Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Rachel D’Oro and the AP: Sleaze and Bozo Analysis

Cross posted on The Next Right

In reporting the denial of a big photo deal between People magazine and Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston, Associated Press reporter Rachel D’Oro and Anchorage Daily News reporter Kyle Hopkins can’t seem to avoid sleazy suggestion and bozo analysis.

D’Oro and Hopkins raise questions about an MSNBC story on a $300,000 deal for photos of Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston with newborn son Tripp.

According to People’s managing editor Larry Hackett:
“the magazine has had ‘conversations’ about photos with a Palin representative but no deal has been made and no money has been given to the Palins.”

“‘Would we pay for a picture of her and her kid? I don't know. It's something I would consider. It's not something I would rule out of hand,’ he said.”

So, though People magazine has not closed a deal with Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston, the clear implication is that a deal is in the works.

Incredibly, after having just proved the MSNBC story to be flawed, D’Oro and Hopkins go on to unquestioningly repeat details of the same MSNBC story as fact. They even reference the story’s “unnamed sources” as though the same sources wrong about whether a deal even exists are right on the reasoning behind specific money amounts.
"MSNBC's report quoted unnamed sources saying bidding for the baby photos began at $100,000 and increased after Johnston's mother Sherry was arrested on felony drug charges this month involving OxyContin, a potentially addictive prescription painkiller. MSNBC said estimates of the deal were in the $300,000 range."

Why Sherry Johnston’s arrest would triple the value of the photos of her grandson is never explained. D’Oro and Hopkins never try to find the “unnamed sources” nor do they bother to question MSNBC about it. Just credulously pass it on.

The sleaze comes in while questioning Paul Harris, who works with an entertainment photo agency, on the value of the photos.
"The $300,000 figure would be appropriate for a sit-down portrait session of the newborn and his parents -- but only if it includes Sarah Palin, said Paul Harris with Pacific Coast News, an entertainment photo agency based in Los Angeles.

"And unless Alaska's Republican governor is a presidential contender in 2012, Harris doesn't anticipate escalating interest in paying big money for street photos of her grandson and his teenage mother.

"'Maybe if the father left her and went off with Angelina Jolie, but that might not happen,' he said."

[emphasis added]

The idea of Levi Johnston running off with Angelina Jolie is a sleazy joke. It adds nothing to the story, but lets D’Oro and Hopkins slyly slime Johnston and the Palin family. The reason for including it (that Palin will not be a presidential contender in 2012) shows Paul Harris (and D’Oro and Hopkins for relying on his judgment) as being a bit of a bozo on who is politically “hot”.

Harris maintains that street photos of Tripp will not be in demand unless Palin is a presidential contender in 2012. It’s a strange comment given that 54% of Republicans say they would choose Palin as their party’s nominee.

From now until 2012, Palin is not only a presidential contender but the preferred Republican presidential contender. Apparently street photos of her grandson are going to be worth big bucks.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

British Atheist: Africa Needs Christianity

From The Times of London, December 27, 2008:

As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God

Missionaries, not aid money, are the solution to Africa's biggest problem - the crushing passivity of the people's mindset

Matthew Parris

Before Christmas I returned, after 45 years, to the country that as a boy I knew as Nyasaland. Today it's Malawi, and The Times Christmas Appeal includes a small British charity working there. Pump Aid helps rural communities to install a simple pump, letting people keep their village wells sealed and clean. I went to see this work.

It inspired me, renewing my flagging faith in development charities. But travelling in Malawi refreshed another belief, too: one I've been trying to banish all my life, but an observation I've been unable to avoid since my African childhood. It confounds my ideological beliefs, stubbornly refuses to fit my world view, and has embarrassed my growing belief that there is no God.

Now a confirmed atheist, I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.

I used to avoid this truth by applauding - as you can - the practical work of mission churches in Africa. It's a pity, I would say, that salvation is part of the package, but Christians black and white, working in Africa, do heal the sick, do teach people to read and write; and only the severest kind of secularist could see a mission hospital or school and say the world would be better without it. I would allow that if faith was needed to motivate missionaries to help, then, fine: but what counted was the help, not the faith.

But this doesn't fit the facts. Faith does more than support the missionary; it is also transferred to his flock. This is the effect that matters so immensely, and which I cannot help observing.

First, then, the observation. We had friends who were missionaries, and as a child I stayed often with them; I also stayed, alone with my little brother, in a traditional rural African village. In the city we had working for us Africans who had converted and were strong believers. The Christians were always different. Far from having cowed or confined its converts, their faith appeared to have liberated and relaxed them. There was a liveliness, a curiosity, an engagement with the world - a directness in their dealings with others - that seemed to be missing in traditional African life. They stood tall.

At 24, travelling by land across the continent reinforced this impression. From Algiers to Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon and the Central African Republic, then right through the Congo to Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya, four student friends and I drove our old Land Rover to Nairobi.

We slept under the stars, so it was important as we reached the more populated and lawless parts of the sub-Sahara that every day we find somewhere safe by nightfall. Often near a mission.

Whenever we entered a territory worked by missionaries, we had to acknowledge that something changed in the faces of the people we passed and spoke to: something in their eyes, the way they approached you direct, man-to-man, without looking down or away. They had not become more deferential towards strangers - in some ways less so - but more open.

This time in Malawi it was the same. I met no missionaries. You do not encounter missionaries in the lobbies of expensive hotels discussing development strategy documents, as you do with the big NGOs. But instead I noticed that a handful of the most impressive African members of the Pump Aid team (largely from Zimbabwe) were, privately, strong Christians. “Privately” because the charity is entirely secular and I never heard any of its team so much as mention religion while working in the villages. But I picked up the Christian references in our conversations. One, I saw, was studying a devotional textbook in the car. One, on Sunday, went off to church at dawn for a two-hour service.

It would suit me to believe that their honesty, diligence and optimism in their work was unconnected with personal faith. Their work was secular, but surely affected by what they were. What they were was, in turn, influenced by a conception of man's place in the Universe that Christianity had taught.

There's long been a fashion among Western academic sociologists for placing tribal value systems within a ring fence, beyond critiques founded in our own culture: “theirs” and therefore best for “them”; authentic and of intrinsically equal worth to ours.

I don't follow this. I observe that tribal belief is no more peaceable than ours; and that it suppresses individuality. People think collectively; first in terms of the community, extended family and tribe. This rural-traditional mindset feeds into the “big man” and gangster politics of the African city: the exaggerated respect for a swaggering leader, and the (literal) inability to understand the whole idea of loyal opposition.

Anxiety - fear of evil spirits, of ancestors, of nature and the wild, of a tribal hierarchy, of quite everyday things - strikes deep into the whole structure of rural African thought. Every man has his place and, call it fear or respect, a great weight grinds down the individual spirit, stunting curiosity. People won't take the initiative, won't take things into their own hands or on their own shoulders.

How can I, as someone with a foot in both camps, explain? When the philosophical tourist moves from one world view to another he finds - at the very moment of passing into the new - that he loses the language to describe the landscape to the old. But let me try an example: the answer given by Sir Edmund Hillary to the question: Why climb the mountain? “Because it's there,” he said.

To the rural African mind, this is an explanation of why one would not climb the mountain. It's... well, there. Just there. Why interfere? Nothing to be done about it, or with it. Hillary's further explanation - that nobody else had climbed it - would stand as a second reason for passivity.

Christianity, post-Reformation and post-Luther, with its teaching of a direct, personal, two-way link between the individual and God, unmediated by the collective, and unsubordinate to any other human being, smashes straight through the philosphical/spiritual framework I've just described. It offers something to hold on to to those anxious to cast off a crushing tribal groupthink. That is why and how it liberates.

Those who want Africa to walk tall amid 21st-century global competition must not kid themselves that providing the material means or even the knowhow that accompanies what we call development will make the change. A whole belief system must first be supplanted.

And I'm afraid it has to be supplanted by another. Removing Christian evangelism from the African equation may leave the continent at the mercy of a malign fusion of Nike, the witch doctor, the mobile phone and the machete.

Hat Tip Kathryn Jean Lopez

Monday, December 29, 2008

It Seems We (and President Bush) Have Won in Iraq

Cross posted on The Next Right

From Tim Blair:

The New York Times reports (in its Media & Advertising section):
Quietly, as the United States presidential election and its aftermath have dominated the news, America’s three broadcast network news divisions have stopped sending full-time correspondents to Iraq …

Joseph Angotti, a former vice president of NBC News, said he could not recall any other time when all three major broadcast networks lacked correspondents in an active war zone that involved United States forces.

Which is as clear a sign as any that the war is over and coalition forces have won. Or, as the Times prefers to put it:
Of course, the Iraq war has evolved and violence in the country has subsided … representatives for the networks emphasized that they would continue to cover the war and said the staff adjustments reflected the evolution of the conflict in Iraq from a story primarily about violence to one about reconstruction and politics.

Good news is no news. Here’s Jane Arraf, CNN’s former Baghdad bureau chief:

“You can imagine how much more tedious it would be to watch soldiers running meetings on irrigation,” she said.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Rudolph Wins Discrimination Suit in Canada

From Peter Scowen published in The Globe and Mail:

A hearing into the case of Rudolph, a reindeer

From Wednesday's Globe and Mail
December 23, 2008

In December of 2006, this rights commission was asked to investigate claims of discrimination based on physical disability with regards to a reindeer, Rudolph.

Thanks to the use of anatomically correct dolls brought to life in a stop-action dramatic recreation of the incidents under discussion, as well as at least one version of the events delivered in the form of a ridiculously catchy country western song, the commission has established the following facts:

* Rudolph suffers from a facial disfigurement.

* Rudolph is employed by Santa Claus, the owner and sole executive of a toy manufacturing conglomerate known as Santa Claus Holdings Inc. (herewith referred to as SCHI) and located on or near Earth's magnetic north pole (herewith referred to as the North Pole). Rudolph works in the delivery department, propulsion and guidance systems.

* In the North Pole, reindeer can fly. No one thinks this is weird.

* Like the lingerie section at department stores, SCHI delivers its entire annual production of Christmas gifts on a single night – Dec. 24.

* The alleged incidents took place in the winter months leading up to Christmas, 2005.

The commission established the following narrative of events:

Rudolph suffers from an unusual swelling and discoloration of the nose.

Medical doctors who examined him at the commission's request concluded that his disability is not due to any known medical condition.

For one thing, his nose is too shiny. Witnesses testified that some “would even say it glows,” raising the possibility of radiation poisoning. That was ruled out through the use of a Geiger counter. A diagnosis of congenital disfigurement is accepted by the commission.

It's clear that Rudolph's disfigurement was a source of shame for his parents. At one point, the child's father tried to blacken his son's nose with mud, a considerable effort given mud's scarcity in the North Pole. Donner eventually fashioned a prosthetic nose and forced Rudolph to wear it when out in public.

Rudolph's problems were exacerbated at school. The prosthetic nose was crudely made and often fell off, revealing Rudolph's disfigurement. His peers responded by ridiculing him and refusing to let him “join in any reindeer games,” according to one version of events.

Reindeer games are an intrinsic part of reindeer society, and Rudolph's exclusion from them was painful. No action was taken by teachers or the school principal to rectify the situation. The commission notes that the school is owned and operated by North Pole Education Systems Inc., a subsidiary of SCHI.

The cruel taunts and exclusion continued until Dec. 24, 2005, when climatic conditions resulted in the peculiar appearance of a thick blanket of fog in the North Pole, a polar desert where average temperatures on this date are in the minus-45-degree range.

It was at this point that Santa Claus himself approached Rudolph and offered him the chance to fill a newly created position in the delivery department: He asked Rudolph to help pull his gift-laden sleigh in the lead position.

Santa Claus's hope was that Rudolph's brightly lit red nose would serve as a beacon and help him guide his sleigh that night. It apparently worked, as the delivery went off without a hitch.

Rudolph's sudden and unexpected engagement by the region's single all-powerful employer changed his peers' attitudes toward him. “Then all the reindeer loved him,” one witness said. Some predicted that Rudolph would “go down in history.”


The commission finds this case to be troubling from start to finish. Its members note with sadness that the North Pole is dominated by a judgmental and Manichean character who divides the world into “naughty” and “nice.” Rudolph's systematic exclusion clearly comes from the top in a community that is controlled in all its aspects by a single employer.

There is little in that regard to distinguish the North Pole from any single-company town in apartheid-era South Africa, pre-First World War Ireland or the current New Brunswick.

The commission is also troubled that Santa Claus only intervened on behalf of a victim of repeated discrimination when his company's fortunes were on the line. While lawyers acting for SCHI at the hearings argued that the hiring of Rudolph was a clear indication of the company's policy of inclusion, the commission feels that it was motivated by a venal goal and that the company only played it otherwise after complaints were made to the commission.


The commission therefore finds that:

* SCHI discriminated against Rudolph, and it should pay Rudolph the sum of $18.5-million in damages.

* SCHI must immediately begin tolerance and diversity programs for all of its employees, starting at the top.

* SCHI must open itself to diversity audits on an annual basis and file a report with this commission indicating the progress it has made in finding work for red-nosed reindeers, tall elves and un-jolly humans.

Hat Tip: Mark Steyn

Friday, December 26, 2008

“Palin makes impressive showing as second most admired woman”

Governor Sarah Palin celebrates the first day of Hanukkah with members of the Jewish community in downtown Anchorage.

Cross posted on The Next Right

Governor Sarah Palin's second place showing stands out in Gallup's Most Admired Woman, 2008 survey. Gallup's sub-headline is "Palin makes impressive showing as second most admired woman".

Only four months after being introduced to the nation as vice presidential candidate, Palin has rocketed to second place as the woman Americans most admire.

Senator Hillary Clinton,on the list since 1992, won first place with 20%–up from 18% last year.

Palin, a virtual unknown nationally before the end of August, was second with 11%.

Michelle Obama, also a virtual unknown until this year, is on the list for the first time as well. She was fifth with 3% behind Condoleezza Rice (7%) and Oprah Winfrey (8%). Winfrey, down from 16% in 2007, was the only one of the top five who did not post a gain over last year’s survey.

In terms of popularity according to political party, Gallup notes that Hillary Clinton is the first choice for Most Admired Woman among Democrats and Independents. Palin is the first choice among Republicans and the second choice among independents.

Two percent of Democrats chose Palin as Most Admired Woman–the same amount as Independents who chose Michelle Obama as Most Admired Woman.

Hillary Clinton was chosen by 7% of Republicans, 18% of Independents and 30% of Democrats.

Sarah Palin gained most admired status from 26% of Republicans, 9% of Independents and 2% of Democrats.

Condoleezza Rice got 16% from Republicans, 7% from Independents and 2% from Democrats.

Michelle Obama received 0% from Republicans, 2% from Independents and 6% from Democrats.

For most admired man, President-elect Barack Obama easily won with 32%, followed by President Bush with 5%, John McCain with 3%, and with 2% each there was a three-way tie for fourth place between Pope Benedict XVI, Billy Graham, and former President Bill Clinton.

Some interesting highlights of the Most Admired Woman survey:

- Margaret Thatcher was the only non-American in the top ten (6th with 2%)
- Queen Elizabeth was 11th (with less than 1%)
- Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi ranked 13th
- former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was 23rd

Friday, December 19, 2008

Palin Declines Pay Raise; Reduces Budget Request

Governor Sarah Palin and Marie Green at the Northwest Arctic Leadership Forum

Cross posted at The Next Right

The Anchorage Daily News reports that a new Alaska state commission created by the legislature has recommended boosting state salaries for legislators, department heads, lieutenant governor and governor. The commission recommends giving the governor a 20% increase (from $125,000 to $150,000).

However, Governor Sarah Palin says she will not accept a pay raise.
"'But if the commission pushes ahead with a pay raise, Palin won't accept the money,' said spokesman Bill McAllister.

"'Her view is, it's just not appropriate to accept a pay raise in the middle of the term.'"

A further example of conservative political action is Palin's budget proposal of $11.2 billion for FY 2010. This is a 7% decrease from the FY 2009 budget.

“'With the present market conditions and oil prices, it is incumbent on the state to present a general fund budget that spends less than the current one, especially when adjusted for inflation,' Governor Palin said."

The proposed decline in spending takes into account "volatile" revenue cycles and the need for rainy day funds. Palin's budget proposal is geared to spending less than projected income with all surplus funds to go into a "constitutional budget reserve".
“'The fall revenue forecast again highlights how volatile our revenue cycles can be,' said the Governor. 'Working with the legislature, we have made good decisions over the past two years – putting money into savings accounts and investing in infrastructure that will help develop our resources and our communities.'"

Now if only the federal government would show some fiscal responsibility.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Global Cooling Deniers

The Portland area just set a new cold record on Monday. Now we have a rare pre-Christmas significant snow.

Looks like the problem is now with Global Cooling Deniers.

From Andrew Bolt's list of 10 Worst Warming Predictions for 2008:


IN April this year, the papers were full of warnings the Arctic ice could all melt.

“We’re actually projecting this year that the North Pole may be free of ice for the first time,” claimed Dr David Barber, of Manitoba University, ignoring the many earlier times the Pole has been ice free.

“It’s hard to see how the system may bounce back (this year),” fretted Dr Ignatius Rigor, of Washington University’s polar science centre.

Tim Flannery also warned “this may be the Arctic’s first ice-free year”, and the ABC and Age got reporter Marian Wilkinson to go stare at the ice and wail: “Here you can see climate change happening before your eyes.”

In fact, the Arctic’s ice cover this year was almost 10 per cent above last year’s great low, and has refrozen rapidly since. Meanwhile, sea ice in the Southern Hemisphere has been increasing. Been told either cool fact?

Yet Barber is again in the news this month, predicting an ice-free Arctic now in six years. Did anyone ask him how he got his last prediction wrong?

Lesson: The media prefers hot scares to cool truths. And it rarely holds its pet scaremongers to account.
. . .


The British Met Office is home to the Hadley Centre, one of the top centres of the man-made global warming faith.

In April it predicted: “The coming summer is expected to be a ‘typical British summer’. . .”

In fact, in August it admitted: “(This) summer . . . has been one of the wettest on record across the UK.”

In September it predicted: “The coming winter (is) likely to be milder than average.”

In fact, winter has been so cold that London had its first October snow in 74 years—and on the very day Parliament voted to fight “global warming”.

Lesson: If the Met can’t predict the weather three months out, what can it know of the climate 100 years hence?


SPEAKING of the Met, it has so far predicted 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2007 would be the world’s hottest or second-hottest year on record, but nine of the past 10 years it predicted temperatures too high.

In fact, the Met this month conceded 2008 would be the coldest year this century.

That makes 1998 still the hottest year on record since the Medieval Warm Period some 1000 years ago. Indeed, temperatures have slowly fallen since around 2002.

As Roger Pielke Sr, Professor Emeritus of Colorado State University’s Department of Atmospheric Science, declared this month: “Global warming has stopped for the last few years.”

Lesson: Something is wrong with warming models that predict warming in a cooling world, especially when we’re each year pumping out even more greenhouse gases. Be sceptical.

Hat Tip: Tim Blair

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Commander-in-Chief with the Troops in Iraq

President George W. Bush reaches to shake as many hands as possible as he meets with U.S. military and diplomatic personnel Sunday, Dec, 14, 2008, at the Al Faw Palace-Camp Victory in Baghdad. White House photo by Eric Draper

Painless Free Speech II: Ramirez!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Painless Free Speech

President George W. Bush addresses U.S.military and diplomatic personnel Sunday, Dec, 14, 2008, at the Al Faw Palace-Camp Victory in Baghdad, following his meetings with Iraqi leaders and the signing of strategic and security agreements. White House photo by Eric Draper

Cross posted at The Next Right

As Tim Blair points out in his Daily Telegraph Blog, the Iraqi shoe thrower was able to do what he did and live to tell about it precisely because President George Bush and the U.S. military took out the guy who the shoe thrower never dared to breathe a word against--let alone throw a shoe at.

"Toby Harnden salutes serene shoe-avoidance:
"'Barack Obama may be the new Mr Cool on the block but you have to give President George W. Bush his due for a supremely self-composed and dignified reaction to the Baghdad shoe thrower.
"Not only did he duck two fast-moving and pretty well aimed pieces of footwear but he discreetly waved away his lead Secret Service agent, who was ready to bundle him out of the room.'

"You’d imagine some Secret Service agents might themselves be “bundled out of the room” for letting journalist Muthathar al-Zaidi get off two unobstructed shoe-shots at the President. Incidentally, Iraqi shoes rarely flew during previous years:
'Ask yourself this question: How would al-Zaidi have fared if he’d hurled a pair of shoes at Saddam?'

"That question earlier occurred to Caroline Overington:
"'Would an Iraqi journalist have ever thrown a shoe at Saddam Hussein, and if so, would he have ever again needed two shoes?'"

Monday, December 15, 2008

ODOT Caught Offguard--Uses Ineffective Road De-Iceing Chemicals

Turns out that the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), unlike the Washington State Department of Transportation, doesn’t use salt as a de-icing method. ODOT uses a chemical mix that loses effectiveness in lower temperatures.

The current cold spell caught ODOT by surprise. Cold temperatures Oregon is now experiencing are rare. Actually, yesterday was the coldest day on record for December 15. Last cold record for December 15th was set in 1972.

Not only are current Oregon low temperatures rare at any time, with Global Warming one doesn’t expect to set cold records. All the temperature movement should be the other way. So, no wonder ODOT was caught off guard.

Maybe all those SUV’s that Ford, GM, and Chrysler didn’t sell have turned things around.

The current road de-icing problems are an embarrassment for unprepared ODOT. The record breaking cold spells this year (snow in Baghdad, October snow in London, earliest snow on record for Boise, record cold in Oregon) are an embarrassment to the scientists who think that science is done by majority vote.

If this keeps up, the majority may be swinging to the other side--Leaving Al Gore, the Nobel Prize Committee and James Hansen head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (who has had problems with faulty data–including problems in 2007 and 2008) hanging out on a limb.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Associated Press: Bah, Humbug! Up North

Cross posted at The Next Right

Associated Press writer, Dan Joling, was jolted by the Governor of Alaska taking time to greet children at the governor’s mansion Christmas open house yesterday. Gov. Sarah Palin even held up the greeting line to actually talk to the little non-voters.
"Palin, wearing a velvet kuspuk, paid especially close attention to children, crouching to greet them at eye level, holding up the line to ask them questions."

The idea of focusing on children at Christmas was so striking to Joling that he questioned the head of the Capital City Republican Women’s Club as to why Gov. Palin would pay special attention to children.
"That fit with the theme of the decorations, according to Ginger Johnson of the Capital City Republican Women's Club, which decked the halls.

"'The focus is on entertaining children,' Johnson said."

Duh! Maybe Joling has never noticed the lines at stores and malls all around the country where children visiting with Santa are a big event to them, their parents, and friendly shoppers passing by. For Joling and the Associated Press it seems to be Bah, humbug!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Timothy Egan vs. Joe the Plumber

Cross posted at The Next Right

Poor Timothy Egan, writer of five books and fill in columnist for Maureen Dowd, got his head handed to him in a recent writing fight with Joe the Plumber.

Egan decided to take on Joe the Plumber’s reported book deal. It should have been a no contest fight. Professional writer Egan vs. newbie, never published Joe.

Unfortunately for Egan, Joe had two volunteer corner men who KO’d Egan’s uninspired prose and vapid thinking before Joe even got in the ring. Tim Blair and Mark Steyn, two of the wittiest pundits writing, gave Egan a lesson in Writing 101.

Egan’s opening paragraph ripping Joe as possible wordsmith augured the rout:
"The unlicensed pipe fitter known as Joe the Plumber is out with a book this month, just as the last seconds on his 15 minutes are slipping away. I have a question for Joe: Do you want me to fix your leaky toilet?"

"The clapped-out Warhol yawneroo in the very first sentence? What wordsmith's course did [Egan] learn that from? By the way, I'd certainly like him to fix my toilet, and would be willing to chip in the Greyhound fare up to New Hampshire. Oh, and, given the amount of lead in his prose, Mr Egan would seem to be a natural pipe fitter."

"If Joe turns out to be so poor a writer that he uses reeking Warholian clichés in an opening paragraph, I don’t want him writing books either. But it’s a fine publishing idea to have Egan fix a leaking toilet. Shared qualities of author and subject aside, Timothy Egan Fixes a Leaky Toilet (Houghton Mifflin, 2009) would naturally lead to a lucrative sequence of spinoffs: Timothy Egan Fixes a Leaky Toilet for the Soul, Timothy Egan and the Sorcerer’s Toilet, and an historical masterwork: The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Toilet Bowl." [One of Egan’s five books is The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl]

Added to Egan’s writing style problems is an inadequate illustration base and contradictory reasoning. Egan faults Joe for thinking he could be a writer after having problems with paying all his taxes and not being a union credentialed plumber. Egan cites Mark Twain as a writing model far out of “failure” Joe’s reach.
[Blair quoting Egan:] "'With a résumé full of failure, [Joe] now thinks he can join the profession of Mark Twain, George Orwell and Joan Didion.'

[Blair:]"Hold that thought. Having condemned Joe as a 'failure' and therefore unqualified to write, here’s Egan just four paragraphs later:

"'Most of the writers I know work every day, in obscurity and close to poverty …'

"Obscure and broke, but you could never call them failures. (Incidentally, Twain – who left school at 12 and late in life filed for bankruptcy – seems also to fill the 'failure' requirement, as defined by Egan.)"

How embarrassing not to know that Mark Twain had failures similar to Joe’s and managed to escape Egan’s truism that failures can’t be great writers. Then Egan follows that with an even broader self-refuting illustration that most writers actually do live as failures in obscurity and near poverty.

Egan needs a little back-to-school writing and thinking help. Or maybe a couple of months of reading Tim Blair’s and Mark Steyn’s back columns will give Egan the remedial help he needs to pump up his pundit and writing skills.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Alaska Newspaper Worried About Palin's $5 Million for Needy Kids; No Problem with $800 Billion for Corporations

Cross posted at The Next Right

Like a stern, never pleased step-father, the Anchorage Daily News continues to have problems with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin–even when she plans to expand health care for needy children.

The Anchorage Daily News taps its foot disapprovingly at Palin’s plan to raise state spending on children’s health insurance and other children’s programs by $5 million. Reporter Sean Cockerham questions Palin about where the additional $5 million will come from given falling oil prices.

“Gov. Sarah Palin is calling for $5 million more in state spending on children's health insurance, preschool and other programs, even as Alaska oil prices and state revenues plunge.

“Cash flow into the state is shrinking as oil prices drop below $40 a barrel, the lowest level in nearly four years. Most state general fund money comes from taxes and royalties the state makes from oil. But Palin said the state can afford more than $5 million in new spending on areas like Head Start, obesity prevention, a test program of half-day preschool, and expanded Denali KidCare insurance.”

Reporter Cockerham worries whether Alaska’s economic situation is up to meeting Palin’s proposed $5 million increase for health care and other programs for kids.
“[Palin] downplayed the danger falling oil prices pose to the state budget, saying Alaska is in a far better position than other states.”

What Cockerham leaves out is the evidence that Alaska is, indeed, in a far better position than other states and does have significant financial reserves.

A recent "massive budget surplus" in the billions leaves Alaska in a much more positive position than the majority of states. (Including my own which is projecting a $1.3 billion shortfall in the 2009-11 biennium.)

Anchorage Daily News concern over fiscal responsibility in Gov. Palin’s $5 million dollar budget increase proposal was not evident in its October 1 story on the $800 billion dollar federal bailout legislation.

That spending bill passed by the Senate was called “historic,” and even though “controversial” backed by a “strong bipartisan majority.” The report noted that Alaska’s two US senators, Ted Stevens and Lisa Murkowski, voted for the bailout package. But there were no questions, tough or otherwise, put to Alaska’s two senators about where the bailout money would come from in an ailing economy. Stevens is only quoted regarding how dire the need for the bailout is.

“Stevens said: ‘On Monday alone, our Permanent Fund has lost over a billion dollars. Alaskans will be unable to borrow to finance a home, a car, or withdraw funds from our savings accounts should there be a further credit market meltdown. Our seniors will lose the retirement income they rely on to pay monthly bills and retirement accounts for future retirees will plummet in value. I was told by one Alaskan senior that he lost $40,000 in retirement savings during Monday's record setting drop.’”

Comparing the $800 billion bailout package which is .32 (or about 1/3rd) of total expected 2008 U.S. revenue (estimated at $2.5 trillion) and $5 million kids insurance budget increase in Alaska which is .0004 (or about 4/one hundredths of a percent) of total expected 2008 Alaska receipts (estimated at $13.5 billion).

Giving a little perspective, the average family income in the US is about $50,000. The federal bailout package would be equivalent to risking $16,000 out of an average annual income. Gov. Palin’s $5 million increase would be equivalent to risking $18.50 out of an average annual income.

The Anchorage Daily News and Cockerham’s snit over this is equivalent to throwing a fit over $18.50 of an average family's income--$18.50 that will go to help needy children in a time of economic crisis that especially impacts poorer families. But no problem with the $800 billion bailout package.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Palin Can’t Get a Break from the Anchorage Daily News

Cross posted at The Next Right

The Anchorage Daily News, like a stern, foot tapping, step-father, finds continual problems with Alaska’s young, popular, attractive Republican governor.

1. Too popular. Anchorage Daily News reporter Sean Cockerham notes that Gov. Sarah Palin’s “celebrity status” at the recent Republican Governors Association meeting is different than that of previous Alaska governors.

"Her trip to Miami for the Republican Governors Association in the second week of November took about three days, the governor's office said.

"Visits to the Republican Governors Association are nothing new for Alaska governors. But Palin's trip to Miami was different, reflecting her celebrity status. She dominated media attention at the conference and did an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer. 'Poolside paparazzi' photos were even taken of Palin and circulated on the Internet."

The Anchorage Daily News is especially concerned about travel expenditures of the Alaska governor or her staff.

2. Who’s Paying for the Trip? The Anchorage Daily News and reporter Cockerham worry about who will be paying for Gov. Palin’s trip to Georgia and Philadelphia. Palin spokesman Bill McAllister noted that Alaska pays for the Philadelphia governors meeting with President-elect Obama, and the Chambliss campaign pays for the Georgia side trip:

“McAllister said Palin will be in Philadelphia on Monday and Tuesday, and the state will pay for it. He said the Chambliss campaign will pay for Palin's side trip to Georgia.”

3. Even if Alaska is not paying, how is Alaska benefited? Turns out it’s like a personal day. The benefit is that Saxby Chambliss is pro drilling in ANWR and his opponent Jim Martin is anti drilling in ANWR.

“Palin will have four rallies for Chambliss in Georgia on Monday, in Augusta, Savannah, Perry and suburban Atlanta. Asked how this benefits Alaska, McAllister compared it to a vacation day.

“‘Well, I don't know. It's a political event, so I'm reluctant to comment much on it. But she works pretty hard, so you could consider it a day off,’ McAllister said. ‘I don't know that it necessarily has to have a direct benefit for Alaska, although probably you could make some argument there's an indirect one.’"

A later Anchorage Daily News article notes that:

"'Sen. Chambliss is a vote for ANWR. His opponent is a vote against ANWR. So there are implications for the state of Alaska in the outcome of that runoff,' McAllister said."

4. What about other possible expenses? Are any of the Palin children going? Palin’s children, like the children of other Alaska governors, have their travel expenses paid by the state when traveling with their governor/parent. Cockerham and the Anchorage Daily News are concerned that some Palin children might be going with her and cost Alaska money.

"McAllister said he didn't know if any Palin family members would be going. Her husband, Todd, and children were often prominent on the campaign trail as she campaigned for vice president. The governor also sometimes brings her children with her when she travels on state business, at state expense."

None of Palin’s family did not travel with her. But, the Anchorage Daily News is still concerned. Another Anchorage Daily News reporter, Kyle Hopkins, notes that an aide, Kris Perry, who is Palin’s liaison to state officials, did travel with Palin because of the governors’ meeting in Philadelphia.

5. How much will the aide’s travel expenses cost? Both McAllister and the director of administrative services for Gov. Palin are asked about this. Final costs won’t be known until the end of the trip.

“The Chambliss campaign will pay for the Georgia leg of Palin's trip, McAllister said.

“But the state will cover the costs for Palin's aide Kris Perry to join her on the campaign trail, he said.

“Palin is always considered "on duty" and Perry's role is to serve as her liaison to state officials, McAllister said. The governor's family is not traveling with her.

“Linda Perez, director of administrative services for the governor, said she wouldn't know how much the trip cost until the travelers return.”

Are the lawful travel expenses of any other state governor and the expenses of aides similarly a bone of contention? Haven't heard about it in my state. But, the Anchorage Daily News is concerned about the smallest of matters with this governor.

With Palin's Help Chambliss Wins Big

Atlanta Journal-Constitution photo

Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss was re-elected to his Senate seat by a whopping 14 points (57-43) over Democratic challenger Jim Martin.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) reports:

During the runoff, Republicans painted Chambliss as a “firewall,” the “last man standing” to prevent what they contend would have been Democratic excesses. Democrats touted Martin as the man who would provide a “bridge” to the change promised by President-elect Barack Obama.

Obama tip-toed into the race, but never became fully involved. He recorded a radio ad for Martin and an automated “robo” call, but declined an invitation to come to Georgia and campaign for his fellow Democrat. Many of his campaign volunteers came to Georgia to help the Martin effort.

Big-name politicos also flocked to the state to stump for the two candidates. Former President Bill Clinton came for Martin as did former Vice President Al Gore. Former GOP presidential nominee and U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) came to the state for Chambliss as did McCain’s running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Though AJC reporter Jim Tharpe alludes to the importance of Obama's failure to personally campaign for Martin, Tharpe completely misses the importance of Gov. Sarah Palin's last day rallies on behalf of Chambliss.

But, Fox News asked Chambliss about the importance of Palin's participation in rallies for him:

“I can't overstate the impact she had down here,” Chambliss said during an interview Wednesday morning on Fox News.

“When she walks in a room, folks just explode,” he added. “And they really did pack the house everywhere we went. She's a dynamic lady, a great administrator, and I think she's got a great future in the Republican Party.”

Chambliss said that after watching her campaign on his behalf at several events Monday, he does not see her star status diminishing within the party.

A week before the special election, polling showed Chambliss leading Martin by 3 points (50-47). The increase to 14 points in actual voting points to Palin's power to attract young blue-collar voters, a demographic different from traditional Republican voters.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Fred Thompson: A Little Humor in Explaining Current Economic Problems

This is the best short and humorous explanation yet on our economic problems and current economic policy.

video: 8 minutes 25 seconds

Hat Tip: Jennifer Rubin

Monday, December 01, 2008

Palin Making Inroads with Young Blue-Collar Voters

Atlanta Journal-Constitution photo

Cross posted at The Next Right

On the Palin-Chambliss rally near Atlanta today, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes that those in attendance were "[a] decidedly younger crowd than Republicans usually draw to the events like this":

"Walked out of the Gwinnett auditorium with Tom Baxter, late of this page, who made this observation: That the thousands who attended the Sarah Palin/Saxby Chambliss rally were the most down-scale crowd he’s seen at a GOP event this year.

"In other words, these were white, young blue-collar newcomers to the process.

"'They’ve got no money,' Baxter noted. Three weeks ago, the Chambliss rally that featured John McCain in Cobb County drew a smaller and substantially different crowd — still white, but older and in business suits."

It's a positive sign for the future of the Republican party that Palin draws and energizes these young blue-collar voters. In attracting voters from a demographic more likely to lean Independent or Democratic, she's following in the footsteps of Reagan.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Afghanistan: Obama’s Failed Iraq?

Cross posted at The Next Right

One of President-elect Obama’s biggest headaches may come in an area not now regarded as a top tier problem–Afghanistan. Obama wants to send 10,000 to 20,000 more troops to Afghanistan.

Obama campaigned hard on getting Bin Laden and sending more troops into Afghanistan. His position (and that of the Democratic Party platform, p. 29) is that Afghanistan is the central battlefield in the war on terrorism.

“Obama: ‘For at least a year now, I have called for two additional brigades, perhaps three,’ he said. ‘I think it's very important that we unify command more effectively to coordinate our military activities. But military alone is not going to be enough.

“‘The Afghan government needs to do more. But we have to understand that the situation is precarious and urgent here in Afghanistan. And I believe this has to be our central focus, the central front, on our battle against terrorism.’
. . .

“Logan: ‘What would be a 'mission accomplished' for you in Afghanistan?

“Obama: ‘Well, a 'mission accomplished' would be that we had stabilized Afghanistan, that the Afghan people are experiencing rising standards of living, that we have made sure that we are disabling al-Qaeda and the Taliban so that they can longer attack Afghanistan, they can no longer engage in attacks against targets of Pakistan, and they can't target the United States or its allies.’

“Logan ‘Losing is not an option?’

“Obama: ‘Losing is not an option when it comes to al-Qaeda. And it never has been. And that's why the fact that we engaged in a war of choice when were not yet finished with that task was such a mistake.’”

In consequence, Obama has called for a surge-like strategy in Afghanistan. But, will this result in the sort of military quagmire that President Bush appears to have avoided in Iraq?

Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in a recent op-ed writes that the success of the surge in Iraq does not mean that the same surge strategy will work in Afghanistan.

Rumsfeld notes that the success of the surge in Iraq was the result of a number of hard years of building a solid base in Iraq for defeating the insurgents in terms of:

1. Sunnis turning against Al Qaeda
2. huge losses in Al Qaeda and Baathist leadership and manpower
3. the Iraqi government’s commitment to and increasing success in defanging sectarian militias
4. the increased capability of Iraqi security forces

But, as Rumsfeld notes, Afghanistan has a different set of needs:

1. Afghanistan is much bigger than Iraq [almost 1-1/2 times the size], but has only 1/4th the security forces
2. Afghanistan lacks the economic base that Iraq has in its oil resources
3. Afghanistan’s major industry is narcotics-based which adds drug traffickers to the Taliban, Al Qaeda insurgent mix
4. terrorist have sanctuaries in Pakistan with easy access into Afghanistan

Thus, the key may not be more American troops, at least not initially, but a significant increase in the number of well trained Afghan troops able to protect the Afghan population and fight Al Qaeda, the Taliban and narcotics traffickers.

Will President Obama have the political will to stick with a war in Afghanistan that extends 5, 6, or 7 years with few, if any, victory markers until near the end?

If Iraq maintains its precarious stability and becomes a win for President Bush, it will be especially hard for Obama to pull out of Afghanistan without some sort of win.

Anything short of a win could not only sink Obama’s presidential ratings, but also ensure Bush’s stature already bouyed by not having a second attack on American soil during his presidency and the fragile, but real, progress in Iraq.

How ironic if President Bush picked pursuing the do-able war against terrorism in going into Iraq (especially since Al Qaeda accepted his premise that Iraq was to be their center of conflict) and President Obama, even with the 20/20 hindsight of Iraq, picked pursuing the harder, maybe impossible, war.

What should conservative reaction be to President Obama's Afghanistan policy in terms of the importance of winning in Afghanistan and the likely cost in American lives and resources?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Gov. Palin Pardons Turkey: The Real Footage

Most Popular Republican to Campaign for Chambliss

Cross posted at The Next Right

Governor Sarah Palin is set to help Sen. Saxby Chambliss win re-election in Georgia. She is scheduled to campaign at four events on December 1, the day before the election.

Former President Bill Clinton drew 2,000 when he campaigned for Chambliss' opponent Jim Martin. Former Vice President Al Gore drew 600 to a fund raiser for Martin.

How many will Gov. Palin draw for Chambliss? Hold on to your hats.

Thank you, Gov. Palin

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Little Fun on Turkeys, Birds, and Media Turkeys

Cross posted at The Next Right

Warning: The New York Times and MSNBC Need to Avert Eyes.

This is graphic video footage of birds fighting over food. Since The New York Times editorial board and MSNBC's David Shuster were shocked by scenes of the painless slaughtering of a turkey in the background of a video interview with Gov. Palin, the psychological and physical pain the birds in this video feel from pecks and menacing gestures will probably be too gruesome for them as well as others in the mainstream media.

Mark Steyn, as usual, explains the dilemma best:

"And, while you're right that 'it would have been funny whichever pol stood there', ask yourself whether the media would even have noticed had Joe Biden done such a thing. That's what upgraded it from mildly infelicitous to side-splitting hilarious - not the footage, but the po-faced huffing of the shrieking nancies at MSNBC and the portentous plonkers at The New York Times:

'You don't have to be a huge animal lover to question why Governor Palin chose to be interviewed — while issuing a traditional seasonal pardon of a turkey — while turkeys were being executed in the background.'

"And that's Sarah Palin's real stroke of genius in these difficult times for the global economy. For, in an age when the government picks which banks to nationalize and which banks to fail, and guarantees mortgages that should never have been issued, and prepares to demand that those taxpayers with responsible and affordable pension plans prop up the lavish and unsustainable pension programs of Detroit, Governor Palin has given us a great teaching moment and a perfect snapshot of what my Brit reader would recognize as pre-Thatcher "industrial policy":

"When the government decides it can 'pick winners' and spare them from the realities of the market, everyone else gets bled to death.

"Thank you, Sarah. It's the first election ad of Campaign '12."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Peter Schiff: You'd Be Happier If You Had Listened to Him

More on Peter Schiff

Hat tip: hedge_fund_guy comment

Senate Testimony: AARP Deceptively Selling Health Insurance to Seniors

Cross posted at The Next Right

Seniors are a key target for scammers and fraudulent sales. It turns out that AARP, the organization supposedly looking out for seniors, has been selling seniors limited benefit health insurance via deceptive marketing. Caught red-handed, AARP has now stopped marketing the plans and is “investigating” its own practices.

“After a Senate inquiry found evidence of deceptive marketing, AARP, the lobby for older Americans, has hired an outside investigator to look into sales of some of its popular health insurance products.

“AARP and UnitedHealth Group, one of the nation’s largest insurers, have voluntarily suspended sales of the policies, which pay fixed cash benefits — often much less than consumers had expected — for selected services.”

AARP which criticizes private insurers for “hard-sell tactics” has been hawking limited benefit plans which gloss over the fact that they are only effective for low-cost procedures. For example, its Medical Advantage plans only cover up to $5,000 for surgeries. AARP’s marketing touts coverage in relation to low-cost surgical procedures. This leaves policy holders high and dry when serious medical needs arise. For example, Lisa Kelly of Texas testified before that Senate Finance Committee:

that she discovered the limits of her AARP policy when she went to the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston for treatment of leukemia. The hospital demanded a check for $45,000 up front, Ms. Kelly testified.

AARP’s press release on the issue omits any mention of ethical and marketing concerns and fails to mention even a single problem that has pressured it to suspend “marketing and sales of these fixed benefit indemnity products.”

Though AARP, bills itself as “a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization”, the New York Times notes AARP is actually:

“a huge business that offers travel services, life and homeowner’s insurance, mutual funds and credit cards. Its operating revenue last year was $1.2 billion, more than 40 percent of which came from royalties, according to its 2007 financial statement.”

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Kulongoski looking for jobs in the wrong places?

Oregon’s unemployment rate jumped almost 1% in one month--from 6.4% in September 2008 to 7.3% in October 2008.

Back in July (when Oregon’s unemployment rate was a much more reasonable 5.6%), Gov. Kulongoski was looking to green, eco-friendly jobs for Oregon’s new employment boom. He mentioned his own lessened interest in non-green jobs.

“But Kulongoski appears to have settled into his last, legacy-making push for jobs in solar, wind, biofuels and anything else that battles both unemployment and global warming.

“‘If you're asking me whether I think this is the entrance of a new economy, I think the answer is yes,’ he says.
. . .

“Kulongoski says his approach has nothing to do with symbolism but represents a dramatic change of direction for how the state recruits new jobs. In the past, he says, he and his economic development directors would go into a drop-everything mode when a business started nosing around Oregon.

“Now, he says, ‘we're being more strategic. You ask yourself, ‘What kind of jobs do you want here?’ ’

“He wants Oregon to become a national center for the renewable and alternate energy industry, for electric cars, for the new movement toward "green" construction. By way of example, he cites the discussion over building a new Interstate 5 bridge over the Columbia River.

“The $4 billion in federal and state money would provide hundreds of construction jobs. But Kulongoski hopes to make the project one of the most environmentally sound in the nation, using environmentally friendly construction materials and techniques. Inclusion of light rail would help as well, he says.”

[emphasis mine]

Unfortunately the green job strategy has some built-in problems. Even if there is a ramp up in "green" industry, energy industries don’t require lots of workers.

“Mark McMullen, who watches Oregon's job market for the investment firm Moody's, says the energy sector has its pros and cons as an economic stimulus.

“‘We're talking about high-wage jobs,’ McMullen says, ‘so that's obviously a plus. The minus is, it's not a very big industry. . . . In general, energy and resource industries don't do a whole lot of hiring. They provide a lot of value and output, but it doesn't take a lot of workers to do that.’”

It's unclear how much of Oregon’s current unemployment jump is a result of Kulongoski’s coolness to non-green businesses. But, October's unemployment rate jump is a jolt to Kulongoski's strategy of being warmly inviting and pro-business primarily for "green" businesses.

Unfortunately, Kulongoski's only pronouncement so far on the jump in unemployment regards extending unemployment benefits.

Gov. Ted Kulongoski, in Asia on a trade trip, called on Congress Monday to enact another federal stimulus package that includes a federally funded unemployment-benefits extension of another 13 weeks. Absent that, Kulongoski said, he would work with the Legislature to enact a state-funded emergency extension for benefits.

And the Democratic controlled state legislature leans to public works projects.

Legislators are preparing job-creation proposals for the upcoming session in January. Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, and his aides calculate the state could create about 35,000 jobs through a bond-financed public-works program combined with capital-construction initiatives proposed by Kulongoski.

The only ones talking about business expansion are the Republicans who are in the minority of both houses in the state legislature.

"'In January, the Legislature must move quickly to give tax relief to lower-income workers and all working families -- two simple tax-reform measures that would create over 20,000 new jobs,' said House Republican Leader Bruce Hanna, R-Roseburg. 'The state can't reverse its horrible economic performance by simply expanding government and further increasing debt.'"

Elections have consequences.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Dumb Pundit Comments

Cross Posted at The Next Right

Cal Thomas on Gov. Palin: She needs to go home and reinvent herself.
(As though crowds of 20,000+ and a 91% favorable rating among Republicans are kind of below normal. Guess Cal wants her to be just as exciting and as all the other politicians.)
Comment on Fox News Watch, 11/15/08

Peggy Noonan (whose new book, Patriotic Grace, is an “an urgent, heartfelt call for all Americans to see each other anew, realize what time it is, and come together to support the next President—whoever he is. Because it is not the threats and challenges we face, but how we face them that defines us as a nation.”): Young Republicans can have a joy in being out of power now. “You get to criticize with complete abandon. This is the pleasurable side of what the donkey knows, which is that it's easier to knock over the barn than build it.”

David Brooks: "The second part of Obama’s plan is the creation of an auto czar with vague duties. Other smart people have called for such a czar to reorganize the companies and force the companies to fully embrace green technology and other good things.

"That would be great, but if Obama was such a fervent believer in the Chinese model of all-powerful technocrats, he should have mentioned it during the campaign. Are we really to believe there exists a czar omniscient, omnipotent and beneficent enough to know how to fix the Big Three? Who is this deity? Are we to believe that political influence will miraculously disappear, that the czar would have absolute power over unions, management, Congress and the White House? Please."

[emphasis mine]

Maybe Brooks was paying more attention to his knee tingling than to the campaign. As Jennifer Rubin points out:

"Perhaps Brooks missed it, but at every turn during the campaign, Obama gave us plenty of warning that he believes 'in the Chinese model of all-powerful technocrats.' Government bureaucrats are going to control lots of things in the Obama administration. They are going to decide which size of business must carry health insurance, and the type of insurance they must have. They are going to decide what type of energy is worth subsidizing, and which projects will get billions in taxpayer funding. They are going to tell the whole world the labor standards they must abide by in order to trade with us. And on it goes. It really isn’t quite fair to say we were not warned. Maybe not on this particular item. But Obama’s penchant for having the 'deity' of government command and control a great many things was hard to miss during the campaign."

Friday, November 14, 2008

Palin Gracious; Couric Needs Advice

cross posted at The Next Right

Katie Couric had some advice for Gov. Sarah Palin:

"CBS anchor Katie Couric thinks Sarah Palin has a thing or two to learn about politics before she contemplates a White House run in 2012. 'I think she should keep her head down, work really hard and learn about governing. But I'm not anyone to give advice to anyone about anything,' she told Page Six at Glamour Magazine's 2008 Women of the Year Awards dinner at the Essex House."

Gov. Palin’s response:

"I'd say thank you, Katie Couric, for your advice. And I won't reciprocate in giving her any advice, that's for sure, because I have respect for her and the profession that she is in."

But, it turns out that Couric needs advice and actually asks for it. Before Couric’s interview with the Alaska governor, Couric turned to former Democratic Senator Sam Nunn and Richard Haass for help in prep. NewsBusters reports:

“Jeff Bercovici of reported in a brief item that Couric revealed in a panel discussion that she boned up with anti-Palin foreign-policy advisors before interviewing the Alaska governor. Peter Kafka of All Things Digital featured this piece of the Bercovici report:

“‘Couric shed some light on her preparation for the interviews: Beforehand, she sought advice from former senator Sam Nunn and Council on Foreign Relations president Richard Haas [actually, it’s Haass]. They told her to draw Palin out on her geopolitical worldview and urged her to let the governor speak at length without interrupting her. Maybe she should bring them along with her when she takes over at Meet the Press?’”

Couric continues to come in third out of three in network news. CBS might think about hiring regular advisers for her. Edward R. Murrow is turning over in his grave.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

NYT: MSNBC, Carl Cameron, New Republic Fall for Anti-Palin Hoax

Cross posted at The Next Right

From the New York Times:

It was among the juicier post-election recriminations: Fox News Channel quoted an unnamed McCain campaign figure as saying that Sarah Palin did not know that Africa was a continent.

Who would say such a thing? On Monday the answer popped up on a blog and popped out of the mouth of David Shuster, an MSNBC anchor. “Turns out it was Martin Eisenstadt, a McCain policy adviser, who has come forward today to identify himself as the source of the leaks,” Mr. Shuster said.

Trouble is, Martin Eisenstadt doesn’t exist. His blog does, but it’s a put-on. The think tank where he is a senior fellow — the Harding Institute for Freedom and Democracy — is just a Web site. The TV clips of him on YouTube are fakes.

And the claim of credit for the Africa anecdote is just the latest ruse by Eisenstadt, who turns out to be a very elaborate hoax that has been going on for months. MSNBC, which quickly corrected the mistake, has plenty of company in being taken in by an Eisenstadt hoax, including The New Republic and The Los Angeles Times.

Why is the Mainstream Media so gullible? The hoaxers give their explanation:

They say the blame lies not with them but with shoddiness in the traditional news media and especially the blogosphere.

“With the 24-hour news cycle they rush into anything they can find,” said Mr. Mirvish, 40.

Mr. Gorlin, 39, argued that Eisenstadt was no more of a joke than half the bloggers or political commentators on the Internet or television.

An MSNBC spokesman, Jeremy Gaines, explained the network’s misstep by saying someone in the newsroom received the Palin item in an e-mail message from a colleague and assumed it had been checked out. “It had not been vetted,” he said. “It should not have made air.”

This post is a follow up to previous posts on the lack of credibility of Carl Cameron and Newsweek.

Hat Tip: NR Media Blog

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thanks to Vets Who Have Defended Our Freedom

I am grateful to all those who have defended our country and freedom. Below are photos of some of the men who have defended the US in combat in the South Pacific and Europe during WWII, in Vietnam, and readiness for combat during the Cold War of the 1980's:

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Multnomah County Voters Not Energized

Multnomah County had 2,300 fewer voters registered in 2008 for the November general election than in 2004 for the general election.

Turnout for the 2008 general election was almost 5,000 voters less than for the 2004 general election.

Where were all the new energized voters? There weren’t any.

DATA UPDATED November 18, 2008.

The data as of November 17, 4:33 pm:

Total registered.................436,489........439,693............(3,204)
Total voted........................360,551.........365,530...........(4,979)
Voted for president............363,414*.......362,694..............(720)*
Voted for Dem President....271,822*.......259,585.........+19,127*
Voted for Rep President.......73,422*........98,439..........(23,534)*
Voted for 3rd party/write-in..9,568*..........4,670...........+5,127*

*271 ballots still to coun

Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Bozo-ing of the Media

The media is becoming more and more clownish. Major national media aren't even doing basic fact checking any more. That makes for ludicrous gullibility.

John McCormack gives a little help on journalistic competence to Newsweek's Daren Briscoe, Eleanor Clift, Katie Connolly, Peter Goldman, Daniel Stone, Nick Summers, and Evan Thomas in their "The Final Days" report:

Via Isaac Chotiner, Newsweek reports:

The day of the third debate, Palin refused to go onstage with New Hampshire GOP Sen. John Sununu and Jeb Bradley, a New Hampshire congressman running for the Senate, because they were pro-choice and because Bradley opposed drilling in Alaska.

The McCain campaign ordered her onstage at the next campaign stop, but she refused to acknowledge the two Republican candidates standing behind her.

So according to the hatchet man/woman who talked to Newsweek, Palin is such an ideologue about drilling in ANWR that she won't stand next to Bradley, even though John McCain has the exact same position?

And Palin is such an ideologue that she won't appear with pro-choice politicians, even though she attended events with pro-choice Clinton donor Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild?

And we're really supposed to believe that Palin is so dumb she doesn't know Africa is a continent, but she knew about the voting records of John Sununu and Jeb Bradley in the first place?

Hmmm. I guess that might be remotely possible if it weren't for the fact that John Sununu has a 100 percent pro-life rating from the National Right to Life Committee.

Glad to see that whoever leaked this story is too dumb to come up with a plausible smear. And kudos to Newsweek for dumping this whopper without bothering to check if Sununu is in fact pro-abortion.

Oh, and by the way, Jeb Bradley isn't running for U.S. Senate, as Newsweek reports. Perhaps they might want to check out Wikipedia before publishing the next batch of Palin smears.

Rich Lowery does something the Bozo mainstream press apparently hasn't thought of--actually talks to a non-anonymous source--the McCain guy who briefed Sarah Palin on foreign policy:

I talked to Steve Biegun, the former Bush NSC aid who briefed Sarah Palin on foreign policy, and he considers the leaks against her on the international stuff "absurd."

He says there's no way she didn't know Africa was a continent, and whoever is saying she didn't must be distorting "a fumble of words." He talked to her about all manner of issues relating to Africa, from failed states to the Sudan. She was aware from the beginning of the conflict in Darfur, which is followed closely in evangelical churches, and was aware of Clinton's AIDS initiative. That basically makes it impossible that she thought all of Africa was a country.

On not knowing what countries are in NAFTA, Biegun was part of the conversation that led to that accusation and it convinces him "somebody is acting with a high degree of maliciousness." He was briefing Palin before a Univision interview, and talking to her about trade issues. He rolled through NAFTA, CAFTA, and the Colombia FTA. As he talked, people were coming in and out of the room, handing Palin things, etc. She was distracted from what Biegun was saying, and said, roughly, "Ok, who's in NAFTA, what's the deal with CAFTA, what's up the FTA?"—her way, Biegun says, of saying "rack them and stack them," begin again from the start. "Somebody is taking a conversation and twisting it maliciously," he says.

In general, according to Beigun, Palin had a steep learning curve on foreign issues, about what you would expect from a governor. But she has "great instincts and great core values," and is "an instinctive internationalist." The stories against her are being "fed by an unnamed source who is allowed by the press to make ad hominem attacks on background." Biegun, who spent dozens and dozens of hours briefing Palin on these issues, is happy to defend her, on the record, under his own name.

HT: National Review Online

Friday, November 07, 2008

Anti-Palin Republicans a Minority of 8%

cross posted at The Next Right

The latest Rasmussen poll shows that only 8% of Republicans have an unfavorable view of Gov. Palin. A whopping 91% have a favorable impression of her with only 1% undecided.

With undecideds almost negligible, anti-Palinistas are in for a tough four years.

Carl Cameron and the White Queen

Poor Carl Cameron. He starts out with a face and speaking style that don't project serious thinking. Not even a scintilla of gravitas.

Now we discover he’s the kind of guy who, upon having an interview with Ahmadinejad, would rush back with the breaking news that there was no holocaust after all.

He gleefully and uncritically reports everything that falls into his lap.

How can you start a report on a successful mayor and governor by saying that she knows nothing about state and local governmental responsibilities? And all based on anonymous sources with no specifics cited. But that’s what Cameron did on the Bill O’Reilly show regarding Gov. Palin.

Or how report that any person who has a college degree, let alone a state governor, does not know that Africa is a continent and expect to be believed? I wouldn’t believe it about my 18 year old nephew just starting college. Much less about the governor of my state. It’s the stuff of gossip magazine stories. Like the stories that Trig Palin was not Sarah and Todd’s son.

Unlike the White Queen in Through the Looking Glass I haven’t practiced believing impossible things. So, Cameron’s lack of fact checked journalism doesn’t slide down easily. It’s unbelievable gossip–like the New York Times’ infamous story on McCain’s maybe affair with a lobbyist based on several anonymous "people involved in the campaign".

I had a hard time taking Cameron seriously before because his look and speaking style were against him. But, now his look and speaking style blend seamlessly with his journalistic gullibility.

(For specifics on other problems with Carl Cameron's report see previous post.)