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October 28, 2008

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 October 28, 2008 05:15 AM

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Comments

The Civil War ended in 1965.

*pssst...*

Posted by: BillT at October 28, 2008 08:00 AM

...as everyone knows the Civil War ended when Barney Frank rammed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 down the throats of a militantly racist Rethug Congress. Ppphhhhttthh :p). Brown was decided in 1954. So, approximately 90 years transpired between those two events.

*pss -- aaaah, nevermind*

Posted by: BillT at October 28, 2008 08:39 AM

Liked that one, didja? :p

Ahem:

The Civil War ended in 1965 err... 1865.

The snarky aside was just for you.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 28, 2008 08:45 AM

Bizarre statement by Hitch: "a woman who is a religious fanatic and a proud, boastful ignoramus. Those who despise science and learning are not anti-elitist."

I have seen no evidence that Palin "despises science and learning." I think what's become very clear in this election is that many defenders of "intellectualism" are all about snobbery than they are about knowledge.

If Palin merely used the speech styles common to the American elites, she would be far less mocked, even if the actual content of her statements were as bizarre as (say) Joe Biden.

Posted by: david foster at October 28, 2008 08:45 AM

...she would be far less mocked, even if the actual content of her statements were as bizarre as (say) Joe Biden

Now *that* was funny :)

Posted by: Cassandra at October 28, 2008 08:47 AM

Hmmm....didn't Joe Biden plagiarize something back in the 1980s?

Palin is a Pentecostal? That is news?

Why aren't we talking about her education at university? Don't governors have at least a bachelor's? Does the governator of Californication have a degree? Or just Maria Shriver?

Posted by: Cricket at October 28, 2008 10:13 AM

Foster, Hitchins got up on his moral high ground and lectured the Kurds on hating George H Bush. Kurds came around and changed Hitchin's view by slapping him a new one upside the head.

Hitchins has a certain lack of empathy for those he politically disagrees with. Same was true for when he was talking to Iraqis in 2005 as well. I believe it can be said that it is one of his fundamental flaws just like one of Bush's fundamental flaws is his lack of ruthlessness.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at October 28, 2008 10:54 AM

So, approximately 90 years transpired between those two events.

Bill, do you pretend to claim that the Princess cannot make 1964 90 years before 1954?

Posted by: Ymarsakar at October 28, 2008 10:55 AM

[queuing up her best Helen Reddy voice]

*cough*

I am womyn, hear me roar
I'm getting too big to ignore...

Now you know why my children don't call me :p

Posted by: Cass at October 28, 2008 11:08 AM

Bill, do you pretend to claim that the Princess cannot make 1964 90 years before 1954?

[As she feels faint and begins to detect the fatal signs of nervous prostitution]

DEAR GOD MAN - ARE YOu IMPLYING WOMEN CAN'T ADD???

[THuD]

Posted by: Nancy Hopkins' Ghost at October 28, 2008 11:12 AM

I believe that Bill is erring dangerously close to Lese Majesty by even suggesting that the Princess, our future sovereign and savior, cannot manipulate time and space to make 1964 come before 1954.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at October 28, 2008 11:21 AM

*flinging wide the French doors and Oscar da la Renta shams*

*sliding the fainting couch into the arc soon-to-be-described by the excessively-woozy shade of Nancy Hopkins and the pre-1920's Persian rug*

*bloop*

All in a day's work, Ma'am...

Posted by: BillT at October 28, 2008 11:44 AM

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.”

Apparently, it never crosses Hitchen's mind that the more nutty aspects of this church may be why she *stopped* going there. As Cass mentioned, Hitch believes it to be far better had she *continued* to be a congregant of a church claiming the US gov't is engaged in the genocide of blacks. I assume that this is because the latter is a secular form of crackpot.


And strictly speaking, (For the record, I don't think the 'End Times' are even remotely likely to happen any time soon. Or any time within the next millinia, or more, for that matter) if the "End Times" were to occur, sparsly populated areas wouldn't be a bad place to go: so I would have to agree that Alaska fits that bill. So agreeing that Alaska may be a 'refuge state' in the End Times doensn't imply that I think it's imminent.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 28, 2008 11:53 AM

It is easier to deal with Alaska and Christians talking about the Apocalypse than it is to deal with people in Iran actually trying to bring about the Apocalypse with nuclear weapons and terrorism.

The former you can deal with, talk about, and make yourself feel good about. The latter will require that you get your hands dirty and that is just so faux pas.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at October 28, 2008 11:57 AM

Hitchens ball waxing was not necessarily consentual, though he would have you believe otherwise.

Or so Barney Frank claims.

Posted by: Keyser Soze at October 28, 2008 01:32 PM

You are going to the bad place for that one.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 28, 2008 02:13 PM

Ymar,
Hitchens has actually been a fairly ardent supporter of the GWOT. But this makes me wonder if that is because Al Qaida et al, are *religious* crazies who want to destroy Western Civ and that if they were *secular* crazies who want to destroy Western Civ he'd be in opposition to it.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 28, 2008 02:34 PM

Alaska seems like a pretty good refuge state should O win the presidency.

Posted by: April at October 28, 2008 04:13 PM

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

Ooh, I love this one. I did a post on this and wrote about the following from from James Lovelock, the environmentalist who originated the Gaia theory (emphasis mine):

Climate change is more serious than we can possibly imagine, but neither the Earth nor the human race is doomed, said Lovelock. The good news is that the Earth itself is in no danger, with world climate likely to stabilize some 5 degrees C warmer than current temperatures - such stable 'hot' states have existed in the past, including some 55 million years ago when the world's own feedback mechanisms took 200,000 years to recover. During that phase no great extinction occurred, but life moved to cooler climes to survive.

Climate-induced migrations could, for example, see Europe's population concentrated in cooler regions such as the British Isles, Scandinavia and western France - and this could happen within the next century.

I guess one man’s crackpot is another man’s prophet.

As for Joan Walsh, I just did a long post after reviewing the Obama interview (not just the YouTube video) and while I can understand her point if I consider the interview alone, Walsh offers no framework for explaining (or explaining away) how Obama’s views in the 2001 interview relate to his current comments about spreading the wealth around. I think that continuity of policy is what makes the 2001 video interesting.

I am sorry about Walsh because I’ve always given her a lot of credit for being one of the very few media types who called out the Obama campaign for their egregious behavior during the Hillary Clinton RFK/June brouhaha.

Posted by: Elise at October 28, 2008 08:51 PM

Hitchens has actually been a fairly ardent supporter of the GWOT.

I think it safe to say that that is indisputable (for now at least).

But this makes me wonder if that is because Al Qaida et al, are *religious* crazies who want to destroy Western Civ and that if they were *secular* crazies who want to destroy Western Civ he'd be in opposition to it.

I believe Hitchins doesn't pay attention to anybody he thinks is motivated by religion. He is a good ally but he wouldn't make for a good adviser if you wanted to know how the Iraqi tribes thought or even how AQ thought.

There's a fundamental difference between not paying attention to religious people or people like H Bush (cause of his policies) and disagreeing with those policies and people. You can disagree but not necessarily for the right reasons.

This would be consistent with Hitchin's view towards Sarah Palin, especially since Hitchins isn't forced to challenge his prejudices by talking with her and dealing with her on a daily basis (compared to when Hitchins was touring Kurdistan and spouting anti-Bush stuff, as reported by Totten).

Posted by: Ymarsakar at October 28, 2008 11:22 PM

I would also like to draw people's attention explicitly to how the Left treats people considered to be "crackpot" or "dangerous". In foreign affairs, the Left claims they admit that Amanie is dangerous and that is why they want to talk to him. They don't repeat that Amanie believes in crackpot things, for example.

But when the Left is dealing with people here in the US... suddenly it is all about "extremist" that, "dangerous" this, and "crackpot beliefs".

The Left treats fellow Americans as if we were their enemies. As if we were Amanie, AQ, Zawahiri, or Zarqawi (the late and lamented PBUH).

That's their view of nuanced.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at October 28, 2008 11:26 PM

> 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.

I do. I've been working with computers for over 30 years. The charge processing sites don't WANT false charges made (chargebacks are costly for the "merchant", and a pain in the ass for them, as well as creating very justly irate CC customers and sullying the whole industry's reputation), so that's not generally an option, I don't believe, on the software.

I'm pretty sure you have to go in and *deliberately* remove it from the standard package you get from them.

Posted by: OBloodyhell at November 1, 2008 09:03 AM

It *was* deliberate -- no "ifs, ands or buts", no "untrained operator error" possibility.

The system administrator -- or someone with administrator rights -- must manually disable each one of the safeguards (there are several) that are built into the software. You have to know your way around in the program to do it, too -- it's not an intuitive process.

Posted by: BillT at November 1, 2008 09:53 AM

Wondering if we can't prosecute the person who exposed the campaign's error smacks of police state tactics.

Welcome to the police state. The reporter's been charged with making bogus credit card donations.

Posted by: BillT at November 1, 2008 10:00 AM

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