Lies and lying liars

With Obama as the almost-certain Democratic candidacy, the conservative punditry is very depressed. John Podhoretz summarizes it best, although he is by no means a lone voice:

It is important for conservatives and Republicans, who have comforted themselves with the thought that Obama cannot possibly win because no one as far to the Left as he is can win the presidency in the United States, to understand the nature of the challenge he poses. Think of it this way. In 1972, George McGovern, on Election Day, received 29 million votes — fewer than Obama’s and Hillary’s combined vote totals in the Democratic primary in 2008.

Think of it this way as well, if you want to delude yourself that a left-liberal can’t win. In 2004, John Kerry, the most liberal member of the Senate and nobody’s idea of a good candidate, received 59 million votes. He bettered Al Gore’s 2000 vote total by 17 percent. He only lost because George Bush generated 62 million votes, the greatest number in American history. Who received the second greatest number of votes in American history? John Kerry.

A left-liberal can win, and will win, unless he is defeated by his rival. Barack Obama will not defeat himself. He’s already too strong a candidate for that to be a possibility.

Reading through the blogs this afternoon, I’ve seen the same sentiment expressed over and over again.  Newt Gingrich is convinced that Republicans will lose in droves.  Peter Wehner also foresees an overwhelming Obama victory:

Democrats will begin to rally around Obama and, once Hillarydrops out of the race, he will take a large, perhaps even a commanding, lead over John McCain. In the last month there has been some talk among Republicans that Obama will be an exceptionally weak candidate, on the order of a Dukakis (loser of 40 states), Mondale (loser of 49 states), and McGovern (loser of 49 states). That won’t be the case. Obama is far more talented and appealing than Dukakis, Mondale, or McGovern ever were.

He also has in place one of the finest political operation the Democrats have ever put together. And beyond that, this year — unlike 1972, 1984, and 1988 — virtually every metric favors Democrats, whether we’re talking about fundraising, party identification, the public’s views on an array of issues, and the energy and excitement among base voters. In addition, it’s hard for an incumbent party to win a third term, particularly in an environment in which voters are longing for change, where the President’s popularity is extremely low, and where 80 percent of the country believes the nation is on the wrong track.

A disturbing sign was that last weekend the GOP lost its second House seat in a special election in two months – this time in Louisiana, in a seat that had been Republican for 34 years and one which Bush carried by 20 points in 2004. It’s true that most congressional races are local rather than national in nature and Woody Jenkins was a particularly weak candidate. Nevertheless, the results in Louisiana could be an ominous sign, especially for down-ballot Republicans.

This is indeed depressing stuff, although some are holding their heads up high.  Although he’s admittedly painting on a small palette, Captain Ed points out the fallacies in the screaming headline that Republicans in the Indiana and North Carolina primaries voted against McCain, with the implication being that those Republicans have already packed their suitcases and abandoned that sinking ship.  In pertinent part, the Captain points out that:

After clinching the nomination against McCain, Bush’s numbers bounced around from 64% to 83%. In Pennsylvania, Bush scored an almost identical percentage in 2000 (72.47%) as did McCain in 2008 (73%). No one at the time considered that a protest vote against Bush, even though McCain in 2000 won a much higher percentage of the vote (22%) than did Ron Paul in 2008 (16%). The only people really pushing this meme are Paul supporters.

As for me, I’m still struggling to come to terms with the thought that Americans, in the privacy of the voting booth, could actually vote for a man who has so many problems unique to him.

To begin with, Obama has no meaningful political experience.  He was a “community organizer,” whatever the heck that means (Alinsky knows, I guess), after which he became a State Senator (during which time power brokers pushed Legislation his way to raise his profile) and he was a US Senator for less than four years.  His resume is significantly weaker than those that, in their days, Dukakis, Mondale and McGovern offered American voters.

As you may recall, Dukakis had been in politics for over 20 years, as a legislator, Lt. Governor, and Governor; Mondale, in the 20 years before his presidential run, had been a State Attorney General and, for 16 years, a United States Senator; and McGovern, when he run for office, had served as a bomber pilot in WWII, and then spent almost 20 years in politics, first as a member of the US House of Representatives, and then as a three term Senator.

These men were seasoned politicians whatever their other flaws.  They were not neophytes aiming for the land’s highest office — and they still lost.

Obama is also a fairly compulsive liar, something that highlights myriad other problems.  That is, whevever he’s caught in a problematic situation (ah, those friends of his), rather than making a clean breast of it, or a good defense, he instead engages in a perfect storm of ever-spiraling affirmative defenses, with the common denominator always being that it’s everyone’s fault but Obamas.

For those who are not lawyers, let me explain what affirmative defenses are.  A complaint contains allegations that the defendant committed myriad acts of wrongdoing.  In response, the defendant does two things.  First, he denies everything except his own name, and he’d deny that too, if he could.  Next, he issues affirmative defenses, which concede the truth of the accusations, but deny that they have any legal or practical meaning.

As an example of how this plays out, imagine a complaint alleging that I smashed my car into a fence, destroying it.  I’d start by saying, “No, I didn’t.”  Then I’d begin the affirmative defenses:  (1) “Okay, I did bring my car into contact with the fence, but I didn’t actually hurt the fence.”  (2) “Okay, I hurt the fence, but I didn’t hurt it badly enough to entitle its owner to any damages.”  (3) “Okay, I destroyed the fence, but it was falling down already, so it’s really the owner’s fault, so he gets no damages.”  And on and on, in a reductio ad absurdum stream of admissions and excuses.

These affirmative defense patterns have shown up with respect to some of Obama’s nastiest little pieces of personal history.  When Jeremiah Wright’s sermons first surfaced, Obama denied knowing anything about them.  When that denial failed, he claimed that he only had one or two exposures to this deranged level of hatred, so he didn’t make much of it.  When that denial failed, he conceded that he’d heard this stuff often over the years, but wasn’t concerned about it, because he knew his pastor was a good man.  (Which makes Obama either complicit in the statements or a fool.)  Indeed, he even made a much-heralded speech about what a good man his pastor is.  He then promised that he’d never abandon his beloved pastor.  But when his pastor became dead weight, Obama dropped him so hard you could hear the thud.

The same pattern appeared when word got out about Obama’s connection with two self-admitted, unrepentant, America-hating terrorists.  (That would be William Ayer and Bernadine Dohrn, for anyone out of the loop here.)  When caught, Obama again engaged in a perfect storm of affirmative defenses.  (1)  I don’t know them.  [A lie.]  (2) Okay, I know them, but not well.  [A lie.]  (3)  Okay, I know them well, but we’re just good friends, not political fellow travelers.  [A lie.]  (4) Okay, we’re more than just good friends, because we served on a Leftist board and I sought political advice from him.  And on and on.  With every lie, Obama concedes, and then comes forward with a new lie.

The same pattern emerges with Rezko, with Obama freely ranging from “I didn’t know him,” to “I never took favors from him,” to “I didn’t take big favors from him,” to “I took a big favor from him, but I didn’t know it was a big favor.”  It just goes ad nauseum, as if Obama is a machine, programmed to spew forth this endless flow of denial and concession.  The guy is pathological in his inability to admit wrongdoing and his ability to prevaricate.

In an odd way, Obama’s approach to truth reminds me of how they used to break the news to patients about cancer — incrementally, very incrementally.  I know this first hand, because this is what happened with my Dad.  In his case, the following statements played out over the course of about a week:  “Nothing’s wrong.”  This was a lie.  “There’s a slight anomaly on the tests, but nothing to worry about.”  This was a lie.  “There’s a tumor, but we’re sure it’s benign.”  This was a lie.  “The tumor is, in fact, malignant, but it’s completely treatable.”  This, too, was a lie.  “You have one year.”  Finally, the truth.  What you end up with is that, at the end of all the lies, cancer is cancer, and Obama’s past is Obama’s past.

The question then becomes whether American voters will be happy with the constant barrage of Obama lies, and will be willing to travel Obama’s incremental pathways to unpleasant truths, or if they’re at last going to rebel and say “Who and what are you?”  And if they finally get the truth, and it’s pretty sure to be ugly will it matter?

I’d like to think that the truth will matter, just as I’d like to think that, for many Americans, the mere fact that he lied so compulsively will matter too.  After all, that is one of the reasons they’ve grown to hate Hillary.  My dream is that, no matter how perfectly polished and highly functional the Obama political machine is, the fact that Obama is still the core of that machine will be, in and of itself, an insurmountable problem for him.

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  1. echeccone says

    I am also concerned about Obama’s lack of experience, but I cannot help wondering where all of the conservative pundits were in 1999 when a presidential candidate with similarly light qualifications entered the race (i.e., George Bush). I found this wonderful article from 1999 from a Bush admirer making the argument why a light resume is perhaps not a big detriment to becoming a great president. While Bush’s own record-low approval ratings might argue to the contrary, the following piece is a fun blast from the past nonetheless:

    And the most intriguing part about the article is the Yale professor’s prescient prediction that Bush would see his coalition fall apart, which appears to have come to fruition, considering the GOP’s loss of Congressional control and poor polling data. Moreover, if the professor’s other observation is true, that Presidential candidates that attack a weakening status quo become great leaders, then Obama would seem a better bet than McCain, based on historical precedent. The great thing is that this data was supplied by a conservative eight years ago in support of Bush, but not can be applied in support of a liberal. If one is logically consistent, then you have to agree or find the means of distinguishing cases. Fun stuff.

    On your other point, I am less concerned about Obama’s alleged pattern of affirmative defenses, because the pattern can be raised for almost any politician on the right or left. For example, conservatives love to raise the Clinton-Lewinsky episode (I did not have sex with that woman ==> It depends on your definition of “is”), while liberals enjoy pointing to the shifting justifications for the Iraq War (Saddam caused 9/11 and threatens us with mushroom clouds ==> bringing democracy to downtrodden Iraqi’s). That you see the pattern in Obama but not in McCain perhaps reveals more about your own bias than it does about Obama. (Are you actually making a clinical diagnosis that Obama is a compulsive liar? This is a psychological condition. Are you qualified to do this?) During the 2000 SC primary, Bush-backing, Republican spin-meisters said that McCain was crazy from all the torture he received in Vietnam. If I didn’t believe that nonsense then, why should I believe your unsubstantiated claims now?

    Surely, we can attack Obama based upon his liberal views and policies, which are very different than McCain’s, and which are suspect for a number of reasons. Surely, we do not need to resort to the very vicious, unfounded ad hominem arguments that Obama has criticized the Republicans of launching. If you came to conservative philosophies and ideas based on facts and reason, then you should be able use those same rational arguments to critique the Democratic candidate’s policies, rather than risking the appearance of laziness, ignorance and hypocrisy with what I’d characterize as a fairly flimsy “analysis” of his psychology and potentially erroneous conclusions drawn from his resume. I’m just a guest on this blog, but even the host should play by basic rules of logical consistency and rigorous empirical support. Don’t you agree?

  2. Quisp says

    Bookworm, I hope you’ll get around to deconstructing Obama’s call for judges who will champion “social and economic justice” and his intention of talking to our enemies “like Roosevelt did, and Kennedy did, and Truman did.”

  3. Danny Lemieux says

    I understand the gloom and, rather than GW Bush, I blame the Republican Congress for most of the bad press on Republicans. However, I still fundamentally have a problem believing that Americans will elect to the Presidency any person that is a) pro-taxes, b) anti-business, c) pro-America’s enemies, d) anti-gun. I propose that these are the issues that will ultimately dominate in the ballot box.

  4. Ellie2 says

    There is much I still want to know before I commit to anyone this fall. Who will be McCain’s VP? Whoever it is, becomes the presumptive GOP nominee in 2012. If it’s somelike like, say, Christy Todd Whitman, my vote goes elsewhere.

    Will anyone else get in? I might vote on principle for someone who views I support on several key issues – taxes, immigration, cap & trade — that are important to me and that I do not trust McCain on.

    What say the augurers? If it looks like inflation/stagflation is headed our way, if food and gas prices are headed up and if we return to gas line in the Northeast, I’d rather pin that on the Dems.

  5. Allen says

    This might seem a little counter-intuitive, but it is something I’ve come to believe decides many people’s votes. The campaign itself provides a view of the candidate’s ability to manage a diverse, far-flung organization, and then people judge them on it. In this Obama has done really poorly and I think his losses that started piling up later are evidence of this.

    Here are some examples:

    1. He had to outspend Clinton by sometimes by a factor of 3 and still lost, poor messaging/organization.

    2. The waffle incident hurt him quite a bit, the President is always on and doesn’t get the luxury to say “later.”

    3. The so called internet base, it’s way overplayed no one knows how many actual voters that encompasses. They are buying into the “young” vote, yes it will be different this time.

    This is his Achilles heel, his total lack of experience in campaigning. You might say, “but he got elected to the Ill. State Senate and US Senate.” I reply, look at how he did that.

    As time goes on this lack of campaign experience will hurt him.

  6. Friend of USA says

    As I was reading this honest, articulate and intelligent post on Obama by Bookworm, I was thinking to myself,

    ” How could anyone reading this ever vote for Obama? ”

    but then it hit me;

    Most Democrats do not read posts like this…

    They read the Huffington Post or DailyKos or some other liberal/left site.

    They are fed an embellished version of facts…
    and they are fed a version where the vilains are not Obama but those who dare expose his “imperfections”

    Does the average liberal/leftist know all these facts or only a few of them?
    And the little they know was it “explained” to them that it was all a vast conspiracy against Obama?

    Some will argue, people on the right do not read lefty sites either so they also get only one side of the story…


    We get the left version of things in the main stream media all the time!

  7. Al says

    The idea that Obama could actually be elected President certainly is a nightmare. And what happens on the first Tuesday in November will certainly be a test of the intelligence of the American electorate.(How’s that for an elitist attitude?)
    But we, that is, the opposing political party, have to do our job. We have to campaign fearlessly, as Rush Limbaugh says. We cannot be shackled by a self-deluding sense of politically correct politeness. We cannot follow McCain’s desire to behave in an “inoffensive” way. Everything conservative is offensive to the left, so there is no reason for us to even try.
    We should follow the lead of the North Carolina State Republican Committee. Fight like it’s the most important election ever(and it is). And we will win.
    And we must get over the idea that it will be McCain in the White House. It will be better than the alternative.

  8. Danny Lemieux says

    My advice to all of Bookworm’s fellow travelers would be to forget about converting the masses. Instead, let’s each of us work on one or two individuals at a time, people that you know personally to be rational human beings, pointing out the contradictions and implications of the Obama message. “Friend of USA” is right – most of them have never been exposed to a different world view that was not of the Left. Me? I’m working on one of brothers-in-law and his family.

  9. echeccone says

    Danny, I’m not sure that you’re right on where the general public is on those four issues (taxes, business, enemies and guns). I am not saying taxes should be raised (economic theory says low taxes yield higher growth which yields more wealth), but here in California they will raise them because the state is broke and cannot raise any more debt, and the majority has an interest in the programs that need to be cut. The federal government may find itself in the same position. Meanwhile, a threatened middle class will like the anti-trade/anti-business rhetoric–look at how Wall Street is being blamed for the housing mess even by Republicans–as if the collateralization of mortgages, which actually makes houses more affordable is to blame for people’s poor decisions on personal consumption and debt. The pro-enemy argument is a good conservative staple, but I don’t think most people actually believe Obama is a traitor, and his break with the failed Bush foreign policies should play well to a public disillusioned with the Iraq War. (Although McCain should be more credible on foreign policy, as long as he stops conflating Sunni and Shia while on camera.) Finally, the gun issue works in some states but not others, so I don’t know how that plays in the electoral college calculus. Anyway, those are the thoughts of one rational human being who happens to lean left but who also prefers to read conservative leaning blogs and media to hear an opposing view and, hopefully, have a more informed opinion.

  10. Ymarsakar says

    I’m fine with disarming all Democrats or people in certain states. The criminals and mass murderers will naturally move to those states, which means away from me. And if I’m in one of those states, I can move out as well, which is a choice people should be allowed.

  11. Ymarsakar says

    My advice, concurrent with Danny’s, is that there are always certain factors that will make people change their views. Usually this is a selling point that requires that you actually comprehend “why” people have Leftist views. If you are working on a family member or friend, you really have to just listen to them talk instead of talking to them or arguing with them, because, like a therapist, you want to know how they tick. Otherwise, how are you ever going to say anything that will matter to them? They’ll either reject you cause you hit one of their hard spots, or it won’t convince them because just hearing you talk isn’t enough.

    They sometimes have to meet the person in question that they hate. Even a stint in the military is not enough to make people realize what Democrat constructions and manipulations have been all about.

    Often these kind of 1 on 1 relationships are very similar to subterfuge incidents wherein you have to turn an enemy to your cause via spycraft and tradecraft. You hook him on something he wants and you try to get him to see that his best interests are with us rather than with his side.

    Counter-insurgency in Iraq uses some of the same principles. How do you convince someone that hates your guts and has tried to kill your own people, to ally with you against your enemies?

    This should give you a taste of the scale of the military and humanitarian mission in Iraq, when you try to convince just one family member of your views. Remember that next time you hear Leftist enemy propaganda seeking to demoralize.

  12. Ymarsakar says

    And you know why Bush doesn’t frame things in that sense? Because Bush neither thinks like Clinton nor does he think like a spy. Spies need subterfuge rather than brute force to win. Spies don’t compromise, they exploit weaknesses in the enemy to benefit the spies’ side.

    Bush lacks the definite “bandit mentality” that you see in ninjas or thieves or con-artists. He has power, real power, so perhaps he has never really been interested in such skills.

    I prefer subterfuge, the indirect path, psychological warfare, and propaganda, though. I always have. And if ever I once did not prefer such things, then surely learning from terrorist acts cured me of such ideals. Such things work and that cannot be denied.

  13. Ymarsakar says

    EC, you will be interested in this site given your professed interests.

    They have a Joshua that is anti-Iraq along with pro-Iraq bloggers and they often have arguments over the issues and facts.

    It is an environment, I believe, better tailored to your interests than most conservative sites.

  14. echeccone says

    Ymarsakar, my professed interest is truth, not hearing from like-minded individuals. My learning only occurs in an environment of respectful disagreement, not monolithic thinking–little thinking occurs when all think alike. Anyway, are you really suggesting that I am not welcomed on this site? Is it because you don’t like my views, can’t counter them, or simply prefer your made-up characterization of how liberals think to actually engaging one who perhaps doesn’t fit your stereotype in debate? How can you argue on the one hand that conservatives can change liberal minds by understanding why they hold the views they do (post 11), while at the same time suggesting that I move on from this site (post 13)? You don’t really prefer propaganda to truth, coercion to free debate. That would be sad, considering what this blog apparently represents: conservative views derived from rational thought and empirical support. If this blog is really a no-liberals-welcome site, then I’ll have to take your suggestion to heart…

  15. Friend of USA says

    [ Michelle Obama] She 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?

    Yes I guess I would call it “historical” that for the first time the US would elect a man who has a mentor, ex-terrorist-friends and a wife who despise the very country he is President of.

    Or that for the first time a nation of mostly white people would elect a anti-white racist.

    That would be almost as “historical” as Israel electing a Hamas or Hezbolah member.

  16. echeccone says

    Friend of USA, If Obama is an anti-white racist, then he must hate his mother and half of his relatives, and he also must half-hate himself. Or am I missing something?

    And why do you judge him by his pastor or wife’s views rather than his own? Where is the criticism over McCain’s association with Hagee? And did you know that Mary Todd Lincoln was viewed as sympathetic toward the Confederacy because she had family members in that army? By your logic, Lincoln should be viewed as a traitor. Instead, history has judged him to be our greatest president. Why is Obama’s situation any different? Why all the guilt-by-association? Surely, you can offer a critique of the man’s policies…

  17. Ymarsakar says

    My learning only occurs in an environment of respectful disagreement

    That is what Second Conjecture is. Unless you somehow think Josh, an anti-Iraq blogger, can disagree disrespectfully with the other more pro-iraq bloggers at SC. Which, I dare say, is probable but irrelevant.

    Anyway, are you really suggesting that I am not welcomed on this site?

    I’m suggesting you do what I recommend and go to a site where “respectful disagreement” is already taking place. Bookworm will welcome you here, but we often do not disagree with each other, which will often conflict with your purported dislike for “monolithic thinking–little thinking occurs when all think alike”.

    Is telling you what you profess to be interested in, a sign of unwelcome, EC? Or is it just you don’t want to click on the link and read it for yourself?

    You don’t really prefer propaganda to truth, coercion to free debate.

    The truth has never won anyone over by itself. What has won people over is forcing them to confront truth, ala Iraq. That’s what happened with Neo and partially with Book. Saying the truth to a person that doesn’t believe it or believes it is a lie, is pointless, EC. Propaganda is only one solution to such a conundrum.

    Who is to say what is the truth when Wright says the truth is his story about the US government making the HIV virus and spreading it while another truth said by Don is that this truth of Wright is a lie? Sure, I can take a position, but what good does that do in the greater strategic field? You got to get some kind of real strategy to effect strategic changes on the battlefield of men’s souls.

    Neither lies nor honesty in propaganda will ever change a person’s viewpoint. People change cause they want to change. Propaganda, however, can offer that choice to people when they may not even realize they have a choice about changing their beliefs. They may believe their choice is between Evil and Good, when propaganda may tell them that their choice is between a lesser good or greater good. Or even a lesser evil vs a greater evil.

    simply prefer your made-up characterization of how liberals think to actually engaging one

    As I said before, I require greater study into a person’s psychological make up before I can make comparisons between them, as an individual, and the greater Leftist ideology that permeates the world. It is hard to do so via just writing, but you’d be surprised what you can learn just through words.

    If this blog is really a no-liberals-welcome site, then I’ll have to take your suggestion to heart…

    The one element to fake liberals that I don’t like precisely because every one of them has it in one instance or another, is the arrogance. Arrogance not perhaps in a sense about their person or their social status or their human flaws, but an arrogance and a conceit at that concerning the righteousness of their views. Fake liberals do not even consider that they might be wrong when they go off on a tangential judgment. They just make a conclusion and go off on it acting as if it is true. And when they will stop, nobody knows.

    I posted a link to Second Conjecture which has respectful arguments, and even non-respectful arguments, between conservatives, libertarians, and other people that don’t agree.

    EC, you talk about me wanting you to go off to a straight jacket thinking blog instead of here. The insult to my analysis of EC’s preferences, by itself, is egregious. But that’s not even the tip of the iceberg here.

    They have a Joshua that is anti-Iraq along with pro-Iraq bloggers and they often have arguments over the issues and facts.

    Ymarsakar, my professed interest is truth, not hearing from like-minded individuals.

    It is an environment, I believe, better tailored to your interests than most conservative sites.

    My learning only occurs in an environment of respectful disagreement, not monolithic thinking–little thinking occurs when all think alike.

    It was you yourself that said many conservative blogs reject open thought and “rationality”. Not I. If there is any here you wish to argue with, it is in fact, yourself.

  18. Danny Lemieux says

    Regarding changing minds with facts, let me give you and example: a young Leftish Canadian girl I knew through work once commented to me that Cuba’s economic woes were the result of the U.S. embargo. When I simply pointed out that nonetheless he had the whole rest of the world with which to trade – it made her rethink her position.

    Echeccone, to your points:

    Re. taxation. If you agree that reduced taxation results in higher economic activity, the reverse is also true – increased taxation leads to lower economic activity. In fact, there is a quite an economic history to support this contention. So, if this is the case, how will raising California taxes improve California’s treasury. As far as debt is concerned, the Federal government isn’t anywhere close to that level – Federal debt as a percentage of GDP is at historically normal levels and FAR below where it was following WWII. California would do better by streamlining government services, removing business regulations and reducing tax rates to grow the economy (and tax revenues). However, it will probably never happen until California experiences an economic shock that knocks off the government’s Leftist blinders. Beliefs have consequences.

    Re. “Enemies”. Nobody is calling Obama and his fellow travelers “traitors”. However, I do accuse them of blindness and naivety (has history judged Neville Chamberlain, for e.g.) about how the world works. I maintain that the problem is that he and his fellow travelers don’t realize either that we have enemies, who our enemies are and the nature of true “evil”. Let me propose this – Israel is not our enemy. Iran, North Korea, Syria and the Islamic Jihadi movement are our enemies and they aren’t that way because of historic grievances or misunderstandings.

    Obama and company have made it quite clear that they have very little historical perspective and only a vague, overly idealistic understanding of how the world works (I am being kind). As example, you don’t make friends talking about how you will invade Pakistan to chase Al Qaeda or abrogat free trade agreements with Korea and Latin America, for example).

    Re. guns. Sixty-percent of homes in America support gun rights and about 30% of all homes own guns. Previous Democrat candidates found out the hard way that you lose elections by p******-off this voting block. Incidentally, it isn’t just conservatives that support gun rights – many Democrat Liberal/Lefties do as well.

  19. Ymarsakar says

    I believe, EC, if you want to label Second Conjecture as a monolithic thinking blog, you should go over there and tell them yourself, instead of bad mouthing them here.

    Twice you have implied that conservative sites are monolithic. Once before in a comment about how many conservative sites aren’t open to rational thought meaning ‘your rational” thoughts. Another with the theory that conservatives are less open minded and rational than fake liberals.

  20. Ymarsakar says

    Why is Obama’s situation any different?

    He’s Obama’s philosophy and religious mentor. Obama got his views, partially, from Wright. Of course, you may think you can have a pastor as part of your family for 20 years and not have your views changed, but if you do, go ahead and say it.

    Friend of USA, If Obama is an anti-white racist, then he must hate his mother and half of his relatives, and he also must half-hate himself. Or am I missing something?

    As Obama said about his grandmother, she still fears blacks on the streets, which is something Obama may dislike but since she is family, he can no more reject her than he could reject Wright.

    Obama’s mother was a socialist and communist believer and fellow traveler. All such folks inevitably hate themselves in one form or another.

  21. Ymarsakar says

    Maybe I should have added the white guilt to Obama’s mother’s political views. That’s what primarily makes people hate themselves, not particularly because of socialism. It just sort of accelerates the reaction.

  22. echeccone says

    I think you misunderstood, or I didn’t communicate well. I wasn’t criticizing Second Conjecture. I haven’t even been to the site yet, though I will check it out. I also wasn’t trying to say that conservative views are monolithic because I don’t believe that. But I was criticizing your suggestion that I should go to another site because my views differ from the majority of those expressed here. That would qualify as monolithic thinking in my book…

  23. echeccone says

    Danny, I like the arguments and the story on Cuba. That is great.

    On the CA tax issue, I am on your side. I agree with the converse statement. I am pointing out the political reality that voters quickly switch from libertarian to socialist when the government program on the chopping block is one from which they benefit. Your distinction between CA’s budget woes and the U.S.’s could hold, except that very smart business people and economists have correctly pointed out the train wreck coming in the way of social security and medicare. Pete Peterson, the co-chairman of the Blackstone Group, is either a Republican or a very conservative Democrat, and he has exposed the sham accounting coming out of the Bush Administration’s OMB (and my lawschool buddy was deputy director there until 18 months ago, so I know what creative accounting their using). This suggests that maybe the deficit and debt numbers are not normal relative to GDP, when properly accounted for. If Warren Buffett is worried about this, then every other American should be as well. Having said all of that, I am not promoting Democratic ideas (i.e., big tax hikes) on this issue, for they are certainly wrong. But I am saying that politically there will be growing pressure for some tax hikes going forward, and the capital markets are already factoring this in. I am also upset that conservatives have put their heads in the sand as well and pretended the government’s accounting is accurate. The very people that held hearings on Enron’s accounting are signing off on numbers that are far more fraudulent.

    On the foreign enemies, I guess I would ask why those other countries are our enemies and why Israel is our unquestionable friend. What has bothered me about the war on terror is the ease with which people accept the argument that “they hate us because we are free.” What is the evidence to support this argument. I heard an poignant story on NPR (lefty bias, I know, but still good journalism) about a filmaker who is doing a picture on the Iraq War using real Iraqis and US solidiers, filming in Lebanon. The soldiers actually were on set with insurgents from major battles (e.g., Falujah) and came to understand each other, although they were trying to kill each other a short time ago. I am trying to square this with the explanation for terrorism and insurgency in the middle east. I interpret Obama’s strategy about talking to enemies as trying to better understand those that would attack us. And this is an approach that does have some historical support: Nixon and Kissinger also espoused, as did the greatest military strategist in all of history, Sun Tzu (“…keep thy enemies closer…”).

    I’ll cede the guns argument to you, because I don’t know it well. I guess if you live outside of the tri-state area or SoCal, you better be photographed in a hunting outfit to win votes…

  24. Deana says

    Echeccone –

    To borrow a phrase from the Obama campaign, “Yes we can” attack Obama based on his liberal views and policies, although that is a little challenging right now given his paltry resume. This man has done nothing professionally that suggests he is qualified to become the President of the United States.

    But past behavior is a good indicator of future conduct. And as Bookworm so effortlessly pointed out, Obama has a lengthy track record of lying. To believe that he has not been lying requires one to willfully ignore the evidence.

    Echeccone, it is not vicious to simply speak the truth. It is not lazy, ignorant, or hypocritical to notice traits that will have a direct bearing on how someone will behave in the future, particularly if that someone is aiming to be the leader of a very powerful and influential country.

    So please, stick around. Sooner or later, Obama is going to have to dispense with the dreamy “hope and change” statements and start spelling out his actual plans and policies. And when that happens, there will be no end to the reasoned and rational arguments that Bookworm and many others will be able to mount against him.


  25. echeccone says

    Deana, Thanks for the post. I agree that Obama will have to start spelling out policies. And I would welcome him doing that, and conservatives criticizing him on that basis. And I would look forward to hearing those arguments from Bookworm and others.

    My problem with the lying argument is that every politician lies, but pundits and bloggers seem to only call out the other side’s lies. I mean, how many different stories did we hear about Bush’s questionable service during Vietnam? Was that a prelude to the shifting justification for the Iraq War? I’m not sure. If you took him at his word during the campaign, then he was against nation building–that was pretty unambiguous–but now he has engaged in a half-dozen different reasons for it, in a pattern that, to me anyway, fits the “affirmative defenses” pattern that Bookworm cited. Maybe that was necessary to ease the American public into a war with controversial justification, or maybe Bush is also a compulsive liar. I’m just not sure how fruitful that discussion ultimately is. So I leave questions of psychology to MD’s and await a quality policy debate if and when our politicians move past b.s. rhetoric and actually start revealing those policies…

  26. Friend of USA says


    I am judging Obama by what he said in his book,

    You will probably not like my source but that does not change the fact Obama said those things in his book,

    From an Ann Coulter column April 2 2008,

    This, too, prompted Obama to share with his readers a life lesson on how to handle white people: “It was usually an effective tactic, another one of those tricks I had learned: People were satisfied so long as you were courteous and smiled and made no sudden moves. They were more than satisfied, they were relieved—such a pleasant surprise to find a well-mannered young black man who didn’t seem angry all the time.”

    First of all, I note that this technique seems to be the basis of Obama’s entire presidential campaign. But moreover—he was talking about his own mother! As Obama says: “Any distinction between good and bad whites held negligible meaning.” Say, do you think a white person who said that about blacks would be a leading presidential candidate?

    And there is more where that came from.

    If you are still refusing to see Obama’s racism, simply imagine a white man saying those things.

    But then again some people firmly believe only white people can be racists…

    Obama is a anti-white racist and that is why he was comfortable to be in a church for 20 years listening to anti white sermons.

    All the pieces of the puzzle fit together.

  27. Friend of USA says

    And to those who believe Obama will bring change in America and people of all colors closer together,

    Obama did not bring any change, did not get rid of anti-white racism in one single church of a few thousands and had 20 years to do it,

    how is he going to do it in a short 4 or 8 years in a nation of 300,000,000?


  28. suek says

    >>he has exposed the sham accounting coming out of the Bush Administration’s OMB (and my lawschool buddy was deputy director there until 18 months ago, so I know what creative accounting their using).>>

    Is he stating that the Bush Administration’s OMB has changed the method of accounting? or are they using whatever method was standard in the previous administration(s)?

    It’s my understanding that no business in the US would use methods that the government uses – or would be allowed by the IRS to use those same methods. It’s also my understanding that Congress has proposed adjusting those methods to meet standard commercial practices, but that proposals have been resisted – however, I don’t have any real background info on that aspect. More info welcomed!

  29. suek says

    >>…when a presidential candidate with similarly light qualifications entered the race (i.e., George Bush)>>

    Bush governed Texas for a period of time before running for President. That takes him out of the “similarly light qualifications” category. Their careers prior to running for president are _not_ comparable.

  30. Deana says

    Echeccone –

    To equate Obama’s lying with Bush’s changes in position regarding America’s foreign policy is ludicrous. Please recall that some show-stopping events happened early in his presidency that forced many of us not only to rethink our own opinions and beliefs but also America’s role in the world.

    And correct me if I’m wrong but the last time I checked, identifying someone as a compulsive liar does not require a medical degree as the DSM-IV-TR does not designate compulsive lying as a psychiatric diagnosis. It merely requires comparing a person’s statements and the facts, something that Bookworm did quite well.

    But I do agree with you – I also am looking forward to the policy debates. I think it will give all of us plenty to chew on.


  31. echeccone says

    Deana, good points. I guess I’d concede the point that Bush’s nation building comments were not truth-shadings given 9/11. Although, as an aside, I’d observe that Bush’s original contention was that nation building doesn’t work, regardless of the need for it to do so. So even if the calculus changed after 9/11, the expectations for success in Iraq, Afghanistan, or any other state we’d chosen to invade should not have changed. My point about multiple justifications for the war, however, is clear and still stands, no?

    I am not a psychiatrist, so I don’t know the reference book you cited. I do know that OCD is a psychological condition and when people try to distinguish the good lies from the bad ones, as Bookworm is trying to do, they use that word “compulsive” as if it has a special meaning. To the extent that it does, it should be trained, qualified specialists making semi-objective judgments rather than those with an ideological bias trying to make a political point. If you say to me that Obama’s tax policies will slow economic growth, I will agree with you because I can objectively look at the impact of high taxes on GDP growth. When you tell me that Obama is a shady character who plays fast and loose with language, I don’t know how to prove objectively that this is true. If compulsive lying is not an objective medical term, then this is not proof that everyone should use it to their own ends–that makes it a meaningless term–but that no one should use it. Let’s stick to facts and contentions that can be tested, even imperfectly so. There are so many issues to discuss, afterall.

  32. echeccone says

    Suek, to answer your question, I don’t know when or under which administration the budget accounting became so screwy. Financial accounting for companies has been in flux and always improving (or trying to), while government accounting has probably also been in flux and always obfuscating the truth. But I wouldn’t try to pass blame to the Clintons on this, as this is not a left-right issue. Both Democratic and Republican have played games rather than fighting for more objective, transparent accounting. The current administration, however, has been particularly creative in its accounting, despite its purported fiscally conservative credentials.

  33. echeccone says

    Bush’s experience in government was as TX Governor from 1994-2000 (two terms), which was light compared to Gore’s experience at the time. This is why conservatives at the time were so eager to point out that Lincoln had far less experience than Bush and still met with success. Those same conservatives are now questioning Obama, although he, like Bush, has more government experience than Lincoln did. This is hypocrisy.

  34. echeccone says

    Ymarsakar, I don’t really understand your points. If we cannot start with the assumption that people’s minds can be changed with factually accurate counter examples and rebuttals, then we should refrain from conversing or debating. Maybe psychological warfare and propaganda has its place in some special context, but it’s not one I hope to ever encounter and I’m pretty sure it’s incompatible with democracy, however conceived by left or right learning thinkers. I also think you took a couple of my comments out of context, which may have been my fault.

  35. echeccone says

    Friend, I’d need to go back to Obama’s book. Coulter has an unfortunate habit of misquoting or taking quotes out of context to make her points, and the comment about no distinctions between good and bad whites could be one of them. This habit of hers, by the way, has been called out by both left and right leaning critics. Having lived in Asia, however, I have been on the receiving end of the stereotypes and latent fear from a non-white majority and can empathize with some of what he is saying. I do not believe that most people are maliciously racist anymore, but if you think there is no racism in the U.S., then you are kidding yourself. Blacks remain racist towards whites and vice versa, even if it operates on a very subtle, subconscious level.

  36. suek says

    >>But I wouldn’t try to pass blame to the Clintons on this, as this is not a left-right issue.>>

    What I said was “or are they using whatever method was standard in the previous administration(s)?”

    That doesn’t indicate to you that I didn’t know when the present methods were introduced/approved? Why so quick to defend the Clintons?

  37. suek says

    >>Bush’s experience in government was as TX Governor from 1994-2000 (two terms), which was light compared to Gore’s experience at the time>>

    This one is interesting to consider. You may be right in the sense that being Vice President is usually considered to be an accepted preamble to the presidency. On the other hand, what were Gore’s qualifications for the Vice Presidency? Senator for a couple of terms? Did he have any experience managing anything? What did he do as Vice President?

    Personally, I’d take two terms as governor of _any_ state over two terms as senator, but I’m not sure what kind of weight to give the Vice Presidency. It certainly _can_ be a sort of partnership, with the VP sharing designated responsibilities, but I don’t think that’s mandatory…as I understand it, the VP could vacation in the South Sea Islands for the entire duration, as long as the Pres remained in good health. In other words, whether the VP position better prepares a person for the presidency than spending time in the National Library depends entirely on the president – so what did Clinton expect/allow Gore to do during his time as VP?

  38. Ymarsakar says

    If we cannot start with the assumption that people’s minds can be changed with factually accurate counter examples and rebuttals, then we should refrain from conversing or debating.

    If we start with the assumption that human beings are mortal, does this mean life and activities in life must then have no meaning?

    Or is it that life has more meaning precisely because life cannot exist indefinitely.

    People’s minds cannot be changed with factually accurate counter-examples precisely because many people don’t believe what they haven’t seen. Just cause you saw a “counter-example” based upon fact doesn’t mean you can make anyone else agree with you.

    That doesn’t mean we should “refrain from conversing or debating”, you know.

    but it’s not one I hope to ever encounter and I’m pretty sure it’s incompatible with democracy

    Did you skip the history lessons on how propaganda has ensured the survival of many nations and peoples, including the Union’s efforts in the Civil War?

  39. Danny Lemieux says


    Back from my trip, so a couple of quick replies. I disagree that Jihadis hate us “because we are free” – they hate us because our freedom and success is an affront to everything they and their particular brand of Islam represents. Recognize that Islam is not a point of view – it is a faith that promises that Muslims are God’s chosen and that they shall inherit the earth (by wiping out the infidel, for one). The fact that the world of Islam has proven itself such a failure in so many respects to Western (Christian and Judaic) society challenges the very essence of their faith.

    In their view, the success of the West can only have occurred by the Christians and Jews being in league with Satan (hence, the Iranian reference to “Great Satan” and “Little Satan”). Most people in the West cannot comprehend such total, absolute fanaticism that fails to respond to any hint of reason (even when backed by force). You can’t really comprehend it until you have stared in the face of a Jihadi, as I have done…several times. Frankly, those people scare the c*** out of me and I recognize that there is only one solution – kill them and let all other wannabees know that this is their the only future, should they choose that path! A salutary effect of Iraq’s “fly-paper” strategy has been to attract Jihadis from the world over to Iraq’s killing fields.

    Second – in reference to Bush and the coming collapse of social security. May I remind you that it was the Bush administration that proposed, despite warnings never to touch the “third rail” of politics, a complete overhaul of the Social Security system to not only move it to solvency, but to provide social security contributors with permanent, tangible assets. The proposal was based upon the very successful model system put into place in Chile (designed by U. of Chicago economists). The proposal was so viciously skewered by the the Liberal MSM that the American eloectorate never got a clear idea of what it was about, much less an opportunity to debate and vote on it. The social security system will not collapse, instead it will probably fade into irrelevancy as “actual” benefits dribble way into nothing, be it through tightened eligibility rules or inflation that erodes away the value of the benefits.


  40. echeccone says


    On the SS, I hope your sanguine view turns out to be true. I just have my doubts. Perhaps I am much younger than you, but I do not expect to receive any benefits although I have paid the maximum contribution each year since I have worked–effectively an extra tax with no expected benefit. I have heard mixed reviews on the Chile proposal, with a figure no less than Greenspan criticizing it on economic grounds. I am not an expert to have an opinion on that proposal, but any proposed solution likely will require additional taxes and sharply reduced spending. As to apportioning blame, the Dems are an easy target, and you are correct that Bush proposed overhauling SS and the Dems balked, but this is political theater. Medicare is something like 10 times the liability that SS is, and has no money going in (unlike SS), and this is the liability that OMB is conveniently pushing recognition on until–surprise!–2009. Effectively, the Bush administration has excluded this liability from its budget forecasts and dumped it on the next administration. This is to justify those crazy stats that make permanent tax cuts and further tax cuts seem reasonable and sustainable, even when they are not (at current spending levels). As to letting inflation solve the problem, I’d refer you to the wonderful standard of living enjoyed in Argentina over the last 80-100 years because of that country’s use of inflation to get out of its debts. Do you want us to be a banana republic as well?

    Islam is a complicated religion. No less so than Christianity or Judaism. My muslim friends, who are law abiding Americans, would disagree with most of what you wrote to characterize the religion. I would merely observe that all three of these Abrahamic religions appear to have gone through an evolution. 3-5K years ago, the Jews wiped the Hittites off the face of the earth because they did not worship the God of David. 700-800 years ago, Christians committed atrocities during the Crusades for the same reason. Now a subset of the Muslims are doing it. I think it’s a phase in the ideology, which is exacerbated by a lot of other historical and economic forces that are at play. The other thing I would say is that the majority of Muslims are peaceful and law abiding. Finally, I’m pretty sure that Obama is not advocating discussions with Jihadi’s but with Muslims who are rational and would be willing to negotiate for a mutually beneficial outcome. By the way, some of those people are in Hamas, notwithstanding what many Americans believe. The US won’t deal with the democratically elected representative of the Palestinian people because some members promoted terrorist events; yet we (correctly) celebrated the 60th anniversary of Israel although its seminal leaders also committed terrorist acts (e.g., Begin’s bombing of the King David hotel). To not talk with non-Jihadi Muslims is to encourage the proliferation of these radicals. Anyway, that’s my opinion.


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