Re-building old stereotypes

When Hillary cried the first time, it apparently humanized her for some.  When she cried the second time, she began to look a little weak and self-centered.  And now that she’s cried the third time (this time, wisely, for someone other than herself) it seems to me she’s feeding into the worst old-fashioned stereotypes of what happens when you place women in politics.  This is starting to look like an old I Love Lucy episode only, instead of Lucy trying to wiggle out a tough spot with a sob and and “Oh, Ricky,” we’re getting Hillary doing dong the wiggling, with a pathetic “Oh, media!  Look at me.  I’m human.”

Are McCain and Hillary/Obama really the same?

I do wonder if my ability to accept McCain is fairly easy because I’m a pragmatist, a neocon or a simplistic thinker. The first is the argument I make: McCain’s not perfect, but he’s better than the Democratic candidates. The second argument is that, because I’m a neophyte conservative, I’m more easily able to back away from core conservative matters and contemplate a more liberal conservative (if that last isn’t an oxymoron). Maybe so. And finally, one could argue that I’ve just got a fairly primitive brain that can’t handle too many complex ideas.

For example, in comments to my posts about McCain, Earl has taken a very interesting, thoughtful and nuanced position. As I understand it, he feels that, if Hillary is in the White House, the Republicans in Congress will act as a strong bulwark against her more liberal policies. However, if McCain is in the White House, he’s inevitably going to drag these same Republicans to the Left, because they won’t be able to form a strong opposition — he is, after all, of their party — and there will be an inevitable drift into the Democratic camp. As for me, probably because I’m not a very nuanced thinker, while I can understand what Earl is saying, I just have a hard time envisioning it actually happening. I think that’s more a limitation in my thinking than a practical statement about the realities that we may face in 2009 if McCain is President. Nevertheless, for every person who thinks in the complex, strategic way that Earl does, I suspect that there are at least two blockheads like me who will be voting in the Fall.

Because Earl is looking beyond McCain and examining McCain’s interaction with Congress, I thought that William J. Bennett and Seth Leibsohn had a very interesting point about Congress’s impact, not on McCain, but on Hillary, who has suddenly become the candidate of choice for conservatives worried about McCain:

There is a great deal of difference between Senators McCain and Clinton (and Obama), and those records become important as we recognize a few simple facts: We are in an existential war against Islamic terrorists throughout the world. This very week, Senator Clinton was asked what her first act in office would be. She stated that first act would be the beginning of the withdrawal of our troops from Iraq within 60 days. Her first act. That is a surrender to the enemy — there is no other way to portray such a withdrawal and there is no other way it will be portrayed by our enemies and other observers around the world.

Some will say, “She can’t mean it, she’s stronger and more sensible than that.” Caution: Recall that Senator Clinton will be our commander-in-chief from a party that also runs the Senate and House — and the leadership in the Senate and House, not to mention the most active members in them, want us out of Iraq. Even on her most “sensible” day do we think she can be relieved of that pressure? The Democrats on the Hill have been chomping at the bit to make good on their 2006 promises; will she really turn on them? Can she?

In other words, if one assumes — as one must — that Congress will continue with a Democratic majority, even a small one, that majority will push the Commander in Chief — that is, Hillary — to exercise her unique prerogative to end the war. No Republican coalition, no matter how vocal and coordinated, can stop that from happening. Since I believe, as do Bennett and Leibsohn, that the War against Islamism is the most serious existential issue of our time, that’s kind of the end of the argument. Hillary = dangerous when it comes to Islamists; McCain = fairly solid when it comes to Islamists. (And maybe that’s the neocon in me speaking again.)

Bennett and Leibsohn are also more sanguine than are my “I’m an ardent conservative but will vote for Hillary” readers when it comes to the Supreme Court:

Second, we come to the realization that at least one Supreme Court justice is about to retire, and several others will be over age 70 come January 2009. Do we really think the nominees Senator McCain or Clinton (or Obama ) would appoint will be no different?

Let’s go to their records, to the very time-period opponents of Senator McCain cite in their indictment of him.

McCain voted to defund Planned Parenthood last year, Clinton didn’t and would likely expand Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer funding.

McCain voted to ban partial-birth abortion, Clinton didn’t and would likely reverse the partial-birth abortion ban.

McCain voted for Roberts and Alito and made the case for them in the media, Clinton didn’t.

And in recent spending votes, McCain is also distinguishable from the Democratic herd, even though he’s not as much as a hardliner as solid conservatives would wish:

McCain has never voted for a tax increase, Clinton will increase taxes.

McCain will continue the Bush tax cuts, Clinton will end them.

McCain will end pork-barrel spending, Clinton supports the endowment of projects like the Woodstock Museum with taxpayer funding.

Even on free speech, as to which McCain bears the huge black mark of McCain-Feingold, it will still be worse under Hillary: “McCain sponsored legislation to keep the Fairness Doctrine from rearing its head again, Clinton has not and has signaled moves to revive it.”

The differences that Bennett and Leibsohn point out between the two candidates go on and on and on. It’s worthwhile to read these differences because I think McCain has become something of a bogey-man. He’s certainly not a conservative purist, but he’s no liberal.

Also, as you read the comparisons, it’s important to keep in mind that we internet geeks are the ones who care most strongly about politics, so we’re most likely to stake out carefully thought through ideological positions that are probably going to be more . . . extreme? pure? rigid? Pick your word or add one of your own. The same doesn’t hold true for the vast number of voters, people who want someone who is pretty much like them on most issues, and who isn’t planning on walking away from a war or turning our laws over to the sharia courts. As for all the other issues? Well, as far as those voters are concerned, the other issues are for the blogosphere to argue about.

And as I’ve said in other posts, there is a very good chance that people are clustering in the McCain center because they find almost impossible to contemplate another four years (or more) of the intense political hostility that characterized both the Clinton and Bush presidencies.

I’ll give Bennett and Leibsohn the last word, one that looks to the two alternatives of a McCain presidency and that opts for the more optimistic one:

Let’s admit the concern: Some people predict that a President McCain will open the borders, close Guantanamo, and tie our policies to some false premises related to global warming. We hope he doesn’t, but even critics must admit it is just as likely — if not more so — that his legacy will be the following: He pursued al-Qaeda to the ends of the Earth and vanquished them; he cut deficit spending and vetoed pork-barrel spending over and over again; he appointed four good justices to the Supreme Court; and he reinvigorated a sense of thoughtful patriotism, citizenship, and unselfish devotion to the Republic.

The winner takes it all

I’ve read often, especially from liberals, and especially when they’re in a down cycle in elections, that America ought to have a parliamentary style democracy, where the representatives appear in proportion to their votes, as opposed to the American “winner take all” system.  The thing with the winner take all system, though, is that it provides a marvelous stability.  We have open elections, we have checks and balances, and we have winner takes it all.  In this way, we avoid the chaos, the collapsed governments, and the power brokering that plagues so many other countries (with England and Israel easily springing to mind).

I just got a another reminder of the virtues of the winner takes all system when I read the Captain’s post about the problem that will face the Democrats if Hillary and Obama are not able to pull away from each other in the coming weeks.  As you may recall, the Dems divvy up delegates, a la the European parliamentary style, while the Republicans assign whole states to a delegate, in the way of an American election:

For months, the media speculated that the Republicans might have to deal with a brokered convention, but their primaries are designed to avoid it. John McCain has likely taken a commanding lead in the race, and unless Mitt Romney can start churning out 3-1 wins in the remaining proportional states, he won’t have much hope in a convention fight, let alone an outright win.

Democrats have 4,049 delegate that will attend the convention, but 796 of these are superdelegates. That leaves 3,253 elected delegates, of which 1,291 have already been assigned to one of the candidates. That leaves 1,961 delegates left, and the winner has to have 2,025 to gain the nomination. Both Hillary and Obama would need almost 1,400 of them to win — or 69%.

One of them would have to start winning all the proportionally-allocated states by more than a 2-1 margin the rest of the way through the calendar, at least if they wanted to win without the superdelegates. That looks like a complete impossibility. The Democrats will have to either broker a deal between Hillary and Obama to avoid a floor fight, or they will have to have the party establishment pick the winner. And the closer the two candidates are at the end of the process, the more divisive that outcome will be.

Those kinds of headaches I, as a voter, can live without.

McCain is okay *UPDATED*

Now that McCain looks inevitable, I’m becoming sanguine. More than that, I’m hunting for his good points, and they are many:

1. He’s a hawk.

2. He will almost certainly nominate strict constructionist Supreme Court justices — and certainly more conservative than anyone Hillary or Obama would nominate.

3. He’s a hawk.

4. He claims to support lower, not higher taxes — unlike Obama and Hillary, who explicitly support higher taxes.

5. He’s a hawk.

6. He supports the Second Amendment — which Hillary and Obama most emphatically will not support.

7. He’s a hawk.

8. He’s pro-life, which is not a huge issue to me, but which is for many others — and Hillary and Obama are not.

9. He’s a hawk.

I’m going to ignore, because the above strengths are so important, his bad history and bad advisors when it comes to border control (and you know that’s a problem for me), because he’ll still be better than Hillary and Obama; as well as his dismal history on free speech, because he’ll still be better than Hillary and Obama.

Most importantly, give his real strengths, I’m going to focus on the fact that McCain can win. I can’t find the link now, but I definitely recall reading a week or so ago that, if the Presidential election were held right now, McCain would win. Certainly I know that Mr. Bookworm, staunch liberal though he may be, would vote for McCain over Obama. He’s terrified of Obama and would cross the aisle to vote against him. And given Hillary’s negatives, a lot of people would also cross the aisle.

I refuse to let the perfect become the enemy of the good. McCain is very much not perfect, but the good of America will not be served by seeing conservatives get into a snit and turn their back on the un-Hillary or un-Obama candidate. After all, this is how democracy works. Unlike other countries, where candidates are selected, we have the luxury of joining with our fellow citizens to select our own candidates. And if our fellow citizens, in their collective wisdom, select a centrist Republican rather than a conservative Republican, that’s our blessing and we have to live with it and optimize it.

One last thing: if McCain is inevitable, it does not behoove conservatives to alienate him. If top conservatives are too terrible to him and if, God willing, he beats Hillary/Obama, he may ending up feeling so hostile to his fellow conservative that he gets his revenge by closing the doors on them and turning to liberals for succor and advice.

UPDATE:  Here’s a comment that Mike Devx left at another post on this blog, and I think he’s absolutely right:

The level of hatred and vituperation against McCain is simply astonishing to me.  Politics is a rough-and-tumble business, but this level of divisiveness seems profoundly harmful to me.  I’d be personally comfortable with any of McCain, Romney, or Huckabee as the candidate, so I’m perhaps a terrible judge of this.

A few points:

McCain is staunchly pro-life and has promised to appoint conservative judges to the Supreme Court.  For abortion voters, what else could be more important?  Consider that Reagan had a less than stellar record on Supreme Court appointments.

McCain carried the water for George Bush on the Shamnesty bill.  This was George Bush’s baby too.  Yet all the criticism goes to McCain.  Hardly fair, and there is more than whiff of hypocrisy.  Bush was more than ready to sign the bill had it passed.  And Bush signed McCain-Feingold with nary a protest, too, of any sort.  And then there’s the Reagan Shamnesty…

McCain is NOT a higher-taxes politician.  He demands spending cuts in concert with tax cuts.  A tax cut without a spending cut amounts to little more than printing free money and saddling future generations with more debt.  Cuts in taxes do increase revenue, but there’s a limit.

The antagonism appears to be related entirely to the fact that he’s got no respect for the evangelical wing of the Republican party.  On all the issues themselves, it’s hardly clear to me that there’s a good reason for the level of hate when other Republicans, including President Bush, hardly come in for anything near that level of criticism.

If you want a Reaganism, here’s one: “Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican.”   The Slick Willie response to that is to declare the McCain is not a Republican.  I’m ashamed of that kind of facile, Clintonesque response at avoiding responsibility.

A distinction without a difference

I’ve noted before, based on instinct that, when it comes to substance, nothing distinguishes Obama and Clinton from each other, in that they’re each extremely liberal. That, I said, is why they’ve had to fall back so frantically on their racial and sexual identities. It’s not just the “identity politics” chickens coming home to roost; it’s also the only way you can tell the two apart. My instinct regarding this matter is right on the money: according to the National Journal’s nonpartisan rating of Congress people, both are to the far left politically.  In addition, “‘The policy differences between Clinton and Obama are so slight they are almost nonexistent to the average voter,’ said Richard Lau, a Rutgers University political scientist.”

Also according to the National Journal, McCain has a lifetime rating as a conservative, although he’s grown less conservative with the passage of time.  He is something of a centrist which means, ironically, that if he’s elected, he could be the uniter, which is the mantle Obama currently claims for himself.  That is, Obama speaks unity, but operates at the fringe.  McCain really does seem to function out of the center.

Hat tip: Captain’s Quarters

On McCain’s apparent front-runner status *UPDATED*

Compared to Romney, I don’t like McCain. Compared to Obama or Hillary, I adore McCain and would happily vote for him — heck, if I were voting in Chicago (home turf for both Obama and Hillary), I’d vote for him twice, and have my ancestors vote for him too. You dance with them whut brung ya’, and it looks as if McCain may be the Republican dance partner in the 2008 Presidential election.

So, if you’re one of those conservatives who who thinks McCain is too liberal (and, compared to your candidate of choice, whoever he is, I’m sure you’re right), or who worries about the Gang of 14 (although reading this may allay some of your concerns), or who hasn’t forgiven him for McCain-Feingold, or who just plain doesn’t like him — get over it! He may not be the perfect Republican candidate, but he’s so much better than either Hillary or Obama that it really doesn’t matter. If you believe in conservative principles and fear the fall-out from Democratic policies, you have what amounts to a moral obligation to get out there in November and vote for him. Do not, I repeat, do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Also, if it makes you feel better about casting your vote, there are some indications that he is truly a winning candidate. That is, you won’t be compromising your principles with a vote that is ultimately wasted. A Rasmussen poll that the Captain discusses has him beating out both Obama and Hillary if an election were held today. Now, that may change when one of the Dems emerges victorious from the primary process, in which case more voters may coalesce around the winner, but it’s still good news for those who feel that it’s as important for a Democrat to lose as for a Republican to win.

And if you think I’m being exceptionally vindictive in devoutly wishing for a Democratic loss, here’s my defense: While I think we as a nation are a robust enough to fix any economic messes the Democrats may cause, I also think that we have a one shot deal to remain ascendant when it comes to the World War that the Islamists are waging against us. If we have a Democrat in the White House, especially Obama who can’t get out of Iraq fast enough, we’ll have wasted that shot.

(I have to admit I’m not pleased with Michelle Malkin for hinting that she’d rather see Hillary win than help out McCain. Hmmm….)

UPDATEBig Lizards has a very compelling post about McCain’s charisma — an important intangible we often overlook.  I have to say that, when I catch McCain’s speeches on the radio, I enjoy listening, which is not something I can say about any other politician’s speeches, including those of my man Romney.

Eating our own *UPDATED*

I caught a minute of Mike Gallagher today, and he was talking about the fact that Republicans are more critical of Republican candidates than Democrats are critical of Democratic candidates. It occurred to me that, at least in this election cycle, that may be because there are real, substantive differences between the Republican candidates. We’ve got Ron Paul, who is a pure libertarian and possible white supremacist; John McCain, who is strong on defense, but weak on free speech, and spineless to environmental extremists; Mitt Romney, who has positioned himself as a traditional conservative who is for strong borders, a strong national defense, pro-life, etc., with a sound grasp of economic issues; Mike Huckabee, who is loudly Christian, a social conservative, and a big government liberal; and Rudy Giuliani, who is a social liberal and a hawk. With the exception of Ron Paul, all have had leadership experience, but of a very different type: McCain was in the military; Romney ran businesses and the Massachusetts government; Huckabee governed Arkansas; and Giuliani ran huge criminal prosecutions and New York. So, just as there are differences in their approach to conservative politics (and all are more conservative than not), there are also significant differences in their practical experience. Republicans have a real choice, and real choice begets real debate.

It’s different with the Dems. For one thing, none of them have any managerial experience. They’ve all been Senators, which means working with a group of 99 other people. None have them has taken the lead in the Senate, so they can’t even point to leadership experience in those august chambers. John Edwards has a bit more private sector experience than the other two but I can tell you that even the most successful lawyer cannot be compared to a manager. Managing a case is not the same as manager a system — whether that system is a business or a government. Obama was an academic, which is the antithesis of management, and Hillary was, well, Hillary managed Bill, I guess. They’re all good at manipulating people, Edwards because he’s a trial lawyer, and Obama and Hillary because they’re Alinsky disciples, but that’s not leadership or management. So, they’re pretty much the same looked at from that point of view.

In terms of politics, they’re peas in a pod: they want out of Iraq, they deny that Islamists pose a threat to America, they like open borders, and they want more government involvement in everything (parenting, health care, education, managing people’s money, controlling businesses, etc), which means more taxes on people they decide are “rich.”

The fact that Edwards, Obama and Hillary are virtually indistinguishable on paper may explain why identity politics has become so important. It’s not just Hillary’s dirty politics and it’s not just that the “identity politics” chickens are coming home to roost. The preeminence of racial or sexual identity in this race has become the only way you can tell one Democratic candidate from another. And poor Edwards, distinguished by being white and male, is precluded by political correctness from trumpeting that fact. In other words, identity, by being the only difference between the candidates, is also the only area of debate left for the Democrats. And it’s no surprise that it is in this area — the substance-free area that will have absolutely nothing to do with the way in which a Democrat, if victorious, will govern — that the Democratic debate has become most heated.

So, I guess I’m happy that Republicans are focused on substance, and using their free speech rights to hammer out important issues that will have a lasting effect on America (if a Republican wins). And I’m desperately sad that the cookie-cutter Democrats, in order to have a debate and distinguish themselves in the eyes of the voters, have almost completely backed off from any substantive issues (as to which they have no meaningful differences), and devolved into childish racial and gender name calling. If Americans elect one of them, the Country will deserve what it gets.

UPDATE: Regarding the enthusiasm gap the media professes to find between Dems and Republicans, if one does indeed exist, I suspect that has more to do with the enthusiasm Democratic voters have for a shot at the White House than with anything else. That is, I think that, even more than feeling excitement about their own candidates, Democrats are simply excited about a possible chance to defeat Republicans.

UPDATE II: For another reason why there might be an “enthusiasm gap,” keep in mind that, while Bush’s presidency is almost over, Bush Derangement Syndrome continues in full force. Indeed, with the inevitable end of his presidency drawing near, Bush haters seem to be drawing on after burners for some new energy.

Devoid of inspiration, so here’s Genesis

I’m summarizing deposition transcripts and it is a mind numbing experience, to say the least.  I’m also utterly uninspired by anything in today’s news.  For example, I believe Hillary when she says she has absolutely no memory of meeting Rezko.  It’s clearly an old photo (check out Hill’s hair); I’m sure she did take hundreds, if not thousands, of these “I met the President and his wife” photos; and she’d never have raised the matter against Obama if she thought it could bite her.  So no news here.  Everyone move along.

As for the upset about the polite Republican debate, why are people fussing?  I think it’s great.  I want to elect the candidate who can best beat the Democrats, not the candidate who can be nastiest to his fellow Republicans — especially since that same nastiness can later be used as fodder by the Dems during the general election.  It’s great that they were talking about their experience and abilities and comparing those to Hillary’s lack of same.  The only thing about which I quibble is that they failed to attack the Democratic agenda more globally.  It would have been smarter than piling on Hillary.

And now, with a brain sucked completely dry by depositions that leave me wondering if my side or the other side in the case boasts the more skilled sociopathic liar (since they’re all spinning whoppers), I give you Genesis:

Slogans for Democrats *UPDATED*

Okay, this is my third try at this post, because WordPress has eaten the previous two attempts (which accounts for the low level of blogging this morning).

I was listening to Dennis Prager yesterday, and he was fulminating about the calls for “unity” that are echoing through the Democratic side of the spectrum, especially with reference to Obama. As Prager has pointed out before, and as I have blogged about before, “unity” is Democratic code for “agree with me or else.” There is no evidence that the Democrats have any desire to find common ground, and it’s questionable whether there is common ground on such contentious issues as Iraq and abortion. Likewise, the hope that Democrats will “end dogma” is equally laughable. Do the Dems and their sycophants in the media really want to end all fixed doctrine? Fine, I guess we no longer have to hew to such dogmatic ideas as “all people are created equal,” “equal pay for equal work,” or “no taxation without representation.”

Listening to these vapid platitudes, it occurred to me that I could do better — or come up with something at least as good as what’s currently emanating from the Dems. You too should feel free to join in:

“Now more than ever!”

“Peace through harmony!”

“Prosperity through wealth!”

And as you think about those slogans, take a minute to read this Spiegel article proposing a Clinton-Obama ticket for ’08. The author thinks it would be a fantastic ticket, not because of any harmony of ideas or style, but because it would neatly tag all identity politic demographics. It envisions the perfect election cycle for Democrats, where they don’t have to address the issues at all — they can just stand there and be. (What’s really scary is I heard precisely this idea voiced with great approval at my bus stop a couple of months ago. The neighborhood consensus was that this was a ticket they could go for.)

UPDATE:  And here’s an article that perfectly describes the world behind the Democratic slogans.

Hitchens is almost right

Christopher Hitchens is totally right when he notes that Mike Huckabee’s defense of the Confederate flag harmonizes perfectly with racist views.  That is, a person could argue that the defense of the flag is all about States’ rights, but the fact is that the Confederate flag is so inextricably intertwined with the KKK and Jim Crow that such an argument is stupid or disingenuous at best, and fraudulent at worst.  Hitchens is also right that the press gave Huckabee a pass for this nasty remark.  Assuming that the pass was deliberate, and that the Huckabee story didn’t simply get swamped by the infinitely more fascinating fight between Clinton and Obama, one has to ask why the press was so passive.  Hitchens thinks it’s because it was afraid of offending racist Southern rednecks:

But when real political racism rears its head, our easily upset media falls oddly silent. Can you guess why? Of course you can. Gov. Huckabee is the self-anointed candidate of the simple and traditional Christian folk who hate smart-ass, educated, big-city types, and if you dare to attack him for his vulgarity and stupidity and bigotry, he will accuse you of prejudice in return. What he hopes is that his neo-Confederate sickness will become subsumed into easy chatter about his recipes for fried squirrel and his other folksy populist themes. (By the way, you owe it to yourselves to watch the exciting revelations about his squirrel-grilling past; and do examine his family Christmas card while you’re at it.) But this drivel, it turns out, is all a slick cover for racist incitement, and it ought not to be given a free pass.

I actually don’t think that’s the case.  Just as I’d prefer Hillary to win the Democratic primaries because I think she’ll be easier to beat than Obama, the press would prefer that Huckabee win the Republican primaries, because they know he’ll go down in flames in the Presidential election.  That’s why they’ve handled him with something approaching TLC — he’s their favored candidate because he’ll lose.

Speaking of different press approaches to the different parties and their candidates, Patrick, my favorite Paragraph Farmer, has an elegantly written article up at the American Spectator examining the way in which reporters delve deep into Romney’s and Huckabee’s theological beliefs (something that may be fair game because their beliefs stand out), while treating with kid gloves rather unusual theological revelations from candidates on the left.  Even if one pulls back from specific theological peculiarities, there is no doubt that the press has carefully ignored Hillary’s politically activist Methodism, which has more to do with socialism than God, and Obama’s truly unfortunate, and very strong, ties to a black supremacist church.  Likewise, a speech from a pulpit is non-news if you’re on the Left, and a threat to the separation of church and state if you’re on the right.  Double standards, anybody?

When identity politics attack *UPDATED*

Noemie Emery perfectly summarizes the nightmare the Dems have created for themselves:

Sometime back in the 1990s, when the culture wars were the only ones we thought we had going, a cartoon showed three coworkers viewing each other with narrowed and questioning eyes. “Those whites don’t know how to deal with a competent black man,” the black man is thinking. “Those guys don’t know how to deal with a powerful woman,” the woman is thinking. And what could the only white male have been thinking? “They don’t like me. They know that I’m gay.”

So far as we know, there are no gays in the mixture today, but the cartoon nicely captures what the Democrats face as they try to wage a political war in the age of correctness, which is, they are finding, an impossibility. The Democrats are the party of self-conscious inclusion, of identity politics, of sensitivity training, of hate crimes, hate speech, and of rules to control them. A presidential campaign, on the other hand, is nothing but “hate speech,” as opponents dive deep into opposition research, fling charges true, half-true, and simply made up against one another in an attempt to present their rivals as slimy, dishonest, disreputable, dangerous, and possibly the worst human beings who ever drew breath.

This has been true of this country’s politics since at least 1800, when John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were vilified roundly, and has gone on ever since–an accepted and even a much-loved tradition. Until recently, it went on without murmur, as all the main contestants for president were white Anglo-Saxon Protestant males, with the exception of Michael Dukakis and three Roman Catholics, two of whom looked like WASPs. Now, however, in its campaign season from hell, the party of sensitivity has found itself in a head-banging brawl between a black man and white woman, each of them visibly loathing the other, in a situation in which anything said in opposing one of the candidates can be defined as hateful, insensitive, hurtful, demeaning, not to say bigoted, and, worst of all, mean. Looking ahead to the general election, Democrats were prepared to describe any critique made of Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton as an example of the racism and sexism that they like to believe permeates the Republican universe. But this was before their own race became quite so close, and so spirited. They never seem to have stopped to think what might occur if they turned their sensitivity bludgeons against one another. They are now finding out.

You’ll want to read the whole thing, which you can find here.

UPDATE: And here is precisely what Emery and I predicted, which is that the give and take of politics is dead, because you’re not allowed to attack Obama (just as you weren’t allowed to attack Hillary and make her cry):

The bitter back-and-forth between former President Bill Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama has led a prominent black lawmaker to tell the former president Monday to “chill a little bit.”

The two Democratic front-runners, Illinois Sen. Obama and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, are locked in a battle for the key South Carolina primary this Saturday.

As their campaign sparring continues, the Illinois senator seems to be spending almost as much time responding to Hillary Clinton’s husband as he does to the candidate herself.

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, one of the most powerful African-Americans in Congress, weighed in on the feud Monday, saying it was time for Bill Clinton to watch his words.

Hillary will be a better opponent for the Republican candidate because she is so strident and disliked, it will be okay to attack her in the ordinary rough and tumble of an election. Obama will be a disaster for the Republican candidate, because he’ll be untouchable.

What to expect from a Hillary White House

I meant to blog about this last week and never got around to it, “this” being the fact that Judicial Watch finally obtained just a few of the 3 million pages of hidden documents related to Hillary’s ill-fated attempt to nationalize health care.  Actually, I wasn’t going to blog at all.  Instead, I was going to send you to the Captain’s Quarters to see what he had to say on the subject.  Given Hillary’s pattern and practice over the decades, what is revealed probably won’t surprise you too much:  rather than allow a debate on the merits, Hillary and her minions were trying to figure out ways to use the federal government to smear opponents so that they would be afraid or unable to challenge the task force’s recommendations.  So, in a way, it’s not news, it’s just more of the same.

What is a bit more newsworthy, and it’s something the Captain blogs about this week, is the fact that the MSM has resolutely ignored these documents.  Considering that she is the Democratic front runner today,  and that there has actually emerged a White House record on which she can run (since she’s boasted about her White House experience), one might think the press would be interested.  And if one thought that, one might be wrong.  Here’s a very upset Captain on the problem with our Fourth Estate:

Where are the media organizations that style themselves as the bulwark against governmental abuses of power? Why haven’t they reported on these memos, which clearly delineate a type of attack on government opposition that hasn’t been this baldly proposed since the Nixon administration? Given Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the presidency — one on which she relies on her experience in her husband’s administration for her qualifications — isn’t all of this terribly relevant to the question of how she will run the White House, and what kind of treatment her critics can expect to receive?

The silence from the Fourth Estate is deafening. It screams either cowardice or collaboration.

Obama, Israel and the Jews

If you’re a liberal Jewish voter, and tremendously excited about Obama’s candidacy as the fulfillment of the civil rights movement, slow down, Pardner.  Jews have always assumed that, because they supported the civil rights movement with enthusiasm and hard work, there would be a quid pro quo by which blacks, recognizing Jews as fellow victims, would be equally supportive of Jewish issues.  Jews have held to this viewpoint despite regularly occurring proof of the fact that African-Americans, perhaps resentful of having to share the “victim” limelight with the Jews, are not supportive of Jews or Jewish causes.  Nowhere is this more apparent than in Obama himself, a man who has aligned himself with anti-Semitic churches and causes his entire adult life.  If you think this will change when he reaches the White House, I would suggest that you think again.  And if you believe that Israel, a small island of democracy surrounded by hostile tyrannical nations should exist without anyone questioning her legitimacy, you may not want to vote for Obama.  (Of course, if Israel’s security matters to you, you also might want to rethink any vote for Hillary, either — not just because she mouths the usual liberal pieties about a Palestinian state, but because she kissed Suha Arafat immediately after the latter spouted vicious antisemitic lies.)

It’s the economy, Stupid!

The title of my post should ring a few bells in the minds of those old enough to vote in 1992. It was, after all, Bill Clinton’s official campaign theme (with “I feel your pain” being the unofficial theme). Perhaps the economy will be the undoing of Hillary’s campaign — although it should, by the same measure, be the undoing of the Obama campaign, or any Democratic campaign. Here’s the Captain:

Which spectre haunts financial advisers the most? Terrorism? Global unrest? Not even close. According to a survey of over 200 financial advisers taken in December, their biggest worry is that Hillary Clinton will win the presidential election in November:

Nothing worries financial advisers more than the prospect of a Democrat’s being elected president in November, according to a quarterly poll by Brinker Capital Inc.The fourth-quarter edition of the Brinker Barometer, which polled 236 advisers in December, found that 22% indicated that a “Democrat in the White House” worried them more than all other economic or geopolitical concerns.

Rounding out the list of concerns was “global unrest” (15%), “U.S. economic growth” (15%), “a terrorist attack” (13%) and “a recession” (13%).

They’re less concerned about recession than dealing with the economic policies of a new Clinton administration. They fear that a big increase in taxes will erode equity investments, especially given the proclivity of Democrats to target equity funds for new taxes to pay for their increased spending. Eighty-one percent feel that Democrats will raise capital gains taxes, income taxes, and dividends.

Interestingly, Rudy Giuliani gets the biggest endorsement in the survey. One might have expected Mitt Romney, with his extensive experience in investments, would have generated the most enthusiasm.

Real malevolence towards the Clintonistas

The news story, trumpeted at Drudge, is that Sidney Blumenthal, one of the Clintons’ attack dogs and a current Hillary advisor, was arrested for some seriously bad driving in New Hampshire: going 70 in a 30 mile an hour zone, weaving wildly, and stopping erratically. Although he refused to take a Breathalyzer test, he unsurprisingly failed a field sobriety test, and one can make a pretty good guess that he was, indeed, drunk of his a** when stopped. To me, it’s just another story of a famous person with a mug shot. What I found infinitely more fascinating were the comments people left, comments oozing hostility to the Clintons as well as to Blumenthal, along with a few sad comments from people who suffered serious injury or lost loved ones at the hands of people who had previous DWI arrests, but nevertheless ended up back on the road. Here are just a few samples of the anti-Clinton animus this story generated: [Read more...]

The politics of perpetual outrage

As many have commented before, and as I’ve commented here, politics is ever more becoming a process of analyzing ones own “feelings,” rather than actually looking at the candidates’ positions and history. Hillary bore the brunt of just the latest “you hurt my feelings” attack against her (which is a nice irony, I guess, because it was her husband who trail blazed the emotional style of politicking). This political kerfuffle arose, as far as I can see, because a South Carolina leader was personally offended that Hillary didn’t hit precisely the right note when speaking of Martin Luther King:

As the issue of race takes centre stage in the Democratic presidential contest, Barack Obama had a boost yesterday as he and Hillary Clinton compete for black and Hispanic votes.

In South Carolina, scene of a key showdown on January 26, where half the Democratic electorate are African Americans, one of the state’s most influential black congressmen hinted that he might endorse Mr Obama. He said he was angered by what he claims were were dismissive comments about Martin Luther King by Mrs Clinton.

James Clyburn, the highest-ranking African American in Congress and a veteran of the civil rights movement, referred to comments made by Mrs Clinton on Monday, the day before her stunning comeback in New Hampshire set up a brutal nomination battle with Mr Obama.

Mrs Clinton, trying to make a point about presidential leadership and Mr Obama’s constant references to Dr King, the civil rights icon, said: “Dr King’s dream began to be realised when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It took a president to get it done.”

In fact, while I agree with little Hillary has to say, she was right in this case. King was the standard bearer for the desegregation battle but he was not, in fact, the one who accomplished desegregation at the federal. That job did, in fact, belong to the federal government, with Congress passing an act that Johnson then signed. For Clyburn to take umbrage at Hillary’s pointing out a historical reality, and to use that as the basis for withdrawing his support is the politics of the personal taken to the point of idiocy. It’s one thing to disagree with Hillary because you don’t believe her future plans or past practices provide the political benefits you desire; it’s another thing entirely to turn your back on her because you think that, by stating a historical fact, she damned with faint praise someone whose memory you think you own.

UPDATE: And more of the same:

A series of comments from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, her husband and her supporters are spurring a racial backlash and adding a divisive edge to the presidential primary as the candidates head south to heavily African-American South Carolina.

The comments, which ranged from the New York senator appearing to diminish the role of Martin Luther King Jr. in the civil rights movement — an aide later said she misspoke — to Bill Clinton dismissing Sen. Barack Obama’s image in the media as a “fairy tale” — generated outrage on black radio, black blogs and cable television. And now they’ve drawn the attention of prominent African-American politicians.

“A cross-section of voters are alarmed at the tenor of some of these statements,” said Obama spokeswoman Candice Tolliver, who said that Clinton would have to decide whether she owed anyone an apology.

“There’s a groundswell of reaction to these comments — and not just these latest comments but really a pattern, or a series of comments that we’ve heard for several months,” she said. “Folks are beginning to wonder: Is this really an isolated situation, or is there something bigger behind all of this?”

In a race that’s getting bogged down in ugly racial overtones, everyone involved in this fight would do well to remember King’s words:

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

Of course, considering how little character the involved parties seem to be able to rustle up amongst themselves, maybe it’s no surprise that this is where things have ended up.

A little perspective on inevitability *UPDATED*

Democrats are euphoric and Republicans are panicking: Obama is inevitable. But not so fast, mes amis, says William Katz, looking back in time. In the rough and tumble world of American politics, nothing is inevitable and voters are never predictable. Since Mr. Katz’s hyperlinks are not working, let me quote for you here his entire post about the myth of political inevitability, a myth that starts with Hillary herself:

In the profound words of that late, great philosopher and student of human affairs, George Gobel, can we just wait a gosh-darned second, just a gosh-darned second? The way the press is reporting it, you’d think Senator Obama was about to be crowned rather than elected, and would then take time away from the White House to compete in all the events at the 2010 Olympics, including ice dancing.

Any candidate, including Mr. Obama, is beatable. It wasn’t more than a month ago that Hillary Clinton had a lock. Some of us recall President Tom Dewey, who was already being called “Mr. President” before the uncooperative voters of 1948 made their choice. Lincoln thought he would sink in 1864. Some around Jack Kennedy thought the same about 1964, especially if stories of Kennedy’s womanizing came to light. Even Ronald Reagan gave us a scare when he faltered during his first debate with Walter Mondale in 1984.

But the greatest caution against assigning god-like qualities to candidates involves 1944. Franklin D. Roosevelt, the war leader, was running for his fourth term. The election was held five months after D-Day. Victory in both Europe and the Pacific was in sight. Many could not conceive of a wartime America without Roosevelt at the helm. Even the Republicans cooperated, pulling their punches during the campaign as they bowed to the need for unity in war. Roosevelt’s opponent was the aforementioned Tom Dewey, making his first run for the presidency. Governor of New York, colorless, he hardly cut the figure of a man born to lead armies. With his mustache, he was often called “the man on the wedding cake.” This guy would tell MacArthur and Eisenhower what to do?

Well, Roosevelt did win, but ponder this: Tom Dewey got 46 percent of the vote. Almost one of two Americans voted against the man who epitomized “commander in chief.” The Battle of the Bulge, with its terrible setbacks and awful American casualties, began a bit more than a month after the election. Had it begun six weeks earlier, who knows how Americans would have reacted? It could have been Dewey announcing the defeat of the Axis the next year.

So, may we have some reason, please? Mr. Obama may win his party’s nomination. The entire electorate will have something to say in November. The word “inevitable” does not exist in politics.

UPDATE:  Mark Stricherz offers a little more historical perspective on inevitability.

Still waiting for the dust to settle *UPDATED*

The talk amongst the Moms is the neighborhood is “Will this vacation never end?” Actually, it will, but only tomorrow, so I’m still marking time. This morning, I got the kids rallied and we scrubbed the house from top to bottom — almost. I was about to vacuum, when I suddenly had a deluge of neighborhood kids and decided that the smarter thing would be to vacuum after they left. I impressed upon all of them that terrible things would happen, though, if they made a mess in the house, so they’re all playing rather peacefully right now.

I haven’t yet had the chance to do my morning reading, and probably don’t have the full complement of brain cells to make anything of any reading anyway — which is a rather scary though when you think that I’m about to embark on some heavy duty legal research regarding the true meaning behind some completely unintelligible statutes. Nor do I think the statutes’ unintelligibility is a coincidence. They all show up in the statutory material that governs suing State government, and I have no doubt that the Legislature made the material impenetrable to ensure that unwitting claimants will invariably have committed a procedural error that enables the Court to do some equitable calculations when deciding whether to keep or not keep the case. That is, because the statutes are intentionally fuzzy, the Court can decide whether it’s a good case or not, and then use the fuzzy rules either to give the case a pass or dismiss it — right at the get go, without the necessity for any other procedural or substantive motions. Since my client is a state employee who is being sued, I’m hoping that the Court decides the case against him is a bad one and uses the rules in his favor.

Since I’m not offering anything useful here, let me direct you to Blackfive (thanks Y, for the tip), which has a great two part post. The first part tricks the mind, and the second part points out the sleight of hand Hillary is trying to get past voters. (And please remember, that much as I seriously dislike Hillary, I still find her the better candidate than either Obama or Silky Pony, given that I think she’s vicious enough to wage war against Islamists, while the other two can rise to some serious nastiness, but are incapable of a fight.)

Oh, one other thing! The Anchoress has proven that she is not only intelligent and witty, but also prescient. On January 2, 2008 (that is, almost a week ago), she wrote these words:

What I dread most in this political season is the “genuine” moment – and it is coming, soon, sometime between today and tomorrow, or tomorrow and New Hampshire – when Mrs. Clinton, in her ongoing effort to turn herself into whatever the polls says she must be, cries in public. It’s going to be genuinely ghastly.

And today, this is in the news:

ABC News’ Kate Snow Reports: Campaigning in New Hampshire one day before the first-in-the-nation primary, Senator Hillary Clinton got emotional and had tears in her eyes as she spoke with voters about how hard it is to balance a busy campaign life and her passion for the country’s future.

The Senator from New York was sitting at a big table in Cafe Espresso in Portsmouth, New Hampshire with 16 undecided voters, mostly women, warmly and calmly taking questions.

Then she took an unexpected question from a woman standing in the back.

“My question is very personal, how do you do it?” asked Marianne Pernold Young, a freelance photographer from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. She mentioned Clinton’s hair and appearance always looking perfectly coifed. “How do you, how do you keep upbeat and so wonderful?”

Clinton began responding, jokingly. First talking about her hair: “You know, I think, well luckily, on special days I do have help. If you see me every day and if you look on some of the websites and listen to some of the commentators they always find me on the day I didn’t have help. It’s not easy.”

But then, Clinton began getting emotional: “It’s not easy, and I couldn’t do it if I didn’t passionately believe it was the right thing to do. You know, I have so many opportunities from this country just don’t want to see us fall backwards,” she said.

Her voice breaking and tears in her eyes, she said, “You know, this is very personal for me. It’s not just political it’s not just public. I see what’s happening, and we have to reverse it.”

Oh, ick! Actually, I’ll give Hillary credit for really feeling those emotions. In her own mind, she’s been Queen of America since 1992, and she must have been very certain that the voters would officially crown her in 2008. For her to suffer this kind of set-back must be devastating. I do not believe, though, that she’s going to drop out. Hillary’s style is to fight back and to do so using my favorite Hillary tactic: viciousness. She’s going to make mincemeat of Obama before she’s done. Indeed, I’m kind of willing to bet that she’s willing to destroy the entire Democratic field through dirty fighting, rather than to retreat peaceably.

UPDATE:  Regarding Hillary’s capacity to think more intelligently about Iraq than her fellow Dems, see the first item in today’s Best of the Web.

Not a good sign

It seems to be me a bit desperate that the Clinton campaign is using her Mommy to promote her worthiness for presidential office. Unless you’re a truly dreadful person — and, sometimes, even if you are a monstrous person — your Mom is the person who will always step up to bat for you. The whole concept makes it look as if Hillary can’t find anyone else to speak up on her behalf.

UPDATE:  This little squiblet got picked up at Patrick Ruffini’s 2008 Presidential Wire.  If you think it deserves more prominence there, click here.

Render unto Caesar that which is Caesars….

I went to law school in the Bible Belt, so many of my fellow students were devout Christians. Thomas, however, out-Christianed everyone. His parents were missionaries, and he’d been raised with a level of faith no one else at the school could equal. He was one of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet, a truly Christian person in the best sense of the word, but he was also quite unworldly. It was this latter quality that came to the fore when it was time for us to take the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (or, as we called it, the MPRE). This exam is a prerequisite for practicing in just about every state in America, or at least that was the case a couple of decades ago.

The MPRE tests students on generic rules (as opposed to state-specific rules) of professional responsibility. These rules cover such scintillating topics as engaging in business transactions with ones clients, billing, dealing with clients who are deadbeats, the proper ways to approach the Court, conflicts of interest, and other wonderfully arcane topics that tend to have a surprisingly large effect on the average lawyer’s work day.

With one exception, everyone in my graduating class paid $200 dollars and trooped off to a one day review session in order to prepare for the MPRE. That one exception, of course, was Thomas. He announced to anyone who asked that he didn’t need to take a class in professional responsibility because the Bible taught him everything he needed to know about ethics.

I’m sure that, by this point, it won’t surprise you to hear that Thomas was the only student in our year (indeed, the only student in law school history) to fail the MPRE exam. The Bible did not prepare him at all for picayune rules about the proper way in which to handle retainers or the balancing of interests that needs to be done in taking on two similarly situated, but not identical, clients. In other words, Thomas’ deep and strong morality had nothing to do with procedural rules for being a lawyer in the modern era.

I’ve been thinking about Thomas a lot in connection with Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney. The fact that Huckabee is a devout Christian is turning a lot of equally devout Christian voters his way. With Mitt, we see the reverse. Because he is a devout Mormon, devout Christians are rejecting him. As regards Mitt, I have heard from Christians who believe that any man who makes a profound doctrinal error cannot be trusted with any other task. Conversely, because Huckabee is on the right path doctrinally, they’re convinced that this will lead him automatically towards being a good national executive.

Thinking about these viewpoints, I can’t help but feel that people who are imposing a religious test on these two candidates are making the same mistake Thomas did: they think that reading the Bible the right way is sufficient to getting the task done, forgetting that some tasks have different rules. This is not to say, of course, that one must abandon ones Biblically-based morality and ethics. It is to say, however, that a deep knowledge of the Bible won’t get you through all of the necessary tasks of a specific job — especially the President’s job.

When you separate Mitt’s and Mike’s theology out from their political values and abilities, you get a rather different picture. I’m the first to admit that Mike is a charming, witty, Biblically erudite man. I also freely acknowledge that his values are entirely consistent with the values that social conservatives espouse, especially when it comes to abortion. However, there is no doubt that he is a tax and spend politician who believes that the government should use its power to coerce people into engaging in government approved behaviors — which is fine, perhaps, if Mike is the government and you agree with his ideas. It becomes a fearsome precedent, however, if the subsequent President is say, Obama, Hillary or Edwards, all of whom have freely admitted that they want to use government coercion on citizens, usually in ways that are disagreeable to conservatives. (Here are just the two most recent examples of Edwards, Hillary and Obama in nanny state mode.)

As for Mitt, even if you find his theology loopy, you have to agree that his end point is pretty consistent with the same end point a traditional Biblical Christian reaches, with the added bonus that he is an economically conservative Republican. I’ll offer just two examples of his social conservatism. The first is the wonderful answer he gave during the BoobTube debates to the question about black on black crime. Rather than coming out with just another tired old chestnut about throwing more money into black communities, something that hasn’t made a positive difference in the last 40+ years, he made a values statement: we need to encourage intact families amongst blacks:

YouTube question: Hi, this is me and my son Prentiss. We’re from Atlanta. I want to ask you guys a question (inaudible) every year. But what about the war going on in our country, black on black crime? Two hundred to 400 black men die yearly in one city alone. What are you going to do about that war? It feels like the (inaudible) is right outside.

Cooper: He’s talking about black-on-black crime, crime in the inner cities.

Governor Romney?

Romney: Well, first of all, Printes is pretty fortunate because he’s got a dad standing next to him that apparently loves him by all appearances there, and that’s probably the best thing you can do for a kid is to have a mom and a dad.

(Applause)

And it’s time in this country that we go back to the kind of values that allow kid to have moms and dads. In the African-American community today, 68 percent of kids born are born out of wedlock. And so we’re going to try and once again reinculcate in this country the try of values that have made us so strong: family values.

The second example is his pro-Life stance. I happen to know that many of you are suspicious because he came to it late in the day, but I’m not inclined to hold that against him, because my views have shifted so dramatically on the subject. For me, the moment came when I saw the first ultrasound of my first baby, aged 16 weeks. It was so clearly a baby, with a little spine like a string of pearls. Before that moment, I’d truly never connected the “fetus” with a baby. Growing up in liberal land, with the focus on “me, me, me (the woman),” I’d managed to avoid the obvious connection. If I were to get pregnant now, even though my pregnancies are Hell and I don’t want another child, I’d do something that would never have occurred to me 20 years ago: I’d stay pregnant. People change and Mitt ought to get the benefit of the doubt on this. In any event, the most important thing he can do, since he can’t set abortion policy (that’s not the White House’s job), is appoint conservative justices, who will read the Constitution as written and not snatch rights out of thin air.

Dennis Prager likes to say (and I’m paraphrasing) that we have to look more to what people do, and less to what animates their actions. Whatever path Mitt has taken, he has arrived at a spot where he is a pretty rock solid conservative candidate, both socially and economically. And whatever path Mike has taken, he has arrived at a spot where he is a rock solid conservative socially, but a flat-out liberal in terms of economics and nanny-state government policies. Also, unlike Mitt, Mike is unelectable. As a former liberal, I can assure you that anyone who espouses his religious views and calls himself a Republican (despite his Democrat proclivities) is more unpalatable to the average liberal even than George Bush was. In other words, a vote for Mike is a vote for Hillary, Obama or Edwards. And a vote for any one of those three will see outcomes that will make most conservatives, whether social or economic (or both) very, very unhappy.

“Youths” honor decedents of “ethnic descent” by continuing to attack French police

I kid you not — the language I put in quotations in this post caption is the precise language the BBC uses to describe those who are engaged in a little bit of urban unrest In France. You know, the kind of innocuous urban rioting that results in more than 80 policeman being injured from beatings and bullets. Here, let me show you:

At least 10 cars have been burned and a fire broke out at a library in Toulouse, southern France, following consecutive nights of rioting in Paris.

There was also more violence in the capital as youths set cars on fire in the suburb of Villiers-le-Bel, the Associated Press news agency reports.

***

Relatives of the two dead teenagers, who were both from ethnic minorities, have insisted that police rammed their motorcycle before leaving them to die. (Emphasis mine.)

And that’s it. That’s all the information the BBC is going to give you about those rioters. But in this internet day and age, “ve haf vays” of finding out more information, even though it’s tough, very tough to do so. The Bloomberg report, for example, coyly hints at the ethnic nature of the “unrest” (Bloomberg’s word, not mine), by stating that “In France, poor neighborhoods and housing projects where many immigrants live tend to be far from city centers.” Hmm. Immigrants from where, I wonder? But we’re putting the pieces together. We’ve now got immigrant communities with people of ethnic descent.

AP, surprisingly is fairly forthright about the nature of the suburbs in which this year’s batch of riots is taking place, although it can’t resist implying that the poor innocents doing the attacking are doing so righteously because of their alienation: “The unrest showed that anger still smolders in France’s poor neighborhoods, where many Arabs, blacks and other minorities live largely isolated from the rest of society.” And again, “Youths, many of them Arab and black children of immigrants, again appeared to be lashing out at police and other targets seen to represent a French establishment they feel has left them behind.”

I’m sorry to say that the British paper The Independent is no help at all. While it boldly calls the youthful attacks on police something akin to “guerrilla warfare,” it places the blame firmly where it belongs: on the police. You see, last year, long after the riots ended, it turned out that the two youths who were electrocuted had been acting innocently when the police chased them into the power substation, knowing it was dangerous. (It does not appear that this was known when the actual riots happened, of course.) In other words, The Independent agrees with AP that the current crop of youths is righteously upset about the two kids killed while on the motor scooters, clearly justifying anarchy.

So, both at home and abroad, the MSM narrative is as follows: Young people are rioting in Paris and, in true “if it bleeds it leads” tradition, the news reports will happily tell you that they’re organized, they’re armed, and they’re incredibly aggressive, so much so that scores of police have been injured, and we’re not even talking property damage. If you insist on knowing more about who these people are, we’ll hint that they’re friends of youths of ethnic descent, and that they live in neighborhoods that have primarily Arab and African immigrants and their children.

If you suspect that part of the problem might be that these Arab and African immigrants are Muslim, please be assured that you are wrong. In the ponderous language of social scientists, the reporters will assure you that the riots/unrest/guerrilla warfare problem is entirely due to (1) the government’s treating these youths badly and (2) the fact that it emerged after last year’s riots that the police might have lied about their run-in with two of these same types of youths.

By the way, I don’t have any doubt but that part of the reason — even a large part of the reason — that these riots happen is because French society, indeed most European society, is set up so that there is no path to integration and assimilation for immigrants. That societal failure to absorb immigrants means that they’re going to be sitting in slums that become powder kegs of anger, unrest and, eventually, violence. Believing that, though, doesn’t mean that I don’t also believe that another, possibly significant, part of the problem is that there is a connection in this day and age between Muslims and violence. And when news reports play so coy, rather than my ending up believing that Islam has nothing to do with the violence, I tend to believe that Islam does have something to do with the violence and that the press is simply avoiding an issue it does not want to address.

And by the way, this kind of media avoidance syndrome — where you have to read through scads of articles to gather the puzzle pieces that shape the whole picture — is not limited to youth violence. Over at Big Lizards, Dafydd has taken the time to investigate the hidden, and very sordid, connection between the Clintons and InfoUSA, with the latter being a database marketer that knowingly sells information about vulnerable populations (the old and the sick) to organizations that run scams on these same people. He’s also taken the time to smell a rat in the article that purports to show a racist/religious-ist Romney refusing to contemplate the possibility of a Muslim holding a high government position in his administration. (Note to MSM types: it’s the carefully placed ellipses that always end up giving you away.)

My bottom line to the media: either report the news or stop pretending that you do.

UPDATE: It’s currently hidden behind the WSJ’s subscription wall, but John Fund has written a great article about Nancy Pelosi’s current effort to make America more like France by working to ensure that the current generation of immigrants remains stuck forever in non-English speaking poverty. Consistent with fair use, I’ll give you just a taste of what Fund has to say, and we’ll hope that the WSJ soon releases the article for general consumption:

Should the Salvation Army be able to require its employees to speak English? You wouldn’t think that’s controversial. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is holding up a $53 billion appropriations bill funding the FBI, NASA and Justice Department solely to block an attached amendment, passed by both the Senate and House, that protects the charity and other employers from federal lawsuits over their English-only policies.

The U.S. used to welcome immigrants while at the same time encouraging assimilation. Since 1906, for example, new citizens have had to show “the ability to read, write and speak ordinary English.” A century later, this preference for assimilation is still overwhelmingly popular. A new Rasmussen poll finds that 87% of voters think it “very important” that people speak English in the U.S., with four out of five Hispanics agreeing. And 77% support the right of employers to have English-only policies, while only 14% are opposed.

But hardball politics practiced by ethnic grievance lobbies is driving assimilation into the dustbin of history. The House Hispanic Caucus withheld its votes from a key bill granting relief on the Alternative Minimum Tax until Ms. Pelosi promised to kill the Salvation Army relief amendment.

UPDATE II: More on liberal efforts to keep minorities ghettoized.

UPDATE III: For a literary touch, I’ll just throw in one more thing. Because I’m feeling lazy, I’ve been re-reading Dorothy L. Sayers’ Gaudy Night, one of my favorite novels from England in the mid-1930s. (Even though it’s a mystery, I view it as a novel because, after many readings, there are no mysteries left in that book for me.) The book takes place at Oxford, and has a healthy respect for the old-fashioned idea of academic objectivity. Sayers therefore has one of her characters, during a discussion with someone about a history book, say the following:

“I entirely agree that a historian ought to be precise in detail; but unless you take all the characters and circumstances concerned into account, you are reckoning without the facts. The proportions and relations of things are just as much facts as the things themselves, and if you get those wrong, you falsify the picture really seriously.”

The whole book, incidentally, is a testament to examining facts without allowing private belief systems or loyalties to interfere with ones understanding of those facts.

Trust Mark Steyn to sum up the political playing field perfectly

Three paragraphs of perfect political analysis from Mark Steyn:

If I could just sneak out in the middle of the night and saw off Rudy Giuliani’s strong right arm and John McCain’s ramrod back and Mitt Romney’s fabulous hair and stitch them all together in Baron von Frankenstein’s laboratory with the help of some neck bolts, we’d have the perfect Republican nominee. As it is, the present field poses difficulties for almost every faction of the GOP base. Rudy Giuliani was a brilliant can-do executive who transformed the fortunes of what was supposedly one of the most ungovernable cities in the nation but on guns, abortion, and almost every other social issue he’s anathema to much of the party. Mike Huckabee is an impeccable social conservative but fiscally speaking favors big-government solutions with big-government price tags. Ron Paul has a long track record of sustained philosophically coherent support for small government but he’s running as a neo-isolationist on war and foreign policy. John McCain believes in assertive American global leadership but he believes just as strongly in constitutional abominations like McCain-Feingold. So if you’re a pro-gun anti-abortion tough-on-crime victory-in-Iraq small-government Republican the 2008 selection is a tough call. Mitt Romney, the candidate whose (current) policies least offend the most people, happens to be a Mormon, which, if the press is to be believed, poses certain obstacles for elements of the Christian Right.

On the other hand, as Jonah Goldberg has pointed out, the mainstream media are always demanding the GOP demonstrate its commitment to “big tent” Republicanism, and here we are with the biggest of big tents in history and what credit do they get? You want an antiwar Republican? A pro-abortion Republican? An anti-gun Republican? A pro-illegal immigration Republican? You got ‘em! Short of drafting Fidel Castro and Mullah Omar, it’s hard to see how the tent could get much bigger. As the new GOP bumper sticker says, “Celebrate Diversity.”

Over on the Democratic side, meanwhile, they’ve got a woman, a black, an Hispanic, a preening metrosexual with an angled nape – and they all think exactly the same. They remind me of The Johnny Mathis Christmas Album, which Columbia used to re-release every year in a different sleeve: same old songs, new cover. When your ideas are identical, there’s not a lot to argue about except biography. Last week, asked about his experience in foreign relations, Barack Obama noted that his father was Kenyan and he’d been at grade school in Indonesia. “Probably the strongest experience I have in foreign relations,” he said, “is the fact I spent four years overseas when I was a child in Southeast Asia.” When it comes to foreign relations, he has more of them on his Christmas card list than Hillary or Haircut Boy.

In the same article, Steyn has some words about the amount of pandering going on, minimal from Giuliani and McCain, chronic from every Democrat but for Kucinich:

Let me ask a question of my Democrat friends: What does John Edwards really believe on Iraq? I mean, really? To pose the question is to answer it: There’s no there there. In the Dem debates, the only fellow who knows what he believes and says it out loud is Dennis Kucinich. Otherwise, all is pandering and calculation. The Democratic Party could use some seriously fresh thinking on any number of issues – abortion, entitlements, racial preferences – but the base doesn’t want to hear, and no viable candidate is man enough (even Hillary) to stick it to ‘em. I disagree profoundly with McCain and Giuliani, but there’s something admirable about watching them run in explicit opposition to significant chunks of their base and standing their ground. Their message is: This is who I am. Take it or leave it.

That’s the significance of Clinton’s driver’s-license dithering. There was a media kerfuffle the other day because at some GOP event an audience member referred to Senator Clinton as a “bitch” and John McCain was deemed not to have distanced himself sufficiently from it. Totally phony controversy: In private, Hillary’s crowd liked the way it plays into her image as a tough stand-up broad. And, yes, she is tough. A while back, Elizabeth Edwards had the temerity to venture that she thought her life was happier than Hillary’s. And within days the Clinton gang had jumped her in a dark alley, taken the tire iron to her kneecaps, and forced her into a glassy-eyed public recantation of her lese-majeste. If you’re looking for someone to get tough with Elizabeth Edwards, or RINO senators, or White House travel-office flunkies, Hillary’s your gal.

Democratic front runner to be immune from attack

This is a developing story on Drudge:

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer has been warned not to focus Thursday’s Dem debate on Hillary. ‘This campaign is about issues, not on who we can bring down and destroy,’ top Clinton insider explains. ‘Blitzer should not go down to the levels of character attack and pull ‘a Russert.” Blitzer is set to moderate debate from Vegas, with questions also being posed by Suzanne Malveaux… Developing…

So, if I understand this correctly, because the front runner is a girl, she cannot be subject to political scrutiny.

Somehow I highly doubt whether, in a fraught world, Americans want a leader and commander in chief who is afraid to tangle with the big boys.  It scares holy heck out of me to think that someone with that wimpy, defeatist, I-am-a-helpless-victim attitude might become the leader of the free world.  It will be Jimmy Carter all over again, except with a level of financial corruption that was never a Carter trademark during his presidency.

Random thoughts of a random mind

Too much business! Aargh. But there are things out there that interest me, so I’ll throw them your way, and try to get in with more substance later.

If you’re going to play with the big boys, you have to play like a boy. I find it worrisome that, the moment the going gets tough, Hillary starts squealing about identity politics unfairness. Is this how she’s going to deal with it when Putin, or Kim Jong-Il, or Sarkozy, or any male leader criticizes her? I therefore much appreciated Peggy Noonan’s article comparing Maggie Thatcher to Hillary (and loved the anecdote with which she opened the column). It seems to me that, while I’m lukewarm about Noonan’s writing generally, I “get her” when she writes about Hillary. Of course, when Noonan jumped the shark and started swooning over Obama at the article’s end, I lost her, but I still give her credit for understanding Hillary.

Speaking of Obama, Dean Barnett has one of the most interesting articles I’ve seen about the man, since it manages to recognize his undoubted charm and intelligence, while still having serious doubts about his leadership abilities — abilities that he’s never had to prove in the real world. As for me, nothing impresses me less than a Harvard Law degree. This is not merely the knee jerk reaction of someone educated at public universities when confronted with someone from the Ivies. Nope. This is a specific Harvard animus, based on 20 years of practicing law. What I’ve seen is that Harvard law grads from the 70s and before are as good as any other lawyers. Harvard grads from the 80s and after are, generally speaking, not. The ones I’ve known (and this is just my personal experience speaking here) have been, in a word, ineffectual. Yale grads, on the other hand, consistently overawe me, being some of the most incisive legal thinkers I come across. This means that, applying my own personal biases and experiences about Harvard grads, I’m perfectly willing to concede Barnett’s analysis: Obama is intelligent, but impractical and ineffectual.

(To any Harvard law grads who are reading this, my apologies if I’ve offended you. As I reiterated above, I can only talk about the Harvard grads I’ve known, and by sheer bad luck, I may just have run across Harvard grads who weren’t very good lawyers, and wouldn’t have been very good no matter their law school. In any event, Harvard grads have the deck stacked against them from the get-go, because my medium long experience has has taught me that, while grads from the top 20 law schools — and my law school was in those ranks the year I graduated — write very well, and can analyze things to death, they tend to be less effective lawyers than lawyers from the less high and mighty institutions. These differences tend to even out within 5 or 10 years of graduation, but are pretty apparent in the beginning. We write well, but we lack the smarts and practical skills to win cases!)

As you may know, there’s been a big oil spill in the San Francisco Bay, fouling beaches and putting wildlife at risk. The spill left me with a question, and I wonder if any of you have an answer. It’s been a fairly long time since the last oil spill in America (something I assume can be attributed to better built oil tankers). That means a lot of years have passed since the last big spills, especially the Exxon Valdez. What I’d like to know is how the wildlife has (or if it has) recovered since those spills. Do the spills create toxic nightmares going into the next millennium, or at least the next century, or does nature repair herself fairly quickly? I have no knowledge at all about this; just the question. I do have one article that says that, after a horrible oil spill in the Bay in 1971, it took 5 years for the wildlife to recover. Incidentally, I’m asking this question because, while I’m stridently in favor of preventing spills, it’s nice to know that nature is resilient should one happen. (Here’s a heartrending picture of one of those poor birds mired in toxic goop.)

One more thing: I’ve been hearing a lot of Gilligan’s Island in the car lately, ’cause that’s the video du jour (or make that the video du week) in the car for the endless carpooling. I’d forgotten what a stupid show it is, but the kids love it, as I did when I was a kid. One of the moments that sticks in my head, because I have to listen to all this, is Gilligan auditing a debate amongst the other castaways. At the end of each argument, he sagely opines, “You know, he’s right.” Eventually, Skipper turns on him and insists “Gilligan, they can’t all be right,” to which Gilligan, of course, replies “You know, you’re right too.”

I mention this anecdote because I felt exactly like Gilligan when I read Commentary Magazine’s symposium about the war in which we currently find ourselves engaged. Although the contributors sometimes contradict each other, I find myself in agreement with each of them, on both major points and minor nuances. I guess I can do this because their unifying theme is that there is as clash of cultures going on here, with Islamists on the one side and the West on the other side. Each contributor takes that issue seriously, and by not dismissing it, comes up with reasoned, rational arguments and insights with which I agree.

And that’s it this morning from the great randomizer in my brain.