Obama plans to disappoint

October 31, 2008

The London Times reports:

Barack Obama’s senior advisers have drawn up plans to lower expectations for his presidency if he wins next week’s election, amid concerns that many of his euphoric supporters are harbouring unrealistic hopes of what he can achieve.

The sudden financial crisis and the prospect of a deep and painful recession have increased the urgency inside the Obama team to bring people down to earth, after a campaign in which his soaring rhetoric and promises of “hope” and “change” are now confronted with the reality of a stricken economy.

One senior adviser told The Times that the first few weeks of the transition, immediately after the election, were critical, “so there’s not a vast mood swing from exhilaration and euphoria to despair”.

Unrealistic expectations? Where could those have come from?

Note that the expectation-lowering is scheduled for immediately after the election. The Times suggests that Obama may already be starting to lower expectations, but I see just the opposite, an ever-growing list of crazy promises.

Obama boots McCain-endorsing papers

October 31, 2008

Fox News reports:

Journalists from three major newspapers that endorsed John McCain have been booted from Barack Obama’s campaign plane for the final leg of the presidential race.

The Washington Times reported Friday that it was notified of the Obama campaign’s decision Thursday evening — even though the paper has covered Obama from the start.

Executive Editor John Solomon told FOXNews.com that the Obama campaign said it didn’t have enough seats on the plane, but “I don’t think the explanation makes sense to us.”

“We’ve been traveling since 2007 with him. … We’re a relevant newspaper — every day we break news,” Solomon said. “And to suddenly be kicked off the plane for people who haven’t covered it as aggressively or thoroughly as we are … it sort of feels unfair.”

He said the newspaper protested but was turned down again by the campaign.

“I can only hope that the candidate who describes himself as wanting to unite the nation doesn’t have some sort of litmus test for who he decides gets to cover the campaign,” Solomon said, noting that the Obama campaign’s decision came just two days after the paper endorsed McCain.

The New York Post and Dallas Morning News also have been kicked off Obama’s plane.

(Via Instapundit.)

I’ve noted before that Obama is remarkably thin-skinned.  He’s gotten a free ride from almost the entire media, but he wants it to be unanimous.  For the few major papers that endorse his opponent, there are consequences.

AFTERTHOUGHT: Just for fun: imagine the furor if President Bush had booted newspapers that endorsed John Kerry.

Yes, he can

October 31, 2008

Slate shows that Obama could easily disclose his small-donor list if he wanted to do so. They produce a searchable database (from dummy information, obviously) in a couple of hours using Microsoft Excel and one commodity PC. This puts the lie to the campaign’s claim that it’s infeasible for them to do so.

Slate suggests that they ought to do so, writing:

Politically, there would be several advantages in releasing the names. Obama has campaigned (effectively) on a platform of making government more transparent, citing his efforts to do so in Chicago and Washington as signature achievements. He has also disclosed the bundlers who raise large amounts of money for his campaign. Finally, making the list public would rebut McCain’s broad and unsubstantiated claims that the list (and the huge sums of money it represents) is shot through with fraud.

(They write this without a hint of irony.)  Slate is right, it would be to his advantage to release the list, if indeed he has nothing to hide.  Too bad Slate cannot see the implications of their own experiment.

(Via Instapundit.)

“Can’t someone else do it?”

October 31, 2008

ABC’s Jake Tapper likens Obama to Santa Claus, with his “astoundingly lengthy” list of promises given in a single campaign appearance.  I think he reminds me more of Homer Simpson.

(Via Instapundit.)

Barone: Democrats won’t get 60

October 31, 2008

He predicts the Democrats will end up with 58.  (Via the Corner.)

Italy warned Libya of 1986 airstrikes

October 30, 2008

The AP reports:

The Italian government gave Libya early warning of the 1986 U.S. airstrikes launched in response to a deadly attack on a disco in Germany, Libyan and Italian officials said Thursday.

Libya’s Foreign Minister Abdel-Rahman Shalgam was quoted by the ANSA and Apcom news agencies as saying the Italians warned him of the raids launched from a NATO base on Italian soil because they were opposed to the action. Shalgam said the Italians informed him personally since, at the time, he was Libya’s ambassador in Rome.

“I don’t think I am revealing a secret if I announce that Italy informed us a day before — April 14, 1986 — that there would be an American aggression against Libya,” the agencies quoted Shalgam as saying.

Shalgam was quoted as saying that the United States launched a strike from a NATO base on Lampedusa, a tiny Sicilian island close to the African coast, “against the will of the Italian government.”

The agencies also quoted veteran politician Giulio Andreotti, who in 1986 was Italy’s foreign minister, as saying that the attack was “a mistake” and confirming that the Socialist-led government of Bettino Craxi warned Libya.

(Emphasis mine.)

This seems to be a persistent problem.  Years later, during the Kosovo campaign, France leaked information on bombing targets to Belgrade.  (To be fair, France prosecuted an army intelligence officer for the leak.  But the crime was clearly not seen as serious.  The officer, despite being convicted of treason, was sentenced to little more than time served.)

POSTSCRIPT: Shalgam’s talk about Italian bases is strange, since the raid was launched from aircraft carriers and British bases.

What’s $90 billion between friends?

October 30, 2008

CBS says Obama’s promises don’t add up:

The very bigness of [Obama’s] ideas is the problem: he seems blind to the concept his numbers don’t add up.

Obama has already proposed a new stimulus package of $188 billion over two years. His tax cuts will cost $85 billion a year. His “army of new teachers”: $18 billion. Renewable energy: $15 billion. CBS News and various independent experts estimate Obama’s total first year spending could exceed $280 billion.

Still Obama repeated his claim he can find the money to pay for every proposal.

“I’ve offered spending cuts above and beyond their cost,” he has said.

The fact is the savings Obama has identified do not cover his spending. According to a CBS News estimate, he’s around $90 billion short.

(Via Instapundit.)

Well, the tax cuts won’t survive to inauguration day. That would put him only $5 short, by CBS’s estimate.

The real bad news is the numbers are far worse than this. They’re based on the idea that government action won’t change individual behavior (except when it’s supposed to). Stifling the economy with high taxes and regulation will lead to slower economic activity and lower tax revenues. His tax hikes won’t raise the projected revenue and his revenue-neutral regulation won’t be. His tax cuts might cost less than projected, but that’s moot since they’ll never happen.

Preventing voter fraud is racist

October 30, 2008

According to the Rendell administration, preventing voter fraud is racist:

The head of the [Luzerne] county bureau of elections hasn’t encountered any suspected voter registration fraud, but allegations in other parts of Pennsylvania have sparked a lawsuit and a verbal exchange between a state official and the Republican Party.

The Pennsylvania Republican Party filed a lawsuit to assure the vote count is accurate – a move that Gov. Ed Rendell’s press secretary described as a “Jim Crow attitude.”

Playing the race card is probably just his reflex response, but if we take him seriously, he seems to be saying that preventing voter fraud hurts blacks.  So isn’t he saying that blacks are likely to commit voter fraud?  Doesn’t that make him the racist? (Answer: Of course not, he’s a Democrat.)

(Via Hot Air.)

Joe-gate unfolds

October 30, 2008

An Ohio official at the center of the controversy over the searches on Joe the Plumber into Ohio government databases revises her story:

A state agency has revealed that its checks of computer systems for potential information on “Joe the Plumber” were more extensive than it first acknowledged.

Helen Jones-Kelley, director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, disclosed today that computer inquiries on Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher were not restricted to a child-support system.

The agency also checked Wurzelbacher in its computer systems to determine whether he was receiving welfare assistance or owed unemployment compensation taxes, she wrote.

(Via Hot Air.)

As far as I know, she has not revised her bizarre claim that all these searches are standard practice whenever anyone becomes famous.

Charity begins somewhere else

October 30, 2008

The London Times has located Obama’s beloved aunt, living in poverty in South Boston:

Zeituni Onyango, the aunt so affectionately described in Mr Obama’s best-selling memoir Dreams from My Father, lives in a disabled-access flat on a rundown public housing estate in South Boston.

A second relative believed to be the long-lost “Uncle Omar” described in the book was beaten by armed robbers with a “sawed-off rifle” while working in a corner shop in the Dorchester area of the city. He was later evicted from his one-bedroom flat for failing to pay $2,324.20 (£1,488) arrears, according to the Boston Housing Court.


The most damning part of the Obama aunt story is that once his campaign found her living in squalor they told her to not talk to the press until after the election, but they didn’t try to help her.

She did as she was asked, too. I guess she likes him more than he likes her.

AFTERTHOUGHT: How sad is it that it falls to British newspapers to do the job of investigating our leading presidential candidate?

AP rips Obama infomercial

October 30, 2008

Here. (Via the Corner.)

Mark Steyn adds:

This is an amazing race. The incumbent president has approval ratings somewhere between Robert Mugabe and the ebola virus. The economy is supposedly on the brink of global Armageddon. McCain has only $80 million to spend, while Obama’s burning through $600 mil as fast as he can, and he doesn’t really need to spend a dime given the wall-to-wall media adoration. And tonight Chris Matthews’ doctors announced that his leg tingle has metastasized leaving his entire body like a vibrating cellphone whose ringtone is locked on “I’m In Love, I’m In Love, I’m In Love, I’m In Love, I’m In Love With A Wonderful Guy.”

And yet an old cranky broke loser is within two or three points of the King of the World. Strange.

Vietnam to ban small chests from the road

October 29, 2008

Sometimes oppression is just weird:

Vietnam is considering banning small-chested drivers from its roads — a proposal that has provoked widespread disbelief in this nation of slight people.

The Ministry of Health recently recommended that people whose chests measure fewer than 28 inches would be prohibited from driving motorbikes — as would those who are too short or too thin.

The proposal is part of an exhaustive list of new criteria the ministry has come up with to ensure that Vietnam’s drivers are in good health. As news of the plan was reported by the media this week, Vietnamese expressed incredulity. . .

It was not clear how the ministry established its size guidelines or why it thinks that small people make bad drivers. An official there declined to comment. . .

Motorbikes account for more than 90 percent of the vehicles on Vietnam’s chaotic roads.

(Via the Corner.)

UN corruption continues unabated

October 29, 2008

I trust no one is shocked by this:

Nearly three years after the United Nations launched a highly publicized effort to crack down on fraud and waste, especially in its scandal-torn multi-billion-dollar procurement department, the clean-hands offensive is slowing down. And, its own watchdogs warn, other major areas of the U.N. bureaucracy are suffering from an alarming lack of scrutiny. . .

Those conclusions are contained in a pair of annual reports that have been submitted to the General Assembly by the U.N. watchdogs themselves, known as the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS).

One of the reports covers the operations from July 1, 2007 to July 31, 2008, of the U.N.’s Procurement Task Force (PTF), which was set up in January 2006 to attack procurement corruption. The document also serves as an obituary of sorts for the PTF.

As the report notes, the task force is expected to disappear at the end of this year, strangled by lack of General Assembly funding. The task force will turn over more than 150 unexamined cases, including “several significant” fraud and corruption matters, to regular OIOS investigators, who may or may not be able to handle them.

The more damning document is a report on OIOS activities from June 2007 to June 2008 across the U.N., which is not limited merely to procurement. Its author, OIOS chief Inga-Britt Ahlenius, pointed out a number of U.N. “risk categories” that strongly hint that the scandals of the past could be repeated.

Did Syria approve U.S. raid?

October 29, 2008

This would be very interesting, if true:

A respected Israeli intelligence expert says he has been told the [U.S. helicopter attack on Al Qaeda within Syria] was carried out with the knowledge and co-operation of Syrian intelligence.

Ronen Bergman, author of The Secret War with Iran, makes the claim in the Yediot Ahronoth newspaper, based on briefings with two senior American officials, one of whom he says until recently “held a very high ranking in the Pentagon”.

Mr Bergman told Sky News the raid happened after America had lobbied Syria intensely to deal with an al Qaeda group conducting activity on the border.

The Syrians were unwilling to be seen publicly bowing to US pressure to tackle the group, he says, but in the end gave the Americans the green light to do so themselves. . .

(Via Hot Air.)

Bergman points to a lack of activity by Syrian air defenses as evidence for his claim. Also, the Syrian condemnation has been muted.

UPDATE (11/4): The London Times is also suggesting Syrian complicity.  (Via Instapundit.)

More on the “Joe the Plumber” searches

October 29, 2008

Shortly after the third debate, there were several suspicious searches in Ohio government databases for records pertaining to Joe the Plumber. If not conducted for some legitimate reason, which the timing makes extremely unlikely, this would be an illegal invasion of privacy.

One of the culprits is now known: she is Helen Jones-Kelley, the director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Service. Ace notes that she is a $2300 contributor (the maximum) to the Obama campaign. She claims that she did not conduct the check for political reasons, but her explanation is even worse:

Helen Jones-Kelly, director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, confirmed today that she OK’d the check on Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher following the Oct. 15 presidential debate.

She said there were no political reasons for the check on the sudden presidential campaign fixture though the Support Enforcement Tracking System.

Amid questions from the media and others about “Joe the Plumber,” Jones-Kelley said she approved a check to determine if he was current on any ordered child-support payments.

Such information was not and cannot be publicly shared, she said. It is unclear if Wurzelbacher is involved in a child-support case. Reports state that he lives alone with a 13-year-old son.

“Our practice is when someone is thrust quickly into the public spotlight, we often take a look” at them, Jones-Kelley said, citing a case where a lottery winner was found to owe past-due child support. “Our practice is to basically look at what is coming our way.”

(Via Hot Air.)

Jones-Kelley is claiming that the mere fact that someone has become famous is grounds for a government investigation! She’s probably lying, but if she’s not, there’s something seriously wrong at the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. I’d actually prefer it if this were purely political.

ASIDE: Note the journalistic weasel-speak: “It is unclear if Wurzelbacher is involved in a child-support case.” Translation: we don’t know, but we want to insinuate that he might be.

For what it’s worth, Ohio’s Democratic Governor Ted Strickland would rather have you believe that the Ohio government routinely invades people’s privacy for no reason at all, than that they do it for political purposes:

Democrat Gov. Ted Strickland is satisfied that there are no political overtures to the check on Wurzelbacher, a spokesman said.

“Based on what we know to this point, we don’t have any reason to believe the information was improperly accessed or disclosed by a state employee,” said Keith Dailey, Strickland’s press secretary.

In any case, Strickland is certainly wrong, because we also know another of the culprits:

Toledo Police have confirmed that a TPD records clerk is accused of performing an illegal search of information related to ‘Joe the Plumber.’

Julie McConnell, has been charged with Gross Misconduct for allegedly making an improper inquiry into a state database in search of information pertaining to Samuel Wurzelbacher on Oct. 16.

She did so in response to a request from the press:

Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner admitted yesterday that a member of the media made the request of the Toledo Police Department for Joe ‘the Plumber’ Wurzelbacher’s records, NewsTalk 1370 WSPD is reporting. The comments were made in response to questions during an unrelated press conference.

Finkbeiner did not say which news outlet, nor which reporter, made the request. He also did not identify the individual who ran the report.

(Via LGF.)

That’s two of the four searches discovered by the Columbus Dispatch. The culprits behind searches at the Attorney General’s office and the Bureau of Motor Vehicles have not yet been identified.

Kim Jong-Il reportedly hospitalized

October 29, 2008

So a Korean newspaper is reporting.

Unilateralism is about to come back into fashion

October 29, 2008

For years the media elite has told us that our foreign policy must give deference to our allies, particularly the French. Our actions must pass the “global test.” A unilateral foreign policy is very bad.

If Obama is elected, I suspect that the conventional wisdom will quickly change.  Here’s why:

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is very critical of U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama’s positions on Iran, according to reports that have reached Israel’s government.

Sarkozy has made his criticisms only in closed forums in France. But according to a senior Israeli government source, the reports reaching Israel indicate that Sarkozy views the Democratic candidate’s stance on Iran as “utterly immature” and comprised of “formulations empty of all content.” . . .

Until now, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany have tried to maintain a united front on Iran. But according to the senior Israeli source, Sarkozy fears that Obama might “arrogantly” ignore the other members of this front and open a direct dialogue with Iran without preconditions.

When and if a liberal U.S. government disagrees with the world, the media will suddenly rediscover American exceptionalism.  Unilateralism will suddenly become proper, even necessary.  And it will all happen without a hint of irony.

(Via Power Line.)

Liberalism in a nutshell

October 28, 2008

Elizabeth Edwards criticizes McCain’s health care proposals, because they leave decisions up to individuals. This is a bad thing (!), because individuals frequently “make stupid economics decisions.”

(Via the Corner.)

Obama claims Heritage Foundation support

October 28, 2008


Dear Senator Obama:

Two recent campaign advertisements seriously misrepresent the views of my client, The Heritage Foundation. They suggest, quite falsely, that The Heritage Foundation and one of its analysts support your tax plan.

The print ad on your Website as well as your ad entitled “Try This” reference a quote from policy analyst Rea Hederman. In fact, Mr. Hederman never said what is quoted there. Rather, the words you quote are from a New York Sun reporter who interviewed Mr. Hederman and summarized his views erroneously.

That the reporter’s summary is erroneous is evident from the actual quotes from Mr. Hederman presented in the article, which make it quite clear that Mr. Hederman believes your tax plan would be bad not only for the country, but for the middle class. By omitting the direct quotes from Heritage that are contained in the article and attributing to Heritage a conflicting statement not made by its analyst, the advertisement appears to be an intentional attempt to mislead.

Surely there can be no doubt within your campaign as to how Heritage truly views your tax plan.

Isn’t there a rule about keeping your lies plausible?  One might just as well claim the New York Times endorsed John McCain.

(Via Instapundit.)

More on Ayers’s genocide plans

October 28, 2008

Pajamas Media interviews Larry Grathwohl, who infiltrated the Weather Underground for the FBI. He was asked about Ayers’s plans for genocide in America:

Pajamas Media: Was this merely an academic matter to them, or were they serious about killing 25 million Americans that would not bend to their political will?

Larry Grathwohl: I suppose you could consider this a purely academic discussion in that the Weathermen never had the opportunity to implement their political ends. However, I can assure you that this was not the case. There was an absolute belief that they, along with the international revolutionary movement, would cause the collapse of the United States and that they would be in charge. Nixon was of great concern and how his end would be conducted. This may sound absurd in today’s context, but the Weatherman believed they would succeed.

Pajamas Media: Did they ever devise a cover story to explain to the rest of America how roughly one in ten disappeared?

Larry Grathwohl: When I suggested that this might be a difficult proposition they looked at me like I had three heads. They would be in charge! They would be in control! Who would oppose them? Lambs to the slaughter I guess.

Pajamas Media: Were any of those Weathermen involved in concocting this plan particularly excited or enthusiastic about the death camps, or was it merely a means to an end?

Larry Grathwohl: Of course they were enthusiastic as it was representative of the success of “the revolution.”

Obama’s principal collaboration with Ayers was on education policy in Chicago.  Grathwohl also commented on Ayers’s educational views, and on his connection with Obama:

Pajamas Media: Would you let your children attend a college or university class taught by Ayers or his wife, Bernadine Dohrn? What would you tell parents who have had their children exposed to Ayers’ academic programs, like the Small Schools Workshop?

Larry Grathwohl: As for Billy’s ideas on education, isn’t it apparent? Reading, writing, and arithmetic aren’t important! Radicalism is what’s important. Fits right in with the Billy Ayers view of creating mindless soldiers to follow his commands — where best to lay the foundations of a revolution than with the young?

Pajamas Media: Do you think there is there any way that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama could not have known that Bill Ayers was a domestic terrorist? Is there any reason that the American people should accept Barack Obama’s newest excuse about his relationship with Bill Ayers, where Obama claimed that he thought Ayers was “reformed”?

Larry Grathwohl: If we are to believe Mr. Obama, he just didn’t know Billy was as radical as he apparently is. Really? Just like he didn’t know the Rev. Wright was as radical as he is? Obama is a politician and he wants me to believe that he never discussed politics with the Rev Wright or Billy Ayers?

Obama has defended his relationship with Ayers, saying that he was only 8 when Ayers’s criminal activities took place, but Grathwohl says that Ayers’s radicalism is hardly a thing of the past:

Pajamas Media: Bill Ayers came out of hiding around 1980, became an college professor, and has served on numerous boards and foundations. Do you think he’s changed in his radicalism?

Larry Grathwohl: Has Billy changed? I hardly think so.

Pajamas Media: If conditions permitted, do you think Ayers would still engage in violence to further a political agenda?

Larry Grathwohl: He has acknowledged his support of anti-American groups and stated he felt that the Weathermen hadn’t done enough.

Pajamas Media: Do you consider Bill Ayers an attempted mass murderer?

Larry Grathwohl: I’m not certain Billy is a mass [murderer]; his ego just wants him to be in charge. Note that Billy never does anything that involves risk. He has no problem allowing his women to do the evil task, Diane Oughton and even Bernardine, but never him. As for what he might do, hasn’t he said he doesn’t rule out the possibility of future bombings? [Ayers said he didn’t “want to discount the possibility” in this New York Times article from  September 11, 2001. — Ed.]

By the way, isn’t this an obvious interview to conduct?  But it had to fall to Pajamas Media to do it, because the mainstream media’s investigative reporters are busy interviewing John McCain’s daughter’s friends and such.

(Via Instapundit.) (Previous post.)

CBS on Obama’s fundraising

October 28, 2008

Good for CBS for covering this story.  Obama takes some heat for his massive non-transparency, but even more heat where he is transparent.

I shouldn’t have to compliment a network for covering such an obvious story, but there you go.

British project developing nuclear-powered passenger plane

October 28, 2008


Why bother with the election

October 27, 2008

One paper calls it for Obama.  (Via the Corner.)

Everything you know about the financial crisis is wrong

October 27, 2008

So says a paper (pdf) from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis:

The financial crisis has also been associated with four widely held claims about the nature of the crisis and the associated spillovers to the rest of the economy. The financial press and policymakers have made the following four claims about the nature of the crisis.

1. Bank lending to nonfinancial corporations and individuals has declined sharply.

2. Interbank lending is essentially nonexistent.

3. Commercial paper issuance by nonfinancial corporations has declined sharply, and rates have risen to unprecedented levels.

4. Banks play a large role in channeling funds from savers to borrowers.

Here we examine these claims using data from the Federal Reserve Board. Our argument that all four claims are false is based on data up until October 8, 2008.

(Via the Corner.)

U.S. launches raid within Syria

October 27, 2008

Fox News reports:

U.S. military helicopters struck a network of foreign fighters in Syria, a U.S. military official said Sunday, killing eight people and earning recrimination from Damascus, which condemned the raid as “serious aggression.”

The official, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said the special forces action within Syrian territory close to the Iraqi border, was meant to send a message. The Americans have been unable to shut the network down in the area because Syria was out of the military’s reach. . .

The attack came just days after the commander of U.S. forces in western Iraq said American troops were redoubling efforts to secure the Syrian border, which he called an “uncontrolled” gateway for fighters entering Iraq.

Ninety percent of foreign fighters enter Iraq through Syria, according to U.S. intelligence estimates. Foreign fighters often enter Iraq in order to bring cash to Al Qaeda in Iraq’s chief. They also are deadly — trained in bomb-making and willing to sacrifice themselves in suicide attacks. . .

“The one piece of the puzzle we have not been showing success on is the nexus in Syria,” the official said speaking of other areas of assistance in Iraq and neighboring countries.

On Thursday, U.S. Maj. Gen. John Kelly said Iraq’s western borders with Saudi Arabia and Jordan were fairly tight as a result of good policing by security forces in those countries but that Syria was a “different story.”

“The Syrian side is, I guess, uncontrolled by their side,” Kelly said. “We still have a certain level of foreign fighter movement.”

Biden likens Obama to Jefferson, etc.

October 27, 2008

Fox News reports:

Joe Biden on Monday compared Barack Obama to Thomas Jefferson, John F. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt. . .

Biden . . . stressed that his Obama is a genuine force for change. As proof, Democratic vice presidential candidate pointed to the kind of attacks that have historically been directed at new leaders with new ideas.

“The defenders of the status quo have always tried to tear down those who would change our nation for the better,” Biden said. “They said Thomas Jefferson wasn’t … a real Christian. That was the essence of the campaign against him. Well, does that sound familiar?” he said.

“Ladies and gentlemen, they said Abraham Lincoln … wanted to take away individual rights. Ladies and gentlemen, they said Franklin Roosevelt would destroy the American system of life. Sound familiar? And ladies and gentlemen, they said that John F. Kennedy was, quote, ‘a dangerous choice in difficult times.’ … Sound familiar?”

A few thoughts:

  • Actually, every presidential candidate faces these sorts of attacks. It’s called politics. The question is whether the attacks are fair.
  • New ideas? Does Obama actually have any new ideas? I’ve not heard a single one that isn’t just an old liberal retread.
  • Jefferson was attacked for not being a Christian (which, for the record, was true), but more seriously was attacked for being too enamored of the French revolution. The French revolution, of course, led to the reign of terror, and eventually to the re-institution of the monarchy, which is not something one would have wanted to see repeated in America. History has vindicated Jefferson, but going in there was legitimate reason for concern on the latter issue.
  • What, no love for Reagan? I thought Reagan was a bipartisan figure now. New ideas? Check! Vicious attacks? Check!

Obama laments failure to distribute wealth

October 27, 2008

Obama says that the “tragedy” of the civil rights movement was its failure to redistribute wealth:

A 7-year-old radio interview in which Barack Obama discussed the failure of the Supreme Court to rule on redistributing wealth in its civil rights rulings has given fresh ammunition to critics who say the Democratic presidential candidate has a socialist agenda.

The interview — conducted by Chicago Public Radio in 2001, while Obama was an Illinois state senator and a law professor at the University of Chicago — delves into whether the civil rights movement should have gone further than it did, so that when “dispossessed peoples” appealed to the high court on the right to sit at the lunch counter, they should have also appealed for the right to have someone else pay for the meal.

Even more frighteningly, he also said the Warren Court “wasn’t that radical,” because it focused on limitations of what the government can do, rather than inventing affirmative obligations of the government to do things, such as redistribute wealth.  In so doing, he said:

[The Supreme Court] didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, at least as it has been interpreted.

(Emphasis mine.)  Apparently, Obama thinks the Constitution ought to be interpreted to require the government to redistribute wealth.

Ironically, Biden chose today to say that comparing Obama to Karl Marx is off the mark.

Colombian hostage escapes

October 27, 2008

The AP reports:

A 62-year-old lawmaker held captive eight years by leftist rebels walked to freedom in a western Colombia jungle on Sunday along with the young guerrilla commander who had been his jailer.

President Alvaro Uribe said the rebel and his girlfriend would be rewarded with cash and asylum in France.

Oscar Tulio Lizcano is the first Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia hostage to gain freedom since the July 2 rescue of former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and three U.S. military contractors.

His escape is yet another blow to Latin America’s last major rebel army, which is battling record desertions under withering pressure from Colombia’s U.S.-backed military.

I love the Internet

October 27, 2008

The low cost of blogging makes even highly specialized blogging cost-effective.  For instance, there’s a WordPress blog devoted just to Fallout 3.  (Fallout 3 releases Wednesday.)

Murtha trailing?

October 26, 2008

Murtha’s “racist” and “redneck” insults may prove to cost him re-election.  Michelle Malkin reports that a new poll, not yet released, has John Murtha now trailing in his bid for his re-election, 48-35.

BONUS: Murtha gets the treatment from Saturday Night Live.

Chavez seeks to jail rival

October 26, 2008

Reuters reports:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez threatened on Saturday to imprison his main political rival, intensifying a campaign against a man he calls a crime boss just a month before he faces tough regional elections.

Opposition leader Manuel Rosales, who lost to Chavez in the 2006 presidential vote, is governor of the oil producing state of Zulia and is running for mayor of its capital Maracaibo.

“I am determined to put Manuel Rosales behind bars. A swine like that has to be in prison,” Chavez said. . .

Chavez provided no specific evidence for the charges against the main leader of a fragmented opposition who has solid support in the oil-producing west of the OPEC nation. . .

Chavez has been campaigning vigorously for his candidates in gubernatorial and mayoral races in the November 23 election but may lose some key posts as Venezuelans worry about crime, inflation and poor public services, pollsters say.

Chavez often makes dramatic threats in speeches without immediately carrying them out. Still, he does follow through on enough of them over time for his threats to concern the people he targets.

(Via Instapundit.)

U.S. hands over “triangle of death”

October 26, 2008

I know hardly anyone is paying attention to Iraq any more, but I still think it bears notice: the “triangle of death” region has been handed over to Iraqi control:

U.S. forces declared an area once known as the “triangle of death” safe enough for Iraqi troops to take charge on Thursday, handing over responsibility for security in Babil province to Iraqi forces.

The province south of Baghdad is the 12th of Iraq’s 18 provinces in which primary responsibility for security has been given to Iraqi forces.

With violence at four-year lows, only the capital Baghdad, four ethnically and religiously mixed northern provinces and Wasit province along the Iranian border still require day-to-day U.S. patrols of Iraqi streets.

(Via Iraq Status Report.)

Israel headed for election

October 26, 2008

Tzipi Livni has failed to form a government and will recommend calling an election. The sticking point in coalition negotiations was the status of Jerusalem in Palestinian negotiations:

Prior to the press conference, Shas had released a statement in which it said: “Throughout the negotiations, Shas hasn’t asked for political upgrades or fancy titles. It has asked for only two things: a profound assistance to the weak socioeconomic classes living in Israel and the protection of Jerusalem,” the statement read.

“…Our negotiators proposed solutions for these two issues, but their opinion was not accepted,” the statement said.

One of Livni’s close advisers said that Yishai was told as soon as the negotiations started that Livni would not accept a coalition agreement that excluded Jerusalem from the political talks with the Palestinians and that Yishai had nevertheless been willing to start coalition talks.

(Via Power Line.)

By the way, I’m glad we don’t have a parliament.

More on Obama fundraising website

October 26, 2008

The Obama campaign is starting to face some questions about why its website has disabled all the basic protections against fraud. It makes their website very friendly to illegal and fraudulent contributions. Setting aside credit card fraud and foreign contributions, its easy to break up large donations into many small ones and they’ll be accepted. When combined with his refusal to release the names of his donors, it makes it look deliberate.

Obama’s defense is “the other guy does it too.” That’s not much of a defense, especially when the other guy actually doesn’t do it too.

When you couple this with Obama’s record fundraising, raising more in a month than McCain is spending overall, you can’t help wondering how much his haul is illegal. That’s the sort of question the media would ordinarily be eager to investigate.

(Previous post.)

UPDATE: The Washington Post reports:

Sen. Barack Obama’s record-breaking $150 million fundraising performance in September has for the first time prompted questions about whether presidential candidates should be permitted to collect huge sums of money through faceless credit card transactions over the Internet.

Lawyers for both the Republican and Democratic parties have asked the Federal Election Commission to examine the issue, pointing to dozens of examples of what they say are lax screening procedures by the presidential campaigns that permitted donors using false names or stolen credit cards to make contributions. . .

While the potentially fraudulent or excessive contributions represent about 1 percent of Obama’s staggering haul, the security challenge is one of several major campaign-finance-related questions raised by the Democrat’s fundraising juggernaut.

Concerns about anonymous donations seeping into the campaign began to surface last month, mainly on conservative blogs. Some bloggers described their own attempts to display the flaws in Obama’s fundraising program, donating under such obviously phony names as Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, and reported that the credit card transactions were permitted.

Obama officials said it should be obvious that it is as much in their campaign’s interest as it is in the public’s interest for fake contributions to be turned back, and said they have taken pains to establish a barrier to prevent them. Over the course of the campaign, they said, a number of additional safeguards have been added to bulk up the security of their system.

Perhaps a good “additional safeguard” would be to reactivate the standard precautions that they disabled.  And the 1% figure was provided by the Obama campaign, with no evidence (reported by the Post) to back up the figure.

(Via Instapundit.)

Comment policy

October 26, 2008

Just a reminder: we have a comment policy at Internet Scofflaw.  Uncivil comments will be thrown out with the spam.  Let’s leave the name calling for Daily Kos.

Obama staffers retract illegal votes

October 25, 2008

The New York Post reports:

Thirteen campaign workers for Barack Obama yesterday yanked their voter registrations and ballots in Ohio after being warned by a prosecutor that temporary residents can’t vote in the battleground state.

A dozen staffers – including Obama Ohio spokeswoman Olivia Alair and James Cadogan, who recently joined Team Obama – signed a form letter asking the Franklin County elections board to pull their names from the rolls. . .

Earlier in the week, O’Brien spoke with lawyers for both camps and urged them to make sure their staffs met permanent-residency rules, or face possible felony charges.

(Via Instapundit.)

Question 1: Haven’t we been told that bogus registrations never turn into bogus votes?  Question 2: Shouldn’t Obama’s Ohio spokeswoman have known better?

Study shatters gaming stereotypes

October 25, 2008

The Pew Research Center has published a study on gaming, social interaction, and civic engagement. Their findings: First, teens play a lot of video games. (No surprise there!) Second, gaming can be a positive form of social interaction:

“The stereotype that gaming is a solitary, violent, anti-social activity just doesn’t hold up. The average teen plays all different kinds of games and generally plays them with friends and family both online and offline,” said Amanda Lenhart, author of a report on the survey and a Senior Research Specialist with the Pew Internet & American Life Project, which conducted the survey. “Gaming is a ubiquitous part of life for both boys and girls. For most teens, gaming runs the spectrum from blow-‘em-up mayhem to building communities; from cute-and-simple to complex; from brief private sessions to hours’ long interactions with masses of others.”

Third, gaming can lead to greater civic engagement:

A focus of the survey was the relationship between gaming and civic experiences among teens. The goal was to test concerns that gaming might be prompting teens to withdraw from their communities. It turns out there is clear evidence that gaming is not just an entertaining diversion for many teens; gaming can be tied to civic and political engagement. Indeed, youth have many experiences playing games that mirror aspects of civic and political life, such as thinking about moral and ethical issues and making decisions about city and/or community affairs. Not only do many teens help others or learn about a problem in society during their game playing, they also encounter other social and civic experiences:

  • 52% of gamers report playing games where they think about moral and ethical issues.
  • 43% report playing games where they help make decisions about how a community, city or nation should be run.
  • 40% report playing games where they learn about a social issue.

Moreover, the survey indicates that youth who have these kinds of civic gaming experiences are more likely to be civically engaged in the offline world.

The caveat to the third conclusion is that substantial exposure to civic gaming experiences is relatively rare (pdf, page 27), experienced by fewer than 10% of teens.

(Via Tied the Leader.)

How we got here

October 25, 2008

John Steele Gordon has an interesting historical perspective on the current financial mess, going back to the Jackson administration. As you might expect, the heart of the tale centers on Fannie and Freddie:

The aggressive pursuit of an end to redlining also required the active participation of Fannie Mae, and thereby hangs a tale. Back in 1968, the Johnson administration had decided to “adjust” the federal books by taking Fannie Mae off the budget and establishing it as a “Government Sponsored Enterprise” (GSE). But while it was theoretically now an independent corporation, Fannie Mae did not have to adhere to the same rules regarding capitalization and oversight that bound most financial institutions. And in 1970 still another GSE was created, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, or Freddie Mac, to expand further the secondary market in mortgage-backed securities.

This represented a huge moral hazard. The two institutions were supposedly independent of the government and owned by their stockholders. But it was widely assumed that there was an implicit government guarantee of both Fannie and Freddie’s solvency and of the vast amounts of mortgage-based securities they issued. This assumption was by no means unreasonable. Fannie and Freddie were known to enjoy lower capitalization requirements than other financial institutions and to be held to a much less demanding regulatory regime. If the United States government had no worries about potential failure, why should the market?

Forward again to the Clinton changes in 1995. As part of them, Fannie and Freddie were now permitted to invest up to 40 times their capital in mortgages; banks, by contrast, were limited to only ten times their capital. Put briefly, in order to increase the number of mortgages Fannie and Freddie could underwrite, the federal government allowed them to become grossly undercapitalized. . .

That was bad enough; then came politics to make it much worse. Fannie and Freddie quickly evolved into two of the largest financial institutions on the planet. . . But unlike other large, profit-seeking financial institutions, they were headquartered in Washington, D.C., and were political to their fingertips. Their management and boards tended to come from the political world, not the business world.

(Via Instapundit.) (Previous post.)

Government computers used to investigate Joe the Plumber

October 25, 2008

The Ohio state patrol is looking into why, shortly after the third presidential debate, its motor vehicle database was used to investigate Joe the Plumber:

Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher became part of the national political lexicon Oct. 15 when Republican presidential candidate John McCain mentioned him frequently during his final debate with Democrat Barack Obama.

The 34-year-old from the Toledo suburb of Holland is held out by McCain as an example of an American who would be harmed by Obama’s tax proposals.

Public records requested by The Dispatch disclose that information on Wurzelbacher’s driver’s license or his sport-utility vehicle was pulled from the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles database three times shortly after the debate.

Information on Wurzelbacher was accessed by accounts assigned to the office of Ohio Attorney General Nancy H. Rogers, the Cuyahoga County Child Support Enforcement Agency and the Toledo Police Department.

It has not been determined who checked on Wurzelbacher, or why. Direct access to driver’s license and vehicle registration information from BMV computers is restricted to legitimate law enforcement and government business.

(Via LGF.)

This is what happens to you when you ask Obama a tough question (at your own home!), and these yahoos aren’t even elected yet.

Embarassed to be a journalist

October 25, 2008

Michael Malone writes a withering indictment of his own profession. I’m not sure the halcyon days he remembers ever actually existed, and I would focus more on inaccuracy than bias, but he’s got his own perspective.

What I found most interesting is his theory about where things went wrong:

Who are the real villains in this story of mainstream media betrayal?

The editors. The men and women you don’t see; the people who not only decide what goes in the paper, but what doesn’t; the managers who give the reporters their assignments and lay-out the editorial pages. They are the real culprits.

Why? I think I know, because had my life taken a different path, I could have been one: Picture yourself in your 50s in a job where you’ve spent 30 years working your way to the top, to the cockpit of power . . . only to discover that you’re presiding over a dying industry. The Internet and alternative media are stealing your readers, your advertisers and your top young talent. Many of your peers shrewdly took golden parachutes and disappeared. Your job doesn’t have anywhere near the power and influence it did when your started your climb. The Newspaper Guild is too weak to protect you any more, and there is a very good chance you’ll lose your job before you cross that finish line, ten years hence, of retirement and a pension.

In other words, you are facing career catastrophe -and desperate times call for desperate measures. Even if you have to risk everything on a single Hail Mary play. Even if you have to compromise the principles that got you here. After all, newspapers and network news are doomed anyway – all that counts is keeping them on life support until you can retire.

And then the opportunity presents itself: an attractive young candidate whose politics likely matches yours, but more important, he offers the prospect of a transformed Washington with the power to fix everything that has gone wrong in your career. With luck, this monolithic, single-party government will crush the alternative media via a revived Fairness Doctrine, re-invigorate unions by getting rid of secret votes, and just maybe, be beholden to people like you in the traditional media for getting it there.

And besides, you tell yourself, it’s all for the good of the country . . .

(Via LGF.)

A minor victory for private education

October 25, 2008

A Pennsylvania appeals court has ruled that when divorced parents cannot agree on how to educate their children, there is no presumption in favor of public schools.  Instead, such matters are to be resolved by considering the best interests of the children, just as in other matters.

Staggering fraud

October 25, 2008

ACORN claimed to have registered 1.3 million voters this year, but it is now revealed that the real number is about a third of that:

On Oct. 6, the community organizing group Acorn and an affiliated charity called Project Vote announced with jubilation that they had registered 1.3 million new voters. But it turns out the claim was a wild exaggeration, and the real number of newly registered voters nationwide is closer to 450,000, Project Vote’s executive director, Michael Slater, said in an interview.

The remainder are registered voters who were changing their address and roughly 400,000 that were rejected by election officials for a variety of reasons, including duplicate registrations, incomplete forms and fraudulent submissions from low-paid field workers trying to please their supervisors, Mr. Slater acknowledged.

In registration drives, it is common for a percentage of newly registered voters to be disqualified for various reasons, although experts say the percentage is higher when groups pay workers to gather registrations. But the disclosure on Thursday that 30 percent of Acorn’s registrations were faulty was described by Republicans as further proof of what they said was Acorn’s effort to tilt the election unfairly.

One-third new registrations (as far as we know), one-third address changes, one-third fraud.

(Via Instapundit.)

Patterico’s domain has been hijacked

October 24, 2008

Announced here (link may not be permanent). I’ve been hearing more and more about this sort of thing. It’s very worrisome. The service in this case is 1&1 Internet. Don’t use them.

(Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: Patterico wins.

Japan takes its gaming seriously

October 24, 2008

The AP reports:

A 43-year-old Japanese woman whose sudden divorce in a virtual game world made her so angry that she killed her online husband’s digital persona has been arrested on suspicion of hacking, police said Thursday.

The woman, who is jailed on suspicion of illegally accessing a computer and manipulating electronic data, used his identification and password to log onto popular interactive game “Maple Story” to carry out the virtual murder in mid-May, a police official in northern Sapporo said on condition of anonymity, citing department policy.

“I was suddenly divorced, without a word of warning. That made me so angry,” the official quoted her as telling investigators and admitting the allegations.

The woman had not plotted any revenge in the real world, the official said.

The kangaroos are back

October 24, 2008

If there’s any doubt that free speech in Canada is dead, this story removes it:

The Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) kept its head down during the recent federal election. With no less than four ongoing investigations into its conduct, it wisely stayed beneath the radar. But with the election over, it’s back at it, with its most egregious violation of our civil rights yet.

In Saskatchewan, the CHRC is prosecuting a former Member of Parliament for politically incorrect mail that he sent to constituents five years ago.

Jim Pankiw, an MP who served from 1997 to 2004, is on trial for sending out flyers criticizing Indian crime in Saskatchewan. If convicted, Pankiw can face massive fines. He could also face other orders, ranging from a forced apology to a lifetime ban on commenting about aboriginal issues. If Pankiw refuses to comply with such an order, he could serve time in jail.

Aboriginal crime was a big issue for Pankiw’s constituents. According to Statistics Canada, aboriginals make up only 9% of Saskatchewan’s population, but they are 52% of the province’s criminally accused.

Pankiw wanted to get tough on crime; he wanted to abandon aboriginal “sentencing circles,” and end racial quotas. His tone was aggressive, but talking tough about crime isn’t supposed to be a crime in itself. Whether or not his was the best solution was up to his constituents. That’s how a democracy works.

(Via Instapundit.)

The Canadian kangaroo courts have prosecuted clergy for their sermons, periodicals for their content, and now a member of parliament for political communications. I don’t understand why Canadians aren’t upset about this. Is there no constituency for free speech in Canada?

POSTSCRIPT: Good thing nothing like this could ever happen here.

(Previous post.)

Iran arrests US graduate student

October 24, 2008

The AP reports:

An American university student in Iran to visit family and research women’s rights has been arrested and held in prison for more than a week, rights group Amnesty International said.

Esha Momeni, a student at California State University, Northridge, was driving on a highway in Tehran when she was stopped by authorities who said they were traffic police, the London-based Amnesty said.

Iranian officials said Momeni was arrested Oct. 15 for a traffic offense. But Amnesty said in a statement Tuesday she was taken to her family’s home where her computer and other materials related to her research on the Iranian women’s movement were confiscated.

Momeni, who is a member of the California branch of Change for Equality — an Iranian women’s rights group — was later taken to Evin prison, the Tehran facility notorious for holding political prisoners, Amnesty said.

Inside Higher Ed has more on Momeni, and others.

Obama campaign encourages fradulent contributions

October 24, 2008

Patrick Ruffini writes that the Obama web site has disabled a standard mechanism that protects against credit card fraud:

The Obama campaign has turned its security settings for accepting online contributions down to the bare minimum — possibly to juice the numbers, and turning a blind eye towards the potential for fraud not just against the FEC, but against unsuspecting victims of credit card fraud.

The issue centers around the Address Verification Service (or AVS) that credit card processors use to sniff out phony transactions. I was able to contribute money using an address other than the one on file with my bank account (I used an address I control, just not the one on my account), showing that the Obama campaign deliberately disabled AVS for its online donors.

AVS is generally the first line of defense against credit card fraud online. AVS ensures that not only is your credit card number accurate, but the street address you’ve submitted with a transaction matches the one on file with your bank.

Authorize.net, the largest credit card gateway provider in the country, lists AVS as a “Standard Transaction Security Setting,” recommends merchants use it, and turns it on by default. So, in order for AVS to be turned off, it has to be intentional, at least with Authorize.net.

(Via Instapundit.)

Power Line has been asking about this too, but this is the first explanation I’ve seen for what Obama is actually doing.

(Previous post.)

Bill Ayers advocated genocide in America

October 24, 2008

After the revolution swept America, the Weather Underground planned to have re-education centers to retrain people as communists.  Those who could not be re-educated, a projected 25 million, would be killed.

No wonder Ayers says he didn’t do enough.  He came up about 25 million murders short.

(Via Instapundit.)

Military ballots tossed in Virginia

October 24, 2008

The Daily Press reports:

Virginia campaign officials for GOP presidential candidate John McCain are saying some Fairfax County absentee ballots — and possibly some in Hampton Roads — from overseas service members are being rejected over a technicality.

But the Fairfax registrar said he was following state law in rejecting a small number of absentee ballots that came in at the same time as the voter’s application.

Fairfax General Registrar Rokey Suleman said Thursday that he had had to reject some of the ballots because of a Virginia law passed in 2002. That law — then called Senate Bill 113, sponsored by then-state Sen. Bill Bolling — requires that when an overseas citizen wants to request an absentee ballot and cast a vote with the same paperwork, it requires not only a witness signature but the current address of the witness.

The McCain campaign said there’s not even a space for the witness to list an address. Suleman agreed; he said that the federal document was changed in recent years and that the space for the witness address was removed. But the Virginia law hasn’t changed.

Suleman said he brought up the issue last month at a Pew Foundation conference on overseas voting.

Now, he said, he’s getting hammered by the McCain camp as someone trying to prevent service members from voting.

“I can’t ignore the law,” Suleman said. “I think it stinks.”

The Daily Press apparently wasn’t able to determine whether Suleman has a party affiliation, but since it matters, but my crack research staff has determined that he is a Democrat. He recently made news when he held a voter registration drive at the county detention center.

Anyway, didn’t the Democrats establish a few years ago that in order to protect voting rights, the law should be “liberally construed“? I guess that’s only when the law doesn’t favor them.

(Via Marc Ambinder, via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: The problem is reportedly resolved.  (Via the Corner.)

Argentina to confiscate retirement savings

October 23, 2008

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Hemmed in by the global financial squeeze and commodities slump, Argentina’s leftist government has seemingly found a novel way to find the money to stay afloat: cracking open the piggybank of the nation’s private pension system.

The government proposed to nationalize the private pensions, which would provide it with much of the cash it needs to meet debt payments and avoid a second default this decade. . . The private system has about $30 billion in assets and generates about $5 billion in new contributions each year.

While no one knows for sure what the government would do with the private system, economists said nationalization would let the government raid new pension contributions to cover short-term debts due in coming years. . .

Argentina is doubly hurt. Having stiffed creditors as recently as 2001, it has few prospects of returning to international lending markets soon. Economists who were critical of the nationalization proposal said it reinforced Argentina’s image as a renegade in financial circles.

The private pension system was created as an alternative to state pension funds in 1994, when conservative President Carlos Saúl Menem ran Argentina and free-market policies were in vogue in Latin America. Countries in the region followed the example of Chile, which had privatized pensions in 1981. In Argentina, workers have the option of paying into individual retirement accounts run by pension funds rather than the government.

Three million Argentines do so. They can track their accounts and have some say over how the pension funds invest the money, making the system somewhat like U.S. 401(k) accounts. After a nationalization, it’s presumed the government-run system would absorb the private funds.

It’s just the latest in the Argentine horror show:

Mrs. Kirchner won’t have trouble making the case for expropriation to Congress, which is controlled by her fellow Peronists. When the Argentine government ran out of money in 2001, it blamed the market and increased its own role in the economy. Since then it has imposed price controls, defaulted on its debt, seized dollar bank accounts, devalued the currency, nationalized businesses and tried to set confiscatory tax rates with the aim of making society more “fair.” Mrs. Kirchner and her predecessor (and husband) Nestór Kirchner have also preserved the Peronist tradition of big spending.

All of this has been deemed acceptable because of the “crisis.”

You spend your entire life saving for retirement, and then the government takes it away. It could never happen here, right? The Democrats might abolish 401(k)s in favor a government-owned plan, but they would never confiscate existing ones, would they?

(Via Power Line.)

Media coverage favors Obama

October 23, 2008

A new Pew study reports that McCain’s media coverage has been overwhelmingly negative: 60% negative to 14% positive. Obama’s, of course, has been positive: 36% positive, 29% negative.

But, not to worry:

So do these numbers reveal a pro-Obama bias? Not necessarily, according to the study’s authors.

I’m reassured! Okay, they actually do make an argument:

Rather, they say, the statistics “do offer a strong suggestion that winning in politics begat winning coverage, thanks in part to the relentless tendency of the press to frame its coverage of national elections as running narratives about the relative position of the candidates in the polls and internal tactical maneuvering to alter those positions.”

While McCain left St. Paul, Minn., with mostly positive coverage, Obama started out the same period with mostly negative press. But as things turned in the polls, and especially in articles about detailing the electoral map, Obama’s coverage became more favorable.

(Via LGF.)

But this is crap. I do remember a brief period in which the media was being kind to McCain, but it ended before the polls started to turn. Obama decided to be “more aggressive” and accuse McCain of rampant dishonesty, and the media went along with it despite the opposite being true. The most memorable incident from that period was when the Washington Post sided with Obama’s spin over its own reporting.

In fact, I would say there was a causal relation between the polls and the coverage, but going the other way. At the GOP Convention, when McCain got to speak to the American people without being filtered and distorted by the media, he went up in the polls. The media was furious. Doesn’t America know that Obama is supposed to win? How dare McCain be up in the polls?! They were determined to fix the problem and they did.

Biden takes some heat

October 22, 2008

Is the media starting to get annoyed with Joe Biden? CBS‘s Ryan Corsaro seems to be:

While the once silent Palin has taken questions from reporters that travel with her three times in the last week, Biden has not offered the same type of access to reporters who cover his every move on the campaign trail in almost two months.

As for comments that Biden made last weekend in Seattle about Obama facing an “international, generated crisis” in his first six months, Biden has said nothing more on the matter. . . Biden spokesperson David Wade said on Tuesday that Biden had no plans to revisit those statements. Obama, when asked today about Biden’s statement, called them “rhetorical flourishes.”

The handful of reporters from Biden’s national press corps who have followed him incessantly for two months have not had the opportunity to ask questions regarding the “crisis” matter – even to allow Biden to clarify his remarks – because he has not taken questions or held a press availability with his press corps since Sept. 7.

Last month in Akron, Biden chided McCain and Palin for not holding such availabilities with the press.

“I got asked a question by the press this morning, er, yesterday,” Biden told the crowd last month. “I’ve done a lot of press, I’ve done, I don’t know, I was told I did 68, 70 press conferences, and the person says, ‘What do you think about Sarah Palin?’ I said, ‘When she does three, I’ll let you know, I don’t know, I don’t have any idea, I don’t know, I don’t know.’ You know, I mean, look, and it’s not, look guys, it’s not just Sarah Palin, when’s the last time John, when’s the last time John’s had a press conference? I’m serious.”

When she does three, you say?  She’s done three this week.  How about Biden?  Hmm:

Biden was factually incorrect – he had conducted at the time over 80 interviews, not press conferences, ranging from local newspapers to network morning shows, with an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and a dozen interviews with major networks and newspapers.

And to belatedly answer Biden’s question, it has been 55 days since he held a press conference. He has held two since being named Obama’s running mate.

That’s one fewer than Palin has done this week.

Biden has also not taken questions from voters in a town hall style setting since Sept. 10 in Nashua, New Hampshire, when he told a supporter that Hillary Clinton might have been a better pick for vice president.

Since then, Biden has only held “community gatherings” and “rallies” where he makes a speech and chats briefly with supporters on the ropeline under the blare of music, no questions asked. Even there, Biden says very little after a digital recorder caught him making statements on clean coal that did not coincide with Obama’s energy policies.

He told Jay Leno on “The Tonight Show” that it was the reason he stays mum when greeting voters, hoping to avoid making comments that might be publicized and used against Obama.

That I believe.

(Via Instapundit.)  (Previous post.)

More on Obama and Odinga

October 22, 2008

Obama worked to undermine the pro-American government in Kenya, writes Andy McCarthy.

(Previous post.)

UPDATE: A commenter points me towards this document at WikiLeaks, purporting to be the memorandum of understanding between Odinga and Kenya’s National Muslim Leaders Forum.  I cannot attest to its authenticity, but the document is consistent with the agreement’s description in the Washington Times.

NBC and MSNBC conceals Biden’s crisis comments

October 22, 2008

Many media outlets simply ignored Biden’s comment about Obama’s inexperience triggering a crisis, but that wasn’t proactive enough for NBC and MSNBC. They covered the story, but rather than play than the Biden comment in question, they played a much less damaging Biden comment, and pretended that it was the newsmaking one. They then juxtaposed it with McCain’s response, without any indication that it was not the remark McCain was referring too.

(Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: Biden’s crisis comment was given in Seattle, and the less damaging (steel-in-his-spine) version was given (according to Breitbart) in San Francisco.  But MSNBC further obfuscates the affair by labelling the San Francisco remark as given in Seattle.

Today, NBC’s Andrea Mitchell was pressed on this, and didn’t seem even to know about the Seattle remark!  (Via Instapundit.)

Can we call it a cover-up yet?

CNN fails reading comprehension

October 21, 2008

In an interview with Sarah Palin, CNN‘s Drew Griffin quotes a story from National Review:

CNN: Yeah. Governor, you’ve been mocked in the press. The press has been pretty hard on you, the Democrats have been pretty hard on you, but also some conservatives have been pretty hard on you as well. The National Review had a story saying that, you know, I can’t tell if Sarah Palin is incompetent, stupid, unqualified, corrupt or all of the above.

Palin: Who wrote that one?

CNN: That was in the National Review, I don’t, have the author.

Palin: I’d like to talk to that person.

Well, sort of. In fact, really not at all. The actual article, by Byron York, opens thus:

Watching press coverage of the Republican candidate for vice president, it’s sometimes hard to decide whether Sarah Palin is incompetent, stupid, unqualified, corrupt, backward, or — or, well, all of the above. Palin, the governor of Alaska, has faced more criticism than any vice-presidential candidate since 1988, when Democrats and the press tore into Dan Quayle. In fact, Palin may have it even worse than Quayle, since she’s taking flak not only from Democrats and the press but from some conservative opinion leaders as well. . .

Yes, there are legitimate concerns about Palin’s lack of experience. Who wouldn’t, at the very least, wish that she had more time in the governor’s office on her résumé? But a look at Palin’s 20 months in power, along with interviews with people who worked with her, shows her to be a serious executive, a governor who picked important things to do and got them done — and who didn’t just stumble into an 80 percent job-approval rating.

(Emphasis mine.) York’s story is the exact opposite of that portrayed by CNN. Those words were a sarcastic defense of Palin, mocking those in the media, like CNN, who call her incompetent, stupid, unqualified, etc.

Clearly, Drew Griffin failed irony.

UPDATE: Heh.  This post was linked from a test preparation blog, under the title “Related blogs on reading comprehension.”

Military supports McCain

October 21, 2008

No surprises here:

A poll by the Military Times newspaper group suggests that there is overwhelming support for John McCain among U.S. troops in every branch of the armed forces by a nearly 3-1 margin.

According to the poll, 68 percent of active-duty and retired servicemen and women support McCain, while 23 percent support Barack Obama. The numbers are nearly identical among officers and enlisted troops.

The Military Times, which publishes the Army Times, Navy Times, Marine Corps Times and Air Force Times, polled 80,000 subscribers from Sept 22 to Sept. 29. The non-scientific survey gathered 4,300 respondents — all of them registered and eligible to vote. . .

The Military Times offered certain caveats for its poll, which was open only to its 80,000 subscribers. Responses were entirely voluntary and were not focused on a representative sample of the public, as scientific polls are. The troops polled were also somewhat older than average enlisted servicemembers and included more officers than is representative of the military as a whole.

Yet judging by the numbers, it appears that the Democratic party has not made many inroads into the traditionally Republican military.

UPDATE: Yes, this is a non-scientific study. As far as I’m aware, there’s no way to do a scientific study of the military. So take it for what it’s worth. (I would note that the left has found Military Times polls credible when they favored them.)

Still, the result is consistent with my experience. Liberal servicemen tend to support Democrats, and conservative ones tend to support Republicans, but the military tends to attract or create conservatives much more than liberals. I’ve been out of the military for years, but I doubt that’s changed.

Also, the campaigns clearly recognize that servicemen vote Republican. Remember Florida 2000:

Both parties quickly recognized the importance to Mr. Bush of the uncounted overseas ballots, especially those from military installations. But the Democrats were preoccupied, particularly with their pursuit of manual recounts in several heavily Democratic counties. And their strategy for absentee ballots, which consisted of challenging as many overseas ballots as possible, backfired after they were accused of disenfranchising men and women in uniform.

It’s not for no reason that Democrats try to prevent the military from voting. We can’t be sure of the 68/23 figure, but you can be sure than McCain has more support than Obama.

UPDATE (10/27): That same article sheds a little bit of quantitative light on the question:

Applying widely varying standards from one county to the next, election officials threw out 1,527 ballots, according to an unofficial tally by The Associated Press, or 41 percent of the total, and the remaining ballots produced a net gain of 630 votes for Mr. Bush.

This gives us enough information to compute (with some algebra) the proportion of the late overseas vote that wasn’t thrown out as 64% Bush and 36% Gore.  Now this doesn’t precisely give us an estimate of the military voter nationwide.  However, there don’t seem to be any systematic factors that would bias this number towards Bush.  Florida voters closely mirrored voters nationwide in 2000, and the fact that the vote also includes expatriates would only shift the numbers toward Gore. So unless voting late correlates with voting Bush, which there’s no evidence for, we can guess that the 2000 military vote went at least 64/46 for Bush.  This suggests that a 68/23 figure today is plausible.

Will the last honest reporter please turn on the lights?

October 21, 2008

Orson Scott Card isn’t happy with the media.  (Via LGF.)

Murtha: Western Pennsylvania is “redneck”

October 21, 2008

Last week he said we were racists. This week, we’re rednecks:

U.S. Rep. John Murtha is calling many of the people who put him in office “rednecks.”

The news comes one week after Murtha claimed the area is racist, then apologized for that comment.

In explaining his comments about racism, Murtha, D-Johnstown, told WTAE Channel 4 Action News on Monday it’s difficult for many in the area to change. Murtha said that just five to 10 years ago the entire area was “redneck.”

If he dislikes his constituents so much, I suggest that he find someone else to represent.

(Via the Corner.)

Canada censors Levant’s legal papers

October 21, 2008

Notch another right lost at the hands of the CHRC kangaroo court: the right to defend yourself in court.  Ezra Levant notes that the CHRC “investigator” has censored his defense before forwarding it to the pseudo-judges that will rule on his case.

The redacted material is a recounting of the misconduct of CHRC investigators and complainants.  That stuff is irrelevant in kangaroo court, apparently.

(Via Instapundit.)

Iranian agents captured in Iraq

October 21, 2008

If there’s anyone left who still denies that Iran is operating inside Iraq, they should consider this Long War Journal report:

Iraqi police and border guards have arrested seven members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps since Oct 18. The arrests come as the senior US commander in Iraq accused Iran of attempting to bribe Iraqi members of parliament to vote against the status of forces agreement that will allow US forces to remain in Iraq past 2008.

Iraqi police captured three armed Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps officers today in the city of Al Kut in Wasit province, a police official told Voices of Iraq. “Three Iraqi Revolutionary Guards along with their guide were detained on the border region between Iraq and Iran in eastern Wasit after entering Iraq illegally,” said Police Major Aziz Latief al Imara. “The forces seized amounts of ammunitions found in their possession.”

On Oct. 18, Iraqi border guards captured four more members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps in the Mandali district in Diyala province. “A force from the 4th contingent of the Iraqi border brigade in Diyala province arrested last night four members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard inside the Iraqi territories,” an anonymous official told Voices of Iraq. “The four were in military uniform with guns in their possession and were moving within the Iraqi territories.”

The seven Iranians were likely members of Qods Force, the elite special operations branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. The unit reports directly to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader.

Qods Force has supported various Shia militias and terror groups inside Iraq, including the Mahdi Army, which it helped build along the same lines as Lebanese Hezbollah. Iran denies the charges, but captive Shia terrorists admit to being recruited by Iranian agents, and then transported into Iran for training.

(Via Instapundit.)

Palin accessible to media, Obama/Biden not

October 20, 2008

CBS reports:

It was less than two weeks ago when Sarah Palin astonished her traveling press corps by lifting the curtain (literally) and journeying to the back of her campaign plane to answer reporters’ questions for the first time after 40 days on the campaign trail. But the candidate who has been criticized for having a bunker mentality when it came to the national media can now lay legitimate claim to being more accessible than either Joe Biden or Barack Obama.

In the past two days alone, Palin has answered questions from her national press corps on three separate occasions. On Saturday, she held another plane availability, and on Sunday, she offered an impromptu press conference on the tarmac upon landing in Colorado Springs. A few minutes later, she answered even more questions from reporters during an off-the-record stop at a local ice cream shop.

By contrast, Biden hasn’t held a press conference in more than a month, and Obama hasn’t taken questions from his full traveling press corps since the end of September. John McCain—who spent most of the primary season holding what seemed like one, never-ending media availability—hasn’t done one since Sept. 23.

Though she often turns the “mainstream media” into a punching bag on the stump, Palin clearly enjoys interacting with reporters. She seems to relish the opportunity to demonstrate that her breadth of knowledge far exceeds what she offered to CBS News’ Katie Couric in a series of interviews that were marked by vague, often convoluted answers to straightforward questions.

(Via Instapundit.)

UK government hushes up unfavorable science

October 20, 2008

The London Times reports:

A government report that found old-fashioned reusable nappies [diapers] damage the environment more than disposables has been hushed up because ministers are embarrassed by its findings.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has instructed civil servants not to publicise the conclusions of the £50,000 nappy research project and to adopt a “defensive” stance towards its conclusions.

The report found that using washable nappies, hailed by councils throughout Britain as a key way of saving the planet, have a higher carbon footprint than their disposable equivalents unless parents adopt an extreme approach to laundering them. . .

The conclusions will upset proponents of real nappies who have claimed they can help save the planet.

Restricted Whitehall documents, seen by The Sunday Times, show that the government is so concerned by the “negative laundry options” outlined in the report, it has told its media managers not to give its conclusions any publicity.

(Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: An inconvenient truth, indeed.

Obama collects millions in foreign contributions

October 20, 2008

Newsmax reports that Obama has collected between $13 million and $63 million in illegal foreign contributions, before September’s record-breaking month.  They also allege he has over 2000 donors who have given more than the legal maximum.  (Via the Corner.)

The fact that Obama (unlike McCain) won’t reveal the names of his contributors does suggest that he has something to hide.  Will we see the press investigate this?

Ha ha.  Just kidding.

(Previous post.)

Steyn on Joe the Plumber

October 20, 2008

Mark Steyn is the world’s funniest writer. Go read him now.

Biden: Obama’s inexperience will cause a crisis

October 20, 2008

Joe Biden finally says something I wholeheartedly agree with:

“Mark my words,” the Democratic vice presidential nominee warned at the second of his two Seattle fundraisers Sunday. “It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We’re about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America. Remember I said it standing here if you don’t remember anything else I said. Watch, we’re gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy.”

“I can give you at least four or five scenarios from where it might originate,” Biden said to Emerald City supporters, mentioning the Middle East and Russia as possibilities. “And he’s gonna need help. And the kind of help he’s gonna need is, he’s gonna need you – not financially to help him – we’re gonna need you to use your influence, your influence within the community, to stand with him. Because it’s not gonna be apparent initially, it’s not gonna be apparent that we’re right.”

Biden is right; if Obama is elected, someone will stage a crisis to test him. Further, Biden says, at first it’s going to appear that he’s screwing up. But we need to stand by them, despite how things will appear.

(Via Commentary, via the Corner.)

UPDATE: Madeline Albright agrees with Biden:

(Via the Corner.)

NYT admits to retaliation

October 20, 2008

The NYT’s executive editor Bill Keller admits (queue to 42:13) that he uses their front page to retaliate for criticism:

Question: When they jam the ref as they did with you; when McCain’s people complain and attack the Times, does that have any impact on you?

Bill Keller: My first reaction when they do that is to say, what’s the toughest McCain piece we’ve got and let’s put it on the front page tomorrow, just to show them that they’re not going to get away with that.

(Via the Corner.)

Interestingly, although the NYT’s ethics policy does forbid retaliating against uncooperative sources, it does not appear to forbid retaliating against news figures that criticize the Times. I guess that makes it okay.

UPDATE: The preceding exchange was interesting too (queue to 40:16). In it, Bill Keller argues that the NYT has done more tough pieces on Obama than McCain, but admits that they were in the “early spring”, before the nominees were decided. (That is, back when they didn’t matter. Or, more cynically, back when they served to ease the path for Hillary Clinton, the then-inevitable Democratic nominee. Also, back when McCain was the left’s preferred Republican candidate.) Keller says that they are planning to run a special section reprising their earlier reporting on Obama. Even if they actually do so (most likely on November 5), that’s a poor substitute for running new stories on matters that have surfaced since the spring.

Socialized medicine

October 20, 2008

In Britain, doctors are being paid not to refer patients for treatment:

Dozens of incentive schemes have been uncovered which allow GPs to profit by slashing the number of patients they refer for hospital care.

Under one scheme, GPs stand to gain £59 for every patient not referred to hospital, if they cut an average referral rate by between two and eight per cent.

Torbay care trust in Devon will pay up to £15,000 to the average-sized GP practice if it hits a swathe of targets, including reducing hospital referrals.

NHS managers say referral rates, which rose 16 per cent nationwide during the first quarter of this year, have to be cut to save money. They claim many patients can receive equally good care from community NHS staff, such as physiotherapists and nurses.

But critics fear that patients could suffer if GPs’ decisions are swayed by the prospect of a cash bonus.

And yes, this cost-cutting measure is hurting people:

A leading surgeon said that patients’ cancers had already gone undiagnosed after they were denied specialist care under two such “referral management” schemes.

Orthopaedic surgeon Stephen Cannon, former president of the British Orthopaedic Association and a consultant surgeon at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, described the cases as an “absolutely terrible” warning that decisions by non-specialist doctors could have devastating consequences.

He said: “I recently encountered two cases in which patients referred to physiotherapists later turned out to have a malignant tumour. If they had been sent to a consultant the outcome may have been very different.

If this policy hasn’t killed anyone yet, it’s only a matter of time.

This, of course, is the model of “health care” that Democrats want to see imposed in the United States.

(Via Instapundit.)

Change in North Korea?

October 19, 2008

The AP reports:

North Korea will make an “important announcement” on Monday amid speculation over the health of its leader Kim Jong Il, a Japanese newspaper reported Sunday. . .  Quoting unidentified sources at Japan’s defense ministry, the Sankei said Tokyo had information that “there will be an important announcement on (Oct.) 20th.”

The Sankei said there was speculation within the Japanese government that the North’s announcement could be about Kim’s death or a government change induced by a coup.

North Korea will also ban foreigners from entering the country starting Monday, it said, without giving further details.

Russia: we have no territorial ambitions

October 19, 2008

The London Times reports:

Sergei Ivanov, deputy to Vladimir Putin, the prime minister, promised that Russia’s intentions were entirely peaceful despite its invasion of Georgia. Moscow officials insist that its military operations in August were provoked by Georgian aggression.

“We are not aggressive,” Ivanov said in an interview. “We have recognised the territorial integrity of all former Soviet republics. That was in 1991. Russia, of course, has no territorial ambitions regarding any former Soviet countries.”

I know I’m reassured.


October 19, 2008

In Clark Hoyt, the NYT has finally found the ombudsman they’re looking for: a man who (to maintain credibility) occasionally will gently chide the paper, but will not hold the paper to account for its extreme partisanship. It’s not working — the credibility part, that is — but that doesn’t really matter to a paper that didn’t even see the need for an ombudsman for the first 153 years of its 157-year history.

Yesterday Hoyt published his latest column, on an article about which he received complaints from liberals. (Via Hot Air.) Liberal complaints are the holy grail for a man in his position, because he can set them off against conservative ones to claim balance. But those complaints (that an article said a few positive things about Sarah Palin) are just the entry point to his thesis: it’s our fault. The Times isn’t biased, we just don’t like the news.

According to Hoyt, the NYT has made two mistakes in its election coverage this year: rejecting the McCain op-ed, and running a thinly-sourced hatchet job insinuating that McCain had an affair. As for the rest, Hoyt writes:

Bias is a tricky thing. None of us are objective. We like news that supports our views and dislike what may challenge them. We tend to pick apart each article, word by word, failing to remember that it is part of a river of information from which facts can be plucked to support many points of view. Perversely, we magnify what displeases us and minimize what we like.

That is true, to some extent, which is a reason why, on this blog, I don’t write much about media bias (other than quantitative analyses). Of course there is media bias in favor of liberals; it’s ridiculous to deny it, but it’s so subjective that it’s not fruitful to complain. Moreover, journalists are entitled to their biases; that’s what freedom of the press is really for.

Instead, I write about media failure, that is, inarguable misconduct by the media. Usually this takes the form of stories that are not merely biased but inaccurate or misleading: they either report outright falsehoods, or make allegations unsupported by their reporting, or carefully omit key facts. I also occasionally comment on other media malice and hypocrisy, when I think it’s inarguable.

Since I started this blog last March, the New York Times has provided my richest vein of media failure material. As just a sampling, during that time the NYT has: invented a McCain gaffe, called academic freedom for a Republican “inexplicable”, falsely accused McCain of corruption in regard to land-swap legislation, construed the Iraq surge as failed using carefully selected numbers (and refused to correct), confirmed an outlandish anti-American claim by Jeremiah Wright, given MoveOn.org a special deal on an ad attacking General Petraeus, misreported the corporate income tax in a manner favorable to Democrats, inaccurately reported that Sarah Palin belonged to the Alaskan Independence Party, inaccurately reported that Palin cut Special Olympics funding, promoted the Wasilla rape-kit lie, posted an incorrect transcript of the VP debate (unfavorably to Palin), misreported the substance of a charge that Obama interfered with Iraqi negotiations, and emailed schoolmates of McCain’s daughter looking for dirt on his wife.

All of this misconduct was hostile to Republicans. Can Hoyt cite comparable misconduct hostile to Democrats? (And would he want to?)

Sorry Mr. Hoyt, I don’t think it’s all in my head.

Army deploys new bandages

October 18, 2008

The new bandages reportedly improve survival rates from life-threatening wounds by 80%.

Media bias and the polls

October 18, 2008

Obama concedes that media bias matters, in a backwards sort of way:

“I am convinced that if there were no Fox News, I might be two or three points higher in the polls,” Obama told me. “If I were watching Fox News, I wouldn’t vote for me, right? Because the way I’m portrayed 24/7 is as a freak! I am the latte-sipping, New York Times-reading, Volvo-driving, no-gun-owning, effete, politically correct, arrogant liberal. Who wants somebody like that?”

He could be right. If there were no Fox News, every major media outlet would be in the tank for Obama. That could well be worth 2-3 points. Of course, for Obama to complain about media bias is a little like Richard Daley (the elder) complaining about election fraud.

But just for fun, let’s take Obama’s estimate at face value and do a back-of-the-envelope calculation. (Don’t take any of this too seriously!)

The Groseclose-Milyo media-bias study scored Fox News at 39.7, where higher is more liberal and the center (i.e., the average voter) is 50.06. Thus, each point of Fox News bias results in a quarter of a point in the polls (by Obama’s estimate).

So, let’s compute how much it benefits Obama to be favored by nearly every other media outlet. To do the calculation, we need to have estimates of the relative influence of the various outlets. Since this is just a back-of-the-envelope calculation, let me make some very conservative assumptions (er, conservative in the sense of cautious; that is, assumptions unfavorable to my case) that also turn out to make the calculation easy.

First, let’s suppose that every outlet in the Groseclose-Milyo study other than Fox News has equal influence. This is a cautious assumption, since most would agree that the farthest left outlets (e.g., New York Times, CBS, Washington Post) are some of the most influential. The composite score of all non-Fox outlets is then simply the average, 63.9.

Second, let’s suppose that Fox News has one-quarter the influence of every other news outlet combined. (That is, assume that Fox News itself has about 20% of the influence of the entire mainstream media. In my dreams!) That means that each point of non-Fox bias is worth four times each point of Fox bias, which works out to about one point in the polls. Thus, 13.8 points of non-Fox bias translates to about 14 points in the polls.

That is pretty close to the 15-point estimate that Newsweek’s Evan Thomas gave for how much media bias was helping Kerry in 2004. If Obama is right that Fox News is costing him 2.5 points (a big if!), and if there exists a linear relationship between media bias and poll results, and if media bias hasn’t lessened since the study was conducted (unlikely!), then Thomas’s 15 points has to be an underestimate, given our cautious assumptions.

The latest RCP poll average has Obama up by 6.3 points.

Cancer stem cells

October 18, 2008

The Economist has a fascinating article on a new theory of cancer: what causes it and why it recurs.

ABC’s experts

October 18, 2008

ABC News cited Obama supporters as “experts” in a piece downplaying the importance of ACORN’s criminal activity. This deception is particularly egregious:

“There’s no evidence that any of these invalid registrations lead to any invalid votes,” said David Becker, project director of the “Make Voting Work” initiative for the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Becker should know: he was a lawyer for the Bush administration until 2005, in the Justice Department’s voting rights section, which was part of the administration’s aggressive anti-vote-fraud effort.

Sounds like a Republican, right?  Actually, not so much:

Omitted are the facts that Becker is a Berkeley graduate that also worked in the justice department for the Clinton administration. After leaving the justice department he spent nearly two years as the director of People For the American Way, a Tides Foundation project that monitors the activities of right wing groups, and has partnered with left leaning advocacy groups such as NARAL, NOW, the ACLU, the NAACP and the AFL-CIO just to name a few.

The NYT’s dumpster diving

October 18, 2008

Are we watching our media’s most disgusting exhibition of partisan excess in history? I don’t have the historical perspective to say, but we’ve got to be up there.

Power Line reports that the NYT emailed schoolmates of John McCain’s 16-year-old daughter looking for dirt on his wife. If there’s any doubt what they were looking for, simply look at the tone of the article they produced (without any help from Bridget’s schoolmates). It is shockingly nasty, particularly for a candidate’s spouse. It reads almost like a Keith Olbermann piece.

Meanwhile, vast swaths of Barack Obama’s history, swaths with real public-policy import, are left unexamined. The media has its priorities.

UPDATE: The New York Times defends its piece, calling it “completely fair, respectful — even empathetic.” I’d hate to see a disrespectful piece.

UPDATE: The NYT’s own ethics policy says: “We do not inquire pointlessly into someone’s personal life.” I guess emailing McCain’s daughter’s schoolmates must have been really necessary.

Making stuff up

October 18, 2008

Dana Milbank, one of the media’s most infamously biased reporters, tells a tale:

Arlington, Va.: The Secret Service has now labeled the “kill him” report as unfounded. Why isn’t The Post giving this report as much coverage as the original false report received?

Dana Milbank:

Glad you asked, because I saw this earlier. This is actually about the incident in Scranton, not the one in Clearwater, Fla, that I wrote about here.

I wasn’t at the Scranton event, but I have to say the Secret Service is in dangerous territory here. In cooperation with the Palin campaign, they’ve started preventing reporters from leaving the press section to interview people in the crowd. This is a serious violation of their duty — protecting the protectee — and gets into assisting with the political aspirations of the candidate. It also often makes it impossible for reporters to get into the crowd to question the people who say vulgar things. So they prevent reporters from getting near the people doing the shouting, then claim it’s unfounded because the reporters can’t get close enough to identify the person.

Notice what Milbank is claiming. He’s not just saying that the Secret Service is keeping the press from interviewing the crowd, he specifically accuses them of doing so in order to deny that the crowd is saying vulgar things. By implication, he is also saying their denial is a lie; why else would they need to conceal the truth? Furthermore, he is implicitly accusing them of dereliction of duty, since this sort of cover-up is probably incompatible with their duty to protect Obama.

The Secret Service says it’s not true:

But the Secret Service says Milbank has it wrong.

“It’s not a function of the Secret Service to prevent or limit reporters from interviewing the people at events,” said Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan. “We’ve never been asked by any campaign to do that.”

Donovan said that at rallies for all the candidates, the Secret Service sometimes separates the press corps that is credentialed to cover the event—known as the pool—from the general public. That is for logistical and security reasons, he said.

“Being in a press pool gives them special access,” said Donovan. “But the other side is that they have to stay together. You keep national press away from the local press for the same reason.”

Any journalist can get around these restrictions simply by attending the rally as a member of the public rather than a part of the press pool, he said.

Of course, Milbank is saying that the Secret Service is lying about the Scranton incident (even though he admits he wasn’t there), so he’ll probably say they’re lying about this as well. My inclination is to believe the Secret Service.

AFTERTHOUGHT: Milbank’s accusation doesn’t even make sense. Even if we suppose that the Secret Service is trying to protect McCain’s candidacy, why would they go to such lengths just to conceal that some yahoo was yelling crazy stuff?

POSTSCRIPT: By the way, the Clearwater incident that Milbank alludes to is in a vitriolic column he wrote attacking Sarah Palin. In it, he reports (if we believe him) another “kill him!” incident, but in that one, by his own account, the imprecatory exclamation was directed at unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers, not at Barack Obama. I suspect that this will become a point of some confusion.

(Via Instapundit.)

Obama: investigate ACORN investigation

October 17, 2008

Obama calls for an ACORN-related investigation. Not, not into ACORN’s criminal activity, of course, but into press leaks about the investigation. I am not making this up:

Robert Bauer, general counsel to the Obama campaign, wrote to Attorney General Michael Mukasey a day after the Associated Press, citing unidentified law enforcement officials, reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was investigating ACORN. The name is short for Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. . .

Bauer said the news leaks are part of a coordinated effort by McCain’s presidential campaign and Republicans. They are “fomenting specious vote-fraud allegations and there are disturbing indications of official involvement or collusion,” Bauer said.

“It is apparent,” he wrote, that law enforcement officials are serving “improper political objectives” that could inhibit voter participation in the Nov. 4 election. The aim is to “suppress the vote and to unduly influence investigations and prosecutions,” Bauer wrote.

That’s right, the real villains here are the investigators, not the people perpetrating vote fraud.

Tomorrow, when the media picks up Obama’s talking points, we will be treated to the spectacle of the media complaining about press leaks. Press leaks are good, you see, only when they hurt Republicans. Leaks that hurt Democrats are very bad. (See Armitage-Plame affair.)

(Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: Perhaps I’m mis-reading this. Another article says that Obama’s gripe is not with the press leaks, but with the very existence of the investigation:

Tensions began to escalate Thursday with disclosures that the FBI is investigating ACORN and the possibility that it’s engaged in a vote-fraud scheme.

On Friday, Obama’s legal counsel, Robert Bauer, wrote Attorney General Michael Mukasey, charging that the inquiry is politically motivated and that it risks repeating the 2007 scandal over the Bush administration’s politicization of the Justice Department.

Bauer asked Mukasey to broaden a special prosecutor’s investigation to examine the origin of the ACORN inquiry.

(Via Instapundit.)

Now that’s chutzpah! ACORN submits thousands (at least) of bogus voter registrations, and it’s the investigation that’s improper.

Also, it’s pretty rich for Obama to complain about politicization of the Justice Department when his campaign asked Democrats in Missouri law enforcement to prosecute his critics.

How we got here

October 17, 2008

John McCain (and 19 other GOP senators), issued a prophetic warning in May 2006:

We are concerned that if effective regulatory reform legislation for the housing-finance government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) is not enacted this year, American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac pose to the housing market, the overall financial system, and the economy as a whole. . .

Today, almost half of the home mortgages in the U.S. are guaranteed by these GSEs. They are mammoth financial institutions with almost $1.5 Trillion of debt outstanding between them. With the fiscal challenges facing us today (deficits, entitlements, pensions and flood insurance), Congress must ask itself who would pay this debt if Fannie or Freddy could not?

Substantial testimony calling for improved regulation of the GSEs has been provided to the Senate by the Treasury, Federal Reserve, HUD, GAO, CBO, and others. . . It is vitally important that Congress take the necessary steps to ensure that these institutions benefit from strong and independent regulatory supervision, [and] operate in a safe and sound manner. . . Most importantly, Congress must ensure that the American taxpayer is protected in the event either GSE should fail.

(Emphasis original.) Sadly, it wasn’t heeded.

(Previous post.)

CNN misses the point, again

October 17, 2008

The idea to a fact-check is to report the actual facts, not to echo a campaign’s claims. CNN doesn’t seem to get this:

The Statement: During an October 15 presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain attacked Democratic opponent Sen. Barack Obama for his stance on abortion. “Sen. Obama, as a member of the Illinois State Senate, voted in the Judiciary Committee against a law that would provide immediate medical attention to a child born of a failed abortion,” McCain said. . .

Verdict: Misleading. Obama voted against the legislation, but said doing so was not a vote against caring for the children, because there was already an Illinois law that required treating babies born alive during abortions.

(Via the Corner.) (Emphasis mine.) I suppose this is literally accurate. Obama did say that, but it isn’t true. The Illinois law did not protect babies born alive; that was precisely why the legislation was written.

This isn’t the first time that CNN’s “fact-check” has accepted Obama’s word as fact on this very subject. Back in August, Obama’s story on born-alive was different. At the time, he was claiming that the legislation lacked a provision protecting Roe v. Wade. That wasn’t true, but it didn’t stop CNN from repeating Obama’s claim as fact.

Obama’s position on this issue was indefensible. He favored leaving babies to die when they had been born during botched abortions. All he can do is obfuscate, and hope the media plays along. Clearly he needn’t worry about CNN.

Democrats propose abolishing 401(k) accounts

October 17, 2008

Sadly, I am not making this up. Some Democrats, seeking to exploit uncertain financial times, are proposing to abolish 401(k) accounts, and replace them with a government-run plan. The government plan would guarantee a 3% real return. (This is not a typo.)

(Via Instapundit.)

Marines leave Fallujah

October 17, 2008

More progress in Iraq:

When Marine Maj. Gen. John Kelly deployed to Iraq in February, the violence had fallen so low in Anbar province that he began figuring out how to start closing bases and prepare to go home.

In the last 10 months the Marines in Fallujah have done what was unthinkable before the surge began — they have quietly transferred out of one of Anbar province’s largest cities. FOX News has learned in an exclusive interview with Kelly from Fallujah that 80 percent of the move is complete. In February there were 8,000 Marines living at Fallujah base. Now there are about 3,000 left. By Nov. 14 there will be none. . .

Marines will no longer be seen in city centers such as Fallujah — a major step toward leaving Iraq, and one step closer to Iraq’s goal of having U.S. troops out of its population centers by mid-2009 — one of the key points enshrined in the Status of Forces Agreement being reviewed on Capitol Hill today. . .

They dubbed [their departure] “Operation Rudy Giuliani” because they were cleaning the streets up and returning Fallujah to normalcy — taking down barbed wire and tearing down checkpoints and Jersey walls that made Anbar look like a war zone.

“There is almost no barbed wire left anywhere in Fallujah,” Kelly said. An Iraqi no longer sees barbed wire when traveling in and around the city.

Between 300 and 400 concrete barriers that divided the city were removed by Navy Seabees.

There’s an interesting tactical tidbit:

One of the big changes Kelly made when he took command in Anbar was to remove fixed checkpoints, and Iraqi vehicles no longer had to pull off to the side when a military convoy was on the road. His troops risked car bombs, but the gamble paid off in what had once been Iraq’s most dangerous province. The new road rules instantly lowered the tension between military and locals. Soon he transitioned to moving military convoys only at night, so they would not encounter locals. This also stymied many of the insurgents laying IEDs or roadside bombs, which they often had done at night.

Supreme Court sides with Brunner

October 17, 2008

Breaking news: the Supreme Court has issued a stay of an Appeals Court ruling requiring that Ohio verify 200,000 voter registrations with mismatched information.  Few details yet.

(Previous post.)

Mahoney trails 55-29

October 17, 2008

The scandal has sunk Tim Mahoney’s (D-FL) House re-election campaign, according to the Palm Beach Post.

(Via the Corner.) (Previous post.)

Obama’s “tax cuts”

October 17, 2008

Glenn Reynolds asks a very good question:

HOW DO YOU CUT INCOME TAX FOR 95%, when over a third pay no income tax at all?

The American Spectator’s Philip Klein explains how:

What Obama’s plan does do is offer a raft of subsidies and government payments to individuals and families that he redefines as “tax cuts.” His proposal looks more like a redistribution scheme than an honest effort to reduce taxes — as he revealed on Monday when he told a now famous Ohio plumber that his plan aimed to “spread the wealth around.”

Klein also reports that Obama’s spokesmen were not at all forthcoming when questioned on the subject.

Okay, it’s interesting that Obama is redefining spending increases as tax cuts, but I think this misses the point.  Obama is lying.  Whatever you choose to call it, the net flow of revenue between individuals and the government is not going to shift in the individual’s direction for 95%.  It’s not going to happen.

Democrats, and particularly far-left Democrats like Obama, take money from the people and spend it on their priorities.  It’s what they do.  Bill Clinton (a far more moderate Democrat than Obama) promised a middle-class tax cut.  A month into his administration he admitted it wouldn’t happen, bleating “I’ve worked harder than I’ve ever worked in my life to meet that goal, but I can’t.”  (Poor guy, that must have been a really tough month.)  Instead, he passed a massive tax increase.

You simply cannot raise the revenue that Obama needs for his massive spending plans without taxing the middle class.  That’s where the money is.  Anyone who believes that middle-class taxes will go down (even in the Bizarro-world way Obama is defining taxes) is a sucker.

Tax liens

October 17, 2008

The press has breathlessly reported that Joe the Plumber, a private citizen who impudently asked Obama an embarrassing question, has tax liens. This is important information and the public has a right to know. People with tax liens have no place engaging in our public discourse, even at a rope line.

Obama’s campaign treasurer also has tax liens? Yawn. How could it serve the public good to report that?

(Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: Actually, it wasn’t even a rope line. Obama came to his home, in a house-to-house campaign stop! He didn’t seek this attention at all. (Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: McCain comments:

Last weekend, Senator Obama showed up in Joe’s driveway to ask for his vote, and Joe asked Senator Obama a tough question. I’m glad he did; I think Senator Obama could use a few more tough questions.

The response from Senator Obama and his campaign yesterday was to attack Joe. People are digging through his personal life and he has TV crews camped out in front of his house. He didn’t ask for Senator Obama to come to his house. He wasn’t recruited or prompted by our campaign. He just asked a question. And Americans ought to be able to ask Senator Obama tough questions without being smeared and targeted with political attacks.

Obama still lying about born-alive

October 17, 2008

Existing law did not protect babies born during botched abortions; that was why the legislation was offered.

He has to lie, of course, because his position was indefensible. (Via the Corner.)

Government forces banks to sell

October 16, 2008

That “voluntary” bank recapitalization program turns out not to be so voluntary:

The chief executives of the nine largest banks in the United States trooped into a gilded conference room at the Treasury Department at 3 p.m. Monday. To their astonishment, they were each handed a one-page document that said they agreed to sell shares to the government, then Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. said they must sign it before they left. . .

The chairman of Wells Fargo, Richard M. Kovacevich, protested strongly that, unlike his New York rivals, his bank was not in trouble because of investments in exotic mortgages, and did not need a bailout, according to people briefed on the meeting.

But by 6:30, all nine chief executives had signed.

Apparently, the government will not be voting the stock it is forcing the banks to sell, but it’s not clear from the article whether that commitment will be binding on future administrations:

The Treasury will receive preferred shares that pay a 5 percent dividend, rising to 9 percent after five years. It will get warrants to purchase common shares, equivalent to 15 percent of its initial investment. But the Treasury said it would not exercise its right to vote those common shares.

Also, the terms are apparently designed to encourage banks eventually to buy out the government, but again it’s not clear whether the government has a binding commitment to sell:

The terms, officials said, were devised so as not to be punitive. The rising dividend and the warrants are meant to give banks an incentive to raise private capital and buy out the government after a few years.

So it’s possible we’re looking at something less than bank nationalization, but it’s by no means certain.


October 16, 2008

This goes well with Obama’s 57-state tour:

(Via the Corner.)

Speaking truth to power

October 16, 2008

A prediction:

I don’t know anything about Joe Wurzelbacher, but I just have one bit of advice. If you have anything in your past that you’re not proud of — a messy divorce, a DUI, an unpaid bill, an indiscreet comment, whatever — be prepared for it to become public knowledge. The lefty blogosphere, along with allies in the press, will see to that.

It didn’t take long.

(Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: More.  There’s a clear lesson here.  Embarrass the press’s candidate and the press will do its best to destroy you.

China is still evil

October 16, 2008

Another day in China:

ChinaAid has learned that Zhang Jian, the elder son of Pastor “Bike” Zhang Mingxuan, was severely beaten by Public Security Bureau (PSB) officials while at home with his mother, Xie Fenglan, in Beijing on October 16. Xie Fenglan testified that at about noon Beijing time, 15 Beijing PSB officers entered their residence and secured the exits before severely beating Zhang Jian with iron bars for 25 minutes. As Zhang Jian lay bleeding profusely, his mother called an ambulance, but the receptionist told her that a higher government authority gave a directive not to dispatch any ambulance to rescue her son because he is related to Pastor Bike Zhang. . .

Pastor Bike Zhang, who was traveling in Yunnan province at the time, is currently unable to be contacted. It is assumed that he has been detained by authorities.

Pastor Bike Zhang’s wife, Xie Fenglan, was kicked out of her legally rented apartment, located at Room 206-102 at the Beijing Olympic Garden apartments, after her elder son Zhang Jian was sent to the hospital. The family’s furniture was thrown into the street. Government authorities ordered all hotels in Beijing not host her so she is now residing at Dr. Fan Yafeng’s home.

(Via the Corner.)

“Kill him” accusation unfounded

October 16, 2008

In last night’s debate, Obama tried to put McCain on the defensive by bringing up the allegation that someone at a McCain rally yelled “kill him!” when Obama was mentioned.

It’s totally stupid to try to pin on a candidate the actions of a few supporters of no particular importance, particularly for someone in Obama’s position.

But, worse than that, it turns out that the story isn’t even true:

The agent in charge of the Secret Service field office in Scranton said allegations that someone yelled “kill him” when presidential hopeful Barack Obama’s name was mentioned during Tuesday’s Sarah Palin rally are unfounded.

The Scranton Times-Tribune first reported the alleged incident on its Web site Tuesday and then again in its print edition Wednesday. The first story, written by reporter David Singleton, appeared with allegations that while congressional candidate Chris Hackett was addressing the crowd and mentioned Obama’s name a man in the audience shouted “kill him.”

News organizations including ABC, The Associated Press, The Washington Monthly and MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann reported the claim, with most attributing the allegations to the Times-Tribune story.

Agent Bill Slavoski said he was in the audience, along with an undisclosed number of additional secret service agents and other law enforcement officers and not one heard the comment.

“I was baffled,” he said after reading the report in Wednesday’s Times-Tribune.

He said the agency conducted an investigation Wednesday, after seeing the story, and could not find one person to corroborate the allegation other than Singleton.

Slavoski said more than 20 non-security agents were interviewed Wednesday, from news media to ordinary citizens in attendance at the rally for the Republican vice presidential candidate held at the Riverfront Sports Complex. He said Singleton was the only one to say he heard someone yell “kill him.”

“We have yet to find someone to back up the story,” Slavoski said. “We had people all over and we have yet to find anyone who said they heard it.”

(Via the Corner.)


October 16, 2008

Stephen Green summarizes the Mahoney scandal, and drops a big load of richly deserved mockery on the media for ignoring such an incredibly juicy scandal, just because it involves a Democrat.

(Via Instapundit.) (Previous post.)

McCain and the DMCA

October 16, 2008

The EFF thinks that McCain should care more about the free speech rights of individual citizens, and not just candidates.  Fair enough.  That’s not been his pattern, though.

Unfortunately, free speech advocates don’t have a horse in this race.  McCain has long been a crusader for speech restrictions, and Obama looks to be even worse.

Brunner puts ACORN to shame

October 16, 2008

ACORN has been unseated as the champion facilitator of voter fraud. The new champion is Jennifer Brunner, the Ohio Secretary of State. Brunner, a Democrat, has been widely called the most partisan official in the State of Ohio. Recently Brunner has been fighting a court order forcing her to verify the information on new voter registrations, but the full 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has now ruled against her.

One thing we’ve now learned is how many new registrations with mismatched information her office has been sitting on: over 200 thousand. We have no way of knowing how many of these registrations are legitimate, but if even 10% are fraudulent (and the number is almost certain much higher than that) we’re talking about 20 thousand voter registrations that Brunner has been trying to shield from examination.

For reference, the 2004 election was decided in Ohio by 118,457 votes; quite a bit less than the number of potentially fraudulent registrations Brunner has been try to jam onto the rolls.

(Via the Corner.)

AFTERTHOUGHT: Brunner, as one would expect, protests that this order will potentially disenfranchise many voters; forcing them to use provisional ballots if her office is unable to verify that they are legitimate voters.  But her concern over disenfranchisement is very selective.  Last month, Brunner threw out thousands of Republican absentee ballot requests on a technicality.  In that case, she was concerned that accepting the forms could lead to voter fraud.

Murtha: Western Pennsylvania is racist

October 15, 2008

So he tells the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

U.S. Rep. John Murtha said today he expects Democratic nominee Barack Obama to carry Pennsylvania in next month’s presidential election. . . Mr. Murtha said it has taken time for the state’s voters embrace a black presidential candidate.

“There’s no question Western Pennsylvania is a racist area,” said Mr. Murtha, whose district stretches from Johnstown to Washington County. “The older population is more hesitant.”

Right, there’s no other reason why Western Pennsylvanians might dislike Barack Obama.

It will be interesting to see how Murtha’s constituents (who are Western Pennsylvanians) like being accused of racism by their congressman.

ASIDE: The Post-Gazette oddly buries the lede; giving their story the bland title “Murtha expects Obama to win Pa.”

(Via the Corner.)

Brooklyn public school ordered to cease electioneering

October 15, 2008

This is interesting:

Inspirational poster or openly partisan politics? That is the question over a large poster featuring Sen. Barack Obama that was on display over a middle school in Brooklyn.

The New York City Department of Education has reportedly ordered MS 61 in Crown Heights to remove the poster. The Gladstone H Atwell School is located a few blocks east of Prospect Park. . .

The Post says the action continues the DOE’s crackdown on politically charged expression in schools – as the teachers union defends workers’ rights to wear partisan campaign buttons in class.

The teachers union complains that this crackdown violates their right to free expression, and they have a point.  But perhaps it’s not the point they want.

The fact is that when you become a public employee, you sacrifice some of your right to free expression while you’re on the job.  As a public employee you are representing the government and your activities are paid by it, and as such your position is incompatible with electioneering.

But there is a simple way to resolve this issue.  Don’t be a public employee.  If all education were private, teachers could do whatever they wanted (provided their employer agreed).  Problem solved.

As a bonus: we wouldn’t have to fight over public school curricula any more.  Private schools would teach what they want, and parents would vote with their feet.

Harper re-elected

October 15, 2008

Congratulations to Canada.

UPDATE: A Canadian perspective.

Double the scandal for Mahoney

October 15, 2008

Rep. Tim Mahoney, the Democrat who replaced the disgraced Mark Foley, and who is now embroiled in his own scandal for having an affair and paying $121,000 in hush money, is in new trouble. The AP is reporting that Mahoney was actually having two affairs at once. There’s no word yet on whether the second mistress was also receiving hush money.

(Previous post.)

UPDATE: Perhaps the most devastating ad I’ve ever seen:

(Via the Corner.)

That is soooo four months ago

October 15, 2008

Obama is still trying to distance himself from ACORN and its criminal activities.  Although Obama worked with ACORN in his days as a community organizer, and as a lawyer, and as recently as his primary campaign, Obama’s campaign says they are not working with ACORN in the general election.  Ancient history, I guess.

(Via Instapundit.)

Courts cite Wikipedia

October 14, 2008

The problem with Wikipedia isn’t just that it is very often inaccurate.  Perversely, the problem is also that on many matters, it is too good, which leads people to take it seriously.  Off the top of my head, the two professions I think should least rely on Wikipedia are doctors and judges.

Alas, the Yale Daily News reports that its search of federal and state decisions reveals 247 Wikipedia citations in court decisions, including the recent Connecticut Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage.

Stop it.

(Via the Corner.)