The media and this election

I haven’t gotten up to speed yet this morning for blogging, but my fellow bloggers have, and they’ve already posted some good stuff.

The Anchoress has noticed that, as the debates draw near, the MSM is working diligently to prepare the American audience . . . by lowering expectations.  Obama, once hailed as the greatest American orator since Lincoln, is now being billed as uneven and inexperienced (which is really shocking, considering that his resume as a lawyer and a teacher is supposed to make him at least marginally adept at dealing with oral challenges, right?).

Then, per Confederate Yankee, we learn that there is no proof to back up the reprehensible charge that Alaska generally and Wasilla specifically, under Palin, charged women who had been raped with the price of the rape kits used on them.  One person made the charge to much press hullabaloo, and then vanished; myriad people have rebutted the charge, and the press has ignored them completely.  Hmmm.

In response to the charge that the NYT is one of his propagand arms, Obama fired back with the claim that the NYT has written 40 “probing” stories about him.  Laer examined Obama’s charge very carefully and found it wanting.

Grass roots, my a**!

Dr. Rusty Shackleford has been investigating the myriad smears that sprang into life instantly the moment Palin arrived on the political scene.  The smears appeared to be the result of grass roots efforts from concerned citizens.  Shackleford’s research shows that the opposite is true — that a PR firm has been orchestrating this effort to manipulate the American voter:

Extensive research was conducted by the Jawa Report to determine the source of smears directed toward Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Those smears included false allegations that she belonged to a secessionist political party and that she has radical anti-American views.

Our research suggests that a subdivision of one of the largest public relations firms in the world most likely started and promulgated rumors about Sarah Palin that were known to be false. These rumors were spread in a surreptitious manner to avoid exposure.

It is also likely that the PR firm was paid by outside sources to run the smear campaign. While not conclusive, evidence suggests a link to the Barack Obama campaign. Namely:

  • Evidence suggests that a YouTube video with false claims about Palin was uploaded and promoted by members of a professional PR firm.
  • The family that runs the PR firm has extensive ties to the Democratic Party, the netroots, and are staunch Obama supporters.
  • Evidence suggests that the firm engaged in a concerted effort to distribute the video in such a way that it would appear to have gone viral on its own. Yet this effort took place on company time.
  • Evidence suggests that these distribution efforts included actions by at least one employee of the firm who is unconnected with the family running the company.
  • The voice-over artist used in this supposedly amateur video is a professional.
  • This same voice-over artist has worked extensively with David Axelrod’s firm, which has a history of engaging in phony grassroots efforts, otherwise known as “astroturfing.”
  • David Axelrod is Barack Obama’s chief media strategist.
  • The same voice-over artist has worked directly for the Barack Obama campaign.

This suggests that false rumors and outright lies about Sarah Palin and John McCain being spread on the internet are being orchestrated by political partisans and are not an organic grassroots phenomenon led by the left wing fringe. Our findings follow.

You can read the rest — in which Shackleford carefully backs up each of his claims — here.

Questioning whether Hillary will be the October surprise

It’s Saturday and I’m posting at McCain-Palin 2008.  As always, since I think it’s a wonderful cooperative blog, I’d like to get more traffic headed its way and, therefore, I’m publishing the beginning of my post here in the hope that you finish reading the rest of it there:

Biden is a never-ending source of delight — for those who don’t like Biden. Whether he’s chastising reporters for being out of shape, demanding that the wealthy show their patriotism by transferring their money to the middle class, making bizarre and ill-informed pronouncements regarding Catholic doctrine and abortion, or offending Ohioans en masse, you can really count on the guy to get it done (or, should I say, to get it done wrong). Nothing about this is new; it’s just Biden being Biden.

If gravitas means being old, gray, and a Congressional seat warmer, Biden is the ticket. However, if gravitas means being thoughtful, informed and wise, Biden is, and always was, the comedy man in this straight man’s role. Although Obama must have known going in what he was getting with Biden, you can’t help wondering if he’s suffering from buyer’s remorse right now. That’s especially true given the legions of women who took umbrage at the way he cavalierly insulted Hillary and who, in response, fled to McCain.

The question then, at least in the blogosphere, is whether Obama is going to pressure Biden to withdraw for some sympathetic reason, such as health or a family crisis, enabling Hillary to come in and save the day. While everyone with any sense will know that Biden’s withdrawal is manufactured, some women may be so glad to see Hillary back on the ticket that they’ll yield to the Democrats’ siren song. Frankly, I’ve been one of those worried about this.

Noemie Emery, however, is much more sanguine.

So, if you want to read more, you’ll find the rest here.

Life imitates art when it comes to the Palin candidacy

Many years ago, courtesy of Turner Classic Movies (my favorite TV station), I watched The Farmer’s Daughter, a 1947 film starring Loretta Young and Joseph Cotten.  Over the years, I’ve carried a strong memory of liking the movie a great deal, and no memory at all of the plot.  So, when I saw that The Farmer’s Daughter was coming around again, I asked TiVo to catch it for me — and am I glad I did.

First of all, the movie is every bit as charming as I remember, and I’d probably think that even if I wasn’t a Joseph Cotten fan.  It’s a wonderful bit of movie-making from the heyday of the Hollywood studio system, with the stars luminous and the character actors pitch perfect.

Second, the movie seems prescient about Palin’s presence in the presidential race.  For those who don’t know (spoiler alert here), Loretta Young, sporting a strong American/Swedish accent, plays the eponymous “farmer’s daughter,” a young woman named Katrin Holstrom.   Katrin is beautiful, incredibly competent, strong, cheerful and has solid middle American values.

When we first meet Katrin, she is leaving the family farm for the big city, where she plans to attend nursing school.  Unfortunately, hoping to save some money, she hops a ride with City Slicker (yes, capital letters for that old fashioned concept) who tries to hit on her (she rebuffs him), and leaves her broke and stranded.  Undaunted by this setback, she makes her way to the City and, to re-earn money for nursing school, takes a job as a maid for the fabulously wealthy Congressman Glenn Morley (that would be Joseph Cotten).

Because this is a Hollywood movie from the 1940s, Katrin and Glenn, of course, fall in love.  But politics intrudes.  Glenn’s fellow congressman dies suddenly, leaving his seat open.  The “party” (unnamed but, in this Truman era movie out of already-then-progressive Hollywood, clearly the Republican party) nominates someone it thinks is electable — and Katrin objects, quite publicly, to his myriad political defects.  The “opposition” (Democratic, of course) sees a winner in Katrin’s beautiful looks, wholesome aspect and clear talk, and convinces her to run for Congress.

Katrin’s run is going very well indeed until, suddenly, scandal erupts.  The painter who took her money and abandoned her, appears to announce that she spent an illicit night with him.  She is publicly humiliated and her candidacy looks as if it will collapse.

So far, I’m sure you’re with me on the parallels to Palin’s story:  beautiful, incredibly competent, clear-speaking, honorable woman is plucked out of obscurity to great political acclaim.  However, as her candidacy picks up speed, nefarious forces emerge to try to tarnish her image (Tasergate, alleged faked pregnancies, alleged affairs, alleged censorship, and a whole lot of other alleged et ceteras).

And this, of course, is where the movie and the Palin reality part ways.  In the movie, as you can guess, the forces of good band together to save Katrin’s reputation and prove that she’s being unfairly besmirched, she and Morley profess their love for each other, and everyone lives happily ever after, in both life and politics.

How different from what is happening to Palin.  In Palin’s case, there is not one besmirching, but many.  And unlike the situation in the movie, where the removal of a single smear reveals Katrin as her true moral self, here the removal of one smear leads the opposition to redouble its efforts and come up with more and more slanders.

Worse, in the public narrative — the newspapers — there is no knight in shining armor to come and rescue Palin’s reputation.  Instead, it is shredded into ever smaller pieces, with each bit of exculpatory information buried deep within the papers’ unread pages.

The 1947 movie is a powerful indictment of the way in which political corruption and moral turpitude can come together to destroy the strongest person.  It’s only the Hollywood happy ending machine that keeps the movie going as a fairly light romance and prevents it from veering into tragedy.

We can only hope as we watch the machine rage against Palin that she is able to pull off a happy ending in real life, so that we can all watch the movie next year with a smile, rather than regret.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News.

Difficult decisions

The media is struggling with difficult decisions.  On the one hand, media members have to ask themselves if they should report about Sarah Palin’s tanning bed, the fact that she was interested in seeing her ex-brother-in-law lose his job after issuing death threats to her father and tasering her nephew, or her question about controversial books (a question that never went anywhere, mind you).  On the other hand, they’re wondering whether they should report that Barack Obama has had tight relationships for decades with known America-haters, who advanced Communism, race hatred and sexual deviance; that he played a money/political back-scratching game with a felon (that would be Rezko); that he spent twenty years listening to a pastor spouting race and America hatred; that he tried to keep American troops in Iraq, despite his claim that they their presence their was dangerous and unnecessary, simply to advance his own political ascendency; and myriad other little details that keep popping up about Barack Obama’s past and politics.  Decisions, decisions….

Okay, you got me.  The above was a total lie.  It was complete satire.  The media has never faced down this decision.  For the media, it’s always been a no-brainer.  Their patriotic duty, as they see it, is to ensure that Obama wins and McCain loses.  Media members have no interest in being the public’s eyes and ears, dutifully reporting all available information to the American people so that the latter can draw their own opinion.  The stories revolving around this election and the way in which media members choose stories and attack and defend the candidates make it plain that the media has abandoned its role as an investigative organization, and has become, for the most part, a highly partisan branch of the Democratic party.

By the way, for those with short historic memories, there was a party organ like that in the former Soviet Union, with the ironic name of Pravda (truth).

A serious time in American politics

Almost three years ago, Thomas Lifson wrote what I think is one of the most important political analyses I’ve ever read — and one that goes a long way to explaining the way in which American voters are slowly abandoning Obama and coalescing around the McCain ticket.  Thomas believes that their are two political seasons:  the attentive and the inattentive season.

With less than 50 days to the election, the public is paying attention right now, and the MSM is failing them, and failing them badly.  Rather than providing fairly objective reporting about all four people on the Presidential ticket, they are composing hagiographies for one side of the ticket, and firing vicious partisan attacks against the other side.  The media’s conduct is not fulfilling the role the public demands of it right now and, in that vacuum, the public is hewing to the known product — McCain.  Palin is exciting and energizing, but I think it’s McCain who, in a quiet and rather graceful way, is filling the vacuum.

Anyway, read what Thomas has to say and let me know what you think.

False syllogisms

For many years, I’ve thought that people confuse fairly neutral conduct with bad motives, resulting in false syllogisms.  I first came to this conclusion after reading John McWhorter’s wonderful Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America.  Although my memories are a bit hazy about the details of the book, I seem to recall reading him bemoaning the fact that part of the Black community’s self-sabotage was the refusal to engage in the “white” work ethic of being reliable.

The message I took away from the book was that the Black community created a false syllogism:  Slavery was work and slavery was evil, therefore all work is evil.  Merely to state the proposition is to expose how flawed it is.  Slavery wasn’t about work.  It was about owning human beings and treating them like animals, rather than free agents, who could select their employment and be properly compensated for their contributions.  The work of a free agent in a free market isn’t evil.  It is, at least as far as I’m concerned, a good thing or, at the very least, a neutral thing.

Another false syllogism is that the Vietnam War was a bad war, therefore all wars are bad wars.  Wars are certainly hell, and there have been bad wars, but not all wars are bad. War is part of a human condition, and what matters in determining a war’s validity is the motives of those who fight a given war.

Looking at things from the American perspective, I truly believe that WWII was a good war, and that was despite mismanagement and mixed motives.  I believe the Civil War was a good war, and that was despite mismanagement and mixed motives.  And I believe the Revolutionary War was a good war.

What made those wars good despite the blood-bath element?  The fact that, on our side, the American side, they were being fought to free people, not to enslave them.  That a particular post-war period didn’t necessarily see freedom being put into effect as one would wish (especially with regards to slavery in the post-Revolutionary era and Jim Crow in the post-Civil War era) does not change the fact that these wars were fought for the highest human ideal:  freedom.

In the same vein, I would categorize the Vietnam War as a good war, since we were trying to rescue Vietnam from the slavery of Communism.  That we failed — and we failed mostly because of our own Fifth Column — resulted in those poor Vietnamese and Cambodians being subject to precisely the Communist slavery we sought to avoid.

Another false syllogism is that, because people have killed in God’s name, religion is evil and should be abolished.  In fact, as history shows, while people have used religion as a vehicle for their evil motives, it has also been the light shining the way to their greatest good.

Certainly there are things in the Jewish Bible that anti-religious people can criticize:  The unfair killing of the First Born in Egypt, merely because Pharoah was stubborn; the Jews’ scorched-earth policy when they first returned to the Promised Land; the harsh prohibitions against homosexuality; and the mandate to kill witches spring to mind.

But overall, compared to the moral landscape in the ancient, pagan world around them, the Jewish Bible was a hugely moral book.  Just to name a few examples, the Jews were the first people in the ancient world to limit slavery, requiring that Jews free their slaves after a set number of years.  The rules around Kosher food, too, were humane:  When the Jews mandated that animals be killed swiftly by having their throats cut (something animal rights activists find horrifying today), they were doing so against a backdrop of ritual animal slaughter that saw animals having their bellies slit open and their entrails slowly removed, while they still lived, so that they priests could read the “signs.”  The rule against mixing meat and milk was also humane in intention, because the Jews thought it indescribably cruel to cook an animal in the milk that once gave it life.

And yes it’s true that, in the medieval world, the Christian message was often perverted to allow the powerful to put their enemies to death, whether it was the Spanish Inquisition or the religious wars that convulsed Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries.  Those were human twists on Christ’s words, though, not the words themselves (something that stands in stark contrast to Mohammad’s words, which enjoin his followers to slaughter and subjugate unbelievers).

By the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Christianity was paving the way for the freedoms we recognize now:  our Constitutional freedoms, which the Founders believed came from their Judeo-Christian God; the abolition of slavery, which was, first and foremost, an Evangelical concern; the end of child labor, another Evangelical concern; and the end of Jim Crow, which also found footing amongst church groups, at least in the North.

In other words, religion is as easily a force for good as it is for evil.  Man can go either way, and it is his intentions that determine the use to which religion is put.  Religion as a force for good becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, with each generation teaching its morals to the next.

It’s worth thinking about this last point when you hear Sarah Palin being taunted as a religious “extremist.”  What, precisely, is extreme about her religion?  She believes in God, she prays to God, she has the humility to hope that she is doing God’s work, and she chooses a child’s Life over woman’s inconvenience, which is not great for many women, but is certainly the more humane, less pagan/medieval option, etc.  The extremist tag comes about because, on the Left, a false syllogism has taken root:  Because bad things have happened in the name of religion, religion is bad — and anyone who takes religion seriously is, therefore, bad too.

I bet you can find other false syllogisms permeating Leftist thinking, especially as this political race heats up.  As for me, I’m tired and I’ll leave that thinking to you.

From the McCain campaign to the world

The McCain campaign is giving substantive responses to the attacks the Obama campaign is leveling against it:

TO:                 Interested Parties

RE:                Empty Words And Insults Cannot Cover A Weak Record

DATE:            September 15, 2008

Over the last few days, the Obama campaign has watched their poll numbers falter and decided to lash out with personal attacks against Senator McCain and Governor Palin.

While their attacks can be explained in part as an over-reaction to declining poll numbers, they are also symptomatic of a candidate with a thin record who is unable to explain problematic votes and statements.  Senator Obama unwittingly provided a preview of this strategy in Denver when he said: “If you don’t have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from.”

Because in many instances the facts are not on his side, Senator Obama has made up for this by hurling insults in the hope that people will not examine the record. In recent days, we have seen this tactic played out repeatedly:

Earmarks: In recent days, Barack Obama has decided to engage Senator McCain and Governor Sarah Palin in a debate over earmarks. However, despite his attempts to call everyone who examines his record a liar, the facts are clear:

While Senator McCain has never requested a single earmark, Senator Obama has requested nearly a billion dollars worth during his short time in office.  Though Senator Biden has been in the Senate for 36 years, he has only disclosed his earmarks for one year.

Senator Obama increased his earmark requests during each of his first three years in office. Governor Palin has cut requests for earmarks for Alaska by $150 million since entering office, and she has cut those requests every single year.  She has also vetoed a half billion dollars in wasteful spending at the state level.

Senator Obama has also attacked Governor Palin over the “Bridge to Nowhere,” despite the fact that he actually voted for the bridge, and his own party in Alaska credited her for ending the project.  The fact is the bridge ballooned in cost between the time it was first budgeted and when Palin became governor. Once in the Governor’s office, Palin examined the new facts and concluded that the project had become too expensive and a poor use of tax dollars. This conclusion led to her decision to end the project, as detailed in numerous press accounts at the time.

Sex Education: When confronted with questions about his support for K through 12 sex education, Barack Obama has lashed out at the propriety of any questions on what he voted for.  The text of the bill in question reads:

“Each class or course in comprehensive sex education offered in any of grades K through 12 shall include instruction on the prevention of sexually transmitted infections, including the prevention, transmission and spread of HIV.”

The fact is that this legislation stated expressly that children in grades kindergarten through 12 were to be taught about sexually transmitted diseases.  If Senator Obama believes that it is not appropriate to teach kindergarteners about sexually transmitted diseases, he should have joined with the minority who voted against the bill.  Instead, he supported it.

While Senator Obama has tried to assert that all he’s ever been concerned about was protecting young children from predators, the facts tell a different story.  For example, in describing his position on sex ed for kindergarteners in 2004, Obama specifically said it included topics other than sex predators or inappropriate touching, saying, “If they ask a teacher ‘where do babies come from,’ that providing information that the fact is that it’s not a stork is probably not an unhealthy thing.”

In 2007, Barack Obama told Planned Parenthood that he supported “age-appropriate” sex education for kindergarteners. When challenged about what was “age-appropriate,” the Obama campaign cited guidelines that included comprehensive and explicit teaching that should concern every parent.

Taxes: The Obama campaign claims that anyone who says that Senator Obama is going to raise taxes is lying. But the fact is that what Senator Obama says and what he has voted for are two different things.

He pledges on the campaign trail that he wouldn’t raise taxes on the middle class, but in the Senate, he voted for higher taxes on people making just $42,000 per year. He has voted for higher taxes or against tax cuts 94 times.  It is not a lie to point out this record of votes.  At the beginning of the campaign, he promised to raise taxes on every American with an investment through his increases on capital gains and dividend taxes.

Over the course of this campaign, he has run away from this record of supporting higher taxes. That is not surprising in an election year, but that is also why the record is important.  Senator Obama has put forth so many versions of his tax plan, voters are naturally going to judge him not just on what he says on the campaign trail, but what he has done during his time in office.

Senator Obama can hurl all the insults he wants, but his record is still a fair point of discussion in this campaign.

Charles Gibson — two headed donkey

It turns out that Charles Gibson has two different interview modes.  If you’re male, black and a Democrat, it’s very loving.  If you’re female, white and a Republican, it’s condescending, aggressive, and dishonest.  I know that from all the articles I’ve read about each interview.  Now, the Anchoress reprints a compendium of questions (generated at a Hillary forum) from each interview, just to hammer the nail into Gibson’s two-faced coffin.  (And yes, that’s a weirdly mixed metaphor):

Obama interview:

How does it feel to break a glass ceiling?
How does it feel to “win”?
How does your family feel about your “winning” breaking a glass ceiling?
Who will be your VP?
Should you choose Hillary Clinton as VP?
Will you accept public finance?
What issues is your campaign about?
Will you visit Iraq?
Will you debate McCain at a town hall?
What did you think of your competitor’s [Clinton] speech?

Palin interview:
Do you have enough qualifications for the job you’re seeking? Specifically have you visited foreign countries and met foreign leaders?
Aren’t you conceited to be seeking this high level job?
Questions about foreign policy
-territorial integrity of Georgia
-allowing Georgia and Ukraine to be members of NATO
-NATO treaty
-Iranian nuclear threat
-what to do if Israel attacks Iran
-Al Qaeda motivations
-the Bush Doctrine
-attacking terrorists harbored by Pakistan
Is America fighting a holy war? [misquoted Palin]

H/T: Mike Devx, who was also kind enough to check to make sure that the list is correct.

Rhetoric versus reality

One of the things that’s been playing through my head lately is the distance between the liberal worldview and actual reality.  The media arguments directed at Palin, especially those that deal with women’s issues, really highlighted that divide for me.

Let’s begin with the way in which liberals distinguish themselves from conservativeds, something David Smithee examines in Palin and the Left’s Comprehension Gap.  The title is self-explanatory.  Smithee explains that part of the hubris that characterizes the Left is the fact that it is unable to take a clear look at conservatives.  It sets up easily defeated straw men, without ever really touching upon true conservatism, a mistake the conservatives tend not to make:

But we also know that when liberals look at conservatives, no such courtesy or openness of mind is extended. They don’t see considered issues, critical thought, or the faintest possibility of reason. They see white trash men waving bibles at teen brides, while a gaggle of kids groom each other for lice on a cracked linoleum floor. ‘Bitter clingers’ who mindlessly adhere to second-amendment rights so they can shoot baby possum off a tin fence on slow Friday nights. The other sort of conservative invariably invokes 19th century robber barons, plutocrat industrialists swollen with loot plundered from the proletariat, abating their whipping of Dickensian child labor just long enough to polish a monocle.

The flip side of this hysterical denigration is the liberals’ own self-aggrandizement.  If conservatives are people who crawl in the dirt, alternately praying to God and picking lice, liberals, by obvious corollary, are higher beings, with vast intelligence and delicately refined sensibilities.

Certainly that’s how I always understand myself as a Democrat:  I was better educated, more refined, and better traveled than my conservative counterparts.  Therefore, any conclusions I drew, values I had, and opinions I held must be better too.  Never mind that there are large numbers of educated, refined, and well traveled conservatives, and never mind that conservative conclusions, values and opinions actually operate with more efficiency and humanity in the real world (as opposed to the theoretical one).  It was enough that I knew I was better than they were.

For a long time, because they own the MSM, Lefties have been able to sell the American public on their “we’re better than you are, so just shut up and follow our lead” meme.  What’s so wonderful about the Palin candidacy is less what it says about conservatives, who really haven’t changed, and more what it says about liberals, who are casting off their loving sheep mantels and showing the wolfish reality behind the rhetoric.  It’s not pretty.

The “feminist” attacks on Palin are the ugliest thing of all, of course.  They reveal that “feminism” has absolutely nothing to do with enabling women to live as fully realized citizens in the United States of America, able to strive for all the opportunities this great country makes available to its citizens.  (Or, alternatively, opting to take advantage of the opportunity to be an old-fashioned wife and mother, which is just another right of citizenship in America.)

Instead, feminism has almost nothing to do with paving the way for full and equal citizenship for women, and everything to do with bowing before the Leftist political line.  Politically-aware conservatives have long known this.  The attacks on Palin allow others to see it.  (For more on this topic, I recommend Jonah Goldberg’s column, which spells out what’s going on with these current anti-Palin attacks, and Christina Hoff-Sommer’s wonderful Who Stole Feminism?: How Women Have Betrayed Women, which was published in 1995, but is as fresh today as the day it was written.)

When it comes to women, Obama is just as guilty of putting distance between himself and his high flown rhetoric.  Despite the fact that equal pay for equal work has been the law of the land since 1964, Obama has shrilly demanded he be elected because, he assures us, under his tender loving care American will finally see the realization of the historic goal  of “equal pay for equal worth.”  Let’s ignore the fact that his muddled rhetoric really seems to be aiming at the nightmare of “comparable worth” pay, which seeks to have some Leftist college professor assign an abstract value to women dominated jobs, to make them line up nice will men dominated jobs.  The Hell with the market.  Let the government and the professors assign wages.  It worked in the Soviet Union, right?

But as I said, let’s ignore that.  Instead, let’s focus on Obama’s own reality.  It’s obvious that, if he’s saying those things he must mean them, right?  Right? I’m sorry to say that the answer is “wrong.”  As Deroy Murdock explains, a non-partisan group that presents data about the wages American senators pay their staff reveals Obama’s ugly little secret:  the women who work for him have lower level positions and lower wages.  Strikingly, McCain’s staff has women holding the higher level positions and receiving higher wages.

Keeping on the subject of women, it turns out that the whole “pro-Choice” theme constantly sounded by Leftists since 1973 is also more rhetoric than reality.  For 30 plus years, Americans have been told that the Left isn’t pro-Abortion, it’s pro-Choice (with the corollary being that the conservatives are anti-Choice).  It turns out that this too was also more rhetoric than reality.  I already quoted the following yesterday, but I’m going to quote it again today — “it” being James Taranto’s analysis of three of the more horrible attacks against Sarah Palin for her decision to have baby Trig:

This is worse than tasteless or even unhinged. It is depraved. It represents an inversion of any reasonable conception of right and wrong, including liberal conceptions.

Fowler uses Palin’s motherhood to disparage her accomplishments, an obvious betrayal of the principle of women’s equality. And although proponents of permissive abortion laws nearly always claim to support not abortion but “a woman’s right to choose,” here we have three of them rebuking Palin for choosing not to abort her baby.

Sullivan and Wilson go further, ascribing evil intent to an act of maternal love. To Sullivan, Palin’s decision to carry her child to term is a salvo in a “culture war”–that is, an act of aggression against those with different political views. (That, at least, is how he sees it for the purpose of this post. In an earlier one, he praised her for going through “eight months of pregnancy and a painful, difficult, endless labor for a cause she believes in”–which, although considerably less obnoxious, still depicts the decision as a political rather than a personal one.)

To Wilson, Palin’s adherence to her own principles about the sanctity of life is an act of neglect toward her children–proof “that her most beloved child is the antiabortion platform.” Never mind that the alternative would have ensured that one of her actual children did not live.

Since I’ve kept these examples of the vast gulf between Leftist rhetoric and Leftist reality in the realm of women’s issues, I’m going to close with another example that arises, not at the political level, but at the personal level — and that appears in a book that, like Hoff-Sommer’s book, was originally published in the 1990s (and republished in 2003).  The book is called The Second Shift, and it focuses on the fact that the average working woman work harder than her average husband, since the woman, on average, layers housework and childcare on top of her paid job.

I don’t think most women will find this conclusion all that exciting.  What the writer did find — at least in the 1990s edition of the book, which is the edition I read — is a fascinating divide between older, traditional men and younger, more liberated men.  The older men resented bitterly that their wives had to work, believing women should take care of the home and children.  The younger men thought it was wonderful that the women contributed to the family wealth and said that, of course, they (the men) would help in the home.  One would think, therefore, that the women in traditional households would be buried under double loads of work, while the women in progressive households would have an equal partner.  The opposite was true.

It turned out that the conservative men actually valued what the women did in the home, and helped a great deal.  (And indeed, my father exemplified this attitude when my mom was forced to take a job.)  The progressive, modern men paid lip service but, in fact, did almost nothing.  They’d say things such as “We’ve divided it in half.  I do the outdoor work, she does the indoor work.”  It sounded good, but the reality was that the outdoor work consisted of taking out the garbage and mowing the lawn once a week, while the indoor work meant shopping, cooking, cleaning, doing laundry and taking care of the kids, all on a daily basis.  There was a complete divergence between rhetoric and reality in the progressive households and it did not redound to the women’s benefit.

I leave you to find other examples of the divide between Leftist words and Leftist reality.  While Leftists blindly castigate the conservative straw men they’ve created, they remain curiously unmoved by the vast divide between their perfect intellectual world and their own acts.  However, because of Palin, ordinary Americans are getting a glimpe of this divide, and they might not like what they see.  If for this reason alone, therefore, the Palin nomination was a blessing for America.

Why Palin is not at risk of being the Republican’s Messiah

Charles Krauthammer wrote a nice article tracking Obama’s swift rise and (probably inevitable) decline.  In the section dealing with Obama’s peak moments, Krauthammer compares him to Reagan — and explains why the two men and the public’s reaction to those two men are completely different.  If you substitute Palin’s name every time Krauthammer writes “Reagan,” you’ll see why we’re not at risk of turning Palin into a pathetic political Messiah:

The problem is that Obama began believing in his own magical powers — the chants, the swoons, the “we are the ones” self-infatuation. Like Ronald Reagan, he was leading a movement, but one entirely driven by personality.

Reagan’s revolution was rooted in concrete political ideas (supply-side economics, welfare-state deregulation, national strength) that transcended one man. For Obama’s movement, the man is the transcendence.

Which gave the Obama campaign a cultlike tinge. With every primary and every repetition of the high-flown, self-referential rhetoric, the campaign’s insubstantiality became clear. By the time it was repeated yet again on the night of the last primary (No. 3), the tropes were tired and flat.

Palin’s principled move in the right direction

We all know that the turning point in the public mind for John Kerry’s candidacy was his famous “I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it” when speaking of his ultimate vote against military appropriations for Afghanistan and Vietnam.  Voters were left with the impression that this was a man who was so layered in random nuance and political calculation that, when he actually had to make a stand, he turned his back on principles and went with poll-driven expediency.

Democrats are now trying to make the same play against Sarah Palin by pointing to the fact that she used to accept substantial earmarks for Wasilla, and that she was for the Bridge to Nowhere before she was against it.  What they don’t get is that her trajectory is completely different from Kerry’s.

Kerry went from an acceptable decision to an unacceptable one.  Palin, however, traveled in the other direction:  She went from making bad decisions to making good decisions.  She had an upward learning curve, both at a practical and a values level.  As she mastered governance, she opted for principles over politics as usual.  I think that’s something to applaud, not to insult.

The flaw in the argument

James Taranto puts his finger on something that’s been bugging me about the malevolent attacks leveled against Sarah Palin for choosing to have, rather than to abort, Trig.  After citing to three such attacks, he has this to say:

This is worse than tasteless or even unhinged. It is depraved. It represents an inversion of any reasonable conception of right and wrong, including liberal conceptions.

Fowler uses Palin’s motherhood to disparage her accomplishments, an obvious betrayal of the principle of women’s equality. And although proponents of permissive abortion laws nearly always claim to support not abortion but “a woman’s right to choose,” here we have three of them rebuking Palin for choosing not to abort her baby.

He has other excellent arguments attacking these varous points these liberal luminaries make, but this is the one that strikes me most strongly, because I’ve been aware of the huge flaw in their reasoning, but unable to articulate the problem.  Taranto, thankfully, did it for me.

It’s not a whiny sexist issue

As you know, I’m willing to assume that Obama, rather than intentionally calling Palin or McCain a pig, used an infelicitous expression, which may or may not have had any subliminal resonance for him (although it clearly did for his audience).  Listening to the speech, I find much more upsetting how inarticulate Obama is.  This man cannot think on his feet and it shows:

Whatever Obama’s motives and meaning, conservative pundits are now fearful that Palin’s team is making a mistake treating this as a sexist attack (this is a good example of this viewpoint).   I agree that this is a big mistake, but not for the same reason as the pundits.  I agree because this attack — if attack there was — wasn’t sexist.

There have been other sexist attacks launched against Palin, with liberal pundits piling on to explain why Palin can be VP or can be barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen, but she can’t be both.  But Obama was not attacking Palin’s sex.  He was using a shorthand — lipstick — to identify her.  He could equally well have said “You can put a pig in glasses.”

The insult, therefore, wasn’t tied to her sex, it was tied to what he did with that identifier:  Obama, having used code for Palin (if one is assuming that’s what he intended to do), then proceeded to call either Palin or McCain a pig.

In my world it’s appropriate to take some umbrage when someone calls you a pig.  You can reasonably challenge the crudity that Obama keeps displaying when he’s feeling tired and/or on the defensive.   It bespeaks a low mind and an angry, ugly sensibility, and aptly highlights McCain’s graciousness in this campaign and Palin’s happy warrior quality.

Of course, having said all that, it is worth noting that Obama’s anti-Hillary campaign saw him making points that were somewhat derogatory of women.  This fact is rather interesting when laid alongside the fact that Obama’s life seems to have been so thoroughly dominated by strong women. I leave it to the armchair and real psychologists amongst you to figure out if there’s a pattern here.

What to do when your candidates are hypocrites

Full marks to Sandra Tsing Loh for honestly expressing her disapproval of the fact that both of her candidates (that would be Obama and Biden) abandoned the public school system when it came to their own children.  And she explains why their abandonment is more than merely symbolic:

Let us not even touch the term “community organizer,” so buffeted about, by both sides, like a balloon at a rock concert. Let us just say that if Mr. and Mrs. Obama — a dynamic, Harvard-educated couple — had chosen public over private school, they could have lifted up not just their one local public school, but a family of schools. First, given the social pressure (or the social persuasion of wanting to belong to the cool club), more educated, affluent families would tip back into the public school fold. And second, the presence of educated type-A parents with too much time on their hands ensures that schools are held, daily, to high standards.

But the significance of educated families opting in to their local public schools goes deeper than that. Research done by Richard Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation, indicates that poor children benefit hugely by mixing, daily, with middle-class children (particularly those from families who value education). Conversely, as long as the deleterious effects of poverty, like rampant absenteeism and serious health issues, do not overwhelm the school culture, middle-class children suffer no ill effects. Furthermore, studies have shown that new immigrant children learn English faster and master the complex linguistic skills they need to succeed on standardized tests when they are in classrooms with native English speakers. Sadly, because of the widespread flight of higher-minded families, ethnic segregation (not to mention class segregation) in public schools today is so extreme that only one in five immigrant children will have even one native English-speaking friend.

So it is with huge grief-filled disappointment that I discovered that the Obamas send their children to the University of Chicago Laboratory School (by 5th grade, tuition equals $20,286 a year). The school’s Web site quotes all that ridiculous John Dewey nonsense about developing character while, of course, isolating your children from the poor. A pox on them and, while we’re at it, a pox on John Dewey! I’m sick to death of those inspirational Dewey quotes littering the Web sites of $20,000-plus-a-year private schools, all those gentle duo-tone-photographed murmurings about “building critical thinking and fostering democratic citizenship” in their cherished students, living large on their $20,000-a-year island.

Loh is even more heartbroken to discover and admit that the only person running for public office who has committed to public schools is — yup, Sarah Palin.  It’s yet another illustration of the fact that Palin, rather than running from the system and ranting from the sidelines, chose to engage and fix things from the inside out.


1st woman:  Oh, my God.  I’m so upset.  I made the most horrible Freudian slip.

2nd woman:  What happened?

1st woman:  I was having lunch with my mother.  I meant to say, “Please pass the toast,” and instead I said, “You horrible woman.  You’ve ruined my life.”


“You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig,” Obama said during a town-hall style event here Tuesday night.

The comment played on Republican vice presidential candidate Palin’s joke during the Republican National Convention that the only difference between a pit bull and a hockey mom was lipstick.

Obama has been hammering the Republican ticket for adopting his change mantra. “This is a guy who supported George Bush 90% of the time. What does that say about somebody’s judgment that they agree with George Bush 90% of the time?” he said.

“You can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called ‘change,’ it’s still going to stink,” Obama said. “After eight years, we’ve had enough of the same old thing. It’s time to bring about real change to Washington and that’s the choice you’ve got in this election.”

Wall Street Journal


My mother, back in the 1950s:  When’s your baby due?

Woman:  I’m not pregnant!


Did Barack Obama mean to call either McCain or Palin a pig or a rotten fish?  Certainly a lot of people think he did.  I don’t.  I think this was nothing more than stupid talk.  After all, both the expressions he used (or variations thereof) are fairly common currency.  We all know what they mean:  no matter how you try to prettify or sanitize something, it is what it is.  Obama was making the point that, pretty Republican campaign speeches notwithstanding, he believes that Democrats will fundamentally disagree with the actual policies, positions and promises underneath the fancy Republican wrapping.  It’s a valid point in a political campaign.

So, now I’ve exculpated Obama from the charge that he intentionally called his opponents pigs and stinking fish.  But I’m not done.

What Obama did was still stupid and crude.  As the American Thinker points out, this derogatory, careless way of speaking is typical of Obama under pressure and off teleprompter.  It bespeaks a man without an elegant mind, a man who thinks in crude and ugly terms.

The speech also probably has even stronger Freudian elements, given the fact that Palin associated herself with lipstick when she interrupted her convention speech (charmingly, I thought) to throw in her hockey mom joke:  “What’s the difference between a pit bull and a hockey mom?  Lipstick.”)  The fact that Palin’s husband was a commercial fisherman (with Palin helping to run that enterprise), no doubt strengthened the subliminal connection Obama felt when throwing around images of pigs in lipstick and stinking fish.

Lastly, it’s worth noting that Obama’s audience happily put it’s own spin on things.  It roared when it heard the “pig in lipstick” statement, something it wouldn’t have done if it understood what it heard merely as a colorful phrase referring to putting too good a face on something.  The roar came about because, whether intentionally or subliminally, Obama painted in their willing minds a picture of Pig Palin in Lipstick.

It’s easy to overblow this whole thing by making far-reaching accusations about Obama’s explicit intentions.  Frankly, we’ll never know his explicit intentions.  But we don’t need to go that far.  We know two things from what he said:  he’s a crude speaker when under attack and unprotected by speech writers, and his audience is joyously willing to put the worst, most unflattering spin on anything that slips unguarded from his mouth.  That doesn’t speak well either for the man or his followers.

Embittered women

In the past couple of days, I’ve read more than a few articles in which liberal women express incendiary anger about Sarah Palin. I blogged yesterday about Michelle Cottle’s screed, and today read equally over-the-top material from Judith Warner (h/t The Anchoress) and Heather Malick (h/t Small Dead Animals).  In each of these articles, women complain that those who play by feminism’s rules are kicked in the teeth and that Quislings like Sarah Palin get rewarded with perks and praise.  Never mind that their feminine ideal, Hillary, got ahead the old-fashioned way, by marriage.  It was her rhetoric, not her conduct, that appealed.

I find the attitude these women express interesting, because I understand it so well.  When I worked at my first law firm, I was a horrible employee because I had all these ideas that, as a woman who paid full (and sincere) lip service to feminism’s principles, I was entitled to special treatment.  I couldn’t understand why the men who started the same year as I did were treated better and liked more — overlooking completely the fact that they worked harder, complained less, and contributed more.  I was a woman!  Didn’t “they” understand that?

Incidentally, I didn’t arrive at this self-serving, egotistical hubristic attitude on my own.  My year was the year the law firm decided to embrace diversity and hired a large group of whiny women, African-Americans and gays.*  We knew we were affirmative action hires but, instead of being grateful, we felt we were owed more than just a job.  We expected to be coddled and given opportunities notwithstanding our failure to earn them.

As the years went by, we were horrified by how obvious it was that the firm powers didn’t like us.  It never occurred to us that we were neither likable nor beneficial to the firm’s business.  Eventually, I jumped ship for a different firm where, with a clean slate, I started to learn to be a lawyer and not a feminist.  The rest of the malcontents with whom I’d worked were all fired summarily a short time later as part of a — ahem — “cost cutting” move.

Reading the articles to which I’ve linked, it’s apparent that many American women still live in the “you owe me” bubble.  Worse, since they seldom get what they feel they’re owed, they find themselves embittered — and, sadly, without even having the countervailing consolation of guns and God.


*This is not to imply that women, gays and African-Americans are whiny.  It is to say that this particular group of women, gays and African-Americans, all of whom believed they were entitled to special treatment because of their non-white male status, were in fact whiny.

A brilliant slogan proposal for McCain and Palin

I noted earlier that the “Country First” slogan that McCain uses is meaningful (and moving) only if you understand McCain’s life story. Otherwise, it sounds suspiciously jingoistic, especially to liberal ears.  Beldar, however, has come up with a brilliant slogan that would serve McCain and Palin very, very well.  What do you think?

Hat tip:  The Anchoress

The hunt for Sarah in Alaska

Mataharley (great name), who posts at Flopping Aces, has pulled together the procedural details of the challenges Palin faces with regard to her ex-brother-in-law, the hard drinking, hard tasering, hard threatening, hard illegal hunting Wooten.

It’s a remarkably interesting post in that it is less concerned with the substantive details of the whole Wooten thing, and more concerned with the procedural manoeuvrings going on way up north.  It looks very much as if Palin’s political enemies — and her bipartisan attacks on corruption have left her with many on the both the Left and the Right — are banding together to use process to create an October surprise.

In other words, the post isn’t about the he saids/she saids of the fight.  Instead, it spells out the ways in which Wooten’s backers (aka Palin’s political enemies) are manipulating the system to time the investigation so that it has the maximum negative effect on a national election.

Sarah Palin represents the feminist triumph

After pointing out how ignoble the attack on Palin is coming from the self-appointed coastal elites, Victor Davis Hanson sums up how Palin is the ultimate feminist triumph:

Sarah Palin is the emblem of what feminism was supposed to be all about: an unafraid, independent, audacious woman, who soared on her own merits without the aid of a patriarchal jumpstart, high-brow matrimonial tutelage and capital, and old-boy liaisons and networking.

Answering back to a nasty email about Palin

My sister forwarded the following email to me from someone who clearly is not a PUMA, which I sent back with my comments:

For those of us who have been stunned by McCain’s VP pick, it seems to fit his cultivation of the idea of “maverick” over thoughtfulness, of political strategy over the good of the country.  We know so little about her.  And apparently, he doesn’t know that much either, but it is a reflection about his process in coming to this “judgment.”  She’s connected through the oil lobby for sure.  The letter below is from Jackie who went to college with Sarah Palin and also lives in Alaska.

As an Alaskan, I am writing to give all of you some information on Sarah Palin, Senator McCain’s choice for VP. As an Alaska voter, I know more than most of you about her and, frankly, I am horrified that he picked her.

The most accurate description of her is red neck.  [So what?  I thought we were a class-free country.] Her husband works in the oil fields of Prudhoe Bay and races snow mobiles. [Is this writer saying that American workers are less worthy than the effete elite?  Yes, I think she is.] She is a life time member of the NRA and has worked tirelessly to allow indiscriminate hunting of wildlife in Alaska, particularly wolves and bears. [Re the NRA, can we say 2nd Amendment?  We the wolves and bears, that’s not true.  Environmental management recommends culling.] She has spent millions of Alaska state dollars on aerial hunting of these predators from helicopters and airplanes, dollars that should have been spent, for example, on Alaska’s failing school system.  [I know about the airplanes, although I doubt the money calculation.  As for the schools, Marin City has long had one of the best funded school systems in America, and it outinely ranks at the bottom in California.  It’s a non sequitur argument.] We have the lowest rate of high school graduation in the country. Not all of you may think aerial predator hunting is so bad, but how anyone (other than Alaska wolf-haters, of which there are many, most without teeth), could think this use of funds is appropriate is beyond me.  If you want to know more about the aerial hunting travesty, let me know and I will send some links to informative web sites.  [Without more facts, I can't tell is this is a reasonable environmental position or not.  From the tone alone, it sounds like a PETA subscriber is writing this.  She'd probably be shocked to realize that the federal government is one of the largest animal killers through its animal management on federal lands.]

She has been a strong supporter of increased use of fossil fuels, yet the McCain campaign has the nerve to say she has “green” policies. The only thing green about Sarah Palin is her lack of experience. She has consistently supported drilling in ANWR [So do I.  ANWR is a desolate wilderness in the middle of nowhere.  I’d happily sacrifice it to stop sending US money to Russia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, etc.], use of coal-burning power plants (as I write this, a new coal plant is being built in her home town of Wasilla) [coal is one of the major ways to fuel America.  The goal isn’t to burn less, since we have vast amounts of it, but to burn it cleaner], strip mining, and almost anything else that will unnecessarily exploit the diminishing resources of Alaska and destroy its environment.  [Environmentalists do not tend to have a balancing act between nature’s needs and human needs.  They side only with the former, and to hell with the latter.  I’d need a hell of a lot more information before I got upset about these data free accusations.]

Prior to her one year as governor of Alaska [uh, that would be two years as governor], she was mayor of Wasilla, a small red neck town outside Anchorage.[There’s that redneck thing again.  How snotty is this writer?] The average maximum education level of parents of junior high school kids in Wasilla is 10th grade. [What’s that got to do with being mayor?  This is one mean spirited writer.] Unfortunately, I have to go to Wasilla every week to get groceries and other supplies [I actually suspect it's that, unfortunately, those poor Wasilla citizens have to deal with you], so I have continual contact with the people who put Palin in office in the first place. I know what I’m talking about. These people don’t have a concept of the world around them or of the serious issues facing the US. [So because he doesn’t like the grocery clerks, she’s saying Sarah is . . . something, something, too earthy?  too hard working?  too polite to give this unusually snotty person the kick in the ass she deserves?] Furthermore, they don’t care. So long as they can go out and hunt their moose every fall, kill wolves and bears and drive their snow mobiles and ATVs through every corner of the wilderness, they’re happy. I wish I were exaggerating.  [They sound like ordinary Americans who do not live in New York, Boston and the San Francisco Bay Area.]

Sarah Palin is currently involved in a political corruption scandal. She fired an individual in law enforcement here because she didn’t like how he treated one of her relatives during a divorce. The man’s performance and ability weren’t considered; it was a totally personal firing and is currently under investigation. While the issue isn’t close to the scandal of Ted Steven’s corruption, it shows that Palin isn’t “squeaky clean” and causes me to think there ay be more issues that could come to light. Clearly McCain doesn’t care.  [Let’s see.  Her former brother in law drove drunk, threatened to kill her father, tasered his 11 year old son, and killed some sort of special Alaska moose without a license, which is apparently a very serious offense.  All of these claims are documented and corroborated as true by independent investigators.  Her staff – not Sarah – but her staff wanted him fired, which is rather unsurprising.  As for the official Sarah did manage to fire, he served at the Governor’s will.  One does have to wonder about the cronyism, endemic to Alaska that sees someone who serves at the governors will work his little hiney off to save the job for a drunken, tasering, murder-threatening, license-free hunter.  This is more an indictment of Alaska’s good ol’ boy network than it is of Sarah.]

When you line Palin up with Biden, the comparison would be laughable if it weren’t so serious. Sarah Palin knows nothing of economics (admittedly a weak area for McCain), or of international affairs, knows nothing of national government, Social Security, unemployment, health care systems – you name it. The idea of her meeting with heads of foreign governments around the world truly frightens me.  [You know, you either respect someone who has spent his whole life in the Senate or you don’t.  And you either respect someone who has twice been caught in major acts of plagiarism, or you don’t.  And you either respect someone whose idea of foreign policy (after a lifetime in the Senate) is to send a huge check to Iran immediately after 9/11, to make the “Arabs” friends with us, never mind that Iranians aren’t Arabs, or you don’t.  And you either respect someone who praised Obama as being a clean, articulate black man, or you don’t.  And so and so forth.  It’s not what he knows, it’s what he is and what he’s done with his knowledge.  As for the “hope” and “change” thing, you kind of have to wonder about the hope and change aspect of a guy who has done nothing in his life but feed at the political trough.]

In an increasingly dangerous world, with the economy in shambles in the US, Sarah Palin is uniquely UNqualified to be vice president. John McCain is not a young man. [I’m really troubled by this assumption that McCain will drop dead immediately upon taking office.  The greater likelihood of a neophyte isn’t Palin stepping into McCain’s shoes sometime I the next four years, it’s Obama stepping into Bush’s shoes in January 2009.] Should something happen to him such that the vice president had to step in, it would destroy our country and possibly the world to have someone as inexperienced and inappropriate as Sarah Palin. The choice of Palin is a cheap shot by McCain to try to get Hillary supporters to vote for him. when McCain introduced her today, Palin had the nerve to compare herself with Hillary and Geraldine Ferraro. Sarah Palin, you are no Hillary Clinton.  [Thank God.  Sarah got there on her own.  Clinton did it the old-fashioned way:  by marrying a politician and destroying anyone who pointed out his failings.]

To those of you who, like me, supported Hilary and were upset that she did not get the nomination, please don’t think that Sarah Palin is a worthy substitute. If you supported Hillary, regardless of what you think the media and the democratic party may have done to undermine her campaign, the person to support now is Obama, not Sarah Palin. To those of you who are independent or undecided, don’t let the choice of Palin sway you in favor of McCain. Choosing her shows how unqualified McCain is to be president. To those of you who are conservative, I guess you have no choice for president. But please try to see how the poor choice of Palin tells us a great deal about McCain’s judgment. While the political posturing inherent in the choice of Palin is obvious, the more serious issue is the fact that the VP is, literally, a heartbeat away from the presidency. Sarah Palin is totally and unequivocally unqualified to be vice president, let alone president.

I know this is a lengthy and emotional email, but the stakes are high. I thought it might help for all of you, regardless of political affiliation, to know something about Palin from someone who has to live with her administration in Alaska on a daily basis.

Question for you: After reading the above, who do you respect more? The hard working, self-made, charismatic, old-fashioned values Sarah Palin, or this embittered intellectual forced to confront nasty real Americans in the wilds of Alaska? I know what my vote would be.