirmed by a second source - an eye witness:

It has been confirmed that Mr Obama spoke to Hoshyar Zebari, the Iraqi foreign minister, during Mr Zebari's visit to Washington in June. The talk, which was at Mr Zebari's request, was carried out over the phone because Mr Obama was on the campaign trail.

Samir Sumaidaie, the Iraqi ambassador to the US, told the Washington Times: "In the conversation, the senator urged Iraq to delay the [deal] between Iraq and the United States until the new administration was in place."

He added that Mr Obama had said "The new administration will have a free hand to opt out" of the deal.

But what is even more interesting is what I noticed the day after my original post. Obama also lied to the press about the content of his discussion with Zebari:

Watching the video in my previous post raised a red flag. It struck me as ludicrous for Obama to say he was going to pull 1-2 brigades out of Iraq per month, yet (if you believe Obama) Zebari didn't so much as bat an eyelash. The pertinent quote is at 5:03:

"He did not express that concern directly"

I did some Googling and hit paydirt. Jennifer Rubin had noticed the same thing:

...something seemed odd about Barack Obama’s account of his conversation with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshay Zebari. Obama said that Zebari didn’t express any concern about Obama’s immediate withdrawal plans. Well, according to Zebari that is a lie.

...“my message” to Mr. Obama “was very clear. . . . Really, we are making progress. I hope any actions you will take will not endanger this progress.” He said he was reassured by the candidate’s response, which caused him to think that Mr. Obama might not differ all that much from Mr. McCain. Mr. Zebari said that in addition to promising a visit, Mr. Obama said that “if there would be a Democratic administration, it will not take any irresponsible, reckless, sudden decisions or action to endanger your gains, your achievements, your stability or security. Whatever decision he will reach will be made through close consultation with the Iraqi government and U.S. military commanders in the field.”

So not only did Zebari express concern but Obama’s private comments suggested his immediate withdrawal plans, which he still adheres to publicly, may not be so immediate. What does Zebari think about a sudden withdrawal? According to the Post:

In a meeting with Post editors and reporters Tuesday, he said that after all the pain and sacrifices of the past five years, “we are just turning the corner in Iraq.” A precipitous withdrawal, he said, “would create a huge vacuum and undo all the gains and achievements. And the others” — enemies of the United States — “would celebrate.”

I want to emphasize this part one more time:

He said he was reassured by the candidate’s response, which caused him to think that Mr. Obama might not differ all that much from Mr. McCain.

This is absolutely huge, because if it ever managed to get any traction, it would torpedo Obama's candidacy with the Netroots. Let's keep in mind that this is not the first time Barack Obama has been caught saying one thing to his supporters and another to representatives of foreign governments:

I have always maintained that despite Obama's antiwar rhetoric, once he gets into office he face the same problems George Bush has had to deal with for the past eight years.

This means dealing with Iraq and Afghanistan as they are, not the way he would like them to be. Obama is not a stupid man. The odds are he already realizes that his antiwar rhetoric has outlived its usefulness. Just as the Democrats' fulmination about the NSA's wiretapping came to nothing when it came time to actually cut off funding, watch for Obama's talk of rapid troop withdrawals to die a sudden death, should he be elected in November. What he cannot afford, however, is for his far left supporters to realize what he has no doubt already twigged to.

No matter which way this story comes out, it is bad for Obama because three things are unequivocally plain:

1. He has lied to the press Zebari having raised the issue of rapid troop withdrawals jeopardizing recent security gains.
2. He tried to interfere in US-Iraqi negotiations in contravention of the Logan Act.
3. He is playing a double game on troop withdrawals - saying one thing to US voters and another to the Iraqis.

The press are really falling down on the job here. Obama is leading them by the garden path and they are willing accomplices in his serial deceptions.

What happened to their so-called accountability journalism?

Asleep at the wheel, at least so long as it involves holding Democrats accountable for much of anything. Pitiful. Truly pitiful.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:46 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

October 09, 2008

Quiet Courage

This post is dedicated to my friends.

We hear a lot about the men of this war - the ones who fight. What we do not always think so much on is the quiet courage of the women of this war. Not the military women, but the wives, daughters and mothers of our men and women in uniform. I think of them as the real "remain behind element", because when our men and women deploy they take a huge part of someone else's heart with them: a mother's hopes and fears for her firstborn; a young bride's breathless anticipation for a lifetime of love; a pregnant mother's joyful expectation of new life, echoing like a loud noise in an empty room since she aches to share each moment with her absent love.

The calm practicality of the staff NCO's wife who, married for decades, has weathered scores of deployments. She spends her days pouring herself out to younger wives, steadying them, reassuring them. It is only in the middle of the night that she wakes up alone in bed and reaches for that empty space. And then the tears come, but only when no one can see. In the morning, she will be fine again.

It is typical of Carrie that only days before her own son returns from Anbar, she is talking about others:

Webster defines courage as "mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty "

As we near the sixth anniversary of the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom (October 7, 2001), we have all seen different kinds of courage.

We've seen the kind of courage found on the battlefield. Over and over, we've seen what that kind of courage looks like.

We've seen a second kind of courage. The kind of courage it takes to overcome wounds and injuries. I wrote a post a couple of days ago about how there were 17 Marines who suffered amputations, went through recovery and rehabilitation and are currently serving in Iraq.

Go read the rest of Carrie's post. A few days ago she asked me to write about Amy. I decided to put it off for a day or two so I could embarrass talk about my friends.

Carrie: has the biggest mouth heart in the state of Virginia. OK, I will pay for that....

Seriously, I have watched this woman move mountains on behalf of injured Marines, soldiers and sailors and their families. You do not want to mess with a Marine wife and mother when it comes to the welfare of a young man who has lost a leg.

Or a wife, after being wounded and returning home to a long recovery period and pay snafus. Sometimes that happens. Marriages of short duration don't always survive the hard times. When Carrie's son left for Iraq, I tried to get her to quit her volunteer work for Injured Marines' Semper Fi Fund, because frankly I was afraid the casework (which can sometimes be heartbreaking, if rewarding) would begin to weigh on her too much with her own son in harm's way.

No deal.

You see this same courage with Amy, whose story Carrie links to. Many women, having lost a son in the war would be bitter. Many would just want to forget. Not Amy. Instead of thinking of herself and her own pain, Amy wanted to reach out to others. She used what was a tragic event to make the world a better place for other people, and in the process help her make sense of the incomprehensible.

MaryAnn: by day she is a well paid executive. On the weekends she drives for hours to volunteer as a Soldiers Angel at Landstuhl RAMC. Her body may be in Germany, but her heart is (I think) in Afghanistan. Oh, and did I mention her blog kicks a**?

Sly: Proud Marine wife. Mother. Loving daughter. Loyal friend. No matter what life hands her, she deals.

Cricket: Army wife, but we'll let that one slide... heh. One of my oldest and dearest friends. VC's steel magnolia. I know that Jonathan must look down at you every day from heaven with such pride in his eyes.

There are so many more, but these ladies are just a few that I wanted to highlight today because they humble me.

Quiet courage.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:10 AM | Comments (32) | TrackBack

From Little Trees, Mighty ACORNS Grow

In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to satisfy their spirits The Obamessiah called his disciples unto him, and saith unto them: "I have compassion on the multitude, because in their souls the People hunger and thirst for economic justice, and for 8 long years have they had None. And if I send them away fasting unto their own houses, they will faint by the way. For divers of them traveled great distances to get here."

And his disciples answered him, "From whence can a man satisfy The People with manna here in the wilderness?"

And he said unto them, "How many voters have we?"

And they replied, "644,197, Lord".

And he commanded the People to sit down upon the ground. And thereupon he took up the registration forms, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them. And they did set them before the People. And they had also a few spare IDs. And so he blessed, and commanded to set them also before the Multitude. So they did partake, and did fill out the forms: and Lo! They that had completed the forms were about 677,401.

And he sent them away. And straightway he entered into a Bus with his disciples and came into the parts of Chicago.

And the Pharisees came forth and began to question with him, seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him. And The One sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, "Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation."

And he left them, and entering into the Bus again departed to the other side.

Now the disciples had forgotten to take enough forms, neither had they in the bus with them more than one box. And he charged them, saying, "Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of the BusHitler". And they reasoned among themselves, saying, "The Master is wroth. It is because we have no forms".

And when the Obamessiah knew it, he saith unto them, "Why reason ye, because ye have no forms? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened?"

"Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember?"

"When I brake the few forms among the multitude, how many baskets full of forms took ye up?" They say unto him, "105 percent". And he said unto them, "How is it that ye do not understand the miracles I have set before you, the miracle of community organization?"

Verily I say unto you, this is the power of love. The power of inclusion and respect:

Things that are too good to be true typically are.

...That’s a photoshop, according to our friends in Wasilla. The original had two fingers in a V, but she’s still a nasty little piece of work.

As you do unto the least of my children, so have ye done unto me.

Posted by Cassandra at 06:50 AM | Comments (24) | TrackBack

October 08, 2008

NBC Flushes Barney Frank's Involvement Down Memory Hole

Niiiiiiiiice:

Monday NBC mysteriously yanked the skit's video from the network's website, fueling online rumors the show was caving to pressures from well-connected Democrats.

The video was later reposted and a spokesman explained "upon review we caught certain elements in the sketch that didn't meet our standards. We took it down and made some minor changes."

What changes? You may well ask:

In an interview with Gold, the show's executive producer, Lorne Michaels, said the Sandlers were distraught but had not demanded the changes. He noted the "People who should be shot" line was deleted as was a reference to their "corrupt activities."

But a comparison of the two versions shows that actually a little more than that was cut. What also was excised was any mention of the involvement of Massachusetts' Rep. Frank in the Sandler subprime mess.

Frank is the influential chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and an ardent political protector of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which participated in the subprime problem.

In the original skit Sandler addresses Frank, saying, "And thank you, Congressman Frank, as well as many Republicans for helping block Congressional oversight of our corrupt activities."

To which Frank replies enthusiastically, "Not at all!"

All that's gone in the new version, which Show Tracker has posted here.

That's too bad for Frank's Republican opponent in the House election next month for the Bay State's Fourth District, which includes Brookline and Newton. Frank's opponent is little-known Republican Earl Henry Sholley, who could use any embarrassing ammunition like the SNL sketch.

Never mind any grand policy proposals. Sholley's still trying to get Frank to agree to simple public debates. Frank dismisses his GOP challenger, saying he simply can't make the dates Sholley has suggested. And that's that.

But then M. Frank's part in the current contretemps in which we inconveniently find ourselves seems to disappear so often, these days.

Posted by Cassandra at 11:22 AM | Comments (21) | TrackBack

The Government We Deserve

Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.

- Henry Louis Mencken

There have been times, these past few weeks, when I have seriously wondered whether I am dreaming.

If so, the dream has lost its charm and I am long past ready to wake up. By temperment and long habit I have for years steadfastly refused to take the news as seriously as those around me. Perhaps this is a defense mechanism.

Or perhaps, having all my life loved books, I just see the danger of becoming too mired in the quotidian. We are awash in data, force fed disconnected and all too often one sided facts. Yet we are starved for context. In many ways living in the information age renders us little better than over watered plants, slowly drowning in that which ought to nourish and inform us.

We cannot possibly take it all in.

fenwick.jpgIf news is meant to help us make intelligent decisions, to what use have Americans put the constant, annoying drip-drip-drip of gloom and doom, the non-stop whining about the economy which, ever since this author was approximately six months old, gets top billing on the Nightly News?

Like poor Nell Fenwick, the desperately struggling economy wiggles enticingly for our delectation, bound between the Scylla and Charybdis of inflation and unemployment and writhing just enough to reveal a bit of cleavage (So helpful in boosting the ratings! Hopefully this will keep Joe SixPack's wandering fingers off the remote).

Now I am hearing that America is angry. Angry at Wall Street.

Angry at Washington. What an egregious load of horse shit. Once more, what I am about to say will no doubt run counter to most of what you are reading these days. But I am sick at heart - sick for my country and what I see happening to it. I presume some of you have been coming here all these years for a reason. You may or may not agree with me. Quite frankly, that is immaterial. I can't remain silent, even at the risk of angering people.

I am tired of hearing all this populist nonsense about Wall Street vs. Main Street. If you buy into this then you have not paid your attention bill, and you need to take a good, long look in the mirror because there is no division between Wall Street and Main Street. The same kind of self-delusion went on in both places, and if you are one of the ones complaining that you have somehow been sold a bill of goods, let me suggest that you bought into that bill of goods of your own free will.

No one forced you.

I may not be the smartest light bulb in the old knife drawer, but even I understood, back in 1983 when my husband and I purchased our first home on his 1st Lieutenant's salary, the concept of a "housing bubble". 1983 was a long, long time ago. I was a 24 year old housewife with a high school education who didn't even read the newspaper and even I knew that home prices would not continue to rise. I understood this concept.

I also understood that adjustable rate mortgages were risky.

I understood that there was such a thing as a balloon clause. I understood that you needed to be careful, when signing a mortgage, to make sure that you didn't sign a contract that committed you to payments which exceeded 30% of your take home pay. And this was before the Internet. This was not brain surgery. It was what we call "common sense". When people violate it, they are not being "victimized" by "Wall Street". They are avoiding the basic responsibility not to make legally binding promises they lack the intention or ability to fulfill.

When you sign a mortgage contract with a bank, you generally put up your house as collateral. This is because you don't use your own money to pay the builder for something of value - the house. You use the bank's money. But the money you use isn't really the bank's either. It belongs to other depositors - your fellow citizens. You have no "right" to that money, just as you have no "right" to live in a home that you have not paid for.

When I listen, as I did last night, to John McCain and Barack Obama speak of allowing people to stay in "their" homes, I begin to become very, very angry. When I listen to Bill O'Reilly complain that the President of the United States did not get up on national TV and personally advise him not to buy AIG stock, I become very angry.

George W. Bush is not his personal investment banker. Somehow, I think Bill O'Reilly can afford good investment advice. And oh-by-the-way, George Bush warned us 18 times in 2008 alone of the impending problems with Fannie Mae.

George Bush asked for IMMEDIATE action on the bailout to avert a crisis in investor confidence that he told us would spread into a global panic. But the American people, who "know better", rose up in their infinite wisdom and majestic wrath and scotched that horridly excessive 3-page, $700 billion plan in favor of a several hundred, $800+ billion plan that was passed too late to do any good.

But then that is exactly what we were warned about. Once again, the American people took their eye off the ball: it was irrational investor panic that we needed to stop, not handouts to a few corporate CEOs. It was immediate, decisive action that was needed; symbolism, more than anything else, and 700 billion was a drop in the bucket compared to what we are about to deal with because when has the federal government EVER been able to resist reacting to the pain of the electorate?

Answer: never. It was a foregone conclusion that there would be some sort of large scale federal bailout. The only question was, to whom, how much, and would it be in time to do any good? All the dithering did was well and truly scuttle any hope of reacting "in time" and allow Congress to do what it does best: pile on the pork. Those who are angry with Congress may care to consider that Congress listens to their true masters: We the People.

What Congress responded to was a full-scale temper tantrum from a public that understands so little of the fundamentals of this crisis that it blames the party that tried to reform Fannie Mae in 2003 and 2005 and is about to reward the party that blocked reform by voting them into office.

Nice job, and what a recommendation for representative government. Truly, we are about to get the government we deserve. Four years of it, in my estimation.

I felt for John McCain last night, but he could never make the only case against Barack Obama that will stick because I don't think he truly believes it himself. And yet (again) we handed him the nomination. We had a candidate who believed in the right things, but we didn't want him:

... conservative principles are needed now more than ever. We face a new generation of challenges, challenges which threaten our prosperity, our security and our future. I am convinced that unless America changes course, we will become the France of the 21st century—still a great nation, but no longer the leader of the world, no longer the superpower. And to me, that is unthinkable. Simon Peres, in a visit to Boston, was asked what he thought about the war in Iraq. “First,” he said, “I must put something in context. America is unique in the history of the world. In the history of the world, whenever there has been conflict, the nation that wins takes land from the nation that loses. One nation in history, and this during the last century, laid down hundreds of thousands of lives and took no land. No land from Germany, no land from Japan, no land from Korea. America is unique in the sacrifice it has made for liberty, for itself and for freedom loving people around the world.” The best ally peace has ever known, and will ever know, is a strong America!

And that is why we must rise to the occasion, as we have always done before, to confront the challenges ahead. Perhaps the most fundamental of these is the attack on the American culture.

Over the years, my business has taken me to many countries. I have been struck by the enormous differences in the wealth and well-being of people of different nations. I have read a number of scholarly explanations for the disparities. I found the most convincing was that written by David Landes, a professor emeritus from Harvard University. I presume he’s a liberal–I guess that’s redundant. His work traces the coming and going of great civilizations throughout history. After hundreds of pages of analysis, he concludes with this:
If we learn anything from the history of economic development, it is that culture makes all the difference. Culture makes all the difference.

What is it about American culture that has led us to become the most powerful nation in the history of the world? We believe in hard work and education. We love opportunity: almost all of us are immigrants or descendants of immigrants who came here for opportunity—opportunity is in our DNA. Americans love God, and those who don’t have faith, typically believe in something greater than themselves—a “Purpose Driven Life.” And we sacrifice everything we have, even our lives, for our families, our freedoms and our country. The values and beliefs of the free American people are the source of our nation’s strength and they always will be!

The threat to our culture comes from within. The 1960’s welfare programs created a culture of poverty. Some think we won that battle when we reformed welfare, but the liberals haven’t given up. At every turn, they try to substitute government largesse for individual responsibility. They fight to strip work requirements from welfare, to put more people on Medicaid, and to remove more and more people from having to pay any income tax whatsoever. Dependency is death to initiative, risk-taking and opportunity. Dependency is a culture-killing drug—we have got to fight it like the poison it is!

The attack on faith and religion is no less relentless. And tolerance for pornography—even celebration of it—and sexual promiscuity, combined with the twisted incentives of government welfare programs have led to today’s grim realities: 68% of African American children are born out-of-wedlock, 45% of Hispanic children, and 25% of White children. How much harder it is for these children to succeed in school—and in life. A nation built on the principles of the founding fathers cannot long stand when its children are raised without fathers in the home.

The development of a child is enhanced by having a mother and father. Such a family is the ideal for the future of the child and for the strength of a nation. I wonder how it is that unelected judges, like some in my state of Massachusetts, are so unaware of this reality, so oblivious to the millennia of recorded history. It is time for the people of America to fortify marriage through constitutional amendment, so that liberal judges cannot continue to attack it!

Europe is facing a demographic disaster. That is the inevitable product of weakened faith in the Creator, failed families, disrespect for the sanctity of human life and eroded morality. Some reason that culture is merely an accessory to America’s vitality; we know that it is the source of our strength. And we are not dissuaded by the snickers and knowing glances when we stand up for family values, and morality, and culture. We will always be honored to stand on principle and to stand for principle.

The attack on our culture is not our sole challenge. We face economic competition unlike anything we have ever known before. China and Asia are emerging from centuries of poverty. Their people are plentiful, innovative, and ambitious. If we do not change course, Asia or China will pass us by as the economic superpower, just as we passed England and France during the last century. The prosperity and security of our children and grandchildren depend on us.

Our prosperity and security also depend on finally acting to become energy secure. Oil producing states like Russia and Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Iran are siphoning over $400 billion per year from our economy—that’s almost what we spend annually for defense. It is past time for us to invest in energy technology, nuclear power, clean coal, liquid coal, renewable sources and energy efficiency. America must never be held hostage by the likes of Putin, Chavez, and Ahmendinejad.

And our economy is also burdened by the inexorable ramping of government spending. Don’t focus on the pork alone—even though it is indeed irritating and shameful. Look at the entitlements. `They make up 60% of federal spending today. By the end of the next President’s second term, they will total 70%. Any conservative plan for the future has to include entitlement reform that solves the problem, not just acknowledges it.

Most politicians don’t seem to understand the connection between our ability to compete and our national wealth, and the wealth of our families. They act as if money just happens–that it’s just there. But every dollar represents a good or service produced in the private sector. Depress the private sector and you depress the well-being of Americans.

That’s exactly what happens with high taxes, over-regulation, tort windfalls, mandates, and overfed, over-spending government. Did you see that today, government workers make more money than people who work in the private sector. Can you imagine what happens to an economy where the best opportunities are for bureaucrats?

It’s high time to lower taxes, including corporate taxes, to take a weed-whacker to government regulations, to reform entitlements, and to stand up to the increasingly voracious appetite of the unions in our government!

And finally, let’s consider the greatest challenge facing America—and facing the entire civilized world: the threat of violent, radical Jihad. In one wing of the world of Islam, there is a conviction that all governments should be destroyed and replaced by a religious caliphate. These Jihadists will battle any form of democracy—to them, democracy is blasphemous for it says that citizens, not God shape the law. They find the idea of human equality to be offensive. They hate everything we believe about freedom just as we hate everything they believe about radical Jihad.

To battle this threat, we have sent the most courageous and brave soldiers in the world. But their numbers have been depleted by the Clinton years when troops were reduced by 500,000, when 80 ships were retired from the Navy, and when our human intelligence was slashed by 25%. We were told that we were getting a peace dividend. We got the dividend, but we didn’t get the peace. In the face of evil in radical Jihad and given the inevitable military ambitions of China, we must act to rebuild our military might. Raise military spending to 4% of our GDP, purchase the most modern armament, re-shape our fighting forces for the asymmetric demands we now face, and give the veterans the care they deserve!


Politicians pander because it works. When the electorate is self serving, a certain amount of pandering is necessary in order to appeal to a broad cross section of voters. Politicians feed back to us what we tell them we want to hear, and like it or not, whoever is selected is who the majority of Americans like the best.

It is a sobering thought.

Conservatives have never been terribly good at articulating why our values are better for America. There is only one argument that I think would have resonated with voters on a gut level, and though it is a fairly sophisticated one this credit crunch offered the perfect metaphor to make a complex argument both easy to understand and (for once) non-judgmental. In the Wall Street Journal, Daniel Henninger talks about the concept of moral hazard. It is a catchphrase that ought to be tripping off John McCain's lips more often than the tiresome "my friend", because it offers the key to defeating Barack Obama, whose entire campaign is based on promises that he will be the ultimate Moral Hazard President:


"Moral hazard" is an odd phrase. Its meaning isn't obvious though it does sound like something one ought to avoid. "Moral hazard" dates back hundreds of years in obscurity, but its use eventually settled inside the insurance business in the 19th century. The French call it risque moral.

Back then, it really was taken to mean that reducing risk too much exposed people to the hazard of poor moral judgments. If an insurer charged too little for a policy to replace farms in the English countryside, Farmer Brown might be less careful about cows knocking over oil lamps in the barn.

In time, the economists got their hands on "moral hazard," and the first thing they did was strip out the heavy moral freight to make the concept value-neutral. Now moral hazard became less about judgment and more about the economic "inefficiencies" that occur in riskless environments.

We're back to the original meaning. Losing tons of money for an institution is an economic inefficiency. Lose the nation's financial structure, however, and moral fingers get wagged.

John McCain and Barack Obama are ranting about greed. Congress is taking the air out of golden parachutes. Republicans in Congress are getting pushback from constituents on Main Street who object to "bailing out" banks and what's left of Wall Street.

With so much economic loss and ruin being booked on such a grand scale, it's normal to assign blame. Yes, politics ought to fight its way toward knowing how mortgage-backed securities led to this.

I'm wondering, though, if the U.S. hasn't arrived at a large Pogo Moment. With the greatest financial crisis since the Depression, have we finally met the enemy, and does it turn out that the enemy is us?

For all the wailing about the high price being paid now of ignoring manifest risk beneath the mortgage crisis, are we angry at bad decisions that must never be repeated, or just upset that it all blew up? Because if it's the latter, politicians will try to game the system again to get more risk-free benefits.

Bingo.

Spend a few minutes on Barack Obama's web site, and you'll soon see that pretty much every promise he makes is a promise to mitigate the ordinary risks of going about every day life, to magically wave away the consequences of our freely made decisions. This is what I complained about back in August when Michelle Obama had her patronizing "round table discussions" with military wives - everything from child care to caring for aging parents is suddenly blamed on the war in Iraq and requires the urgent intervention of the federal government. How do these women find child care and care for their parents when their husbands are home? Do these problems magically abate? Do the working wives of civilian men never face the same problems? Will the federal government find them affordable child care and caretakers for their aged parents too? Are these things now "civil rights"?

Somehow I think not. Pandering. And we lap it up because it feeds our sense of grievance. Hit Obama here. Point out that adults do not whine, that our parents did not ask the federal government to babysit their children; that they took care of their own families. Appeal to the pride of Americans, to our ingenuity. We are not wards of the state.

The perils of moral hazard are all around us; most visibly in the mortgage crisis. Use this example: it is a Godsend. We have a visible metaphor for why excessive government interference often harms where it intends to help.

Point out that the Democrats meant to do good by increasing minority home ownership. We don't need to demonize them when we can show the error of well intended social engineering programs with disastrous unintended consequences. Use this opportunity to enlighten people.

Point out Daniel Moynihan's prescient predictions about the destruction of the black family in the 1960s. The pathology and misery have become so widespread that it is now considered racist to mention what everyone knows: 70% of black children are born out of wedlock and 93% of murdered blacks are killed by other blacks. But the most painful admission in all of this is that these self-inflicted wounds have been exacerbated rather than ameliorated by the very government programs aimed at improving the lives of black Americans. There is nothing intrinsically violent or immoral about American blacks. The problem here is moral hazard - remove the consequences of immoral actions and you incent immoral and destructive behavior.

We have seen this in every aspect of American life. We see it in our cities. We see it in our suburbs.

We see it with liberated women who oxymoronically claim they "have to" work, then complain they can't find "affordable" child care that lets them keep enough take home pay to make working profitable. Hint to the mathematically challenged: if you are unable to declare a net profit after the expenses of working are deducted from your paycheck, you may need to review the important differences between a "want" and a "need" because trust me: you do not need to work. What you desperately need is a good math course. When Obama is elected, that is probably part of his plan for cushioning you from the consequences of your own refusal to think.

Also, if you oxymoronically maintain you can do just as good a job of raising your children in 2 hours a day as you would as a full time mother, I challenge you to find an employer who will pay you 8 hours' worth of wages for 2 hours worth of work.

Let me know how that works out, because I'd just love to work for someone like that. I think we all would, and in an Obama administration there will undoubtedly be a law forcing all employers to pay 8 hours of wages for 2 hours of work.

After all, it's only fair.

In the mean time, I'll be waiting and watching. We will survive whatever happens in November and we'll survive even an economic downturn, no matter how severe. It may even serve to remind us of the consequences of making bad choices. Despite all the shrieking, weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth, this is not the end of the world.

We are not guaranteed anything in life. Somewhere along the line, I think we got too complacent. We forgot how lucky we are. With our fat retirement accounts and our stocks and bonds, our big houses and our ability to buy our kids cars, with the good life people all over the world flock to America to get a taste of, we forgot that there are never any hard and fast guarantees.

We can lose it all in an instant: to death, to sickness, to tragedy. And no one: not government, not the police, not even a loving God stands between us and fate. When the worst happens, it is only natural to get angry.

It is only natural to look around and wonder, "How could this happen to us?" But perhaps the more interesting question is this: how on earth is it possible that we escaped paying the piper for so long?

Because we did. Now it is time to pick up the pieces, lift our chins, and move on. We have been given a reminder of what is important, and it is not how much is in our 401Ks, or even (sad to say) whether we keep that big house. It is not (as I have to remind myself daily) whether my husband and I get to finally buy the retirement home we have been wanting for well over 25 years. We didn't do any of those irresponsible things I mentioned earlier in this post. But we are paying the price all the same.

I could be angry.

Sometimes I am angry. But what is the point? I wake in the morning and there is plentiful food on my table.

I open my door and there are no bullets whizzing by outside; no bombs or land mines buried in the roads I must travel to get to the store.

Yes, there is uncertainty, but none of us need fear starving. Not yet. And not, I think, any time soon. If we are tested, we will rise to the occasion and be the better for it.

And perhaps next time, we will demand better government. For truly, our government is not separate from us.

They are us, writ large, reflecting all our virtues and flaws. And that is a home truth I don't think any of us really wants to face these days. As dissatisfied as we may be with them, they are wrestling with problems none of us know how to solve either.

The answer is not for them to stop governing. The answer is for us to do a better job of governing ourselves, and our public servants. And above all, stop whining.

We are Americans. That is still something to be proud of.

Posted by Cassandra at 06:04 AM | Comments (45) | TrackBack

October 07, 2008

Biased "Fact Checkers" Shilling for Obama?

John Lott fact checks the fact checkers:

When you interview for a job, here is a hint: make sure you know what the job is. Joe Biden failed that test last Thursday. He couldn’t even get right what a vice president does, but the media didn’t notice.

The media is all over itself about how smart and experienced Biden is. Political analyst Charlie Cook is quoted in the Washington Post on Saturday as saying “Biden is clearly so much more knowledgeable, by a factor of about a million.” Saturday Night Live does a skit about Biden being smart, if slimy. Meanwhile, Governor Sarah Palin is treated as being nothing more than a simpleton.

Yet, take Biden’s statement from the debate on the role of the vice president:

Vice President Cheney has been the most dangerous vice president we've had probably in American history. The idea he doesn't realize that Article I of the Constitution defines the role of the vice president of the United States, that's the Executive Branch. He works in the Executive Branch. He should understand that. Everyone should understand that.

And the primary role of the vice president of the United States of America is to support the president of the United States of America, give that president his or her best judgment when sought, and as vice president, to preside over the Senate, only in a time when in fact there's a tie vote. The Constitution is explicit.

The only authority the vice president has from the legislative standpoint is the vote, only when there is a tie vote. He has no authority relative to the Congress. The idea he's part of the Legislative Branch is a bizarre notion invented by Cheney to aggrandize the power of a unitary executive, and look where it has gotten us. It has been very dangerous.

Biden is confusing which part of the Constitution covers the Executive Branch (it is Article II, not Article I). More importantly, the notion that the vice president can preside over the Senate only when there is a tie vote is simply wrong. Nor is it true that the only legislative involvement the vice president has is to break tie votes. The vice president is the president of the Senate, where he interprets the rules and can only be overridden by a vote of 60 senators.

Early vice presidents spent a lot of time in the Senate. Thomas Jefferson even spent his time writing “A Manual of Parliamentary Practice: for the Use of the Senate of the United States.” Modern vice presidents may show up only when they think tie votes will occur, but that is their choice.

This isn’t rocket science. The Constitution on this point is very straightforward: “The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.”

Instead, it was Palin who got it right. Besides correctly stating that the vice president holds positions in both the executive and legislative branches, she also noted that:

Of course, we know what a vice president does. And that's not only to preside over the Senate and [I] will take that position very seriously also. I'm thankful the Constitution would allow a bit more authority given to the vice president if that vice president so chooses to exert it in working with the Senate and making sure that we are supportive of the president's policies and making sure too that our president understands what our strengths are.

But just as the vice president’s job includes more than simply being ready to assume the presidency if the president dies, the Constitution merely states what the vice president’s minimum responsibilities are.

Compare the uproar over Palin’s answer to Charlie Gibson about the “Bush Doctrine,” a doctrine that Gibson clearly didn’t understand and for which there apparently exist at least four different versions. Where is the outrage over Biden not understanding what vice presidents do? For Biden, his inability to correctly say what vice presidents do was surely his “gotcha” moment.

Yet, this mistake during the debate was hardly unique. Biden got a lot of things wrong in the debate that are going unnoticed by the fact-check media.

Lott goes on to catalog a long list of Biden debate flubs the "fact checkers" inexplicably failed to fact-check, though they had no trouble picking out a similarly long list of Palin faux pas. What explains the discrepancy in scrutiny?


CNN, whose "fact checkers" previously declared the Ayers story "UNSUBSTANTIATED" have finally decided to seriously scrutinize Barack Obama's claim that William Ayers was just "A guy in his neighborhood". To no one's surprise, when you actually look at the facts even Obama's supporters are forced to admit that (just as with the Reverend Wright incident) Obama lied about his connection with the still unrepentant former terrorist:

“But the relationship between Obama and Ayers went much deeper, ran much longer, and was much more political than Obama said.”

But of course none of this will be allowed to interfere with the dominant narrative: it's somehow unsporting to point out that it might not be wise for a unexperienced candidate who is selling himself with the slogan "The Judgment to Lead" to have catapulted himself into the Democratic presidential nomination with the help of a man who - to this day - does not regret plotting to bomb the Capitol Building and the Pentagon.

In 1984, a KGB defector spoke candidly of the dangers of a free society becoming so demoralized by the loss of moral standards that they are no longer able to make sensible decisions.

When American voters overwhelmingly are turning to the party who facilitated the economic crisis we find ourselves in today and blaming the party which tried to prevent it, is there any doubt that we have reached that point?


Yuri Bezmenov
by onmyway02

Posted by Cassandra at 08:47 AM | Comments (31) | TrackBack

October 06, 2008

Male vs. Female Bloggers: A Theory

Glenn Reynolds asks and answers: why aren't there more female lawprof bloggers?

... here's my own hypothesis: Men are genetically programmed to try to stand out through action, in the hopes of attracting women. It's true, of course that blogging is a relatively ineffective way of doing that -- but so are many other ways this urge manifests itself, like extreme Star Trek fandom. The point is the genetically programmed urge, which isn't programmed into women in the same manner. Is this true? Beats me, but it's amusing.

Ilya Somin piles on (lot of that sort of thing going on lately):

I don't doubt that men (at least heterosexual ones) have a strong genetic drive to attract the attention of women. I'm a bit more skeptical, however, of the claim that this explains the predominance of male political bloggers. Looking at the demographics of political blog readers some 72 percent to 80 percent of them are men themselves. Since political blogging reaches an overwhelmingly male audience, it probably isn't a very efficient way to attract women. It may not be quite as irrational a dating strategy as trying to attract women through "extreme Star Trek fandom," but it's probably less effective than checking out to Ladies' Night at the local bar. If you spend a lot of time blogging, you probably could have devoted that time to other activities where meeting women would be more likely.

What then explains the prevalence of male political bloggers? Many factors may be involved. But one crucial one is probably the fact that women generally have a lower average level of interest in politics than men. The gender gap in political blogging is just one of many manifestations of the broader gender gap in political engagement.

The blog princess finds this observation broadly true, notwithstanding her own predilection for enthusiastically thwacking our Democratic brethren in Christ upside the head with a clue bat on the flimsiest of excuses. However, she would like to offer an alternate theory.

Male bloggers (as with men in general) are intensely competitive by nature, and blogging, like sports, offers just one more arena for guys to test their mettle against each other and (potentially) showcase one set of manly skills: that of argumentation. Blogging involves many of the same features as competitive sports: teams (alliances), statistics, rankings and scores (how many guys are positively fixated on their sitemeter stats and ecosystem rank?), grudge matches (flame wars) and a safe outlet for aggression (let's face it - although many onllne arguments can get quite nasty, when was the last time blood was spilled?). Blogging offers men a direct way to participate in a highly competitive hobby that stimulates their minds and gives free reign to their competitive instincts; instincts I would add that are often stifled and discouraged in the "real" world. In short, in the less straitlaced, more freewheeling online world, men are more free to be men: they experience less opprobrium and more (and more immediate) gratification.

The experience is different for women. Not necessarily bad, just different.

Women tend to blog for different reasons. While I can't speak for all women, let me lay out the reasons I've blogged as long as I have.

First and foremost, unlike men I don't blog to compete with other bloggers. The competitive aspect of blogging is not only not attractive to me, but a positive turnoff. I genuinely don't care about having my site become bigger or more popular than someone else's site. All that means is someone else will get their Hanes Ultrasheers in a wad for no reason. Yee ha.

It deprives them of something they value, while awarding me something I neither want, nor need. No one wins. Every time VC goes over 2000 visits I day, the minuses of blogging begin to outweigh the pluses. The site gets too big for me to handle in my spare time and I end up quitting out of desperation, which effectively knocks my traffic back to a manageable level for a while. Things like getting rid of trackbacks, deleting old posts and my blogroll have also helped. While one hates to be a stinker, it's a question of sanity and balance and in the end, I think blogging has to be something you do on your own terms, or not at all.

So why do I blog? Conversation. The Internet is like a funnel. I'm an introvert. That doesn't mean I'm shy - in fact, I'm quite self confident. It does mean that I'd rather talk about abstract things or one topic in depth than engage in small talk about taking my dog to the vet or your sister Ariel's boob job. In real life, the chances of my running into other people who are interested that kind of conversation (about 25% of the population) are fairly remote. The blogosphere sifts the wheat from the chaff, allowing me to engage in conversations with like-minded people. I don't have to endure conversations about Auntie Mabel's hysterectomy when what I am really interested in discussing is whether a Surge will succeed in Afghanistan or why simply suspending mark-to-market accounting rules won't alleviate the credit crunch.

Women, I have noticed, tend to blog for the joy of initiating conversations and friendships with other people. They enjoy getting to know their readers - talking to them, exchanging views with them, knowing their likes and dislikes and even sometimes the major things that are going on in their lives. To me, my regular readers are little different than people I know in real life. But therein lies a problem.

If you are any good at what you are doing, you will form a connection with your readers and your site will grow. And when your site grows, that growth destroys the very thing that attracted you to blogging in the first place. Increased traffic attracts trolls and administrative effort begins to outweigh the 'fun stuff', like the pure joy of writing.

When my site gets too big, I start to feel I don't have enough time to respond to people and I get overwhelmed. The site takes over my life as opposed to being a welcome diversion and because I've always had a hard time not answering mail when people take the time to write me, I feel guilty when my work or my home life make it impossible for me to keep up with mail from readers, or with comments.

I realize this doesn't make sense, but feelings often don't. Over the years, I've realized that I have to set boundaries. Sometimes now, I just don't answer mail when I get a flood of it. But I feel bad every single time.

The thing is, I feel genuinely honored when someone takes the time to write me. I always hate to think that someone has taken a moment from their day to write and then not gotten a reply. At any rate, just a theory. I think the inherent nature of blogging rewards men (whose interest in blogging tends more towards the competitive). It has been less rewarding for me at least, as my sites have grown.

Your thoughts?

Posted by Cassandra at 09:06 PM | Comments (42) | TrackBack

Lullaby

Goodnight, my angel
Time to close your eyes
And save these questions for another day
I think I know what you've been asking me
I think you know what I've been trying to say
I promised I would never leave you
And you should always know
Wherever you may go
No matter where you are
I never will be far away

Goodnight, my angel
Now it's time to sleep
And still so many things I want to say
Remember all the songs you sang for me
When we went sailing on an emerald bay
And like a boat out on the ocean
I'm rocking you to sleep
The water's dark and deep
Inside this ancient heart
You'll always be a part of me

Goodnight, my angel
Now it's time to dream
And dream how wonderful your life will be
Someday your child may cry
And if you sing this lullabye
Then in your heart
There will always be a part of me

Someday we'll all be gone
But lullabyes go on and on...
They never die
That's how you
And I
Will be

May a lifetime of memories
wrap you in their comforting embrace.

Posted by Cassandra at 06:02 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Biden His Time....

dm-biden1.jpg "That's Article Uno of the Constitution... which, as everyone but my Moose-loving opponent seems to know, spells out the duties of the Vice President as an officer of the Executive Branch."

"Sheesh. Don't they have schools in Alaska?"
















Posted by Cassandra at 02:55 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

ProjectionWatch: Racially Tinged Edition

In this week's ProjectionWatch, the mainstream media once again takes on the troubling subject of Lying Liars Who Lie and, in the process, helpfully uncovers an even more disturbing pathology lurking among the ranks of those who oppose The One - Hating Haters Who Hate!

Greyhawk takes note of the AP's remarkably evenhanded journalism:

By claiming that Democrat Barack Obama is "palling around with terrorists" and doesn't see the U.S. like other Americans, vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin targeted key goals for a faltering campaign.

And though she may have scored a political hit each time, her attack was unsubstantiated and carried a racially tinged subtext that John McCain himself may come to regret.


UNSUBSTANTIATED???

...So, aside from video archives, documentary evidence from the CAC, and the fact that the Obama camp has gone to great lengths on multiple occasions to try to silence discussion of the subject -- even trying to get people who talk about it prosecuted -- no, there's nothing to this at all.

But Grim can't help being an ignorant racist (being a typical white male from the South and all). As Patterico notes, in the refreshingly post-racial climate of an Obama America, it is nearly impossible to avoid racially tinged overtones:

Did you know that it’s racist to argue that Barack Obama should not be President?

It’s true!

We know this, because we’re told that:

* It’s racist to point out the connection between Barack Obama and a white man — who happens to be a terrorist.

* It’s racist to point out the similarity between Barack Obama and two white women — who are famous for being celebrities.

* It’s racist to point out the connection between Barack Obama and a black man — who happens to have run Fannie Mae.

* It’s racist to point out the connection between Barack Obama and a black woman — who happens to be his wife, and who said she wasn’t really proud of America until her husband was nominated.

* It is apparently also racist, or at least xenophobic, to raise any question about possible illegal foreign contributions to Obama. So says Marc Ambinder.

I’m sick of the race card being played whenever someone criticizes Barack Obama. Making the Ayers connection is hardly a racist ploy, but that’s what we’re being told by the AP today. There is literally no argument you can make against this man that will not be countered by cries of racism.

Until Barack Obama came along to help us have that important national conversation about race, who knew there was so much hidden racism all around us? We must elect Barack Obama president, and quickly, too.

Only then can we begin to apply the soothing balm of constant accusation, divisiveness, and finger pointing to the wounds of history. Only then will the racist haters among us stop trying to keep a brother down:

And as we embark upon this historic journey, it is comforting to know that the mainstream media remain committed to fearlessly investigating the truthiness - without fear or favor - no matter where it may lead.

Posted by Cassandra at 05:44 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

October 04, 2008

Once Again, Conservatives More Compassionate

This is what drives the Left into paroxysms of frothing rage. Time after time, when their rhetoric of caring about social change and helping the poor is matched against their actual deeds, it turns out that conservatives quietly outperform them:

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin made considerably less money than rival Sen. Joe Biden, but the Palin family gave more to charity in the last two years than Biden has in the last eight combined, according to Palin's tax records released Friday afternoon.

Compare their records:

Palin:

2006 charitable donations: $4,880
2007 charitable donations: $3,325

Biden: total charitable donations since 1998 (a ten year period): $3,690

The Democrats, who make such a big deal over diversity, do not have as good a record on actually appointing minorities and women as our current President, George W. Bush:


With little fanfare and not much credit, President Bush has appointed a more diverse set of top advisers than any president in history.

Bush has named his White House lawyer, Alberto Gonzales, right, to be the first Hispanic to hold one of the powerful "big four" Cabinet jobs.
By Lawrence Jackson, AP

In his first term, Bush matched the record that President Clinton set in his first term for appointing women and people of color to the Cabinet, and Bush had a more diverse inner circle at the White House. Since his re-election last month, the president has made a series of groundbreaking nominations.

Bush has named his White House lawyer, Alberto Gonzales, to be the first Hispanic to hold one of the powerful "big four" Cabinet jobs, attorney general.

He named his national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, to be the first female African-American secretary of State, the Cabinet's senior position.

He also nominated Margaret Spellings, his domestic policy adviser, to lead the Education Department and Cuban-born business executive Carlos Gutierrez to head Commerce.

Some political analysts argue that Bush's appointments and his matter-of-fact approach to them signal a new stage in the racial history of the nation, one in which diversity in the top ranks is taken as a matter of course. Bush and Clinton, who don't agree on much, together may have set a new standard that future presidents in both parties will be expected to meet.

"Bush did not go out and say, 'I'm going to create an administration that looks like America,' which is how Clinton led off," says Paul Light, a political scientist at New York University who has studied presidential appointments. "He has just gone about recruiting a diverse Cabinet as an ordinary act. That's remarkable in the sense it sends to future administrations: 'This is just the way we're going to do business.' "

I've often referred to Morgan Freeman's controversial statement that the only way for us to get past racial divisions is to stop obsessing about them. I truly believe that. I think it holds true whether we're talking about homosexuality, sexism, religious bias, or any other divisive issue. I don't think it means we can't talk about these issues in the abstract: we can, and we should. But continuing to nurse a sense of grievance or encouraging oversensitivity to perceived slights gets us nowhere. What is needed is for all sides to uphold the same standard of behavior, evenly applied across the board:

MIKE WALLACE, CBS`s "60 MINUTES": Black History Month, you find...

MORGAN FREEMAN, ACTOR: Ridiculous.

WALLACE: Why?

FREEMAN: You`re going to relegate my history to a month?

WALLACE: Come on.

FREEMAN: What do you do with yours? Which month is White History Month? Come on, tell me.

WALLACE: I`m Jewish.

FREEMAN: OK. Which month is Jewish History Month?

WALLACE: There isn`t one.

FREEMAN: Why not? Do you want one?

WALLACE: No, no.

FREEMAN: I don`t either. I don`t want a Black History Month. Black history is American history.

WALLACE: How are we going to get rid of racism until...?

FREEMAN: Stop talking about it. I`m going to stop calling you a white man. And I`m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man. I know you as Mike Wallace. You know me as Morgan Freeman. You`re not going to say, "I know this white guy named Mike Wallace." Hear what I`m saying?

It seems odd that all the rhetoric on the Left about diversity and affirmative action didn't produce a 'cabinet that looked like America' but the President who never promised (and I believe didn't actively go looking for minorities and women to put on his Cabinet) ended up with the most diverse set of advisers on American history.

Maybe this is what Martin Luther King meant by a color blind society: when you actually walk the walk, as opposed to talking the talk, good things happen. If nothing else, it has had the effect of infuriating the Tolerant Left, who have mostly spent their time penning vicious diatribes no doubt intended to demonstrate the intelligence and moral superiority of the enlightened progressive:

So, I’ve been quiet thus far, but I figure it’s about time I went moose hunting. So let me start off nice and big for ya, in case there’s any doubt as to where I stand. Sarah Palin is a stupid, self important, ignorant bitch who I wouldn’t put in charge of wiping her own ass. And it’s not just that she’s dumb - which she is - it’s that she’s willfully ignorant of the facts and yet absolutely dead-bang certain that she’s right about her opinions. It’s more of this “governing from the gut” bullshit that we’ve been Chimping along with for the past eight years. I don’t know why it’s a taboo to say someone is too dumb to be President. Hell, most people don’t have the kind of mental sharpness necessary. That’s why it’s so important to pick the right person out of an entire country of potential leaders. But Sarah Palin? She’s not even worth considering. She’s fucking dumb, okay?

And since we’re talking about things you can’t talk about, let’s talk about her pregnant teenage daughter! Here’s now this works. Bristol being pregnant, deciding to keep the baby, and having her little shotgun wedding? I don’t give a rat’s ass. It doesn’t affect my life in the slightest. But it damn well is fair political game, and I’ll tell you why. Sarah Palin supports abstinence only education in spite of the fact that it demonstratably doesn’t work. Don’t believe me? Why not ask the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Public Health Association, the Society for Adolescent Medicine and the American College Health Association. Go ahead and Wiki it. I’ll wait.

The reason that Bristol’s pregnancy is fair game is that her mother is telling America, in the face of any scientific data on the subject, how best to prevent teenage pregnancy. Yet the method she supports didn’t even work on her own daughter. Does that mean people should be making fun of Bristol? No, actually. I kind of feel bad for the girl. It must be rough having such a stupid, arrogant git for a mother.

And she is arrogant, make no mistake. Hell, it’s arrogant enough for her to assume that she could be the Vice President without even knowing what the job entails.

Nevermind that "asking what the job entails" was actually a fairly astute question, given the Constitutional description of the Vice President's job:

The Constitution gives the Vice President no executive powers; the Vice President's only duties are to preside over the Senate and to become President if the serving president dies or leaves office.

As it turns out, "what the job entails" is entirely up to the President one serves. But why let a few inconvenient facts - never mind trivialities like the Constitution - interfere with the narrative?

I often think this is what drives the far Left to near incoherent fits of rage: Palin's moral certainty is a constant rebuke to their view that there is no right and wrong and when the right goes on to do the very things they claim are "never" achieved in an unjust world, it undercuts the narrative that we cannot be held accountable for our actions because we are all helpless victims of forces beyond our control.

When you're so much smarter than your opponents, it must be infuriating not to be able to explain something like that.

Posted by Cassandra at 10:35 AM | Comments (28) | TrackBack

Photo of the Day

disney.jpg

Click for bigger.

Something I don't think I've ever talked about is my fascination with architecture.

I love buildings. All kinds of buildings: old ones, modern ones, skyscrapers, churches, old gas stations and houses and factories.

I'm not sure why. But although I'm not particularly prone to taking pictures, last year when the Spousal Unit was gone and I was traveling on weekends the one thing I consistently found myself taking pictures of was buildings, bridges, various architectural features of places I visited. I'm fascinated by the changes in design through the ages; by what we choose to leave behind for our children.

When I was in junior high, we were assigned one of those experimental 'cross discipline' projects that were intended to make students use all subjects - math, English, government - to solve a large problem. Ours was to redesign Dulles airport for the 21st century. It was one of those rare times when I actually completed an assignment in school - usually I relied on my test scores to make up for all the make-work homework assignments I refused to do. I never minded doing work if I could see the point in it. I just hated pointless exercises.

I like ironwork too. I took this the summer before last in St. Louis. We were eating dinner in a little bistro and the motion of light and shadows on a building across the street was so peaceful. There was no way to capture it on film, but I wanted to remember it even though I'm a lousy photographer. I'm afraid I'd had a few martinis :p

sconces.jpg

This is a bridge in Pittsburgh. I don't know that it's anything special, but I liked the ironwork and it just struck me that we never take the time to make ordinary things beautiful anymore. That seems sad to me:

bridge2.jpg

Posted by Cassandra at 09:03 AM | Comments (19) | TrackBack

October 03, 2008

Oh Man.... The *Guilt*

Because, you know, voting is like herpes. Pass it around.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:58 AM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

Friday Morning Song

On the Ideal Woman thread, OBH's comment about smooth men reminded me of this old gem:

One of my all time favorite songs, especially since I'm married to a quiet guy. Don't know that I'd call him shy but he's very definitely very reserved.

Posted by Cassandra at 07:52 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Palin/Biden Debate

Grim's thoughts:

Of three focus groups, two said Sen. Biden won, but the third gave Gov. Palin a runaway victory. People listening to her found her intelligent, a regular American, and said 'she sounds like everybody.' She seems to have done that well.

It was clearly a major focus of the debate: I guess the Obama campaign figures that the one thing he can't do is seem like a regular guy, which he just isn't, so that's got to be Biden's job. The problem is, Sen. Biden has been in the Senate for more than three decades. Joe Biden tries to sound normal by naming places: "Scranton," "Katie's Diner." He speaks of "kitchen table issues." Sarah Palin sounds normal by talking about people, doing ordinary things.

It's clear that normal America is a place that Joe Biden visits, but that it is where Sarah Palin lives.

He has much more - fantastic review. Tigerhawk liveblogged the debate, and as always his take is well worth reading:

Biden is more knowledgeable and more polished, but we all knew that. Sarah Palin avoided any big screw ups, and her personality asserted itself in a much more attractive way than in the one-on-one inteviews that I have seen. I think she has effectively neutralized the risk in her nomination, although probably did not achieve huge gains for McCain. Is there "victory" in there somewhere?

Also, via The Armorer: hot, grrrrl on grrrl debate action!

election_fu.jpg

Men... you have to love 'em. Keepin' it real :p

What did I think of the debate? I would have liveblogged, but I passed out 2/3 of the way through the debate. Woke up this morning naked on a John Deere tractor, bitterly clinging to a King James Bible and a twelve gauge shotgun.

It's getting cold out there.

Which just goes to show you that there is such a thing as being too suggestible. It's never a good idea to agree to drink every time you hear the word, "Maverick".

Seriously, I thought Palin did what she needed to do, which was show that she can play with the big boys. It would be weird if the Governor of a western state with no federal experience were as well versed in foreign policy or the minutae of domestic issues as Joe Biden, who can leverage his long experience in the Senate. In many ways this was the mirror image of the McCain/Obama debate: Biden needed to score on points whereas Palin benefitted from being the newcomer. She only needed to look competent and credible, which she managed quite nicely. I think a lot of her critics will be surprised.

She wisely played to her strengths: her charm and her ability to connect to the average American, and avoided her greatest weakness (in depth knowledge of policy issues). It was smart of her not to appear defensive about this but after a while her caginess did start to wear a bit thin. There are only so many times you can do a Saudi Sweep from saving the whales back to energy independence.

She is really incredibly adept at getting under Biden's skin, though. About 1/3 of the way into the debate Joe's eyes went small and slitty and he got rattled. Biden is basically a decent man and he was the more experienced and prepared debater, but she was able to knock him off his stride several times and he became visibly nonplussed. That is huge.

His answer on Afghanistan is a great example. He was quite flustered when she called him out on his previous statements:

You also said that Barack Obama was not ready to be commander in chief. And I know again that you opposed the move he made to try to cut off funding for the troops and I respect you for that. I don't know how you can defend that position now but I know that you know especially with your son in the National Guard and I have great respect for your family also and the honor that you show our military. Barack Obama though, another story there. Anyone I think who can cut off funding for the troops after promising not to is another story.

Biden, on the other hand, is too slick by half. One wonders whether the average voter will figure out what a facile fibber he is? Any time I see fact after fact come tripping off someone's tongue, my spidey sense starts tingling.

It was buzzing like mad last night. Palin did a great job of stuffing Biden's previous positions in his face, but not so great a job of confronting him with Democratic complicity in the bailout crisis (which was, I think, perhaps the single most important thing she needed to do last night after establishing that she could hang with Biden).

She dropped that ball big time. I really hated her answer on the bailout - that silliness about predatory lenders forcing $300,000 mortgages down the throats of unsuspecting borrowers was arrant nonsense.

Pandering, and unworthy of the ticket. I'm sure the focus groups must have loved it, though. Still, it was wrong on so many levels.

She was great on energy, but went on too long and steered too many unrelated questions back to it. That dissipated some of the good effect of her answers.

Her answers on gay marriage and global warming should help her. I think they'll surprise many voters who truly believe that every time the moon waxes full, Sarah Palin can be found drinking the raw blood of freshly sacrificed lesbians from the skull of an endangered arctic timber wolf in a sacred grove of razed old growth redwoods.

Posted by Cassandra at 05:51 AM | Comments (50) | TrackBack

October 02, 2008

Great Moments in Sports Journalism

Baseball.

It is a very strange sport involving bizarre rituals the blog princess has no desire to know too much about. Manly men. Farm animals. Inflatable dolls. Be that as it may, we are fairly confident that Keith Olbermann never penned epic lines like this:

"The Cubs are hard," Gerodemos said. "They're very hard."

Posted by Cassandra at 09:34 AM | Comments (23) | TrackBack

Oh Why Not

I wasn't going to do this, but I thought it might be fun after all the serious stuff that's been going on lately. Discussion question of the day: what is your idea of the ideal woman? (ladies, you may, if you wish, expound upon your vision of the ideal man)

Update: to put some bounds around this, let's say define the ideal woman using between three and five characteristics. Otherwise, the definitions will be too hard to compare. And please list them at the beginning of your comment, then you can elaborate upon the reasons you chose them if you wish.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:55 AM | Comments (82) | TrackBack

October 01, 2008

Heh...

I needed a good laugh today.

Posted by Cassandra at 02:27 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack