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From the Politico (April 30):

"Capitol Hill insiders say the battle for congressional superdelegates is over, and one Senate supporter of Barack Obama is hinting strongly that he has prevailed over Hillary Rodham Clinton."

Read a little further into the story and one will find that this quasi-breathless lead comes from well-known party sage with no ax to grind (NOT), Senator Claire McCaskill, who, in fact, has a lot riding on an Obama victory.

Ironically, the headline for this story is less splashy and much more informative: "Obama backer predicts victory in Hill war."

One of my smart friends asked today: "Is it Over?"

Another friend in the know confirmed that this story is making the rounds and added on the rumor that "had Obama won PA, [these stealth Obama-supporting superdelegates] would have declared."

MY QUESTION: how much credence do we give these insider counts and/or even the public declarations concerning committed superdelegates?

That is, what are these “committed” delegates really committed to?

These are all unofficial "handshake agreements" (sans the handshaking). You stand up in front of a TV camera and say, "based on my love for country and my desire to ensure a secure future for my young children, I am taking the politically courageous step of endorsing (insert name of person here whom you think is most likely to win)."

But what's to stop the same politician, two weeks or two months from now, from standing up in front of a TV camera and saying, "based on new information, my love of country, and my dedication to a secure future, I am taking the politically courageous step of changing my mind and embracing (insert here the name of the person whom you now think most likely to win)."

I suspect these committed superdelegates are about as committed to Barack Obama as New Jersey Democrats were to Robert Torricelli in September 2002. They are totally and irrevocably committed unless something comes along to shake their commitment.

As for the math, are these numbers driven by the immutable laws of Newtonian physics? Or are they more akin to the Heisenberg Principle, in which the unfolding process of discovery itself creates a level of uncertainty?
Category: Campaign 2008.12
Posted by: Martian Mariner
Both sides of the aisle agree on this one, at least in an election year - McCain and Clinton have both called for a temporary lifting of the national gas tax for the summer driving season. Obama says it's a bad idea, but that may be mostly because Hillary's for it.

Tom Friedman, back to writing at the NYT (finally!) writes today against such a move, calling (again) for an increase in pump prices as a means of providing economic incentive to ditch the SUVs and two-hour commutes. He also calls for increased alternative energy funding, solar in particular, but that's another topic.

So what's it to be, up or down?

Let's look a bit at the actual gas excise tax, first. It's currently at $0.184 per gallon, on all gasoline sold in the U.S. States, of course, add their own taxes. This rate has not increased since 1993! How about other measures in that time? Oil prices have increased dramatically, from $24.36 in 1993(adjusted to 2007 dollars) to just shy of $115 today, after hitting nearly $120 earlier this week. The Consumer Price Index, used to track inflation (or to explain why "I used to go to the movies for a dime", etc.....crazy old-timers) has increased from 143 in 1993 to 211 in 2008 (with 1982 as the 100 standard). In other words, what would have cost $1.43 in 1993 now costs $2.11.

So oil costs more, a dollar doesn't go as far, but the federal tax at the pump hasn't gone up a tenth of a cent.

Sounds like a pretty darn good tax holiday to me.

(We'll save the bids for an increased tax for later...)
Some hopelessly devoted advocates of Barack Obama are busy suggesting this repudiation of Reverend Wright is his "Sister Souljah moment." What a strained comparison. What some members of the Obama Nation won't do for love.

The key difference?

Sister Souljah was a nobody to Bill Clinton (and most of us). The vast majority of voters had never heard of Sister Souljah before Bill Clinton castigated her at a Jesse Jackson conference. Clinton introduced us to Sister Souljah in order to make a point. Neither he nor we had a personal stake in the easily disposable human political prop, ruthlessly manufactured to increase the fortunes of the presumptive Democratic nominee in June of 1992.

How is Reverend Wright completely unlike Sister Souljah?

Obama is inextricably linked to his pastor of twenty years. Wright is the man who brought Obama to Christ, married him and his wife, and baptized his two children.

In the most famous address of his public career, drawing on his extensive knowledge of the real Jeremiah Wright, Obama defended his pastor as a flawed but vital member of his extended spiritual family and emblematic of the black community, praising the Reverend for his commitment to the social gospel, his patriotism, and his intellectual bona fides.

Most importantly, unlike Sister Souljah, thanks to the Reverend himself, we have already developed our own impression of Wright, and it is fundamentally at odds with how Obama previously defended him. Now, however, seeing an unfriendly collective wave taking shape, with unnerving alacrity, Obama suddenly repudiates his previous endorsements, adopting our view and delivering his condemnation with an emotionally charged vigor.

This is all a bit unseemly and way too politician-like for the un-politician.

Rookie Mistake.

But, in fact, Obama's statement yesterday was a tactical error made out of inexperience. The Clintons NEVER would have thrown Wright overboard in that manner. They would have hunkered down and told the press to go to Hell--waiting out the storm. Of course, loyalty to a friend would have had nothing to do with it, they would have understood the images were problematic.

That is, now we roll tape of Obama defending Wright, followed by Obama denouncing Wright.

He's family--and you gotta love family. "I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community."

Cut to:

I renounce him. I renounce him. Reverend Wright is a bad man.

It all looks ridiculous. Were you lying then? Or are you lying now?

Obama looks silly and confused. A candidate in the crucial final stages of a nomination canvass cannot afford that kind of crisis in perception.
Category: Campaign 2008.12
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
The Good News for Republicans:

The chances of Barack Obama being our next president are in rapid retreat.

The Reverend Wright catastrophe is an avalanche. In the next month, things are only going to get worse for Obama (we can only wait and see how much his press conference today accelerates the descent).

The Bad News for Republicans:

If the Democrats have any sense at all (which is always a big "if"), Barack Obama is probably going to be our next vice president.

The obvious solution to this Democratic Party dilemma has always been a unity ticket. It is only common sense. That obvious answer is coming back into focus for more and more strategic thinkers within the party--and will likely take hold as an idea whose time has come in May and June.

A few months ago this "agent of change" looked like he could "paint the map blue" with his post-partisan, post-racial, flawless charisma. But all that confident generational realignment chatter is gone with the wind (especially after today). Obama is battered and deeply shaken and trying desperately to limp toward the finish line.

What about the Math?

While Obama will end the primaries ahead on pledged delegates, he continues to need a significant bloc of superdelegates to win the nomination. And there is no longer a compelling positive reason for the supers to select Barack Obama as the Democratic standard bearer.

In fact, there is a growing sense that Obama equals big and unnecessary risks in the General Election. Ironically, just as the call for the superdelegates to decide early gains momentum, Obama's precipitous fall threatens to leave him at his lowest point at the most unfortunate and vulnerable time.

Of course, there is a very serious negative reason standing in the way of a Obama humiliation at the hands of the Party elite. They face a potential tsunami of resentment from Obama fanatics (young people and African Americans), if they deny him his duly earned prize.

How to finesse this potential pitfall?

The unity ticket: Clinton and Obama.

For a forty-six-year-old half-term senator running for president, the personal associations were well worth emphasizing. However, Obama can get away with the Rev. Wright (and William Ayres and Tony Rezko) baggage, if he is only running for vice president. Of course, logically, we understand that the VP is merely a heartbeat away from the Oval Office, but traditionally we do not get that worked up about veep associations.

Much more importantly, a Hillary-Barack ticket preserves the energy of the “millennials” and staves off the bitterness from the African American community. Granted, vice president is not big casino, but, if Barack puts his heart into it, he can inspire his followers into a powerful and only slightly blunted enthusiasm.

As for Hillary, she is tough and ready, and she can beat John McCain. It will be close, but the Democrats have always held all the high cards in this cycle. Hillary maintains the shortest path to a November victory of any 2008 candidate. The Democrats tried to get too fancy. It has turned into a looming disaster. Now they need to get back to the fundamentals.

The Question: is it too late for them? Have they blown their advantages with this flight of fancy?

Probably not. Hillary’s obvious problem is that circumstances forced her to chase Barack into the left-wing weeds on Iraq and NAFTA; however, with some work, she ought to be able to maneuver her way back into the middle of the road between now and the fall.

Moreover, to her good, and this is of inestimable value, this nomination contest has made her much more human and appealing. She found a sympathetic identity in all this: a scrappy fighter who never quits and finds some way to win in the end. Also, because of this experience, Team Clinton is leaner, less arrogant, and unlikely to take their next opponent lightly.

Expect a full-court press from the opening tipoff.

One last thought: Bill will be back in form and in favor for the fall. Does anyone doubt that the mainstream media will once again see his brand of political warfare as not only fair game but endearing.

The next month ought to be interesting.
Category: General
Posted by: an okie gardener
From The Telegraph (UK) science writer George Johnson relates the stories of ten fundamental experiments that advanced science. Good stuff.
Category: From the Heart
Posted by: an okie gardener
In the early 80s I attended seminary in New Jersey and had my only exposure to the Silent Friends, the Quakers who still have the silent meetings until someone feels led to say something. Their spiritual emphasis was on the Inner Light. Getting aquainted with a few Quakers, Friends as they call themselves, I learned that among the Silent Friends were those who were Christian, and those who were not.

Evidently things have not changed that much since. Christianity Today has this article on the growing numbers of pagans who are Quaker, or Quakers who are pagan, among the Friends holding traditional practices.

The article does not really address the why, but I think I know. It grows from the concept of the Inner Light, the presence of God guiding the believer found in Friends doctrine. In early Quakerism, this experience was tied to Christianity, and Quakers were biblically literate. But, once the subjective experience of an inner guiding principle is elevated into an authority, the possibility arises that it may become separated from Scripture. In that case, there is no external check on the subjective perception. One can be a Christian Quaker or a non-Christian.

One of the reasons I am not comfortable with some aspects of the charismatic movement is the reliance some people place on subjectively hearing the voice of God: "God told me . . ." There can be insufficient check on this subjectivity if Scripture is not determinative. And, combined with modern individualism, the group cannot act as much of a check on the subjective imagination. Weird things can grow.

I believe the Spirit speaks, but what a person thinks he or she hears must always must be checked by the Word. And the Word is the Word taught by the historic Church.
I am by no means an expert on the subject, but I have read a good deal about Islam and the Middle East, speak Arabic, and generally "get" the area better than the average American. So, what course of study would I recommend to the Average American interested in increasing his/her area knowledge? Sticking with good ol' ink and binding books (although there are many great online sources or articles - that may be another post), here goes:

1st Semester:

No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam, by Reza Aslan
A recent contribution (2005), this book is accessible enough for someone who doesn't know a Sufi from a Sunni, but won't bore someone with a higher level of knowledge. Aslan is a moderate Muslim, Persian in origin, living in America. As a basic overview of Islam, this book does a remarkable job, utilizing a unique and helpful dual topical/chronological ordering. As a sole source of higher commentary, it's a bit weak, and undoubtably many Muslims would disagree with Aslan's characterization of the splits between the various sects. Aslan also claims that Islam is ripe for a Reformation, along the same lines as the Protestant Reformation, and his book is partly a call for continuing dialogue between the different sides (roughly modern/moderate and fundamentalist.) This claim is much more at debate than Aslan portrays, but his claims shows that at least one side (his side, the moderates) are willing to debate the "soul of Islam."

Arabian Sands, by Wilfred Thesiger
Thesiger's work is a classic in Arabian studies, and is out in a re-issue this year. One of the first Europeans to travel in the heart of Arabia, Thesiger crossed the Empty Quarter with Bedouin guides in the 1950s. This book reads like a James Michener novel, and describes both the unique desert way of life and the complex tribal politics in the region. Perhaps its most valuable function for a modern student is to give a baseline for understanding a style of Islam and living just 50 years ago, without which it is difficult to appreciate just how rapid and core-shaking the change has been in the Middle East with the discovery of oil and influx of the West.

The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam will Shape the Future, by Vali Nasr
Nasr is one of the preeminent scholars of the Middle East today, and his book The Shia Revival is his most popular for a reason. It deals with an overarching theme in the modern Islamic world: the divide and struggle between Shia and Sunni Islam. Nasr brings the student up to speed, covering the historic divisions between the two branches of Islam, the rise of secular nationalism, the Shia backlash against secularism in Iran, and the (possible) rise of Iraq as the first Arab Shia nation. Nasr's premise of a Shia ascendency is well argued, but he may have a tendency to explain all issues in the Middle East as reflecting this struggle, sometimes ignoring more local concerns. This book excellently bridges the gap between history and current events, along with giving a possible future.

And now you're ready for
2nd Semester:

Islam in the World, by Malise Ruthven
Ruthven covers what Aslan ignored, and then some. I only recommend this book if you're seriously interested in understanding the complexity of Islam, and have some time to devote to the study. If that's you, then this is the book. Ruthven outlines the history of Islam and its cultural context, from the Prophet to today. He also discusses the finer points of the difference between the sects of Islam, not only discussing historical factors but also differences in theology. This book also examines the political interplay between Islamic scholars and the state throughout history, and briefly covers Islamic economic principles. If any of these areas interest you in particular, Ruthven also provides an extensive "further reading" list.

A Peace to End All Peace: The fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East, by David Fromkin
This book details the effects of colonial ventures into the Middle East, from the late 1800s through WWI, especially dwelling on the Palestinian issue. (By the way, if you're interested more particularly in the Palestinian Issue, check out Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict, by Charles Smith.) The lines of the modern states in the region are often the result of British or French colonial concerns more than an accurate reflection of the local situation, and Fromkin here shows why. To the modern student, this book highlights the difficulty of attempting to impose sudden change upon the Middle East (not that any examples come to mind...).
Along the same topic, but with more modern updates, try Bernard Lewis' What Went Wrong?. Like Fromkin, Lewis covers the fall of the Ottoman Empire, but he covers a broader historical period and attempts to explain the current situation in the broader Muslim world in terms of the "clash between Islam and modernity."

So, there you have it. What books would you add to this course, or subtract?
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
I generally refer to Dana Milbank, Washington Post political columnist-slash-satirist, as the "serially inappropriate Dana Milbank." In general, I find Milbank mean-spirited and distorted when it comes to covering the politicians I admire.

On the other hand, when Milbank goes after the other side, he generally gets things exactly right.

You must read these two graphs:

"Speaking before an audience that included Marion Barry, Cornel West, Malik Zulu Shabazz of the New Black Panther Party and Nation of Islam official Jamil Muhammad, Wright praised Louis Farrakhan, defended the view that Zionism is racism, accused the United States of terrorism, repeated his view that the government created the AIDS virus to cause the genocide of racial minorities, stood by other past remarks ("God damn America") and held himself out as a spokesman for the black church in America."

No exaggeration. He really did. Read the transcript here (oops; sorry, no longer available for free from the National Press Club--must be a hot item).

More Milbank:

"In front of 30 television cameras, Wright's audience cheered him on as the minister mocked the media and, at one point, did a little victory dance on the podium. It seemed as if Wright, jokingly offering himself as Obama's vice president, was actually trying to doom Obama; a member of the head table, American Urban Radio's April Ryan, confirmed that Wright's security was provided by bodyguards from Farrakhan's Nation of Islam."

Read Milbank in full here, who hits almost every point on my quick list scribbled in the margin of the event transcript:

1. draping himself in the the bloody shirt of the black church

2. his friend Barack lies a lot

3. America should repent for the sin of international slavery--and apologize to Japan

4. [in the context of the alleged CIA plot to infect African Americans with AIDS] he believes the U.S. Government (but not the American people) "capable of anything"

5. he feels for his friend, Louis Farrakhan, who, like himself, gets misquoted and misunderstood by the corporate media (which, evidently, includes Bill Moyers and Chris Rock)

Funny stuff. Although, in all sincerity, my heart goes out to the Obama family. My gut feeling: put a fork in Barack. This is too much.

UPDATE: Another one of my favorite foils, Joe Klein, writes perceptively:

"Wright's purpose now seems quite clear: to aggrandize himself--the guy is going to be a go-to mainstream media source for racial extremist spew, the next iteration of Al Sharpton--and destroy Barack Obama."

UPDATE-2: Susan Estrich agrees that Wright is poison, but suggests that Obama may survive with added strength (whatever doesn't kill you...perhaps?).
Two stories recently illustrate once again that our nation differs from many others.

This report of a poll taken on knowledge of the Bible, Bible reading habits, church attendance, and prayer showed that Americans top Europeans by quite a bit in all categories except church attendance. Poles topped Americans 91% to 77%.

And this news shared by Brits at Their Best (scroll down) about a recent BBC article that reported Britains traveling or living in the U.S. found our country safer and calmer than Great Britain. The BBC mentioned guns and less public drunkeness as reasons, Brits at Their Best also suggested Christianity.

28/04: Breaking News

Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Even as we speak, Reverend Jeremiah Wright is right now happily embracing the opportunity at the National Press Club to indict himself in an extremely public forum.

UPDATE: the program has concluded. The National Press Club site, dedicated to this morning's event (webcast and transcript) here.

In brief, as I suspected, this venue is proving much too much of a temptation to accurately articulate his worldview.

Barack Obama must be beside himself watching this.

Much more later from all quarters (including this one) in the days to come...
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
Last night as I was setting our clock radio, I caught these words from Dr. Dean Edell over WBAP Dallas/Ft. Worth. He was commenting on something the pope said about science, and made this statement (close to a quote, but maybe not exact) : science deals with things that are real, religion deals with faith. Let's think about this assertion.

First, science deals with things that are real. Leaving aside the fact that for a time science dealt with "ether" rather than a vacuum between planets and stars, he seems to imply that everything real can be dealt with by science. Really? Science can deal with what our senses can perceive directly or indirectly, and our minds comprehend and theorize about. But is that all there is? In other words, it is a statement of faith to believe that there is nothing real beyond what science can deal with. A challenge: prove, by scientific method, that there is nothing more than what science can deal with. Can't be done. A good scientist who understands the philosophy of science would not claim that all of reality can be comprehended by science.

Second, religion deals with faith. Yes it does. But, religions make truth claims. In so doing, religions make claims about reality. Now this reality may or may not concern things that science also can investigate, but nonetheless, statements are made as facts, not simply as opinions. And who said that science is the only allowable method of checking truth claims?

As for what the Pope said, I am not sure what Dr. Edell referred to. Perhaps some of the critiques of science made by Benedict XVI, the philospher-bishop, such as this from his 2007 encyclical In Hope (in extended section. Or, more probably this address.

» Read More

Friday morning Tocqueville pointed us to the most recent Peggy Noonan column, which asserted "confusion . . . followed by frustration . . . has turned into resentment" for President Bush, and not just among Beltway sharpies, but among the plain folks in the heart of Texas as well.

Today (Saturday) the Okie Gardener directed us to Scott Johnson of Powerline and his excellent retort: "Season of the Witch."

In light of this conversation, I am exercising my right to revise and extend my original comments from Friday on this topic:

Dateline: Waco, Texas

I stand by my love for Peggy Noonan. Many years ago the Gardener called her a national treasure. I agree wholeheartedly.

And I like the first two sections of her column: 1) frustrating procedures at the airports; and 2) Obama's problems with Middle America,

but the assertion in re Texans and Bush is balderdash.

Noonan: the people of Lubbock, Texas, "the heart of Texas conservatism...dislike President Bush. He has lost them. I was there and saw it."

Translation: "Peggy Noonan dislikes George Bush. He has lost her."

Ms. Noonan (God bless her) has been writing this same essay for two years now.

Here is what I see on the ground in the Waco, Texas (the true HOT):

Texans who are predisposed to like Bush and Republicans continue to admire Bush (albeit more discreetly, perhaps, than they once did).

Texans who are predisposed to hate Bush and all Republicans are much more empowered by the polls and the media to trash Bush in a louder more public way.

Pure Speculation: if Texans had another opportunity to vote for Bush in 2008 for president against Hillary, Obama, Joe Biden, John Edwards, Bill Richardson, Al Gore, or even Bill Clinton, George Bush would garner 60-plus percent of the vote once again.

As for what Ms. Noonan (God bless her) purportedly sees, sometimes "a woman sees what she wants to see and disregards the rest."

You can't just fly in someplace, stay the night, give a speech, and purport to tell me what the folks of that particular hamlet "really think."

Also, as evidence buttressing her point, Noonan relates that her audiences don't challenge her on her Bush-bashing. I have the same experience when I say negative things about the President: a sheepish silence. However, if you look out and say, "but, you know, I still like the guy," you will see a lot (A LOT) of relieved faces and knowing smiles from people who want to tell you that they still like him too.

Is George W. Bush a classic conservative? No. Has he made a ten-gallon hat full of bonehead errors? Yes. Having said that, who was the conservative option in 2000? It is a stumper. Answer: the same candidate who was the conservative option in 2008. Nobody. Do any of us seriously believe that we are not infinitely better off with our current president than with the actual alternatives to George Bush in 2000 and 2004: Al Gore and John Kerry?

You want a real conservative? Go get one elected (you will need to find one first). But until then, show some backbone and be part of the solution. Everybody loves a winner. But sometimes you need to back a flawed but well-intentioned man doing his level best in a damned-near impossible situation--even if it is unpopular.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
Infidel Bloggers Alliance has a great post by Mary Graybar with comments. (scroll down the page to find it) Worth reading. As things are now going, Obama will not even begin to keep the New Deal coalition together.

To go to the original essay, here in Townhall.
Category: Race in America.ii
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Friday night (April 25), I watched the Bill Moyers-Jeremiah Wright interview on PBS in full. A Few Quick Thoughts on the spectacle:

1. Evidently, Wright's appearance on Bill Moyer's Journal is only the beginning. Is this charm offensive part of a coordinated plan devised by, or cleared through, the Obama Campaign? If so, they must see themselves in a desperate place, for this is a high-risk gambit (if Team Obama is not behind this Wright roll-out, they must be fit to be tied). But my guess is that there is some coordination.

Somewhere, someone made a decision to explain (and justify) Reverend Wright in the "prophetic" tradition of American Christianity. Although I happen to think that argument has a trace of validity, I am convinced that the project to explicate this tradition to the electorate in the midst of a presidential campaign is much too ambitious. Even more problematic, the complicated person and ministry of Reverend Wright seems to go well beyond that not-so-simple framework.

2. Staged as an erudite conversation between two American intellectuals, Wright certainly found Bill Moyers Journal a friendly venue to begin his national crusade to redeem his image. The Reverend struck a toned-down pose, although he could not seem to help himself when he fell into some preacher-type mimicry when deriding some of his (and Barack Obama's) less enlightened critics. But mostly Wright looked grandfatherly, scholarly, buttoned-down and close-cropped (even his signature chin whiskers were so closely trimmed as to be nearly invisible). He was the picture of a reasonable and not-at-all frightening man.

3. Of course, no one will be surprised that Moyers was the perfect shill: asking presumably "tough questions" while subtly framing them with friendly assumptions.

4. Nevertheless, even with every advantage that Bill Moyers and PBS could project upon the Reverend, he still came up a bit short. There was still something not-quite-right about the Prophet Jeremiah. Almost every question and answer from this hour of discussion (the transcript in full here) provides a problematic window into the inner workings of Barack Obama's minister, his church, and the religious and political culture he inhabited for twenty years. I predict that the pastor's defense of Louis Farrakhan will draw a lot of attention. Leaving that rich soil to others, I will concentrate for a moment on a less obvious statement chock-full of revealing assumptions.

Consider this telling exchange:

BILL MOYERS: What does it say to you that millions [of] Americans, according to polls, still think Barack Obama is a Muslim?

REVEREND WRIGHT: It says to me that corporate media and miseducation or misinformation or disinformation, I think we started calling it during the Nixon years, still reigns supreme. Thirty some percent of Americans still think there are weapons of mass destruction. That you tell a lie long enough that people start believing it. What does the media do? "Barack Hussein Obama! Barack Hussein Obama! Barack Hussein. It sounds like Osama, Obama. That Arabic is a language. So that's why many people still think he's a Muslim. He went to a madrasah. What's a madrasah? I don't know, but I know it was one of those Muslim schools that teaches terrorism. The kind of I don't want to think, just tell me what to think mentality is why so many Americans still think that.

1. As for the Bill Moyers question, see "number three" above.

2. The "corporate media" as an agent of "miseducation or misinformation or disinformation."

Only "whackadoodles" (see the transcript for the joke) say "corporate media." Why? It takes a nearly lethal level of paranoia to see the mainstream media as an intentional instrument to keep the black man (or the brown man or the gentile man or the Arab man) down.

The fact that newsrooms are owned by big corporations is merely a convenient but irrelevant distraction. There has always been a tension between news divisions and corporate--and news has traditionally won out. We have talked about the mainstream media at length here, but in a nutshell the national press corps leans liberal, metropolitan, and "tolerant" in worldview. In general, they are elitist antiheroes. The mainstream media en masse tends to be incredibly skeptical about corporate America and any other institution that connotes conservative values, and the press corps carries a collective bias toward exposing perceived injustices against the lowly, improprieties on the part of the powerful, and scandals among the well-heeled.

Of course, the mainstream media is an agent of "miseducation or misinformation or disinformation," which is unfortunate and invidious, but the tragedy of our modern world is much broader than Reverend Wright seems to understand and much less conspiratorial. True, we are in a mess--but our serious dilemma is not the product of Nixonian-like (whatever that really means) collusion between the government and the corporations to keep us ill-informed and compliant.

3. "What does the media do? "'Barack Hussein Obama! Barack Hussein Obama! Barack Hussein.'"

Say What? What TV has this guy been watching? One of the most amazing stories of this election has actually been the vigilance with which the mainstream media has carefully avoided mentioning Barack Obama's middle name. Using his middle name somehow equals racism and dirty politics in this election cycle. This statement gets to the state of mind of Wright, viewing all evidence through a prism of predetermined conclusions.

4. "So that's why many people still think he's a Muslim. He went to a madrasah. What's a madrasah? I don't know, [affected voice] but I know it was one of those Muslim schools that teaches terrorism [end of mimicry]. The kind of I don't want to think, just tell me what to think mentality is why so many Americans still think that."

Americans are dumb and easily deceived.

In essence, on display in that last statement, Wright combines the scary paranoid style of American radicalism with the offensive patronizing style of the American intelligentsia. Not an appealing "two-for."

What's ahead? My guess is that his stand-up gig at the National Press Club on Monday and his upcoming speaking engagement at the NAACP (where they are going to expect the preacher) gets even worse.

What are these guys thinking?
Category: General
Posted by: Tocqueville
Don't miss Peggy Noonan today:

"In Lubbock, Texas – Lubbock Comma Texas, the heart of Texas conservatism – they dislike President Bush. He has lost them. I was there and saw it. Confusion has been followed by frustration has turned into resentment, and this is huge. Everyone knows the president's poll numbers are at historic lows, but if he is over in Lubbock, there is no place in this country that likes him. I made a speech and moved around and I was tough on him and no one – not one – defended or disagreed. I did the same in North Carolina recently, and again no defenders. I did the same in Fresno, Calif., and no defenders, not one.

He has left on-the-ground conservatives – the local right-winger, the town intellectual reading Burke and Kirk, the old Reagan committeewoman – feeling undefended, unrepresented and alone.

This will have impact down the road.

I finally understand the party nostalgia for Reagan. Everyone speaks of him now, but it wasn't that way in 2000, or 1992, or 1996, or even '04.

I think it is a manifestation of dislike for and disappointment in Mr. Bush. It is a turning away that is a turning back. It is a looking back to conservatism when conservatism was clear, knew what it was, was grounded in the facts of the world."

UPDATE: See also The Conservative Case Against George W. Bush (from 2004).
From the Sidney Morning Herald, observing ANZAC Day. Hats off to our allies in every war we have fought since WW1.
Category: General
Posted by: an okie gardener
The newly elected Maoist government of Nepal is talking about banning Nepalese mercenaries from serving abroad. If this policy becomes law, we may see the end of the legendary Gurkha fighters in the British and Indian armies. Full story from The Times of India.
Category: Campaign 2008.12
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
I am not saying the pilot of the straight-talk express planned it this way, but now everybody in America is talking about a small-time local North Carolina campaign ad critical of Barack Obama, his Black Nationalist pastor, Jeremiah Wright, and the Democrats who enable them.

Here is what McCain said about the ad none of us had ever heard of before McCain told us not to watch it:

"We asked them not to run it. I'm sending them an e-mail as we speak, asking them to take it down."

"I don't know why they do it, and obviously I don't control them. But I'm making it very clear, as I have a couple of times in the past, that there's no place for that kind of campaigning -- and the American people don't want it, period," McCain said.

According to the LA Times, "McCain said he had not seen the North Carolina ad, which states that Obama is too extreme and shows footage of the Illinois senator's former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., shouting: 'Not God bless America, God damn America.'"

Is he using reverse-psychology on us? If not, I have no idea what McCain is talking about. If, like John McCain, you have not seen the ad (here on YouTube), you may be a bit disappointed, perhaps expecting something more severe.
The upcoming May 6 Indiana primary is make or break, do or die, sudden death, but not just for Clinton—even more so FOR OBAMA!

For the first time in this long campaign, the pressure is finally on Barack Obama. If he does not win Indiana, his nomination chances plummet precipitously.


Since February 19th, the night of the Wisconsin primary (more than two months ago, and the last time Barack was in the news for something positive), Mrs. Clinton has accomplished every task on her seemingly impossible journey back to viability. In the meantime, Obama has struggled, stumbled, and stagnated.

A Review:

Understanding that her opponent was on a tremendous roll after Wisconsin, Mrs. Clinton needed to sweep Ohio, Texas, and Pennsylvania. She did.

Understanding that the superdelegates would eventually decide this nomination, and understanding that they clearly favored Obama at that moment, she also needed to raise serious doubts about the frontrunner's ability to govern and, more importantly, his ability to win in November. She did.

RIGHT NOW: Obama is bleeding profusely from two gaping holes: Jeremiah Wright (scary anti-American radicalism) and the "clinging to God and guns" comment (unseemly liberal elitism). Even worse, the spectacle of a six-week, highly visible contest in which he spent 30 million dollars to lose to Hillary Clinton by ten points torpedoed his image as a charismatic champion.

Now he is merely a wounded pol trying desperately to hold on to a slim lead and run out the clock.

Can he do it? What does he have left?

The Media and "the Math."

The remaining Obama "fairy tale" is currently powered almost entirely by friendly reporting, advocacy in editorial boards, and vituperative op-eds.

In a political contest, in which the perception is the reality, without question, the best thing to have is the fourth estate. Nevertheless, friendly media does not necessarily guarantee ultimate success (just ask Mike Huckabee).

Hype and hope can only propel a candidate so far. At some point, media darlings have to demonstrate their worthiness in the public arena. At some point, Barack Obama needed to throttle Mrs. Clinton at the ballot box in a momentous showdown state. Of course, the media has helped mightily toward that end by softening her defenses with negative press and templates advantageous to him--but, somewhere along the line, he needed to throw the knock-out punch himself. And he has not.

The clock is ticking. He has one last chance: Indiana. The pressure is on.

What about the Math?

In truth, the math is mostly spin and perception. Mrs. Clinton brilliantly announced yesterday that she was ahead in the popular vote.

Why not?

Who is keeping track of the popular vote anyhow?

Since the gross popular vote has nothing to do with the nomination process, why can't we count Michigan and Florida? People in Michigan and Florida voted. Who says we cannot include them in the official unofficial (and altogether meaningless) tabulation of national votes.

All of that is perception. This is a battle to control the perception.

Genius on the part of Mrs. Clinton, but she must make this assertion stick. Expect her to pound away at it every day in every speech in every venue, all the while aiming her message at a national audience.

Why is this key? What is meaningful about this meaningless statistic?

Once Mrs. Clinton convinces the Democratic Party leaders that she is the safer bet to win in the fall, she must also offer a "moral argument" that allows the superdelegates "cover" to deny the victory to Obama. The "popular vote majority" cancels out the "elected-delegate" plurality. This narrative of rightful Clinton victory empowers the party wise persons to award the nomination to Mrs. Clinton, if they are so inclined.

This is where the media and the math have to come together. She needs to break the wedge of friendly media running interference for Obama.

Can this happen? Surprisingly, yes it can.

Here is the other nagging problem for Obama in regard to his media firewall: his ostensibly trustworthy loyalists in the press corps are fair-weathered friends. The clock is ticking on them as well. They have been watching the same game we have. They too know what he needed to do over the past two months--and they fully understand that he failed miserably.

They are nervous and growing more skittish with each passing day. My sense is that a stampede away from Obama is imminent. If the ladies and gentlemen (mostly gentleman) of the fourth estate take a notion that their fair-haired pal is about to make them look ridiculous, they will abandon him with head-spinning alacrity.

In the blink of an eye, this beloved philosopher king will find himself a reviled and unworthy pretender.

Bottom Line: Indiana may very well prove to be the one and only winner-take-all contest in the Democratic race for nomination.
A while back I accomplished one of my New Year's Resolutions: reading a Cormac McCarthy novel. Post here.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy is one of the bleakest novels I've read. The book pulls you into an ashy-grey dead world with crumbling dead vegetation and only the memory of animals. But somehow part of the human race has survived the abominable desolating horror that killed all other life on earth. A horror apparently visited by humanity itself.

The reader journeys with a man and a boy, his son. They are heading for the coast where perhaps things may be better, though the man has no real hope. They scavange for food in abandoned houses, occasionally finding items overlooked by previous travelers. And they hide from other humans, since many have turned to canniblism, even forming gangs that hunt down others on the road. A few people they meet are harmless, mostly through weakness, but no one can be trusted.

The man sometimes wonders about God, not really believing. He tells the boy there may be good people somewhere--they'll be known by the fact that they do not eat their children. But mostly the man just chooses every day to keep the boy alive and move forward, without real hope.

He had had a wife, the boy's mother. But sometime after delivering the baby into the dead world she had killed herself, telling her husband she could not face a certain future of rape, death, and being eaten.

The boy feels pity for others, at least for those others who are not hunting a living meal. He even has qualms about stealing from empty houses. He hopes to meet some of the good people.

How do you live in a God-forsaken world? That seems to be McCarthy's question. Would you turn cannibal, hunting your own kind? Would you become prey? Would you kill yourself, unable to face a future without hope? Would you devote yourself to protecting your own, even without real hope? Would you maintain a kind of innocence, worrying that an old man along the road might starve if you did not share some of your meagre supplies?
(more below)

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23/04: Yes She Will

Category: Campaign 2008.12
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Hillary Holds!

With 84 percent of the vote counted (10:23 p.m. CDT), Hillary fluctuates between an eight- and ten-point victory in Pennsylvania. Eight is enough--but ten is especially satisfying.

UPDATED: It’s official. Hillary by Ten.

For some reason the talking heads arbitrarily proclaimed a ten-point margin in the Quaker State as the threshold for viability for Mrs. Clinton—patently ridiculous on its face. Why the underdog must give a ten point handicap to the favorite is beyond me; regardless, overcoming the capricious spread makes the triumph all the more savory.

Hillary is still on the job. She will be back in the office tomorrow relentlessly slogging away, sniffing at the heels of the front runner, dedicated to the proposition that she must win by any means necessary.

Will it matter?

Who knows? The leadership of the Democratic Party seems strangely committed to Obama--regardless of the increasingly apparent perils ahead.

As we know so well, “the math” is still on his side. Awarding the nomination to Hillary Clinton still requires some uncomfortable gymnastics--even as Hillary seems to emerge as the smarter move and safer play.

We said more than two months ago:

The nomination is coming down to the super delegates. If they voted today, they would vote for Obama because he seems unstoppable. The good news for Clinton: they are not voting today. She has time to punch a hole in his balloon.


It will be very tough, but Clinton must sweep the upcoming final big three states [Ohio, Texas, and Pennsylvania] (very difficult but not impossible). For all that has gone sour in her campaign, Hillary has consistently excelled in these upscale high-stakes contests. Then, most importantly, she must somehow break the "spell" of Obama by casting doubt on him in some way between now and the day of decision.

I have always seen Obama as a big gamble: he could prevail in a huge way ("painting the map blue" as he says). Or we could wake up from our trance midway through the coming fall election season and suddenly look at this guy and say: "what in the hell are we doing?"

Between now and this summer, I can certainly envision a moment in which strategically minded Democratic Party bigwigs entertain grave doubts about Obama's electability. In that scenario, three for the price of one (Obama as VP) may emerge as a much safer bet.

TODAY: Mission So Nearly Accomplished On All Fronts.

The Two Remaining Substantial Obstacles?

1. The Intractable media support for Obama.

2. Even more problematic, the thoroughly unappealing task of telling African-American Democrats and fresh-faced "millennials" that their candidate, who won the pledged-delegate race fair and square, will not be the nominee of their party.

As many have pointed out, the Clintons have only themselves to blame on this count. In actual fact, Obama’s delegate lead is fairly misleading and mostly the result of Team Clinton’s decision not to sweat the small stuff. If the campaign had waged even a half-hearted effort to organize for the presumably small-potatoes out-of-the-way caucuses, all of this would be academic. Hillary would be pivoting for Labor Day and printing up her new business cards for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue right now. Of course, hindsight is 20/20. Who knew all those little contests would add up to the deciding factor?

There have been pleasant surprises for Hillary, however. Although I thought her speech last night was flat and rushed and oddly strained, in general, she has proved infinitely more appealing and more energetic on the campaign trail than anyone could have imagined. She found her identity (the indomitable scrapper) somewhere along the way and, indisputably, emerged as the star of her own show.

As for Bill, he has not been nearly as bad as advertised. He had difficulty adapting to second fiddle--but he has transitioned pretty darn well, all things considered. For the most part, anyone would have been hard-pressed to foresee the curious treatment Clinton-42 would receive from the Obama-worshiping press corps. Imagine a superstar athlete who, accustomed to enjoying favorable calls from the refs throughout his career, faced a series in which the refs suddenly were calling him for fouls he never knew existed. Pretty frustrating. Just desserts we might say--but, hear this, rest assured, if the Clintons make it to the next round, all the old rules will re-apply and the old galloping and slashing Bill will be back in vogue.

One last prediction and/or suggestion: look for Hillary to defend Bill against the next wave of media criticism—whenever that next dustup arrives (perhaps sooner than later). It is time to defend the husband. She has been careful not to wade into his imbroglios with the press and other Democratic gray hairs--but it is time to go on record in support of the old warhorse. My hunch is that the voters are to the point where they think Bill has suffered enough comeuppance and stand ready to forgive and embrace him once again.

This thing is not over—not yet.
Category: General
Posted by: Tocqueville
I am the pessimist in this group. So I can't help but think that Patrick Deneen is definitely on to something when he makes the following observation:

"Every day, in one way or another, the leaders of my educational institution - like that of many others - tell us that we are driven by the imperative to prepare our students for a world of globalized commerce, a world in which they will need the skills of a vagabond or an itinerant vandal. In the throes of a dogma, they are unable to see the evidence before their eyes that suggests that their belief in historical inevitability may be at least slightly out of touch."

"If so, we are preparing our students for a future that has no future."


"Our elite institutions continue - in the words of Jeremy Beer - to stripmine our brightest students away from their homes to prepare them for lives as itinerant meritocrats, giving them skills that will allow them to do anything but to be prepared to live in one place and contribute to a particular community. Yet, there is growing evidence that this may be the future for which we should be preparing them, not the one that we imagine. The inability of our "leaders" to acknowledge these facts, much less to begin reconsidering our perilous course, is yet further evidence of the abject failure of education in our time. Education is doing the opposite of what it should be doing - preparing the young for a future of responsibility and gratitude in which we take in what those before us have given us as inheritance and in which we prepare to leave behind so generous a legacy."

Read the whole thing here.
I'm going to begin my participation in this fine blog with a question. I know I got the idea from somewhere else, and I'm really hoping it wasn't here...

The new President, whoever he/she is, will have many opportunities in the first months of office to set the precedent for his/her tenure. One of the most important of these, at least symbolically, will be the selection of the country for the first international visit as head of state. So...

Where would you go?

I'll start.

I'd head to India. It's the world's largest democracy and has the second largest Muslim population of any country. It's one of a handful of countries poised to join the ranks of the top-tier economies (along with Brazil, China, and Russia.) Due in part to a lack of domestic natural resources (as well as being somewhat shut out regionally by China), it's become a global leader in alternative energy, primarily wind power. A visit by a newly-elected President to India would show the world that the U.S. is willing to adapt to the changing global power structure, but that the U.S. will have a very decisive say in the direction of that change. A visit to a democracy, even one that struggles at times, would show that the U.S. is not ethno- or Euro-centric, but IS opposed to political oppression (read: China.)

I had considered France, to shore up what should be a strong alliance, or to Canada, to throw a bone to our number one trade partner. But I decided that these were too "global North", and that a Presidential visit in 2009 should reflect the direction of the 21st century, which seems to be heading toward the rapidly growing (in numbers, economy, and power) global South.

What do you think?
I held my first live rattlesnake this past Friday afternoon. And also my second. I was not demonstrating my faith, just working the "Get Your Picture Taken with a Live Rattlesnake" table at the annual town Rattlesnake Festival.

We have lots and lots of rattlesnakes in the hills west of town (known locally as the Slick Hills). Lacking much else to build an annual festival around, we go with the snakes. You can watch the presentations from the snake pit, where "Fangmaster" Ronnie Orf stands amid a writhing mass of rattlesnakes wearing tall snake boots, picks up the occasional snake to show it better to the crowd, and explains how these creatures are an important part of God's creation here in Oklahoma. He has only been bitten three times in as many decades. You can watch snakes being butchered, then buy the meat and skin, or purchase fried snake meat (very bland and bony). If you are brave enough, you can join in a guided snake hunt in the hills. Thousands of people fill the town for three days for snakes, yard sales, vendors, and carnival rides.

The Rattlesnake Association is the largest philanthropic organization in town, giving away lots of money to good local causes, money raised from vendor fees, snake meat, and the picture table.

Late Friday afternoon, as I sat in my chair trying to calm down the snake by holding him in my lap (one hand behind his head, the other gently near his middle), and not having a lot of luck (he would have bitten me if he could have but his mouth was held shut) I watched the people amble up and down the main street: All shapes and sizes, very few models, a broad cross section of "Okie Redneck", Indian, and soldiers and their families from nearby Ft. Sill. Eating funnel cake, buying geegaws, coming closer to touch the snake, or retreating to a safer distance.

This is America. This is small town America. We like our guns. We believe in God, though many are very informal about it. We are not really bitter--except toward those elites who just do not get us. Then, when we feel looked down on, we rattle our tails. Just show us some respect.
(more below)

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My three all-time favorite novels are Forever and Ever, written by father, Wayne Cruseturner, Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry, and Mario Puzo's The Godfather. I have read all three of those works numerous times—and all three delivered profound imprints on my inner life. But The Godfather merits special mention, as I have read the story of the Corleones at least twenty times (although only twice since I turned thirty).

I read The Godfather for the first time in fourth grade; it was the first novel I ever completed. From there, I read nearly the complete works of Harold Robbins before I graduated elementary school. During junior high I branched out a bit, reading most of Steinbeck and a generous smattering of fairly good contemporary fiction from the 1970s—but I continued to come back to The Godfather. During my college years I read a generous helping of Hemingway and also discovered Larry McMurtry--but I continued to come back to The Godfather.

A few days ago, while re-reading David M. Potter's Impending Crisis, I realized that this work of history had become The Godfather of my adulthood. The Impending Crisis is the exceedingly well written and immaculately comprehensive story of the coming of the Civil War from 1848 to 1861.

In fact, I know precious little about the life of Potter; histories of historians are uncommon. Potter died in 1971, an era before C-SPAN2's Book-TV began to offer scholars of his stature a modicum of limited celebrity and television face time.

Born in Augusta, Georgia, in 1910, Potter earned a B.A. from Emory, and took his Ph.D. at Yale in 1932 (where he studied under U.B. Phillips). Known as an important historian of the American South during his long career, he died while in the process of finishing the quintessential history monograph, his sublime contribution to the superb "New American Nation Series," The Impending Crisis. His friend and colleague at Stanford, Don Fehrenbacher, a truly marvelous historian in his own right, completed and edited the manuscript upon his death. Potter was awarded a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for his magnum opus in 1976.

The Impending Crisis tells the tragic tale of the coming conflict between North and South with honesty, integrity, and patience (it is nearly 600 pages of text). But Potter also exhibits an appropriately professional love for American traditions and sympathetically flawed statesman—and a humanity for his native Southland—without sacrificing objectivity.

Fairly often, Potter offers concise tutorial asides for budding historians and sophisticated consumers of the past. Consider this cautionary methodological vignette:

"Hindsight, the historians chief asset and his main liability, has enabled all historical writers to know that the decade of the [eighteen] fifties terminated in a great civil war. Knowing it, they have consistently treated the decade not as a segment in time with a character of its own, but as a prelude to something else. By the very term 'antebellum" they have diagnosed a whole period in the light of what came after. Even the titles of their books The Coming of the Civil War, The Irrepressible Conflict, Ordeal of the Union, The Eve of Conflict, Prologue to Conflict--are pregnant with the struggle which lay at the end."

"But for the sake of realism, it should be remembered that most human beings during these years went about their daily lives, preoccupied with their personal affairs, with no sense of impending disaster nor any fixation on the issue of slavery."

Ironically, I have always wondered if someone other than the author titled the work, as the naming of The Impending Crisis seems to slip into the tradition he warns against.

I have actually met only one individual in my life who knew Potter personally, Sir Robert Rhodes James, now deceased as well (and deserving of limitless encomiums himself). When Sir Robert learned of my admiration for Potter, he merely sighed and said wistfully: "now that was a true Southern gentleman."

That is how I like to think of him.

For my money, The Impending Crisis is the best history text of all time. If you have never read this work, I recommend it wholeheartedly.
In the midst of the Pope's visit to Washington last week, we missed a less publicized ceremony in the East Room in which President and Mrs. Bush invited Professor Wilfred McClay to offer a commemoration of Thomas Jefferson in honor of his 265th birthday.

As our good friend is much too modest in his accomplishments, we admit sheepishly that we learned of this event via Powerline. Nevertheless, we offer our belated kudos to the President for his good taste in historians, and kudos to Professor McClay for his insightful and provocative remarks.

With a big hat tip to Powerline, we offer the lecture in full below:

Thank you, Mr. President and Mrs. Bush, for your warm welcome, and for the great honor of taking part in this celebration of Thomas Jefferson’s life.

Usually, when a greatly revered figure turns a year older, we feel older too, and the world feels a little colder and more fragile. But it’s a little different when a man turns 265. Remembering Thomas Jefferson makes us feel young. And not just by comparison. It’s because Thomas Jefferson embodies so much of the promise of American life. It’s because there is so much about him that is still vibrantly alive.

And living not only in America. Thomas Jefferson deserves to be remembered and revered as a man of worldwide influence, whose name is known and loved and invoked by men and women from Beijing to Lhasa to Kiev to Prague. His belief in the dignity and unrealized potential in the minds and hearts of ordinary people is at the core of what is greatest in the American experiment. It is in this sense that James Parton, his early biographer, was right in making the following proclamation: "If Jefferson is wrong, America is wrong. If America is right, Jefferson was right.” But the cause of Jefferson was always more than just that of America. It is the cause of all humankind.

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Category: Campaign 2008.12
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
After hearing a few snippets from FOX News Sunday and Meet the Press in between other activities, here are a few quick thoughts concerning what I saw and heard:

1. On Meet the Press, "Obama's Chief Strategist David Axelrod squared off against Hillary Clinton's new chief strategist Geoff Garin." I know nearly nothing of Geoff Garin (other than he is a career pollster and Harvard grad, 1975). Evidently, he is a well-liked and knowledgeable political insider, but he was embarrassingly lame in his advocacy of his candidate today. Hillary needed this last-minute shuffle like a hole in the head. I felt sorry for her--and him. I kept wincing and dreading the inevitable post-appearance phone call, hoping that Hillary wouldn't blow her top and erupt all over him once the excruciating exchange finally concluded.

The one bright spot for Garin? He was so inept that Russert took on the role of devil's advocate--but that was small consolation.

All in all, another poor tactical choice on the part of Team Clinton.

2. On FOX News Sunday, Chris Wallace interviewed regular Obama/Clinton surrogates, Dick Durbin and Charles Schumer.

Ordinarily, Schumer wins this match-up on "sound and fury..." alone--but not today. Schumer (and this was true of Garin as well) was too busy denying obvious truths to ever get off the defensive.

"Hillary actually loves the lunatic left-wing activist base of the Democratic Party, regardless of what she might have said when she thought no one was listening at a private fund raiser."

Why shouldn't she be happy with the "nutroots" loonies who have rejected her moderate approach, elevated a half-term senator whom we barely know to one rung from the Democratic nomination, and forced her into advocating policies that would probably doom her candidacy--even if she were to find some way to somehow throw an ultra-miraculous "Hail Mary" to pull this thing out?

What's not to love?

By the way, these nutroots Daily Kos/Huffington Posters overplayed their hand in Connecticut in 2006, losing the election and chasing Joe Lieberman out of the Democratic Party. Do any of the adults in the Party of Jackson worry about recent history repeating itself?

Of course, Hillary meant everything she said about the left-wing nuts--and she is absolutely right. Not only did they ruin her glide-path to the nomination, they have also roiled up a Democratic Party General Election slam dunk.

Good for us. I don't know if all that is enough--but it helps. From a purely strategic point of view, we would much rather face an anti-NAFTA, anti-war Democratic Party than the mid-2007 Hillary Clinton version crafted to assure the heartland on defense and woo hardhats with promises of domestic competence.

The only problem--what if the rendering actually wins?
Commenting on the recent ABC debate, Barack Obama lamented:

"Last night we set a new record. It took us 45 minutes ... before we heard about health care. Forty-five minutes before we heard about Iraq. Forty-five minutes before we heard about jobs. That's how Washington is."

Hillary's pointed and cleverly effective response:

"Having been in the White House for eight years, and seen what happens in terms of the pressures and stresses on a president, that was nothing."

"I'm with Harry Truman on this: If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen. Speaking for myself, I'm very comfortable in the kitchen."

Score another rhetorical point for Hillary. The mainstream media crush on Obama has spoiled him. Aspirants to the presidency should expect hostile questions. It is time to "toughen this kid up."

The other point, of course, which begs address? Obama displays a ridiculous lack of self-awareness in complaining that no one wants to talk about the issues.

Which issues?

The issue of change, perhaps? The issues of guaranteed healthcare, risk-free mortgages, peace and prosperity, national solvency combined with universal affluence, and, don't forget, domestic political tranquility? We are going to achieve all these things and the lambs are going to lie down with the lions.

But those are not issues; they are merely bromides.

The real issues, just to name just a few: reconciling our nanny-state mentality with our finite resources. Social Security? Medicare? Bailouts? How to withdraw from Iraq, decrease military spending, down-size the army, and preserve our preeminent place and relative security in a hostile and changing world? Preserving a unifying nationalism in an increasingly apathetic and individualistic nation?

In reality, Senator Obama has no intention of addressing any truly pressing dilemmas with anything more specific than a "be the change you seek."

No candidate has done more to make this an issue-free presidential campaign than Barack Obama. Not that I blame him. This is the game--and it is an old game.

For kicks, reflect on this passage concerning the Election of 1848 taken from David M. Potter's The Impending Crisis (1976):

"The ambiguity of [Democratic nominee Lewis] Cass's position might well have won him the election in a more normal year, but the Whigs showed a talent for evasion that made the Democrats seem decisive by comparison."

The Whigs of 1848 passed over their experienced party leader and well-known warhorse, Henry Clay, to tap Zachary Taylor, who claimed no prior party affiliation (and had never even voted in a presidential election), but was a newly minted war hero whose political views were a mystery to voters.

Potter again: "While the Democrats had adopted a platform whose meaning no one could be sure about, the Whigs found a way to be evasive without equivocation: they adopted no platform at all."

"After a campaign in which most participants furiously avoided the issues, Taylor...won the election."

This is the way to win the presidency!

The game has always been to tell us as little as possible about yourself without being such a blank slate that you appear dangerously ill-equipped for the office.

Zachary Taylor ran a successful military campaign in a successful war. He might be a good president. You get the picture.

We are likely to fall for this ruse from time to time.

But Senator Obama reaches another level of arrogance and duplicity entirely when he lashes out with self-righteous calumny, accusing others of doing what has, in fact, formed the bedrock of his campaign: placing personality over serious policy proposals and problem solving.

19/04: Sex and Power

Category: General
Posted by: an okie gardener
We have a scandal here in Oklahoma involving sex and power. A male county sheriff has been charged with forcing female inmates to perform sex acts. Drudge has the link to this article. The sheriff has not yet been tried, so we'll presume innocence until proven guilty, but I do want to offer a few thoughts.

People have misused their God-given sexuality since sin entered the world. But it seems in our day we are reaching new lows. On South Park this week, the characters reacted to the internet drying up as it slowed from a river to a trickle. In a parody of Grapes of Wrath, millions of people piled belongings on their cars and headed for California, where rumor had it Silicon Valley had service available. Different people missed different things--email, instant messaging, news, and porn. (For those of you unfamiliar with South Park, it is an often brilliant satire on contemporary culture, but is usually vulgar.) Here is a clip from the official site. Living in camps along the way, Randy tries to feed his internet porn addiction. As he tells someone: once you've been able to see Japanese women vomiting into each other's mouths, you can't go back to Playboy. Some men have set up a tent to provide "virtual internet." He goes in where he is told to sit in front of a fake screen and say outloud his search terms, then say click. After he calls out each of his (disturbing and disgusting) search categories, a hand drawing is lowered into the screen. The "virtual internet" doesn't work for him. But when they get to California the Red Cross has set up a camp and provides small doses of internet by lottery. That night he breaks into the trailer where the computer is locked up, looking for his fix.

more below

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Category: Campaign 2008.11
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
A few weeks ago, I asserted that the real danger for Democrats this summer was not injuring one another playing hardball politics but in nominating the most unapologetically liberal candidate since George McGovern.

During the past three weeks, this analysis has become ubiquitous.

The Democrats have committed a foolish strategic error, which they cannot easily repair. However, despite our growing euphoric optimism, we should not lose sight of where we really are.

No matter what happens between now and August, this remains a Democratic year.

The eventual Democratic candidate of 2008 will run buoyed by intense George W. Bush fatigue. The electorate is restless with an unpopular five-year war with no end in sight, and the uncertainty concerning the economy always plays in favor of the out-party.

The eventual Democratic candidate of 2008 will run against a presumptive Republican nominee who is seventy-one-years-old, who is admittedly inexpert on the economic questions, and who stubbornly (albeit bravely) advocates extending the five-year war indefinitely.

Bottom Line. Incontrovertible Fact. This is a good year to run as a Democrat.

Other things to consider:

1. When Obama finally clinches the nomination, he will receive a tremendous bounce. All the bad will be forgotten, and the new storyline will be the impending "rout" on McCain.

2. Even with the ongoing love affair that is Obama and the national press corps, the Clintons retain enough power and possibility to influence media coverage right now. This will not be true of John McCain during the fall election. Barack Obama will enjoy protection from the mainstream media from Labor Day through the first Tuesday in November. Don't hold your breath waiting for George Stephanopoulos to ask irritating questions of the Democratic nominee during the homestretch. On the other hand, John McCain will face withering wall-to-wall coverage of every gaffe, potential hypocritical anomaly, and every ache and pain.

The media onslaught aimed at McCain is going to be brutal.

3. Finally, while McCain appeals to moderates, conservatives continue to revile him. Of course, they are closer to him philosophically than Obama or Clinton--but that may not be the question.

Conservatism (and right-wing talkers) do well with conservative leaders, and they do well with a liberal leader against whom they may fulminate, but "moderate" Republicans are much more troublesome.

Will conservatives get on board the McCain train? Only if it is in their interest. Does a McCain presidency further the interest of movement conservatism? The answer to that question will very likely determine the election.

Because the Democrats have erred so egregiously, Republicans have a chance. But is only a slim chance. A long General Election night for the GOP remains the most likely scenario in our future.
Category: Politics
Posted by: Tocqueville
The New York Times's David Brooks explains How Obama Fell to Earth:

"When Obama began this ride, he seemed like a transcendent figure who could understand a wide variety of life experiences. But over the past months, things have happened that make him seem more like my old neighbors in Hyde Park in Chicago."

"Some of us love Hyde Park for its diversity and quirkiness, as there are those who love Cambridge and Berkeley. But it is among the more academic and liberal places around. When Obama goes to a church infused with James Cone-style liberation theology, when he makes ill-informed comments about working-class voters, when he bowls a 37 for crying out loud, voters are going to wonder if he’s one of them. Obama has to address those doubts, and he has done so poorly up to now."

"It was inevitable that the period of “Yes We Can!” deification would come to an end. It was not inevitable that Obama would now look so vulnerable. He’ll win the nomination, but in a matchup against John McCain, he is behind in Florida, Missouri and Ohio, and merely tied in must-win states like Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. A generic Democrat now beats a generic Republican by 13 points, but Obama is trailing his own party. One in five Democrats say they would vote for McCain over Obama."

A very thoughtful analysis on The Jawa Report.

He argues that we need to begin speaking of Iraq War 1, which was to topple Saddam's regime, and Iraq War 2, which is against various Islamists especially Al Qaeda. Iraq War 1 is over. There is nothing to be gained in continuing to debate it. It is a misleading practice of political leadership to continue to talk about opposing THE war in Iraq. The issue to discuss is Iraq War 2 against the various Islamists. But we must achieve mental and verbal clarity to do so.

Read the whole thing.

Link from Instapundit.
Category: Campaign 2008.11
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
A few hundred years ago, Joe Biden said of Barack Obama:

"I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man."

Irony of Ironies: is Obama actually less articulate than we assumed? Of course, if articulate means "using language easily and fluently and persuasively," he is one of the most articulate national politicians to come down the pike in decades. But, if articulate means "silver-tongued," as in sharp and quick on his feet verbally, he is not nearly as fluid as we once thought.

His lackluster performance in the latest debate brings this home--but we have noticed for some time that he is much better standing alone at a podium delivering a speech than engaging in fast-paced conversational give-and-take on a stage with other political sharpies.

Why have we been slow to see this? Part of the problem lies in our prejudices (or to use a more benign phrase: our expectations). If he is to be the next great black leader, he must be a great speaker.

Part of the problem is that his real talent is confusingly connected to his oratory. His speeches can be incredibly moving (although I know a curiously high number of people who find him a total bore as a speech maker). But for the most part, he is an exciting speaker--after all, the girls aren't swooning for nothing.

But the key to Barack Obama's appeal is not necessarily his speaking ability. In truth, his uniqueness lies in his brilliance as a writer. In essence, he competently reads his outstanding speeches.

For all his gifts of persuasion, Obama is much more plodding law professor than he is scintillating trial attorney.
The government of China has a disgusting track record of support for dictators in Africa. China is the key supporter of the genocidal government of The Sudan. And now, this story, on Chinese arms shipments to the beserk government of Mugabe whose rule is killing his own people of Zimbabwe.

From Gateway Pundit.

These sorts of actions are what you get when a government has no moral principles. Mere power politics, so what if the peasants die. Still buying Made in China?


But thank goodness for union workers...
The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union announced today that they would not unload the ship's cargo.
News 24 reported:

Durban - Opposition to a shipment of arms being offloaded in Durban and transported to Zimbabwe increased on Thursday when South Africa's biggest transport workers' union announced that its members would not unload the ship.

SA Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) general secretary Randall Howard said: "Satawu does not agree with the position of the South African government not to intervene with this shipment of weapons.
The Okie Gardener wrote today:

"I see [Hillary] conceding and withdrawing from the race only if she is convinced that Obama will lose to McCain, that McCain because of age will serve only one term, and that she then will be well-placed for 2012."

Some revised and extended comments in response to that assertion, which strikes me as plausible but uncharitable.

Hillary is, in fact, laboring under two reasonable assumptions:

1. It ain't over until the Fat Lady sings (nothing is more American than that). If you are not in it, you cannot win it. One thing we can say for sure: Barack Obama will NOT arrive in Denver with a sewn-up nomination--unless Mrs. Clinton steps aside (or the superdelegates come together earlier to preempt the "impending crisis"). Hillary is hoping for a late-round knock-out, which is not unfathomable. Do we really think we have heard the last Obama revelation? The bottom could drop out of the Obama market between now and mid-summer. Not likely, but certainly not impossible.

2. Mrs. Clinton honestly believes (and I agree) that she is a much more formidable general election candidate than Obama. Are we not more and more persuaded with each passing week that her primary opponent has some seriously inviting weak spots? We are increasingly optimistic about running against this "young man in a hurry." Bring him on. As I have said repeatedly, this is a bad year to run as a Republican--but Barack Obama's dedication to liberal orthodoxy, and his tin ear for Red-State culture, gives me some hope for victory.

And, one more factor, Mrs. Clinton is also laboring under the not so reasonable (but, nevertheless, absolutely essential) delusion of all presidential aspirants: "I am the very best candidate for the job."

In other words, Mrs. Clinton believes with all her soul that she is exactly what America needs right now, and she must suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and go the distance to save us. For this reason she should not quit, just as Ronald Reagan did not quit in 1976.

In that vein, the Gardener asserts that she is attempting to secure the defeat of her opponent to position herself for the next campaign. While I concede that thought may be a variable, I tend to believe it is way down the list of important considerations. And, if that is her plan, it is awfully risky and probably too clever by half.

I am more inclined to believe that she sees this present opportunity as her one and only chance--which strikes me as a much more compelling explanation for her refusal to throw in the towel. She is fighting like there is no tomorrow--and she is most likely correct.

There is no doubt that she does damage to Obama by staying in. Of the three remaining candidates, he is the most vulnerable to extended close scrutiny. What more are we going to learn about Hillary or John McCain? On the other hand, each day brings another facet to our perception of Barack Obama.

Why would she do that?

Who knows, she may actually favor McCain over Obama (and for reasons wholly apart from her electoral chances in 2012). Not that I am predicting that she will endorse McCain in any way. Hill and Bill will line up behind Barack like good soldiers (Joe Lieberman supported John Kerry in 2004). But I think Hillary might see a McCain win over Barack Obama as more than just good politics for her personally, and even more than merely just desserts for a disloyal party. I think she might actually believe in her heart of hearts (or even sub-consciously) that Barack Obama is too much of a "dice roll."

One last thought: why my sympathetic conjecture in defense of Hillary's motives?

I suspect Hillary is no more evil-minded and selfish than Andrew Jackson or Henry Clay. Politics tends to make us see the worst in our opponents. Certainly, Jackson and Clay partisans saw the other side as unscrupulous, diabolical, and traitorous. We tend to see the opposition in the same light today.

This fits a basic pattern in American politics in which we tend to lionize their current party champions, demonize their contemporary political foes, and then canonize them all in a non-partisan burst of patriotic ardor once they have been dead long enough.

Clay and Jackson were fallible men with great qualities and serious faults. Their greatness was partly the product of ambition, self delusion, and an ability and willingness to deliver and suffer vicious blows in the public arena. Their darker sides drew from the same pool of personal traits. Bill Clinton has it right: politics is not for the faint of heart. Hillary is in the tradition of those multi-faceted characters from the past.
This story from Britain is now a bit old, but the issue will not go away.

Scientists are mixing human and animal DNA to produce hybrid organisms.

The government says that the scientific advantages of allowing the creation of hybrid embryos for research purposes could help millions of people to recover from illness or disease.

Religious leaders, however, have argued against the bill, with the leader of Catholics in Scotland, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, using his Easter Sunday sermon to brand the bill a "monstrous attack on human rights, human dignity and human life" which will allow experiments of "Frankenstein proportion".

I have expressed myself already on this issue here and here. Basically, I think that

One of the foundation stones of our culture has been the idea/belief that humans are unique. We hold ourselves to standards we do not apply to animals--a dog may be put down for killing a person, but will not be put on trial. A man may be charged with killing a dog, but it will not be a murder charge. We may protest the construction of a new dam on a river, but will not hold a protest at the site of a beaver dam. If while driving, the only two choices are hitting an animal, and having a head-on with another car, we run over the animal. If we are stranded with another person and a dog, and have only enough food for two persons, we feed the other person and let the dog starve, or eat it. And so on.

Animal-human hybrids raise profoundly disturbing questions. But, science has no mechanism within itself to consider whether or not something that can be done should be done. Science cannot ask or answer "should" questions. We must turn to philosophy and religion.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
Michael Barone explains that the old-time nominating conventions of the past existed mainly because other forms of direct communication did not. For example, direct-dial long distance phone calls are an innovation less than 50 years old. Because of today's technology, he argues, we'll never again see a convention with real suspense and multiple ballots. Even this year's Democratic Convention, he predicts, will not revert to the past.

Full article. From Jewish World Review.

But, is there anyone in the Democratic Party who can make Hillary concede to Obama prior to the convention and withdraw from the race? I see her conceding and withdrawing from the race only if she is convinced that Obama will lose to McCain, that McCain because of age will serve only one term, and that she then will be well-placed for 2012.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
15 April 2008:

Back in February of 2007, I reissued an economic-historical post from the summer of 2006. At the risk of going to the well a few times too often, I am convinced that this thought deserves reconsideration today:

[FROM FEBRUARY 2007:] In light of the Stock Market uncertainty [2008: and banking crisis, slight up-tick in unemployment and bankruptcies, housing sales, and food riots in foreign lands],
I am reprising this analysis piece from the summer [of 2006]:

From July 2006:

I refuse to push the panic button on the economy, and I hate Vietnam parallels, but a growing chain of events gives me cause for concern.

2008: It is now most likely an appropriate time to voice concern over the economy--although I am still not pushing the panic button.

The stagflation and misery of the 1970s arrived, in part, as a result of the belief that we could have "guns and butter" without sacrifice. During an extended and expensive overseas military expedition, the US attempted to leverage the Vietnam War and the Great Society with little concern for revenue. At the same time, American manufactures suffered from an increased period of competition from emerging industrial nations. And, finally, the American economy, heavily dependent on foreign oil, suffered mightily from the rise of OPEC, which attempted to punish the United States for its support of Israel.

I firmly believe that history does not repeat itself--but sometimes the present is eerily reminiscent of the past.

We are in the midst of a protracted and expensive military engagement, a huge event on which we are divided but strangely detached. We continue to run-up budget deficits to pay for the war and our pampered national lifestyle. Our manufacturers are in much worse shape than thirty-five years ago, evidenced by our ever-increasing trade deficits and changing labor reality. Add Israel and oil to this equation, during a time when we are more dependent on foreign fuel than ever before, and there are serious reasons for concern.

2008: Although Israel seems fairly pacific these days (though always subject to change), nevertheless, oil closed at $113 per barrel today. Even without war and reprisal, our oil crisis is upon us.

You have heard my numerous exhortations in the past to stay the course in Iraq. I am not backing away from that line of thinking. But there is real danger ahead. Although the President's approval ratings in general (and on Iraq specifically) have turned dismal, his initiative in the Middle East has moved forward despite its diminishing popularity (mainly because Iraq seems disturbing but peripheral to most Americans).

Added commentary [Feb 2007: The above is obviously much less true in the early months of 2007 than it was last summer.

But an economic crisis would end all that. A deep recession would completely break America's will for war. The Iraq commitment survives precariously on the crest of this fortuitous economic wave. If this economy is as fragile as some have speculated, then the support for the war is just that tenuous.

More added commentary [Feb 2008]: Even more so today, an economic downturn would bring the war effort to a panic stop.

Think about it.

15/04: Brilliant!

Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Political Cartoon by Michael Ramirez

Michael Ramirez,
Editorial Cartoonist for Investor's Business Daily.

This is perhaps the most cogent political cartoon of the season; it will be interesting to see if it makes it into the various "best of the week" round-ups.
Category: General
Posted by: Tocqueville
"There’s a certain sort of somewhat educated, yet substantially ignorant, person whose condescension toward Christianity and Christians tries my patience more than open hostility. I’m thinking of the person, often describing himself as spiritual but not religious, who believes that all “belief systems” or “faith traditions” are fundamentally the same: the same in their ultimate meaning, and the same in their origin, which is the human mind: it’s ok with him if you believe in Jesus, and it would be ok with him if you believed with equal conviction in fairies, or voodoo, or Odin, or Krishna. They’re all psychological responses to the puzzle of human existence, and one is no more true and no more false than another."

Maclin Horton explains why this view of Cristianity is profoundly disordered.
Category: General
Posted by: Tocqueville
Over at Contentions, James Kirchik discusses Dr. Logan and the Act bearing his name in relation to Jimmy Carter's upcoming meeting with Hamas.
Category: Campaign 2008.11
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Does any of this "bitter" America "clinging" to God, guns, and backwardness really change the dynamic of this race?

So many seem to assume that this unguarded observation will arrive as a revelation.

Is this really a surprise to anyone?

We have spent the last few months dissecting the Obama appeal, and over the last few weeks we finally stumbled upon the missing element that explains so much: Obama, the product of the nation's most elite institutions of higher education, perfectly represents the liberal intelligentsia.

Who are the Obama-maniacs?

African Americans, the millennials, and the ever-present, ever-confident, not-so-young anymore, upwardly entrenched professional class.

This newly discovered third component consisting of well-heeled Ivy-Leaguers and Ivy-pretenders loves Obama with every fiber of their collective being.


He speaks their language. Consider once again the notorious example in question:

"[Successive presidents have] said that somehow these communities [small towns] are gonna regenerate and they have not. So it's not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

Conservative pundits reacted in horror.

And, for the record, the Clintons, who desperately needed a turnover, are in the middle of this chaotic pile of humanity fighting for the football. They laid off the Wright comments last month, out-sourcing the dirty work to Hannity and Limbaugh, and those bumpkins made a mess of it. This time there is no room for error. The Clintons own this operation to expose the real Obama.

Will anybody care
about this window into Barack Obama's soul?

The reaction from Obama and so many of his fellow intellectuals?

What's the big deal? I am sorry if the truth hurts, but come on, folks, everybody knows this is right!

It is a telling response--but will anybody care?

No and Yes.

No. My sense is that the vast majority of Democrats agree with Obama for the most part.

In fact, my hunch is that the Clintons pretty much agree also--but, as the clock winds down, their need trumps their world view.

Again, this is not really a revelation for the heart of the Democratic Party.

So, what happens? This incident may or may not impact the Democratic nomination race. It likely helps Hillary some in Pennsylvania.

A Horse Race Aside: we are in the midst of a familiar pattern. Hillary holds a big lead in a big state. Obama chips away. Election day approaches with Obama surging and Hillary departure talk cresting. Then Hillary pulls away again on election day?

Is this the latest installment in that serial drama? Maybe. Of course, most "cardiac kids" eventually come up a little short in the end.

Either way, this bump in the road seems unlikely to derail the Obama juggernaut. As several pundits have asserted: no scenario in the Quaker State changes the overall math. Even I am finally coming around to the inevitability of Barack--but not completely; sometimes final straws are curious events. We will know soon.

However, even I admit now that Barack Obama is moving ever nearer to finally escaping the clutches of Hillary Clinton and emerging triumphant in this contest for nomination.

What then?

Will anybody care in the fall?

Yes--but probably not enough people.

There was so much talk today about this "revelation" rendering Obama unelectable in November. Again, I remain skeptical. Obama--if he were anybody but Obama--would be clearly unelectable in the Fall Election. In fact, Obama--if he were anybody but Obama--would be "un-nominatable" in the Democratic canvass. But Obama is Obama--and all previous rules go out the window in this race. As I have said before, Americans seem bound and determined to elect this man--and everything else (issues, experience, philosophy, etc.) is pretty much noise.

All of this gives a glimmer of hope to an old Republican warhorse--but we need to keep in mind, in the bigger picture (Bush fatigue, Iraq fatigue, and the economy) the Democratic candidate still holds all the high cards in the 2008 race.
Last week, Kenneth T. Walsh reported in the US News & World Report, "98 percent of 109 professional historians, recently surveyed by the History News Network, believe that Bush's presidency has been a failure." In fact, according to the new poll, 61 percent of the historians judge Bush the worst president in American history.

Presidential rankings fluctuate over time. Each generation struggles to understand themselves and find consensus and community by reinterpreting their collective past, which is a productive function of history. On the downside, our historical figures ascend or diminish as a result of how we view their actions through the lens of our experience and culture rather than viewing their actions in their own time and place. Taken to an extreme, this is the trap of presentism.

If all presidential rankings are slightly deceptive and self indulgent, then attempting to rank contemporary presidents is pure folly. For example, see the late Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. poll (circa 1996), which ranked Ronald Reagan in the thirties, which apparently rested on the political views of Schlesinger and his cronies much more than sober historical judgment. Although I greatly admire Schlesinger's legacy as a scholar, his dismissal of Reagan as an "average" president of little note was petty, embarrassing, and tended to reinforce his reputation as a partisan.

Other “conservative” polls have come along since then that tried to place Reagan much closer to the top of the list, but many of them have suffered from the same disease in reverse. The inherent problem with rating presidents on whom we voted (for or against) is that we seek to push our objectivity beyond normal human limits. History is best understood and cataloged and interpreted by dispassionate and disinterested practitioners of the art.

An Aside: Gordon Wood noted recently that any new history of the American distant past that mentions the current Bush administration in the preface automatically merits suspicion, suggesting that politically driven historians are too likely to allow contemporary partisanship to overwhelm training and academic integrity.

Having said all that (and mindful of my hypocrisy), let me indulge in some speculation in terms of ranking President George W. Bush.

Back in the spring of 2006, I asserted:

"All observers agree that Bush will rise or fall on the success of Iraq. Obviously, Iraq today [2006] is not what the Bush brain trust was hoping for in the spring of 2003. Notwithstanding, the manifest fact that the Bushies were naïve and sanguine about the Iraq aftermath does not necessarily preclude ultimate success. Being there has a momentum and imperative all its own."

Back then I believed that "Iraq remain[ed] an open question, a 50-50 proposition." Success meant a modicum of vindication. Regional instability equaled "a gigantic error with myriad horrific ramifications."

Today, the Iraq question remains extremely tenuous--and likely not to be resolved (or even put on a steady path to positive resolution) during Bush's watch. Things got much worse after the spring of 2006--and then they got a lot better. But Iraq continues to hang in the balance, draining the collective reservoir of optimism, resources, and will necessary for eventual victory.

Bush backers, who have their own reputations to think about, hope against all evidence to the contrary that the current 30-something approval ratings are Truman-like. We see the myriad mistakes. But we also cling to the hope that Bush's tough and unpopular foreign policy choices will prove ultimately correct and successful in the larger scheme. In the Truman mold, Bush is setting forth a bold, courageous, and transformative American policy that, like containment, will emerge triumphant at some point in the decades to come.

The President’s opponents see him more like Nixon, tangled in a web of secrecy and paranoia and shady dealings. Or like Johnson, fecklessly and tragically prosecuting an ill-conceived war that is draining the life blood out of his presidency and his credibility. Or like Warren G. Harding, who woke up one day to the realization that his clear-cut view of the world and his simple notions were not sophisticated enough to combat the problems of the modern presidency.

Time will tell.

Back then I also said: "[W]hile presidential legacies are generally not built on economic success, an economic collapse on Bush’s watch or immediately following would certainly injure his historical standing."

The President is still trying to dodge an economic meltdown. If Bush can avert economic catastrophe during his tenure, we will remember very little about Bush and taxes, mortgages, or even Katrina. If the Great Crash comes before January 20, 2009, the public consciousness will remember him as a latter-day Herbert Hoover.

An encouraging thought for the President: when he completes his second full term, he will join an exclusive club of eleven reelected-full-term presidents (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, U.S. Grant, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton). For the most part, history has been kind to these elite eleven.

Moreover, Bush is one of only twenty presidents to win election after serving as president. In addition to those listed above, four presidents won election while finishing the unexpired terms of their predecessors (Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson). Grover Cleveland won back the presidency four years after having lost it as an incumbent. Richard Nixon won reelection after a full term but resigned before completion of his second term. Abraham Lincoln and William McKinley won reelection after a full term but fell to assassins in the second.

There are notable exceptions--but, once passions cooled, mostly historians came around eventually to confirming the wisdom of the voters in first nineteen cases. Bush retains a good chance of eventually climbng much higher than many highly partisan current historians expect.

Will he rise as high as Harry Truman? Tough to say. But, undoubtedly, he will not out-distance Franklin Pearce, James Buchanan, and Warren G. Harding as the worst president ever.
Category: General
Posted by: an okie gardener
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Into the wee hours of Wednesday morning I watched the C-SPAN replays of the two Petraeus/Crocker Senate hearings from Tuesday. Sitting on my sofa, bleary-eyed and jotting down a note or two, catching a few winks every now and then, I probably missed more than I saw, but, nevertheless, I came away with a few impressions.

A note on style: I am on the road with student government this weekend, working off a laptop, thinking about national politics during the cracks, and writing with my beefy fingers on a small keyboard. In that vein, here are a few less than polished observations:

--Unfortunately, I missed what was easily the best line of the day, Joe Lieberman: "see no progress, hear no progress, speak no progress." Brilliantly succinct and devastatingly accurate.

--A General Impression: I like Ryan Crocker. I mean I really like Ryan Crocker. Of course, we love Petreaus (and, of course, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates); Petraeus and Gates are Grant and Stanton (with Ph.D.s)--they even have an "Anaconda" Plan.

But Ryan Crocker is less immediately appealing; he is less obviously brilliant. He is more working class. He does not have a Ph.D. from Princeton or Georgetown--rather, a BA from a low-profile college in Washington (as in state not District). Almost every one of his sentences begins with "ah, ah, ih, ih" and features an "um, um, um" somewhere in the middle of the thought, but so what? This non-descript fellow with the halting delivery gets things right. He is not especially smooth--but he is unflappable. He is quietly competent and, evidently, incredibly talented at getting to the crux of any challenge. Crocker is an acquired taste--but I think I finally get him.

In the face of the most turgid, self-serving, and inherently antagonistic questioning, Crocker stood his ground, speaking truth to politically informed ignorance and under-stating simple truths:

--this is tough and complicated

--AQI is reeling, which is a good thing

--much is left to do, and it will not be easy, but it is worth doing

Part II Preview:

--My number one pet peeve with the Senate hearing format?

--Opposition Talking Points.

--Where did we get those GOP Foreign Relations Committee members (nearly all duds and newbies)? Among other problems, the Party of Lincoln is desperately low on talent. We lost a lot of intellectual force and personality in 2006. But back to my point: with friends like these...

More to come...
Great article from The Telegraph.

On the day in 1982 that the British task force set sail to recover the Falkland Islands from the Argentine invaders, Margaret Thatcher was asked on television: "If you fail, would you feel obliged to resign?" "Failure?" she answered, "Do you remember what Queen Victoria once said? 'Failure - the possibilities do not exist'."

The remark goes to the heart of Mrs Thatcher's essential political message, and of her character. It shows her romantic patriotism, her confidence in her own sex, and her dauntlessness.

And I did not know this: the name "The Iron Lady" was given her in derision by Red Star, the newspaper of the Soviet Army. She accepted the term not as an insult, but as a compliment.
Category: Campaign 2008.11
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
We are in the midst of a lot of crazy talk concerning the open slot for a John McCain running mate.

What about Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice? Frankly, the whole Condi idea strikes me as too “gimmicky.”

“Hey, look, they have a black candidate and we have one too.”

When conservative pundits raised the idea of the Secretary of State for top spot three years ago, I thought it was an interesting idea. I am actually a big Condi fan. However, it arrived a non-starter because of the trials and tribulations of the Bush White House (see Jay Cost for a statistical analysis of why this is a bad strategy--hint: 30-percent approval rating). Moreover, Rice has forcefully and repeatedly articulated her own apparently sincere desire not to be president.

Now, to go back to Rice in a frenzied attempt to achieve a racially balanced ticket and/or create excitement among conservatives seems utterly panic-driven and foolhardy.

An Aside: does Condoleeza Rice really pack the kind of appeal among conservatives that will somehow overcome the deep and abiding disgust for John McCain? I don't see that.

Turn the page.

I think those who have been suggesting Charlie Crist for the past few months are on the right track. Let’s get the four yards and a cloud of dust. Charlie Crist is not the big play, game-changing stroke of genius we would prefer--but he definitely helps a lot in Florida, and Florida is a must have.

Historically, it is a rare instance in which any second banana makes any difference anywhere other than their own state (and even that is not a given).

Can Crist win Florida for the ticket? Maybe. Maybe not—but, once again, he helps some in a very close and vital state.

Tim Pawlenty? He might swing Minnesota. Maybe. Maybe not. Minnesota would be nice. But Minnesota is more like three yards and a cloud of dust.

Are Crist and Pawlenty too moderate? Compared to what?

The strategy of pulling conservatives back in by establishing a rock-ribbed conservative as heir apparent would be fine--save for the dearth of rock-ribbed conservative heir apparents (see Cost again for the dilemma of the "weak GOP bench").

Governor Mark Sanford from South Carolina has been mentioned in this regard, and he seems like a nice fellow, but I am skeptical of this line of attack in general. More than likely, conservatives will be unmoved by any of this patchwork. There is nothing John McCain himself can do to appeal to conservatives (although he can take care not to continually alienate them)--and I remain unconvinced that any conservative VP can bridge this divide.

In the end, the McCain-hating conservatives will either come back around in the face of a very liberal Democratic nominee (most likely Barack Obama) or they won’t. Some conservatives are going to vote for Bob Barr and some will not vote at all. But mainly this election is going to be won in the middle. Who best appeals to Mr. and Mrs. Average American?

In a really odd development (within an abominably dismal year to run as a GOP candidate), wild card John McCain now holds a pretty enviable position with the non-aligned voters of America. John McCain has unorthodox appeal, which will be hard to counter. Independent voters will not buy the canard of McCain as a Bush third term. And, as we have said before, Obama is positioned too far Left for most voters--and this dissonance among the candidate and the plain folks of America will be the story to watch between now and November.

Time will tell. If the economy stays above deep and bitter recession—and the news from Iraq stays on a moderately positive track—John McCain maintains a slim chance to beat Barack Obama.

Of course, if the economy craters, or Iraq goes south, nothing can help McCain.
In my previous post, I compared the candidacy of Barack Obama to “rules for success” espoused in the independent film, The Tao of Steve. Let me humbly submit that one of my talents (and I use that term loosely) is an ability to glibly combine American cinema, Early National American history, and contemporary politics into a steaming hot succotash of mildly entertaining pop culture vignettes.

Let me also note, before anyone objects to my proclivity to write about Obama's personality, race, middle name, youth, inexperience, and, now, his lack of prowess at bowling, that the below piece aspired to be primarily tongue in cheek.

For all those who might exhort me to find some consequential issues with which to bludgeon the likely Democratic Party nominee, let me assure you that I intend to clobber Candidate Obama on the issues. This is coming. He has staked out a number of untenable policy positions and espouses an unpalatable political philosophy. And before the first Tuesday in November, you will likely read thousands of words from me on those subjects, teasing out in minute detail my objections to the direction Senator Obama proposes for the United States of America.

The Great Irony: none of that matters much, as I am convinced that Americans are determined to elect this man president--issues be damned.

But until that moment of serious (albeit irrelevant) engagement arrives, I ask your indulgence and respectfully request that you allow me my fun.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
The independent cult film, The Tao of Steve (2000), follows the exploits of "an underachieving, overweight, overeducated former philosophy student turned Kierkegaard-quoting kindergarten teacher," lead character, Dex, whom women, inexplicably, find irresistible.*

How does an abdominous public school teacher so effortlessly seduce beautiful women?

Actually there is an explanation: The Tao of Steve.

Who is Steve?

"Steve is the prototypical cool American male. Steve McGarrett [Hawaii Five-O], Steve Austin [Six Million Dollar Man], Steve McQueen. [H]e's the guy on his horse, the guy alone. He has his own code of honor, his own code of ethics, his own rules of living. He never, ever tries to impress the women--but he always gets the girl."

How do you become Steve?

There are rules.

The first rule of Being Steve:

Eliminate your desire. "If you're out with this girl and even THINKING about sexual intercourse, you're finished, as women can smell an agenda...."

Enough said. There is not a man alive who doesn't understand this.

The second rule of Being Steve:

Be excellent in her presence. You must do something that somehow demonstrates your worthiness.

Evolutionary biology, perhaps. Something primordial draws women to men who are good at something--not necessarily something important in the grand scheme of things--but in an eco-system that favors the fittest, one must exhibit some trait worthy of natural selection.

A Personal Aside: I happily met and courted my beautiful wife (a brilliant history major) while I was king of the history geeks (two years earlier I would not have warranted a second glance). When she eventually brought me home to meet the family, it just so happened that I excelled at one of their favorite pastimes (trivial pursuit). I was Steve. Needless to say, I never let her see me dance or roller skate until after we were married.

The third rule of Being Steve:

Withdraw. According to Dex, Heidegger asserted: "We pursue that which retreats from us."

Dex: "Both men and women are interested in one another. It's natural, except we're on different timetables. Women want us, like, y'know, fifteen minutes after we want them, so alright, if you hold out for twenty she'll be chasing you for five."

Presidential Politics? Really? The connection?

In many ways, this is also the Tao of George...Washington, that is.

The old style of running for president (in the mode of the Father of our Country) was not to run at all.

After demonstrating worthiness, a proper candidate would convince all concerned that he had no desire for the office (standing rather than running--allowing the electorate to find him, rather than actively campaigning). And, finally, the statesman would withdraw to his front porch to await the call of the people--would he accept or decline their invitation? We held our breath in anticipation of the answer.

Do any of the current candidates meet this standard?

An Emphatic NO! Times have changed. The front-porch campaigns were always a bit disingenuous, but we completely abandoned that charade in the early twentieth century.

Another Aside: if the old regime were still in place, we might be getting ready for President Thompson--the person who clearly wanted to be president least.

But we are now operating under an entirely new set of rules. No one can deny that Hillary Clinton desires the Oval Office. Obviously, John McCain very much wants to be president. And, for the most part, we are okay with that. For the most part--although an overly zealous suitor may still strike us as unseemly in our deep collective subconscious.

Does Obama violate the first rule of George in an egregious manner? Perhaps. From the moment Senator Barack Obama ascended Capitol Hill, he has suffered from a severe case of Potomac Fever. Without a doubt, one day one of his biographers will entitle this chapter of his life: "Young Man in a Hurry." For as long as we have known him, this forty-six-year-old, half-term senator has shown himself too eager for elevation.

Will that hurt him with anyone other than historians of nineteenth-century American politics? Hard to say.

Less serious--but not insignificant. Last week in Pennsylvania, Candidate Obama indirectly violated the Second Rule of Being Steve: he looked foolish in front of the electorate.

To demonstrate his "regular-guyness" for some Quaker State hardhats, he bowled.

The Bad News: he bowled a 37 in seven frames. The pictures were horrible. He looked goofy in his shirtsleeves and necktie, bowling gutter balls and making excuses. For the first time in this campaign, he looked like a pathetic poser.

Full disclosure: I bowl about as well as I golf--which is not very impressive. But on a typical night, not having bowled for a couple of years, and drinking a beer or two during the course of the evening to loosen up, I am going to bowl between 100 and 140. That won't make it on the PBA Tour--but it generally puts me in the running for top male performer and usually beats the girls. Obama? For perspective, the last time I went bowling with family friends, their teenage daughter rolled a 37.

Bowling is a working man's game. Obama looked very much like a Harvard pansy ineptly pandering to the yokels. Although he probably won't get this conceit--he bowled a turkey without ever rolling a strike. I tend to think this tip-toe through the bowling alley may prove more damaging than most aristocratic pundits appreciated last week. In short, for that particular moment, Barack was very un-Steve.

Note: the quote from the first sentence comes from the Wikipedia entry for The Tao of Steve.
Category: General
Posted by: Tocqueville
From the brilliant and provocative Neil Postman:

"Having sat through two dozen or so graduation speeches, I have naturally wondered why they are so often so bad. One reason, of course, is that the speakers are chosen for their eminence in some field, and not because they are either competent speakers or gifted writers. Another reason is that the audience is eager to be done with all ceremony so that it can proceed to some serious reveling. Thus any speech longer than, say, fifteen minutes will seem tedious, if not entirely pointless. There are other reasons as well, including the difficulty of saying something inspirational without being banal. Here I try my hand at writing a graduation speech, and not merely to discover if I can conquer the form. This is precisely what I would like to say to young people if I had their attention for a few minutes."

Hat Tip -- Rod Dreher
Category: General
Posted by: Tocqueville
Armed with supportive evidence from Michael Barone, Stanley Kurtz makes the convincing case that, at its core, the Obama phenomenon is a product of elite academia.
Category: Farmer's Favorites
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
This week marks forty years since an assassin's bullet took the life of Martin Luther King. The highly symbolic anniversary, as well as the unforgettable metaphor of King's last speech, has tempted many to wonder aloud how close we are as a people to reaching a racial promised land.

I wrote the following a few months ago (October 2007). In the short time since, much has transpired concerning race in America. In light of this moment of commemoration, and the renewed call for conversation concerning who we are and how we come together, one day achieving the ancient American dream of E Pluribus Unum, I resubmit this candid declaration of sentiments:

Herein lie buried many things which if read with patience may show the strange meaning of being black here at the dawning of the Twentieth Century. This meaning is not without interest to you, Gentle Reader; for the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color line.
W.E.B. DuBois, 1903

More than a century later, the problem of race in America continues to present the most daunting, toxic, and seemingly intractable cultural dilemma of our age. I am convinced that we cannot go on as we are.

We are irreversibly pointed toward a re-evaluation of racial politics in America. In the simplest terms, our current cultural standard rests on according preferences to descendants of victims of past racial discrimination and abominations at the expense of other Americans increasingly less different from the protected class and more and more unconnected to the sins of the fathers. Such a system cannot survive the coming reconciliation with basic principles of American justice and equality.

In brief, here is what I believe:

1. There is no place for discrimination based on race.

Quoting John Roberts: "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

I do favor, however, discrimination based on merit, experience, potential, personality, character, previous personal history, commitment, fortitude, integrity, and attitude.

Having said all that, we are all imperfect and saved solely by grace. We do well to view our own actions and motivations with deep skepticism.

2. No person should face disproportionate punishment within the justice system based on race. No person should escape justice in America because of race.

We should accept that some black people actually commit criminal acts. Moreover, not all white sheriffs, district attorneys, and judges are racists. However, we should also accept that some members of the white power elite are racist (some overtly and some subconsciously), which leads to race-tainted injustices. We must approach individual cases with fair and open minds and then carefully weigh the facts to discern the truth in each particular situation.

Blunt assumptions and rushes to judgment are not constructive on either side of the racial divide.

3. No person should face public or personal harassment because of race. But racial slander is never a just provocation for violent reprisal.

There is no place in our culture for racially charged symbols designed to intimidate and/or humiliate. However, we are better served when we deal with hateful speech in a proportionate and reasoned manner. An "eye for an eye" is inarguably the "less excellent way"--but an “eye” for a harsh word is completely unacceptable.

4. We should not pre-judge people whom we do not know based on race. Having said that, sensitivity based on our knowledge and experience is a valuable component of our social skills set.

We should apply the Golden Rule and Christian charity in all our interactions.

5. We should not accept racial lunacy from our peers, friends, relatives and/or community leaders. Certainly, we can disagree without being disagreeable, but we should not allow destructive, erroneous, broadly crafted, conspiratorial rhetoric to go unchecked. We have the duty to stand up for truth, justice, and the American way.

Last thought:

Go out with that faith today. Go back to your homes in the Southland to that faith, with that faith today. Go back to Philadelphia, to New York, to Detroit and Chicago with that faith today: that the universe is on our side in the struggle. Stand up for justice.

Sometimes it gets hard, but it is always difficult to get out of Egypt, for the Red Sea always stands before you with discouraging dimensions. And even after you've crossed the Red Sea, you have to move through a wilderness with prodigious hilltops of evil and gigantic mountains of opposition. But I say to you this afternoon: Keep moving. Let nothing slow you up. Move on with dignity and honor and respectability.
Martin Luther King, Jr., 1957

China is an old empire. It contains a variety of regions, religions, and ethnic groups forcefully brought under the control of the empire. Some regions are restive.

Tibet has been in the news recently, protesting Chinese control and the government attempts to eradicate Tibetan culture and identity. But they are not alone. Muslims in Xinjiang have been agitating for several years. They now are in full protest mode. Story here from The Times of India.

Can China remain intact? Probably. The central government has a near monopoly on force and no compunction against using it. Every dollar you spend on Chinese goods helps the government of China crush dissent.
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Authentic American hero and proven military sage, General Barry R. McCaffrey, US Army (Ret.), testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today. You can watch the hearing live on C-SPAN3 right now.

McCaffrey is always worth watching--and not merely because of his exemplary military service; more compelling, he expertly combines his unwavering patriotism and institutional optimism with an experienced and exacting eye, which translates into a willingness to engage in straight talk and tough love.

His penchant for brutally critical analysis continues to tempt partisans and unfriendly journalists to cherry-pick his statements, using select portions of his assessments to buttress the drumbeat of U.S. failure in Iraq.

You may read a previous example of this practice noted here approximately a year ago: The Real Barry McCaffrey Stands Up (which may be helpful for context).

McCaffrey appeared on C-SPAN's Washington Journal this morning. I expect an individual dedicated link later today--which I will add at that time.

Must See TV.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Peter Wehner, a former deputy assistant to President George W. Bush, and currently a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, writing this morning in the Wall Street Journal, asserts that Barack "Obama's record reveals him to be a doctrinaire liberal." Mr. Wehner picks up on a point with which Bosque Boys readers are familiar, but furthers the discussion with an enumeration of offensive policy positions and a helpful analysis of how the Republican candidate, John McCain, might address this unexpected opportunity:

"Mr. McCain needs to present a compelling case on the foundational beliefs that divide liberalism and conservatism – on matters like the size and role of government, competition and accountability in education, health care, and whether higher taxes encourage or retard economic growth. Mr. McCain also needs to force a debate on the proper role of the judiciary, the protection owed to unborn children and the rights owed to unlawful enemy combatants, and whether promoting liberty should be a central aim of American foreign policy in combating militant Islam.

"Mr. McCain needs to become an educator-in-chief on matters of political philosophy. He won't be able to fulfill that role nearly as well as Reagan, who was a philosophical conservative in the way that Mr. McCain (and most other Republican politicians) is not. And Mr. McCain himself has, until now, been sui generis on matters of conservatism. His challenge is to make his case well enough to convince Americans not only that Mr. Obama is a liberal, but that having a liberal in the White House would do real damage to our country."

We welcome this constructive addition to this increasingly vital and relevant conversation.
The story is making the rounds of the blogosphere that Hillary was fired from her position on the Watergate Hearings. Or, in another variation, that she was not fired, but when the procedures ended her boss would not give her a letter of recommendation. Only one of the blogs I've read this information on linked to the actual source. The source is Jerry Zeifman, Former Counsel, Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. House of Representatives, who would have been Hillary's boss during the Watergate Hearings.

Here is his article in Accuracy in Media.

The essay opens:

I have just seen Hillary Clinton and her former Yale law professor both in tears at a campaign rally here in my home state of Connecticut. Her tearful professor said how proud he was that his former student was likely to become our next President. Hillary responded in tears.

My own reaction was of regret that, when I terminated her employment on the Nixon impeachment staff, I had not reported her unethical practices to the appropriate bar associations.

Hillary as I knew her in 1974

At the time of Watergate I had overall supervisory authority over the House Judiciary Committee's Impeachment Inquiry staff that included Hillary Rodham-who was later to become First Lady in the Clinton White House.

Here is his website,

The article of interest is most of the way down the page and entitled


The opening paragraph reads:

In December 1974, as general counsel and chief of staff of the House
Judiciary Committee, I made a personal evaluation of Hillary Rodham
(now Senator Clinton), a member of the staff we had gathered for our
impeachment inquiry on President Richard Nixon. I decided that I could
not recommend her for any future position of public or private trust.

We'll see if this story develops further.
For those of us who cannot speak or understand Arabic, MEMRI TV provides an invaluable service. MEMRI records Arabic television then provides English translation across the bottom of the screen. Here are some examples of the hate-filled stuff being seen in the Arab world.

#1722 - Hamas Cleric Wael Al-Zarad Calls for the Annihilation of Jews and States: If Each Arab Spat on the Jews, They Would Drown in Arab Spit

Al-Aqsa TV (Hamas/Gaza) -
February 28, 2008 - 00:02:42

#669 - Palestinian Friday Sermon by Sheik Ibrahim Mudeiris: Muslims Will Rule America and Britain, Jews Are a Virus Resembling AIDS

Palestinian Authority TV -
May 13, 2005 - 00:04:56

#1049 - Film Seminar on Iranian TV: Tom and Jerry - A Jewish Conspiracy to Improve the Image of Mice, because Jews Were Termed "Dirty Mice" in Europe

Channel 4 (Iran) -
February 19, 2006 - 00:03:20

To see these and many, many more, go to the website of MEMRI.
Sources today (4/1/08) are telling the AP that behind the scenes former president Jimmy Carter is offering himself to the Democratic Party as the presidential candidate for 2008. Carter operatives, reportedly are trying to convice Howard Dean and other party leaders that Obama and Clinton have polarized Democrats so badly that neither can unify the party in November. Carter is reported to have said that if he could bring Arabs and Israelis together at Camp David for an agreement, he can bring warring Democrats together.

Full story here.
Category: General
Posted by: an okie gardener
Brits at Their Best links to an article in The Independent on the current archealogical excavations at Stonehenge plus current theories. It may have served as a healing center.
Category: Politics
Posted by: Tocqueville
Michael Barone, perhaps the nation's foremost political pundit, has made a most unusual prediction: Hillary wins the popular vote, but Obama wins the delegate count.