The cult of personality trumped ordinary considerations

I do believe that vote fraud had an effect on this election, although I don’t know if it was big enough in swing states to change the outcome.  Abe Greenwald’s theory makes a lot more sense when it comes to explaining how conservatives could have so completely misread the election outcome:

Barack Obama ushered in America’s first large-scale experiment in personality-cult politics. The experiment continues apace. Obama got reelected because he enjoys a degree of personal popularity disconnected from his record. No modern president has ever been returned to office with employment figures and right-track-wrong-track numbers as poor as those Obama has achieved.

Obama couldn’t run on his record, which proved to be no problem—Americans didn’t vote on his record. According to exit polls, 77 percent of voters said the economy is bad and only 25 percent said they’re better off than they were four years ago. But since six in ten voters claimed the economy as their number one issue, it’s clear this election wasn’t about issues at all.

The president’s reelection is not evidence of a new liberal America, but rather of the illogical and confused experience that is infatuation. For multiple reasons, Americans continue to have a crush on Barack Obama even after his universally panned first term. No longer quite head over heels, they’re at the “I know he’s no good for me, but I can change him” phase. Whatever this means, it surely doesn’t suggest conservatives would be wise to move closer to policies that aren’t even popular among Obama supporters.

(Read more here.)

What we saw on election day was the continuing power of the old media.  Indeed, it is flush with power.  This year, the old media abandoned any pretense of objectivity and still shaped an election.  That’s quite something.  For decades, the old media hid its partisanship, believing that doing so was the only way to sway the American people.  This year, it learned that it could be hyper-partisan because it is still the gatekeeper.

We in the blogosphere were deluding ourselves about our reach and ability to change the dialog.  By ignoring some stories (Benghazi, for example, or the scope of Sandy’s disaster) and by hyping other story’s (Romney’s offshore accounts or dog driving), it kept Obama in office despite the fact that he has failed to fulfill every promise he made and left the country in a perilous state.

I know that the economic numbers were creeping up ever so slightly before the election (improved stock market, slightly improved job numbers), but those would have been irrelevant if the press had been hostile to Obama.  This was indeed a “cult of personality” election, as I see regularly on my Facebook page.

There certainly were issues that excited Democrat voters — the elite voted on social issues grounds (lady parts and gay marriage being the things they trumpet most triumphantly) and the 47% vote to keep their government benefits — but those issues were of paramount importance to them because the media colluded with the Obama administration to hide from the public the scope of the coming economic disaster.  Had the American people better understood the economy, the elite might have decided that lady parts and gay marriage could wait a while, and the 47% might have realized that no government money means no government benefits.

Here’s the good news, though:  Next election, the media doesn’t have Obama to elevate any more.  We won’t have Romney, who is a a truly nice man, but whom the media demonized to the proportions of Sarah Palin, who is a truly nice woman.  The press will still demonize the Republican candidate, but I’m not certain they’ll have anyone to anoint as the second coming.  Neither Hillary nor Elizabeth Warren lend themselves to a personality cult.  This hagiography worked once with Obama.  I doubt it will work twice with someone else.  The American population might be in a “fool me twice, shame on you” frame of mind.

Or, of course, Obama could bring in a new Golden Age in the next four years, in which case all of us will have to retire our animus and rejigger our political views.  Currently, I’m not holding my breath on that one.

As the Benghazi scandal heats up, evidence that Obama himself denied extra security

How reliable is Edward Klein?  I don’t know.  I don’t believe anyone challenged the facts in his book The Amateur, even if they disagreed with their import.  One thing that was immediately clear from reading The Amateur was that Klein got a lot of his information from Hillary Clinton’s camp.  Klein’s reliability is very important today, because he now claims that he’s gotten some new information from the Hillary camp, and this information, if true, is staggering in its implications:  lawyers close to Hillary claim that Hillary asked for more security in Benghazi and that the Obama White House denied that request.

According to Klein’s sources, Hillary has been keeping mum about this to stay loyal to the Democrat party, while Bill has been urging her to go public with the information to save her reputation.  Here’s what I think happened:

Events played out exactly as Hillary’s leakers claim.  Hillary was silent about the White House’s culpability when it still looked as if Obama could win, because she needed to be on Obama’s good side in the event he won the election.  Now that Obama has the stale smell of failure about him, two things have happened.  First, Hillary doesn’t believe that Obama’s coat tails will be very useful.  And second, the Democrats are launching a preemptive strike against Bill Clinton, claiming that it was his bad advice that led to Obama’s disastrous campaign decisions.

The Obama administration won’t be the first to learn that you don’t mess with Bill Clinton, especially if there’s nothing in it for Bill.  And so the leaks begin.  This way, Hillary still looks loyal, but Bill gets to destroy someone who is trying to destroy him.  Even if it’s not war in the Middle East, there’s going to be a war in Washington, D.C.

This leaked report also makes sense from both a military and a security standpoint, as Wolf Howling explains:

Why should we believe this might be true? I have enough experience in the military and with providing security with weapons loaded to know that the people administratively charged with making decisions on security would not possibly have denied the requests absent a policy decision made at a much higher level. And indeed, I cannot see any career employee in the chain of command denying a request for more security in Benghazi, given the availability of assets and all that was known about the deteriorating situation. In other words, I would bet my last dollar that the decision to deny more security was made pursuant to a policy decision in the political chain of command – and that means Clinton and / or Obama. And if there is any truth to the story above, then that person was Obama.

(You can, and should, read the rest of Wolf Howling’s analysis here.)

Assuming that concrete evidence surfaces quickly, the real story is whether the MSM will be able to sit on this story until after the election.  If the media can’t control the narrative, this story should be the last nail in the Obama campaign coffin.

UPDATE:  My post about today’s news — that the administrrefuse refused to send help — is here.)

More thoughts on the second presidential debate, including why Romney won a tie

Romney’s main problem is a chronic one.  While he intuitively understands what Bush Sr. used to call “the vision thing,” he can’t articulate it. He’ll spell out all the details, but he’s incapable of explaining to Americans that, if the government takes all their money, not only does it mean they don’t have it, it means the marketplace doesn’t have it.  What’s worse, Obama’s administration has provided perfect evidence that, once the government has all the money, it spends it badly, making dumb choices and pandering to special interests. With that simplistic explanation, Romney’s wonkery would have made more sense.  As it was, since I was watching on CNN which had a little chart showing real-time responses from some men and women, I could see that every time Romney got too into details, people lost interest.  (I actually found the chart irritating.  It was like watching a monitor in the ICU, breathlessly fearing that the monitor might show a flatline.)

The other problem, of course, was that Romney was in a two-against-one fight. He was game, but it was hard for him to land his punches when one attacker was off limits (for appearances sake, he couldn’t attack Crowley), while the other attacker was spouting lies left and right — and then being covered by the off-limits gal. Even if Romney had been more articulate, this was an almost impossible scenario. Gingrich might have handled it, but I’m not sure….

Michael Filozof noticed something important that I missed completely:

In all the analysis and spin in the media about Tuesday night’s debate, one item seems to have escaped scrutiny— but it struck me at the moment that Obama said it as a statement of such remarkable arrogance and hubris that I had to check the transcript today to make sure he’d actually said what I’d heard.

He did.

When queried about the lack of security at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that resulted in the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, Obama responded:

“Well, let me first of all talk about our diplomats, because they serve all around the world and do an incredible job in a very dangerous situation.”

“Our” diplomats. That’s the perfunctory throwaway line. What followed was truly astonishing:

“And these aren’t just representatives of the United States, they are my representatives. I send them there, oftentimes into harm’s way.”

Whoa! Wait a second! “These aren’t ‘just’ representatives of the United States?”

Just?

“They are my representatives. I send them there” – as if that’s the more important, bigger deal? America’s Ambassadors represent the country – not the man. Article II of the Constitution says that the President “by and with” — with, mind you! — “the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors…”

Filozof goes on to analyze just how bad Obama’s unconscious arrogance really was.

Yuval Levin also put his finger on something that was bothering me about the “undecided voters’” questions.  Almost without exception, the questions assumed a liberal world view.  They assumed that women get paid $0.72 on the dollar, which is true only because women like their children and, if they can, try to do part-time or flex-time jobs that pay less.  Romney sort of alluded to that flex-time principle but, as I noted above, he’s a details guy who gets, but can’t articulate, the big picture.

The questions assumed that illegal immigrants should get to stay here.  Romney, bless his heart, tried not to pander on this one.  He almost sounded hard-line about having a meaningful border (although, again, he couldn’t explain why sovereignty matters).  Interestingly, the tougher he talked, the higher that little graph ticked up.  It’s easy to like illegal immigrants in flush times; in lean times, they’re competitors for jobs.

One of the questions assumed that guns are bad.  Romney, after a little struggle with that one, based upon anti-assault weapon legislation he signed while governor, managed to focus on people, not guns, causing crime.  Obama focused on guns, and then remembered that there are people holding those weapons.

As for the Benghazi question, I actually assumed that Crowley wrote that question, since it was clearly intended as an opening for Obama to man up and take responsibility after letting Hillary fall on her sword (after first softening the blow by blaming her security experts).  Of course, Obama blew that opportunity by lying, turning what should have been a manly confession into an embarrassing (for him and Crowley) confrontation.

But Levin has a different theory about those questions:

When the debate commission announced that this year’s town-hall debate—in which questioners would be selected from among undecided voters in the surrounding region—would be held in Long Island, N.Y., rather than in a swing state, it raised a few eyebrows. Undecided voters in Nassau County generally aren’t like undecided voters in Ohio or Virginia. They tend to be people who start from a liberal foundation but may be a little too populist to be comfortably Democratic voters these days, and so in some respects a kind of mirror image of what we normally think of as swing voters. The questions in Tuesday night’s town-hall debate certainly reflected that character. These were, on the whole, questions from disappointed Democrats. That didn’t necessarily advantage one candidate over the other: It meant some of the subjects taken up in the debate heavily favored Obama but it also meant that the tone of the questioners was almost uniformly disappointed with Obama, which is probably the most dangerous of all attitudes for the incumbent president.

[snip]

Many of the questions were about the sorts of things liberals would want debates to be about. Given a chance to address the presidential candidates, would many swing voters in the battleground states in this election ask about pay equity (and ground their question in false liberal talking points on the subject)? Are they concerned about gun control? Do they think about immigration the way the debate questioner on that subject did? No. Yet at the same time many of the questioners approached Obama with an underlying sense of disappointment, and seemed to look at Romney with an eye to whether he might be a less disappointing president. I suspect this combination made this debate less interesting to undecided voters in undecided states, but that on the whole it helped Romney a bit more than Obama. Disappointment with the incumbent combined with a sense that the challenger is a reasonably plausible president is how you unseat a president, and tonight’s debate enabled Romney to advance both elements a bit even though Obama was much stronger than he was in Denver two weeks ago.

Standing on its own, the debate was probably a tie.  Obama proved he has a pulse, and Romney did okay.  That means Romney won.  As William McGurn pointed out yesterday, the only thing Obama had going into office was charisma.  He exploded that aura in his first debate, and could only have won by regaining his mystique in the second debate.  But Obama didn’t revisit the magic.  His pinched, high-pitched delivery, his vicious personal attacks on Romney, and his complete inability to state a vision or purpose for his second term (everything he said was a rehash of his first-term “vision thing”), established conclusively that “what’s done cannot be undone.”  Once you destroy something as precious and intangible as charm (and I’ll concede for this argument that Obama’s fans found him charming), you stand before the world unmasked and unarmed.

Barring massive fraud, I now believe Romney will win.  And if you’re reading this in Missouri, vote for Todd Akin.  He may have some wacky ideas, but he’s still better than Claire McCaskill and Romney needs to own the Senate to undo Obama’s and the Democrats’ first two years of damage.

UPDATE:  Just want to throw in that Wolf Howling, whose opinion I greatly respect, thinks Romney won.  And Bruce Kesler points out the most important thing, which is that voters, the ultimate critics, side with Romney on the economy and other things about which they (not the media) really care.

King Obama the Insane — is Obama still living the big lie, or has he slipped round the bend?

Albert Einstein allegedly defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Austin O’Malley looked at the process of insanity: “A sane man often reasons from sound premises; an insane man commonly reasons as well, but the premises are unsound.” And Guy de Maupassant examined that peculiar phenomenon we now call monomania:

I have seen mad people, and I have known some who were quite intelligent, lucid, even clear-sighted in every concern of life, except on one point. They could speak clearly, readily, profoundly on everything; till their thoughts were caught in the breakers of their delusions and went to pieces there, were dispersed and swamped in that furious and terrible sea of fogs and squalls which is called MADNESS.

The common thread in these quotations is the fact that the insane person is disconnected from reality. He doesn’t understand cause and effect, his factual premises are ludicrous, and his inability to deal with reality may be centered a specific subject, so that he appears lucid as to other things.

With Obama’s most recent speech about the economy, the one in which he cited approvingly to an immediately discredited study claiming that he’s been one of the most frugal presidents in history, a new meme sprang up in the blogosphere — “Obama the Insane.”

Of course, no one has stated it with that level of clarity.  More and more writers, however, are commenting upon (1) Obama’s belief that if he keeps spending more and more money, he will magically reverse the fact that his existing spending binge has already caused inestimable harm to the U.S. economy; (2) his reliance on manifestly false facts; and (3) the way in which, even as he is cogent on other subjects (his family, rap parties, etc.), Obama’s focus on those things that most deeply affect Americans, such as the economy, foreign affairs, national security, bears no relationship to the facts on the ground.

Here are three respected writers, each of whom expresses serious concern about President Obama’s increasingly obvious disconnect from the reality of his presidency and his policies.

Peggy Noonan politely calls the presidency a “house of cards”:

There is, now, a house-of-cards feel about this administration.

It became apparent some weeks ago when the president talked on the stump—where else?—about an essay by a fellow who said spending growth is actually lower than that of previous presidents. This was startling to a lot of people, who looked into it and found the man had left out most spending from 2009, the first year of Mr. Obama’s presidency. People sneered: The president was deliberately using a misleading argument to paint a false picture! But you know, why would he go out there waving an article that could immediately be debunked? Maybe because he thought it was true. That’s more alarming, isn’t it, the idea that he knows so little about the effects of his own economic program that he thinks he really is a low spender.

Peter Ferrara is also dismayed by the President’s inability to recognize economic reality, although he believes the president is simply being deceptive. After quoting with approval the Noonan passage, above, Ferrara goes on to chide Obama for lying:

What this shows most importantly is that the recognition is starting to break through to the general public regarding the President’s rhetorical strategy that I’ve have been calling Calculated Deception. The latter is deliberately using a misleading argument to paint a false picture. That has been a central Obama practice not only throughout his entire presidency, but also as the foundation of his 2008 campaign strategy, and actually throughout his whole career.

Rest assured, Ms. Noonan, that the President is not as nuts as he may seem at times. He knows very well that he is not a careful spender. His whole mission is to transform the U.S. not into a Big Government country, but a Huge Government country, because only a country run by a Huge Government can be satisfactorily controlled by superior, all wise and beneficent individuals like himself. That is why he is at minimum a Swedish socialist, if not worse. Notice, though, how far behind the times he and his weak minded supporters are, as even the Swedes have abandoned Swedish socialism as a failure.

Mark Steyn speaks in terms of soaring rhetoric unconnected to earthbound problems:

Take, for example, the attempt at soaring rhetoric: “That’s how we built this country — together. We constructed railroads and highways, the Hoover Dam and the Golden Gate Bridge. We did those things together,” he said, in a passage that was presumably meant to be inspirational but was delivered with the faintly petulant air of a great man resentful at having to point out the obvious, yet again. “Together, we touched the surface of the moon, unlocked the mystery of the atom, connected the world through our own science and imagination. We haven’t done these things as Democrats or Republicans. We’ve done them as Americans.”

Beyond the cheap dissembling, there was a bleak, tragic quality to this paragraph. Does anyone really believe a second-term Obama administration is going to build anything? Yes, you, madam, the gullible sap at the back in the faded hope’n’change T-shirt. You seriously think your guy is going to put up another Hoover Dam? Let me quote one Deanna Archuleta, Obama’s deputy assistant secretary of the interior, in a speech to Democrat environmentalists in Nevada:

“You will never see another federal dam.”

Ever.

All three essays are worth reading in their entirety. All three struggle with the vast chasm between Obama’s words and actual reality. Although Ferrara calls Obama a liar to his face, Ferrara’s take on the matter is the most generous of the three, because he believes that Obama is a con man, not an insane man.

I wonder. Certainly if Obama is a con man, he’s a very bad one, in that he’s letting his audience in on the trick. A good con man would never rely upon such an easily proven set of numbers. If this is what Obama did, he’s once again proven himself to be the un-Churchill.

Why do I say that? It’s because of a story I once read that Churchill’s assistant told about the great man. I don’t know if it’s a true story, but it perfectly illustrates what a good con should be:

Churchill was invited to speak to a group of manufacturers about the future of their industry. He asked his assistant to research for him information about the probably economic future of this industry. The assistant returned to him and said that there were so many variables that it was impossible to put together a coherent picture of the industry’s future in the coming year, let alone the coming decade. To the assistant’s great surprise, the very next day, he heard Churchill give a speech replete with numbers, analyses, and estimates projecting out a good ten years. After the speech, the assistant approached Churchill and asked “How did you do that?” “Simple, my boy,” Churchill replied. “I made it up. You told me that there were too many variables to reach a conclusion or make a prediction about even the immediate future. That means that it will take years to prove my statements wrong, by which time there will have been so many intervening factors, no one will look back on what I said.”

Now that’s a con. What is not a con is to state as truth an absolute falsehood, and one that, moreover, has already been conclusively proven to be false.  The man who does that is either the most clumsy of all lies, or a monomaniac who has become unmoored from factual reality and drifted off into an economic realm all his own.

From the moment Obama appeared on the national political scene, many writers (including me) have been harping on Obama’s malignant narcissism.  The important thing to remember is that a malignant narcissist has built around an empty emotional core a carefully constructed, quite superior persona.  In order to keep that illusion alive, the narcissistic must constantly assert his superiority.  We’ve seen Obama do that over and over again.  Here are a few examples:

Marion Berry recounted meetings with White House officials, reminiscent of some during the Clinton days, where he and others urged them not to force Blue Dogs “off into that swamp” of supporting bills that would be unpopular with voters back home.

“I’ve been doing that with this White House, and they just don’t seem to give it any credibility at all,” Berry said. “They just kept telling us how good it was going to be. The president himself, when that was brought up in one group, said, ‘Well, the big difference here and in ’94 was you’ve got me.’ We’re going to see how much difference that makes now.”

******

President Obama met yesterday with “about 20 Conservative Jewish community leaders, thanking them for the work they do to improve communities around the country and discussed their shared commitment to rebuilding the U.S. economy,” Haaretz reports.

In the meeting, Obama reportedly boasted about his knowledge of Judaism, telling the leaders that he thinks he knows more “about Judaism” than all past presidents. He said he gained this knowledge of Judaism from reading.

“Obama … stressed he probably knows about Judaism more than any other president, because he read about it,” Haaretz reports.

******


When it comes to piloting
, Barack Obama seems to think he’s the political equivalent of Charles Lindbergh, Chuck Yeager and—in a “Fly Me to the Moon” sort of way—Nat King Cole rolled into one. “I think I’m a better speech writer than my speech writers,” he reportedly told an aide in 2008. “I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m . . . a better political director than my political director.”

The flip side of this constant self-assurance is the need to deny other people their due.  Narcissists are offensive.  That too is an Obama trait:

Asked in the Saturday Democratic debate about her dearth of “likability,” Clinton offered an answer both artful and sweet — first, demurely saying her feelings were hurt and mock-heroically adding that she would try to carry on regardless, then generously conceding that Obama is very likable and “I don’t think I’m that bad.”

At which point, Obama, yielding to some inexplicable impulse, gave the other memorable unscripted moment of the New Hampshire campaign — the gratuitous self-indicting aside: “You’re likable enough, Hillary.” He said it looking down and with not a smile but a smirk.

******

Obama poked fun of McCain and Palin’s new “change” mantra.

“You can put lipstick on a pig,” he said as the crowd cheered. “It’s still a pig.”

“You can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called change. It’s still gonna stink.”

“We’ve had enough of the same old thing.”

******

The president defended his talks with Gulf fishermen and oil spill experts, saying their purpose was not academic – rather, they were an exercise in asserting where the presidential boot should be administered, “so I know whose ass to kick”.

******

President Barack Obama says police in Cambridge, Mass., acted “stupidly” this week when they arrested Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates, someone they knew was in his own home.

The big question, of course, is what happens to a malignant narcissist when reality is so overwhelming that his normal coping mechanisms — self-aggrandizement and the denigration of others — no longer work?  Obama is being soundly slapped in the face by economic reality, by statistics, by an aggressive political opponent (You go, Mitt!), and by a disillusioned, although still loyal, media.

One could say that insanity is the last refuge of a narcissist.  If the real world will no longer conform to his self-image, he’ll deny the real world, and come up with a better one that allows him to boast to his heart’s content, not just about his own alleged qualities, but about larger, objective reality.

Obama’s intellectual and emotional collapse would normally be a sad sight, indeed.  Because of his peculiarly exalted position, though, a mad President Obama is just as unnerving and dangerous for the State as any mad monarch of old.

Lynn Woolsey, unconstrained by reelection, lets loose, and it’s not pretty

There’s nothing like a Progressive who’s not worrying about reelection.  If you thought Barney Frank’s moobs were repellent, wait until you get a look inside Lynn Woolsey’s brain.  The 10-term House Democrat from Marin County is retiring this year, so she finally feels that she can speak freely.  It’s not pretty.

For example, we learn why Woolsey doesn’t like Michelle Bachmann, who holds, not just a JD, but an LL.M. from the prestigious William & Mary School of Law:

“[S]he’s an idiot,” Woolsey said. “It’s not very politic to say that of another member of Congress, but she is.”

As it happens, I’m not overly impressed with academic credentials, since I think they often train people away from decency, logic and common sense, but I feel obligated to point out here that Woolsey’s education consists of . . . well, it’s unclear.  According to Wikipedia, she attended a lot of schools, but doesn’t seem to have emerged with any discernible degrees.  That’s okay.  She clearly had enough education to lose her decency, logic and common sense anyway.

Woolsey doesn’t like Newt Gingrich either:

“He would be the worst president on earth.”

She does concede, though, that he’s got a brain, which would make him more dangerous than the “idiot” Michelle Bachmann.

The Tea Party crowd don’t fare well in Woolsey world, since she sees them as an impediment to saving the world from climate change (never mind that the climate change narrative is unraveling before Woolsey’s eyes):

“Half of them have never held an elected office in their lives; they don’t know nothing,” Woolsey said. “They don’t know why they’re against what they’re against. They don’t know what is happening to our environment. All they know is it’s not something they’re supposed to support.”

Poor Lynn.  She apparently missed the poll showing a wide-spread belief that Tea Party members are better informed than your average 10-term member of the House of Representatives.  I guess it’s axiomatic that the ill-informed are always the last to know to that particular truth about themselves.

Lynn may not like Tea Partiers, but she does love the Occupy crowd:

“I love the Occupiers,” Woolsey said. “They’re such a breath of fresh air for me. I’ve been waiting for them for a long time.”

There’s nothing like a gang of Apple computer toting, drug-taking, dirty, vomiting, defecating, raping, murderous thugs to excite an aging Progressive politician.

Interestingly, Woolsey is not a Barack Obama fan.  Not only is he too conservative for her (“He’s a moderate president. He’s not a progressive.”), she thinks he’s not a very nice person:

“He is kind of a cold, aloof guy.”

Back in 2008, she was rooting for Hillary, both because she thinks Hillary is a more principled Progressive than Obama (there’s a scary thought), but also because she thinks Hillary has the cajones Obama lacks.

Woosley, apparently, isn’t the only one who isn’t thrilled about Barry.  Although Woolsey was speaking to an “overwhelmingly liberal” crowd, I think she sensed a certain chill in the air when it came to Obama.  How else to explain the fact that she felt compelled to tell those in attendance that they must vote for him in 2012:

“Do not stay home,” she said. “Any one of those other people — we thought George Bush was a problem, huh.”

I wish I’d been at Woolsey’s talk.  Seeing the Progressive mind unfettered is kind of like wading in an old swamp.  It looks ugly and smells bad, but there are still interesting things swimming in the depths.

Only megalomanics need apply

Let’s see if I’ve got this right, based upon the evidence currently available:

  1. Obama is a grandiose narcissist
  2. Newt is an egomaniac
  3. Hillary is a compulsive liar
  4. Mitt seems vaguely asperger-ish, with a weather vane in place of his spine
  5. Herman is a serial womanizer (assuming, for the sake of argument, that the claims against him are true)
  6. Rick is manic (so can depressive be far behind)
  7. Michelle is an abused wife (or is she married to an abused husband?  I forget)

And on the list goes.  Giving personality disorder labels to presidential candidates is like shooting fish in a barrel — it’s just too easy.  But think about it:  What person in his (or her) right mind would want to run for president or be president in the early years of the 21st century.  Not only is there the burden of governing a superpower in an explosive world, but our manic media ensures that, if you’re a Republican candidate, you’ll be subject to routine, public colonoscopies,  while if you’re a Democratic candidate, you receive the kind of fawning sycophancy that created the same delusions of grandeur that drove many European monarchs mad.

Any job description for the job of president in 2012 should end with the words “only megalomaniacs need apply.”  No sane person would want the job, including a sane patriot, and that fact may go a long to explaining why our candidates are so deeply flawed.

In honor of this realization, I’d like to propose a new presidential song, which is much more apt and meaningful than “Hail to the Chief”:

(Or see here.)

Connecting the dots re Huma Abedin *UPDATE*

Just the facts, and you get to reach your own conclusion:

  • Huma Abedin spent her formative years in Saudi Arabia.
  • Huma’s mother is a member of the female branch of the Muslim Brotherhood
  • While Huma was growing up, her father was a member of an organization closely linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.
  • Huma’s brother works closely with members of the Muslim Brotherhood.
  • Huma is herself a practicing Muslim.
  • Muslim women cannot marry non-Muslim men.  If the man doesn’t convert, the marriage is not recognized.
  • Anthony Weiner was raised Jewish and not publicly disavowed his faith.
  • Bill Clinton officiated at Huma’s wedding to Anthony Weiner.
  • Anthony Weiner was until recently a member of Congress.
  • There is no way to know when Weiner started engaging in inappropriate sexual behavior.
  • Huma is so tight with Hillary Clinton that, for many years, there were rumors that the two were lovers.
  • Hillary Clinton is America’s Secretary of State, one of the most powerful international positions in the world.

(I’m too lazy and rushed to collected links, but each of the above statements is verifiable.)

UPDATE:  One last fact — The Muslim Brotherhood is not friendly towards America.

UPDATE II:  Robert Avrech reports on a deeply disturbing aspect of the whole Huma/Weiner thing, which again shows a complicit media — although it’s a little hard to tell whether it’s complicit in something solidly dangerous or just complicit in the usual dhimmitude that passes for reporting nowadays.  Add People Magazine to the list of products I’d stop buying if I actually bought them in the first place.

Hillary’s in — probably

For reasons best known to herself, Hillary will probably say yes to State, even thought she’ll be the third, not the first, woman to fill that position, and even though no Secretary of State has ever used that post as a springboard to the White House.  Nutroots will be furious because of her support for the Iraq War.  Conservatives have already indicated a feeling that she’s the best of a the lot:  pragmatic and tough.  It will also be fun to watch those two prima donnas duke it out for control.

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.

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.

Bumper sticker news

In Marin,  9 out of 10 bumperstickers one sees are liberal in context.  Make that 9.9 out of 10.

There’s the “Endless This War” sticker; and the still popular “Somewhere in Texas a village is missing its idiot” sticker; and the saccharine, unrealistic and facile “Coexist,” with the symbols of various religions used in lieu of letters.  More concretely, there are uncountable Gore and Kerry bumper stickers on older model cars.  And with increasing frequency, there are the “Barack ’08″ and “Change ’08″ bumper stickers.  Those last are popping out like fungus after a rainfall.

But today I saw a lovely first.  It was a “Hillary” sticker, partially overlaid by a “McCain” sticker.  I gather that someone is deeply offended that a woman who has paid her dues (and this is true whether or not one likes her), has been cast aside for a man who has paid nothing.

The problem with the -isms in this race

Christopher Hitchens has written a post-mortem on the alleged sexism characterizing Hillary Clinton’s abortive race to the top. Aside from scathingly examining both Hillary’s and the media’s myriad failings, he has this wonderful point to make about the double-edged sword her gender became in the race:

Going as far as it dared on the point, the same sternly disapproving New York Times report found the courage to say that the Washington Post, in mentioning Sen. Clinton, had also alluded to “her cleavage.” Living as we do in an age of the easily offended and the aggressively innocent, we were not regarded as sufficiently adult to be informed whether this cleavage was in the front or the back. (Something in me makes me hope very devoutly that it was not the latter.) But I think I see the emerging pattern. People who favor Sen. Clinton are allowed to stress her gender and sex at all times and to make a gigantic point of it for its own sake. They are even allowed to proclaim that she should be the president of the United States in time of war only because she would be the first vagina-possessing person to hold the job. But—and here’s the catch—people who do not favor her are not even allowed to allude to the fact that she is female and has feminine characteristics. In this way, we prepare our brave daughters and granddaughters and even disenfranchised grandmothers for a future that is sex-free and gender-neutral or, at any rate, something like that. How pathetic can you get? When will we learn that there is more to political and social emancipation than the simple addition of the “ism” suffix to any commonplace word?

Of course, as you, my discerning readers have already realized, the exact same paradigm applies to Obama’s race — his supporters are allowed to trumpet it as a (if not the) reason why he should become leader of the free world; his opponents are not allowed to mention it at all.

As you all know, I’m a loud, proud racist when it comes to Obama’s race.* Hitchens provides another reason why we should not allow ourselves to be muzzled. At the very least, we should be allowed to point out that, if they say race is reason to elect Obama, we are allowed to say that race is not.

Hat tip: Danny Lemieux

__________________________________________

*There’s a pun in there somewhere since, in Obama’s case, “race” applies both his genetic make-up and his race for the White House

Trophy wives

I’ve been hearing a lot about trophy wives lately, since I recently learned that, in one of the very affluent communities near me, the nouveau riche, desperate as always to assert their status on the social hierarchy, have begun wife swapping.  Apparently it just wasn’t good enough any more to boast about your car and pass the keys over to your neighbor to prove the point.  Now you have to boast about your wife and pass her over to your neighbor, so he can see just how right you are.  How very 70s.

Now Elizabeth Scalia (aka the Anchoress), has come up with a wonderful theory about the reason the Democratic party jettisoned that old workhorse, Hillary, in favor of the new pretty face, Obama:  Obama is the political equivalent of the trophy wife:

Upon taking control of Congress in 2007, the Democrats found themselves running simpatico with those terminally elite nations who sniffed with disdain at American individualism while being strangled by the tentacles of their own statism. Emboldened by these openly chummy alliances, and sensing a GOP in the mood to slit its own wrists and die, the Democrats looked across the breakfast table at Hillary Clinton in her sensible clothes and felt a little disappointed. There she sat — a hard worker, smart, always willing to do what it took to win. By and large, she’d been a good helper, delivering the pretty little votes, raising the pretty big dollars, entertaining, organizing, laughing, gazing, and lying when she had to, for the good of the family.

But in the dazzling company of the left-elites, she looked … old, and worn. She could be a little shrill, and a terror with a lamp or an ashtray. She was shrewish and nagging — forever reminding everyone that she had sacrificed. If some smiled to see her arrive at a party, the smile was perfunctory; they only listened to her tiresome policy talk until they could murmur an excuse and find a prettier, livelier corner with prettier, livelier companions.

Then they spotted — Obama! He was young, pretty, and had a pleasing voice. He looked good in jeans and had just a touch of edginess about him when he smoked. He seemed born to be looked at. Not much real experience in the hard political world — a few turns around the dance floor with glamorous-seeming men — but he appeared eager to learn, eager to get ahead, and because he stood for almost nothing, he would be easy to lead. He hadn’t accomplished much of note, but trophy wives don’t need thick resumes.

You should read the whole thing here.  It’s very funny and makes a good point about the insanity of this election year.

News about the news

From Yahoo’s most viewed news stories at 10:09 P.S.T.:

  1. Clinton set to concede delegate race to Obama AP – 4 minutes ago WASHINGTON – Hillary Rodham Clinton will concede Tuesday night that Barack Obama has the delegates to secure the Democratic nomination, campaign officials said, effectively ending her bid to be the nation’s first female president.
  2. Clinton campaign says she’s not conceding Reuters – 1 hour, 32 minutes ago WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is “absolutely not” planning to concede the campaign to Barack Obama on Tuesday night, Clinton campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe told CNN on Tuesday.
  3. Obama creeps past McCain in opinion poll AFP – 1 hour, 44 minutes ago WASHINGTON (AFP) – Democratic White House candidate Barack Obama has pulled ahead of Republican John McCain in the latest Gallup voter opinion survey, published Tuesday in USA Today.

The first two items show how quickly the situation can change in today’s political world, with news that’s an hour and a half old already being stale and useless. The third item is just scary.

Throw Michelle from the train? *UPDATED*

Obama has a pattern when a person or institution proves problematic: First, loyally, he tries to defend the troublemaker. Second, when his poll numbers show that the defense is futile, he ruthlessly jettisons the troublemaker, whether it’s Samantha Power, Jeremiah Wright or Trinity Church. But what about this troublemaker (assuming, for the moment, that the story is true)?

An untold story lies behind Hillary Clinton’s determination to remain in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination — the possible revelation of a shocking recording of rival Barack Obama’s wife Michelle.

That’s the word from longtime political analyst Roger J. Stone Jr., who writes on his The StoneZONE Web site that the recording purportedly documents Michelle Obama making racist comments in a speech.

According to Stone, Hillary aides are in a race with Republicans to get their hands on the offensive recording.

“On the heels of Michelle Obama’s quote that she ‘has never been proud of her country’ until now, the new controversy could turn the contest upside down, but it more likely” to benefit “John McCain than to boost Hillary Clinton to the nomination — if the alleged recording exists,” Stone writes.

He also asserts that Mark Penn, Clinton’s former chief campaign strategist, has told sources that the bombshell “could come this week.”

In the old days (the really old days), Obama could have packed her off to a convent or an insane asylum, winning sympathy from all. Now, he doesn’t even have time for a quickie divorce.

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin explains why my instinct — which was merely to assume the story’s truth to make a humorous point — was right on the money. In any event, given that Hillary is slinking away into the sunset, the time is long past for this video to emerge (unless, of course, it was in McCain’s, not Hillary’s, vault all along).

UPDATE II:  And more evidence that it’s a fake.  Frankly given Michelle Obama’s manifest disdain for America, even if it had been real, nothing in it would have been that exciting.  What would have been interesting, as I indicated at the top of this post, is Obama’s reaction:  “This is not the Michelle I thought I knew.”

A cautionary tale if Hillary becomes health tzar

There’s talk of Obama giving Hillary the green light to socialize American medicine if she’ll walk away from the primaries.  Melanie Phillips gives us a good example of why the renewed specter of socialized medicine should worry us:

To the Labour Party, the National Health Service is the talismanic proof of its own moral superiority.

Time and again, Labour brandishes its undying commitment to the NHS as the embodiment of its social conscience, and vilifies anyone who suggests that a different system of health care might be better as a heartless brute who would force the sick to choose between death and bankruptcy.

Well, now we can see quite what odious hypocrisy that is. For in the cause of supporting the NHS principle of equal treatment for all, the Government is actually ordering the withdrawal of treatment from desperately sick and dying people as an act of ideological spite.

A woman dying of cancer was denied NHS treatment in her final months  -  because she had paid privately for a drug which offered her the chance of living longer, but which the NHS had refused to provide.

When she decided to use her savings to pay for this drug, the NHS withdrew her treatment, including her chemotherapy.

This is by no means a one-off case. Six other cancer patients are taking legal action against the NHS after their own treatment was cut off or a threat was made to do so because they too paid for lifeprolonging drugs.

This is simply obscene. It is hard to imagine anything more vicious than stopping, or threatening to stop, the treatment of seriously ill people simply because they have the audacity to want to improve their chances of staying alive.

Read the rest here.

I know that our medical system isn’t perfect, and that it’s expensive.  However, medical care at some level or another is available to all — and it’s good care when you get it.  There are human errors, but the system tends to strive for the greatest good.  What’s fascinating about reading about England’s health care service (and Canada’s, for that matter), is the number of times the health care is bad, not because a person screwed up, but because of ideological choices driving the provision of health care in those countries.  Because the government is rationing care, it decides who is unworthy of receiving that care:  the old, the very sick, and the mavericks who dare to buck the system.

At my martial arts studio, there is a British woman whose mother is mired in and dying from the NHS.  She won’t give details.  She just gives the bottom line:  America should never, never, never go over to socialized medicine, a system that will willingly, and without debate, abandon those in greatest need of its services.

What Myanmar says about Iran *UPDATED*

There is a belief that the “mutually assured destruction” deterrence that worked during the Cold War will work in Iran. Hillary certainly believes it, which is why she promised that, if Iran hits Israel with a nuclear bomb during her presidency, she will hit Iran with a nuclear bomb. She believes that threat is sufficient to hold Iran back from acting. She thinks this because, if she were in Iran’s shoes, it would hold her back. The satisfaction of having destroyed Israel (if she were Iran), would be overwhelmingly offset by the death of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of her citizens, and the complete destruction of large swaths of her country.

In making this analysis, Hillary shows herself to be a rational actor under Western values. What she hasn’t figured out, though, is that Iran’s leaders don’t show those Western values. There are two reasons why the thought of having nuclear weapons rain down on the Iranian citizenry doesn’t phase faze these leaders. Indeed, the second reason for their insouciance actually has them wanting that nuclear rain.

Reason number one for the fact that Iranians are less impressed than we would be by the threat of a nuclear Holocaust is that they really don’t care about the well-being of their people. And this is where the example of Myanmar becomes interesting. In the aftermath of a devastating cyclone that may have caused the instant deaths of as many as 100,000 people, the military junta is resolute in rejecting aid. This is not because of some misguided sense of (metaphorically) standing on its own two feet. This is because it would rather see up to 500,000 of its citizens dead than risk any weakening of its power. Once you start letting aid workers in, exposing your beleaguered citizens to other ideas and free market products, you’re looking at the beginning of the end of your tyranny.

The bottom line, then, is that tyrants are completely comfortable with mass deaths within their own borders, provided that their political goals are untouched. Indeed, they’ll encourage those deaths if doing otherwise would affect the power structure.

There is no reason to think that the Iranian regime, which is an incredibly oppressive one, and one that managed to engage in a 9 year war with Iraq that saw almost a million die, will weep any tears if its citizens die in the hundreds of thousands or even the millions. In Iran, as in other dictatorships (Mao’s China, Myanmar, North Korea, etc.) the average “citizens” is not a human with rights as we understand it. Instead, he is an object the value of which is measured by whether his existence augments or damages the leadership’s power. If his non-existence does not affect that power or if his non-existence actually increases that power, his life isn’t worth a grain of sand on a big beach.

That is the first reason Iran doesn’t really care about Hillary’s threat to bomb it if it first bombs Israel. The benefits of bombing Israel (fulfilling Koranic requirements, gaining respect in the Muslim world, finding out of your bomb really works, showing the world that nothing will stop you) far outweigh the deaths of a few million of the pawns trapped within your own borders.

If that isn’t bad enough, we get to the second reason why Hillary’s threats are pointless and why (as Israel knows) only preemptive measures will stop Iran from dropping the bomb: The Shia version of Islam that Iran practices is an apocalyptic religion. Iran’s leaders believe that the End of Days will be triggered by the return of the 12 Imam, which will introduce an era of endless peace and harmony.

This apocalyptic vision isn’t actually such an unusual doctrine, and it appears in both Christianity and Judaism. What differs about the Iranian version is that Iran believes that its role is not simply to be a passive, albeit faithful, observer of the End of Days, which is how Christians and Jews approach the subject. Rather, as Ahmadinejad’s speeches and acts demonstrate, Iran believes it is its responsibility to bring about Armageddon — and what could be more Armageddon-like than the fact that Iran bravely destroys the Little Satan (that would be Israel), only to be destroyed in turn by the Great Satan (America). If that doesn’t bring about the return of the 12th Imam, nothing will.

In other words, the threat Hillary now makes as she works the campaign trail, a threat she believes is the type that will paralyze Iran and prevent action is, in fact, precisely the end Iran’s leaders are seeking. It’s not a threat at all. Instead, it’s the desired culmination of Allah’s plans.

Given the very un-Western thought process Iranian leaders go through when they contemplate the nuclear destruction of their country, McCain would definitely be the best candidate to deal with a pre-nuclear Iran. Regardless of his doctrinal strength regarding the finder points of Shia ideology, he understands the nature of dictators, having survived them for so many years in the Hanoi Hilton.

McCain (like Israel, which is staring down that nuclear muzzle) is not going to wait around until Iran has the upper hand and then try sweet words (Obama) or threats and even action (Hillary). I think that McCain would understand, as Israel does, that one needs to act before the crazy nation gets the power, not after.

And if you think I’m exaggerating about Iran’s response to a nuclear Holocaust simply so score points for McCain, just read today’s paper about Myanmar and think about a dictatorship that is not hampered by religious crazies will do to maintain power. You can extrapolate from there by imagining those same dictators working hard to pave the way for the coming Apocalypse.

UPDATE:  Speaking of Iran, this analysis about the situation Lebanon is very, very depressing.

All lies are not created equal *UPDATED* & *UPDATED AGAIN*

In response to an earlier post I did about Obama’s habit of lying about easily verifiable events, beliefs and associations in his past, echeccone made the statement, one we’ve often heard, that “every politician lies.” There’s a kind of sweeping truth to that statement, but its very broadness hides the fact that not all lies are created equal. I was just going to leave a responsive comment to echeccone, but it got so long that I decided to use my blogger privilege of elevating my response to its own post. So here is my little riff on why all lies are not created equal, and why Hillary’s and Obama’s lies fall into the worst category.

As any of us who have children or who remember our own childhoods know, lying is an integral part of the human condition. There is no toddler who hasn’t stood before Mom and Dad, staring at the paint on the living room wall, and then glancing down at the paint all over his hands, only to announce without shame, “I didn’t do it.” Said child is always punished, and the punishment comes along with a lengthy explanation about the value of truth and the danger of lies. As a society, we don’t tolerate it well when people deny wrongdoing.

However, at the same time we teach children not to tell these baldfaced, punishment-avoiding lies, we also encourage them to be nice — and to do so even when that involves a lie. “If Tommy asks why you won’t play with him, don’t say it’s because he smells bad. You can say it’s because Mommy wants you home Wednesday afternoons.” These social lies easily continue into adulthood. To the question “Does this dress make me look fat,” the answer is always “No,” regardless of truth.

We also learn as we get older to use lies to protect someone else’s secrets or security. Imagine, if you will, that you’re 10 and your best friend has just confided that she loves Billy. If another classmate asks, “Does your best friend love Billy,” the answer is an emphatic “No.” We don’t betray our friends’ secrets unless someone’s safety is at stake.

Many of these things hold true in political life as well. Of course politicians are going to say they love babies and are for truth justice and the American way (or, if they’re Lefties, for the un-American way). We don’t question them too hard on these things, since we understand that the answers will be generic, just as they are with the “fat dress” question. Likewise, we expect politicians to lie if they’re being pressed about matters that are state secrets. “Hey, Pres. Truman! Are you planning on dropping the Bomb on Japan tomorrow?” That’s another “No” answer.

We also are willing to give favored politician some latitude on broken promises. Thus, the question in the voters’ collective mind when a politician breaks an promise is, “Did s/he, at the time s/he made that promise, have any intention of keeping it?” If people believe the answer is “yes,” they’ll listen with some respect to the politician’s excuses for failing to keep that promise. If the answer is “no,” or if it is apparent that no person of reasonable intelligence should have made such a promise in the first place, then voters will be much less forgiving.

And then there are the lies that Hillary and Obama tell, likes that hark back to the toddler years: They get caught doing something bad, and they simply lie about. Hillary confines herself to denials and accusations. In the face of her intransigent denials, when the truth finally emerges, she tends to look awful. Obama is more clever. His first instinct is to deny, and then he starts leaking out the ugly truth. And by leaking it out slowly, he defuses the impact of the fact that, yes, he did engage in wrongdoing or, yes, he did associate (fairly closely) with terrorists or, yes, he did know all along that his preacher is an anti-American racist kind of guy.

The thing is that, no matter how Hillary and Obama spin it, whether through denial and accusation, or a slow, deflecting acknowledgment, they’ve engaged in the types of lies that most people find unforgivable — the kind of lies that have no social utility but that are just used by the liar in a craven attempt to deflect punishment or humiliation. That is, these aren’t lies to be kind, or lies to protect someone or something (other than the liar), or statements that time proved to be untrue. These are out and out squirrely lies aimed at deceiving people about negative aspects of the politician’s conduct, personality or associations.

And that’s why it’s simply not enough to excuse Hillary and Obama by saying that all politicians lie. All lies are not equal and some are definitely worse than others.

UPDATE: Wolf Howling has an excellent analysis of Obama’s little (and big) Wright lies.

UPDATE II: And here’s another example of Obama’s ever spiraling lies, this one about ex-adviser (or not?) Robert Malley. I mean, he’s definitely an ex something, but Obama has been spinning like crazy about whether he is now or ever was an adviser.

They see guns the way I see wine

I don’t drink.  I don’t like the stuff, and have never forced myself to learn to enjoy it.  However, I often find myself in a situation that requires me to buy wine, whether for a potluck or because it’s the perfect hostess gift.  Over the years, I’ve developed a surprisingly effective technique, since I’m often told after the fact, with real sincerity, that the wines I pick are quite nice.  Here’s what you do:

  1. Decide on your price and look only at wines in that price range.
  2. Decide on your color, red, white or rose.
  3. Pick a pretty label.
  4. When you find a label you think is attractive on a bottle in your price and color, you’re done.  You’ve found your wine and you can buy it with a clear conscience.

As you can see, I’ve removed wine buying entirely from the realm of actual wine quality, and placed it into the world of visual aesthetics.

I thought of that when I heard from the Confederate Yankee that the Hillary Clinton campaign, in attacking Obama on gun control issues, sent out a mailer with a very artistic photograph of a very bizarre gun:

Over the weekend, The Clinton campaign came under fire for a mailing that attacked Barack Obama’s horrific record on guns. The ad was inaccurate—it didn’t go nearly far enough in describing the number and kind of firearms Obama would like to see banned—but as Hillary’s record is every bit as suspect regarding the ubiquitous and yet poorly misunderstood semi-automatic action, I can understand why should wouldn’t want to undercut her own less-than-credible position.

Almost immediately after that story aired, however, Clinton came under fire for the choice of gun used in the add, a rare Mauser 66 with double-set triggers. Rifles with double-set triggers are rare in the United States, but are a feature more common in Europe. The problem was further compounded by the fact that the image was flipped to show the gun as a left-handed model, and the Mauser 66 was never released as a left-handed gun. The picture therefore portrays a gun that has never been made.

This being a political season, many are looking for the real meaning behind that peculiar image choice.  CY wonders, obliquely, whether there wasn’t some sabotage involved by someone inside the campaign.  You can see him thinking, “They can’t really be that stupid about guns, can they?”

Au contraire, my friend.  I’m here to tell you that, on the Leftie side of politics, they know about guns the way I know about wine:  They chose an image that looked good — and, since the campaign is having problems raising money, they also probably chose a free image.  In other words, they relied on price and aesthetics in choosing a gun photo, using an approach that exactly parallels the way in which I choose wine.  Sometimes, a cigar is just a smoke, and a badly chosen photo is just pig-ignorance.

Anger on the Left *UPDATED*

My father was a very angry man. At whichever job he had, he was pretty darn certain that management was out to get him. At stores, he knew he was being cheated. My mother always attributed this anger, not to the poverty and dislocation of his youth (placed in an orphanage at 5, refugee from the Nazis at 15, fighter in the RAF at 19), but to the Communism of his youth.

You see, my father grew up in the Dickensian Jewish slums of Berlin in the 1920s. Unsurprisingly, these slums were hotbeds of Communism and, while his mother was apolitical, his brother and sister were fervent Communists. Although they were much older than he was, they nevertheless managed to infect him with their political ideology, so much so that, while he eventually was a rock solid Democrat (until 1980) his world view was colored by the concept of class warfare — in his mind, anyone who was better situated than he was, was by definition out to get him.

My Dad and his siblings, therefore, were Communists in the perfect Marxist sense. They emerged from the underclass. They were genuinely downtrodden. The cards were completely stacked against them. Their class animus was understandable. It also made them very, very angry, and fairly dysfunctional in ordinary capitalist circumstances. His sister, indeed, was so hostile to Israel for adopting a mild form of socialism that she returned to East Germany to live in the Communist paradise. His brother was incapable of working in a capitalist system, or even a semi-socialist system, and ended his life in squalor, a low-level civil servant in Copenhagen, living in a one room apartment with his wife and child.

As for my Dad, he married my mom. My mom, too, had a life time of poverty and dislocation, but was never tainted by Communism. She is, indeed, to this day, perfectly happy with Capitalism in theory, although the fact that she was married to my father meant she never got to realize any real economic benefits from the system. Because of my Mom, my Dad completed his education, had children, and held down a job. He bought a home, and he became friends with rich people because, while we had no money, my Mom has class. He discovered that rich people, at least in America, weren’t evil parasites but were, in fact, very nice — and very hard-working. He moved right, so far, in fact, that he was one of the Reagan Democrats. I’m certain that he would be a McCain Demcrat too, were he still living. But he still would have been paranoid, convinced that the world was out to get him.

Believe it or not, there is a point to all of this biographical rumination and it’s anger. One could accuse my Mom of being guilty of amateur armchair psychology, with her certainty that it was Communism, not poverty, that fed my Dad’s anger. I think she’s right, though. We see even today that the Left is very, very angry. Despite the fact that life in America is, for most people, very good and certainly is, again for most people, better than it’s ever been at any other time or place in history, the Left sees America in only the grimmest terms. America is an evil oppressor. America intentionally hurts people. America lives to abuse people for racist reasons. You’ve seen DailyKos and the Democratic Underground and the HuffPo and the New York Times and the WaPo, and you know these feelings are out there.

What’s peculiar about this evil capitalist mantra is that it no longer emanates from the underclass. Think about the proponents of these theories: John Kerry, billionaire; Al Gore, multi-millionaire; John Edwards, multi-millionaire; Hillary Clinton, multi-millionaire; Nancy Pelosi, multi-millionaire; Jeremiah Wright, rich pastor moving into exclusive white enclave; the Obamas, products of America’s top education systems and, within the past few years, millionaires; Harry Reid, multi-millionaire; Barbara Boxer, millionaire. I’m stopping here, but you can add your own names to the list.

These people I’ve named are not, as my father was, social rejects who live in (or came from) squalor that is almost impossible to imagine now. They haven’t been kicked from pillar to post by the upper classes, nor have they been refugees, nor have they been denied opportunities. These people are the cream of the crop, the ones who have benefited most from America’s economic and educational opportunities. For those of us working gazillions of hours a week, holding two jobs, watching fuel prices tick up, wondering how we’ll pay for our children’s educations, and hoping no one gets seriously sick, they are the ones to be envied. They are the ruling class.

And yet every single one of the people I’ve named, and all of the similarly situated people I didn’t think of but that you did, share something in common with my down-trodden, refugee father — they’re really, really angry. So I have to think that this overarching, paranoid anger does not arise because of someone’s economic situation or their vertical position in the social hierarchy. Instead, my Mom was right all along: Communism, or whatever form of Leftism is currently in vogue, is attractive to those who are angry, and it breeds anger in those who otherwise might avoid that emotion.

And while anger is a universal trait, and clearly operates to help us survive in dangerous situations, those of us who have lived with chronic anger know that its long-term effects can only be harmful. For the angry individual, the results are ill-health, as the heart and guts rebel against the streams of bile flowing through the system. For the person living with someone angry, the downsides run the gamut from stress, anxiety and depression, to actual physical danger (a situation that my father, bless him, never created). And for those who live in a country powered by the angry, one sees political self-loathing, which leads suicidal behavior when it comes to both the economy and national security.

One of the things I’ve come to like about John McCain is that, while he definitely has a temper, that seems to be a generic trait. That is, he suffers from situational anger. He has what, in the old days, used to be called a quick temper. He is, in other respects, a sunny optimistic soul, and that despite his years as a POW. What McCain clearly lacks is the brooding, paranoid anger that characterizes the Left, and for that reason I believe that, his temper notwithstanding, he’d definitely be a sunnier presence in the White House than his embittered opponents.

I also think that Americans share McCain’s more sunny optimism. I can’t imagine that, over the long run, they’re going to be attracted to professional paranoids who live in the mansions on the hill, sucking every bit of wealth they can from the system, all the while castigating ordinary Americans for being greedy, embittered fools.

UPDATEHere’s something to chew on regarding the basic decency and optimism that characterizes John McCain.

Jeremiah Wright at the National Press Club

The most un-rev Jeremiah Wright elaborated today on his various statements during an appearance at the National Press Club. What he had to say was most enlightening since, when he wasn’t prevaricating or deflecting a point with self-deprecating humor, he sounded pretty ugly. Here are a few things that caught my attention:

MODERATOR: What is your relationship with Louis Farrakhan? Do you agree with and respect his views, including his most racially divisive views?

WRIGHT: As I said on the Bill Moyers’ show, one of our news channels keeps playing a news clip from 20 years ago when Louis said 20 years ago that Zionism, not Judaism, was a gutter religion. [I don't really know if the Right Rev. is capable of understanding this, but Zionism is not a religion, it's a political movement. If Farrakhan referred to something as a "gutter religion" he was making an antisemitic statement about Jews. And since I doubt that Wright is enough of a fool to be this confused, Wright is too, and he's hoping that in this bizarre cascade of words, no one will notice.]

And he was talking about the same thing United Nations resolutions say, the same thing now that President Carter is being vilified for, and Bishop Tutu is being vilified for. [Poor Wright. He just doesn't understand why people should be vilified if they keep standing up and saying that Persians, Arabs and Muslims (separate but overlapping groups) are within their rights to (a) state their intention to destroy Israel entirely and (b) take whatever steps they can, from killing one child at a time to building nuclear weapons, to bring that goal to fruition. Whether those sentiments come from Carter, the rabidly anti-Israeli UN, Farrakhan or Wright, they're utterly reprehensible and completely antisemitic.] And everybody wants to paint me as if I’m anti-Semitic because of what Louis Farrakhan said 20 years ago.

I believe that people of all faiths have to work together in this country if we’re going to build a future for our children, whether those people are — just as Michelle and Barack don’t agree on everything, Raymond (ph) and I don’t agree on everything, Louis and I don’t agree on everything, most of you all don’t agree — you get two people in the same room, you’ve got three opinions.

So what I think about him, as I’ve said on Bill Moyers and it got edited out, how many other African-Americans or European-Americans do you know that can get one million people together on the mall? [So could Hitler, Mao, and Stalin. It doesn't make them admirable. I'm not actually saying Farrakhan is as bad as those guys, although he definitely espouses their beliefs. I'm just saying that the mere fact that someone can be a demagogue doesn't make him virtuous.] He is one of the most important voices in the 20th and 21st century. That’s what I think about him.

I’ve said, as I said on Bill Moyers, when Louis Farrakhan speaks, it’s like E.F. Hutton speaks, all black America listens. Whether they agree with him or not, they listen. [Same demagoguery point I made above.]

Now, I am not going to put down Louis Farrakhan anymore than Mandela would put down Fidel Castro. Do you remember that Ted Koppel show, where Ted wanted Mandela to put down Castro because Castro was our enemy? And he said, “You don’t tell me who my enemies are. You don’t tell me who my friends are.” [In other words, Castro is another one whom Wright admires. He has no moral center. Whoops. Strike that. He does have a moral center: The enemy of my enemy is my friend seems to be his view. Since he hates America, despite his six years of military service, anyone who hates America too is a good guy.]

Louis Farrakhan is not my enemy. He did not put me in chains. He did not put me in slavery. And he didn’t make me this color. [This whole string is peculiar. Last I looked, since the Civil War, no one in America, regardless of color, has been putting blacks in the chains of slavery. Even more interestingly, is Wright actually saying here that being black is a bad thing, akin with slavery? Certainly the parallel structure he employs indicates that he believes being black is bad, and that ones enemies visit that curse upon one.]

Also fascinating was Wright’s explanation of what he meant about the difference between him — as Pastor — and Obama — a politician. Considering how well Obama professes to know Wright, given their 20 year long pastoral association, Wright’s allusions to Obama’s honest (or lack thereof) are worth noting:

MODERATOR: What is your motivation for characterizing Senator Obama’s response to you as, quote, “what a politician had to say”? What do you mean by that?

WRIGHT: What I mean is what several of my white friends and several of my white, Jewish friends have written me and said to me. They’ve said, “You’re a Christian. You understand forgiveness. We both know that, if Senator Obama did not say what he said, he would never get elected.” [In other words, says Wright, on the Left we all understand that you have to lie to the American people and hide your real viewpoints in other to get elected.]

Politicians say what they say and do what they do based on electability, based on sound bites, based on polls, Huffington, whoever’s doing the polls. [Again, he's saying that Obama is lying because that's the only way he'll get elected.] Preachers say what they say because they’re pastors. They have a different person to whom they’re accountable.

As I said, whether he gets elected or not, I’m still going to have to be answerable to God November 5th and January 21st. That’s what I mean. I do what pastors do. He does what politicians do. [Obama lies.]

I am not running for office. I am hoping to be vice president. [If you listen to the live broadcast, the very receptive audience screams with laughter at this point.]

I’m not going to dissect any more. It was rather sickening to listen to him. The bile, illogic and dishonesty that flows from him made me feel really bad.

Apropos the fact that Wright’s mental perambulations are really horrible for Obama, some are wondering whether Wright, either out of spite because Obama shunned him or out of avarice because there’s money somewhere, is trying to line himself up with the Clinton faction. If that’s the case, Shakespeare couldn’t have done any better with a plot of ego, avarice, and treachery.

The wildly funny thing about all this is that, because the “non-racial” Obama has managed to back himself into a corner where he is clearly the black candidate, the Democratic party pooh-bahs are supporting him in trickles and floods, despite his falling numbers, because they can’t afford to alienate their single most reliable voting block: African-Americans.

A depressed Democrat

Marin is about as liberal a community as one can possibly find.  That means that the analyst for the local political newspaper is a liberal too.  Right now, he’s a very depressed liberal, since he’s absolutely certain that the Democrats are imploding, leading to the inevitability of a McCain victory:

Arizona Sen. McCain will be victorious on Nov. 4. The heroic McCain is the only Republican with any hope of attracting independents and moderate Democrats. That’s something that Republicans, facing annihilation after the unpopular Bush-Cheney era, desperately need. While I acknowledge questioning my sagacity in late 2007 during McCain’s dark days, he ultimately vindicated my hunch.

McCain now faces a Democratic Party tearing itself apart. If the 1980 Jimmy Carter-Ted Kennedy primary contest taught us anything, it’s that a party divided upon entering a national convention will lose. I acknowledge the economy has tanked, there’s no way out of the Iraq fiasco and that public confidence is as low as the price of gas is high. Yet when it comes to losing presidential elections, the Democratic mantra is “Yes, I can.”

In fighting for the top spot, Clinton not only has taken the luster out of the once-sparkling Obama, she has managed to amplify her already negative image. That will be fatal in the fall election.

McCain will win IF he gets back on his Straight Talk Express and distances himself from the befuddled Bush. While this will displease the political right, hatred of all things Clinton will keep them in the Arizonan’s camp. McCain’s problem is that he’s off to a slow start by pandering to the shrinking GOP base. Perhaps wiser hands will steer him back to the middle after the Minneapolis convention.

As for me, I hope he’s right.  McCain, despite his myriad flaws, is infinitely preferable to either Hillary or Obama.

By the way, I can think of one other reason Hillary might not win, although it’s a silly one.  I just realized as I wrote this post that I always refer to McCain and Obama by their last names, because those names are unique in the political race.  I refer to Hillary, however, by her first name, not as a sign of disrespect, but to distinguish her from her husband.  The fact that a woman ends up with this casual appellation does not bode well for subliminal signals about her stature.  Others are probably going to pick up on this same subliminal “girl” quality, and are not going to give her quite the deference given the “men.”  She’ll lose for that reason too, I think.

The tortoise and the hare

You all know Aesop’s class tale of the race between the tortoise and the hare: At the starting gate, the hare picks up so much speed that it soon vanishes completely, while the tortoise plods on behind. Within sight of the finish line, however, when the hare looks backwards and realizes that the tortoise isn’t even in the same time zone, he decides to refresh himself with a little nap. As he sleeps, the tortoise, who has never slowed his steady pace, comes abreast of him, passes him and, before the hare has a chance to regroup, crosses the finish line, winning the race. Aesop’s moral: The race is not always to the swift.

Now tell me if that story doesn’t remind you of the current state of the Presidential race. Hillary and Obama, bickering all the way, were put on the fast track by the MSM. One after the other, each was anointed as the obvious successor to the disastrous George Bush. Neither could fail. Hillary had the unbeatable, overwhelming Clinton machine behind her; Obama had that indefinable charisma liberals lust after. McCain was shunted aside as an irrelevant old man.

Something interesting is happening, though. The bloom quickly faded from Hillary’s rose when the MSM fell in love with Obama. And while the MSM is still in love with Obama, Obama is struggling to deal with his own past. Absent any substantive political record, his associates and acolytes are coming under scrutiny, and it’s not a pretty picture. Whether he courted them or they courted him, they’re locked in an embrace on a pretty unappealing dance floor, and ordinary Americans are looking on Obama as an increasingly less attractive partner for a political romance.

Meanwhile, John McCain plods steadily on. He appears here, he appears there. He makes nice, quiet little speeches. He does what he has to do distance himself from George Bush, because he knows that, if he comes too close, he gets tarred with the BDS brush (or just with the “we’re sick of Bush in the White House after 8 painful years” brush.) As to this distancing, I’m betting that George Bush, being a gentleman, a pragmatist, and a politician, if he spoke with McCain, would say something along the lines of “Do what you have to do to win, Buddy-Boy. It won’t hurt my feelings.”

So, despite the fact that Hillary and Obama hurtled out of the starting gate, and have been helped with big, big pushes from their sycophants in the media, I’m wondering if they’re not going to be forced into something analogous to nap mode as they near the finish line. They’re being shackled by the garbage that’s being dug up about them, as well as by the fact that, under stress, his charm fails and her scolding increases. Meanwhile, McCain just keeps moving forward, slowly, steadily and, perhaps, inexorably.