You are currently viewing archive for November 2008
Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
Powerline links to two must-read posts by VDH on American culture.
Category: General
Posted by: Tocqueville

26/11: Small Towns

Category: General
Posted by: Tocqueville
Paul Gregory Alms, a Lutheran minister in Catawba, North Carolina (population 700) has a wonderful post on small towns over at the First Things blog:


In many ways, they are exactly like the rest of America. People in them watch CNN and Fox news. They have cable and satellite television and high-speed Internet connections. Kids play the same video games and wear the same fashions. But there is one distinctiveness here, and a single word captures much of it: connectedness. To live in a small town is to be connected, and not electronically or digitally. Rather it means to be connected to people in the flesh, to actual places, to land and buildings, to a common past.


People are often born, grow up, marry, raise a family, work, retire, and die all within the same few miles or even acres. Birth, childhood, family, place, memory, and death are all tied tightly together. These few acres or miles are a part of daily experience. You drive by the place where you grew up every day. It is the same with the place where you went to school or played baseball or where your granddaddy used to work. The past is not past in a small town. The past is experienced viscerally and concretely every day. It is a part of today as surely as the ground upon which one walks.


Land and family inevitably bring one in contact with the past. The past lives here in ways that are inconceivable elsewhere. To go to the grocery store is to potentially encounter your entire past life and even ancestry: your grandmother, your first grade teacher, your girlfriend from high school, your cousin, your boss from years ago. When one lives in the place where one was raised and when that place is small and self contained, the past is its own character in the drama of life. Memories are resurrected often and in many ways. The memories are also associated with place: a childhood accident there, your grandfather’s farm there, a marriage proposal there. All of it is just around the bend. People in small towns do not escape the past by moving to some other place. They confront it daily. They inhabit it.
Category: From the Heart
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
On 5 November, in a post entitled "congratulations to President-elect Barack Obama," I wrote:

I hope Obama completes the mission in Iraq regardless of where the credit for success may fall. If the president-elect decides to retain Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense, and David Petraeus as commander of Cent-Com, and allows them to back us out of Iraq in a responsible fashion, he will have my undying gratitude for the duration of his administration.


According to the AP, Gates will stay on as Secretary of Defense for at least a year.

Remarkable. Truly Remarkable.

I will happily stand by my pledge.
Category: The Economy
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Lately, my time to blog has been scarce. However, I have enjoyed reacting to my friend Mark Osler's blog. From the beginning, Osler has consistently and adamantly expressed opposition to the financial sector bailout. He continues to inveigh against the practice in this post on the latest "Citigroup" episode in the unfolding melodrama.

However, I am not sure that I have fully expressed my deep anxiety over this financial meltdown on my own turf. If you are interested, you can get a feel for my abject trepidation concerning our current financial crisis.

Three comments from Osler's Razor that capture my dread:

No Auto Bailout!!!!

If Nissan and Honda can make cars profitably in the USA, we should not give GM and Ford any freebies. Let 'em sink or swim.

However, the continuing government bailout/rescue of the financial sector continues to be worth the effort.

In for a penny; in for a pound.

Here is a sad but true fact:

it is better to be a banker than an auto worker.


Because the sine qua non of any modern economy is liquidity [and banking stability and depositor security]. The banks have a gun to our head. If we lose the banks, we are fourth world.

Massive Bank failures = GREAT DEPRESSION.

Nothing else you can imagine compares to this dreadful looming possibility.

Creative destruction is a part of capitalism--yes. And I am a big proponent of capitalism--yes.

Pull GM's decaying carcass off the road and clear the way for the next innovator.

But that is not the way banking works. Remember, massive bank failures = GREAT DEPRESSION.

The Good News: President-elect Obama is bringing back a group of Wall Street sharpies who are clear-eyed realists. They understand where we are and what needs to be done.

The Car Question is politics; the Bank Question is pure survival.

Of course, none of this may matter. The banks might still fail--but, at this point, that means that they take the whole government down with them.

We cannot save every industry in the coming crisis. But, if we get real lucky, and God really does watch over drunks, fools, and the United States, we just might save the banks—and our own hides.

And this:

The difference between the banking crisis and the tragedy of American automobile manufacturing is that we can survive without American-made cars.

If the government folds its hands and watches banks like Citi go bust, or the other myriad private financial institutions that we have bolstered, or the quasi-public Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae, we will initiate a launch sequence of massive panic.

Right now the thin blue line between society as we have come to know it and complete chaos is the assurance that money and banks are backed by the United States government.

You [Osler] are correct that the liquidity is not coming back as hoped--although we have thus far avoided the Great Crash and the ensuing pandemonium.

And there is some irony that the new President-elect is charging the foxes to guard the hen house--but, the truth is, we just have no other choice.

Or do we?

What is your proposal at this point?

Osler replied:

I think if you are going to intervene, let the weak go bust and bolster two groups-- the strong and the new innovators.

Are you assuming the feds will cover all the losses on all the banks we elect not to prop up?

I don't think we have the ability to do that. That is, I fear this is financially NOT feasible. NOT POSSIBLE.

The only hope for us, in my view, is for the feds to guarantee the banks, pump in massive amounts of fake cash, create the illusion of security, and allow the banks to heal themselves.

No guarantee there--but our best bet.

If we start letting these big banks fail, I fear we put the lie to the house of cards we are counting on to protect us from the cold.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Cleaning out my queue of unfinished drafts. From some time during the primary season:

For much of the pre-season phase (pre-Iowa and New Hampshire) of Decision 2008, the Okie Gardener gently admonished me to abandon the "horse race" aspect of the campaign and join him in his quest for substance.

Later, after I began to write critically of Barack Obama, advocates for "CHANGE" called on me to refrain from dwelling on his rhetoric, middle name, race, faith, lack of experience, and other matters apart from substance.

All of these questions and exhortations presume that we will pick our next president based on his or her collective stance on the issues--which is altogether logical.

Why have I virtually ignored "the issues" thus far (save for Iraq and the "war on terror")?

Simply, I do not believe that some slate of agreed-upon major issues that confront us an a nation actually will play a telling role in the fall. Undoubtedly, one or two key issues of concern will emerge between now and then--mostly depending on what seemingly crucial event might be the most ever-present in our minds at that particular moment: the economy? Likely. Iraq? This is already much less prevalent than most of us thought it would be.

If the summer proves uncharacteristically hot, perhaps we will be tuned into global warming? Will the news media and the Democratic nominee succeed in creating a sense of urgency over healthcare? Maybe. Or will something wholly unforeseen enter our consciousness between now and then that completely overshadows all other concerns?

What can I safely say will not be a major issue in the fall campaign? The future of American education or our impending crisis of structural debt, which includes social security, medicare, and other entitlements, [which] is not titillating enough to keep the attention of the electorate. The ultimate contradiction of our time? The desire for a low-tax, small government society in which all our needs are met by wise leadership and sound public institutions that protect us from ourselves. There is no political advantage in telling us that this combination is not possible; therefore, I bet the farm that this subject will not emerge in any of the televised debates.

Changes in the United States happen incrementally. With the exception of Franklin Roosevelt and the "New Deal," revolutions in America have not happened at the ballot box. And in the case of FDR, the electorate was swept up in a national sense of crisis--panic, etc. For the record, few could have imagined the impending transformation based on Roosevelt's campaign rhetoric or the Democratic Party platform of 1932.

The United States of America is a big ship. Specific policy ideas and proposals from any one successful candidate during one election cycle generally does not have much impact on the course of American history. On the other hand, larger philosophical positions have a greater impact over time. Therefore, this raging debate within the Republican faithful over who we are and who best personifies that collective consciousness strikes me as much more meaningful. The problem, however, is that the current candidates seem disinclined to engage that internal maelstrom.
I began writing this at some point in 2007, unaware of the positive changes that would have spread over Iraq by the spring of 2008, the looming economic meltdown that would begin in late summer, or the historic crossroads presented by the fall election. This post is incomplete and somewhat indistinct (it looks like I might have been attempting a great treatise on American government). No matter, for lack of anything better to say right now, I am releasing it as an unfinished thought from that moment in time.

Is the United States of America a democracy?

A caller to C-SPAN's Washington Journal a few weeks back, representing himself as a lifelong Republican loyalist, wanted to know why this president seemed bound and determined to wreck "his party" by flying in the face of the overwhelming expression of the popular will on Iraq and the "children's health" bill?

A letter writer to the Waco Tribune Herald (but you may insert any town USA), disgusted with "Bush's war," proclaims:

"Politicians in this country are so disconnected from the constituents that democracy, the true definition of that word, simply does not exist here."

Resolved: The vast majority of Americans, as evidenced by public opinion polls and the last mid-term election, no longer support our presence in Iraq; therefore, the majority should rule, Congress should pass legislation to correct the President's failed policy, and instruct the military to initiate a withdrawal sequence.

Resolved: Public opinion polling indicates that the vast majority of Americans suppport the Democratic Party's proposed expansion of SCHIP; therefore, the President should accede to the will of the people.

Right? Wrong.

Is the United States of America a democracy? Or, as high school history teachers and talk radio hosts like to ask, is the United States a republic?


The answer is both--and then some. The United States is a pluralistic, quasi-federal, constitutional representative democracy with republican roots.

The Constitution of 1787 provides for republican government. When we pledge allegiance to the flag, we pledge allegiance to the "republic for which it stands." On the other hand, the clear intent of the framers lost out to a cultural revolution, which began almost as soon as the national government came into being and democratized American politics. History texts commonly refer to the great change as Jacksonian Democracy--but it is also correctly associated with Thomas Jefferson, the first two-party system, and the so-called Republican Revolution of 1800.


republic: a state in which supreme power rests in the body of citizens entitled to vote, exercised by representatives chosen directly or indirectly by them, and in which the head of government is not a monarch or other hereditary head of state.

democracy: government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system; a state of society characterized by formal equality of rights and privileges.

How it happened:

The Patriots of the American Revolution hoped that they were birthing an age of republican government animated by virtue. However, people like James Madison quickly surmised that Americans were no more virtuous than humanity in general, and they conceived a government necessarily more realistic about the nature of man.

Therefore, the framers devised a fairly intricate system of divided government in which three jealous departments compete against one another and sometimes internally for authority. The system of checks and balances, which has served us so well, is essentially a framework for consensus government. Most of the time, little happens without broad agreement.

No one person has ever exerted ultimate control over the system. To date, no one faction or institution has proven capable of rising to the top of the greasy pole of American government for a dangerously extended period of time. Men and women come and go. Parties are born, rise, fall, pass away completely, and, sometimes, rise again. But the system perseveres.

What of majority rule?

Here is how majority rule works under Mr. Madison's plan for government:

Many diverse constituencies and institutions exert their influence on national decision making. Instead of public policy turning on a dime, the framers designed a system resistant to "temporary enthusiasms" and "popular passions."

A Side Question: What happens when the popular will is in opposition to the public interest?

American Revolution-era republicans hoped that statesman, when presented with hard choices, would choose wise governance over popular sentiment, accepting the consequences of doing the right but unpopular thing.

However, once the optimism gave way to realization, the framers scrambled to construct a system in which popular majorities exerted due influence without facilitating a "tyranny of the majority" (a phrase Alexis de Tocqueville would coin a generation later).

Category: Frivolity
Posted by: an okie gardener
Now that's funny right there. I don't care who you are.

Infidel Bloggers' Alliance links to the video.

Warning: for those of us who grew up on farms, ignore the anatomically incorrect "bulls" and go on the mind-trip.
Category: The Economy
Posted by: an okie gardener
Recently Instapundit linked to this story from Popular Mechanics on the Top Ten Startup Car Makers.

These are ten new companies that are either in production, or near production of automobiles. Some of them are performance gas-guzzlers. Others are electric cars. One is a speciality police car.

Historically in the United States, and it has served us well, businesses came into being and passed out of being--a constant state of creative ferment: Darwinism in the economic realm where the fittest survive. Remember A&P? Montgomery Ward? Remember America before Wal-Mart? Before Apple? Ultimately the consumer benefits.

Preserving the Big Three with government money freezes the status quo in place. May be the best thing that can happen to American auto manufacturing is for one or more of the big guys to tank, and a new collection of car makers to grow.

New technologies also contribute to this creative ferment. The demise of demand for whale-oil hit certain New England seaports hard. But the increased demand for petroleum did wonders for parts of Pennsylvania, Texas, Oklahoma, etc. Overall, as old jobs disappeared, new ones appeared.

Transitions are tough on people. No doubt about it. But what are the alternatives?

Think of a continuum--a line where one color gradually shades into another color without sharp breaks. This contimuum represents Industrial society. At one end is laissez-faire capitalism--Capitalism with no restraints. In Capitalism the means of production are in private hands, and the decision-making is in private hands. At the other end of the continuum is pure Socialism--the means of production and decision-making are in public (read government) hands. Various combinations are in between. Pure Socialism has never been very good at benefitting the masses. While the elites do OK, the masses stand in line for toilet paper. On the other hand, at the end of the nineteenth century we learned that pure laissez-faire Capitalism led to monopolies, abuse of workers, and other bad things. So we moved to regulated Capitalism. The means of production remained in private hands, and decision-making remained in private hands within the bounds of regulations to ensure competition, humane treatment of workers, etc. This has worked out pretty well. (Distributivism, such as G.K.Chesterton espoused following Pope Leo XIII, results in a pre-industrial society, I think.)

We are now, I think, at a point in our nation's history when we may be sliding a bit farther down the continuum from Regulated-Capitalism toward the Socialist end. That direction does not promise prosperity.

And there is another worry. Liberty is a fragile condition. Most human beings in the history of the world have not had much. Moving toward the Socialist end of the spectrum, taking more out of private hands and putting it under government control, creates a stronger and stronger government. Stronger governments are threats to Liberty, even if the government thinks it has noble motives.

We may be moving in this direction because we have come to believe that life should have no risk, that there should be no suffering or hardship. Not possible. A world without risk or hardship is a world without Liberty, and without personal responsibility.

Am I being callous? No. I want reasonable Unemployment Insurance for American workers. And I want government limited so that there is money for private charity. But sometimes people must move to find work. Sometimes people must change jobs. The European model is becoming unsustainable even in Europe. We should take a lesson.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Today, the House Democratic Caucus voted 137-122 to oust John Dingell as chair of the Energy and Commerce committee and replace him with Henry Waxman.

What does this mean?

You can read this informative news/analysis piece from The Hill for starters.

This quote from Nancy Pelosi says it all:

“Under his leadership, the committee and the entire caucus will make progress toward making America energy-independent, making healthcare available to all Americans, and addressing the greatest challenge of our time, global warming.”

As the Hill reports, Waxman will be a "liberal, aggressive, and activist chairman." Read this as a sign that Speaker Pelosi does not intend to lay low and/or capitulate in the face of a potentially common-sense oriented Obama administration. It is also some payback for Dingell, who had the temerity to resist the Speaker's proposed war on climate change.

Bottom Line: Nancy Pelosi and Left Coast liberalism are alive and well in the 111th Congress. Thank you very much.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
I heard a fairly cantankerous interview with Barney Frank this morning.

In response to a request for clarification from the interviewer, Frank testily responded: "Right, I'm trying to explain to you how it works." Congressman Frank went on to chastise the reporter on several more occasions, continued to interrupt and talk over him incessantly, and then began his concluding statement by declaring: "you seem determined to kind of distort this."

Another encounter with Bill O'Reilly? No. This was an NPR segment with Steve Inskeep.

Barney Frank is a man so combative that he cannot even seem civil with NPR.

What are we going to do with this fellow now that he is in charge of overseeing our financial system?

The cranky exchange this morning concerned Frank's insistence that we bail out our struggling domestic automobile companies.

Frank is not bashful about telling you what he thinks:

--the car companies should be rescued to save workers and remedy the "white collar/blue collar divide,” fight against the rampant and systemic "anti-union activity," and attempt to address "income inequality in this country."

--we seem to be willing to spend "hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of billions for a war that we never should have been in [Iraq], but we don't save an important industry and protect workers from having gains that they fought hard for taken away."

--we live in "a wealthy country. If we spend things well, we can spend them."

With the fundamental problems with labor and health care costs, is any of this even spending on the Big Three likely to help?

--the x factor seems to be health care. "if they have to stay with health care the way it is now, yeah, that's bleak. But what I am hoping is that we will get a change in the health care system that will reduce the burden that we put not just on the American auto industry, where it's more expensive to build a car in America than in Canada because of health care."

The Frank Plan:

1. Save the UAW at taxpayer expense.

2. Ditch Iraq and spend the peace dividend on reducing inequities.

3. Universal healthcare.

The Okie Gardener asserted earlier today that Barney Frank presents a real obstacle to Barack Obama's success as president. Finding a way to keep Barney in his cage will be an ongoing problem for the new administration. I wish them well.

I agree with the Gardener, the way the Auto Bail Out shakes out will tell us a lot.
We have mentioned before that according to Islamic understanding, Obama was born a Muslim since his father was Muslim. Becoming Christian made him an apostate, subject to the death penalty anywhere sharia law prevails.

Al Qaeda Calls Obama an Apostate.

Zawahiri also criticised Mr Obama - whose father is Muslim - for betraying the Islamic world.

"You were born to a Muslim father, but you chose to stand in the ranks of the enemies of the Muslims, and pray the prayer of the Jews, although you claim to be Christian, in order to climb the rungs of leadership in America," he said.

Mr Obama was not an "honourable black American" like Malcolm X, he said, but an "abeed al-beit" - a word that translates as house slave but was rendered "house negro" in the message's English subtitles.

I recall that bin Laden also used the term "slave" to refer to blacks.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
The Democratic caucus in the United States Senate voted 42 to 13 to retain Joe Lieberman as chair of the Homeland Security Committee.

This is an immensely gracious act. It is the right thing to do--but it would have been deliciously satisfying for a whole slew of irate Democrats to publicly humiliate the maverick senator from Connecticut.

But they did not.


They may need him. If the two outstanding elections in Minnesota and Georgia are settled in the Democrats favor, Joe Lieberman might make the difference in terms of a filibuster-proof super majority.

However, I tend to believe that the filibuster magic number is much less (and by that I mean MUCH LESS) important than most pundits like to imagine. President Obama will write his own ticket for the 111th Congress and will likely prove virtually unstoppable on any issue he pleases. His only governor will be his own restraint.

More compelling, President-elect Obama evidently threw his weight behind this act of forgiveness and reconciliation. Why? Perhaps he really is a scrupulous follower of Christ, who lives his life based on the tenets expressed in the Sermon on the Mount. Or, perhaps he is an incredibly insightful politician who understands that an olive branch is often a wiser and more profitable weapon than the sledgehammer. Forgiving Lieberman and bringing him back into the fold affirms the image of Obama as a new Lincoln--and very likely obligates Joe to him for life. Either explanation (or, more likely, somewhere in between) pleases me.

Whether someone lives a good life because it is "the law," and/or the fear of Hell motivates them to follow the commands of God, or whether one embraces the spirit of Christ and does good in the world because his heart dictates such conduct, makes no great difference to me.

More pointedly, even if this is merely a political calculation, doing the right thing for the wrong reasons is much preferable than doing the wrong thing with a conflicted heart or guilty conscience.

My reason for optimism: on the whole, I like this pattern of conduct. Specifically, we love Joe, and we are happy that President-elect Obama saw fit to offer him a place of honor in America's future.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
Knights of Columbus national headquarters has received mysterious white powder in the mail, probably because of the KofC support for Proposition 8 in California. Story here. The powder apparently is harmless, but was disruptive.

Here is the text of Proposition 8 from the State of California Voter Guide.

This initiative measure is submitted to the people in accordance with the
provisions of Article II, Section 8, of the California Constitution.
This initiative measure expressly amends the California Constitution by
adding a section thereto; therefore, new provisions proposed to be added are
printed in italic type to indicate that they are new.
SECTION 1. Title
This measure shall be known and may be cited as the “California Marriage
Protection Act.”
SECTION 2. Section 7.5 is added to Article I of the California Constitution,
to read:
SEC. 7.5. Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized
in California

Mormons also have been subjected to vandalism and white powder mailings. Story here.

Not only have several congregations been picketed, but an Assembly of God church in Michigan had its service disrupted. Story here.

Play by the rules guys. Campaigns. Advertising. Orderly marches. All fine. Vandalism. Fake anthrax attacks. Disrupting worship services. Not fine. In a democracy, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. When you lose, continue to work within the system. Don't go Brownshirt.

I can even handle peaceful protests outside churches. Though ACT UP is known for its non-peaceful protests of Roman Catholic churches. Story here. Those actions described in this article did not approach the levels of the infamous 1989 ACT UP demonstrations.

Acting like fascists will not win friends and influence people.
Drudge today has lots of news about pirates, mostly operating out of Somalia.

A few thoughts.

1. More and more shipping in the world is done under Third-World flags--Liberia, for example--in order to avoid the wage and health & safety regulations, and taxes, of First-World Nations. My first reaction is to let the companies reap the harvest they sowed. If you chose to register your vessel in a small, back-water nation, then let the Liberian Navy rescue your ship. You deliberately chose not to pay taxes to support things like a military navy, so why should we rescue you?

2. Many First-World nations, such as Canada and many European countries, have chosen to diminish their military capabilities in order to maintain their elaborate social-welfare systems. Why should they be able to count on the U.S. Navy to police the seas while not maintaining the strength to protect their own interests. My second reaction is to let the nation whose cargo it is go get their ship.

3. Somalia is no longer a country. It is a bit of territory without an effectively functioning government. We probably need to bring back Teddy Roosevelt's doctrine that the civilized nations of the world bear a responsibility to maintain order. But, and this is my third thought, doing something about Somalia should not be a U.S. responsibility. Give Multilateralism a chance. Force the U.N. to demonstrate whether it is useful or not. If not, evict it from New York and let the U.S. partner up with nations of similar interests and values.

4. Pirates should not be treated as domestic criminals. They have declared war on the rest of the world. Bring back the old meaning of the word "outlaw," one who has placed himself outside the protection of the law. My fourth thought is that upon capture pirates should be hung from the neck until dead without delay. No trials. And, like in the Old West where "ride with outlaws, hang with outlaws" was the motto; Sail with pirates, hang with pirates.

5. As a corollary, pirate ships should be sunk without remorse. Recently a British frigate launched Royal Marines in inflatable boats to capture a pirate ship. The pirates opened fire on the Marines who returned fire, killing a few pirates without suffering casualties themselves, and capturing the remaining pirates. My fifth thought is that those Royal Marines, and others like them, should not have been put at risk. If you are sure it's a pirate ship, blow it away.

p.s. If I were Obama, and wanted to get my bona fides early at low cost, I'd go aggressive, sink some pirate ships and shell some havens.
forwarded from photognome

Somebody remind me, why do we buy stuff from these guys?

A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the International Society for Infectious Diseases

Date: 17 Nov 2008
Source: Epoch Times [edited]

Clenbuterol food poisoning was reported in Jiaxing City, Zhejiang
Province. Since 10 Nov 2008, 70 employees of the Zhongmao Plastics
Products company in Jiaxing have been diagnosed. A pork dish served at
the Zhongmao cafeteria lunch meal was identified as the source.

A Chinese hospital doctor, Hao Jun (alias), confirmed to The Epoch
Times that the patients shared similar and obvious symptoms:
palpitation, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, chest tightness, uneasiness,
shaking, trembling, weakness, and instability.

Hao said, "Some patients have been seen at the hospital. More than 20
patients suffered from severe poisoning. Others were seen at other
hospitals. Most patients have been released. Those who were in
critical condition have also been stabilized, although the side
effects are yet to be observed."

Dr. Hao Jun indicated that clenbuterol is an asthma medicine. It will
speed up the catabolism of fat in pigs if used in pig feed. It will
also enhance the lean meat and muscle in pigs. It is heat stable and
will not decompose until it's heated to over 172 C. Therefore, cooking
will not eliminate clenbuterol toxicity. It will accumulate in the
human body through ingestion. Long term consumption will lead to
malignant tumors and pose particular danger to patients who have high
blood pressure or diabetes. If the intake is excessive, the poisoning
can be life-threatening.

Dr. Hao mentioned that because one of his relatives owns a pig feed
company, he was made aware of the "secret" about pig feed additives.
Clenbuterol added to feed will not only shorten the growth time but
also increase the sale price. Growth hormone is also added. Poison
chemicals such as arsenic have also been added to enhance the redness
and shine of the pork skin and hair. Some might even add tranquilizers
or sleeping pills to make pigs sleep. Long term consumption of pork
adulterated with these feeds might lead to retardation. The hormones
and chemicals could also endanger lives and lead to many illnesses.

"It is not realistic to expect the public [to] be cautious. The
critical point is the monitoring mechanism of the government," Dr. Hao
expressed, "The government's response has always been the same: "The
case is being investigated, and sanction is warranted." However, it
always ends with no action. Therefore, those who committed the crime
have nothing to fear. I believe there's some sort of collusion and
conflict of interest between the business and the officials."

Pork containing clenbuterol often has a bright red skin with very little fat.

According to partial data, since 1998, there have been at least 18
clenbuterol food poisoning cases in China. More than 1700 people have
been poisoned, with one confirmed death.

Between 8-18 Oct 2008, there were 3 food poisonings confirmed caused
by clenbuterol in pork meals in Guangdong Province.

During September 2006, a series of food borne illnesses occurred in
Shanghai and sickened more than 300 people. These were confirmed to be
related to meals with pork or pig intestines containing clenbuterol.
In June of the same year, employees of a hotel in Foshan suffered from
clenbuterol food poisoning. Also, hundreds of workers in a glass
factory in Guangdong Province were poisoned by meals containing
clenbuterol in May 2006.

Hao Jun emphasized, "Considering the infant formula food borne illness
[melamine poisoning], and the massive incidences of poor food quality
and safety, problems in China's processed foods are increasingly

[Byline: Xin Fei]

-- Communicated by: HealthMap Alerts via ProMED-mail

[It is well known that clenbuterol is a metabolic stimulator resulting
in a lower fat level. It is illegal to use in livestock in the US.

Clenbuterol is also used as a bronchodilator in human patients and
illegally used as a weight loss stimulant in humans.

Although the mechanism is not understood, clenbuterol in swine can and
does seem to cause problems in humans. - Mod.TG]

[ProMED-mail would like to thank Dr. Angela Huang
for submitting a similar article translated
from Chinese.

In a report on food safety by the Institute for Agricultural Sciences
of Viet Nam, discusses the use of beta agonists in swine feed. This
document mentions that only a small amount of clenbuterol is excreted
and metabolized, with the majority of the drug remaining in muscles
and organs (liver and kidney). Humans, when using food processed from
these animals show the same manifestations as if they had directly
inhaled a treatment dose of clenbuterol with increased heart rate
leading to coronary arteriectasia (arterial distension) ,
bronchoectasia (irreversible local bronchial dilitation), and a
concommitant stimulation of insulin release and glycolysis.

Symptoms compatible with the description provided in the above

Of note, a similar incident occurred in Hong Kong in 1998 involving 9
people eating pork lungs that were found to have concentrations of
clenbuterol ranging between 1 and 24 micrograms per kilogram. (see
Pork, contaminated, clenbuterol - China (Hong Kong) 19980505.0876).

For a map of China, see

For the interactive HealthMap/ProMED map of China with links to other
recent ProMED postings on events in China and neighboring countries,
see .

selected references:

1 Martinez-Navarro JF, Food poisoning related to consumption of
illicit beta-agonist in liver, Lancet 336 (1990), p. 1311.

2. Brambilla G, Loizzo A, Fontana L et al., Food poisoning following
consumption of clenbuterol-treated veal in Italy, J Am Med Assoc 278
(1997), p. 635.

3 Brambilla G, Cenci T, Franconi F., Clinical and pharmacological
profile in a clembuterol epidemic poisoning of contaminated beef meat
in Italy, Toxicol Lett 114 (2000), pp. 47–53.

4. Ramos F, silveira I, Silva JM, Barbosa J, Cruz C, Martins J, Neves
C, Alves C.Proposed guidelines for clenbuterol food poisoning. Am J
Med. 1 September 2004. 117(5): 362-362
- Mod.MPP]
Category: US in Iraq
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Only because I never see this assertion challenged, let me just say out loud:

It does not follow logically that someone who voted against the surge two years ago, and called for a subsequent sixteen-month “date certain” for withdrawal back then, is now vindicated, twenty-four months later, after a Herculean effort on the part of the United States military, by a bilateral agreement, between the USA and an increasingly stable Iraq, to aim for a major withdrawal of US armed forces over the next thirty-six months.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Rahm Emanuel and Hillary Clinton.

Rahm Emanuel as Chief of Staff.

I love it. Why?

Off the top of my head:

--Emanuel will be pro-Israel--something many of us have worried about in re an Obama administration.

--Emanuel is a can-do kind of guy--the sort every successful president needs. Tough as nails and hard-charging, he will complement the laid-back style of the President-elect.

--Compared to some of the other Clinton vets (thinking about Harold Ickes and John Podesta, for example), Emanuel is much less ideologically driven. He is a compromiser and a fixer.

An Aside: if it seems like I am talking about my own team, I am. Until Barack Obama demonstrates to me that he does not have the best interests of America at heart, I am going to assume he does.

--Emanuel is a strong counterweight to Nancy Pelosi (whom I do perceive as a serious threat to the best interests of America). She is also the person most likely to sink an Obama presidency--if not handled with care. Rahm Emanuel strikes me as the operator best equipped to tame the termagant Madame Speaker.

--Emanuel has a track record for political intelligence and vision. That is, he sees the big picture, which, in a nutshell, reveals that we are a center-right nation frustrated with Republicans in general and mad at George Bush in particular. The President-elect has a chance to begin an Era of Obama--but only if he appeals to the center-right good sense of Middle America. If he lurches to the left, he is finished. Emanuel understands this tightrope.

Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State?

I love it. Why?

--Hillary is tough as nails. She is the closest thing to a hawk that this search is likely to produce.

--Hillary demonstrates that all that campaign claptrap about "change" and the other idealist imagery was not the whole story. Our president-elect seems less naive with each passing day.

--Hillary pushes out Joe Biden as the experienced foreign policy star. I continue to believe that Joe Biden for veep was the only egregious error from Team Obama in an otherwise almost flawless campaign. This is evidence that Obama understands that Biden lacks the capacity to play a major foreign policy role in any administration.

--Hillary pushes out John Kerry. See above (this is evidence that Obama understands that Kerry lacks the capacity to play a major foreign policy role in any administration).

--Hillary fits into the "Team of Rivals" template, which is a constructive concept (especially if the trope includes retaining Robert Gates and David Petraeus). And, in terms of obsessions, this president-elect could do a lot worse in terms of historical idols. Emulating Honest Abe is a high standard. Godspeed to him.
British archeological archives indicate that the Aksa mosque, built on the Temple Mount, may have been constructed on the site of a Byzantine Church.

The photo archives of a British archeologist who carried out the only archeological excavation ever undertaken at the Temple Mount's Aksa Mosque show a Byzantine mosaic floor underneath the mosque that was likely the remains of a church or a monastery, an Israeli archeologist said on Sunday.

Building mosques on the site of conquered religious sites has been Standard Operating Procedure for Islam since the beginning. (Mecca was not an empty piece of desert prior to Islam.) Ask the Hindus in India what happened to lots of their temples. Ask Christians about Hagia Sophia.

Religion of Tolerance my ***.
Six Agencies Searched for Data on Joe the Plumber

Democrats in power = violation of the civil rights of their enemies.

From Powerline. The blogosphere continues to do the work the heritage media formerly did. May the MSM be haunted by the angry ghost of Fred Friendly.
For the last eight years, I have paid $9.83 per month for cable. Upon moving to Waco, Texas, back in 2000, I asked for the most basic cable package available. The customer service rep replied that this would cost me approximately $35 per month. I asked for something even more basic, at which point the official reluctantly volunteered that I could purchase a less-than-basic package for a monthly charge of $8.99.

For less than ten dollars per month, I get all the network affiliates, two PBS stations, two Spanish language stations, the TV Guide Channel, Waco public access, a local weather channel, TBS, and C-SPAN 1 & 2. This has been a great deal.

As a result of our entertainment deprivation, my family loves to travel and stay in hotels and wallow in the luxury of expanded cable. These intermittent excursions always reaffirm my sense that cable TV is of the devil--mostly because of my contempt for Cartoon Network and the Disney Channel.

On a quick trip across the Gulf Coast this summer, however, I experienced the malevolent power of the cable news media. My nine-year-old son, previously a John McCain booster (because of his views on the war), announced, after thirty minutes of watching CNN’s political coverage, that he could no longer support McCain and would switch to Barack Obama.

What explained the change of heart? Just good objective reporting, I guess.

Some Context: my nine-year-old is not a political junkie (like I was at that age), but he is still brighter and more knowledgeable concerning the mechanics of politics and history than most voters. But he was certainly impressionable enough to embrace the palpable political narrative hawked on CNN.

Another example.

After John McCain's classic concession speech, an infuriatingly large number of friends and colleagues observed that this was the McCain they had formerly admired--but had somehow gotten lost in the "Rovian makeover."

A very common statement: "if he had run his campaign like that, I might have supported him."

These Pavlovian responses revealed that none of these so-called educated Americans really bothered to watch the campaign. For most of them, I suspect, the concession was the first John McCain speech they had witnessed in full all season.

In truth, McCain was McCain in 2008. As someone who watched literally hours upon hours of raw footage of all four candidates on the stump (thank you, C-SPAN), I can tell you that the concession was thoroughly in keeping with the campaign. McCain is McCain. McCain was McCain. Love him or hate him, or fall somewhere in between, but the man has not changed one iota during my twenty years of watching him.

Why did so many voters perceive him so differently this season? Most of us understand the answer to that question all too well. McCain faced a stiff headwind in terms of the coverage he received--and he never really broke through all the partisan noise. What I think I heard people saying last week was that they had accepted a mainstream media template buttressed by a few seconds of McCain on the stump or a McCain campaign ad followed by a few minutes of talking head analysis reaffirming the Obama political line:

McCain went negative. McCain went racist. McCain went Karl Rove.

Balderdash. An honest reassessment of this campaign at some point in the future, of course, will reveal a much different story--but, then again, who will care?

Finally, a telling personal observation based on experience:

Confession: I actually cheated in re cable. During the last week of the campaign, I had the opportunity to watch massive amounts of cable news network coverage of the canvass. For the first time in my life I watched a full "Hannity and Colmes." I watched O'Riley. I watched Anderson Cooper. I also watched Keith Olberman, admittedly for only a few minutes at a time--Olberman is an excruciating experience for me.

Honestly, for the most part, I loved it. The sounds and sights. The intoxicating noise. The swirling graphics. The constantly changing television topography. My eyes were the size of saucers. For me, it was as addictive as chocolate candy.

But the weird and scary aspect of the experience comes in the detox. When I finally found my way back to C-SPAN, I was a bit bored. My cable news interlude had shredded my attention span. Ordinarily, I am excited to watch a stump speech from the introductions to the main speaker to the ritual handshaking afterward choreographed to a driving rock and roll beat. But it does not take long to lose the discipline necessary to watch a full campaign speech. It is much easier and quite tempting to get the entertainment news media Cliff's Notes and fake the rest.

This cotton candy system of delivering information is full of momentary exhilaration--but it is contributing to our rapid decline.

Cable TV is the devil--or, at the very least, the seductive song of the Sirens.

Strip down your cable to C-SPAN and save American democracy.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Today, the Okie Gardener continues his series voicing his misgivings concerning the presidency and character of Barack Obama.

The Gardener considers the revelation that Bill Ayres and President-elect Obama were evidently much closer than maintained during the campaign.

My thoughts.

True, Obama's denials were disingenuous. Were they egregiously so in terms of a politician running for president? Hard to say. Reasonable people will disagree.

Of course, the Gardener touches on our real crisis: a mainstream media no longer providing an honest check to power.

An Aside: I fear that the Gardener overlooks another critical problem we face: an alternative (conservative) media that is not very serious in the aggregate.

However, the outlandish and disturbing fact in the Ayres revelation is not that Obama dissembled. Politicians lie. Dogs bite. Credit Card Companies charge interest. Caveat emptor.

Of course, as the Gardener suggests, the real worry here is that the prObama press corps seems willing to run interference for this man regardless of the high toll on their own integrity and credibility—and our modern tradition of the Fourth Estate as a balancing agent.

Barack Obama is president, which I continue to believe is not necessarily a disastrous thing. While I will criticize him vociferously when he errs and/or pursues ill-conceived or deleterious policies, I reaffirm my pledge to lay off him when possible out of respect for the office and consistent with my belief that we need him to succeed more than we need him to fail.

However, the element that frightens me most is this fact of life: the only governor on a President Obama in this current atmosphere seems to be his own decency. And while he strikes me as a decent person, my sense of human nature (to echo Lord Acton) is that powerful leaders lose perspective fairly quickly--and, of course, leaders with absolutely no checks to their own power veer off into the bar ditch with alarming regularity.
Bill Ayers Comes Clean-- Corrects Obama: "We Are Family Friends"

From Gateway Pundit. The blogosphere continues to do the work the heritage media formerly did. May the MSM be haunted by the angry ghost of Fred Friendly.
Here are two politically incorrect questions that I think will need to be answered before we can consider the possibility of assimilation by Arab Muslims, or their near neighbors. These questions also raise possibilites in the psychology of Islamic terrorists.

1. Are Arab Muslims and others influenced by them willing to give up first-cousing marriage?

Patrilateral parallel cousin marriage is evidently ancient in the Near East, from whence it spread during the Arab conquests to adjacent peoples through the vehicles of clientship, intermarriage, and religious conversion. *

In other words, the ancient tradition, and common current practice, is to marry a first or second cousin on the father's side. This practice both reflects and helps to produce inward-focused families with intense family loyalty that trumps other loyalties such as to one's nation, or to the common good. It helps lead to nepotism.

In regard to Islamic terrorists, we must ask if ages and ages of inbreeding have produced higher-than-necessary numbers of unstable individuals. It is no accident that researchers of genetic diseases regard Saudi Arabia as a great place to study their topic.

2. Are Arab Muslims and others influenced by them willing to give up sexual relationships between men and boys?

They talked about Islam, especially about the sequestering of women. They said it forced the native men into prisonlike expedients. On night patrols, they said, they would bump into Afghans hooking up with animals. And they joked about “Man-Love Thursday,” when they’d spot Afghan men and boys together, grabbing a quick sin before the redemptive Sabbath.

The above quote is from an embedded reporter with an American unit in Afghanistan. Similar observations have been made by many other allied units of various nationalities. It reminds one of the reaction Europeans had to the Turks and their similar practice. Anecdotal evidence also points to the practice in Arab culture.

In regard to Islamic terrorists, we must ask if being abused as a boy helps to produce angry men ready to lash out at "the enemy."

» Read More

Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
This Week, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean reaffirmed his intention to relinquish his position of party leadership when his term expires in January. No surprise there. A sitting president picks the national party chair, and Dean promised from the beginning to serve only one term in that capacity.

Dean's tenure was oftentimes tumultuous. In addition to providing an inviting target to conservative commentators, he famously fought with Rahm Emanuel and Chuck Schumer over the allocation of resources in 2006 and faced down massive inside grumbling concerning the so-called fifty-state strategy in 2008.

However, from this vantage point, it is hard to argue with Dean's success. He presided over one of the most dramatic recoveries of political power in the history of our democratic-republic. Four years ago, his party was defeated, demoralized, and a disillusioned minority in both houses of Congress. Today a Democratic president-elect, overwhelmingly elected in a contest that turned the map blue, prepares to preside over comfortable majorities in the House and Senate.

Even more important than the fifty-state strategy, and a fact that goes overlooked way too often, is that Howard Dean the insurgent presidential candidate of 2004 provided the template for victory for Barack Obama in 2008. Obama understood well that Dean's strident anti-war stance provided the roadmap to winning the Democratic nomination four years later. As the only viable Democrat who could boast clean hands on Iraq, Obama expertly crafted the "nutroots" element of the party into a powerful base and endless source of financing.

Although the Dean juggernaut lost traction in the snows of Iowa, the Obama campaign went to school on their shortcomings and built on their successes. Best known for the "Dean Scream," which probably had very little to do with his overall defeat, Dr. Dean emerges today as one of the essential components of this amazing Democratic success.

Note to self: don't get too down about today's headlines.

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowance for their doubting too.

If you can meet with triumph and disaster. And treat those two impostors just the same.

Bottom Line: according to Rudyard Kipling’s definition, without question, Howard Dean is a man.

For a party reeling from setbacks, his example of fortitude is worth emulating.
I have so many thoughts in re Election 2008 that they are gridlocked at the intersections of my mind.

Allow me to begin the process of untangling in short and simple stokes.

First of all, is the Grand Old Party over?

Of course not. This is lunacy.

Nothing has proven more resilient in American political history than the two-party system.

Was it over for the Democrats after McGovern? After Carter and Mondale?

Was it over for the Democrats after the Congressional scandals of the 1990s?

Was it over for the Republicans after Richard Nixon? After Bob Dole won only 18 states in 1996?

Why is it never over? Because parties are peopled by human beings who have good intentions but are fatally flawed. The Democrats will overreach, eventually--and the GOP will be there to correct at some point.

As I have said previously, I am rooting for Obama to succeed. His success will be my success. But his success depends on a wise and careful reading of the political realities of the present. If he leans too far left, he is finished. But my sense is that he understands the necessity of pragmatic and cautious governance in this moment of national exigency.

If he is as smart as I think he is, we are going to see an administration wholly unlike any previous presidency. Four years from now, eight years from now, we may well be talking about a completely new version of political philosophy with roots in traditional American liberalism, but with a generous portion of American cultural conservatism. This potential hybrid might inaugurate an Era of Obama--but, even if it is flawlessly launched, this new way will ultimately falter. When it does, a loyal opposition, fine-tuned and re-examined, will offer a needed alternative.

The Day of the GOP is not over. Without a doubt, it may be cloudy right now. But our history indicates that storms come and go, and the sun and moon remain consistent points of reference. End of the GOP? Not likely.
Confirmed: It Looks Like Obama Just Got Away With Largest Election Donations Fraud in History

From Gateway Pundit. The blogosphere continues to do the work the heritage media formerly did. May the MSM be haunted by the angry ghost of Fred Friendly.

11/11: Veterans' Day

Category: American Glory
Posted by: an okie gardener
From National Review Online, Jay Nordlinger on the sorry state of Middle Eastern Studies. During the Cold War Sovietologists were often apologists for the Soviet Union. Sinologists often parrot the Chinese government's positions. Middle Eastern studies may be worse, in part because of the combination of Political Correctness and funding from the Mideast. A ray of hope,

Last year, an encouraging event occurred: the founding of a new organization, the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa (ASMEA). Their website is here. ASMEA was to be, in brief, what MESA should be, and almost certainly used to be. (The older group was founded in 1966, before the rot set in.) The new group’s chairman is Bernard Lewis, the great nonagenarian British-born scholar. On the academic council sits George Shultz — who, as I said at the outset, is so desirous of new and helpful institutions.

From City Journal (link from NRO), "Five Days at the End of the World: My visit to Afghanistan, and the War on Terror movie that Hollywood would never make". The author Andrew Klavan travels to Afghanistan, recounts his experiences, and outlines the movie he would make of the experience.

Here, then, is the movie I would make. It would be something like this, anyway. With maybe Ed Norton as Rory—Alda’s too old now. And Dennis Haysbert, President Palmer from 24, as Mitchell. Someone fresh like Jim Sturgess for Baronner. Perez? George Clooney doesn’t deserve to play him, but he could.

I would probably make the mission to build the bridge and the mission to buy the FOB site into one mission. A bridge is more visual, but the tensions with the natives over the site make good drama. I’d have the ambush happen at the end of the first act, with a likable gunner getting killed. Then maybe our guys wouldn’t be able to return to base because of the weather. They’d be stuck up in nowhere with some locals they couldn’t trust and the bad guys still in the woods. It would become a matter of life and death whether the PRT guys could count on the goodwill of the natives in order to smoke out the bad guys before getting smoked themselves.

That would be the theme, see: the frustrations of building goodwill in wartime. Because goodwill is the key to this multifront counterinsurgency. It’s the only way to win the locals away from the brutal scum who’ve enslaved them in the past and over to some semblance of liberty and the rule of law. That’s why Information Operations—what they used to call propaganda—is so important. That’s why the bad guys work so hard to spread lies about us.

And from Jihad Watch, another episode in the ministry of Father Zakaria Botros who I've posted on before as the most important man in the world you've never heard of.

Though he is little known in the West, Coptic priest Zakaria Botros — named Islam’s “Public Enemy #1” by the Arabic newspaper, al-Insan al-Jadid — has been making waves in the Islamic world. Along with fellow missionaries — mostly Muslim converts — he appears frequently on the Arabic channel al-Hayat (i.e., “Life TV”). There, he addresses controversial topics of theological significance — free from the censorship imposed by Islamic authorities or self-imposed through fear of the zealous mobs who fulminated against the infamous cartoons of Mohammed. Botros’s excurses on little-known but embarrassing aspects of Islamic law and tradition have become a thorn in the side of Islamic leaders throughout the Middle East.

Botros is an unusual figure onscreen: robed, with a huge cross around his neck, he sits with both the Koran and the Bible in easy reach. Egypt’s Copts — members of one of the oldest Christian communities in the Middle East — have in many respects come to personify the demeaning Islamic institution of “dhimmitude” (which demands submissiveness from non-Muslims, in accordance with Koran 9:29). But the fiery Botros does not submit, and minces no words. He has famously made of Islam “ten demands,” whose radical nature he uses to highlight Islam’s own radical demands on non-Muslims.

In a recent program on al-Hayat he challenged the notion that Mohammad was a true prophet.

For the first characteristic regarding prophethood, Botros opened by quoting Jesus’ famous saying: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits” (Matt 7:15-16).

However, since Muslims may think that verse has been “corrupted”—the accusation of tahrif being commonplace when wanting to avoid biblical debates—Botros also went on to quote from none other than Ibn Taymiyya himself, radical Islam’s most favorite son, in regards to the characteristics of prophets.

According to Sheikh al-Islam’s Minhaj Al Sunna Al Nabawayya, Taymiyya said that false prophets, such as Musailima the Liar, were exposed by the fact that they were liars, oppressors, and possibly possessed by demons and jinn. However, when sober minded individuals studied their lives and deeds, they were able to discern that they were false prophets, that they were exposed.

After reading the relatively long quote from Taymiyya, Botros put his book down, looked directly at the screen, and flatly said that everyone of those negative characteristics indicative of false-prophethood mentioned by Taymiyya in fact apply to Muhammad.

Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
I am a regular reader of Roger Ebert's movie reviews. I first became aware of him over 25 years ago as half of the team on Public Television's movie review program.

Ebert is a modern liberal in his sympathies and beliefs, though I don't think he is on the lunatic fringe. Two of his recent postings reveal some of the assumptions made by the American left, strongly held in spite of, or against, the evidence.

Writing about the election of Obama.

Our long national nightmare is ending. America will not soon again start a war based on lies and propaganda. We will not torture. We will restore the rights of freedom of speech, freedom of privacy, and habeas corpus. We will enter at last in the struggle against environmental disaster. Our ideas will once again be more powerful than our weapons. During the last eight years, the beacon on the hill flickered out. Now the torch will shine again.

"Nightmare"? What nightmare? Since 9/11/01 we have had no major terrorist attacks on our soil. The economy has performed well, until recently (thank you Barney Frank, Barak Obama, and Christ Dodd, you weasels). "Start a war based on lies and propaganda." I assume he means Iraq. "Start." We have been in a state of war with Iraq since its invasion of Kuwait. Saddam regularly and deliberately violated agreements made in the cease-fire. His military frequently shot at Coalition planes doing reconnaissance. Saddam plotted to assassinate Bush 41. The terms of the cease-fire mandated that he not only dismantle his weapons programs, but prove to the world he had dismantled them; instead, he played a dangerous game of evasion with weapons inspectors. "Lies and propaganda." I assume he means that no recent weapons of mass destruction were found. See above on Saddam's responsibilities for dismantling his weapons programs. We know he had such weapons, he had used them on the Kurds and Iranians. And, weapons of mass destruction were only one of the reasons given for the invasion of Iraq under Bush 43. "We will not torture." Waterboarding is unpleasant, but not inhumane torture; neither is panties on the head. "Restore the rights of freedom of speech"? How many Bush-bashing journalists, bloggers, actors/actresses, academics, were hauled into re-education camps? None. Sheer hysteria. "Freedom of privacy." So, is he thinking that privacy is absolute? Is he asserting that Americans who communicate with individuals, groups, etc. of concern should not have conversations listened in on? Is he asserting that all of us have had our privacy invaded? Is he assuming that if we cannot conduct a perfect war against radical Islam we should conduct none at all? "Habeus corpus." Is he suggesting that fighting radical Islam is a matter of law enforcement rather than war? Is he asserting that enemy combantants, who do not qualify for Geneva Convention protection, should be given U.S. Constitutional protections?

Listening to, and reading liberals, makes me feel like I've entered Bizarro World.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
What Barack Obama said at his first press availability as president-elect:

When asked if he had spoken with any ex-presidents since his election on Tuesday, Obama responded that he had spoken to all former presidents "that are living."

When a few titters of laughter ensued at his awkward phrasing, the candidate attempted to recover with humor:

"I didn't want to get into a Nancy Reagan thing about, you know, doing any seances."

Why this is disturbing.

1. It is mean. Why go out of your way to slam a former first lady in her nineties?

2. It is wrong. Nancy Reagan never had any seances. She famously consulted an astrologer about her husband's schedule after the 1981 assassination attempt that almost claimed his life.

3. It is a disturbing conflation. He was probably confused about the allegations that Hillary Clinton used a spiritualist to communicate with the ghost of Eleanor Roosevelt.

4. As good as he is in some facets of his public performance, he is often tongue-tied and extremely uncomfortable in other situations as a public speaker. This is a strange paradox that will plague his presidency and, undoubtedly, have some unexpected deleterious consequences.

Even more disturbing.

1. The Press laughed. If Obama "bagged" on an elderly woman, it must be pretty funny and appropriate.

2. The Press gave him a pass on the facts. No reporters challenged his erroneous assumption. He was wrong--and certainly there must have been some reporters who understood how wrong he was--but no one said anything. The coverage of the press availability generally ignored the comment. Of course, the right-wing media picked up on it and responded with outrage--but the mainstream papers are only now, and with palpable reluctance, reporting on the slight.

A Small Reason for Hope?

The best thing about this (and admittedly I may be grasping here), the president-elect has reportedly already called Nancy Reagan personally and apologized for his callous comment and his erroneous insinuation.

Thank you, Mr. President-elect, for that gesture of civility.
Category: From the Heart
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
The election of Barack Obama will forcefully declare that America is not racist. Obama can prove the self evident truth that all men are created equal in this storied "land of opportunity," where, regardless of race, all persons are free to enjoy liberty and justice and for all.

Obama can be the person in our lifetimes who transcends (even redeems) our tortured past and accelerates a national healing process.

Moreover, I dream that Obama will be the ultimate role model for African Americans who will come to apprehend, finally, that the game is not rigged. For I believe that believing is half the battle. Obama can personify the notion of unlimited possibility, which will encourage children of color to work hard and expect success in an America where we all benefit from one another's successes.

Who said that? I did, actually--back in December of 07.

But in that same post, entitled "My Obama Ambivalence," I worried that those invested in the narrative of oppression would not let us have our great victory of racial transcendence--even in the face of proof that we truly lived in a "nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal," continually striving to live up to that creed.

I worried that even Obama himself would be pressured to "sell out" that emphatic statement of American idealism for reasons of political expediency.

Time will tell.

Driving to work yesterday, with my car radio tuned to NPR, I listened in on a conversation between Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep, Roger Wilkins, the ancient "race man," journalist, and scholar, and Taylor Branch, the acclaimed chronicler of Martin Luther King and his times.

What has NOT changed?

Wilkins: "virtually everything." The plight of African Americans continues to be one of disproportionate poverty, unemployment, "lousy schools," and incarceration (as a result of those other inequities).

Later, the three essentially agreed that the election of Obama existed as a powerful symbol, but the substance of real progress belonged to the future not the present.

It seems to me that there is a GOP Conundrum: this president's success might mean a watershed political moment of party realignment for Democrats akin to the Reagan Revolution of 1980. On the other hand, for the sake of our collective national interests, we desperately need this president to succeed. Now is the time for all good Americans to come to the aid of their country.

But there is also a Democratic Party Conundrum: the election of this president signifies a great step forward. On the other hand, if Americans get the sense that we are entering the promised land, what happens to the "coalition of the oppressed" that has been so essential to party unity and control over the past five decades?

On Wednesday morning, placards reading "Happy Days are Here Again, Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States" hung from numerous doors in our faculty office building. And, indeed, many of my colleagues, who had worked so assiduously for the election of Barack Obama, seemed truly happy--at least for a few fleeting moments.

However, by lunchtime yesterday, for many of them, their jubilation had turned back to despair and frustration, as they swapped stories of intolerance and racism around the lunch table. Our conversation was replete with incidents of insensitivity and prejudice.

--Republicans were reportedly already trying to impeach Obama and intent on implementing other dirty tricks

--some of my colleagues related stories of hateful emails and other abominations

--another confirmed that nooses were being strung all over the campus of the local private university in town

"This is appalling!" one colleague declared. "How can we be so backward after all this time!?!"

It did not take long for my colleagues to revert back to their default positions: this is a mean country.

Lighten up, my friends. Just because there are stupid people in America, it does not necessarily mean that we live in a stupid country. Just because there are vestiges of racism in America, it does not logically dictate that the promise of equality in America is a lie.

Asked for an immediate reaction to Barack Obama's election as president on Tuesday night, I noted that this is not the finish line on the road to racial reconciliation and equality--but it is a watershed moment, nonetheless. Sixty-three million Americans voted for Barack Obama for president of the United States. This is no symbol. This is substantial change. This is big casino.

My advice to all: claim this historic accomplishment as a victory. Enjoy it. Stop and smell the roses. Be happy.

We are approaching a moment of shared sacrifice in which we will all be called to rally around the flag. We Republicans will need to sacrifice short-term party interests for the collective good. You Democrats will need to let go of some of one of your most comforting and useful assumptions.

Let us go forward together.
Category: Frivolity
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
When is "dog bites man" news?

When the canine in question is the President's pooch, and the man is a member of the Fourth Estate.

Free Barney!!!
Category: From the Heart
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
The tears finally came. Embarrassingly enough, they came in front of a class.

I was talking about the American Dream as a cherished idea--and I mentioned the fact that both campaigns had used Brooks and Dunn's, "Only in America," as theme music following their stump speeches.

Then some student convinced me to play it via YouTube and project it onto the big screen.

Sun coming up over New York City
School bus driver in a traffic jam
Starin' at the faces in her rearview mirror
Looking at the promise of the Promised Land
One kid dreams of fame and fortune
One kid helps pay the rent
One could end up going to prison
One just might be president

The YouTube video version here. The soulfulness of country music combined with the mystical force of the American creed and promise is a powerful brew--and I have become a marshmallow in my old age.

Cue the weepiness.

Only in America
Dreaming in red, white and blue
Only in America
Where we dream as big as we want to
We all get a chance
Everybody gets to dance
Only in America

Sun going down on an LA freeway
Newlyweds in the back of a limousine
A welder's son and a banker's daughter
All they want is everything
She came out here to be an actress
He was the singer in a band
They just might go back to Oklahoma
And talk about the stars they could have been

Yeah only in America
Where we dream in red, white and blue
Yeah we dream as big as we want to
Category: Environment
Posted by: an okie gardener
Yesterday afternoon a church member and I excavated to the back of a storeroom in the church. We brought out 3 old computer monitors, a tower, and printer that predate my arrival as pastor. We also found two typwriters. The church now will offer these items for bid, mostly to free up some space. But I got to thinking, what will we do with the computers if no one wants them? btw, we also are offering an old desk if you live near Apache.

This story from CBS demonstrates the danger to the environment caused by the modern electronic technologies we depend on. A CBS 60 Minutes crew followed ditched computers and cell phones from the U.S. to China.

E-waste workers in Guiyu, China, where Pelley's team videotaped, put up with the dangerous conditions for the $8 a day the job pays. They use caustic chemicals and burn the plastic parts to get at the valuable components, often releasing toxins that they not only inhale, but release into the air, the ground and the water. Potable water must now be trucked into Guiyu and scientists have discovered that the city has the highest levels of cancer-causing dioxins in the world. Pregnancies in Guiyu are six times more likely to result in miscarriages, and seven out of 10 children there have too much lead in their blood.

Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council, outlines the e-waste pollutants and their effects. "Lead, cadmium, mercury, chromium, and polyvinyl chloride, all of these materials have known toxicological effects that range from brain damage, kidney disease, to mutations, cancers," he tells Pelley. And there's no shortage of refuse that contains these hazardous materials. "We throw out about 130,000 computers every day in the United States...we throw out over 100 million cell phones every year," says Hershkowitz.

While filming in China, the 60 Minutes crew was roughed up when a group of men tried to seize their cameras. The crew escaped, though, with their evidence.

Moral of the Story:

1. Almost everything we buy eventually becomes trash. So cut down consumption.
2. Many things we discard are hazardous, so discard properly.
3. When recycling electronics, try to make sure the firm is environmentally responsible.

CBS reports that the Basel Action Network certifies companies that handle electronic waste in a safe manner.

The Electronic Take Back Coalition also lists responsible electronic recyclers.
Three states--California, Arizona, Florida--passed amendments to their state constitutions defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

We'll see how the inevitable court challenges procede.

Two lessons: first, social conservatism is not an electoral losing strategy; second, the majority of voters even in California are sick of activist judges imposing social change (the amendments are an attempt to reign in judicial activism such as seen in Massachusetts).

Therefore, political conservatism can be revived into a potent force in the United States with the right leadership and approach.

btw, Obama should be forwarned that nominating and appointing activist judges could leave him vulnerable in '12
The Pew Forum has this breakdown of religious voters in McCain v Obama.

President-elect Barack Obama made a concerted effort to reach out to people of faith during the 2008 presidential campaign, and early exit polls show that this outreach may have paid off on Election Day. Among nearly every religious group, the Democratic candidate received equal or higher levels of support compared with the 2004 Democratic nominee, John Kerry. Still, a sizeable gap persists between the support Obama received from white evangelical Protestants and his support among the religiously unaffiliated. Similarly, a sizeable gap exists between those who attend religious services regularly and those who attend less often.

Religious affiliation has been a good predictor of voting behavior throughout American history. New England Congegationalist = Adams supporter and Jefferson opponent; evangelical protestant = Whig Clay supporter, non-evangelical protestant = Democrat Andrew Jackson supporter. Roman Catholic almost always Democrat. Etc.
Category: From the Heart
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Congratulations to President-elect Barack Obama, who ran the best campaign of my lifetime--possibly the best campaign ever.

Why did we lose this election?

Number One Reason: because we deserved to. Our only argument was that the other guys were going to be even more disastrous than we had been. True enough, perhaps, but not compelling.

As a tribe, we conservatives believe in consequences for bad decisions and poor performance. We failed miserably in our attempt to right this country. It is time to take our medicine. It is time to rebuild on a solid foundation of fundamental principles.

On the other hand, I wish Barack Obama success, for his success will be my success.

In truth, we know almost nothing about him. Four years ago he was an obscure state senator--and he is not naturally forthcoming about his history or his philosophy. Nevertheless, my sense (i.e. fervent prayer) is that he is an intelligent fellow and a good man. Let's hope for the best.

What are my realistic but optimistic expectations for an Obama presidency?

1. I hope that Obama will be a healer and a pragmatist.

2. I hope Obama completes the mission in Iraq regardless of where the credit for success may fall. If the president-elect decides to retain Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense, and David Petraeus as commander of Cent-Com, and allows them to back us out of Iraq in a responsible fashion, he will have my undying gratitude for the duration of his administration.

3. I hope the new president will address the long-term realities of spending and taxes and what is possible and sustainable (as opposed to banal Democratic Party talking points).

4. I hope the new president will address our long-term liabilities regarding education (as opposed to banal Democratic Party talking points).

5. I hope the president will address our long-term energy needs in a pragmatic way (as opposed to banal Democratic Party talking points).

What are my expectations for myself?

1. Realize that much more is at stake over the next few months and years than partisan victory.

2. Realize that the success of the next president is inextricably linked to our success as a nation in a moment in which we cannot afford to fail as a nation.

3. Support my president wholeheartedly on January 21st.

Of course, I will continue to advocate for my core principles, which are the same now as they have been for all of my adult life. However, I will do nothing to tear down this president. I will do all I can to guard against character assassination and Obama Derangement Syndrome.

If he succeeds grandly, we win as a nation. If he falls short, we will be back in time to offer another option--and maybe we will be better equipped to live up to our own ideals then.

May God Bless this President. May God Bless America.
I was depressed already this morning; this audio clip from The Howard Stern Show did not help. His crew did man-in-the-street interviews of Obama supporters. Obviously they had no clue what their candidate stood for.

Ironically, the triumph of Jacksonian Democracy enabled Obama to win. I wonder what the slave-owning Old Hickory thinks about all this.

btw, in case it is not on your screen, be sure to scroll down for Martian Mariner's post-election post. In a double irony, the triumph of Hamilton's economic ideas over Jefferson's enabled this urban triumph.

05/11: I Was Wrong

I owe Farmer a steak dinner in Ft. Worth.

I picked McCain to win, based on Obama's performance against Hillary in which the polls were higher than his actual results, the larger-than-usual number of refusals to pollsters that I assumed came more from McCain supporters than Obama supporters, the increased support and enthusiasm of evangelicals after the Palin pick, and my assumption that when in the voting booth the gut of many voters would prompt them not to vote for a candidate with ties to Rev. Wright, Bill Ayers, and corrupt organizations like ACORN. I was wrong

Obama won, and did so getting over 50% of the popular vote, something that Clinton did not achieve in two elections.

What enabled Obama to win? The definitive book on this election is a generation away, but I offer a few non-original thoughts in no particular order.

*The Economy, specifically the crash on Wall Street, the mortage mess, and fears for the future.
*Popular Dissatisfaction with the Bush Administration.
*Obama's Race and the chance it gave millions of voters to help put the first black man into the White House.
*The image Obama created on television--handsome, thoughtful, articulate.
*The desire of an increasingly large number of Americans that their government take care of their basic needs: health care, employment security, retirement, etc.
*The success of the Bush Administration in the War Against Islamic Terrorists.
*And, while we now may never know the extent, vote fraud in Democrat-controlled urban areas such as Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Milwaukee.
*The Work of the Established Media in protecting Obama from serious investigation and discussion.
*Obama's Tremendous Financial Advantage because he refused public financing, and ran a contribution system that invited fraud.

Farmer, I'll email you to set up time and place.
Category: Politics
Posted by: Martian Mariner
As I mentioned a few days ago, I'm a spatially-focused kind of guy, and a sucker for maps. I love the immediate interpretation of vast amounts of data that a map can show. So, for the election results, I've been going straight to the maps. We've all seen the state-by-state maps, and have probably noticed that the map seems to look pretty red, even though Obama cleaned house with Electoral college votes.

The obvious explanation is that the difference is due to population in these states, which, since we're looking at this spatially, corresponds to population density. Obama overwhelmingly carried densely-populated areas. Compare this population density map, shown by county, with this election results map, also by county (scroll down a bit).

A more unconventional way to show the population difference is with a population-scaled cartogram. [Aside: these weighted cartograms can end up showing some really neat stuff. Check out this site and browse.] Someone's been industrious overnight, and we've already got a weighted cartogram for the election results, here.

County-by-county maps can show startling results. For example, my state, Missouri, is still "too close to call." A map of election results by county shows that only 8 of 114 counties were carried by Obama! (Plus the city of St. Louis, not in a county.) Looking at these counties, though, shows that you've got Kansas City, St. Louis, and Columbia all going Obama. Of course, this county-by-county examination is not completely meaningful, since there is no state electoral college, and many of those red counties were 55-44 sorts of places, and those 44s add up.

As far as conclusions go, well, I generally avoid them. But in this case, especially looking at the population density map and county election results map in conjunction, there seems to be significant evidence for an Urban-Rural gap in this country. Voting for a president is only partially indicative of overall values and preferences, but it is a key indicator. Rural and Urban Americans seem to value different things.

[I know, that's not much of a new point. But I do like to see some empirical evidence to back this up, in addition to the anecdotal and assumptive evidence we've had so far. I'm a bit more into social sciences than Farmer and gardener, and I think this preference of mine is one of the main reasons.]
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
It is 9:36 pm CST. The networks have called Iowa for Obama now with about 15% of the votes reported. I am looking at the Iowa state map, county by county vote totals. I do not see an Obama clinch yet. We'll know in a couple of hours about Iowa. At 9:40 I am cautiously optimistic about Missouri for McCain, looking at the county by county maps.

I grew up in Missouri and lived there several years as an adult; I lived several years in Iowa.

Update: 10:10pm CST I now can see calling Iowa for Obama. I am very surprised at his strength in the rural counties of central Iowa outside Polk County (Des Moines). It will be interesting to see any data on why these Iowan voted as they did. The economy?

03/11: Jazz Trombone

Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
As regular readers of this blog know, I am a jazz fan. What I have not shared yet is that in my younger days I played trombone, including jazz. (At about the age of 15 I heard Stan Kenton at the Kansas City Jazz Festival pronounce it trum-bone and I've said it that way ever since.)

So who are the great jazz trombone players?

When I was in high school, the man to imitate was J.J. Johnson.

From 1991, he's still got it. Here from the same concert. From back in the day.

We also tried to copy licks from Kai Winding. With the 1949 Metronome All Stars. And Winding and Johnson together in 1982.

When I started playing jazz in high school, I tried to imitate Jimmy Cleveland. Here in an interview and solo from 1958. Only I had to cheat and double-tongue some of the riffs he could single-tongue.

And we would have imitated Bill Watrous if we had his upper register.

Trombonists never get the spotlight in the same way saxophonists and others do, but we know the value of the strange-looking horn with the slide. Artistry in Rhythmn, the Stan Kenton Orchestra, and Malaga.
Category: Politics
Posted by: Martian Mariner
We'll forget about the Voting Paradox for a moment, and say instead: Vote.

There are many good reasons, but I'll save the professoring for the farmer and gardener; I'll just point the way:

I'm a sucker for maps, especially when they're searchable and applicable. Don't know where to vote? Just go to the above link, type in your address, and get a map showing you how to get to your polling place. Ain't technology grand?

I'll be riding my bike to my polling place at 7am and casting my vote for all federal, state, and local elections. Democracy rolls on.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
We need a man that is simple perfection
There's nothing that's harder to find
Someone to lead us protect us and feed us
And help us to make up our minds
We need a man that's sophisticated
Quiet and strong and well educated

Where to go what to do
Could it be somebody super like you

We need a man that can stand as a symbol
And symbols have got to be tall
Someone with taste and the tiniest waist
With his help would not life be a ball
If we had fun he would not restrain us
If we got caught he would just explain us

Where to go what to do
Could it be somebody super like you

We pledge allegiance to his
Gracefulness and charming manners
With a voice that's both sides choice
He'll bring us to our knees in admiration
He is king of all who see and hear his perfect pitch
And more surprises when his time is come a stallion rises

We need a man with a head on his shoulders
A nose that is simply divine
Hollywood smile and a perfect profile
And with eyes that would sparkle and shine
Long flowing hair for a crowning glory
There'd be a man who could tell our story

Where to go what to do
Could it be somebody super like you

We pledge allegiance to his
Gracefulness and charming manners
With a voice that's both sides choice
He'll bring us to our knees in admiration
He is king of all who see and hear his perfect pitch
And more surprises when his time is come a stallion rises
Rises... rises... rises

"Somebody Super Like You" by Paul Williams
Performance from Phantom of the Paradise

Liberty can be frightening. There really is an "Anxiety of Freedom." Therefore there always will be the tug toward The Strong Man, Someone to lead us protect us and feed us
And help us to make up our minds

We have seen a lot of that tendency this election. Mostly among Obama supporters, who have romantically, not rationally, chosen someone to make their lives better. The Obama movement this year has reminded me of Juan Peron in Argentina. And of Plato's prediction that the demogogue would be the end of democracy.

Be careful what you wish for.

This song is from The Phantom of the Paradise, lyrics by Paul Williams. Trailer. A great little movie combining Faust, The Phantom of the Opera, and Shock Rock. Early Brian De Palma.

02/11: Joe the Biden

As this campaign comes to a close, I direct you to an amusing piece on the Democratic nominee for veep in TIME Magazine: "Hidin' Biden." The article reveals that Joe Biden has become even less accessible to the press than Sarah Palin, with the Obama handlers counting the days and doing their best to sit on the gaffe-prone Senator until the clock runs out.

You will remember my utter disbelief when Obama tapped "Joe the Biden" as his number two.

Back then, in a post entitled "Biden? Really?" I wrote:

Why haven't we seen more Joe Biden dust-ups over the years? For the simple reason that no one really pays him much attention. Not so anymore. From now until 4 November, the world will be following him around and scrutinizing his every word. Not good for Camp Obama. Sure, the mainstream PrObama press will give him a pass whenever possible, but the conservative media will push and press every chance they get. My guess is that Biden will give them plenty of chances. These guys are likely to be putting out fires almost continually.

While events have proven the foundation of my assertion essentially correct, you will notice that none of his thoroughly predicted mischief made an impact on the election. None of it mattered. Why?

Simple: the fix was in.

When I predicted that his "penchant for injudicious statements" would prove embarrassing to Barack Obama, I had not gotten my mind around the fact that the prObama press corps was determined to shout down and/or not cover anything detrimental to their candidate.

As for Biden and the press and the future, we will see what the next eight years brings. My sense is that Biden cannot be contained or ignored for that long of a period. My suspicion is that we will get a lot of laughs out of Joe the Biden in the years to come.

One More Thing in that vein: once the election is over, and the need to cover for Biden recedes, we may well have another Alexander Throttlebottom on our hands.
I am on record, extensively, assuring all of you that Barack Obama will win the presidency this coming Tuesday. Having said that, many of us will remember that I spent most of last January explaining how John McCain could not win the Republican nomination. My record as a prophet is not one of 100 percent accuracy--but I keep slinging.

Polls seem to be tightening--what is really happening?

1. Cold Feet. We have spent approximately one week with Barack Obama as president-elect. That is, we have bought into the idea in our own minds that this international man of mystery is going to be our next chief executive. This week we are experiencing buyer's remorse. A lot of voters are suddenly unsure. No truer emotion in the human condition than cold feet.

"This is what I want. This is what I have to have. I will die if I don't get it." Then, once we own it: "Oh no, what was I thinking. This was a big mistake."

But, in this case, we have not really done it yet. We can still back out. Will we?

2. Media backlash. A lot of stories this past week (accompanied with unimpeachable statistical evidence) acknowledging the unprecedented media bias during this canvass (even the media seem to be feeling a bit sheepish about it). Even without the stats, we know it in our bones when the fix is in.

Moreover, Americans are not big fans of the media. Natural Question: why are these guys willing to lie, obfuscate, and run interference for this candidate? Is it really in our interest to hand this election over to the prObama press corps? Suddenly, we've got a bad feeling about all of this.

3. America loves an underdog. Gotta love that Johnny McCain. He does not know the meaning of quit. Do you believe in miracles?

4. John McCain finally found an issue and a symbol. Joe the Plumber. We are finally on GOP turf. We win elections in this country on three issues: small government, taxes, and cultural populism. "Spreading the wealth around" gave us an opening. The feeding frenzy on Joe was offensive and disturbing. The "redistribution" stuff was more gas on the fire. And now the ever-shifting definition of rich ($250K, $200K, $150K, $120K) is probably innocent enough--but, nevertheless, devastating. This undisciplined message reminds us that whatever number the Democrats have in mind is whimsical and not subject to any accountability. If they take control of the White House and improve their numbers in Congress, the Democrats can literally do anything they want.

5. Sarah Palin. No matter how many talking heads in the media assert that Sarah Palin was a big mistake--she continues to hammer home her points in an appealing way. She weathered her nadir a few weeks ago--when Tina Feylin almost stole her soul. But, since then, she has won a vice presidential debate, gone toe-to-toe with the cast of SNL, taken to the offensive again, and continued to thrill the heartland.

Bottom Line: Johnny McCain is on a roll. Will it be enough to come all the way back? I continue to say no--but nobody knows anything--and nobody more so than I. But this seems to me like too far to come in too short of a time. McCain needs another week or two to pull off this comeback. I suspect this is a last gasp of a dying campaign. But, then again, who knows?

One great thing about this being a close election, however, is that it may give pause to Obama. If he wins a squeaker, perhaps the unexpected close call will remind him that this is a center-right nation. Overreach on the part of a Democratic majority guarantees a devastating defeat at some point in the future.

One Last Thought: if things are getting tight, should we expect one last "November Surprise" directed at McCain-Palin? I suppose tonight would be the absolute last chance for any devastating revelations.