The Left’s Dark Side is Showing

Sometime the left uses litigation as a form of intimidation - as we see in recent events affecting freedom of speech.

Classical Values discusses the recent Obama campaign’s over the top response to Stanley Kurtz and information he reported about Obama’s connection to Bill Ayers and the Annenburg foundation. But, the straw that broke the camel’s back was Obama’s attempt to enlist the courts to throttle the free specch of the American Issues Project - A 501(C) organization that aired an ad about the relationship between Obama and Ayers:

Seeking a criminal investigation was enough for me. At this point, it almost doesn’t matter whether Ayers recruited Obama to be on the board, how closely they worked together, or for how long.

Calling for a criminal investigation of free speech crosses a line going beyond any association with Ayers.

Power Line discusses further and suggests concern about how Obama might act if elected:

Obama’s suggestion that it is illegal for a 501(c)(4) entity to fund issue ads that are negative toward him appears ludicrous. Here’s the real question, though: if Obama is elected President, will he appoint an Attorney General who will carry out politically-motivated prosecutions like the one he is now demanding? I suppose we can’t know for sure, but why wouldn’t he? If he demands criminal prosecution of free speech that opposes his political interests when he’s a candidate, why wouldn’t he order it as President?

It’s difficult to believe that Obama does not support the first amendment but his actions seems to indicate that. A person who believes this should not be President of the United States.

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Logistically Untenable?

Belmont Club
We could be forced to entirely revamp our strategy in Afghanistan if the situation in Pakistan continues to deteriorate and the Russians intend to be uncooperative.

There are in fact serious concerns that troops in Afghanistan can be cut off should a hostile regime emerge in Pakistan.

Historically, this area has been difficult to subdue and logistics has been a big part of the problem. Even with today’s technology, supporting a large force through hostile territory would be very difficult. An air bridge could be established but that would take considerable resources. Resources I’m not sure the AF has available. However, I am not an expert in this area.

The ripple effects of losing Musharraf and Russia’s muscle flexing could be severe.

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New Media and “Defending the Ridge”

Because the blogosphere and all its scions have much more prominence, and arguably more influence, with respect to this year’s election, I’ve been lazily paying more attention to how new media is tackling the subject at hand. I think the following presentation is a prime example of what new media can offer, and foreshadows the power of the medium to come:

Disregarding the substance of the video for now, I have to say that the exchange between these three women is extraordinary. Not only is their banter free-flowing and natural, it’s exactly the sort of conversation that I would expect of reasonably well informed patrons of a local bar. Again, it’s not the substance of the arguments presented, but the way in which they’re presented.

Personally, I tend to think of the interchange of ideas on any blog (particularly in the comments section) as a virtual reality version of barroom conversation. With my buddies, it’s referred to as “defending the ridge” where “the ridge” is that omnipresent elbow on the bar where three, four or even more people can hang on to this strategically important territory by maintaining an engaging, yet suitably sociable conversation. Being in the DC area, it’s inevitable that such discourse will turn to politics. So, the more natural and inviting the banter is, the easier it is to “defend the ridge.”

One can always just park themselves at the elbow, but sooner or later breaches in the defense appear only to be exploited, typically by buxom, yet willowy, young women brandishing credit cards of dubious provenance (i.e. suspect boyfriends) and flirtatious camaraderie with the bartenders. Such is life.

The point is, when the conversation is heady yet light-hearted enough, the ridge is better defended and the night progresses in a much more enjoyable fashion than otherwise.

The clip above reminds me exactly of those exchanges. The three women are obviously comfortable with one another, and the camera, which lends them a professional air. But they speak with a clarity that’s natural to “the ridge” in any bar, where opinions fly fast and loose, and a premium is placed on brevity and wit.

If more political coverage was of the same caliber, I think the electorate would be more engaged. As it stands now, the MSM and its affiliate cable progeny, basically offer the same PhD and old-hat, insider baseball as the be-all-end-all of political analysis. Don’t get me wrong. I love hearing from the likes of Larry Sabato, Michael Barone and Frank Luntz, and I think they have a lot to add to the conversation. But let’s be honest. The people who read QandO and other political blogs are already in the realm of “political junky.” You all know exactly who each of these people are. The vast majority of the electorate doesn’t, nor do they much care. But I’d bet they’d watch the video clip above.

The fact is anybody can be drawn into a political conversation when it’s conducted on terms that the average person can relate to. While I may find Larry Sabato’s election prognostications fascinating, sometimes I don’t want to ruminate on the exact scientific designation of the tree’s sap, nor upon what the American Indians used to do with it. Sometimes, all I want to talk about is the health and wealth of the forest. The clip above offers that kind of analysis. My personal opinion is that more of the same would be a boon to the voting populace. And down that road is a better informed electorate.

So hats off to you, Ana Marie Cox, Glynnis MacNicol, and Rachel Sklar. Well done and I look forward to more.

Crossposted at QandO

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Top Sources of Contributions

Human Events
The unions and municipal workers groups don’t surprise me. What does surprise me is how the left dominates these large fund raising groups. What causes this? What is different about the left and the right? Some kind of association with centralized planning an government control extrapolated to large organizations? Some kind of herd mentality? Conservatives tend to be more independent? What is going on here? Any thoughts?

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Geography, people:

Aug. 25 (Bloomberg) — Prime Minister Kevin Rudd sent extra diplomatic and police officials to west Africa to help investigate the kidnapping in Somalia of a group of reporters, including an Australian photojournalist.

“We have deployed additional staff from our mission in Pretoria to our High Commission in Nairobi,” Rudd told reporters in Canberra today. “This is a sensitive and difficult case. We are engaged at every level.”

Australia doesn’t have diplomatic representation in Somalia and its officials in neighboring Kenya are making contact with Somali authorities as well as the Canadian, French and British embassies to help locate Nigel Brennan, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said.

Both Somalia and Nairobi, Kenya, are in East Africa.

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Legislating Morality

Newmark’s Door
We can’t enact or enforce enough laws to manage ethical behavior.

“Goo-goos”–good government advocates–have been fighting corruption in government through endlessly tweaking campaign financing reform laws and ethics laws for at least 40 years.

Senator Stevens is the latest case and even though he may have been up to no good, Newmark thinks it will be difficult to convict him.

What I do assert is, that in the absence of a tape or a document in which Stevens admits knowing that he didn’t pay for the full value of the work, it should be real darn hard to convict him.

The only way to stop this is the classical libertarian approach of smaller government.

I’m not the first person to argue this: either restrict government power or live with a lot of corruption. The goo-goos are largely tilting at windmills.

There may be some related good news . Apparently Trent Lott has had an epiphany on the issues of pork and earmarks.

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Biden Blues

A majority of voters approve of Obama’s selection of Joe Biden in CNN’s first poll after the tap. Unfortunately for Obama and his new Veep, the choice appears to have further angered and alienated Hillary’s sad little village. Thus, Obama has dropped into a 47-47 tie with John McCain.

For her own political future, Hillary has a lot of work to do in her convention speech. If Obama loses a close election to McCain, Hill’s already been prepped, painted and polished to serve as the party’s new Ralph Nader scapegoat. If I were Hillary, I’d throw everything I had behind Obama starting now.

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Lone accountant takes on IRS and wins

And .

The dispute arose when more than 30 mutual life insurance companies became publicly traded corporations in the late 1990s and earlier this decade, in a process known as “demutualization.”

Mutual companies are owned by their policyholders, so the companies provided stock and cash to compensate them for the loss of their ownership interests when they went public.

All told, roughly 30 million policyholders received distributions, Ulrich estimates. MetLife Inc. provided over $7 billion of stock to about 11 million policyholders when it went public in 2000, while Prudential distributed $12.5 billion in stock to another 11 million.

The IRS held that the recipients hadn’t paid anything for the shares and owed taxes on the full amount when the shares were sold. Cash distributions also were fully taxable, the IRS said.

That didn’t sound right to Ulrich, 72, an accountant for 49 years. He began researching the issue in 2001, when he received shares from two companies, Prudential and Indianapolis Life.

Ulrich concluded that policyholders had paid for their ownership rights through their premiums so the distributions should have been tax-free.

Funny, a family member gave me some shares he inherited from Met Life’s demutualization just last night to help him with. The man is a hero in my book. The IRS’s position was illogical, but they often make calling them on such matters too burdensome for most to fight. Good for him.

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Moral Equivalency Trap

Blogs for Victory

Another potential problem with “The Common Word” dialogue is its implication that the Christian Church must reform itself no less so than the Islamic community. There’s no doubt that reform is needed. Whether the issue is materialism, hypocrisy, or the politicization of the gospel, there are real problems in the Church. Yet the danger here is the trap of moral equivalency—the assumption that modern Christianity is as prone to terrorist violence as Islam.

This faulty logic causes many of us to “judge ourselves first” and supports the “don’t cast the first stone” argument. This is the trap.

I am not a Christian although I was raised in the Christian tradition. I am not defending Christianity, per se. However, I do believe this.

the Biblical concepts of human dignity and equality supplied the philosophical pillars of liberal democracy, especially in the Anglo-American tradition. Ministers on both sides of the Atlantic, for example, regularly cited the golden rule—what they called “the great rule of equity”—to argue for religious toleration and equal justice under the law.

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Family in Trouble

American Daily

The single most important building block of any nation is her families. Destroy that and you can easily lay claim to a nation’s soul.

I agree. I think we have failed to maintain the nuclear family and lost the fundamental building block. Part of the reason so many folks are enticed by government support (socialism - and why the liberal left is making headway today)is that they don’t have strong family ties and are looking to replace that support structure with something.

Read the whole thing. I don’t agree with his last few paragraphs where he gets religious and I am not as pessimistic but I do believe that our families suffer at our own peril.

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Rumors from the Necrocracy

Kim Jong Il as Colonel Sanders by Jonathan Barnbrook (photo: acb | The Null Device)

North Korea is already a formal necrocracy (government by the dead), given that Kim Il-sung –who has been dead since 1994– remains the titular head of state there. But according to Waseda University professor Toshimitsu Shigemura in Japan, Kim’s son and successor in power Kim Jong Il has been dead himself since 2003. Shigemura has a number of family contacts which might validate a rumor which has been circulating since a period of peculiar diplomatic activity which attended Kim the Younger’s alleged death.

According to Shigemura, the role of leader is being filled by a number of body-doubles in an elaborate international charade which would seem unlikely in any other country. However, such a ruse seems completely plausible in the hermit kingdom, in which even more ludicrous fantasies are routinely employed to justify government policy and loyalty (for instance the state maintains that the birds of the country sang praise in Korean, when Kim Jong Il was born).

Evidently Japanese intelligence was concerned enough that former Prime Minister Koizumi had held a summit with a body double in 2004, that they considered voice-printing Kim and the suspected double. Only the prospect of political embarrassment for Koizumi made them hold off. With Koizumi out of office, I wouldn’t mind them doing as much now to clarify the issue.

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All Tomorrows Parties

A treat for Velvet Underground fans, Bud Benderbe reinterprets the seminal alternative band:

More over at Airforce Amazon.

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Dissecting Subprime - A lesson learned

The Economist
Interesting article about the roots of the problem. What I found fascinating was this root cause.

the historical accident of a very low loss rate during the early history of subprime mortgage foreclosures in 2001-2002.

This is the reminder that “accidents” continue to happen and that our best models are always suspect. Lesson learned - events will continue to occur that challenge conventional thinking and assumptions. Some short term data (an accident) led investors to believe there was less risk and uncertainty.

This idea can be extrapolated to all models that try to describe large complex systems - like AWG.

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Michael F. Cannon at Cato blogs about a NYTimes article on the rife fraud found and covered up at Medicare. A confidential draft of a federal inspector general’s report claimed that the behavior they found at the Medicare Administration was rife with irregularities.

Medicare reported to Congress that, for the fiscal year of 2006, AdvanceMed’s investigations had found that only 7.5 percent of claims paid by Medicare were not supported by appropriate documentation. But the inspector general’s review indicated that the actual error rate was closer to 31.5 percent.

Law makers called it “tantamount to corruption”. Michael ends his piece with some great quotes:

[One] congressional watchdog had seen it all before:

“This report doesn’t surprise me,” said Representative Pete Stark, Democrat of California and a senior member of the Ways and Means Committee. He has pushed to cut improper Medicare spending. “To look better to the public, you cook the books,” he said. “This agency is incompetent.”

Of course, Pete Stark’s solution for Medicare’s incompetence is to force you to enroll:

There is a road map laid out for us…Medicare. Medicare has lower administrative costs than any private plan on the market…Medicare has shown us the power of simplicity; we need only expand its promise to the rest of our population.

Medifraud for all!

heh, indeed.

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US Out by 2011?

To celebrate the news that the u.S. has possibly negotiated a full withdrawal from Iraq by 2011, here is Kids in the Hall’s Buddy Cole on his romance in Baghdad.

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Stem Cells and Blood Supply

Next Big Future
“Human blood have been grown from embryonic stem cells for the first time during research that promises to provide an almost limitless supply suitable for transfusion into any patient.”

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