October 2008, Part 3

Jim Miller on Politics

Pseudo-Random Thoughts

Two Flags Over Kirkland:  For months, I watched this construction crane putting up new housing (probably condominiums) in downtown Kirkland.  But it took me a while to notice that the crane operator was displaying two messages.

Two flags over Kirkland, 2008

At the top, there was a patriotic American flag.  And on the counterweight was a personal flag, a pirate flag.  I would have thought that the two flags were incompatible — but this isn't the first time that I have seen this combination.

(Wonder whether the Somali pirates, or the pirates in Southeast Asia use pirate flags and, if so, whether those flags look anything like traditional pirate flags?)
- 3:26 PM, 24 October 2008   [link]

Style Versus Substance:  Yesterday, the New York Times and the Seattle PI had big front page stories on Sarah Palin's campaign wardrobe, a matter of no importance to voters.  On Wednesday, the National Review published this fine summary article on Palin's record as governor.  Two samples:

There's no doubt that energy and ethics have dominated Palin's time as governor.  But she has made her mark in other ways as well.  One of her favorites — she has talked about it quite a bit since she began the race for vice president — is her decision, in May of this year, to veto $268 million in proposed spending, which she described as money for "things like dealing with killer shrubs and Zamboni blades that are not the state's highest priority at the time."

And then there was the time earlier this year when she fought to cut Alaska's business-licensing fee from $100 to $50 a year.  (It had risen from $25 to $100 during the Murkowski administration.)   Frustrated by the legislature's inaction, Palin went to Alaska's department of commerce and got the e-mail addresses of 23,000 business owners in the state.  She then sent them a message, saying the $100 fee "has caused a hardship for those who are helping grow our economy, especially people who operate home-based and part-time businesses."  Legislators were angry — some accused Palin of inappropriate lobbying — but she won the day, and the fee was cut.
. . .
Still, it's fair to say that overall, Palin's time in office, from her swearing-in until the moment John McCain picked her to be his running mate, has been a success.  And from her handling of the issues she has tackled, it's possible to see a pattern in the way she approaches governing.

First, she hires well.  "There was a pretty good team of people assembled right away to come in and start with her big-picture principles and develop a process and legislation to carry that out," says [former special assistant on energy] Joe Balash.  "I would say that her management style is to give her staff, her cabinet, a pretty long leash, but with very high expectations — and she's not afraid to tell you that you didn't get it right."

Serious voters will want to read the whole article — and may want to skip all those articles on campaign wardrobes.

Cross posted at Sound Politics.

(On one point, I disagree with Byron York.  He sees Palin's willingness to raise taxes on a big oil company as evidence of populism.  It might be, but we can't know for sure without more evidence.   Generally, conservatives should favor uniform rules on taxes.  Sometimes that might mean raising taxes on a big company, if that company has gotten special deals in the past.

Those who are fascinated with Sarah Palin's clothes — a group that does not include me — may want to read Myrna's Blyth's piece.)
- 1:02 PM, 24 October 2008   [link]

The New York Times Endorses Obama:  Surprising everyone.  Well, all right, not surprising everyone.  But the editorial is surprisingly bad, even for the current New York Times.  For instance, compare what they say about two candidates with less experience than most of us would like:
Mr. Obama has met challenge after challenge, growing as a leader and putting real flesh on his early promises of hope and change.  He has shown a cool head and sound judgment.  We believe he has the will and the ability to forge the broad political consensus that is essential to finding solutions to this nation's problems.
. . .
In the same time, Senator John McCain of Arizona has retreated farther and farther to the fringe of American politics, running a campaign on partisan division, class warfare and even hints of racism.  His policies and worldview are mired in the past.  His choice of a running mate so evidently unfit for the office was a final act of opportunism and bad judgment that eclipsed the accomplishments of 26 years in Congress.
Sarah Palin has executive experience and real accomplishments, both as Alaska governor and in earlier offices.  Barack Obama has no executive experience, unless you count his time as the head of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, and no significant accomplishments, other than writing two books.  (One of which he may not have written.)

The Times agrees with me when I say that Obama has no significant accomplishments.  Implicitly.   They don't list a single Obama accomplishment.

And the idea that Obama can forge a "broad political consensus" is believable only if you think that such a consensus extends from the left to the far left to the crackpot left, from Obama to William Ayers and Michael Klonsky.  Obama has never forged a broad political consensus on any important issue.   Never.

(Just glancing through the editorial, I noted one serious factual error; the Times says that Obama has "endorsed some offshore drilling" and has a comprehensive plan for energy.  In fact, Obama has said only that he would look at offshore drilling and, like the Times, has made it clear that he favors higher energy prices.  In contrast, McCain, actually does have a comprehensive energy plan, and one that generally makes sense.  There are probably other mistakes; if you see some, let me know.

More criticism of the editorial here.

Just for fun, you may want to look at their earlier presidential endorsements.   Their record has been dismal in recent decades.)
- 10:59 AM, 24 October 2008
Another Mistake:  The Times says the government has been "systematically stripped of its ability to protect and help its citizens".  In fact, the Bush administration has added many protections, perhaps too many.  For instance, Bush promised to extend Medicare benefits to drugs, and did just that.  (Some conservatives objected to that in principle.  I have my doubts about it, considered by itself.  But once you have Medicare, you should include drugs, because drugs are often the cheapest and best treatments.  And the Bush administration did add important elements of competition.)  Another example:  Air pollution rules have been strengthened significantly during the last seven years.

Anyone who has been paying attention since January, 2001 would be able to add examples to those two.   In fact, anyone who has been reading the news in the New York Times — critically — would be able to add more examples, easily.
- 3:57 PM, 25 October 2008   [link]

Will Democrats Be Very Happy If Obama Wins?  Probably not, though they may be less unhappy.
The pollsters were in the field asking about happiness this month, a period when economic news was gloomy for everybody and presidential campaign news seemed especially baleful for Republicans.  Yet they found 37 percent of Republicans are "very happy," compared with 25 percent of Democrats; 51 percent of Republicans and 52 percent of Democrats are "pretty happy"; and 9 percent of Republicans are "not too happy," compared with 20 percent of Democrats.
. . .
Government-funded researchers identified the happiness gap in 1972.  Since then, the Democrats have been comparatively more bummed out not just during the tenures of GOP presidents Ford, Reagan, Bush and Bush.  They were noticeably less joyful than Republicans even during the GOP fiasco of Watergate, and during the Democratic Carter and Clinton administrations.

This year, when things seem so rosy for Democrats, the joy gulch yawns wider than ever.  The fraction of very happy Republicans has never been so much larger than the very happy Democrats.
Why the difference?  Different experiences and different values.
[Researcher Arthur] Brooks says a lot hinges on the answer to this question: Do you believe that hard work and perseverance can overcome disadvantages?  Conservatives are more likely to say yes.

Pew found that Democrats are more likely to say that success in life is mostly determined by outside forces.  Republicans lean toward thinking that success is determined by one's own efforts.
Republicans might say that because they are more successful than Democrats — or they might be more successful because they don't think of themselves as victims.  Or both could be true.
- 8:21 AM, 24 October 2008   [link]

You're In The Majority:  If you think that American journalists want Obama to win.
Voters overwhelmingly believe that the media wants Barack Obama to win the presidential election.  By a margin of 70%-9%, Americans say most journalists want to see Obama, not John McCain, win on Nov. 4.  Another 8% say journalists don't favor either candidate, and 13% say they don't know which candidate most reporters support.

A separate study released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism looks at the media's recent campaign coverage and finds that McCain received significantly more negative than positive coverage between the GOP convention and the final debate.  The study says that press treatment of Obama has been somewhat more positive than negative, but not markedly so.  [See "Winning the Media Campaign" released October 22, 2008.]

In recent presidential campaigns, voters repeatedly have said they thought journalists favored the Democratic candidate over the Republican.  But this year's margin is particularly wide.  At this stage of the 2004 campaign, 50% of voters said most journalists wanted to see John Kerry win the election, while 22% said most journalists favored George Bush.  In October 2000, 47% of voters said journalists wanted to see Al Gore win and 23% said most journalists wanted Bush to win.  In 1996, 59% said journalists were pulling for Bill Clinton.

In the current campaign, Republicans, Democrats and independents all feel that the media wants to see Obama win the election.  Republicans are almost unanimous in their opinion: 90% of GOP voters say most journalists are pulling for Obama.  More than six-in-ten Democratic and independent voters (62% each) say the same.
It is hard to imagine how so many people could have come to that conclusion.
- 2:35 PM, 23 October 2008   [link]

Oil Prices Continue To Decline:  In fact, they are lower now than they were a year ago.  In October 1, 2007, a barrel of oil sold for about $80.  The price has now hit about $67.

Is that good news or bad?  That depends.  For some of the nastier countries in the world, it is bad news.
As the price of oil roared to ever higher levels in recent years, the leaders of Venezuela, Iran and Russia muscled their way onto the world stage, using checkbook diplomacy and, on occasion, intimidation.

Now, plummeting oil prices are raising questions about whether the countries can sustain their spending — and their bids to challenge United States hegemony.
For poor Americans, especially poor Americans who live in rural areas, it is good news, as we can tell from this article, published last June.
Gasoline prices reached a national average of $4 a gallon for the first time over the weekend, adding more strain to motorists across the country.

But the pain is not being felt uniformly.  Across broad swaths of the South, Southwest and the upper Great Plains, the combination of low incomes, high gas prices and heavy dependence on pickup trucks and vans is putting an even tighter squeeze on family budgets.

Here in the Mississippi Delta, some farm workers are borrowing money from their bosses so they can fill their tanks and get to work.  Some are switching jobs for shorter commutes.
The fall in oil prices will make life much easier for these folks.

For frequent flying columnist Tom Friedman, the news is mixed, at best.
The 2 is back.  Last week, U.S. retail gasoline prices fell below $3 a gallon — to an average of $2.91 — the lowest level in almost a year.  Why does this news leave me with mixed feelings?

Because in the middle of this wrenching economic crisis, with unemployment rising and 401(k)'s shrinking, it would be a real source of relief for many Americans to get a break at the pump.  Today's declining gasoline prices act like a tax cut for consumers and can save $15 to $20 a tank-full for an S.U.V.-driving family, compared with when gasoline was $4.11 a gallon in July.

Yet, it is impossible for me to ignore the fact that when gasoline hit $4.11 a gallon we changed — a lot.  Americans drove less, polluted less, exercised more, rode more public transportation and, most importantly, overwhelmed Detroit with demands for smaller, more fuel-efficient, hybrid and electric cars.  The clean energy and efficiency industries saw record growth — one of our few remaining engines of real quality job creation.
But higher fuel prices did not discourage Friedman from flying all over the world.  (Incidentally, there are many sources of "real quality job creation", including the oil industry.)

There is something deeply offensive about Friedman, and other wealthy urbanites, calling for sacrifices by the rural poor, sacrifices that they are unwilling to make themselves.  And dressing up that call with some mostly silly ideas for government spending, as Friedman does in the rest of his column, doesn't improve things.
- 2:04 PM, 23 October 2008   [link]

Another Virtual Cartoon:  (They have to be virtual, unless I can get help from someone who can draw.)

Obama, looking much like Lucy in Peanuts, is holding a football labeled "tax cuts".  Joe Voter, looking much like Charlie Brown, is getting ready to kick the football.

And we all know what happens next, even though Charlie Brown never figured it out.

Cross posted at Sound Politics.

(As I have said before, I would be delighted if some artist could draw one of the cartoons that I think up from time to time.)
- 12:58 PM, 23 October 2008   [link]

Economists And Free Trade:  In this post, I mentioned that economists generally believe that free trade is good for most of us.  In this post, "Engram" gives the numbers from a survey of the American Economic Association:
That is, on the assertion "Tariffs and import quotas usually reduce the general welfare of society" (italics added), 72.5% of Ph.D. economists agreed, 20.1% agreed with provisos, and only 6% disagreed.   Obama's plan, more so than McCain's, moves in the direction of tariffs and import quotas.  Thus, far from being a time-tested and theoretically sound intervention to rescue a failing economy, this is another aspect of Obama's plan that will, if anything, accelerate the plunge.
Many economists, probably most, think that increasing trade barriers made the Great Depression longer and deeper.

Unfortunately, it is also true that American voters have become less likely to favor free trade in the past decade, despite what economists think.  The enormous wave of Chinese imports has something to do with that shift, as do the attacks on free trade from Pat Buchanan and others.

Obama's opposition to freer trade may be unwise, but that doesn't mean that it is unpopular.

(One odd bit:  Some supporters of free trade were outraged by Bush's 2000 promise to protect American steel producers for a few years.  I haven't heard anything like the same outrage over, for example, Obama's promise to renegotiate NAFTA, or his opposition to the Colombia trade deal.  You can even find libertarians backing Obama — providing more evidence that not all voters are rational.)
- 10:55 AM, 23 October 2008   [link]

Armenia And Constantinople?  At last month's big Seattle book sale, I picked up a copy of Martin Gilbert's Atlas of American History.   (He has produced many more atlases, including several others on the United States.)

Much in the book was familiar, although some of the maps had details that were new to me, such as the large area settled by the Scots in the Carolinas.  But one map came as a complete surprise.  Here's the text:
At the Paris Peace Conference, the Allies wanted the U.S. to accept Colonial Mandates around Constantinople and in the former Turkish province of Armenia.  This would have placed the U.S. between Anglo-French controlled areas and Bolshevik Russia.  President Wilson was not averse to this plan, but when the Senate rejected all say in the peacemaking, the Mandates were abandoned.  The two areas became part of Turkey.
On the whole, I am glad we turned them down, but the idea is fascinating.  I suppose the Allies had several motives for this offer, as they almost always did for their moves.  No doubt they expected the US to protect the Armenians and other minorities.  (At that time, Constantinople, now Istanbul, had a substantial Christian population.)  And they may have thought that giving us control of the straits would be preferable to seeing one of their traditional rivals control them.

Incidentally, the British suggested an extension to the Constantinople mandate, so that the US would have controlled most of Turkey's Black Sea coast.  Gilbert doesn't say why the British made that proposal.

(At that time, the British controlled Egypt, Cyprus, what is now Israel, Jordan, and Iraq.  The French controlled Lebanon and Syria.)
- 8:12 PM, 22 October 2008   [link]

Worth Reading:  Andrew McCarthy describes the relationship between Barack Obama and Maoist Michael Klonsky.  Here's the summary:
Here's what you need to know.  Klonsky is an unabashed communist whose current mission is to spread Marxist ideology in the American classroom.  Obama funded him to the tune of nearly $2 million.   Obama, moreover, gave Klonsky a broad platform to broadcast his ideas: a "social justice" blog on the official Obama campaign website.

To be clear, as it seems always necessary to repeat when Obamaniacs, in their best Saul Alinsky tradition, shout down the opposition: This is not about guilt by association.  The issue is not that Obama knows Klonsky . . . or Ayers . . . or Dohrn . . . or Wright . . . or Rashid Khalidi . . .

The issue is that Obama promoted and collaborated with these anti-American radicals.   The issue is that he shared their ideology.
That seems clear enough.

I can't link to a current version of Klonsky's blog, because the Obama campaign scrubbed it from their web site.

(The more I learn about Obama's allies, the more I want to ask him, plaintively, whether he has any nice friends.  And, you know, I can't think of a single one.)
- 7:31 PM, 22 October 2008   [link]

Not Fit To Print, 2:  In 2000, real estate heiress Connie Milstein gave us a most entertaining example of vote fraud.  Here's the story.
The Democratic National Committee spent Monday trying to separate the Gore campaign from a Democratic Party fund-raiser who was discovered distributing cigarettes to homeless voters as part of a "get out the vote" campaign Saturday.

"Wisconsin is a very key state for the Democratic party, and I was asked to come down and ring doorbells, go to shelters, see if I can get as many people as I could out to the polls," Connie Milstein said.

Milstein, however, is not your average campaign volunteer.  She is the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee's Major Supporters Committee.  In addition to hosting $25,000-a-couple fund-raisers for Democrats, election records show that Milstein has also contributed more than $400,000 to Democrats in the last two years, Milwaukee's WISN 12 reported.

Milstein was among a group of out-of-state Gore volunteers who visited Milwaukee homeless shelters Saturday, offering citizens at the shelter a ride to City Hall so they could cast absentee ballots.

Although a ride to the polling place is legal, WISN discovered the volunteers giving the absentee voters cigarettes outside the polling place, a gesture that may violate Wisconsin election law.
Milstein eventually plead guilty and paid a $5000 fine, which for her is chump change.

Yesterday, I was trying to recall the details of this story and so, remembering that the heiress was from New York, looked for the story in the New York Times.  I didn't find it there immediately, but did find it with more general searches.

That made me curious, so today I did some more searches at the New York Times, using both their search function and Google, to see if they had really skipped this wonderful story.  What I found, finally, was that they had published half of the story.  They buried that half in a gossip column, Public Lives, published on November 10, 2000, after the election.  And they published Milstein's absurd excuse, without questioning it.
Ms. Milstein -- whose spokesman said that she is a Republican who decided to work for Vice President Al Gore -- denied doing anything wrong by visiting the shelter.

"It never occurred to her that the cigarettes were a connection to voting," the spokesman, TIM METZ, said.  "She was asked for cigarettes by a number of people in homeless shelters.  She's a smoker.  Of course, she has cigarettes, so she gave some people some cigarettes.  She even bought some cigarettes.  She didn't buy the cigarettes and hand them to people.  She bought a carton and gave them to the driver of the van that took people from the shelter to City Hall. There were three trips, and on the first one, after they voted, they said, 'Can I have more cigarettes?'  She's not sure how many were given out."
(It is possible that Milstein was then a Republican — but her donations for some years suggest otherwise.)

Unless my searches missed something, the New York Times never told us the rest of the story, never told us about the fine and the guilty plea.  So, our newspaper of record held back this story until after the election, treated it as gossip, and never told us the ending, where Milstein plead guilty and paid a fine.

Over the years, I have noticed that the New York Times is exceptionally reluctant to cover stories on vote fraud — when that fraud is committed by Democrats.  (In an editorial earlier this year, they actually said that vote fraud was a myth.)  I suppose that reluctance explains their treatment of this funny story.  It had the wrong moral, so it was only half fit to print.

(In 2003, I started what I thought would be a series of these posts on the New York Times.  As you can see, this is only the second in the series, but I still think the series is a good idea.  And I hope that the next one will not take me five years to do.)
- 2:20 PM, 22 October 2008   [link]

It's An Exciting Election Year:  And the public is tuning out ABC, CBS, and NBC.
CBSNEWS w/ Couric shed a half a million viewers, falling from 6.4 million to 5.9 million; ABCNEWS dropped from 8.1 million to 7.6 million; NBCNEWS slumped from 8.2 million to 7.8 million.
More here and here, since that Drudge link won't last long.
- 1:02 PM, 22 October 2008   [link]

Rashid Khalidi And Barack Obama:  Martin Kramer has a long, link-filled post describing the radical professor.   Following Kramer's first link, I found this statement by Khalidi:
By God, I say that the participation of the sons or daughters of the Arabs in the plans and affairs of this institute is a huge error, this Israeli institute in Washington, an institute founded by AIPAC, the Zionist lobby, and that hosts tens of Israelis every year. The presence of an Arab or two each year can't disguise the nature of this institute as the most important center of Zionist interests in Washington for at least a decade. I very much regret the participation of Arab officials and non-officials and academics in the activities of this institute, because in fact if you look at the output of this institute, it's directed against the Palestinians, against the Arabs, and against the Muslims in general. Its products describe the Palestinians as terrorists, and in fact its basic function is to spread lies and falsehoods about the Arab world, of course under an academic, scholarly veneer. Basically, this is the most important Zionist propaganda tool in the United States.
(Khalid was being interviewed, in Arabic, on Al Jazeera.)

Following Kramer's fifth link brought me to this remarkable assertion from Khalidi:
There's a ludicrous allegation that the universities are liberal.  That allegation is ludicrous because huge chunks of the university which nobody ever talks about are extremely conservative by their very nature
How far left would you have to be to believe that?  Rather far, I would say.

Following Kramer's sixth link brought me to this Khalidi statement:
It's a campaign that's based on an utterly spurious argument that the universities are strongholds of radical and liberal ideas.  Would that they were strongholds of radical and liberal ideas.  (Applause.)  Would that the medical schools and the pharmaceutical schools were challenging the stranglehold of industrial medicine, of the industrial pharmaceutical industry.   (Applause.)  Would that agriculture schools--would that agriculture schools or business schools were challenging the reigning orthodoxies.  Would that economics departments, would that engineering schools, would that schools of international affairs were vigorously challenging the reigning orthodoxies in their fields. Would--I could go on and on and on.
In fact, as Kramer notes, professors in those fields challenge reigning orthodoxies all the time — though not necessarily with the challenges Khalidi would make.

There's much more, but that should be enough to give you an idea of Khalidi's views.  He's a radical Palestinian, who sometimes poses as a moderate.  He holds ideas that would be absurd in anyone, but are especially absurd in an academic.

Khalidi is also a long-time friend and political ally of Barack Obama.

It would seem natural to ask why Obama is a friend and political ally of Khalidi.  But I think asking the question the other way around is more instructive:  Why is Khalidi a friend and ally of Obama?   And to that question, there is only one plausible answer:  Khalidi believes that Obama shares many of his extremist views.

If Khalidi is wrong to believe that, then we have to conclude that Obama conned him for many years.   If Khalidi is right to believe that Obama shares many of his views, then we have to conclude that Obama has recently changed his views, or that he is conning the public about Israel (and many other matters), or both.  And, just to be complete, we have to consider the possibility that Obama was conning Khalidi and is now conning us.

(Kramer makes another point worth mentioning.  Obama has praised Khalidi as a "respected scholar".  Does Obama respect Khalidi's "scholarship"?  Apparently.)
- 11:08 AM, 22 October 2008   [link]

Even A Lawyer Hired By ACORN Thinks They Have Legal Problems:  Or, as the New York Times puts it in their headline: "Acorn Report Raises Issues of Legality".  The report, by Washington lawyer Elizabeth Kingsley, raises many issues of legality.  The one that interests me most is the overlap between ACORN and Project Vote:
Ms. Kingsley's concerns about the way Acorn affiliates work together could fuel the controversy over Acorn's voter registration efforts, which are largely underwritten by an affiliated charity, Project Vote.  Project Vote hires Acorn to do voter registration work on its behalf, and the two groups say they have registered 1.3 million voters this year.

As a federally tax-exempt charity, Project Vote is subject to prohibitions on partisan political activity.  But Acorn, which is a nonprofit membership corporation under Louisiana law, though subject to federal taxation, is not bound by the same restrictions.

"Project Vote and Acorn have a written agreement that specifies that all work is nonpartisan," Michael Slater, Project Vote's new executive director, wrote in answer to e-mailed questions about the relationship.

But Ms. Kingsley found that the tight relationship between Project Vote and Acorn made it impossible to document that Project Vote's money had been used in a strictly nonpartisan manner.  Until the embezzlement scandal broke last summer, Project Vote's board was made up entirely of Acorn staff members and Acorn members.
Or, to be blunt, Project Vote is a front group for ACORN.  Very possibly — I am no lawyer — an illegal front group for ACORN.

Most likely, ACORN, realizing that it has serious legal problems, asked for Kingsley's report in order to control the damage.  Letting the New York Times see the report would be part of that damage-control strategy.  And it is, at the very least, interesting that the Times' reporters did not bother to get reactions from critics of ACORN.
- 6:44 AM, 22 October 2008
More:  Clarice Feldman comes to similar conclusions about the report and the article.  And, in another piece, Feldman suggests that RICO charges may be appropriate for ACORN.  It would be funny, and might be appropriate, if ACORN was prosecuted with a law intended for racketeers.
- 9:53 AM, 22 October 2008   [link]

Election Prediction Coming Soon:  At the very latest by next Tuesday.   But for now you may want to look at Jay Cost's post.  Here's his bottom line:
The current Real Clear Politics national average gives Barack Obama a 5.2-point lead over John McCain.   This makes a comeback for McCain quite difficult, but not inconceivable.
I am a little more optimistic for McCain than Cost, but I have not sat down and taken a hard look at the numbers yet.

And I can be a little more precise than Cost.  As I write, InTrade is giving McCain about a 14 percent chance of winning.   I think his chances are better than 14 percent, so, if I had to place a small bet, I would take McCain, at those odds.

(For some perspective, you may want to look at this 2000 Best of the Web, which has some final poll results for the Bush-Gore race.)
- 6:09 AM, 22 October 2008
More:  When I wrote this post, I hadn't seen this IBD poll, with a 3.7 percent lead for Obama, or this AP poll, with a 1 percent lead for Obama.  But the two polls do support my tentative conclusion that McCain has more than a 14 percent chance of winning.
- 1:15 AM, 22 October 2008
Update:  Today, the IBD poll puts Obama's margin at just 1.1 percent.  Which is a very different result from most other polls.  (I don't have any opinion on the quality of their poll, since I don't know anything about TechnoMetrica Institute of Policy and Politics, the firm doing the poll.)
- 3:25 PM, 23 October 2008
Update 2:  Today, the IBD poll margin for Obama is up to 3.5 percent.
- 12:30 PM, 24 October 2008   [link]

Worth Saving:  And sharing.  Today's Michael Ramirez cartoon.  (Which will almost certainly not appear in your daily newspaper.)

Cross posted at Sound Politics.
- 5:18 AM, 22 October 2008   [link]

Good NYT joke.   (I have probably seen it before, but not recently.)

Which reminds me of an old joke, told about many politicians and many newspapers.  Here's a modern version:
President Bush is on a visit to New Jersey and New York.  In New Jersey, his aides urge him to do something to impress the New York Times.  So he walks across the Hudson River to Manhattan.

Next day, the headline in the New York Times reads: "Bush Unable to Swim".
(Sometimes I wonder whether "mainstream" journalists know that many of us are laughing at them.)
- 4:57 AM, 22 October 2008
Here's a Palin version of the joke, better told than my Bush version.
- 6:06 AM, 26 October 2008   [link]

Professor Richard Richard Epstein Has Known Obama For Years:  Professor Epstein is a very smart fellow.  And he does not know what Obama would do if he were elected president.
The odd point is how his many learned and thoughtful supporters couch their endorsement.  Almost without exception, they praise the man, not the program.  Their claim is that Obama has proved himself to be a consummate politician who understands that the first principle of holding high office is to get reelected.  His natural moderation in tone and demeanor, therefore, translate into getting advisers who know their substantive areas, and listening to them before making any rash moves.  The dominant trope is that he will be a pragmatic president who will move in small increments toward the center, not in bold steps toward the left.

But is it all true?  The short answer is that nobody knows.
But on the whole, Epstein is inclined to think that Obama, if he has big majorities in the House and Senate, will damage the world's economy, will "lock us into a downward spiral by ignoring the simple fundamentals of sound governance".

Although I don't know Obama, I have come to similar conclusions.

(By way of Ilya Somin.

Incidentally, I am not sure that those Obama supporters are being completely candid with Epstein.   Their arguments sound a little too perfectly designed for a libertarian like Epstein.)
- 3:34 PM, 21 October 2008   [link]

Why Submit False Registrations?  By now everyone should know that ACORN has submitted thousands and thousands of bogus registrations in many states, in multiple elections.  Some of the false registrations are laughably false, such as the one in Florida for Mickey Mouse.

(Here are some recent examples of ACORN's problems, if you need a review:

The Michigan Secretary of State told the press in September that Acorn had submitted "a sizeable number of duplicate and fraudulent applications."  Earlier this month, Nevada's Democratic Secretary of State Ross Miller requested a raid on Acorn's offices, following complaints of false names and fictional addresses (including the starting lineup of the Dallas Cowboys).  Nevada's Clark County Registrar of Voters Larry Lomax said he saw rampant fraud in 2,000 to 3,000 applications Acorn submitted weekly.

Officials in Ohio are investigating voter fraud connected with Acorn, and Florida's Seminole County is withholding Acorn registrations that appear fraudulent.  New Mexico, North Carolina and Missouri are looking into hundreds of dubious Acorn registrations.  Wisconsin is investigating Acorn employees for, according to an election official, "making people up or registering people that were still in prison."

Then there's Lake County, Indiana, which has already found more than 2,100 bogus applications among the 5,000 Acorn dumped right before the deadline.  "All the signatures looked exactly the same," said Ruthann Hoagland, of the county election board.  Bridgeport, Connecticut estimates about 20% of Acorn's registrations were faulty.  As of July, the city of Houston had rejected or put on hold about 40% of the 27,000 registration cards submitted by Acorn.

That's just this year.  In 2004, four Acorn employees were indicted in Ohio for submitting false voter registrations.  In 2005, two Colorado Acorn workers were found to have submitted false registrations.  Four Acorn Missouri employees were indicted in 2006; five were found guilty in Washington state in 2007 for filling out registration forms with names from a phone book.

And if you want to find more examples, you can, without much effort.)

By now, it is obvious that the ACORN registration drives are organized so that many bogus registrations are likely, in fact, inevitable.  Even some ACORN workers have come to that conclusion:

Current and former ACORN employees say the problems are no accident.  "There's no quality control on purpose, no checks and balances," says Nate Toler, who until late 2006 was head organizer of an ACORN campaign against Wal-Mart in Merced, California.  In 2004 he worked on an ACORN voter drive in Missouri, and he says that ACORN statements are not to be taken at face value.  "The internal motto is 'We don't care if it's a lie, just as long as it stirs up the conversation.'" (pp. 52-53)

All that is obvious.  But what may not be obvious is why ACORN is doing this.  Why would they want to pay their workers to create these bogus registrations?  Why not use the same money to register real voters?  That way ACORN could have the new voters, who would be likely to support ACORN's leftist causes, without the bad publicity.

I think that there are three reasons that ACORN is submitting all these false registrations.  Toler hints at one, when he says they want to stir up the conversation.  For organizations like ACORN, bad publicity is better than no publicity.  They can use the controversy from their bogus registrations to pose as victims, to raise charges of racism, and all the rest.  Moreover — and this is probably important to them in the long run — they can use the controversy to undermine trust in elections in the poor communities they target.  In other words, ACORN may believe that the controversy helps them with their long-run propaganda efforts.

Second, they may think that they can get more people registered if they skip that small step of verifying the registrations.  Checking registrations does take some time, and they may think, for instance, that they are better off getting twenty registrations, even if five are bogus, than by getting twelve registrations, all of them good.

And there is, I believe, a third reason that ACORN submits all these false registrations.  They hope that some of them will lead to fraudulent votes for their favored candidates.  They are trying, in other words, to facilitate vote fraud.

It is easy to miss this if we look only at the most absurd cases, Mickey Mouse and the like.  But a little bit of thought will show you that ACORN workers could almost as easily make up plausible registrations, especially if they live in the neighborhood where they are working.  I won't go into the details of how this could be done, partly because they vary from state to state, and partly because I don't want to give directions to crooks.  But it would be easy, almost everywhere, for any reasonably intelligent person to create false registrations that would be accepted by election officials.   And I think it is certain that some ACORN workers have done just that.

And once those false registrations are in the system, it would foolish to think that some fraudsters will not use them, perhaps the same fraudsters who created them.  As foolish as thinking that leaving cash registers open will not lead to more theft.

What ACORN is doing, in other words, is trying to facilitate what I call "distributed vote fraud", not fraud by a few people in a campaign or party organization, but fraud by many individuals or small groups, operating independently.  (For a discussion of the extent of distributed vote fraud, see this post.)

There is one certain result of these ACORN registration campaigns.  Any narrow victory for leftist candidates in states where ACORN has operating will look suspicious to their opponents.  And from ACORN's point of view, that's probably another potential benefit from all their bogus registrations.   The more people that distrust our elections, the better — for ACORN, though not for our nation.

Cross posted at Sound Politics.
- 1:58 PM, 21 October 2008   [link]

Princess Nudelman Won't Be Voting This Year:  For two reasons.  First, Princess has passed on.  Second, Princess was never eligible to be a voter.
The only "agent of change" Princess ever supported was the person who freshened the water in her fishbowl.

So election officials in Chicago's northern suburbs want to know why voter registration material was sent to the dead goldfish.

"I am just stunned at the level of people compromising the integrity of the voting process," said Lake County Clerk Willard Helander, a Republican, who said she has spotted problems with nearly 1,000 voter registrations this year.

Beth Nudelman, who owned the fish, said Princess may have landed on a mailing list because the family once filled in the pet's name when they got a second phone line for a computer.
The goldfish will get the attention, but the third paragraph has the important part of the story.   Lake County, Illinois (unlike Lake County, Indiana) is not known for vote fraud, but even that wealthy suburban county has many problem registrations.
- 9:51 AM, 21 October 2008   [link]

Native Roots:  Here's a sketch of Lena Andree, Todd Palin's half-Yup'ik grandmother.  Andree is fond of her grandson's wife, and calls Sarah Palin a "special gal".  Judging by the article, Andree is also a special gal.  But then I have long had a weakness for grandmothers.
- 6:07 AM, 21 October 2008   [link]

Want An International Crisis Next Year?  Then vote for Barack Obama.
ABC News' Matthew Jaffe Reports: Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., on Sunday guaranteed that if elected, Sen. Barack Obama., D-Ill., will be tested by an international crisis within his first six months in power and he will need supporters to stand by him as he makes tough, and possibly unpopular, decisions.

"Mark my words," the Democratic vice presidential nominee warned at the second of his two Seattle fundraisers Sunday.  "It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy.  The world is looking.  We're about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America.  Remember I said it standing here if you don't remember anything else I said.  Watch, we're gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy."
Nothing wrong with Biden's analysis, but I doubt that the Obama campaign wanted him to say this.

And if you don't want an international crisis, vote for John McCain.  Seems like an easy choice to me.

(Many have commented on Biden's warning.  The best line I have seen came from Tom Maguire, who said:  "Biden is trying to put lipstick on the Bay of Pigs."  (Some younger readers may need to know that the Bay of Pigs is the name given to a famous Kennedy disaster.))
- 5:42 AM, 21 October 2008   [link]

More On Obama And The New Party:  From Stanley Kurtz.  Here's his lead paragraph
During his first campaign for the Illinois state senate in 1995-96, Barack Obama was a member of, and was endorsed by, the far-left New Party.  Obama's New Party ties give the lie to his claim to be a post-partisan, post-ideological pragmatist.  Particularly in Chicago, the New Party functioned as the electoral arm of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN).  So despite repeated attempts to distance himself from ACORN, Obama's New Party ties raise disturbing questions about his links to those proudly militant leftists.  The media's near-total silence on this critical element of Obama's past is deeply irresponsible.
And there's much more.

(Here's my first post on the New Party.)
- 4:30 PM, 20 October 2008   [link]

Dan Quayle Was Right:  In the 1992 vice-presidential debate, Quayle made one prediction, again and again:  If elected, Bill Clinton would raise taxes, and not just on the wealthy.

Well, thank you, Senator Gore, for reminding me about my performance in the 1988 vice presidential debate.  This is 1992, Bill Clinton is running against President George Bush.  There are 2 things that I'm going to stress during this debate: one, Bill Clinton's economic plan and his agenda will make matters much, much worse -- he will raise your taxes, he will increase spending, he will make government bigger, jobs will be lost; second, Bill Clinton does not have the strength nor the character to be president of the US.
. . .
You ought to talk to the timber people in the northwest, where they say that -- well, we can only save the owl.  Forget about jobs.  You ought to talk to the coal miners.  They're talking about putting a coal tax on.  They're talking about a tax on utilities, a tax on gasoline and home heating oil -- all sorts of taxes.
. . .
What plan is that that's just going to raise taxes on those making over $200,000 a year?  You may call that your plan, but everyone knows that you simply can't get $150 billion in new taxes by raising the marginal tax rate to a top rate of 36 % and only tax those making $200,000 a year.  It's absolutely ridiculous.  The top 2 % which you refer to, that gets you down to $64,000; then you have about a $40-billion shortfall -- that gets you down to $36,000 a year.  Everybody making more than $36,000 a year will have their taxes increased if Bill Clinton is president of the US.

Quayle was ridiculed for his prediction at the time, but he was right.

In 1992, Vice President Dan Quayle suggested Bill Clinton would raise taxes on the middle class - that everyone making over $36,000 could face a tax hike.  Media "experts" accused the him of mangling "facts."  Clinton was elected - and passed the largest tax increase in US history, right down to the middle class.

"It was Quayle who repeatedly twisted and misstated the facts," CNN reporter Brooks Jackson pronounced after the vice-presidential debate.  On ABC, Jeff Green-field proclaimed: "Independent examination of this charge by, for example, press organizations, has found it, to say the least, misleading."

Cut to Feb. 18, 1993, when USA Today admitted: "Looks like Dan Quayle was right.  Last year's vice-presidential debate . . . produced an accurate prediction from Quayle about the Clinton budget plan . . . The final plan, according to Clinton officials, will hit those making $30,000 and above."

In 1992, Clinton promised a middle-class tax cut.  But he reversed himself just weeks after taking office.  The reversal was so fast that I think it is fair to conclude that Clinton never intended to keep his promise to cut taxes for the middle class.

This year, Barack Obama is promising a tax cut for 95 percent of the people.  (Which is a good trick, considering that about 40 percent of the people do not pay federal income taxes.  As far as I know, Obama has not promised to cut federal taxes on gasoline, tobacco, or alcohol, which would help many poorer people.)

Should we believe Obama?  Not if we have learned from 1992.  And not if we remember what Obama said several years after he got all his Illinois senate opponents thrown off the ballot:  "If you can win, you should win and get to work doing the people's business."  (Some will doubt that he ever got around to that last part.)

Cross posted at Sound Politics.

(We can even predict some of the taxes that Obama will propose; like Al Gore, he will favor increases in energy taxes, which will hit the poor, especially the working poor, the hardest.  I would say that increases in energy taxes are almost certain, should Obama be elected.)
- 2:58 PM, 20 October 2008   [link]

Barack Obama And Alexi Giannoulias:  Here's what David Freddoso says about the Illinois state treasurer, and his relationship to Barack Obama.
Alexi Giannoulias is another key Obama ally and a banking scion.  He was elected Illinois State Treasurer in 2006, when Obama was one of the few officeholders backing him.  For once, Obama did not back the favored candidate of the machine — that was Paul Mangieri, who had been endorsed by the Illinois Democratic Party, the state party chairman, forty-one state lawmakers, and most statewide officeholders.  Instead, Obama endorsed the candidate whose family institution, Broadway Bank, had been loaning money to mafia figures.
. . .
Obama kind of owed him.  Giannoulias and his family had given more than $10,000 to his 2004 Senate campaign63, which in turn kept its accounts at their bank.64  Giannoulias has pledged to raise $100,000 for Obama's presidential campaign this year.65

Broadway had loaned millions of dollars to Michael "Jaws" Giorango, a convicted bookmaker and prostitution ring promoter.  When asked about the loans the bank had made to Giorango in the 1990s, Giannoulias said that he had not been a full-time employee of the bank at that time.66  The Chicago Tribune reported that in 2005, when Giannoulias was serving as vice president and senior loan officer at Broadway, the bank made an $11.8 million loan to Giorango and that Giannoulias had even traveled to Miami to meet with Giorango and inspect property the bank was financing for him.67  Of his original explanation, Giannoulias said, "It wasn't an attempt to mislead."68 (pp. 227-228)
Of course not.

So, we can say that there is — at most — one degree of separation between Barack Obama and Michael "Jaws" Giorango.
- 2:11 PM, 20 October 2008   [link]

Melanie Phillips Doesn't Hold Back:  Here's the British journalist's summary of Obama:
You have to pinch yourself — a Marxisant radical who all his life has been mentored by, sat at the feet of, worshipped with, befriended, endorsed the philosophy of, funded and been in turn funded, politically promoted and supported by a nexus comprising black power anti-white racists, Jew-haters, revolutionary Marxists, unrepentant former terrorists and Chicago mobsters, is on the verge of becoming President of the United States.  And apparently it's considered impolite to say so.
Does she go too far?  A bit.  I wouldn't say he was supported by Chicago mobsters — but one of Obama's allies, Alexi Giannoulias, does have ties to the mob.  Those ties don't bother Obama, but they do bother other Illinois Democrats, including Mike Madigan, the Speaker of the Illinois House.

On the other hand, that French adjective, Marxistant, sounds exactly right to me — now that I have read this extended definition.
- 10:48 AM, 20 October 2008   [link]

Why I Hate The Dish Network:  Not because they sell a bad product at a high price, or because they treat their customers badly.  I know nothing about those subjects, so I have no opinion on them.

But I do find my web browser, again and again, getting hung up by one of their "TurboHD" ads.  All in all, the Dish network has wasted hours of my time.  Unfortunately, they run those ads on some of my favorite sites, so I can't always avoid them.
- 10:11 AM, 20 October 2008   [link]

Not Headed For Economic Doom?  Here's the latest reading on our leading indicators.
The economy's health improved for the first time in five months in September as supplier deliveries and new orders strengthened, a private research group said Monday.

The New York-based Conference Board said its monthly forecast of future economic activity rose 0.3 percent, a better reading than the 0.2 percent drop expected by Wall Street economists surveyed by Thomson/IFR.
As regular readers know, I have been arguing for some time that our economic news is mixed, that there are good trends, as well as bad.  Here's more evidence for that view of the economy.

(The lower prices for petroleum are a powerful stimulus for the rest of the economy, as I have mentioned before, most recently, here and here.  But many of our urban elites don't like to discuss those benefits because they want higher energy prices in order to force changes in our behavior.)
- 9:45 AM, 19 October 2008   [link]

Is Barack Obama "Well-Informed" About Trade Policy?  We are told, over and over, by Obama supporters, that Barack Obama is intelligent and "well-informed".  The first I would concede, but I have my doubts about the second.  Whenever I check Obama on a subject that I know something about, I find that he is not, in fact, "well-informed".  Here's one more example.

Nearly all economists believe that free trade makes most citizens better off.  Even those economists who have some doubts would probably agree that the free trade agreement with Columbia — which has been blocked by Democrats in Congress — would be beneficial to the United States.  Here are the essential facts.
Our politicians are lucky that most Americans are too busy to follow their antics, because voters would surely howl over Nancy Pelosi's trade priorities this week.  The House voted to give duty-free access to the U.S. market for Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia for another year, even as it has refused to hold a vote on a two-way trade deal with Colombia.

That's right.  Colombia will still be able to export its goods here without tariffs through 2009, but American exporters will continue to face high barriers in Colombia that the free-trade deal would reduce.  So the same "fair trade" crowd that bemoans the U.S. trade deficit wants to have only one-way free trade with Latin America -- free for them to sell to us, but not for us to sell to them.  Has anyone told the UAW about all those Caterpillar machinery exports to Colombia that Democrats are blocking?
Why have the Democrats blocked this agreement?  Because some of their union supporters are opposed to almost all free trade agreements, and because leftists have smeared Colombia.  And now we come to Barack Obama, who repeated those smears in his last debate with John McCain.
To be fair, Mr. Obama probably did not set out on Wednesday night to insult millions of Colombians and revive the notion many U.S. neighbors have of the Ugly Gringo.  But when Mr. McCain pointed out that opposing the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement doesn't make sense -- because the U.S. is already open to imports from Colombia and because the agreement will open new markets for U.S. exporters during rough economic times -- Mr. Obama was caught flat-footed.

He reached into his memory bank for whatever he had been told to say about Colombia.  He seems to have found his hard drive loaded with Big Labor talking points.  Here's what it spit out: "The history in Colombia right now," he said, "is that labor leaders have been targeted for assassination, on a fairly consistent basis, and there have not been prosecutions."

Mr. McCain should have blown the whistle right there because bearing false witness against your neighbor, who also happens to be a friend, is a foul.  Labor killings in Colombia have gone down sharply in the past five years and convictions have gone up.  Mr. Obama was wrong.  Moreover, Mr. McCain missed an opportunity to ask Mr. Obama how he squares his antagonism toward Colombia -- whose president has an 80% approval rating -- with his promise to boost America's image abroad.
Mary Anastasia O'Grady is not sure whether Obama believes what he said about Colombia in that debate.   (It is dismaying, is it not, how often well-informed people wonder whether Obama believes something he has said?)  I think that Obama does believe what he said.  Which means that, on this subject, as on many others, Obama is not "well-informed"; in fact, he is misinformed.  Probably.

There is some room for doubt.  But that doubt can not reassure us, because if Obama does not believe what he said, then he was lying to us, boldly, about a matter of considerable importance.  Or, even more cynically, Obama may not care whether what he says is true or not.  He may not know that he was smearing Colombia; he may just recall what he had to say during the Democratic debates.

Many Obama supporters do assume that he is lying to us, do assume that he is better informed than his public statements suggest.  But I think that is a dangerous assumption, and one for which there is little evidence.  There is nothing in his education — as he has described it — or his slim record, to suggest that he does understand trade policy.  Or many other subjects.

(Many leftists dislike the Colombian government because the government has committed an unpardonable sin; they want to be friendly toward the United States, even while Bush is president.  Does Obama share that attitude?  We don't know.  But many of his long-time allies certainly do.

Why would Colombia want this agreement, considering that they already can export to the US freely?   To stabilize our relationship.  Investors are much more likely to build businesses in Colombia that export to the United States, if they can be sure that our present policies will continue.)
- 8:15 AM, 20 October 2008   [link]

Just A Guy Who Lives In My Neighborhood:  Who happens to have the same office address.
Bill Ayers and Barack Obama shared an office.  Ayers' Small Schools Workshop, the one Obama directed all that money too is located at 115 S. Sangamon Street, Chicago, Illinois 60607 [Note the link is to a year 2000 version of their website].
. . .
I'm going to suggest that two guys working in the same building for a period of years probably crossed paths pretty often.  For all we know, they had lunch together on a daily basis.  Maybe, in an effort at conservation, they were even carpool buddies.  After all, Ayers is a guy from Obama's neighborhood.
We don't know how often Obama used that office, but I would expect him to show up there at least once a week, considering how much money he was disbursing.

And we know that Obama gave Ayers about two million dollars of that money — at least.

The Gateway Pundit has more, including the video where Obama claims that Ayers is just "a guy who lives in my neighborhood.   That answer was not completely candid.  Some might even say that it was deceptive.

Another man shared that office address, Mike Klonsky, "educational reformer" — and head of a Maoist group.  He, too, received substantial sums from Obama.
- 9:23 AM, 19 October 2008   [link]

Inside And Out:  This morning, the main webcam at Mt. Rainier was showing this double picture of the mountain and the inside of the new visitor center.

Mt. Rainier and visitor center reflection, 19 October 2008

(There is a second Rainier webcam, with a view of the Tatoosh range, and there will be a third webcam some time soon.)
- 8:53 AM, 19 October 2008   [link]

Is A Salamander A Reptile Or An Amphibian?  If you know the correct answer to that question, you are ahead of at least three journalists.  On Tuesday, the New York Times ran a story on interstate roads as blocks to animal migration, which included this error:
An article on Tuesday about the impact of roads on ecological systems misidentified the classification of salamanders. They are amphibians, not reptiles.
Why at least three?  At least two at the New York Times, the reporter, Jim Robbins, and at least one editor.  And at least one editor at the Seattle Times, which published the story today — with the mistake.

(For the benefit of these three journalists, and anyone else who is curious, here's a review on salamanders.  From it, I learned that some salamanders have neither gills nor lungs.  And by following one of the links in the article, I learned that salamanders have "very large amounts of DNA in their nuclear genomes", five to thirty times as much as we humans do.)
- 6:57 PM, 17 October 2008   [link]

What Do Leftwing Journalists Think Of Conservatives?  Timothy Egan, who works for the New York Times, tells us.

This was the one where Bill Ayers finally came up.  The "old, washed up terrorist" in John McCain's words, who went from entitled brat with bomb fantasies to Chicagoan of the year to Willie Horton with an earring and a PhD.

The braying kooks on the far right demanded it.  Sarah Palin threw slabs of Ayers' sirloin to angry crowds, delivered in that crinkly-nosed, oh-honey-I-shrunk-the-kids style.

(And we can guess, from this post, what Egan thinks of unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers.  Ayers is just fine with Egan.  Though I must add that Egan does not show much sign of knowing very much about Ayers — and no sign of wanting to know very much about Ayers.)

It is fortunate, I must say, that our "mainstream" journalists are not into stereotyping and name calling.  They help make our political discussions far more civilized.

Cross posted at Sound Politics because Mr. Egan has a connection to the Seattle Times, a very close, personal connection.

(From time to time, Egan writes about areas of Washington state that I know personally.  When he does, he is almost invariably misleading.  I have been unable to decide whether he is being deliberately misleading — or whether he is more of a novelist than an accurate reporter.)
- 1:02 PM, 17 October 2008   [link]

Another Obama Discrepancy:  This time on gun rights.
In a recent interview with Field & Stream, Barack Obama stated, "if you talk to sportsmen in my home state of Illinois, they will tell you that I've always been a forceful advocate on behalf of the rights of sportsmen, on behalf of access for sportsmen and hunters.  I've been somebody who, well before the recent Supreme Court case, stated my belief that the Second Amendment was an individual right."  In a podcast for, I interviewed Richard Pearson, the Executive Director of the Illinois State Rifle Association.  Pearson has been lobbying on sporting and right to arms issues at the Illinois legislature since 1989.  He has more first-hand knowledge of Obama's record on these issues than anyone except Obama himself.  In the 20-minutes podcast interview, Pearson suggests that Obama's claim about his record is extremely inaccurate.
Whatever you think about gun issues, you should be disturbed to see Obama so completely misrepresent his past — again.

If you can't trust what Obama says about his past, can you trust his campaign promises?
- 12:27 PM, 17 October 2008   [link]

Want To Read The "Warmist" Side Of The Argument?  Here's a reasonable summary from Dr. Walt Meier of the National Snow and Ice Data Center.  (As I have mentioned before, I am a "luke-warmist"; that is, I think we have had some man-caused global warming and may have some more, but I do not agree with Al Gore and other extremists on the certainty of that warming, or the dangers from it.)

Some of the disagreeing comments following his summary make interesting points, others are just abuse, and some are a mixture.  But on the whole the discussion is about as civil as these discussions get, these days.

(I'm not citing my disclaimer this time, because I have decided to revise it.  The general message will stay the same, but I have decided my presentation needs work.  I would have revised it this week, if had not had to prepare for the meeting with the Edward Murrow journalists.)
- 10:17 AM, 17 October 2008   [link]

Quips From Two Candidates:  When he was vice president, George H. W. Bush once said:
It's important for a vice president not to upstage his boss, and you don't know how hard it has been to keep my charisma in check these last few years."
Last night, at the Al Smith dinner, Barack Obama said:
But look, I don't want to be coy about this.  We're a couple weeks from an important election.   Americans have a big choice to make and, if anybody feels like they don't know me by now, let me try to give you some answers.  Who is Barack Obama?  Contrary to the rumors that you've heard, I was not born in a manger.  I was actually born on Krypton and sent here by my father Jor-el to save the planet earth.
If I had to name my greatest strength, I guess it would be my humility.  Greatest weakness, it's possible that I'm a little too awesome.
It would be a mistake to make too much of those contrasting quips, which, after all, were almost certainly written for the candidates.  But I do think the quips say something about the two men — and what they say makes Bush look a little better, and Obama a little worse.
- 9:36 AM, 17 October 2008   [link]