Squaring the Culture




"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

02/07/2009 (11:15 am)

The Meaning of Sarah Palin

Yuval Levin has written a brilliant analysis of the Sarah Palin phenomenon in the 2008 election over at Commentary. If you’ve got about 20 minutes, it’s worth reading.

A few nuggets:

Palin became the embodiment of every dark fantasy the Left had ever held about the views of evangelical Christians and women who do not associate themselves with contemporary feminism, and all concern for clarity and truthfulness was left at the door…

The reaction to Palin revealed a deep and intense cultural paranoia on the Left: an inclination to see retrograde reaction around every corner, and to respond to it with vile anger. A confident, happy, and politically effective woman who was also a social conservative was evidently too much to bear.

***

Meanwhile, on the Right, Palin was the cause of a manic episode of a different sort. The governor’s touching life story, her folksy way of speaking, and her gut-level appeal to the culture of the lower middle class exercised tremendous power over many conservatives, which inclined them to fill the sizable blanks in Palin’s political profile with their own wishful assumptions, and to make flustered excuses for her shortcomings…

Palin did not merit her instantaneous conversion into the Joan of Arc of the American Right, just as she did not deserve the opprobrium that was heaped upon her by the Left.

***

Applied to politics, the worldview of the intellectual elite begins from an unstated assumption that governing is fundamentally an exercise of the mind: an application of the proper mix of theory, expertise, and intellectual distance that calls for knowledge and verbal fluency more than for prudence born of life’s hard lessons.

Sarah Palin embodied a very different notion of politics, in which sound instincts and valuable life experiences are considered sources of knowledge at least the equal of book learning. She is the product of an America in which explicit displays of pride in intellect are considered unseemly, and where physical prowess and moral constancy are given a higher place than intellectual achievement. She was in the habit of stressing these faculties instead—a habit that struck many in Washington as brutishness…

The reaction of the intellectual elite to Sarah Palin was far more provincial than Palin herself ever has been, and those who reacted so viscerally against her evinced little or no appreciation for an essential premise of democracy: that practical wisdom matters at least as much as formal education, and that leadership can emerge from utterly unexpected places. The presumption that the only road to power passes through the Ivy League and its tributaries is neither democratic nor sensible, and is, moreover, a sharp and wrongheaded break from the American tradition of citizen governance.

***

But having finally gotten voters to listen, neither Palin nor McCain could think of anything to say to them. Palin’s reformism, like McCain’s, was essentially an attitude devoid of substance. Both Republican candidates told us they hated corruption and would cut excess and waste. But separately and together, they offered no overarching vision of America, no consistent view of the role of government, no clear description of what a free society should look like, and no coherent policy ideas that might actually address the concerns of American families and offer solutions to the serious problems of the moment. Palin’s populism was not her weakness, but her strength. Her weakness was that she failed to tie her populism to anything deeper.

12/08/2008 (9:40 pm)

Voting Blind

A few weeks ago we heard a follow-up report to a survey commissioned by filmmaker John Ziegler regarding how well-informed Obama voters were concerning their candidate. Ziegler had produced a 10-minute clip that has been viewed almost 2 million times on YouTube, illustrating how poorly informed several Obama voters were about basic campaign issues and facts. I’ve embedded the 10-minute clip in case you’ve somehow missed it.

These were not stupid people, they were clean, prosperous, ordinary folks, at least one of whom considered herself well-informed. Ziegler followed up his brief set of interviews by commissioning a nationwide survey by the Zogby organization, and it confirmed the results of the interviews: the vast majority of Obama voters could not name which party controls Congress, which candidate said he’d visited 57 states, which candidate said his policies could bankrupt coal-fired power plants, which candidate had won prior elections by having his opponents disqualified through ballot challenges, which candidate had been forced to remove himself from consideration in a prior election due to plagiarism, or which candidate had launched his political career in the home of two members of the Weather Underground. They performed better when asked about Sarah Palin’s wardrobe and her pregnant daughter, and appallingly, when faced with negative reports they could not attribute to anybody in particular, they tended blithely to assign them to Sarah Palin. Nice.

Ziegler then asked Zogby International to repeat the survey, this time polling McCain voters. Zogby declined, arguably because the reaction from the left had been too rabid and they did not want to alienate possible clients. Wilson Research took the task, and the results showed that McCain supporters were marginally better informed on several topics — but hardly well-informed. For example, Ziegler noted that only 18% of Obama voters could correctly name which party controlled Congress. McCain voters scored 38%, a significantly better performance but not one to be proud of. Obama supporters outscored McCain’s on the question identifying McCain with the Keating Five scandal, but again, neither group scored all that well.

Ziegler, who is in the process of producing a documentary entitled Media Malpractice, claims that this is the result of a stunningly biased and inept press corps that went out of its way to shield the Democratic candidate from any reasonable scrutiny. I don’t think there’s much doubt that the press handled the election horribly, and in fact we even got treated to the rare (but not unheard of) prime member of the press corps admitting the bias, as Mark Halperin of Time called the press’ performance “disgusting” and denounced “extreme pro-Obama bias.”

However, I beg to differ with both Misters Halperin and Ziegler: I don’t believe the bias in the current election was greater than that of past elections, and I don’t think the bias explains the outcome.

Americans were not generally aware of the depth of bias in the print media until the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine in 1985 and the rise of conservative talk radio. As alternatives to the mainstream press sources began to spread through the early 90s, though, citizens became more and more aware of the depth of distortion produced by biased reporting. By just after 2000, we started to see books published about the leftward bias of the media — Bias, by Bernard Goldberg of CBS, Slander, by Ann Coulter, and several others — and organizations formed around the question, like Brent Bozell’s Media Research Center.

What was changing was not the depth of the bias, but rather the awareness of it. The press has been highlighting Democratic talking points and ignoring Republican ones for as long as I’ve been watching. Their ardor for Barack Obama was more intense than their feelings toward Al Gore or John Kerry, but that merely reflects the charisma of the candidates; there was little about either Gore or Kerry to inspire enthusiasm. The level of protection Gore and Kerry received from the press was not any less consistent than the protection Obama received.

Nor were they the first to be protected. I suspect that Ziegler’s poll would have discovered similar results polling any major issue in American political history from about 1985 forward, and there are some indications that the bias began a long time before that. For instance, if one paid attention only to the TV news sources and main newspapers in the 1980s — the Washington Post, the New York Times, ABC, NBC, and CBS — one would have thought that the Nicaraguan Contras were nothing but power-mad thugs oppressing the ordinary worker and intimidating them with gangs that roamed the streets at night. This was mostly due to a Sandanista propaganda campaign, but that campaign was dutifully echoed by the American press through the late 1980s. Viewers of mainstream news might have been convinced that Ronald Reagan contrived to delay the release of Iran’s political prisoners in order to effect the 1980 election, a charge for which a congressional committee found no evidence but which Ted Koppel repeated well into the 1990s. Thanks to the mainstream press, a year after the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, the majority of Americans believed Anita Hill had been sexually harassed on the job, whereas fewer than half believed her while the hearings were ongoing. Americans relying on the mainstream press were probably not aware of the disturbing pattern of apparent graft between the Clinton administration and China, with the Clintons receiving illegal contributions during the 1996 campaign and the Chinese receiving favors from the US government. Americans relying on the press barely knew of the Smaltz Commission that returned 14 felony convictions for bribery of high Clinton administration officials, nor of the Barrett Commission that reported that the Clintons had probably feloniously interfered with an FBI investigation. People relying on the press thought Al Gore was too intelligent for his own good, but heard nothing about his resume-enhancing misrepresentations. Nobody relying on the American press would have had the slightest notion that John Kerry had ever exaggerated any claim about his military service, nor would have been reminded of his involvement in anti-war activism in the wake of the Vietnam war.

These are just a few of the issues on which reporting by the largest press organs has been entirely unreliable over the years; there are hundreds more.

The useful take from the Ziegler research is what it says about the impact of different news outlets on how well-informed the voters were. The latest research, which covers both Obama and McCain voters, suggests (but does not prove) that Fox News viewers were better informed about both candidates, while viewers of local news or CNN Headline News were poorly informed. This is not carefully-constructed research that would survive peer review, more study would be needed in order to make a claim of fact, but it’s at least suggested by the responses by the interviewees concerning where they get their news. This stands as a useful foil against the PIPA Knowledge Networks Poll, a bit of leftist fluff commissioned during the early days of the Iraq war to “prove” that conservatives in general, and Fox News viewers in particular, were poorly informed about the causes of the war, focusing on three questions that echoed Democratic party talking points. To this day, leftists claim that Fox has been “discredited” by this ridiculous excuse for research; nobody familiar with the issues, and with proper polling procedure, could mistake this for anything but what it was, a hit piece. The Ziegler poll is not ironclad research, but it has the benefit of questions the answers to which are unambiguous.

I said earlier that I did not think that press bias was to blame for Obama’s win. Simply put, the public has no excuse for being so badly misinformed. The information about the candidates was readily available to anybody who bothered to do a little research. Good grief, can you imagine blaming the press for peoples’ ignorance about who’s controlling Congress? The Democrats won control of Congress two years ago, and the press reported it accurately at the time. It was only 38% of McCain voters — the better informed group — that knew it, and less than 1 in 5 Obama voters. The folks on Ziegler’s video did not know who Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi, or Harry Reid were. So the complaint about the press is, they didn’t present relevant facts clearly enough that the average voter who barely pays attention could catch the information the way they catch a cold. True, they didn’t present some of the relevant facts at all, but there are clear indications that the public wouldn’t have caught the information even if it were there. The press is to blame, but the voters are more so.

There’s no escaping it, folks. We can complain (accurately enough) about the irresponsibility of the press, but ultimately, we have the government we deserve.

12/04/2008 (9:12 pm)

Natural Born Citizens and Birth Irony (Updated Twice)

Tomorrow the US Supreme Court gets to consider the question of whether they will accept for review a lawsuit addressing, among other things, the question of whether Barack Obama was eligible to run for President. Nine justices will consider whether to include on the docket the case of Donofrio v Wells, a request for emergency stay of the 2008 Presidential election to consider whether three of the candidates are qualified to run for President. If four justices agree to hear the case, they will schedule arguments.

I suppose there’s some irony to the Court waiting until Christmas season to consider the birth circumstances of The One. Ok, forget I said that, and let’s be serious.

I’ve been putting off writing about this for a long time, for several reasons. First, I hate being branded a conspiracy theorist, and the fluff over Obama’s Certificate of Live Birth posted on Daily Kos had the strong smell of that (though I did, at one point, contribute my expertise as a laser printer engineer to a discussion about whether certain visual anomalies might have been a printer error.) Second, I thought the lawsuit would just quietly vanish, and that would be that.

But here’s my concern at this point: what happens if the lawsuits are successful?

I’m not talking about the legal ramifications, although those will be sticky enough. Does anybody really imagine that the Obamatoons will grimace, snap their fingers in dismay, and say “Oh, doggone it, we were that close?” To this day, large numbers of BDS-addled Democrats refer to President Bush as “selected” as a result of the 2000 election’s Florida kerfuffle, a claim that’s so laughably wrong that making it immediately earns the speaker long-term “ignore” status. What if the Court now declares that Obama was not qualified to stand for election? They’re still not selecting the President, they’re just enforcing the law, but it’s a lot closer to selecting the President than was the 2000 decision, and Obama is a lot more popular. Hell, it’s a month after the election and we’re still reeling from the Prop 8 demonstrations. Strike Obama’s election and Obama supporters could literally go berserk. There may be riots. There may be violence. I’m not ruling out civil war, even. And can you imagine the level of hostility and the sabotage a President McCain would face if he won office this way? The Bush years were full of such subtle undermining; this would be worse.

The law is the law, and I’m all in favor of citizens’ cases being heard expeditiously. However, nobody sane should be hoping that the election be overturned; the practical outcome of that decision is not in any way clear, and none of the plausible outcomes are pleasant.

That being said, we do have to take this as a serious case.

Let’s deal with the cases they’re not hearing, first.

The original lawsuit by Philip Berg, Esq., a Hillary Clinton supporter from my old stomping grounds in Philly, demanded that Obama produce the evidence that he’s qualified to hold office. Berg’s lawsuit was dismissed because he lacks standing. For those who have no legal knowledge, the basic issue is that in order to sue, a citizen has to prove that he’s directly affected by the actions of the defendant; if my friend Joe is harmed by his neighbor’s dog, I’m not permitted to sue on Joe’s behalf, Joe has to sue for himself. I think the court was wrong about Berg’s standing: if the citizen has no legal standing to sue regarding the fitness of a candidate to hold office over him, who does? But that particular lawsuit seems doomed. I wasn’t going to touch it because I assess Berg to be somewhat of an idiot. Today, Berg’s case resides somewhere in a grey, shadowy legal limbo.

There is a second case that has not appeared in court yet, filed by candidate Alan Keyes in the state of California. Keyes, being a candidate for America’s Independent Party on the ballot for President, has clear standing to sue. His suit is against Debra Bowen, California Secretary of State, and also against Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and all of California’s electors. His suit demands that Obama produce proof that he is a natural born citizen of the US before the electors’ choices be certified, and not a citizen of Great Britain, Kenya, or Indonesia (Obama and his mother may have been naturalized as Indonesian citizens when she married and moved there, and it is known that Obama traveled to Indonesia using a passport claiming Indonesian citizenship when he was 20.) Likelihood that Keyes’ case will make it to a major court strikes me as high.

There are, as far I know, 17 cases filed in federal or state court attempting to settle the question of Obama’s qualification to run for President.

Obama’s team has three law firms — that’s three firms, not three lawyers — working hard to prevent any court from ever hearing these cases. You can’t take that as proof of guilt, though. Obama has won prior elections by removing opponents through legal challenges, some of them challenges with no merit against perfectly legitimate candidates. Naturally he’s going to take legal challenges against his own candidacy very seriously, even if those challenges are nonsense. He will fight these suits at every possible level just on principle. And let met just say now that if Obama does lose this election by being declared disqualified, it will serve karmic justice in a manner that should satisfy us all.

Now, let’s talk about the case they are hearing.

The lawsuit that’s being considered tomorrow is by one Leo Donofrio, a retired attorney from New Jersey and by my assessment of his work, a much, much better attorney than Philip Berg. Donofrio’s lawsuit was a great deal more clever than Berg’s, and based on much better law. You can read Donofrio’s blog about the case here. It’s full of interesting detail, if that’s what you like.

There’s very little question he has standing: his suit is against Nina Mitchell Wells, Secretary of State for New Jersey, and it’s for a Writ of Mandamus — essentially, a writ forcing her to do her job. As a citizen of New Jersey, he has every right to ask her to do that. The job he’s asking her to do is to properly vet the candidates on the ballot, and he’s questioning the qualification of three of them to stand for President: John McCain, Barack Obama, and Socialist Worker’s Party candidate Roger Calero.

On Calero, there’s no question: he’s a resident alien from Nicaragua, and not qualified to be President. John McCain was born to a military officer stationed in the Panama Canal Zone; since both of his parents were American citizens, and law exists clarifying the status of citizens born in the Canal Zone, he’s probably in the clear.

Donofrio’s basis for challenging Obama’s qualification has nothing whatsoever to do with his birth certificate or where he was born; the news reporting on this has been inaccurate. Donofrio claims that Obama was born a British citizen by virtue of his father’s citizenship, and as a consequence does not fit the legal definition of a “natural born citizen” as required by Article II, section 1 of the US Constitution. That Obama was both a British citizen and a US citizen at the time of his birth is actually supported by FactCheck.org. Donofrio claims that dual citizenship at birth does not fit the definition of “natural born citizen” per Article II.

Donofrio’s case has been saddled along the way with numerous mishaps, the type of mishaps we’re now used to seeing happen to those who dare to question The One. The most serious was a deliberate mishandling of his case by a stay clerk at the Supreme Court named Danny Bickell that prevented the case from being heard before the popular vote on Nov. 4 (Donofrio has since filed an official complaint of misconduct with Chief Justice Roberts.) Donofrio reportedly found a case that supplied precedent for his complaint against Bickell — and mysteriously, every link to that case has disappeared off the internet. Donofrio’s blog site at Blogger incorrectly warns everybody browsing there that the site has been flagged as spam (Blogger is owned by Google, which is apparently deliberately scrubbing anti-Obama content.) Donofrio has another complaint of official misconduct filed against an Appellate Court judge who allegedly created a fraudulent case file, omitting official documentation from the file.

Donofrio has responded to each of these with professional grace, making no accusations that he cannot support in court. Good for him. Allow me to make the unprofessional accusation for him: Obama supporters seem commonly to believe they are above the law. Welcome to the Progressive United States, a third world corruptocracy.

Allow me also to remind us all that technically, the election is not over until the Electoral College has met and voted. Donofrio hopes his request for emergency stay will be heard before that happens. It has not taken place yet.

There’s a pretty nice summary of the issues surrounding Obama’s citizenship here; don’t be put off by the apocalytic-sounding language on the blog, the article is pretty sane. There’s also a nice hub page with pointers to related information here, although they seem to be focused on birth certificate issues, which is pretty much silliness.

It should be over, but the election of 2008 still continues to entertain like no other. Amazing.


UPDATE 12/5: As of end of business Friday, the Supreme Court had issued a memo indicating a grant of certiorari for two cases, and Donofrio v Wells was not on the list. A grant of certiorari means the Supreme Court will hear the case. Some reporters claim the absence of Donofrio from the memo means certiorari was denied, but Donofrio himself thinks they’ll release their decisions on the rest of the cases Monday. Short version: it looks like the Court said “No,” but we’re still waiting.


UPDATE 12/8: It’s official. The Supreme Court has turned down Donofrio’s request for a stay, without comment. There are lots of disparaging comments from both sides of the aisle, most notably from conservative firebrand David Horowitz.

In a vaguely related issue, Andrew Sullivan’s research assistant has weighed in on the Trig Palin conspiracy that poor Andrew simply cannot let go, and agreed that his boss is chasing a unicorn for no apparent reason. As Michelle Malkin has been snarking, “Troofers to the right of me, troofers to the left of me…” Fifteen snob brownie points to anyone who recognizes the phrase as a reference to Tennyson’s poem, The Charge of the Light Brigade.

11/05/2008 (9:40 am)

They Have Buried Us

When I was small, Nikita Khrushchev, First Secretary of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union from 1953 – 1964, was famously quoted as declaring to the Free West, “We will bury you.” It was taken as a grave threat in those days. I remember it being played in a commercial on TV. As a young liberal, I was fond of pointing out that Khrushchev was simply talking about the natural outcome of history from the Marxist viewpoint; he explained later, “Of course we will not bury you with a shovel; your own working class will bury you.” It never occurred to me that this was hardly less threatening, especially given the fact that our own working class was getting help from the Soviet Union’s political operative class. I suppose it’s not surprising that the actual work of burying the US was accomplished, not by the working class, but by the intellectuals; this is common for Marxism, which has appeal only to those who are pathologically detached from society.

Last night, the American people elected the equivalent of Hugo Chavez to be President of the United States. He lied about what he stood for, but he was permitted to do so by the press, which is supposed to protect us from such attacks. Even so, his lies were transparent to those of us possessing enough education and independence to do our homework; but there were too few of us, and too far removed from the centers of power.

And so, just over 50 years after Khrushchev uttered his threat, the American voting population announced to the world that we no longer believe in the capitalism that produced more creativity, energy, courage, and wealth than the world thought possible, that we’re going to join the ranks of World Socialism, that we’re going to hand our productive power to the government we once properly distrusted, that we prefer craven dependence to stalwart independence. As we turn the responsibility for our destinies over to Mommy Government, the world’s last, stubborn foil to the tyrannical advance of Marxist domination has just been removed. “Social justice,” the crippling of the effective to satisfy the envy of the ineffective, will commence at a greater pace, and be given the force of arms. The world is in for a very dark time, full of poverty, oppression, and violence.

We allowed it by permitting leftists to infiltrate and distort education, entertainment, law, and news. For at least 80 years, the children of those influenced by their thinking have targeted these arenas, creating protected enclaves into which they refuse to permit any competing ideas. Their control of these areas is nearly complete, and friends of liberty are forming no coherent strategy to break their hold, only the occasional foray into the Dark World. Home schooling chips away at the edges, alternative media permit chatter under the radar, but the centers of control remain in leftist hands, and they don’t believe in fair play or free speech. Expect those holes to be plugged very soon. President Obama (I cringe to type it) and his Democratic minions in Congress will quickly see to it that home schooling is illegal in practice, if not explicitly (probably by requiring teacher certification), that conservative speech is crippled, and that the free exchange of ideas cannot take place without government oversight and intrusion. Be assured that no discussion that has any force that might endanger their domination will be permitted for long.

Oh, and expect to be permitted to worship Christ only so long as it does not impair your cooperation with the Junta’s social agenda. That’s coming soon, too; in fact, it’s been coming for a few decades already, and is now upon us.

Will conservatives get another shot two years from now, in the public’s reaction to two years of Democratic domination? Maybe; probably not. It hardly matters. We have now raised two generations of Americans on a form of public education and a flood of popular film and music that is so thoroughly saturated with statist and world socialist ideals that no general election is going to produce a lasting victory for conservative principles. The masses in America think of capitalism as “greed,” of the robust and free expansion of the economy by individuals as “destroying the planet,” and when they say “we,” they mean “the government.”

The American experiment in self-government is over.

Ultimately, America has not rejected capitalism, it’s rejected Christ. The foundation of liberty is, and has always been, devotion to the living Christ. Liberty entered the world through the ministry of Christ, and is leaving now that we’ve jettisoned Him as our Master. As God told the prophet Samuel when Israel demanded that he appoint them a king like all the other nations had, “They have not rejected you, but they’ve rejected Me from being king over them.” (See I Samuel 8).

Sure, there are Christians among the leftists in America, and a number of them are sincere; but they no longer believe they owe their conscience directly to God, but instead to God through His appointed regents, the State. This is the indirection that America’s founders rejected when they wrote the US Constitution; in their construction, men owed their conscience to God, not to God’s anointed sovereign, the King. It’s no mistake, no accident or coincidence, that America rejected capitalism in favor of a leader who declared with messianic overtones his destiny to rule. In God we no longer trust; instead, we trust in Government. We’ve rejected God from being King over us.

American liberty can be rebuilt, but it must be rebuilt from the ground up. It has to start with the proper education of our children to believe in God, in individual responsibility before God, and in individual achievement as a form of service to God and family. It has to be constructed on a foundation of properly defined morals, and on a world-view that remembers that Man does not serve himself.

I’m not going to retreat from politics; I’m still a citizen of the United States of America, however misguided she may be. My strategy, however, for rebuilding a prosperous, felicitous nation friendly to safe families and appropriate personal achievement is to win converts to Christianity; and not just any Christianity, but a Christianity that encourages sound and sober thinking, that understands man’s place in the universe, that can articulate clearly its purpose for living and its reasons to believe.

We are entering very dark times. America’s economic dominance will end very soon, and her military dominance will not be far behind. Obama plans to make us “good citizens of the world,” meaning that our national choices will become subject to the opinions of tinpot dictators and corrupt, demented representatives from third-world nations. They will plunder us, and we will be stripped bare.

But I know how the story ends, and Christ wins. The rock formed without hands crushes all the mountains, and becomes a mountain that fills the whole earth (Daniel 2). The Son of Man is given dominion, that all the peoples, nations, and men of every language might serve Him, and His dominion is everlasting (Daniel 7). If we proclaim the truth of Christ faithfully, men will experience liberty again. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. Spiritual liberty is not unconnected with political liberty; they’re the same thing. One does not exist without the other; and political liberty always results where the Spirit rules.

They have buried us, but we will rise again.

11/04/2008 (5:10 pm)

The Entertainment Keeps on Coming

In the “only in America” department, a Montana construction contractor parked a truckload of manure across the street from the local Obama headquarters as a protest, with a sign saying that “change we can believe in” is “a load of crap.”

For real.

The Newsmax story observed that the Obama team leader raised a stink about it.

I’m going to miss this election season. What am I going to write about tomorrow?

11/04/2008 (1:48 pm)

Kurtz's Last Word on Obama

Stanley Kurtz has set the standard for reporting the facts on who Barack Obama is, and he published his final summary yesterday. From the conclusion:

Obama is clever and pragmatic, it’s true. But his pragmatism is deployed on behalf of radical goals. Obama’s heart is, and will remain, with the Far Left. Yet he will surely be cautious about grasping for more, at any given moment, than the political traffic will bear. That should not be mistaken for genuine moderation. It will merely be the beginning stages of a habitually incremental radicalism. In his heart and soul, Barack Obama was and remains a radical — stealthy, organizationally sophisticated, and — when necessary — tactically ruthless. The real Obama — the man beyond the feel-good symbol — is no mystery. He’s there for anyone willing to look. Sad to say, few are.

11/04/2008 (1:03 pm)

Fraudulent Registrations Turn Into Fraudulent Votes

From John Fund at The Politico:

ACORN’s second line of defense has been that fraudulent registrations can’t turn into fraudulent votes, as if the felony of polluting voter lists was somehow not all that serious. But that defense goes only a short distance. “How would you know if people using fake names had cast votes in states without strict ID laws?” says GOP Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita, who this year won a major Supreme Court case upholding his state’s photo identification law. “It’s almost impossible to detect and once the fraudulent voter leaves the precinct or casts an absentee ballot, that vote is thrown in with other secret ballots there’s no way to trace it.”

Anita MonCrief, an ACORN whistle-blower who worked for both it and its Project Vote registration affiliate from 2005 until early this year, agrees. “It’s ludicrous to say that fake registrations can’t become fraudulent votes,” she told me. “I assure you that if you can get them on the rolls you can get them to vote, especially using absentee ballots.” MonCrief, a 29-year old University of Alabama graduate who wanted to become part of the civil rights movement, worked as a strategic consultant for ACORN as well as a development associate with Project Vote and sat in on meetings with the national staffs of both groups. She has given me documents that back up many of her statements, including one that indicates that the goal of ACORN’s New Mexico affiliate was that only 40 percent of its submitted registrations had to be valid.

11/04/2008 (12:41 pm)

Complaints About Voting In Philly (Updated)

Amanda Carpenter is already reporting a dispute over allowing Republican poll watchers access to the polling place. The Fox News report makes it sound like a minor dispute over frequency of access in a crowded poll location — apparently 3 precincts are using the same location in West Philadelphia, and the officials are trying to keep the place clear for the voters. Republicans were told they’re only entitled to make an occasional pass through the building; polling officials claim they said the same to Democrats. (I’m familiar with the building; it’s a rough area close to the western edge of the city, on Chestnut St.) The matter is already being heard in court, according to Carpenter.

Voter fraud and intimidation in Philadelphia would be nothing new, but this sounds like something minor.

Note that the McCain campaign has created a hotline for reporting voting irregularities. If you see something that needs to be reported, call 866-976-VOTE.


UPDATE: Fox News reports Black Panthers standing guard in front of a voting location threatening white people with a nightstick in North Philadelphia, one of the toughest slums in the nation. Four and a half minutes, and this is not a false alarm.

11/03/2008 (1:10 pm)

Not a Bad Point from the Left (Updated)

I hate to admit it, but the lefty blogs have a point on this one.

This morning’s chatter is properly about the San Fransisco Chronicle’s snippy and hilariously obtuse defense of its failure to report Obama’s comment that his cap and trade plan is likely to bankrupt electricity producers that rely on coal. Gov. Palin is on the stump in Ohio asking why we’re just hearing about this today, and the Chronicle scoffs that the interview has been on their web site in plain view since it was posted in January. Sweetness and Light does a fine, satirical job of explaining what a crock that is, whereas Mark Steyn at The Corner makes the more serious point that their editorial choices only make sense if they’re less interested in selling newspapers than in promoting Obama’s candidacy. This is all true.

However, I have to hand it to Comments from Left Field. Though consistently a bastion of leftward vapidity, they make a perfectly reasonable point about the kerfuffle: McCain supports cap and trade, and defended his policy against a similar charge in the Senate. The claim that McCain is a much a socialist as Obama is only defensible if you ignore Obama’s life history and focus on the most positive and favorable interpretation of his public statements (which we all know are not to be trusted,) and at the same time ignore McCain’s life history as a Republican. However, on the specific issue of cap and trade and its impact on the coal industry, they’ve got a point. I seriously doubt that McCain’s version would be as draconian as Obama’s, but they do both support cap and trade.

Watch.

I’m voting for McCain, and every conservative ought to, because Obama will drag the country so far to the left that we’ll never return. However, let’s not forget that McCain is on board the Alternative Energy Bandwagon, and needs convincing that it’s bandwagon to nowhere.


UPDATE: I’ve just read over McCain’s and Obama’s cap-and-trade proposals quickly, and as expected, McCain’s is a lot more realistic, gradually phasing in auctions and giving utilities time to adjust to the changing economics. Obama proposes an immediate leap to 100% auctions. Obama also calls for immediate cooperation with the UN’s global climate management machinery, whereas McCain retains American sovereignty. Personally, I think either policy is completely unnecessary and economically distructive, but McCain’s considerably less so.

10/31/2008 (7:24 pm)

Obama's Anti-Israeli Friends

Leftward blogs were yukking it up this morning because McCain campaign spokesman Michael Goldfarb told CNN’s Rick Sanchez that Obama “hangs around with anti-Semites,” but then refused to name anybody but Rashid Khalidi. Lefties Andrew Sullivan and Joe Klein called Goldfarb “McCarthy” and “bigot,” respectively, and the title on the YouTube video announces that Sanchez caught Goldfarb “lying.”

McCain himself somewhat famously believes that a person’s religion is his own business, and thus refuses to bring the Rev. Jeremiah Wright into the campaign; this is apparently who Goldfarb had in mind while he was twisting in the wind on CNN.

As to other anti-Israel connections, Goldfarb simply was not prepared. Let’s take the time to recall just how many anti-Israel voices have been noticed in the general vicinity of candidate Obama:

To start with, there’s the current flap about Rashid Khalidi and Obama’s close friendship with him. The LA Times is holding a videotape of Obama toasting Khalidi, and there was plenty of anti-Israeli rhetoric flung around at that dinner. It also appears that Khalidi is a long-standing friend of both Ayers and Obama.

Then there is famously Obama’s pastor, Rev Jeremiah Wright, whose pastor pages apparently featured several rabidly anti-semitic writers.

We need to look under the Hope-and-Change campaign bus, where several pro-Palestinian foreign policy advisors are lurking, having been shoved there after being noticed by the public. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Robert Malley, Samantha Power, and Susan Rice all earn dishonorable mention in this category. Malley is probably the worst of them.

Just recently, Obama’s outreach director to Muslims, Mahdi Bray, was spotted and filmed at a Hamas/Hezbollah rally, and it was reported that he and the Obama team met with CAIR’s Nihad Awad.

It was a while back, but al Qaeda financier Hatem al Hady was spotted as a friend on Michelle Obama’s page, until Johnny Simpson at Digital Journal and Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs noticed it and blogged about it. Then the friendship link quietly vanished.

It was not long after that that Johnson at LGF noticed a veritable flood of anti-Semitic blogging going on at Obama’s campaign web site. I blogged about it back in June.

And of course, Louis Farrakhan’s ferociously anti-Semitic Nation of Islam recently called Obama the Messiah.

Now, in none of these connections have we heard candidate Obama utter his own anti-Israel sentiments. He wouldn’t, most likely, because you can’t get elected President in American if you’re anti-Israel. It’s thought that there are some anti-Israel comments on the unreleased Khalidi Toast tape, but we don’t know that.

However, where there’s smoke, there may be fire. Recall Obama’s radical connections. The problem is not just that they exist, but that he seems to have no close connections except from among the radicals. Where are his moderate Democrat friends? His Republican friends? We have the same problem with pro-Palestinian connections: why is it that all of Obama’s supporters, friends, and advisors seem to come from the pro-Palestinian camp? Where are the pro-Israelis among his staff, associates, and friends? And why is it that the rabid anti-Semites all seem to take it for granted that Obama is their man?

As with everything else we’ve come to expect about The One, it appears that he’s not telling us the truth about his stance on Israel. His background and associates suggest a strongly pro-Palestinian bent. His words say “I support Israel,” but can they be believed?

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