Friday, May 30, 2008

Iraq is a quagmire

For Obama.

You’ve probably kept up with the story, so we’ll just quickly recap here:

Obama hasn’t been to Iraq in over two years.

McCain challenges Obama to go to Iraq with him.

Obama declines McCain’s invitationsays a joint visit would just be a political stuntbut he might be able to squeeze in a solo this summer – during which his campaign says they would want to “see what sort of difficulties [the troops are] facing and see how it is that we can begin to carefully remove them”.

So where does that leave us?

With a Hillary content to stay on the sidelines with this storyline, that’s where.

Until now.

Hillary takes a subtle jab at Obama:

In her campaign stops, Clinton customarily pauses to praise McCain for his service to the country before going on to criticize his policy positions and cast them as a continuation of the Bush administration. But as she campaigns in South Dakota in advance of its Tuesday primary, Clinton added an extra recollection to her intro. “I have the highest respect and regard for Sen. McCain, he and I have actually gone to Iraq and Afghanistan together,” she said

What she didn’t say is that Obama is a wimp for being too scared to go with McCain.

She didn’t have to.

Some things can be left unsaid and still be understood.

MORE: And yes, Hillary knows the risks associated with a visit to Iraq. The political/public relations risks, that is.

UPDATE: Thanks Glenndapundit!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The road less traveled

Whatever Michelle says is the message, so the message from Phoenix is:

This campaign has shown America that Barack Obama may not be perfect, but this campaign has also shown America that Barack Obama will always take the high road. Consistently. Over and over and over. He will always take the high road.

Well. From the archives, we know that Obama likes to talk about taking the high road while also liking to take the low road.

Indeed, when talking about the influence of special interests and the malevolent presence of lobbyists in the campaign and in Washington D.C. one would conclude that the high road would be characterized by a very safe distance from those.

Yet if there is one thing this campaign has shown America is that Barack Obama will always talk about taking the high road while that road remains the road less traveled.

The road he will talk about but will not take. Consistently. Over and over and over and over and over and over.

UP, UP AND AWAY: We might as well also question the height of the road Obama is on when he blames his staff for mistakes or lies about his family history.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A unified theory of gaffes

We've laid out the case up to this point:

  • Karl Rove is destroying the Democratic Party

  • Karl Rove is destroying the MSM from within

  • Karl Rove is creating a following among Hillary Clinton supporters and Hillary herself

  • Where does that leave us? Without evidence that Karl Rove has somehow penetrated and compromised the Obama campaign, that's where.

    But does the absence of evidence necessarily mean evidence of absence?

    Of course not.

    Because Karl Rove has already thought of that - and the evidence actually has been there for quite some time - he has a man on the inside of the Obama

    [Obama's chief political and media adviser David] Axelrod has become animated by a more basic challenge of political communication, the problem of breaking through, of sounding different and new. Axelrod says that the way to cut through all the noise is to see campaigns as an author might, to understand that you need not just ideas but also a credible and authentic character, a distinct politics rooted in personality. ("David breaks them down," Peter Giangreco, a Chicago direct-mail consultant who often works with Axelrod, told me. "Who is your mother? Who is your father? Why are you doing this?") This, Axelrod says, is what Karl Rove understood about George W. Bush. "One of the reasons Bush has succeeded in two elections," Axelrod says, "is that in his own rough-hewn way he has conveyed a sense of this is who I am, warts and all." For Obama, because of Senator Hillary Clinton's far-greater experience and establishment backing, this is a particularly essential project. "If we run a conventional campaign and look like a conventional candidacy, we lose," Axelrod says.

    That story is from April.


    It all makes sense - but only in hindsight. Karl Rove somehow convinced David Axelrod not only that biography is important - but that "warts and all" should also be conveyed.

    Hence all these gaffes in Obama's campaign-by-oral-biography.

    Oh, and just to make sure the warts don't go unnoticed, Obama has proven quite capable of gaffing his way through any number of topics.

    RIGHT ON CUE: Yes, this was inevitable. Dean Barnett is covering for Rove:

    I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the dreadful political tactics here. When it comes to biography, Obama ought to realize that he can’t compete with McCain. He should just stick with that Hope/Change mumbo jumbo – it’s worked so far. The Obama campaign should refuse to embrace biography as a topic with the same eagerness that it avoids discussing Jeremiah Wright and William Ayers.

    Not to belittle my own insights, but the foregoing is rather obvious. You don’t have to be a Karl Rove in the making to realize as much.

    Well, no, of course you don’t have to be the next Karl Rove to realize that a biography campaign is a terrible idea for Obama.

    But you do have to be Karl Rove to pull off making the campaign think it is a great idea.

    Obama: Keith who?

    It may have seemed silly at the time:

    …one ESPN personality is turning his on-screen appearances into an opportunity to promote the candidacy of a Dem presidential contender. Many sportscasters have their signature calls. From Stuart Scott's "boo-yah!" to Chris Berman's "back-back-back gone!," several of the ESPN announcers utter idiosyncratic phrases to underline signal athletic accomplishments. Fair enough. But watching ESPN's Kenny Mayne over the course of the last few days, I was surprised to notice that he has coined a new call. Home run at a crucial moment? Three-pointer to take the lead in a basketball game? "Obama!", exclaims Mayne.

    We agree with this take...Mayne is just goofy, trying to use a culturally relevant reference to join the long list of popular Sportscenter catch-phrases. He may lean left, he may actually support Obama – but hey, this reference is just a marketing ploy.

    Or is it?

    This from the NY Times (via Dean Barnett, via Abe Greenwald):

    Along the way, some unofficial rules have emerged between the candidate and his aide. From Mr. Obama: “One cardinal rule of the road is, we don’t watch CNN, the news or MSNBC. We don’t watch any talking heads or any politics. We watch ‘SportsCenter’ and argue about that.”

    Question: when Kenny Mayne gets that plum appointment in the coming Obama administration, will will former Sportscenter host turned MSNBC talk show host Keith Olbermann name him a Worst Person in the World out of jealousy?

    And when told that one of his newly appointed administration members was named a WPIW, will Obama reply, “Who named him that? Never heard of him.”

    MORE: Might as well note, Obama lists CNN and MSNBC as separate from “the news”. We agree!

    Friday, May 23, 2008

    Negotiate every vote

    Yesterday via Politico, we read where the Obama campaign signaled they would be willing to negotiate on the Florida and Michigan delegates (but not without pre-conditions of course, only enemy dictators are afforded such congeniality):

    NPR just sent out a press release with excerpts of an interview Obama Chief Strategist David Axelrod gave "All Things Considered" host Michele Norris, where he seemed to open the door to a deal on Michigan and Florida:

    "We are open to comprise [sic]. We are willing to go more than half way. We're willing to work to make sure that we can achieve a compromise. And I guess the question is: is Senator Clinton's campaign willing to do the same?"

    Axelrod continues: "Well, obviously, any compromise is going to involve some give, and that means if there's something on the table, we're willing to consider it. That may include us yielding more delegates than perhaps we would have, simply on the basis of the rules."

    But of course. Reminds us of the anecdote Democratic strategist Bob Beckel told on Fox News the night of the Indiana and North Carolina primaries.

    In a tight election sometime in the past, Beckel called the mayor of Gary, IN and asked when he would give him his vote totals. The mayor answered, “As soon as you tell me how many you need.”

    Obama will be willing to negotiate the seating of Michigan and Florida delegates as soon as he knows how many he needs.

    But wait! Isn’t Obama already in the lead? Didn’t he just secure the majority of pledged delegates as a result of the primaries on Tueday? Isn’t it true that he could allow Hillary all of the delegates she would receive based on the primaries in Florida and Michigan, and he would still be the nominee?

    Barring any unforeseen movement in super delegates – a movement that would only be caused by a cataclysmic scandal – yes.

    But the problem is, Obama is just not seeing an accelerating momentum – especially not what you would expect from the now presumptive nominee. Hillary has put some pretty good whoopins on Obama in recent contests such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Kentucky.

    And further, consider this from Byron York:

    If you start with the votes Clinton has won in the Democratic race so far … and add the ones she won in Florida, but don’t count any from Michigan, where opponent Barack Obama was not on the ballot, then Clinton is within striking distance of Obama going into the final primaries of the race.

    And if she were to win big in Puerto Rico, then she might become the top Democratic vote-getter, although Obama would win the nomination on the strength of his delegate lead.

    As long there is a chance that Hillary might overtake him in the popular vote Obama is no where near knowing how many delegates he would be willing to seat from Michigan and Florida. The closer she gets in the popular vote, the more critical it is that Obama has a demonstrative lead in the delegate count.

    Back to York:

    What is at stake is Obama’s standing as the clear, unquestioned leader of the party.

    When the winner is the guy who didn’t get the most popular votes, some people won’t be happy — just ask all those Democrats who sported “Re-Defeat Bush” stickers on their cars in 2004.

    Clinton’s presence as the popular-vote winner, even though Obama won the nomination by the rules, would diminish Obama.

    If that scenario comes to pass, she’ll be a reminder that many, many Democrats wanted someone else to be their nominee.

    Therefore, Al Gore.

    The Democrats used to cry, “Count every vote!” This year they are preparing to nominate a candidate who is crying, “Negotiate every vote!”

    Or if we look at it from a glass half full perspective, “Disenfranchise only as many as necessary to guarantee victory!”

    Obama’s message

    If you sometimes find yourself confused about the particulars of Obama’s message – please allow us to provide a quick summary:

  • America was not deserving of pride until recently

  • Life in America is bad and getting worse

  • America is going downhill

  • Americans’ souls are broken

  • Americans are mean

  • Americans are sloths and complacents

  • Americans are lazy, uninformed, uninvolved isolated and far too comfortable

  • Women everywhere are struggling just to keep their head above water

  • Men everywhere care more about themselves than their families

  • And if you ever find yourself in the future unsure of what Obama’s message is, just remember:

    “Whatever Michelle Says
    Is the Message”
    -Senator Barack Obama
    October 1, 2007
    Chicago HQ

    Thursday, May 22, 2008

    Understanding root causes

    An article from the AP today tells the tale of the latest front in the war on global warming:

    PELLSTON, Mich. - Chain saws scream in a northern Michigan forest, but it's not the familiar sound of lumberjacks.

    This time the tree killers are environmental researchers. They hope that years from now the aspens they remove will be replaced with a healthy mix of maples, oaks, beeches and pines — which should soak up more carbon dioxide from an ever warmer world.

    They say the experiment is the first they're aware of that involves removing large numbers of trees to promote growth of other species that will boost carbon absorption. It comes as governments and businesses around the world look for economically feasible ways to limit climate change.

    Famed dendrologist Scooter Libby helps explain one of the reasons that Aspen are less useful for sequestering carbon:

    It is fall now ... the aspens will already be turning. They turn in clusters, because their roots connect them.

    However, there is another aspect of the aspen arborcide:

    Scientists believe a diverse woodland will hold more carbon because it will be richer in nitrogen and use sunlight more efficiently. Both are key factors in photosynthesis, during which carbon is absorbed...

    Yes. Celebrate Diversity!

    However, no matter the wisdom of these efforts in combating climate change and celebrating diversity by increasing the carbon sequestration of the woodland, one question remains. Why make the aspens suffer such a slow, painful death?

    Cutting down the aspens would cause new sprouts to multiply, so scientists instead use a technique called "girdling," in which they strip a band of bark from around each tree. It starves the trees by preventing sugars produced by the leaves from traveling to the roots.

    In recent weeks, crews have girdled more than 6,700 trees — mostly aspens, with some birches — near one of the measuring towers. They should die in a year or two, allowing other species to flourish.

    Oh, so aspens are like terrorists – if you kill one, you only make more. So the scientists subject the aspens to brutal torture in order to discourage other aspens from replacing them.

    Some argue that those responsible for this approach have manipulated the intelligence:

    Skeptics question forests' long-term reliability for sequestering carbon. They can be cut down, burned or destroyed by disease or insects. Also, it's hard to measure their storage capacity, said Jonathan Pershing, climate and energy program director for the World Resources Institute.

    "Are you so sure you can tell us how much carbon is saved from your tree? That's the kind of question that makes people dubious about forest management" as a tool for limiting greenhouse gases, Pershing said.

    Forest ecologists lied, aspens died!

    And some of the scientists involved understand the tradeoffs involved:

    "I have little pangs now and then about what we've done ... even though it's for a good reason," Vogel said. But some of the aspens and birches were already dying, and it was just a matter of time for the others, he said.

    First they came for the aspens…

    Yeah, slow news day for me.

    How’s your aspen?

    Tuesday, May 20, 2008

    Building a following

    Here we’ve all been focused on the culty messiahesque Barack Obama phenomenon.

    And yet, the bigger story may well be the following that Karl Rove is building.

    We previously covered his efforts to bring in the MSM through his work at Newsweek

    [Newsweek editor Jon] Meacham said Mr. Rove had been received surprisingly well in the magazine’s newsroom, where he has been a reliable colleague who files his articles on time and works diligently with fact checkers.

    "After one editor dealt with him," Mr. Meacham said, "the editor called me and said, 'This just complicated my world view. I may like Karl Rove.'"

    But now he is bringing in numerous Clinton backers through his work on Fox:

    Presidential historian Sean Wilentz—who’s also a New Republic contributing editor, Bob Dylan enthusiast, and prominent Clinton backer —talked to MarketWatch about campaign coverage.

    And like many Clinton supporters these days, he didn't shower praise on CNN or MSNBC.

    [Wilentz] said the best coverage by far came from the Fox News Channel. Wilentz observed that Karl Rove, contributor to Fox News and architect of Bush's two successful presidential campaigns, among others, had sounded "very, very knowledgeable."

    "What it showed is that the reporting of politics doesn't have to be bad," Wilentz said. "If you respect your audience without a partisan imperative, then you can have some sophisticated reporting."

    Wilentz now joins Fox-loving Clintonites like Ed Rendell, Terry McAuliffe, and Lanny Davis.

    And finally, he is succeeding in bringing Clinton herself into his following:

    PRESTONSBURG, Kentucky (CNN) – Hillary Clinton defended her reasoning for staying in the presidential race Monday afternoon by pointing out that Karl Rove's analysis shows her to be the strongest candidate against John McCain in November.

    “There has been a lot of analysis about which of us is stronger to win against Sen. McCain, and I believe I am the stronger candidate,” said Clinton, repeating a line from her stump speech.

    Then she veered from her usual argument.

    “Just today I found some curious support for that position when one of the TV networks released an analysis done by - of all people - Karl Rove, saying that I was the stronger candidate,” said Clinton. “Somebody go[t] a hold of his analysis and there it is.”

    We know of Rove’s ultimate goal. And while we are left speculating how this particular move of turning Team Clinton, including Hillary, into Rove Followers specifically helps advance that goal, we’ll dub it “Operation Hell Hath No Fury” in educated-guess anticipation.

    Gone in 30 seconds

    Ralph Peters has a column in the NY Post today entitled, Success in Iraq: A Media Blackout

    It begins:

    May 20, 2008 -- DO we still have troops in Iraq? Is there still a conflict over there?

    If you rely on the so-called mainstream media, you may have difficulty answering those questions these days. As Iraqi and Coalition forces pile up one success after another, Iraq has magically vanished from the headlines.

    Want a real "inconvenient truth?" Progress in Iraq is powerful and accelerating.

    But that fact isn't helpful to elite media commissars and cadres determined to decide the presidential race over our heads. How dare our troops win? Even worse, Iraqi troops are winning. Daily.

    You won't see that above the fold in The New York Times. And forget the Obama-intoxicated news networks - they've adopted his story line that the clock stopped back in 2003.

    Peters goes on to document some of the recent coverage and detail some of the recent successes.

    Interestingly, last week, a Pew Research released a report which included a section on news interest and media coverage.

    * 45% of viewers were following news about the economy very closely and the media devoted 5% of its coverage to it.

    * 35% of viewers were following news about the 2008 campaign very closely and the media devoted 46% of its coverage to it.

    * 29% of viewers were following news about Iraq very closely and the media devoted 1% of its coverage to it.

    * 23% of viewers were following news about the cyclone in Burma very closely and the media devoted 15% of its coverage to it.

    * The media also devoted 1% of its coverage each to the Microsoft/Yahoo deal and to Jenna Bush’s wedding.

    If you had watched an hour of your cable news network of choice last week, you would have seen about 48 minutes of news coverage (subtracting for commercials), which would have included:

    * 21 minutes 5 seconds devoted to the 2008 campaign

    * 7 minutes 12 seconds devoted to the cyclone in Burma

    * 2 minutes 24 seconds devoted to the economy

    * 29 seconds devoted to the Microsoft/Yahoo deal

    * 29 seconds devoted to Jenna Bush’s wedding

    * 29 seconds devoted to Iraq

    Getting a half a minute worth of coverage of Iraq for an hour’s worth of couch potatoing? Especially if you read Peters’ article of what those 29 seconds likely included?


    MORE: Pew’s Project for Excellence in Journalism covered the Iraq media coverage in an article that is worth reading.

    Laying claim

    Mickey Kaus:

    Mutnemom in Action: RCP's chart shows Hillary closing in Oregon, of all places. ... Backfill: See Faughnan --"Is her mutnemom kicking into overdrive now that even Senator Obama seems to be tossing dirt onto her grave?" ... [Thanks to reader P.F.] 10:32 P.M.

    When last we were considering Mr. Kaus, we had sent him an email and he hat-tipped us by initials in a post.

    The post in question purported to explain Hillary’s poor showing in the NC and IN primaries. Of course, what that post does not mention was Mickey’s own hand in killing Hillary’s mutnemom by publicizing the late-breaking polls in her favor and by predicting that she would outperform expectations.

    Ascribing mutnemom before an election means describing actual, you know, momentum.

    Here we go again. The day before OR and KY, and Mickey is promoting the idea that Hillary is making up distance in the polls in OR, calling it “Mutnemom in Action”.

    One wild conspiracy theory is that Mickey is waging his own personal “operation chaos” against Hillary, killing mutnemom by helping create actual momentum.

    We’ll call it Soahc Noitarepo.

    If it exists. Which we aren’t claiming*.

    What we do want to claim is the name itself.

    Before anyone else does.


    *Unless he comes out with a prediction of Hillary getting within 5 in OR, at which point we reserve the right to reconsider.

    Monday, May 19, 2008

    Thermostat appeasement

    Everyone has seemingly opined already on this quote from Obama:

    "We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times ... and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK," Obama said.

    "That's not leadership. That's not going to happen," he added.

    But has anyone else thought how this could help Michelle Obama’s kids?

    In what may be the first time – and most like the last – that I seek the wisdom of Michelle Obama, I must warn Barack of what would follow.

    As soon as we bump the thermostat for the summer up to a more globally acceptable 76, “they” will “move the bar”, "raise the bar", "shift it to the side", "keep it just out of reach".

    And just like that we’ll be looking at 82.

    MORE: And as far as Obama frowning on those of us who would “eat as much as we want”, yes, Michelle and I are on opposite sides there.

    Defining decency deficiency

    From HotAir, Obama is complaining that Michelle should be off limits:

    “For them to try to distort or to play snippets of her remarks in ways that are unflattering to her I think is just low class and I think they — most of the American people would think that as well,” he said. “I would never think of going after somebody’s spouse in a campaign.” [...] Obama later added, "I think that the American people also would like to see some restoration of decency to this process. And when you start attacking family members, there's a lack of decency there."

    We find this from Ramesh Ponnuru at the Corner:

    Cindy McCain's Taxes

    From the new issue of NR, a comment by the editors:

    Cindy McCain refuses to release her tax returns. “This is a privacy issue. My husband is the candidate,” she said on the Today show. The McCains have filed separate tax returns for 28 years. Mrs. McCain, who inherited one of the nation’s largest Anheuser-Busch distributorships from her father, may be worth as much as $100 million. “What is John McCain trying to hide?” asked Howard Dean. We assume nothing. But the age of financial discretion is long gone. Our candidates live in fishbowls. So do their families, and this applies to the resources of wives and husbands. Cindy McCain is within the law to keep her business to herself, but she is not within the mores of contemporary politics.

    So this is where we stand. Obama says Michelle’s words in campaign speeches are not campaign material.

    National Review says the Cindy McCain’s tax returns should be fair game in the election.

    Howard Dean goes after Mrs. McCain, suggesting there must be something to hide for her to keep them private.

    Obama says Howard Dean, for going after the wife of a candidate, lacks decency.

    We agree! (with Obama on Dean, for those keeping score at home)

    And yes, the number of times Obama has gone after candidate-spouse Bill Clinton makes Obama out to be calling himself out for a lack of decency.

    But we think it a sign of some measure of decency when you are willing to admit your own decency deficiency. Good for Obama.

    Friday, May 16, 2008

    The protection racket

    At the Corner, David Freddoso writes about the recently passed farm bill. He quotes an Indianapolis Star column:

    ...the bill contains another protectionist element, one that hurts hungry people around the world. The Bush administration wanted to be able to use foreign aid money to buy food at locations near where it's needed by starving people. That move would reduce transportation costs and allow foreign aid dollars to be stretched further. The bill instead continues a requirement that all food aid must be purchased from U.S. farms.

    Freddoso then writes:

    ...our government creates one problem, then creates another, bigger problem in order to solve it, then creates a third problem, even bigger, to solve that one — et cetera, et cetera, ad infinitum. And two or more wrongs cannot make a right.

    Well. That is certainly indisputably and incontrovertibly self-evident. However, being an ardent conflationist, we may see a potential opportunity that would prove the exception to the Freddoso Rule.

    The article says that the requirement that all food aid be US-produced increases transportation costs.

    You know what else it means?

    An increased carbon footprint.

    Why not take the recent decision to have that poor beleaguered Arctic creature listed as “threatened” as part of the Endangered Species Act to argue that this bill kills polar bears?

    Baby polar bears.

    Because, you know, helping the poor, starving people in third-world countries is not enough motivation to act.

    MORE: Hugh Hewitt, call your office!

    Thursday, May 15, 2008

    Narratives (And the Narrating Narrators That Narrate Them)

    First: McCain, Obama and Hamas

    When Hamas official Ahmed Yousef says this…

    We don’t mind–actually we like Mr. Obama. We hope he will (win) the election and I do believe he is like John Kennedy, great man with great principle, and he has a vision to change America to make it in a position to lead the world community but not with domination and arrogance,” Yousef said in response to a question about the group’s willingness to meet with either of the Democratic presidential candidates.

    ...and John McCain says this...

    “I think it is very clear who Hamas wants to be the next president of the United States..."

    ...Obama says this:

    "This is offensive and I think it's disappointing, because John McCain always says, well, I'm not going to run that kind of politics and that engages in that kind of smear I think is unfortunate, particularly since my policy toward Hamas has been no different than his.

    And after all that, CNN says this:

    Those doubts were earlier stoked by Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee in the 2008 presidential election, when he recently charged that Obama is the favored candidate of the Islamic fundamentalist group Hamas, which the U.S. government has listed as a terrorist group.

    Obama last week called the Hamas allegation a "smear" and lashed out Thursday at Bush's speech in Israel.

    Right. McCain “charged...the Hamas allegation”. The words used imply that McCain is making an unsupported accusation.

    Well, at any rate, if at some point the media accidentally stumbles upon the Yousef quote, we will likely then see a new approach:

    John McCain is echoing Hamas propaganda!

    Second: Bush, Obama and Appeasement

    When Bush says this...

    Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: “Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.” We have an obligation to call this what it is – the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.

    …Obama says this…

    It is sad that President Bush would use a speech to the Knesset on the 60th anniversary of Israel's independence to launch a false political attack," Obama said in a statement released to CNN by his campaign. "It is time to turn the page on eight years of policies that have strengthened Iran and failed to secure America or our ally Israel…."

    "George Bush knows that I have never supported engagement with terrorists, and the president's extraordinary politicization of foreign policy and the politics of fear do nothing to secure the American people or our stalwart ally Israel," Obama's statement said.

    …WH spokesbabe Dana Perino says this…

    The White House said Bush's comment wasn't a reference to Obama.

    "It is not," press secretary Dana Perino told reporters in Israel. "I would think that all of you who cover these issues and have for a long time have known that there are many who have suggested these types of negotiations with people that the president, President Bush, thinks that we should not talk to. I understand when you're running for office you sometimes think the world revolves around you. That is not always true. And it is not true in this case."

    So naturally, the NY Times led with this...

    “President Bush used a speech to the Israeli Parliament on Thursday to issue a veiled rebuke to Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential contender, who has argued that the United States should negotiate with countries like Iran and Syria.”

    It’s ok, NY Times -- I understand when your personal messiah and savior is running for office you sometimes think the world revolves around him.

    Same as it ever was.

    MORE: We note that the NY Times has since amended it to this:

    President Bush used a speech to the Israeli Parliament on Thursday to denounce those who would negotiate with “terrorists and radicals” — a remark that was widely interpreted as a rebuke to Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential contender, who has argued that the United States should talk directly with countries like Iran and Syria.

    Wednesday, May 14, 2008

    Fine, let's make this nuance day

    Michelle Obama has famously said that Barack is going to require us to work, demand that shed our divisions, come out of our isolation, move out of our comfort zones, push ourselves to be better, and engage.

    Well, whether he can accomplish all that or not, Obama is forcing me to cover his interview with Jeffrey Goldberg ... because of the nuance:

    JG: Were you flummoxed by it? [the Hamas endorsement]

    BO: I wasn’t flummoxed. I think what is going on there is the same reason why there are some suspicions of me in the Jewish community. Look, we don’t do nuance well in politics and especially don’t do it well on Middle East policy. We look at things as black and white, and not gray. It’s conceivable that there are those in the Arab world who say to themselves, “This is a guy who spent some time in the Muslim world, has a middle name of Hussein, and appears more worldly and has called for talks with people, and so he’s not going to be engaging in the same sort of cowboy diplomacy as George Bush,” and that’s something they’re hopeful about. I think that’s a perfectly legitimate perception

    Obama is simply asking that we in America strive to achieve a level of nuance that those in the Arab world who say such things to themselves have achieved.

    Is that too much to ask -- I mean, why can't we be more like those Arabs?

    All he is saying, is give nuance a chance.

    MORE: Oh, and Michelle also said that Barack would demand that we shed our cynicism. Fat chance, that – he’ll be flummoxed if he tries.

    Pin it on NDD

    I wasn’t going to post anything about Obama’s latest foray into his false patriotism fashion fetishism. I said it last time the flag pin made an appearance on Obama’s lapel -- “It's not surprising then that Obama gets bitter, he clings to a ‘substitute for true patriotism’.”

    Still sounds good to me.

    But I cannot let this latest episode go by without recognizing Abe Greenwald’s post at the Weekly Standard. Greenwald shows great concern for liberals like WaPo’s Richard Cohen who saw such bravery in Obama’s refusal to wear the pin. Greenwald asks:

    And how will they square their belief in the rebel patriot anti-panderer with their candidate’s transparent pandering? Obama has not made it easy for his supporters. It’s hard to keep track of the alternating intelligibility of his gestures. Words were not “just words” until they were uttered by his ex-pastor: then they were “just words” again. He couldn’t denounce anti-American black liberation theology–until he could. He was post-racial until he was, first and foremost, racial. A lapel pin was a substitute for patriotism until it was patriotism itself.

    I have good news, Mr. Greenwald. While the diagnosis is that you have NDD, your nuance deficit appears to be within healthy levels.

    But please understand that Obama supporters like Cohen will have no problem reconciling “the alternating intelligibility of [Obama’s] gestures.”

    It’s the NHD.

    And reconciling those contradictory positions of their beloved candidate is the least of their worries. It is the other symptoms that present the real problems.

    Tuesday, May 13, 2008

    Obama: "The buck stops here before it doesn’t"

    Yesterday we noted the article from the Washington Post in which an Obama staffer shed light on Obama’s decision-making process.

    "It wasn't like 'Let's have a discussion.' It was 'One, two, three, four, here's what we're going to do,'" a staffer said. "When things don't go well, he doesn't yell and scream. He's very prescriptive. Everybody understands this isn't about having a discussion. He's got 99 percent of the voting shares. There's no point in taking a vote."

    The buck stops with Obama. We had fun with the idea that Obama was stifling dissent in the benevolent dictatorship of his campaign.

    And now Jake Tapper points out how Obama, when confronted with campaign issues and uncomfortable questions and, well, distractions, blames his staff. (yeah, another t o' the h to Tom Maguire)

    So, for those keeping track at home, that's ten instances of Obama publicly blaming his staff for various screw-ups.

    1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10!

    (You of course could also add Austan Goolsbee, Samantha Power, Gordon Fischer, and retired Gen. Tony McPeak.)

    That would be 14. We will continue to keep track.

    Obama was for stopping the buck at himself before he was against it.

    Tapper extends grace to the beleaguered staffers where Obama shows none:

    And for the record, yet again, let me state that I find Sen. Obama's staff unfailingly competent and polite, courteous and efficient, and I once again express my regret that Sen. Obama does apparently not feel the same way.

    We hereby retract the “benevolent” modifier used previously to describe Obama’s dictatorship of a campaign.

    MORE: Channelling a James Taranto “reliable sources” entry on Best of the Web Today, we’re surprised the unidentified staffer in the WaPo article wasn’t qualified as, “...a staffer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to avoid being blamed by Obama for screwing something up, said...”

    Monday, May 12, 2008

    Guerilla in their midst

    From Byron York at NRO (h/t: Ace of Spades sidebar):

    Speaking of Newsweek, there's an amusing addendum to the post below in today's New York Times story about the emergence of Karl Rove as a political commentator. The story is mostly about Rove's appearances on Fox, but it also notes Newsweek editor Meacham's decision to hire Rove as a columnist:

    Mr. Meacham said Mr. Rove had been received surprisingly well in the magazine’s newsroom, where he has been a reliable colleague who files his articles on time and works diligently with fact checkers.

    "After one editor dealt with him," Mr. Meacham said, "the editor called me and said, 'This just complicated my world view. I may like Karl Rove.'"

    You would think these people would know better – that they could see this coming from a mile away.

    But since they apparently cannot, allow me to spell it out: Rove, having already set up the conditions that will destroy the Democratic Party, is naturally now moving on to destroy the MSM – from within.

    Be forewarned, MSM.

    Though there’s nothing you can do to stop him.

    Stifiling dissent is the highest form of patronization

    Last week, Tom Maguire highlighted this article from the Washington Post that began with a profile of a post-Pennsylvania-loss Obama campaign meeting:

    For two hours after dinner, Barack and Michelle Obama, campaign manager David Plouffe, message man David Axelrod, deputy campaign manager Steve Hildebrand, communications chiefs Robert Gibbs and Dan Pfeiffer, family friend and Chicago business heavyweight Valerie Jarrett, and scheduling chief Alyssa Mastromonaco hashed over the presidential campaign's history, looked at the upcoming primaries and decided how the candidate would approach the coming two weeks. Obama wanted to get away from the sniping, including his own, and get back to the approachable, hopeful campaign of last winter's long sojourn in Iowa.

    The tenor of that meeting lines up well with the Newsweek article now being widely discussed (via Hot Air ). Obama endeavors to run civil, snipe-free meetings:

    How do you know if Barack Obama is unhappy with what you’re saying— or not saying? At meetings of his closest advisers, he likes to lean back, put his feet on the table and close his eyes. If he doesn’t like how the conversation is going, he will lean forward, put his feet on the floor and “adjust his socks, kind of start tugging at them,” says Michael Strautmanis, a counselor to the campaign. Obama wants people to talk, but he doesn’t want to intimidate them. “If you haven’t said anything, he’ll call on you,” says Strautmanis. “He’s never said it, but he usually thinks if somebody is very quiet it’s because they disagree with what everybody is saying … so Barack will call on you and say, ‘You’ve been awfully quiet’.” There are no screamers on Team Obama; one senior Obama aide says he’s heard him yell only twice in four years. Obama was explicit from the beginning: there was to be “no drama,” he told his aides. “I don’t want elbowing or finger-pointing. We’re going to rise or fall together.” Obama wanted steady, calm, focused leadership; he wanted to keep out the grandstanders and make sure the quiet dissenters spoke up.

    I won’t make hay over the “I don’t want…finger-pointing” remark.

    Because it would be a distraction.

    Rather, returning to the Washington Post article, how interested is Obama in actually having a discussion and hearing different views?

    "It wasn't like 'Let's have a discussion.' It was 'One, two, three, four, here's what we're going to do,' "a staffer said. "When things don't go well, he doesn't yell and scream. He's very prescriptive. Everybody understands this isn't about having a discussion. He's got 99 percent of the voting shares. There's no point in taking a vote."

    Does Obama actively court quiet dissenters in the exercise of the highest form of patriotism, or does he only pretend to encourage dissent, so that he can more effectively stifle it in the benevolent dictatorship of his campaign?

    Sunday, May 11, 2008

    She lives

    Byron York on NRO retells a tale told by Michelle on the campaign trail:

    [Michelle Obama] tells the story of a ten-year-old girl she met in Newberry, S.C., before that state’s primary. “It was in a little beauty shop, and we were having a rally — it was me and a bunch of women and a couple of brothers,” she recalls. After the rally, the girl came up to her and said, with great seriousness, “Do you realize when your husband becomes the next president of the United States, it will be historical?”

    Everybody laughs; what a cute thing for a child to say. But then Obama asked the little girl what that would mean for her. “It means that I can imagine anything for myself,” the girl said.

    The crowd begins to applaud; they think they’re hearing a happy, inspiring story. But that’s not where Mrs. Obama is going.“

    And then that little girl started to break down in tears,” she continues. “She sobbed so hard. She was crying big, huge tears. And I had to think, why is this little girl crying so hard? And I thought, you know what’s going on? This little old girl gets it.”

    Some may think that Michelle, uh, embellished this story for effect. Some may even be so cyncial as to suggest that Michelle made the whole crying episode up.

    Not me.

    I think we may have located the presumed fictional and heretofore assumed mythical CheChe's daughter.

    Saturday, May 10, 2008

    Duck and cover

    Last night was poker night. I didn't lose my shirt necessarily, but my wallet was considerably lightened.

    And I should have left earlier than I did, and not just because the losing streak was pretty bad.

    We have poker night at the neighborhood clubhouse. During the game, it started raining outside. Then the lightning started. And the wind was whipping pretty good.

    Then the lights went out. But you know what? The room we play poker in has an emergency exit with backup lighting, so all the power outage did was dim the room a little. It was late and I figured the family was long ago asleep and the power being out would go completely unnoticed by them. So we soldiered on like the dedicated poker players we are.

    I got home maybe an hour or two later, went to bed, woke up this morning, drove to work.

    Not realizing that we narrowly missed disaster:

    Officials are trying to determine whether one or two tornadoes touched down in Guilford County on Thursday night. [...]

    One person was killed and three others suffered non-life threatening injuries after at least one tornado touched down near Interstate 40 and Sandy Ridge Road late Thursday night, damaging nearby homes and about a half-dozen businesses.

    More photos of the damage here.

    I'm sure there's some witty poker pun to be made here. I'll pass for now.

    Friday, May 9, 2008

    The united 60 states of America

    I usually don't grab what I think are going to be the big, widely circulated and most commentatoriated items. I crave obscurity! But this probably will get a lot of play -- and -- I can't stay away from it.

    This is via
    DrewM at Ace of Spades (and I note that it is DrewM, because I mixed he and Ace up in an email earlier today).

    Obama's been to 57 states. One left to go. OK, 58 states. Besides Alaska and Hawaii, though -- so, 60 states total. Sixty states. Got it.

    Obama from his 2004 Democratic National Convention speech:

    The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for

    And presumptive Democratic nominee likes to slice and dice 50 states and make them 60.

    So, here is the new United States Flag Under President Barack Obama:


    UPDATE: NO! I will not sully the name of Johnny Cash by equating Obama's statements with the classic Cash song "I've Been Everywhere". But I will use it to
    ridicule Obama for his statement.

    Because I think that's what Johnny would have wanted.

    You can’t always turn the other cheek

    Well. There have been previous cases where the Obama campaign has called Obama's remarks offensive and said that quoting Obama is divisive.

    It has been admirable that Obama has thus far stayed above the fray, refusing to get in the mud by going after his adversarial campaign. But there is only so much even a Messiah can take before turning the other cheek must be righteously set aside.

    Obama campaign back in April:

    When asked about the endorsement, Obama's chief strategist, David Axelrod, was flattered that Hamas compared his candidate to JFK: "We all agree that John Kennedy was a great president, and it's flattering when anybody says that Barack Obama would follow in his footsteps."

    Obama yesterday:

    “This is offensive, and I think it's disappointing,” Obama told Blitzer … “and to engage in that kind of smear is unfortunate.

    “I’ve said it’s a terrorist organization and we should not negotiate with them unless they recognize Israel, renounce violence, and unless they are willing to abide by previous accords between the Palestinians and the Israelis. So … to toss out comments like that I think is an example of … losing … bearings…”

    The Obama campaign, by smearing Obama with praise for the Hamas endorsement is disappointing, offensive and shows a loss of bearings?

    We agree!

    emocleW er’uoY

    Mickey Kaus:

    [Thanks to alert reader J.D.] 10:12 P.M. link

    It was my pleasure.

    Oh, and thank you for not needling me for misspelling mutnemom as mutmenom in my email.

    I was especially horrified at my mistake because mutnemom is a backwards spelled word.

    When I was in school, I was your typical slacker student with a typical short attention span. I was constantly fighting boredom and sometimes fighting sleep – and mostly losing on both counts.

    In one class, one in which it was crucial to actually take notes and pay attention, I developed an approach to keep my attention on the lecture. I taught myself to write backwards and upside down. The challenge of writing this way helped me pay attention and take good notes.

    So, when I went back and re-read my email to Mickey, I immediately saw the mistake. Yet it was a mistake I made at least six times in the email.

    I suppose I didn’t catch the mistake in writing the email because I was typing, not writing.

    .tey deretsam evah I lliks a ton si sdrawkcab gnipyT

    .lliw I yad emos tuB

    MORE: Interesting, Jane Austen wrote this letter to her niece backwards. My love for her grows deeper.

    Thursday, May 8, 2008

    Jobless man bites dog

    From Business Week Online: Economy goes south, women and minorities men hardest hit:

    They eat from the same dishes and sleep in the same beds, but they seem to be operating in two different economies. From last November through this April, American women aged 20 and up gained nearly 300,000 jobs, according to the household survey of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). At the same time, American men lost nearly 700,000 jobs. You might even say American men are in recession, and American women are not. [...]

    Meanwhile from the AP:

    WASHINGTON - The number of newly laid off workers seeking unemployment benefits dropped much more than expected last week.

    The Labor Department reported Thursday that applications for unemployment benefits fell to 365,000, a decline of 18,000 from the previous week. Economists had been looking for a much smaller decrease of around 5,000.

    The men are probably too busy bitterly clinging to their guns to go out looking for a new job.

    Back to the Business Week article:

    The Presidential candidates haven't figured out how to play the disparity [in job losses] between men and women. [...]

    Another reason politicians aren't making hay of the plight of males is that they are well aware that women are in no mood for it.

    Women are moody? Tell me about it You said it.

    If you know what I mean

    The most important thing you need to know about the race at this point, from Karl Rove writing in the WSJ:

    Almost everything we think we know right now will be revised and even overturned during the next six months. This has been a race in which conventional wisdom has often been proven wrong. The improbable or thought-to-be impossible has happened with regularity. It has created a boom market for punditry and opinion offering, and one of the grandest possible spectacles for political junkies in decades. Hold on to your hat. It's going to be one heck of a ride through Nov. 4.

    That is, the most important thing you need to know right now is that you don’t know what you think you know.

    Well, unless that itself is overturned.

    You never know, if you know what I mean.

    Tuesday, May 6, 2008

    Today, I vote

    NC primary day. I hope to sneak out of work a little early and squeeze in my vote before the kids’ soccer practice.

    Who am I going to vote for? Am I going to participate in Operation Chaos? And if I did, would I vote for Hillary or Obama?

    I can’t answer those questions yet, but I can say one thing – I hope to participate in as many exit polls as possible. In fact, I counted on my way to work today - I pass three polling places on my normal commute, and can hit two more by making a couple of half mile side trips. I’ll have to devise a plan to appear to have voted in each of these locations and appeal to exit pollsters as a potential and desirable exit pollee.

    One man-one votesix exit polls.

    Yes we can!

    I will try to update later this evening the results of my voting and exit polling.

    FWIW: By the way, on my commute, which was right around 7 AM, each of the polling places had ~20 cars. Seems like a pretty hefty number for the time. It is an area just north of Greensboro, a mix of suburban and rural settings along my commute. I have no idea how many poll workers that represented or how that number would compare to past elections. So yeah, maybe that info isn’t worth much. If you are dissatisfied, please contact Customer Service and you will be eligible for a full refund of all money spent at TheVIMH.

    MORE: Here is the NC State Board of Elections primary election results website

    POST-VOTE UPDATE: Well. No chaos here. Voted for McCain. And I felt good doing it. That is, I wasn’t entirely comfortable doing the cross-over thing. I didn’t completely make up my mind until the poll worker asked, “which ballot do you want?” And the word Democratic just wouldn’t pass my lips.

    But then, after voting, it hit me. What a horrendous mistake I had made. What a devastating oversight.

    I’ll let Geraghty help explain:

    UPDATE: Oddity of the night: In North Carolina, 19,876 (so far) voted "no preference" in the Democratic primary. That's about 1 percent.

    I did not realize that “no preference” was going to be on the ballot. I love “no preference”.

    Or as I like to call him, “Uncommitted”.

    He shoulda gotten 19,877 votes.

    Now I’m bitter.

    Monday, May 5, 2008

    The audacity of hoops

    There’s more to Obama hooping it up than just vote pandering in NC and IN:

    A senior Democrat strategist privy to Obama's campaign said: "He's sick of the battle against Clinton. He wants to get stuck into McCain. His people have had to remind him that this thing isn't over yet and he needs to focus and put her away."

    In a press conference on Friday, Mr Obama conceded: "We've had a rough couple of weeks, I won't deny that. I don't think what happened with Rev Wright was helpful." [...]

    Mr Axelrod said Mr Obama had been using games of basketball to let off steam. He said the Wright affair had undoubtedly had some impact on voters, but claimed his candidate was ready for the fight ahead.

    No, Obama transcends such blatant campaign tactics.

    Here's how it is: in a lot of these races in recent states like North Carolina and Indiana, Obama has been beaten down so long, and he feels so betrayed by Hillary and her campaign, and when Obama hears a pitch that is premised on not being cynical about the primaries, then a part of him just doesn't buy it.

    So it's not surprising then that he gets bitter, he clings to basketballs or high-tops or antipathy to people who are trying to take the rock to the hole on him or anti-zone defense sentiment as a way to explain his frustrations.

    Obama should light it up in North Carolina

    OK, Obama realizes that being elitist doesn’t help (via RCP):

    “I do think one of the ironies of the past two or three weeks is this idea that Michelle and I are elitist, intellectual pointy-head types. The fact is our lives more closely approximate the lives of the average voters than any of the other candidates,” he said. “We didn’t recognize the caricature that was being painted of us over the last couple of weeks.”

    OK, but here’s the thing, Obama. Besides going to San Francisco and claiming small town Pennsylvanians were bitter, clingy gun worshippers (or something like that), you also went to Pennsylvania and didn’t even know what Yuengling was. While Hillary was throwing back shots and McCain’s wife owns a beer distributorship. You are losing the “who would you want to have a beer with” voter.

    So, here’s how you can save North Carolina: start smoking again.

    Yeah, yeah, you probably don’t like “big tobacco” any more than you like “big drug companies”.

    Oh sure, you’d probably catch grief from Michelle.

    But come on. If you are willing to usher in the “tyranny of corn” in the name of ending the “tyranny of oil”, all the while denouncing “big oil” while gladly letting them help fund your campaign, then surely throwing a bone to tobacco growers isn’t that big of a deal, especially if it makes you seem more like a regular roundy-headed, unintellectual guy.

    MORE: OK, fine we admit, lighting it up on the basketball court is probably a better idea, especially since it gets you points in both NC and IN.

    Thursday, May 1, 2008

    Make the most of it

    Well, light blogging of late.

    But we should take this opportunity to reinforce an incontrovertible truth -- all you need is a minute to stay up with everything that's important -- that is, all you need is Just One Minute.

    Now, catching up myself at JOM, Tom Maguire has a post that accepts Michelle Obama's invitation to turn the page on Reverend Wright. Michelle asks:

    “When was the last time we heard some really solid questions for these candidates on education in a debate? You know all about the issues in our personal lives, but ... education is the thing we should be angry about.”

    Tom goes from there on a long, detailed, fascinating and utterly informative post on Barack Obama's role in education reform, especially as it relates to his involvement with terrorist Bill Ayers.

    Then in a previous post, Tom looks at what most annoyed Obama by Wright's media blitz -- the fact that Wright dissed Obama's earlier denunciations of him as political posturing. (We agree with Wright on this, of course)

    But then Tom wrote this:

    How can Obama have this nation's confidence in negotiating with foreign leaders or making senior level Administration appointments when he was so wrong about Wright for so long?

    And it hit us (being a conflationist by nature).

    If we're talking about education and we are questioning Obama's judgment on making senior level Administration appointments, is there any question who would be on Obama's short list for Secretary of Education?

    He is a very prominent supporter and has issued one of the most publicized educational theories in recent memory (no, no, not Rev. Wright's race-based learning theory).

    We were going to give various hints to see if you could figure out this future Secretary, but alas our attention span is running on fumes (we blame the public school system!), so let's just go straight to the educational theory: