Examining the unborn

Bear with me here, because I’m thinking out loud. It all started with the fact that today’s Chronicle had a sad, sad story that began like this:

Expectant mother, fetus shot dead in Oakland

Kennah Wilson, 18, was eagerly anticipating the birth of her daughter this fall. She was going to name her baby Kamilah and had plans for a baby shower in October.

But gunmen opened fire outside an East Oakland apartment complex on Friday night, killing both Wilson and her 7-month-old fetus, police said Saturday.

A less awkward way to have headlined and told the story would have been “Pregnant woman killed in Oakland.”  Reading that, most would have assumed, unless explicitly informed otherwise, that the baby died too.   I therefore found this verbose, clinical phrasing surprising.

My assumption, since the Chron is a very pro-choice paper, is that the only way to bring out the true pathos of this story — which would ordinarily be just another death in the more crime ridden part of Oakland — was to make it a mother-baby death.  And the only way to do that was to emphasize the nascent life inside of poor Kennah.

The problem, though, is that once you start emphasizing those nascent lives, you’re acknowledging that the Democratic platform commitment to entirely unfettered abortion (including Obama’s belief in the right to abort the baby after it’s already born), runs headlong into the fact that a seven month old baby has truly become a person in its own right.  Had the fetus survived the shooting, it would have had as much chance of life as the average premature baby — which is pretty darn good in our modern world.

Which gets me to something that’s making me increasingly uncomfortable about the modern Democratic party.  To explain my discomfort, let me start with my own journey on abortion.  I was raised strongly pro-Choice — abortion without limits would have been my unthinking mantra in the 1980s.  With the passage of time, though, I’m become ever uncomfortable with that absolute position.

Having had children of my own, having seen (through sonograms) those lives grow within me, and having seen the survival age of premature babies pushed further and further back, I am uncomfortable with unfettered abortions, especially those that occur simply because pregnancy is inconvenient.  I’m also highly uncomfortable with late term abortions (and, unlike Barack Obama, with post-birth abortions).

As I’ve said in other posts — and perhaps I’m driven to this by some Jewish genetic instinct  — I’m hewing closer and closer to the traditional rabbinic view of abortion, which seems to me to strike an admirable balance between the lives of both baby and mother (footnotes omitted):

The easiest way to conceptualize a fetus in halacha [Jewish law] is to imagine it as a full-fledged human being — but not quite. In most circumstances, the fetus is treated like any other “person.” Generally, one may not deliberately harm a fetus. But while it would seem obvious that Judaism holds accountable one who purposefully causes a woman to miscarry, sanctions are even placed upon one who strikes a pregnant woman causing an unintentional miscarriage. That is not to say that all rabbinical authorities consider abortion to be murder. The fact that the Torah requires a monetary payment for causing a miscarriage is interpreted by some Rabbis to indicate that abortion is not a capital crime and by others as merely indicating that one is not executed for performing an abortion, even though it is a type of murder. There is even disagreement regarding whether the prohibition of abortion is Biblical or Rabbinic. Nevertheless, it is universally agreed that the fetus will become a full-fledged human being and there must be a very compelling reason to allow for abortion.

As a general rule, abortion in Judaism is permitted only if there is a direct threat to the life of the mother by carrying the fetus to term or through the act of childbirth. In such a circumstance, the baby is considered tantamount to a rodef, a pursuer after the mother with the intent to kill her. Nevertheless, as explained in the Mishna, if it would be possible to save the mother by maiming the fetus, such as by amputating a limb, abortion would be forbidden. Despite the classification of the fetus as a pursuer, once the baby’s head or most of its body has been delivered, the baby’s life is considered equal to the mother’s, and we may not choose one life over another, because it is considered as though they are both pursuing each other.

It is important to point out that the reason that the life of the fetus is subordinate to the mother is because the fetus is the cause of the mother’s life-threatening condition, whether directly (e.g. due to toxemia, placenta previa, or breach position) or indirectly (e.g. exacerbation of underlying diabetes, kidney disease, or hypertension). A fetus may not be aborted to save the life of any other person whose life is not directly threatened by the fetus, such as use of fetal organs for transplant.

Despite agreeing with the careful balancing act that is expressed under Jewish law, I can readily recognize the rational and moral choices that drive those Christian pro-Lifers who argue, accurately, that life begins at conception.  While I would engage in more of a balancing than they would, I still think that theirs is a completely coherent viewpoint.

Ultimately, on the pro-Life side, there is a continuum of reasonable beliefs ranging from the absolute purity of the completely pro-Life person, to the practical and moral balancing act of the religious Jew.  While these views may lead to different practical outcomes, their focus is on the preservation of life.

What’s unseemly and icky about modern Democrats is that they’ve created an ideological corner in which they start sounding like a baby killing factory.  For all the “safe, rare and legal” (or whatever that slogan was) that emanated from the Clintons, the party faithful don’t think that way.  They don’t acknowledge reasonable gradations.  Instead, they see things as binary:  Either abortion is unfettered or its entirely fettered.  They’ve gotten themselves locked in a box where they can no longer have a rational debate that tries to balance the differing interests of mother and child and, as to both, to do so with an eye to life.

This shrill, binary message means that hardcore Democrats, the ones who dominate the message and the media, sound dreadful.  While it once appeared that they were trumpeting rights for women, they now sound fossilized.  Arguments for abortion that made sense when we merely guessed at fetal development and when pre-term babies routinely died; or when babies born out of wedlock (and their mothers) were horribly stigmatized; or when birth control was impossible to obtain, sound brutal in this day and age when we see (and save) in utero babies; when out-of-wedlock children are normative (especially in Hollywood); and when birth control is sold at every grocery store.

Unwanted pregnancies still happen, but the social dynamics have shifted dramatically.  To get back to where I began — the tragic death of Kennah and Kamilah — it’s worth noting that this story was all about a teenage girl without a husband (and there’s no mention of the baby’s father in the article).  While her unwed status would once have relegated her to society margins, this story makes it clear that an out-of-wedlock baby is a non-issue.  Mom’s abandonment was not part of the tragedy at the heart of this story.

In this scientific and social climate, to continue to insist on “all abortion, all the time” is too morbid and self-serving to sit well with a fundamentally moral citizenry.  I think this fact is important because there is no doubt that Sarah Palin is absolutely and entirely pro-Life — she’s walked the walk and talked the talk.

While there are many Americans like me, who are not absolutely and entirely pro-Life, the intellectual coherence of Palin’s position may stand out in splendid contrast to the ghoulish moral house in which the Democrats now live.  Between these two extremes, Life may prove less frightening to independents and conservative Democrats than death — no matter how much hardcore Democrats continue to believe that unfettered access to abortion will be the pivot that drives women voters to their party.  In other words, moderate voters may tolerate Palin’s pro-Life stance, not because they’re embracing her, but because they need to reject the Democrats’ deathly absolutes.

In any event, it’s worth reminding people worried about Palin’s stand that neither Presidents nor VPs directly affect abortion policy.  All they do is try to appoint conservative Supreme Court justices.  And, unless these justices are themselves activists, all that they can do is reverse Roe v. Wade, which in turn will throw abortion back to the States (unless Americans unite to have an Abortion Constitutional Amendment).  And after 35 years of the abortion revolution, the outcome in the states is likely to be more liberal towards abortions than it was 35 years ago across America.  While an unpleasant scenario for those deeply committed to unlimited abortion, it’s also not the end of the world.

Nervous Democrats

From the San Francisco Chronicle (with the emphasis all theirs):

Worth noting: Democrats had good reason to be nervous going into the Denver convention – and the problem looked to be bigger than just the bruised feelings between the Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton camps.

Recent polls of California voters show that going into Denver, Obama’s support among key independent voters had dropped nine points in a month – cutting his lead over John McCain to less than 10 points in this bluest of blue states.

A poll by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California showed Obama’s lead over McCain dropping to 48 percent to 39 percent among all likely voters – down six points from July.

Obama is still comfortably ahead of McCain statewide, and institute pollster Mark Baldassare noted that a Republican hasn’t carried California since the first George Bush in 1988- so odds are Obama will still take the state.

Nonetheless, the Democrats might well heed that the race has narrowed to single digits.

Four years ago, before the Democrats held their convention, John Kerry had an 11-point advantage over George W. Bush here in California, according to Baldassare’s polling – about where Obama’s lead was before his convention last week.

And while Kerry eventually won California, we all know who took the big prize.

What’s at stake

We in America have become very introverted in the last few weeks, obsessively (and probably appropriately) focusing on our own upcoming elections.  As we focus on those elections, it’s useful to remember what’s still out there:

Hardline female ‘preachers of hate’ are radicalising Muslim women at one of Britain’s top mosques. The Saudi Arabian preachers were secretly filmed ordering women to murder gays and ex-Muslims.

Undercover reporters from Channel 4’s Dispatches recorded the lectures in the women’s section of Regent’s Park Mosque in London.

An unnamed Saudi woman is seen mocking other religions – labelling Christianity ‘vile’ and an ‘abomination’. Another, known as ‘Angelique’, claims Britain is a ‘land of evil’.

The investigators attended lectures for two months at the mosque, which had promised a clean-up after another Dispatches probe just 18 months ago exposed it for spreading extreme Islamic views.

During one sermon, a woman called Um Amira says: ‘He is Muslim, and he gets out of Islam…what are we going to do? We kill him, kill, kill.’

In the programme, to be screened tomorrow, she adds that women adulterers should be stoned to death and people who have sex before marriage should get ‘100 lashes’.

Regent’s Park Mosque is one of the biggest and most prestigious Islamic institutions in the UK. Opened in 1944 by King George VI, it can hold up to 5,000 worshippers.

You can read the rest here.

Do they realize how stupid they sound?

To me, the first good thing about the Palin nomination is that it highlights Obama’s inexperience.  You can just hear him going around the house muttering, “I know you are, but what am I?  I know you are, but what am I?  I know you are, but what am I?”

To date, Obama has written two self-serving books; been editor of the law review, a student job, during which time he wrote only one anonymous note; served 8 years in a state legislature, which is a collegial, not an executive position, and in which he did not distinguish himself; been a law professor who left no tracks whatsoever; spent almost his entire time in the US Senate (another collegial, not managerial job) running for the Presidency; worked as an associate in a small law firm (associates are never managerial); and been a community organizer (whatever that means).  Significantly, his one executive experience was a complete bust:  Despite being a nothing and a nobody at the time, he was put in charge of a $100,000,000 project to improve Chicago schools.  Although he effectively channeled money to his political friends, the program made not a bit of difference to Chicago’s profoundly damaged educational institutions.  It’s a busy resume but, in terms of performance outcome, an undistinguished one.

Palin’s bio isn’t much thicker, but it shows her having (a) more executive experience and (b) more successful outcomes.  She’s raised four children and is working on raising a fifth, which is already a level of executive experience people who haven’t raised children don’t appreciate.  She spent several as a successful mayor of a small-ish town (which can be likened to being the CEO of a 9,000 strong corporation).  Significantly, she’s been a wildly successful, courageous, and non-partisan scourge of corrupt Alaska politicians and big oil interests:

Governor Palin has always run as the anti-corruption candidate. She served as Ethics Commissioner of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission from 2003 to 2004, when she resigned in protest over the actions of her fellow Alaskan GOP leaders, including then-Alaskan Governor Frank Murkowski. She was furious over the fact that they ignored her reports of rampant GOP corruption. When she chose to run for Governor, the GOP establishment ignored her and supported the incumbent Murkowski. Palin beat him, and went on to beat former Democratic Governor Tony Knowles with no support from Alaskan GOP leadership. She has actively supported and helped the GOP primary opponents of current indicted Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens and Representative Don Young, and denounced both of them often in public.

Oh, and the forthcoming claim that Palin’s in the pocket of big-oil? Her ethics complaints were filed against people who really were in the pocket of big oil – she was on the outside, investigating.
Lastly, separate from her success rooting out corruption, she’s proven to be a very competent governor of Alaska.  And to to those who are snarky about Alaska’s small population, it’s worth pointing out that, while it comes in at 47 out of 50, Joe Biden’s Delaware comes in at 45 out of 50 — and he’s never managed anything in his state anyway.

So unconventional was McCain’s choice that it left students of the presidency literally “stunned,” in the words of Joel Goldstein, a St. Louis University law professor and scholar of the vice presidency. “Being governor of a small state for less than two years is not consistent with the normal criteria for determining who’s of presidential caliber,” said Goldstein.

“I think she is the most inexperienced person on a major-party ticket in modern history,” said presidential historian Matthew Dallek.

Have these “scholars” been sleeping through the last year of so of Obama’s candidacy?  The man has job-hopped a lot but, despite his busy resume, he doesn’t emerge with experience any more significant than Palin’s.  More importantly, while he’s good at getting the position (law review, charity manager, state senator, etc.), once there, he vanishes and, instead, focuses only on his next resume building item.

Or maybe these “scholars” haven’t been sleeping at all, they’re just so blinded by partisanship, they don’t realize how stupid they sound.  As to the partisanship, that’s not me talking, that’s the McCain campaign.  Because respectable Left-leaning blogs are more honest than the MSM, Politico, in which the “scholar’s take” first appeared, updated it post with this statement from the McCain camp:

“The authors quote four scholars attacking Gov. Palin’s fitness for the office of vice president. Among them, David Kennedy is a maxed-out Obama donor, Joel Goldstein is also an Obama donor, and Doris Kearns Goodwin has donated exclusively to Democrats this cycle. Finally, Matthew Dallek is a former speech writer for Dick Gephardt. This is not a story about scholars questioning Gov. Palin’s credentials so much as partisan Democrats who would find a reason to disqualify or discount any nominee put forward by Sen. McCain.”

Cross-posted at Right Wing News.

A new post about the Palin pick

Because I’d like to see traffic driven to the new Bloggers for John McCain website, to which I am a contributor, I’ll just print a little bit here of the post I did there regarding the Sarah Palin pick.  If you like the post, you can read the rest here:

The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that selecting Palin was a brilliant idea. She is completely immune from personal attack, which means the only real debate in the upcoming election can be about policy.

Criticize her sex, and you lose the women’s vote.

Criticize her foreign policy experience (or lack thereof), and you invite painful comparisons to Obama, who wants to be President, not just VP.

Criticize her executive experience, and you invite even more painful comparisons to Obama, the wannabe President.

Criticize her youth, and you again have a problem with Obama, since he, with only three more birthdays than Palin under his belt, is aiming for the executive office.

Criticize her U of Idaho degree and you (a) invite painful comparisons to Biden, no Ivy Leaguer himself; and (b) invite charges of elitism.

Criticize her kind of goofy Alaska accent and lack of European sophistication, and you further alienate the embittered gun owners and religious nuts the elite Obama denigrated a few months ago. (By the way, I’m sarcastically quoting Obama when I refer to those embittered gun owners and religious nuts. His view of them, not mine.)

Criticize her small town roots, same thing: alienate embittered gun owners and religious nuts who make up the heartland.

Try to raise Alaskan political corruption, and you run smack into the fact that she attacked corruption head-on. You also open yourself up to invidious comparisons with Obama (Annenberg and Rezko) and Biden (repeat plagiarism)

Add to this that she’s a good speaker, who will make Biden look overbearing and bombastic during debates, and you’re just looking at a brilliant choice. She’s bullet proof.

There’s more, as I said, which you can find here.

News of the day

I’m a bit slow going today, since I was up very, very early, to drive fairly far to a day of soccer in the hot sun.  As a Bay Area wuss who likes the weather cool, I feel somewhat depleted.  I’m working on reigniting my energy level, especially since I have some posting to do at Bloggers for McCain, and some cross-posting to do at Right Wing News (Saturday is my day at both).  While I try to energize my brain, which is a torporous as the rest of me right now, a couple of news articles that caught my eye:

On a couple of occasions, I’ve blogged about the Left’s obsession with fecal matter (here and here).  That poop theme strikes again in this news story about the arrest of members of an anarchist group (which, admittedly, is to the left of left) who had collected, among other things (including weapons), buckets of urine to serve as an “RNC Welcome Committee.”

It’s funny how the Democrats once again find themselves in the position of trying to show that a potential first lady is an old-fashioned, 50s style Mom.  It’s like 1992 all over again.  That was the year, for those of you too young to remember, that Hillary Clinton, after having insulted myriad stay-at-home mothers, suddenly transformed herself into a fragile feminine, at least for as long as it took her to get her husband into the White House.  I don’t think these women would have to do this if average Americans didn’t look at their agenda and find it so threatening to home and hearth.  Palin may be running for VP, but everyone knows that she supports traditional female roles, although she has chosen to go beyond them.

Michael Barone has a good analysis of the serious problems dogging Obama (the equivalent for him of the Dukakis Willie Horton problem and the Kerry Swift Boat problem), and explains (a) why those old problems and Obama’s new ones are fair political game and (b) how Obama should address them.

Here’s the origin of the “naughty librarian” description Craig Ferguson gave Sarah Palin.  It’s quite funny and not at all mean.

Results in from the Watcher’s Council

The Watchers’ votes have been counted and the results are in.*  Again, there’s a slight summer slump, with fewer nominations and even fewer votes, but we expect that to resolve itself soon.  By the way, there is an opening at the Watcher’s Council.  If you’re interested, read the rules here and submit yourself for consideration.  And whether or not you’re interested, enjoy these winning reads.

Council

1. The Razor – Russia – The New Cold War Winner with 2 1/3 votes

2. Wolf Howling – What Does Joe Biden Offer To Obama? 2 votes

3. Soccer Dad – Charm city charm offensive 1 2/3 votes

4. Bookworm Room – The AP shows surprising honesty when it comes to Joe Biden 1 vote

Non-Council

1. Michael Totten/Middle East Journal – The Truth About Russia In Georgia Winner with 2 1/3 votes

2. Seraphic Secret – The Terrorist is Still Dead 2 votes

3. Kirby Mountain – Puttin’ the Boone (Pickens) in Boondoggle 1 1/3 votes

4. (Tie) Paragraph Farmer – Remaking Grease in Denver 2/3 votes

4. (Tie) Pajamas Media/Belmont Club – Unity 2/3 votes

4. (Tie) Boston.com Olympics Blog – You’re Not Supposed to See This 2/3 votes

5. Powerline Blog – Energy Policy For The Ignorant 1/3 vote

_________________________
*I’m not yet suggesting that you bookmark the Watcher’s new site — although you can see it in all it’s glory, here. The domain name may still change so, until it’s stabilized, you may as well hold off on making it a permanent link (assuming you were planning on doing so).

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that’s not why the ship is built”

Palin gave a great speech.  What’s really funny is that it’s chock full of “I did this and I did this and I did this,” which is appropriate, not boastful, considering that she’s trying to explaining to her potential future employers  — the American people — why she should be hired for the job.  In this, it stands in stark contrast to Obama’s speech last night, which made almost no reference whatsoever to his record, but simply attacked McCain and restated platform positions.

All things considered, you have to wonder about the Obama campaign’s idiotic knee jerk attack on Palin’s lack of experience:

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s campaign on Friday blasted his Republican rival’s choice of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as a running-mate, highlighting her “zero” foreign policy experience.

“Today, John McCain put the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency,” Obama spokesman Bill Burton said in a statement.

Uh, so it’s better to put in the presidency itself, never mind the heartbeats, a man with almost zero foreign policy experience?  Explain to me the logic there.

UPDATED: And the McCain camp comes back with the perfect rebuttal:

It is pretty audacious for the Obama campaign to say that Governor Palin is not qualified to be Vice President. She has a record of accomplishment that Senator Obama simply cannot match. Governor Palin has spent her time in office shaking up government in Alaska and actually achieving results — whether it’s taking on corruption, passing ethics reform or stopping wasteful spending and the ‘bridge to nowhere.’ Senator Obama has spent his time in office running for president.

McCain is running a canny campaign

It looked in the beginning as if the McCain campaign group was doing nothing at all.  They were just dormant, though, ready to explode.  They came up with a series of great ads that highlighted the creepy personality cult building around Obama.  They timed the VP announcement perfectly to suck the air out of Obama’s rather pedestrian “big” speech.  And they got everyone in a tizzy (which also distracted from the Obama moment) by announcing their intention to air an exciting ad during the Democratic convention.  Clearly, everyone thought, McCain was going to horn in on Obama’s show and get nasty.  Instead, McCain took an exceptionally high road:

When John McCain promised a surprise TV campaign ad tonight responding to Barack Obama’s acceptance speech, most expected him to slam the Democrat – but the actual spot was surprisingly kind.

The McCain camp earlier today touted its decision to run a commercial during the Democratic convention featuring the Republican nominee addressing Obama directly through the camera.

“Suffice to say it’s going to be a very exciting ad, and I think it’s going to get a lot of attention,” McCain spokeswoman Jill Hazelbaker told MSNBC.

The media was gearing up for a blistering attack, but the soft-focus advert instead showed McCain praising Obama for a “job well done”.

“Too often the achievements of our opponents go unnoticed,” McCain said in the commercial, which will air tonight in Colorado and Iowa. “But I wanted to stop and say congratulations … tomorrow we’ll be back at it. But tonight, senator [Obama], job well done.”

You can see the ad here.

McCain and his crew immediately went back to campaign business as usual, but this act of graciousness was smart — especially when contrasted against the unusually nasty tone of Obama’s acceptance speech.

Apparently it’s Palin *UPDATE*

Information or disinformation? It’s hard to tell right now.  The AP article expresses surprise that McCain would pick a neophyte for a VP when he’s been attacking Obama for being a neophyte.  Apparently the AP reporter is confused about the difference between being a VP (a good place for on-the-job training) and being President (a bad place for that same training).

The American Thinker has put together a list of Palin’s virtues.

UPDATE: Not misinformation.  Those we know have confirmed.

UPDATE II: One other good thing about Palin:  she’ll give McCain the credible cover he needs for making an about face on ANWR drilling.

UPDATE III: Confederate Yankee looks a little more closely at the instantly appearing smear that Palin, who ran on an anti-corruption platform, used her office to try to fire an ex-brother-in-law.

Ambition, distraction, uglification and derision

My husband had TiVo’d the speech, so we started watching it.  Poor guy, he’d like to support Obama, but he had a real problem with the absence of a “there there.”  He was disgusted by the video’s reference to corporate “fat cats,” which he said sounded dated and artificial.  My take was that it had all the warm glow of a Depend’s commercial, right down to the fact that it was coy about the core virtue’s of the product (which no one ever wants to talk about).

Mr. Bookworm was equally unhappy about the speech.  He expected something special, and found himself listening to a somewhat boring, very generic, political speech.  He turned it off about a third of the way through, but I went back and read the rest. I think Lewis Carroll provided the right phrase to describe a speech such as Obama’s.  It’s equal parts ambition, distraction, uglification and derision.  The rhetoric is surprisingly flat, and often muddled in places.  The ideas are trite.  The details often meaningless or conflicting.  And the speech is mean, mean, mean.  Lacking a record on which to run, Obama busies himself launching really vicious attacks on McCain.  I don’t recall ever hearing such a nasty, ad hominem acceptance speech.

My more detailed comments are below, although I redacted a few introductory blah-blahs: [Read more...]

When narcissists attack

Much has been made today — and deservedly so — of the fact that the Obama campaign has tried to shut down both Stanley Kurtz’s investigations into his work on Chicago’s Annenberg Challenge with Bill Ayers and to silence any discussion about the results of those investigations.  When the Obama campaign heard that Kurtz would be on a rather scholarly sounding Chicago radio talk show, it sent out an emergency email to rouse the troops to action.  The introductory text spelled out just how serious the threat to the Messiah was:

“WGN radio is giving right-wing hatchet man Stanley Kurtz a forum to air his baseless, fear-mongering terrorist smears,” Obama’s campaign wrote in an e-mail to supporters. “He’s currently scheduled to spend a solid two-hour block from 9:00 to 11:00 p.m. pushing lies, distortions, and manipulations about Barack and University of Illinois professor William Ayers.”

Once the troops were stirred into a frenzy, the Obama team told them what to do (make a call to the radio show) and what to say.  Here are the talking points:

Then report back on your call and sign up for the Obama Action Wire using the form to the right.

The Facts on Barack and William Ayers:

  • William Ayers was involved with the Weather Underground when Barack Obama was eight years old, and Barack has roundly condemned their actions.
  • Last night on Fox News, Kurtz tried to radicalize an education reform program in Chicago called the Annenberg Challenge. The Challenge was funded by Republican Walter Annenberg, introduced by Mayor Daley and Republican Governor Jim Edgar, and one of its initiatives was even praised by John McCain.
  • Kurtz claimed on Fox News that William Ayers recruited Obama to the Annenberg Challenge — a flat out lie. Ayers did not serve on the board of the Challenge, and he had nothing to do with Barack’s recruitment.

Tips for making your call:

  • Be honest, but be civil.
  • Be persistent. It may take a few attempts to get through to the show. Just keep trying. Your call is important.
  • Use the talking points above to help you speak confidently and concisely.

You’ll notice that the facts have absolutely nothing to do with the information Kurtz is investigating based on contemporaneous documentary evidence, which is Obama’s conduct while on the Annenberg Challenge and his relationship with Ayers during that same period. Instead, “the facts” are entirely conclusory:  Kurtz lied.  End of story.  Or, rather, that’s Obama’s story and he’s sticking to it.

The call to action worked.  Incensed Obama fans inundated the radio station with phone calls, something quite unusual for this normally staid show.  Guy Benson, who was coincidentally in the studio at the time the calls started coming, describes what happened next:

As I arrived at the downtown Chicago studios a few hours before show time, the phones began ringing off the hook with irate callers demanding Kurtz be axed from the program.

[snip]

Why? Because, naturally, Kurtz is a “right-wing hatchet man,” a “smear merchant” and a “slimy character assassin” who is perpetrating one of the “most cynical and offensive smears ever launched against Barack.”

[snip]

They jammed all five studio lines for nearly the entire show while firing off dozens of angry emails. Many vowed to kick their grievances up the food chain to station management. After 90 minutes of alleged smear peddling, Milt Rosenberg (a well-respected host whose long-form interview show has aired in Chicago for decades) opened the phone lines, and blind ignorance soon began to crackle across the AM airwaves. The overwhelming message was clear: The interview must be put to an end immediately, and the station management should prevent similar discussions from taking place.

What struck everyone on the Right who has blogged about the Obamaniac’s attack is how free of substance it was.  Benson has this to say:

One female caller, when pressed about what precisely she objected to, simply replied, “We just want it to stop!” Another angry caller was asked what “lies” Kurtz had told in any of his reporting on Barack Obama. The thoughtful response? “Everything he said is dishonest.” The same caller later refused to get into “specifics.” Another gentleman called Kurtz “the most un-American person” he’d ever heard. Several of the callers did not even know Stanley’s name, most had obviously never read a sentence of his meticulous research, and more than simply read verbatim from the Obama talking points.

One of Michelle Malkin’s readers, who heard the show as it was being aired, noted exactly the same information vacuum when it came to the attack against the radio show and against Kurtz:

The callers claimed that everything Kurtz is stating is fabricated, so Kurtz then read verbatim from the documents!

Andrew McCarthy saw precisely the same pattern in the calls — wild attacks, unbounded by any facts:

In the last few minutes, two called to scald Milt for having Stanley on without having an Obama rep on to give the counterpoint.  Milt explains, repeatedly, that he contacted the Obama campaign (he gave the name of the campaign official his producer spoke with) and the campaign — the HQ of which is about a quarter mile from the studio where the show airs — declined to come on.  They were offered the opportunity to have someone there with Stanley for the entire two hours, and they said no.

Another pro-Obama woman called and, after accusing Stanley of slander but of course not citing anything he said that was slanderous, stated, “We want it to stop.”  Milt asked what she wanted stopped, and she replied, “It’s just not what we believe as Americans.”  Milt tried again, asking what she didn’t believe.  She responded that it was someone saying bad things about Barack Obama and, again, we just want it to stop.

As you might expect, those who have commented on this frenzied attempt to silence Obama critics — an effort that started at the top with the Obama campaign itself — have noted (a) that this is typical of the Left and (b) that we can expect more of the same if a Democratic White House and a Democratic Congress are able to team together to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine (something that might have made sense in an era that boasted only three TV stations, but that is insanity in the wild market of cable TV and satellite TV, not to mention AM and FM radio).

For a couple of excellent analyses of the situation on the ground — the facts from Kurtz and the fact-free accusations from the Left — I highly recommend Cheat-Seeking Missiles’ take on the subject, Confederate Yankee’s post (complete with illustration), and the summary from the editors at National Review.

I’m going to throw one more idea into the mix, and it’s personal, not political.  I’ve blogged before about the unusual narcissism that characterizes Barack Obama.  He has a staggering level of self-involvement that has him seeing himself as the center of the universe and with everything revolving around him.  In his own mind, he’s better than everyone else and (unsurprisingly, given their inevitable jealously and small-mindedness about his extraordinary virtues) everyone is evil and out to get him.

What this mindset means (and I speak from personal experience having once had a close relationship with a narcissist) is that facts are irrelevant, everything is personal.  An argument with a narcissist will go like this:

Normal person:  Will you pick up milk from the store?

Narcissist:  Stop nagging me.

Normal person:  I’m not nagging.  I’m just asking if you can get milk from the store?

Narcissist:  You drive me crazy.  You’re just blathering on about milk.  You always do that.  I never get a moment to myself.  You’re just impossibly difficult.

Normal person:  Even if that’s true, we’re out of milk, and I won’t be home for hours.  Can you pick up milk from the store?

Narcissist:  This is all your fault you know.  If you’d been more organized, we would have had milk already (ignoring that the normal person has been out of town for a week).  You never take care of anything around the house.

And so on and so on.  What you notice very quickly in arguing with a narcissist is that facts are entirely irrelevant.  The substantive matter at issue (in the above example, the need for milk and who is best situated to get it) is entirely irrelevant.  All that matters is that you are impinging on the narcissist’s comfort level.  From that point on, everything devolves into pure attack mode.  And since the narcissist lives in a world characterized by his immediate needs and concerns, in his own mind, he never tells a lie.  Even if this is the first time you’ve ever asked him to buy milk, his statement that you always do something like that is absolutely true — because for him, if he feels pressured, once equals always.  (For more on this topic and the narcissist’s bizarre, self-referential reality, read that enjoyable book Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother’s Boyfriend.)

If I’m right about Obama’s narcissism, one that seems to attract others with the same quality, one doesn’t have to look to Leftist political ideology to explain away his and his followers’ blind determination to use bullying, fact-free force to shut down anything that impinges on his ego.  For the malignant narcissist, anything that is inconvenient, that is demanding, that is hurtful, requires, not a reasoned response, but a full throttle, all-out, battle-to-the death defense.

And since narcissists have a strong paranoid streak (it’s always everybody out to get the narcissist), the easiest full throttle attack is a personal one.  Don’t bother with facts.  Just reiterate, loudly and brutally, what an absolutely horrible person the other one is, along with a history (usually made up) of all their exceptionally horrible moments, either general or specifically with respect to the narcissist.

Sure Obama is a product of the Left, as are his followers.  But they all also display the aggressive, self-referential, paranoid behavior of classic narcissists.  I can assure you that the nation will not be happier for having such hostile, self-aggrandizing, self-pitying people in charge and, worse, out to get you.

Quality reading for Thursday

As you know, Terry Trippany is the new Watcher of Weasels.  He’s currently finalizing the Weasel’s permanent home, although it still needs a teeny bit more tweaking.  Nevertheless, he’s still compiled this week’s Watcher’s nominations, and it’s very good reading (as always):

Council

1. The Glittering Eye – The 2008 Beijing Olympics

2. Soccer Dad – Charm city charm offensive

3. Bookworm Room – The AP shows surprising honesty when it comes to Joe Biden

4. The Razor – Russia – The New Cold War

5. Joshua Pundit – Biden Off More Than He Can Chew

6. Wolf Howling – What Does Joe Biden Offer To Obama?

7. Colossus of Rhodey – NBC’s Andrea Mitchell Thinks Joe Biden is ‘Not Part of Washington’

8. Rhymes With Right – Not Every POW Supports McCain

9. Cheat-Seeking Missiles – North Coast – Day 5: Bookworm Revealed!

Non-Council

1. Paragraph Farmer – Remaking Grease in Denver

2. Pajamas Media/Belmont Club – Unity

3. Kirby Mountain – Puttin’ the Boone (Pickens) in Boondoggle

4. Seraphic Secret – The Terrorist is Still Dead

5. Telegraph UK – Gavin Menzies: mad as a snake – or a visionary?

6. Michael Totten/Middle East Journal – The Truth About Russia In Georgia

7. Powerline Blog – Energy Policy For The Ignorant

8. Media Backspin – Gadi Evron on Cyber Warfare

9. Boston.com Olympics Blog – You’re Not Supposed to See This

I’ll be voting tonight, and you can get the results tomorrow.  I doubt that the announcement will match the excitement attendant on McCain’s VP pick, but it will still be exciting.

You can’t praise what isn’t there

Unlike Hillary’s speech, Bill’s attempts to focus on Obama, rather than on generic Democratic goals.  Bill has a problem, though — the object of his praise has no record on which to run.  The best that Bill can do is create what amounts to a report card for a good student:  he’s a nice guy with a firm grasp of his subject at a purely academic level:

He [Obama] has a remarkable ability to inspire people, to raise our hopes and rally us to high purpose. He has the intelligence and curiosity every successful President needs. His policies on the economy, taxes, health care and energy are far superior to the Republican alternatives. He has shown a clear grasp of our foreign policy and national security challenges, and a firm commitment to repair our badly strained military. His family heritage and life experiences have given him a unique capacity to lead our increasingly diverse nation and to restore our leadership in an ever more interdependent world. The long, hard primary tested and strengthened him. And in his first presidential decision, the selection of a running mate, he hit it out of the park.

We’ve all attended school with kids who were academically bright, but who just never quite grasped the functional realities of the world outside of school.  To date, Obama’s greatest skill has been advancing himself.  Other than that, he’s

  1. written two self-congratulatory books;
  2. done a stint on a law review without any writing of his own (and you don’t know how bizarre that is);
  3. done a stint as a law professor without leaving any written record or clear ideas;
  4. done a stint as a community organizer and local politician that saw him (a) funnel money to his friends; (b) bollux up a major grant program; and (c) do nothing; and
  5. spent three years in the US Senate, most of them campaigning for the job of President.

Obama’s Ivy League degrees notwithstanding, that’s a mighty thin resume for a night watchman, let alone the President of the most powerful nation in the world.  Shouldn’t he be tested in the real world a bit more before he uses the US Presidency as his first job experience?

And it’s not just me being snarky.  Go back and read Bill’s words.  He couldn’t find a single substantive point to make about the guy — and he still went one better than his wife, who didn’t even try.

Hillary’s speech

We weren’t looking for it, but Mr. Bookworm accidentally stumbled across Hillary’s speech on TV.  I listened to a little and then, put off by her frenetic delivery, read the rest.  I have just a few of comments, since I don’t think it merits more than a few.

Hillary is not an inspired speaker, although she is a competent one.  My sense was that, in lieu of exciting ideas and genuine leadership, she substituted speed and volume.  I found it exhausting to listen to that hectoring list of all the miracles that will come unto earth if the Democrats can just retake the White House.  There was no passion there, just a laundry-listed frenzy.

On the subject of “inspiration,” this speech was anything but.  Instead, it was a generic political speech.  The references to Obama seemed to have been slotted in at strategic points, without actual regard for Obama.  Hillary could just as easily have said “Candidate X” without changing the content one iota.  There was a robotic quality to the fact that, each time Hillary had made a few points on the Democratic want list (universal healthcare, equal rights for everyone, an activist Supreme Court), she’d then throw in “and Obama can do this.”

The problem is that I never got from Hillary a sense of why Obama can do this (whatever “this” happens to be) — and given Obama’s record of failed initiatives, maybe silence was golden.  After all, Obama gets a quick start on everything but, once he’s achieved his goal (law review editor, law professor, State senator, United States senator) he does almost nothing or he fails in his initiatives.  His whole goal is getting there, not being there.  If he followed the first part of that pattern and did nothing in the White House, his tenure might be harmless.  On the other hand, if he followed the second part of that pattern and embarked on failed government handouts and boondoggles for his political friends, I can envision a very painful four years and a long national recovery.

Also, as is always the case with Democratic speeches, the maudlin hard luck tales creep me out.  I feel as if I’m listening to some presentation from a charity that is demanding my emotions and, most importantly, my money.  I don’t view government as a giant charity.  I view it as a infrastructure support service that should be minimally intrusive and minimally expensive.  I don’t need saccharine human interest stories — most of which I suspect are suspect — to define my government.  That’s the liberal fascism Jonah Goldberg wrote about, which envisions a smiley faced government that will take care of all human needs.  It’s not comforting, it’s frightening.

And that’s what I thought of Hillary’s speech.

It’s not that I don’t trust the AP’s conclusions, but….

I don’t have actual knowledge here.  I’m just wondering.

The lede from the AP is that the number of uninsured dropped by more than a million people last year:

The number of people without health insurance fell by more than 1 million in 2007, the first annual decline since the Bush administration took office, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday.

The AP attributes that decline to more government insurance, and AP may well be right, since I don’t have data documents in front of me:

The welcome news on health insurance coverage was tempered by the continued erosion of private coverage paid for by employers and individuals. Government programs — such as Medicaid for the poor — picked up the slack, resulting in the overall reduction in people without health insurance.

The uninsured rate also fell to 15.3 percent, down from 15.8 percent in 2006.

“Private insurance has been falling (and) public insurance definitely went up,” said David Johnson, who oversees the Census division that produced the statistics. The number of uninsured children also fell in 2007, after an increase in 2006 that had interrupted years of progress in getting more kids covered.

I wonder, though, if there’s not one other factor driving down the numbers of uninsured: the fact that illegal aliens are self-deporting as US immigration laws are finally getting enforced.  Interestingly, the rate of returning immigrants is just about the same as the drop in uninsured:

Illegal immigrants are returning home to Mexico in numbers not seen for decades — and the Mexican government may have to deal with a crush on its social services and lower wages once the immigrants arrive.

The Mexican Consulate’s office in Dallas is seeing increasing numbers of Mexican nationals requesting paperwork to go home for good, especially parents who want to know what documentation they’ll need to enroll their children in Mexican schools.

“Those numbers have increased percentage-wise tremendously,” said Enrique Hubbard, the Mexican consul general in Dallas. “In fact, it’s almost 100 percent more this year than it was the previous two years.”

The illegal immigrant population in the U.S. has dropped 11 percent since August of last year, according to the Center for Immigration Studies. Its research shows 1.3 million illegal immigrants have returned to their home countries.

I have no idea if there is any cause and effect at work here.  I just think it’s interesting.

Denver : Grease, the musical, redux

Interestingly, when I was in high school, I fell in love with the newly-released movie musical Grease. As someone who has always loved musicals, and who has a weakness for pop music with strong melody lines, it was right up my alley.  When I hear the songs now, I still enjoy them.  That’s why a year ago, when Grease was on TV, I watched it with an eye to sharing it with my then 10 year old daughter. While I still loved the music, I was shocked by how sleazy the show was, and would never dream of letting my daughter watch it at this age.

Why am I talking about Grease? Because Patrick at the Paragraph Farmer, has written a brilliant little post looking at the parallels between Grease‘s plot and song lyrics, and the events in Denver.  It’s clear that Grease is the word, in more than one way.

Cause — meet effect

Once again, a writer for the MSM leads with a sentence that implies that there is no causative relationship between two obviously related facts.  This from the San Francisco Chronicle:

California home sales surged last month even while prices plunged a record amount, as buyers snapped up bargains among the state’s hundreds of thousands of foreclosed and distressed properties, according to an industry trade group.

Had I written that sentence, it would have read as follows:

California home sales surged last month because prices have plunged a record amount….

Clash of the phobias

I can’t stand the sight of blood.  It was no fun, therefore, when I sliced the tip of my thumb off while preparing a roast for the slow cooker (or, to be more accurate, preparing the onions to go into the slow cooker with the roast).  It turned out not to be a serious cut, but I was worried that I would need stitches and, of course, I bled like a stuck pig.  Immediately upon cutting myself, I swathed my thumb in a paper towel, put pressure on it.  I then called my husband to look at it and assess the damage.  (See, that’s my phobia — I was afraid to examine it myself.)

My husband duly admired the cut and told me it wasn’t serious.  Nevertheless, since I was still bleeding, I still needed to keep the pressure on my thumb — something that took my right hand pretty much out of commission.  Since I was cooking time-sensitive food, and was in the middle of doing so, I asked my husband for a hand with the cooking, and that’s where his phobia arose.  My husband absolutely will not do any food preparation.  I eventually bullied him into turning over the roast (which I had searing in a pan preparatory to putting it in the slow cooker), but he immediately vanished after that.  He gets as squeamish around a stove top as I do around a bleeding wound.

All is well now.  I managed all right with one and a half hands, and I have to say that the pot roast smells divine.  I expect to dine well tonight and, considering the carpooling frenzy this afternoon will see, it will be wonderful to have dinner waiting at the end of it all.

Untraining Pavlov’s dog *UPDATED*

Was I the only one who found it hysterically funny that Nancy Pelosi, after building a political career on the cult of victimhood — especially women’s victimhood — is now snapping at all those well-trained victimized women to give it up and get with the program?

“I think that women, we have to get away from the politics of victim. This is about you go out there and you fight,” she said. “I think that what Hillary Clinton did was tremendous for the country. She has kicked open many doors, which now we have to bring many more women through, millions more women through. My being speaker of the House was breaking the marble ceiling in Congress, which is hard. Sen. Clinton [had] a bigger challenge to run for president of the United States. What we have to do now is say, we have to translate that not just for individuals, but for all women.”

It’s nice to see the victim concept step out from behind the curtain.  As you and I have long realized, it has nothing to do with ones actual status, and everything to do with where one stands vis-a-vis the Democratic Party and its goals.

(As a by the way, I’ve been reading a delightful book about Einstein, and I’ve learned a lot of about the theory of relativity.  I can assure you, therefore, that when Einstein talked about relativity, he wasn’t contemplating whether the Democratic Party thought you were for it or against it.)

On the same trained dog theory, is it any surprise that Barack Obama, running for President of this land, is trying to terrorize TV stations into pulling an ad reminding people of his close ties to a terrorist?  When you’re a Leftist, you never fight ideas with ideas (or with truth), you just bring in the big guns.  Of course, given that the truth, for Obama, can only hurt him, it’s probably not surprising that he’s opting for bullying and threats in the face of a very damaging ad.

Here’s one more piece of food for thought about that Ayers ad.  The same news article that describes Obama’s bullying tactics contains this line:  “Obama has denounced Ayers’ past activities.”  All well and good, but please note that Ayers himself has never apologized or expressed remorse.  To the contrary:  He’s proud of what he did, wishes he’d done more, and believes that the “in-America” terrorist fight should continue.  Given that Ayers is unrepentent, who cares that Obama has “denounced” the acts he committed in the 1960s?  What matters is that Obama is completely comfortable with someone who continues to hold radical, violent anti-American views.  Again, sometimes you just can’t untrain Pavlov’s dog.

UPDATE:  I knew I’d seen the Ayers ad somewhere, but couldn’t find it.  Power Line has a copy running, though, so here it is.  So far as I know, there is nothing in that ad that is untrue.